The Kink and Point in It, part 2 --- by Penumbra

Damn. Pesky strap.

Just the tip of a very lovely pink tongue showed between teeth as Della tugged at her corsetís shoulder strap. It had a habit of getting twisted and this time, the twist was at her shoulderblade. Squirming in a corset was a virtual impossibility but she did her best, until warm rubbery fingers settled on her shoulder and righted the annoying strip of yellow rubber.

"Thanks, love," Della smiled to the tall figure next to her who grinned back and plopped to sit next to her, the groan of rubber muted by the slithering music the DJ was playing at the club. Though she couldnít hear it, the detective was sure the long, black and bronze rubber dress had complained. They always did for Ghisí build was muscular and flexible and sometimes the bunching muscles tested the limits of the material. With her own eyes Della had seen Ghis break a rubber armband just by flexing her bicep.

The dress remained intact and the smaller woman laid a hand on a thigh, tracing the bronze curves there. She liked this dress very much. It was long, off-shoulder and had a high collar, a simple yet beautiful design. The speciality were the bronze twists and curves that fanned out symmetrically from the waist, accentuating the handsome build of the woman inside. And as usual, there was no end to the stream of attention Ghis was getting from the customers.

"I like this dress," the blonde woman commented, following one curve that stretched along a thigh and ended in the knee there. Her hand was covered with a set of long, delicate fingers, wrapped in similar black and bronze rubber. The hand was warm and slippery, the surface intimately smooth against her skin.

After a heartbeat the hand left hers and with a graceful curve, came up to rest against her cheek. The smile the clubowner had plastered on her face was positively radiant. Della felt the rubber against her cheek and leaned to the contact, tasting the faint smell of the shining agent on the back of her throat. It was a scent she was now intimately familiar with, slightly industrial and as a Pavlovian reaction, it brought a flush of blood to her cheeks.

"I like you even better," she continued and covered the hand on her cheek with her own. Ghis flashed her one of the white smiles and as usual, it brought a small flutter to the detectiveís abdomen.

She was busy drowning into the twin pools of bright blue when Herc came up to the raised dais and dropped on one knee next to Ghis, to be on her level.

"Trouble at the front door, Mistress," the big man intoned solemnly, hurry tinging his voice. Ghis sighed and rose to her full intimidating height. One last warm and apologetic glance at the detective and she started after her doorman. Curiosity overcoming her sense of comfort, Della pushed herself up from the rubber sofa and followed the pair.

For the detective, navigating through the thick throngs of people milling at and about the dancefloor was anything but easy. Ghis moved like a fish in water but after all, she was the clubís owner, not to mention almost seven feet of tight muscle in intimidating rubber and on high heels. So, when she came to the door that led to the foyer and stepped through, Della could already see Ghisí temper was barely kept in check, the strain of control clear in the wide, tensed back.

"Care to repeat that," a low, thrumming voice said. Oil on water, so smooth and dark it was and the detectiveís brain said uh oh. That voice spelled trouble and nothing but trouble.

"Stupid woman, how thick is your skull? I said weíre here to stop these depraved activities," a young sneering voice said, the person invisible behind the tall raven-haired woman. Della watched the muscles on one shoulder contract and release. Time to step in. She coughed loudly and on cue, Ghis turned to look at her and by turning, revealed the other half of the conversation.

It was not just one person, Della saw. A small group of young men and women, mostly men, all clad in light shades of clothing and with calm faces. The one in the front, clearly the one who had addressed her lover in the uppity tone, was a thin young man with big eyes and big ears. He was dwarfed by the tall clubowner and he looked so small and young Della immediately felt sorry for him.

"Easy, tiger. Let me," the detective whispered to the tightly coiled spring of tension that was Ghis. She laid her hand gently on her loverís back and rubbed the tight muscles there. The effect was instantenious. The icy blue glint in the eyes thawed and Ghis relaxed visibly. It was amazing really, what the small blonde woman could do to her.

"You sure?" she whispered back and upon a nod and an encouraging smile from Della, she nodded and stepped back, trying consciously to relax her shoulders. She knew her temper to be volatile at best and it wouldnít do good to have a bloodbath right now. Theyíre just kids after all, she thought and took a calming breath. She remained close, refusing to back fully away. "Iím right here," she whispered, a humm so low only Della could hear it.

Gary took a momentary pause at the sudden change of scene. One moment he was snarling at the devil of a woman with eyes and attire that spoke of her allinace with everything dark and now... he faced a smaller, fair-haired woman with gentle green eyes and a warm smile. It had been easy to hate that tall and dark woman but this one was different.

"Hi. Iím Della," the detective said and extended her hand. As a reaction, Gary took it before his mind could follow his actions. When it did, he yanked his limb away and looked down, unable to meet the inquiring but kind gaze the mist green eyes projected at him.

"Was there something you wanted to say?"

He was brought out of his quietness by soft voice. He looked back up and felt his rage dim down and familiar calmness settle into his soul.

"You do against the word of our Lord and it has to stop. Now," he intoned calmly, sure of the justness of his mission. He didnít have to look back to know the others with him were nodding, the same calm look on their faces.

Della pursed her lips. Difficult, this was but not impossible.


"What?" He couldnít understand what she was asking.

"Where do we do against the word of the Lord?"

The simple question threw him off. He blinked, feeling the inquisitive green eyes burn onto his skin, bringing a flush af blood to his head. His thin cheeks got a rosy colour and made him feel even more awkward. The Minister hadnít ever said what exactly was wrong with the place. Sure, he could see the godless nature of the she-devil and the smell of sin was thick in the place. But as to the particularities of the sin...

"Everywhere here," he said, betting on vagueness. He really couldnít lose his face in front of his flock. A wide gesture with an arm accompanied the statement.

Della had had it with it. Drastic measures were in demand now. She could feel Ghis tense behind her as the arm flew near her face. It didnít hit and the detective caught it deftly and before Gary had time to react, placed it on her chest, right above the top line of her corset. He felt warm skin envelop his hand, a steady gentle pounding of a heart against his fingers.

"Feel that? Itís a human heart, my heart. It believes in God as well."

She let go of Garyís hand and smiled at the startled boy, a warm and gentle smile that radiated all the way to her eyes.

"I believe Heís with me and I also believe he doesnít want hate but love. Love isnít born of agression," she said softly and placed her hand on Garyís chest, at a mirror position to where his hand had been. He felt the gentle touch through the cotton of his shirt. "Itís born here," Della finished.

The touch lingered and he felt his flock shuffle their feet. They didnít know hat to think of the situation and neither did he. He had never been confronted like this.

"Go. Thereís nothing here that God doesnít approve."

The soft voice was hypnotising. He felt like drowning in the golden haze the touch elicted in his chest and really, he felt the small, blonde woman was telling the truth. She was a Believer as well.

He turned to his followers. He needed time to sort out this new turn, consult his heart, the Lord and Minister about this. He had been told they were noting but godless heathen here and now, he had been proven wrong. Silencing Marcusí impending protest with a shhing gesture, he pointed towards the door. Words had escaped him now, his mind deep in thought. He had a lot of questions, few of which he was sure he didnít like the answers to.

"Thanks for intervening, love," Ghis said and tightened the hug. She buried her face in the mass of silky blonde hair, inhaling the familiar scent and exhaling unevenly, trying to breathe out the casket of rage that had settled in her gut.

"You looked ready to blow your top and I jusmmphh-" She was interrupted by a pair of lips on hers. The satiny surface brushed her lower lip and settled there, swallowing her words and making her train of thought go haywire. "Had to intervene," she managed to finish after a while. "Whoo."

The familiar blue eyes gazed down at her, a rare tone of genuine, immense affection making them soft and faintly violet in the low light. Ghis wasnít the affectionate type usually. Her nature was fiercely passionate, wild and with negligent ease, it brought up a storm of emotions so tumultous Della usually felt like flying and drowning at the same time. It was the most intense of feelings, enough to make her knees turn to water. But sometimes the dark woman was in a sensitive mood, rarely but with increasing frequency. Della suspected her more mellow and cuddly nature had something to do with it and gods if she didnít love the rare occasion she got this completely adoring puppy look from her seven feet of dark energy and muscles -lover.

"Yíknow, I donít think I say often enough how much I love you," Ghis said and laid her hand on Dellaís neck. The simple words brought a smile to Dellaís face, a grin that was dumb and childish as heck, the detective was sure. But she didnít care. She set her cheek on the gentle swell of Ghisí breast, softness under the slick dress.

"Me too," she whispered to the black rubber.

"What, you think I donít say it often enough?" The voice was a faintly teasing one and earned the tall woman a playful slap on one buttock.

"No, silly. I mean I love you, too."

"Ah. Good."

"Yeah, it is," Della whispered, more to herself than to anyone else. The clubowner caught the quiet words however and rested her chin on top of the fair head. She couldnít even begin to fathom what good she had done to deserve Della.

"She said... what?"

Gary gulped. He didnít fear many things for he knew God was with him but the Minister was one scary man. He could see the veins bulge in his neck and being a smart young lad, took it as a bad sign.

"Sh..." His voice broke and he coughed. "She said she believed as well. I felt it in her."

The loud bang startled him. He had seen it coming but still, when fist hit wood, he jumped a bit.

"Theyíre godless people, no matter what they say. Godless, do you hear me?" Garyís head bobbing up and down. "They trick, connive and twist the Word to their own purposes. And you... believed them," the Minister finished, a quiet, disappointed voice.

Gary tried to push down the image of the green eyes, soft and speckled with a faint sprinkling of chocolate brown dots. He heard the Ministerís words, knew he spoke for the Lord. He knew he spoke for the Lord for there was no other choice. The voice spoke the truth.

"Yes. Iím sorry I let you down," Gary said, his voice quavering. He was so ashamed he felt like crying. A warm hand settled on his shoulder and squeezed it gently. It brought down the dams and the hot, salty drops flowed onto his burning cheeks.

"Itís all right. Youíll do better next time. Gíwan, say your evening prayers and get some sleep."

Gary nodded, wiping away his tears and headed for the door that led to the anteroom. It held a small altar and a few beds. His flock sometimes slept here, to be closer to God and his channel, the Minister.

He watched the thin retreating back. The door closed quietly after it and when it did so, his fist was squeezed tight shut, making the veins on his treetrunk-like forearms pop out. The bastards had gotten scot free. Someone had talked Gary out of his mission. Heíd have to do something about it.

Godless heathen, he cursed. Driven by their animal instincts and urges, doing against the explicit instructions of the Lord. He hated them from the bottom of his heart. Animals.

He had had such impure thoughts but his faith helped him. As if on cue, the image of the young man, Gary, flashed through his mind and he pounded his fist on the table again, the pain driving away his musings. The will of the Lord was his, and it was strong. He would last, refusing to bow to his lower nature. The mission would show Him he need not have the torments of Job upon his soul. He was strong in his faith and it would drive everything impure and low from his heart, leaving it pure.

Pure as the fire that would clense the wrongdoersí souls.

Pure as His will.

She loved her job, that was clear. The independence of running a club and owning it, it was what she had always liked about the job. The club was a veritable money factory, not that she needed the money anyway for her inheritance from hr aunt wouldíve been enough to sustain her and half the populace of London. But she needed something to do, and liking it was an added bonus.

When she had served in Her Majestyís Navy, she had never dreamed about having her own business. Sure, sheíd gotten the idea and liked it, but back then her time had been filled with drills, guns and gore, life and death in all its ugliness. When that had ended, she had longed for something different and bam, her wild idea had manifested itself in the Rapture. Here, she enjoyed life in all its glory.

Right now, she didnít feel that glorious though. The last quarter had been highly profitable, warm summer drawing people out of their homes and out to party. Profits didnít spare her from red tape and so, she was sitting in her office, crunching budget numbers while outside, London enjoyed of a warm, sunny early autumn day. And as usual, she let her steam out by cursing in all the eight languages she spoke.


The keyboard took the brunt of her frustration, causing the white plastic to groan and a stream of nonsense appear on her spreadsheet. The numbers just wouldnít fit and once again, she considered hiring an accountant to do the job. Sheíd save a lot in small item expenses, she frequently broke her heyboards, mouses and pens. She knew the limits of her strength and they were high but keyboards were cheap and she really did need to vent her anger.

Right then, the phone rang and pushed back the need to deal with the cranky numbers. She picked up the receiver and answered. It was Mike at the other end.

"Hi man, howíre you doing? ... Oh, that bad? Damn... You sure you donít need any help? ... OK. Just asking... yeah, I know."

She leaned back on her chair and idly followed her screen saver, a small golden circle racing across the black screen. Mike was explaining the repair process of Blue Boy in detail. It was in good process and the new opening would take place in just a week.

"Hmmm, sorry? ... sure ... of course... Yeah. Talk more later. Say hi to Jamien... bye."

The receiver was set down with a faint click and the raven-haired woman entwined her fingers behind her head. At least there was something pleasant to look forward to and Della had never been to Mikeís. Ghis smiled to herself. Mike was a charmer to the bone, all ladies regardless of their preferences or perversions swooned over him.

A knock on the door and Viv entered, bringing the dayís mail. Ghis flipped through it, setting aside the new Fit To Be Tied catalogue and two personal letters. Junk mail was disposed of quickly, as well as the usual round of letters from odd people who demanded, cajoled and pleaded one sick thing or another from her. The shredder made quick work of such rubbish. The last item was a brown soft envelope, about an inch thick. She was just about to take the letter opener to it when something stopped her hand, mere millimetres away from the thick manilla.

Her squad, back in her days in the military, had genuinely believed she had a sixth sense. Men of war were usually either religious or superstitious. She was neither but she had to admit there was something quite mysterious about her abilities. She could smell or sense the enemy miles before any visual contact was made and many a time her keen sense of... whatever it was, it had saved her and the men under her command. It wasnít any particular thing she felt when danger was upon them, just a general feeling of uneasiness and a rush of adrenaline. Her hackles rose, a familiar tightening on her brow and she swore she could smell the rotten stink of danger. Like now.

The envelope reeked of danger. She set the letter opener down and held the thing with both hands. It was just an ordinary envelope, padded and slightly crumpled on one corner. The address was printed on a sticker, no return address. She bent down so that her nose touched the rough paper and sniffed.

The eyes widened and all was still, so still one could hear tiles in the wall settle. Her nostrils widened and she sniffed again. Yes. It was a scent so familiar she wouldíve recognised it in sleep. Carefully, slowly, she reached into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out a switchblade. The razor-sharp blade flipped open and she applied it to the other end of the packet, ever so slowly. It took an eternity and a half but finally, it was open.

Using the letter opener and switchblade, Ghis peeked into the envelope. As the smell had told her, there was a mass of wire, a battery and exactly eight nuggets of dry gray mass. If she had opened it from the other end, she wouldnít have arms any more. She fished a pair of wire cutters from her computer repair toolbox and snapped one red and one white wire and it was defused. An unintentionally held breath was released and she slumped back into her cocoon of a chair. Soon, it would be time to call the police but for now, she needed a few moments to steady her breath and stop her hands from shaking. They were vibrating gently, from retreating adrenaline and newborn anger. Merde...

"You got... what?"

"A bomb. B-O-M-B."

Della just sat there, holding the hard plastic instrument to her ear. It talked to her but in words she refused to comprehend. Bombs belonged to some other reality with conspiracies, terrorism and Roswell, not in her ordinary, run-of-the-mill life. Sure, she had seen the big headlines on papers when IRA had bombed a building in the City but even that had seemed... distant. Nothing to do with her. She shook her head almost painfully hard, setting the gears in place. Her practical side took over, leaving processing of the information on backburner. First things first.

"Are you OK?"

She heard Ghis take a deep breath on the other end and then humm in positive. "Mmm. Iím OK. It was a small and crude one, no problem in defusing it. Called the police, theyíll be here shortly."

The detective shook her head. The many skills of her partner never ceased to amaze her but skills of this kind, anything having to do with pain and gore, she had hoped they would never need those. She had just been proven wrong. A quick peek at her watch told it was nearly three oíclock.

"Iím coming over."

The afternoon traffic was still light so she got to Soho in fifteen minutes. She got out of the taxi a block from the club and half-walked, half-ran the few remaining yards. LPD was already there, as well as a flock of quick reporters and the usual crowd the sight of bobbies, reporters and bright yellow isolation tape created. They got the Bomb Squad wagon as an added bonus. Della found it strange no-one was scared about it since it most clearly signified explosives that equalled to red buzzing letters in her brain that spelt íDanger!í most clearly.

Being short was a disadvantage sometimes but the detective managed to elbow her way through the thick throng of people without too much injury. She slipped under the yellow tape and squeezing between two robust bobbies, headed for the front door to the club.

"Hey! Miss! Stop right there!"

One of the bobbies finally reacted to her. She turned and before the approaching uniformed constable could grab her, she produced her Yard ID.

"Delaney Covington, Scotland Yard,"

The manís steps faltered and he stopped a pace away from the detective. He peeked at the ID, then at Della and the ID again.

"Uhh, sorry maíam. Didnít know the Yard was involved in this."

The detective opened her mouth but no rational explanation came to her. So, she decided to tell the truth. "No, I have a... personal interest."

"Personal interest?" The man looked genuinely puzzled. Before the blonde woman could respond to the question, she heard a loud bang of a door and familar set of footsteps, heavy, even thumps. She turned and true to her instincts, her lover had emerged from the club. Ghis strode the short distance, determination and barely held rage in her pace. The gentle afternoon breeze and rapid steps made her long leather coat billow behind her black form, making it look like the angel of vengeance had stepped down on Earth.

"Hi honey," Della managed to whisper before she was taken into a fierce embrace that was warm and held the scent of leather and love. She hugged back, feeling the tension drain away from the taller woman.

"Gods, Iím glad to see you."

Della felt the words against her head, soft breath tickling the roots of her hair. Behind her, the bobbyís brain clicked into an answer and he gulped and backed away. She didnít care if the whole world saw, Ghisí safety was much more important to her.

They broke the embrace after a while and got inside. The clubowner explained with clipped words all that had happened, starting from the mail and ending with the arrival of LPDís bomb squad. After complimenting her professional skills with the bomb and warning her never to attempt such things again (Ghis was too tired to rectify their judgement on her and her skills that easily equalled to theirs), they had taken the envelope to the van and were now inspecting it. The case fell outside LPDís jurisdiction so the Yard would take it.

"... and thatís it," Ghis finished quietly. Her tall frame was slightly deflated, the anger that had sustained her receding back under the heavy lids and locks she kept on it. "Bloody bastard," she muttered, not directing the curse at anyone particular. Della scooted closer on the soft divan and shifting slightly, pulled the tall woman to her so that she reclined between the detectiveís legs, dark tresses cascading down Dellaís chest.

"Who do you think is behind this?"

"Got no idea," Ghis muttered, her eyes staring at the blank wall next to a window. "Canít be that group of fundamentalists. The bombís builder had some highly specialised talent, not something a child could do." Her fists were clenching and unclenching reflexively, white knuckles standing out in the tanned skin.

"Shhh. Try to relax."

Della smoothed the hair on her chest, hoping the warm, rhythmic motion would calm down her irate partner. She knew the cold, calculating look in the sharp albeit red-rimmed eyes and if she didnít manage to calm Ghis down, the dark woman would storm out of the door and beat the living daylights out of the next person whoíd step on her toes.

They stayed like that for a long time, listening to the rise and fall of voices on the street below, the wail of sirens as the bomb squad left and the quiet tick-tack of the wall clock. Its black arms ate away the minutes and the silence, broken only by the occasional visit of a police officer or one of the girls. Viv told Andrea was crying.

"... but weíll take care of her. Would you like some tea, Mistress?" the young slip of a girl queried from Della. She shook her head for no, asking for the thousandth time that Viv wouldnít call her mistress but again, in vain.

When the police left, the day was already darkening. After some persuation by the detective, Ghis left Mistress Eppie in charge for the night and they headed home, both unusually silent for they were trying to adjust to the fact that someone wanted them dead or at least badly injured. For the life of her, Della couldnít figure out what she had done to anger someone so.

DCI Emberton, despite his title, was a chemist by training. He was in charge of Scotland Yardís forensics division and he was a generally liked man. He had a streak of mad professor that unfortunately usually manifested itself in absentmindedness and total disregard of schedules, time and money. But he was a brilliant forensic scientist, that much was sure.

"Home made. Definetely," he pronounced his judgement in nasal, screeching Midlands accent. Della was sure if she had to listen to the voice days on end, sheíd go mad. No wonder most of the people around Emberton looked like bad B-movie Doctor Frankensteins, even the women. "Home mede explosives too, but made by someone with lots of experience. Neat, too." He adjusted his glasses and flipped to the next page of his report on the bomb found at the Rapture.

That was it, in a nutshell, in addition to one fingerprint, unmatched. When the DCI launched into a highly detailed monologue about the exact chemical compound used as the explosive, Della thanked him and left in a hurry. She wasnít in the mood to time-trip to her chemistry classes back at the Academy, no.

Her squad room was five floors up and two mile-long corridors to east and when she got back there, she made a beeline for the coffee machine.Sheíd slept restlessly as had Ghis and she felt like another cup of the black sludge. She couldnít remember how many sheíd had that morning which was a bad sign.

As she was pouring the liquid to her ample cup, Daisy came to stand next to her, fussing with the teapot. Daisy, despite her romantic name, was an impeccably dry detective with a grudge against the whole world. She had the tendency to vent that grudge by making everyone elseís life miserable. She insisted on chain-smoking in the squad room and bickered about everything and everybody. Della counted her blessings she hadnít had that many cases with her and as always, she wondered what had made this not ugly, just plain-looking woman in her thirties so bitter.

The kitchen was small and so, there was little space between the Moccamaster and teapot. Her cup was almost full when Daisy twisted, turned and made Della splash coffee all over her hand, table and floor.

"Ow ow! Ouch! Watch it, Daisy," she exclaimed as she shook the hot coffee off her hand. The move had seemed quite deliberate, no-one was that clumsy.

"You watch it, pervert," the woman hissed back. Dellaís eyebrows shot to her hairline. Now where did that come from?

"Excuse me?"

The bland woman turned to face her, the forest green teapot still firmly in clutch. Her blue-grey eyes held barely veiled contempt. Della let one eyebrow descend, the other still up in a brazen challenge.

"I mean I donít want sick twisted people like you touching me," she hissed, gesturing with the pot at Della who still coudnít believe what she was hearing. This was 20th century London, not the Middle Ages. And more so, where had Daisy gotten the incentive to come and insult her?

"I still donít know what you mean."

"You and that bitch you bed with, degenerates both of y-"

"Thatís enough, detective." A firm voice from the door interrupted the heated discussion. Both women turned, to see DCI Pettersson lean against the doorjamb, the sleeves of his shirt rolled to his elbows as usual, revealing forearms thick as treetrunks. "I believe you have some pressing matters to attend to."

"Yes, sir," Daisy said, turning beet red at ears. She shot one last hostile glance at Della and sauntered out of the kitchen. Pettersson extracted himself from the opening and stepped to stand next to the still confused detective.

"You OK?"

"Yeah, Iím fine." She scratched her jaw and peeked up at her smiling boss. A crooked grin formed on her face. "Sheís got a crush on you, yíknow," she said, unable to keep the imp out of her voice. She was revealed with a roll of his eyes and a nod. He knew all right. Heíd been getting the sly, hot looks from Daisy since day one when she had arrived to the Yard. Unfortunately for Daisy, he was a happily married man and the father of twin daughters.

"Thanks, by the way," Della continued as she wiped the coffee off the table.

"No prob. Everybody knows sheís a pain in the butt."

"What was that about, anyway? I donít remember leaving any frogs on her desk or anything," Della queried, remembering the time detective Yang had left a real-live frog in her desk drawer, a payback for her annoying habit of reading his reports before forwarding them to the DCI. Pettersson gave a snort of a laugh and wiped the last few remaining splotches of coffee from the floor. He straightened, put the paper towels to the rubbish bin and gave Della The Sun he had had tucked under his arm.

"I take it you havenít seen the front page."

It wasnít often Ghis went shopping. She hated crowded places for they were chaotic and her instincts went haywire for trying to process all the input. Plus, she just felt awkward with her taller-than-average height. It didnít bother her that everyone stared, they always did, but she felt like a purple giant amongs grey midgets. On a regular basis people bumped into each other or shelves or poles when they were concentrating staring her and the fact that she was the centre of attention screamed against her training so bad it almost hurt.

As it was, she was queuing at Marks&Spencerís Food Hall, gritting her teeth behind the half a dozen or so members of early lunch crowd who had picked the same check-out moments before her. The other half of the dozen was queuing behind her so she was efficiently stuck. And all this for green beans and strawberries, she huffed in her mind, juggling the said items in her hands.

The boy in front of her, a frecled thin figure with forests of pimples, kept fidgeting and the constant movement was making her antsy. From time to time, he half-turned, sneaking a peek at her. When she looked back, his head shot around so fast Ghis swore she could hear his thin neck snap. And again, his head started to twist. This time, however, when his eyes fell on her, she smiled one of her flashy smiles that showed her prominent canines and made a biting move, white teeth clicking together loudly. His head snapped back again and this time, Ghis was sure it would stay that way.

The queue progressed slowly. When the register came nearer, the dark clubownerís eyes wandered over the shelves carrying sweets and cigarettes and then, to the magazine rack. Cosmopolitanís this monthís questionnaire asked "Are You Getting Enough Sex?", the text sprawled all over Kate Mossí face. Next to it, Hello! promised a fifteen-page pictorial on John F. Kennedyís vacation on the Mediterranean and the next rack held... Small muscles bunched in Ghisí jaw, standing out in powerful relief. She reached out and snagged The Sun from its stand.

Britainís leading yellow paper (a fancy name for a rag dedicated to malicious gossip and reportages titled "I Married a Three-Headed Elvis Clone!" and such), on this lovely Tuesday, had two lines of text and one big photo on its front page, the black-and-white blown up to the size of the paper. Balancing the food in one hand with the paper, Ghis fished out her cell phone, a silvery affair no bigger than a Zippo lighter. She slid open the cover and pressed speed dial 2, the number for Dellaís cell phone.

"I was just about to call you," the detective said on the other end, a bit breathless, urgent.

"About The Sun?" Ghis said back, her voice a low rumble in her chest.

"Yeah. Listen, you free now?"

"In about..." Ghis glanced at the two people still in front of her. The boy was keeping his eyes to himself now, she noted with smug satisfaction. "Fifteen minutes."

"Comeín pick me up for lunch? In half an hour."

"OK. Bye."

She hung up and slipped the small phone back inside her coat. It took all of twelve long minutes for her to be back outside, on the ever-chaotic Oxford Street. Her car was two blocks away and when she got there, her hands were again trembling from rage. Too much of that the past few days, she thought and tried to calm herself. The packet of fresh green beans and the strawberries were thrown to the back, the paper on the front seat. As the clubowner revved up the silver Karmann-Ghia, thick black letters on the front page stared at her accusingly.

BOMB AT GAY SM CLUB! the letters read, superimposed on top of a picture of the front door of the club. The door itself was partially obscured by darkness and partially by her, hugging Della hard against her. There was no mistaking of the faces, nor the nature of their relationship.


Irony is in the little things of life, Dellaís mother used to say. Her voice rang in the detectiveís head as she stepped into the lift, to go down meet her lover. The only other occupant of the car was Daisy.

"Hiya, Daisy. I see your colour has returned to normal," Della prattled as the numbers descended. She heard the womanís sharp breathing and smirked to the number panel. Teasing had always been her weak point and so, she moved a bit closer and came to fully face her colleague.

"I do hope you didnít catch anything from the teapot since I was the last one who washed it," she continued, consciously invading Daisyís personal space. The woman backed away and Della followed, the tango leading them to a corner before the bell rang and they were on the ground floor.

Della gave one last smirk and a wink to the woman and stepped out first. Her loverís figure was silhouetted against the warm yellow afternoon sun that shone in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the tall black body moving towards her in a steady, fluid pace that spoke of power and of unconscious grace born of that strength. Ghisí hair caught the light and shone in all the colours of black and blue, silky sheets of ever-moving mass cascading down her shoulders and fanning out around her head. The detectiveís breath caught. As often as she saw the woman, she never ceased to be amazed by her primal beauty.

"Hi, luv, " the clubowner smiled and got a kiss right on her mouth. A bit surprising since they were at Dellaís workplace but whattaheck... she wrapped her arms around the fair woman and kissed back. She was faintly aware of someone staring at them, then that someone was passing by them and harrumphing under her breath. She peeked through a set of thick eyelashes and saw a youngish woman shoot a disapproving and slightly... odd look at them. A perfect eyebrow lifted at that but it went back down as she felt Della extract herself and come up for air.

"Dukeís Head okay with you?" the detective chirped, referring to the pub just around the corner. She was feeling much better now that sheíd gotten back at Daisy (ohh, revenge was sweet) and Ghis was here with her.

The tuna salad was adequate, much better than what pubs usually served but not as good as it wouldíve been if she had prepared it. Della shoved another piece of the reddish fish into her mouth, her head shaking in disbelief at what Ghis was telling her. It seems Rear Admiral Devon, Ghisí secret employer, had seen the article as well and since it staed people with their real names and all, shit had hit the fan at the Royal Navy. Homosexuality was still a big no-no in the British military, an amazing fact considering the rest of the country had moved to this century early on. But still, there were special investigators in all branches of the armed forces that were dedicated solely on finding evidence on gays in the service.

The Admiral had known of Ghisí preferences for a long time but rather that risk losing a very valuable asset, he had utilised the ídonít tell, donít hearí -policy so common in the military across the Big Pond. Now, however, the cat was out of the bag and screaming in block letters on every newsstand of the nation and so, a few blocks from the Yard, Ghis had gotten a phone call from the Admiral.

"So, theyíll either take me to military court or I can resign with honourable discharge," she finished. Della gulped down her fish, her finger wagging wildly in a way that impeded an important question.

"Didnít they discharge you already?"

"During the Gulf War. It was an infinite, temporary leave really. It turned out to be a short infinity. I got reassigned to Admiral Devon. So, I never really left the military. Until now, that is."

"But..." Della was puzzled. "Arenít you gonna fight it?"

"No leverage. Itís íconduct unbecoming of an officerí to engage in perverse sex," Ghis quoted, sarcasm heavy in her voice. "The regulations on military conduct say so, in plain English."

"But itís idiotic!" The detective exclaimed and waved with her fork, almost stabbing out an eye from the tourist sitting in the next table. The woman managed to dodge the flailing utensil, barely.

"I know."

"Barbaric! Itís the same as if people were banned from serving by the fact that they have... blonde hair or something," the smaller woman continued, stuffing more tuna into her mouth and starting the dangerous waving of the fork again. Ghis caught her hand and brought it to the table, covering it with her larger one. The tourist woman gave her a grateful glance.

"I know itís silly but itís the law. Bísides, no big damage done. Iím glad to get out of that job and if Devon needs me, he can hire me as a freelancer." The blue eyes glinted wickedly "With tripled fee."

"Oh." The detectiveís mouth was a perfect O and the small hand under Ghisí stopped struggling. "So youíre not mad?"

"Peeved, yeah. But not much," Ghis reflected and to show that she really wasnít that upset, gave the detective a lopsided grin. It had the desired effect, Della relazed and resumed eating her neglected salad. After a while, she stopped eating again, seemed to ponder for a moment and set down her fork.

"Can I confess a deep dark secret to you?" she said as she leaned towards the raven-haired woman. Ghis paused in mid-chew, her jacket potato melting slowly in her mouth. With a nod, she prodded the detective.

"Iím glad you donít have to do that anymore." It seemed Ghis needed further clarification, so Della took a deep breath and pushed on. "Itís that... every time you go away, I get scared for you. Not that I donít find the scars sexy," she said and smiling wickedly, kissed one white thin line the clubowner had on her forearm. The tourist in the next table was scandalized, her potato salad and sauerkraut forgotten. "But I always get a heart attack whenever the phone rings. Thatís not nice."

Ghis swallowed her potato. It was hard for a lump of something had materialised into her throat. "You get scared for me, huh?" she rasped.

"Yeah," the detective whispered. "Because I love you, Ghislaine du Plessis. With all my heart."

Oh, the intensity was stunning. Air between blue and green eyes sparkled with energy that was a golden bond, almost visible but not quite. Stronger that strong it was, though. Something ancient and... sacred. Della had always felt that way, as if the love she felt wasnít just hers but instead, something eternal. Something that had lasted throughout centuries, and would last for many more. The weight of history seemed to be set on her shoulders but she bore it with joy. As for her, sheíd live happy for the rest of her life, for that look in the blue eyes.

Save for the unexpected cessation of Ghisí military career and the neverending stream of odd glares from Daisy, the news article had no other reprecussions. Dellaís boss was man of type 'straight but not narrowí and as long as it didnít hinder their performance at work, his employees could be satanists for all he cared. In fact, he had commended Dellaís taste in women to which the detective had replied by blushing all the way to her hairline. His returning wink had not helped the matters.

Since her investigations on what the Yard had discovered about the bomb had been so rudely interrupted by The Sunís front page, it wasnít until the next day she managed to pry away from her mounting paperwork and visit the Hate Crimes division. Located on the floor below hers, the division was dwarfed by its neighbour, Anti-Terrorism, in both space and number of employees.

"With whom can I speak about... religious stuff?" Della said to the department secretary, a prissy man with quickly receding hairline. She cursed silently over her dumb choice of words as soon as they had left her mouth. The man quirked an amused eyebrow and smiled.

"I suggest a priest for that, miss...?"

"Covington, from Homicide. And you know what I mean."

"Try Whitey for that. Third desk there, at left," he said and pointed. Della nodded, smiled and headed to the direction of his finger. Before she got there, a woman with dark, ebony skin and long tresses that reached her waist sat on the chair at the desk the secretary had pointed at. She had perfect skin, the detective noted and tried not to stare at the smooth, black surface on the womanís strong chin.

"Youíre... Whitey?" Della asked, incredulous. The woman smiled a small smile and shrugged.

"Long story. What can I do for you?"

Della introduced herself and sat down. She explained her business and asked about Children of the Saviour. Whitey nodded, turned to her file cabinet and dug out a folder, light yellowish in colour and about half an inch thick.

"Donít have that much material on them, theyíre quite new and been keeping low profile, until the last few months. Letís see..." she hummed and flipped open the file, tracing the tightly spaced lines on a paper inside with one long digit. She had longish nails that had been painted with light silvery nail polish. The womanís voice started Della out of her reverie. She definetely needed more coffee.

"Yeah. A few demonstrations, concentrated on gay clubs in Soho. Had one fist fight outside Blue Boy two months back. One customer took exception of one Children calling him 'degenerateí," she said with a small smile. "The customer gave a concussion to a man called... Gary Fulmerton," she finished after some flipping of pages. "Theyíre led by their Minister. Nobody seems to know his name but hereís a picture," she continued and gave Della a 10x8 black and white glossy.

The picture was taken in a hospital emergency room. Clustered around a bed were several people but the man in the bed captivated her eyes. It was the thin, young man Della had spoken with at The Rapture, convincing him to leave in peace. Gary Fulmerton. Got a name now.

"Thatís who we suppose is the Minister. Not sure, though," Whitey said, pointing at a man standing near the head of the bed. The man was big and wide as a small barn and had pronounced facial bones, especially at his brow. Bushy eyebrows and balding at temples. The picture wasnít of best quality due to uneven light but as far as Della could tell, the big man was the eldest in the picture, in his forties perhaps. Rest of the people in the picture were in their twenties, no more than 25 surely.

"Could I have a copy of this?"

"Sure, I can have one done for you by afternoon," Whitey said and took the picture from Della. "Can I ask why Homicide is interested?"

Della was at loss for an answer. She couldnít lie outright so she went for the truth again. "Itís not Homicide... I have a personal interest," she said, not being able to prevent a small blush rise to her cheeks. Whiteyís eyebrows scrunched for a while before she snapped her fingers and made an exclaiming sound.

"Oh, thatís right. Youíre the lucky bastard who dates the tall, dark and gorgeous that sometimes lounges in the lobby," she said, her eyes smiling. Della was speechless. She hadnít realised her life was a source of gossip at a department she had never visited. She glanced at Whiteyís finger where an engagement ring gleamed and back to the chocolate brown eyes. One of them winked.

"Though married to a man, Iím far from straight or narrow, " she explained and smiled. Della got the necessary eureka and smiled back. Whitey promised the picture would be on her desk by two so Della thanked her and headed back upstairs. She was feeling much better now than yesterday. At least sheíd made a friend.



"Doesnít ring a bell. Neither does the Minister but Iíll make some inquiries of my own," she added, waving the glossy. Taking two steps at a time, the clubowner hurried upstairs and to her study. She booted her O2 workstation into Linux and scanning the picture, she enhanced the older man as much as she could and sent it to one of her contact persons in the military intelligence, one who owed her his life, twice over. The man would have a fit on her encryption since she used a 2048-bit key, illegal for individuals but widely used in the intelligence community.

Nothing more was to be done until he replied so she went back upstairs and joined Della on the sofa, bringing two hot chocolates with her. The detective cooed in delight and sipped at the thick liquid, humming contently. She was as much a chocolate addict as the taller woman. The mug emptied itself quicker than lightning and giving Ghis her best puppy-eyes, Della begged for another cup. Laughing at the innocent green orbs, the clubowner complied.

"Here you go, but this is the last mug. Youíll get stomach cramps if you drink any more."

"Yes, Mom," Della smirked and scooted closer. Sipping the liquid more slowly this time, she set the mug down and nuzzled the smooth neck of the clubowner, relishing in the silky texture and strong, corded tendons and muscles that vibrated underneath the skin. If someone asked her what was the most beautiful place on a woman, sheíd say without hesitation that it was the small hollow where the collarbones met, just above chest. Della kissed the said part, amazed at the delicacy of the place compared to the rest of the muscular, hard body of her lover. A comfortable silence followed as the two women breathed in the scent of their love, staring at the rain-streaked window.

"Do we have parties this weekend?" Della asked after a while. Ghis started a bit at the sudden sound, her mind had been in another place and time. Something about horses and... forest. Leather. And a golden horse. Argentan? Nahh... She let the thought pass and concentrated on the detectiveís question.

"Umm, yeah. One on Saturday and we got the reopening party at Blue Boyís sometime next week."

"Cool. Nice to finally meet Mike," Della said and reached for her mug. Ghisí cell phone decided that moment to announce its existence, beeping perkily in her pocket.


"Goddamned sonovabitch, how dare you use illegal crypt progs?!"

Ghis smiled to the phone. "Nice to hear youíre OK too, S-key. And please get the gender right. Iíve heard that one so many times."

"Donít you go scaring me like that again. Thought we had another lunatic promising to blow up the Buckingham Palace or something."

"Deal. Got any info?"

"Sure. Cín I forward it to the usual place?"


"Good," he said and hung up. Ghis was still smiling when she put the phone away. S-key, the nick coming from his insistent habit of calling himself So-and-So, Esquire because his son had the same name, was reliable as usual and his mood was as rotten as ever.

"Good news?"

"Weíll see about that."

It was news, on the quality Ghis couldnít say. She had dug up the info from S-keyís normal place, hidden in pictures posted at under the name of She found herself laughing at the title of the newsgroup, as she always did. If nothing, S-key had a sense of humour.

The pictures, nice pics of real live baseball bats, were disposed of and what remained were two data forks. One was a picture, the other a text file. The picture was of a younger man with clear eyes and all hair still in place but it was definetely the same man. The text identified him as Warrant Officer Wells, Adam L. He had served at heavy artillery, until his career was cut short as he had resigned, with honours. Ghis frowned and scanned further. Oh. Heíd been charged with lewd conduct, which equalled to either harassing female soldiers or... homosexuality. Well well. Wouldnít that be a neat coincidence.

After memorising everything necessary, she overwrote the files and sent a thank you to S-key, in the form of a picture of a baseball that contained a sound file that was the sound of a wet, sloppy kiss. She re-routed it to the newsgroup so that her return address became It was a familar game they played.

Having thus eradicated all trace of her actions, she sat back in her workchair, the backrest adjusting automatically for her more relaxed pose. Della came quietly in and stood behind Ghis, rubbing the taller womanís shoulders. There was nothing on the screen save for an empty window and the background image, a Mandelbrot figure in shades of cold green and blue. Nothing to capture the clubownerís attention so.

"I know who he is now," the dark woman pronounced in a quiet, husky voice. "Military, good with explosives. So..."

"The bomb could be his doing," the detective finished the sentence.

"Yeah. Canít think of the young 'uns being this evil, though."

"Maybe they got nothing to do with it."

"Maybe," Ghis sighed and pushed herself up from the chair. Tucking the detective under her arm, she guided her towards the door and their bedroom, unable to stop a wide yawn. "Iím ready for bed. How 'bout you?"

"Yeah. Whatíre you gonna do about this thing?"

"Play some cat and mouse," Ghis said and flicked the lights out.

His knees complained as he stood up. Kneeling was becoming increasingly hard but thatís what you get for playing rugby all through sixth form and then in the army. He didnít complain though, just a small grunt left his lips as he pushed his heavy carcass up. He didnít feel the pain when he kneeled for then he was focused on his Lord but after such long sessions of contemplation and prayer, he felt his age and the wear his rash youth had brought to his joints.

He had been in the small sanctuary for a long time, the yellow-white thick candles had shed almost two thirds of their length during his endless pondering. Guidance was what he sought and it had come to him. His earlier rage and hatred had turned to calmness for he felt the Lord in him and for sure He would be his striking arm as time came for revenge. Soon, and with some additional surprises. He grinned.

The neat piece of white paper was not as neat as it had been those long hours ago and now, it was crumpled to a small ball. A gauntlet had been thrown and he had just picked it up.

As the music pounded through the floor, Ghis sat still. The bass was sometimes so heavy everything small and tingly on her toolrack jumped and chinked. That one chainlink leash, especially...

"Sure you donít want to go downstairs?"

"Where you go, I go," Della simply replied. Ghis was about to protest but damn, this was a woman, a police officer. Not to mention the most stubborn and persuasive person the dark clubowner had met, besides herself. Their tactics on persuasion were wholly different though, hers relied on intimidation and charming the hell out of her opponent while Della just talked them to sleep or agreement.

So, they sat together in the dim room, both on the dark blue alcantara divan. The detective was still a bit irked that her lover wouldnít reveal her plan. She had just said that it was the way she worked, alone, and that was that. The tight-lippedness was so very Ghis-like and so very British and if anything, it had strengthened the detectiveís decision to stay.

Play cat and mouse. What on Earth could that mean? She knew that Ghis had somehow provoked the man behind this but didnít know the details. And now they were waiting for a response, reply, reaction, something. Too many somethings, Della gritted in her mind. She was brimming with questions but all Ghis chose to do was to fiddle with a clip to her Sig Sauers.

One of the twins (Santaís Little Helpers, Ghis called them for some obscure reason) was at the dark table, smooth matte steel on dark wood. The gun was a massive affair, a hair under two pounds with full 15 round clip. Ominous in its sleek lines, its identical companion resided strapped to the dark womanís back, resting snugly against the black cardigan-covered small of her back. The turtlenec always made the woman look... austere. It somehow sharpened the contrast for now the colours were limited to black, bronze and pale blue of which the last one was the one that caught the eye, despite the fact that it was the smallest surface.

It was also the most intense. Now, the eyes were focused on the window that led to the street in front of the club, bathed in garish neon lights. Long, strong fingers rolled the topmost 9mm parabellum in the clip, making pained scraping noises. The detective had an inborn aversion to guns, she chose to fight with words. But for Ghis, they were part of her. Della had seen her fight many times, practicing her art. Her weapons were extensions to her hands, they moved as if they were short-wired to her brain.

On this 'jobí, they were present as a last resort, insurance. Della had argued that she couldnít use guns anyway, not in the middle of busiest London but Ghis had countered by saying that they were dealing with people who sent bombs to unsuspecting victims. Grudgingly, the blonde woman had permitted the guns, as well as the throwing knives Ghis wouldnít go without. Della had seen two of them but she was sure more of them were strapped around the clubownerís tall black-encased body.

The sharp click of a clip entering and locking in the Sig startled Della. She opened her mouth to ask a question but was silenced by a warm finger on her lips. The gun disappeared behind Ghis and as the dark woman turned to look out of the window, the detective saw the two evil pieces of metal, positioned in an upside-down T shape on the broad back. For the life of her, Della couldnít hear anything over the muted music but nevertheless, she tiptoed closer and peeked around Ghis.

On the street below, few people walked at this hour, the wall clock having just passed the marker at three a.m. However, there was a group of people gathered at Raptureís door, young men and women in light-coloured clothing. It was the Children of the Saviour. Immediately, Della fished out her cell phone and dialed the LPD. They couldnít have called the police beforehand for they didnít know if the reply would come tonight or the next night or week later. They had already spent one fruitless night. But now...

"Diversion. Weíre on."

The voice was a low, cold hiss. Ghis turned and grabbing her long leather coat, rushed towards the door. Della followed close behind her, along the balcony that was bathed in flashing blue strobe lights and chaotic music, like a ship roiling far over a sea of fleash and rubber. The balcony curved and then diverged into a dark hallway that ended in narrow stairs that in turn led to the back door. Della watched the play of dark hair and leather as they whipped and jumped when the clubowner bounced down the stairs.

An Indian restaurant resided on the other side of the narrow back alley, silky scent of spices wafting through the kitchen back door. The alleyway was always like that, a piece of Delhi smack in the middle of London, or thatís how Ghis envisioned it. She remembered the smells from her visit to the city, so much bigger and even more chaotic than London. Now, in addition to the scent of food and pollution, the lane held little light, the two women and a crouching shadow, half-hidden by the clubís rubbish bins, situated a few yards nearer to the alleyís mouth.

"Wiring the Lordís wrath there, are we?"

The low, raspy voice wafted down the high, narrow corridor, to disappear into the moonless sky. The shadow started and pushed up to its full height. As expected it was Wells, Adam L., his close-cropped hair glinting in the faint light the stars provided, the rest of him in shadows. A part of the shady figure moved and a long-barreled black gun materalised in his hand. Ghisí reaction was instantenious, she whipped out the Sigs while dropping on one knee. Before she could shout a warning, she heard a faint plop and an accompanying stinging feeling on her neck. Her hands in front of her widened and separated and slowly, two more guns materialised, totaling to four. She tried to frown at them but for some reason, she felt sluggish. She watched her hands drop and then the ground came nearer and nearer until a big black maw opened and swallowed her.


Dellaís life went into slo-mo when she heard the pop. She screamed but too late. Her lover was on her way down and if you fall high, youíll smack yourself badly. She watched the dark head hit the gleaming asphalt with a sickening thud and then she was at the clubownerís side.

"Ghis, hon, címon... talk to me," Della said, frantically shaking the prone woman. Blood was slowly tricking from a nasty-looking cut on the smooth forehead, trailing down Ghisí temple and vanishing into her dark hair. She lifted an eyelid and the eye under it was listless, the usually so vivid blue dull gray, pupil the size of a pinprick. The reason for this was a small red dart, still embedded in Ghisí neck just below chin. Della flicked the offending piece of metal and feather away and seeing no choice, slapped the dark womanís face.

"Wake up, hon, please!"

"She canít hear you. FMG-2 sedative, itíll keep her out for hours."

Slowly, as not to provocate the man any further, Della turned. Her straightening was as slow and finally, she stood facing the aggressor, hurling green darts at him. If looks could kill...

"What... do... you... want?" She grated at the man, being wise enough not to jump on him as he was still too far but coming closer. In the eyes, there was no madness the detective had often seen with murderers, nothing. They were calm and composed as he stopped, so close Della could see the whites of his eyes. The silence was a moment later broken by shouts and the sound of whistles coming around the building. Cops. The rest of this merry lot mustíve distracted them.


As simple as that. Della frowned. The word hung in the air between them, the meaning unclear to the detective but she was sure as she stood here that their definition of absolution was quite different.

"And how does hurting people, killing," she said, gently gesturing at the small pakcet heíd been fiddling with, still resting against a rubbish bin. "Help you find peace?"

He shrugged, the barrel of the gun not wavering a millimetre. "If thatís what it takes to make me free of Jobís sufferings, so be it," he stated, calmly, and lifted the barrel, aiming at Dellaís neck. "If the Lord wishes so."

How dare he... how dare he mock faith so. Della bristled. Here he stood, as if his word was Godís and his doings His wish. Not by a mile, idiot, Della thought and spared a glance at Ghis, still sprawled on the ground but breathing steadily. As she saw his finger tighten on the trigger, she counted her blessings and launched herself on him.

Momentum had always been Dellaís strong suit. She was small (or 'compactí as her Sensei politely called her) so she compensated by being stubborn and excelling in exploive energy. So, she propelled herself to the bigger man, driving her shoulder into hiis stomach right below solar plexus. She heard the satisfying oof as all air left his lungs and she felt bone give in. The small fragile piece at the end of the plexus had broken off. This move had gotten her inside his defenses surprisingly easily but Della figured that he was the old-fashioned type who didnít think of women as fighters. Whoo, are ever you wrong, she smiled as she twisted and chopped his wrist in a pressure point. It made him lose his gun.

Something hard and elongated had hung at his side and as he struggled for air, Della reached at him and snagged the tonfa from his military-style utility belt. She grinned but it was soon lost as she felt an arm wrap itself around her throat.

"Donít play games, bitch," he wheezed and with no little satisfaction she heard the difficulty of his breath intake. The arm around her neck tightened however and she felt her breath channel being blocked. Her templar veins bulged as she struggled but that just managed to get him draw her closer, against his chest.

Her vision started to turn a bit red so she made one last effort. Ghis, she whispered in her mind and tensed her body to a side. He rected but suddenly, she turned the other way and made his grip loosen a bit. She grunted in satisfaction and wasting no time, positioned the tonfa so that she held it along her forearm and using all the strength she could muster, drove the black stick into his groin, praying for accuracy.

Jackpot. He made a small keening sound and the death grip on her throat loosened so much that she could inject the stick in a good position and wrench the arm off. Finally free, she turned to look at the man, his other hand in his groin and the other reaching again for her. Sidestepping him easily, she attacked again with a combination move, cross-cutting to his temple and then a sharp jab into his Adamís apple, not hard enough to break it but just so that it hurt like blazes.

He dropped onto his knees, making a small gurgling sound. Rolling to a side, he came to rest along her partner. The gun! her mind screamed but before she had time to rush it, he grabbed it and aimed the long, thin barrel at Della. Ducking instinctivly and rolling with her evasion, she avoided the dart that softly clinked into a bin far behind her. The rolling deposited her on his blind side, behind his left shoulder. Before he had time to twist, she brought the tonfa down, crashing the hard black plastic behind his ear. He slumped again to the ground, this time unconscious.

Gods she was shaking. The stick clattered to ground and she managed to kick the gun out of his hand before joining her lover on the asphalt, sobbing quietly against the black leather of the clubownerís coat. Her jeans were soaked at knees for she was kneeling in a puddle but she didnít care. This scent of leather, the darker essence of her loverís embedded in it during years of wearing and caring it lovingly. The deep, primal, tangy smell was all she wanted of her home and nothing could take her from it now as the adrenaline retreated and left the hollow feeling violence always did to her. Nothing could make her part from it, not even the police that rushed the scene mere seconds later.


DCI Emberton certainly had a way with words, Della sighed. The man stood there, in his lab, waving his hands in an imitation of what wouldíve happened to the club had the bomb detonated. Goodbye Rapture, hello gravel.

"Thanks. Could you forward me a copy of your final report?"

"Sure," the man smiled with his uneven nicotine-stained teeth. "Iíll have one for you by Monday."

Della thanked the man again and exited in a hurry. Sheíd already been to Hate Crimes, the folder on Children of the Saviour had been moved to cabinet 'Dormantí since their spiritual leader was due to face charges on multiple accounts sometime in the near future. He would probably spend the rest of his life in a mental institute, had a former judge predicted in The Guardian. His second-in-command, the thin man called Gary, had been the owner of the fingerprint on the bomb envelope so he was in custody as well. And as was the case with a flock with no sheperd, rest of the group had dispersed, finding home in some other group, hopefully less extreme.

Few of the followers actually were in on the bigger scheme of things their Minister had had in mind. All he had talked about was God, his word and his judgement, nothing about killing and bombs. It had been a total shock for them, the truth that had screamed from the front pages of all regional newspapers. The Rapture had been left out of it mostly and neither hers nor Ghisí name appeared anywhere. Sure, it wouldíve given her more ammo to make Daisy miffed but she was convinced it wouldnít have been worth the price.

Emberton was one of the few people at work for it was Saturday. Della suspected the man was always there, taking a few hoursí nap in the cleaning closet now and then and rest of the time working with his beloved test tubes and microscopes and whatnot-thingys. Sunday had been promised to be just to its name, sunny and no clouds in sight. It had started a bit early for Della had woken as the brilliant yellow light had shone onto her face, from a sky of eggshell blue. The good weather had lasted all day, rising the temperature to shirtsleeve numbers.

She left the big block of stone and glass she worked in and shaded her eyes from the errant shards of light that reflected off the sign on the front gate, a massive triangular thing of steel that pronounced 'New Scotland Yardí in block letters. The day being such a lovely one, she decided on walking, humming a soft tune under her breath. It was Libiamo, a famous drinking song from La Traviata, hummed in her soft and untrained soprano. She decided to make an effort to drag Ghis out of her work and see an opera sometime soon.

Her route took her towards Marylebone, aiming at the tower of BBC Broadcasting House, a modern monument that rivalled Nelsonís Column in its height but nothing in its ugliness. Situated in the most oddest of places was one of Londonís smallest and prettiest churches, All Souls at Langham Place. It almost hugged the tower, squeezed between it and a neighbouring hotel on a small square. It was round and reminded the detective of Parthenon in Rome, only smaller and this one had a stone spike on its roof.

Once inside, she lit a candle and sat silently down on a bench. It was not a church of her faith but in her mind, one place of worship was the same as other, as long as it was peaceful. So she sat in the otherwise empty small church, enjoying the cooler, dusty air and calmness and saying a prayer for the safety of her friends and family, especially Ghis.

When she got out, it was noon already and shoppers had invaded every cranny and nook at Oxford Street. The detective struggled her way through the throngs, past Oxford Circus and a few blocks of Regent Street before turning into the more peaceful outskirts of Mayfair. She idly pondered on coaxing Ghis to make lunch with her but discarded the thought. Them cooking together was a simple recipe for disaster because nibbling and preparing usually led to wholly other things that in turn led to overcooked, burnt food.

"Hi luv," the deep voice vibrated down the stairs as she stepped into their home. She replied with a nonsense sound for she was far more preoccupied with the strange smells that assaulted her senses. It smelled of... food. Della headed for the kitchen and once there, she stopped on her tracks. It was food that let off the tantalising scent, real food cooking. Della peeked into the oven and as her keen senses had told, it was garlic potatoes. A whole salmon was waiting to be cut and... well.

"Hope my dictatorial choice on food is OK with you."

Della turned at the voice, her jaw hanging limply. Ghis smirked at the utterly astonished look her blonde companion had on her face, her insides jittering in joy for she had managed to make the detective spechless.

"Howíd you... you cooked?" Della said after regaining control of her voice.

"Yeah. Itís sort of... a thank you," Ghis said, more serious now, her eyes a bit unsure. Della stepped closer and wrapped her arms loosely around Ghisí waist, gazing into the lovely blue eyes the sky had nothing on.

"For what?"

"For saving my life," Ghis whispered and leaned forward, kissing the detectiveís perky nose. "For being my champion." This earned her a genuine Della chuckle and the arms around her tightened.

"Anytime," the smaller woman said and tilted her head up, to receive the soft lips that landed on hers. The kitched faded into the background as they gently, softly explored each other.Della felt her knees weaken as Ghisí velvety tongue traced her upper lip and slipped inside and determined to return the favour, began a full frontal assault.

Della moaned in protest as she felt Ghis draw back after a while. She was answered by a warm throaty laughter that vibrated down her spine. "Gotta watch the lunch, love," the clubowner said and extracted herself from the blonde woman. She moved to the fish and picking up a filleting knife, arched an eyebrow at Della. "How do you prefer-" she peeked at the fishís stomach, "him?"

Della laughed at this, a bubbly thing that just pushed itself forth at moments of joy. "Medallions, but are you sure you can do that? I mean, have you ever..." Her voice trailed off at the huge evil grin Ghis had on her face as she twirled the thin, curved blade in her hand. The detective felt like slapping her forehead. Repeat after me, Delaney Covington: Ghislaine and knives. Ghislaine and knives...

As expected, the clubowner wielded the knife expertly, making quick work in transforming the fish into neat salmon medallions and she threw them to a frying pan. By the time she flipped them over, Dellaís stomach was growling nonstop. It wouldnít silence until after three generous helpings of the garlic potatoes, four pieces of fish and assorted other things.

"Ooo, Iím stuffed," she sighed happily and sat back.

"Noooo," Ghis mocked, smiling to take the sting out of her tone. She got one raised blonde eyebrow at that but made a tactical retreat by raising and collecting away the dirty dishes, still smirking at her successful attempt at surprising her lover. It had been easy for she knew food was the way to Dellaís heart.

Being so pleasantly stuffed, Della cajoled Ghis into a nap and the dark woman obliged for they still had a party to attend that night and it would help the food to settle. Otherwise I wonít fit into that dress of mine, she thought wryly as she kissed Della and tried to remove her sweater, an impossible combination when executed simultaneously. She managed somehow to remove the offending piece of clothing and some others as well and lift the detective onto the big bed. They settled into their familiar position, Della snuggled up against Ghisí shoulder, breathing warm air over the smooth skin there.

The dark woman watched the play of dust particles in the sun, their intricate dance in three dimansions. She heard Dellaís breathing slow down and deepen, signalling deep slumber and sleep. Blue eyes vanished under heavy lids but the small dreamy smile never left her lips.

"All set?"

Della turned and nodded, tugging the zipper shut. Taking a tentative breath, she found that the food had settled satisfactorily, the dress around her tight just right way.

That night, they had decided on uniforms and so, Della was wearing a short black dress with low-cut collared decolletee, corsetlike middle and Sergeantís insignia. Topped with a pointed police hat, gloves and a whistle, she looked every inch a ravishable member of Fethish City Police Department. House of Harlot had a knack for excellent, funny rubber clothes, she thought as her hands smoothed the gleaming surface. She took a step to go get her boots but she was stopped by soft words.

"Hold on. One last thing," Ghis hummed and approaching Della, showed her a small brass lock. It snapped quietly into the two small rings that rested just below the detectiveís breasts, effectively restricting the use of the long zipper that traversed down the whole of the short dress. Della smiled a thank you and brushed the taller womanís sleeve with a finger. The jacket was beautiful.

It was beautiful, a masterpiece. Fashioned from black rubber, it had rown and rows of slanted golden lines in the front, mimicking the ribcage-design of old Cavalier uniforms, transformed into industrial age with flair and style. The pattern and accompanying golden buttons made the clubownerís shoulders seem even wider and her bearing regal. Thick black breeches and high boots added to the historical look, topped with a nice reproduction of a Charles I -military hat. The tall woman bent down and gently kissed her loverís nose. The dress was a bit too revealing for her to resist the urge so she let one warm finger brush between Dellaís breasts. The detective jumped and felt the hairs on her arms rise.

"We better get going or weíll never get there," Ghis noted with a grin. She grabbed her tool kit and other stuff she needed plus a spare outfit. She had a performance tonight, one of her favourite numbers at that, with some slight modifications done this time. The doorbell chimed, signaling the Herc was at front door with the car.

"Evening, Ren," Della said as she climbed into the car. Lawrence, Hercís lover, was seated on a seat that faced the back of the car so she and Ghis could sit on the real back seat. When they managed to stuff all long limbs and mysterious bags in, the car purred to life and rolled to traffic with the grace of a ballet dancer, though the bulk of the Rolls Royce resembled more that of a whale than anything else.

"Howíre things at work?"

The man smiled, a charming grin that reached all the way to his dark eyes. He liked the small blonde woman, her always sunny nature and neverending curiosity, so much in contrast to her silent and dark other half. He was a teacher by profession, instructing pre-schoolers through their first tentative steps to adult things like reading and writing and Della was always enchanted by his gentle disposition and joy he took in his work. Sheíd been to his class one day, to talk about her work and her country of origin. The kids had giggled at her odd accent but she had earned their interest by telling funny anecdotes about her job.

"Good as ever, despite a nasty wave of flu."

Lawrence Chandrasekharís roots were Pakistanian and that showed in his handsome features. Straight, proud nose, dark olive skin and short, black hair. His parents had migrated here a decade before he was born but he had often visited his roots, always returning to London for this was his and Hercís home. Tonight, he was clad in high-waisted bell-bottom sailor trousers in a fetching shade of dark blue, flap front and all. His chest was bare, the bulging hairless pecs decorated with two daggerlike items through his nipple piercings, pointing down. All in all, he was handsome as heck and with Herc, they were a pair that turned heads.

The party was at the outskirts of London, in a renovated warehouse settings with one large room and several smaller ones that were wholly quieter than the big one with its noisy and crowded dancefloor. By now, Della was a known face in the BDSM-fetish circles, not anymore solely on the basis of her lover but on her own accord as well. It took them a small eternity to reach the nearest bar and even there, Della was engaged in a conversation by a man clad in the barest of leather, to show off the tattoos that covered his body from foot to shoulder.

"Hiya, T-man," Della said and smiled. She sipped at the lemon cooler Ghis had offered her, grateful of the cold, refreshing drink. She could feel small spots of sweat in her back as well as under her breasts as she adjusted her cap.

"Hello, lovely," the man said, smiling so that his filed teeth showed. He was a modern primitive to the bone and probably one of the most oddest looking persons Della knew. "you are stunning, as usual."

"Hey hey, donít go hitting on my girl," Ghis admonished behind the detective, her smile taking the sting out of her words.

"Wouldnít dream of it, the old ladyís not into that," he replied, nodding towards his wife that stood in a nearby group. "So, she-devil, heard youíre the entertainment tonight," he continued and waggled an eyebrow at the grinning clubowner.


"Sheís the best, right?" he asked Della who nodded in agreement. "Have you seen the Elektra and tigresses -number?"

"Have I?" Della replied, emphasis on the first word. She cast a knowing smirk at Ghis who blushed minutely. It had been the first of Ghisí numbers she had ever seen and in turn, it had led them to their first time in bed. It was a fond memory.

They continued their tour, lounging near the stage. Ghis was forced to drink non-alcoholic beverages due to the nature of her performance but it was OK, so much easier to stay upright on high heels. Time passed nicely as they paced about, talking to friends and acquaintances and to one another. The first number on the stage was a man with a smirgel and a girl, the scant clothes on the woman covered in metal plates. The girl was strapped to a sling, her longish blonde hair swaying gently over the dark floor. To the pounding music, the man in rubber apron traversed along the girlís clothes with the tool, making sparks fly in thick arcs all over the stage. It was as if a fireworks display, right in front of their eyes.

The night processed with more such displays, even one fashion show. During that, most of the three thousand guests or so seemed to have wandered into the room for the crowd around the stage was getting thick. Ghis had to leave to prepare for her number so she left Della with Herc and Lawrence. The big men kept the crowd around her at bay so she had room to breathe and move about a bit. Thankfully there was no shoving, everyone understood that it was bad conduct and would be bad for their outfits as well.

The nightís announcer, a tall and thin bald woman with a beautiful dress of white rubber with a red long cross in the middle, stepped on the stage.

"Ladies and gentleman, welcome to... Psycho Circus!"

A cannon boomed and the music was brought back to life. To the pulsating strobe a heavy jungle bass beat hummed, making the stage under Dellaís fingers tremble slightly. A coating of smoke wafted on the floor and as the music paused for a beat, four big men came running in a line, reined to a low, lightweight wagon that was just a platform really. On it, maintaining perfect balance even as the men ran around the largish stage in full speed, stood Ghis. She had removed her jacket and revealed a sleeveless shirt with laced front and high collar, hair tied to an unruly ponytail. She waved a long lash at the men, snapping abut their back as she urged them to greater speeds. The crowd cheered and stomped at the sight.

The wagon came to a halt as Ghis pulled at the reins. The dark woman stepped off the platform and came to stand in front of her horses, bowing. When the applause subsided, she gestured as if she was snapping her fingers and on cue, two men and three women came on stage, dressed as various jungle cats. The circus was in town and it was wicked...

Acrobatics were staggeringly good. The cats jumped through hoops, rolling with their landing. They made sequenced moves, twirled and crawled to the instructions of the ring Mistress, the gorgeous apparition in rubber. From time to time, the blue eyes found Dellaís and the detective smiled back, even winked now and then. Her lover was good, theatrics and performance in her blood.

After a while, Ghis whistled with her fingers in her mouth and released her horses. A snap of whip instructed them to get on all fours and they did so. The cats piled on them on all limbs and lastly, on top of the flesh pyramid appeared the ring Mistress. She stood up high, proud stature making the tall, muscular body seem even taller. Ghis held a thin stick that was wrapped to cloth on one end and then lit in her hand and as she had bowed to the audience, she took the torch to her mouth and blowed out a big ball of fire. Della could feel the heat on her face as the second burst came for it was directed at her side. All of three times it was done until she placed the lit end of the stick in her mouth, effectively suffocating the fire.

That concluded the number and the clatter of hands was clearly audible over the pounding music. Ghis still stood on top of the pyramid, bowing. When she decided enough was enough, she jumped up and over the edge. The crowd took a collective breath but the woman executed the high jump with casual grace, making a slow flip in the air and landing on her two feet. She didnít even stagger. The ovations were back.

"Youíre one lucky woman," Lawrence whispered to Della and all the detective could do was nod vigorously. The massive grin she had on her face prevented any speaking. Yeah, Della counted herself as blessed. The wonderful woman that stood on the stage, again bowing, was hers, in more ways than one. Green eyes followed the ripple of faintly gleaming muscles under smooth, bronzen skin and under the black rubber and Della could almost feel her fingers and tongue touching the fine sheen of sweat on that lovely vein on Ghisí left bicep... I think one way will do for now, Della smirked to herself and unconsciously licked her lips.

Her lover was fierce, in all she did but especially in her loving. Demanding a lot but giving even more, she had the power of reducing the strong, confident detective into a quivering mass of pleasure. More times than Della could remember, the raven-haired woman had fanned the fire in her so high she had been unable to stop herself, delving into the world of ultimate pleasure again and again, until she was so sore she walked funny the next three days. It was a thirst never quenched and Della often said that she was the living proof of the fact that nymphomania was infectious.

Ghis rejoined her at the floor a bit later. She had changed her outfit to a dress similar to Dellaís but this was in navy blue, golden ribbons decorating forearms from wrists to elbows and double rows of golden buttons in the front. White gloves and a Captainís hat completed the sailor outfit. The dark woman received claps on her back and congratulating handshakes on a great number, even a hug from Herc. She took it in stride, wanting only to see Della again but politeness was always nice.


"Hi. Did you like it?" Ghis asked shyly. Sheíd seen that the young womanís eyes had been riveted on the stage and the mile wide grin on her face had spoken volumes but... there was an odd look in the smoky hazel green eyes.

"Come with me," Della said instead of an answer. Grabbing the taller womanís hand, she pushed her way through the crowd, towards the nearest ladiesí room. Once she reached the big purple door, she pushed on into the also dimly lit tiled room. It was largish with multiple booths and for now, thankfully empty.


Ghisí voice sounded mildly amused and a bit confused. Her lover was acting weird, it was not like Della to speak little and then take her to the WC and into the biggest booth... her train of thought ground to a halt as she was gently yanked to stand in front of Della and pushed against the black-tiled wall next to the toilet seat. The smaller body pressed against her and green eyes bathed her in a crimson light of adoration and lust.

"I want you."

The words were whispered to her ear, hot breath caressing the skin just under it. A small shiver went down the dark woman for the intensity of the voice was enough to melt stone to mush. Lips captured her earlobe and bit down gently, producing another shiver. Ghis experienced a funny sensation as she felt her mouth go dry and start to water at the same time.

Rubber squeaked as Della adjusted her position, to fully face her lover and to have better accees with her hands. Gods she wanted this woman. She locked her gaze with startled blue one and watched the pupils in the sea of blue dilate as she pressed closer, her lips a breath away. Ghis closed the remaining distance and set her lips on the waiting ones, the colour of smooth coral but tasting so much sweeter.

The kiss was a brief one for Della started to nibble down towards her throat and once there, towards the other ear. When there, the clubowner felt the heated breath again, caressing her skin that was getting more and more heated. She faintly registered small arms sliding up and down her sides but really, that hot rough tongue that traced the edge of her ear was way too distracting.

"And Iím going to have you, right here," the voice said, its pronounced rasp and the heat Ghis felt emanating from her lover speaking of a highly roused individual. She tried to wrap her arms around Della for she felt her control and focus slipping under the assault but her hands were grabbed and pushed back against the wall.

"No. Please. Let me."

Ghis gulped and made a small wish that no-one would come in right now. She let her shoulders relax and nodded faintly. She would let Della have her way and she was quite sure there would be no stopping the detective anyway. The small woman had the power of a lion when she was desperate or determined, not to mention aroused.

Della felt the nod against her cheek and she smiled at the tendon she was nipping at. She had known that Ghis would relent, no question there. Already the dark woman was breathing raggedly, her pulse fluttering under the detectiveís lips. Dellaís mouth meandered back to Ghisí face and her hands shot up to liberate Ghisí hair. The cap fell to the toilet and let the inky black tresses out. They billowed softly around the wide, rubber-encased shoulders and Della smoothed her fingers through them, gripping tighter when she felt Ghisí tongue on her lower lip, licking there and pleading entrance. It was granted and both women groaned at the intimate feeling. Tongues battled for space and Ghis was finding it increasingly hard to keep her hands to herself. But instead of doing against Dellaís request, she pressed them harder against the wall, palms flat on the cool surface.

Before all rational though escaped her (which was bound to happen soon, Della guessed), the detective found that a change of position was needed. So, she grabbed Ghisí thigh, the one closest to the toilet seat, and nudged the taller woman. Understanding her loverís idea, Ghis lifted her leg and settled it on the lid of the seat, half sitting on the edge of the water tank. This accomplished two things; lowering Ghis to Dellaís level and secondly, providing better access. Della took adventage of it, stepping even closer and letting her hands trace the smooth skin on the outsides of the long thighs, kissing her way down. She was pleased to note that the muscles under her fingers trembled slightly and the bosom she was approaching heaved considerably, ragged breaths echoing off the hard walls.

As Dellaís tongue found the lovely skin between Ghisí breasts that the ample cleavage showed generous amounts of, the detective slid her hands under the short rubber hem and cupped two muscular cheeks, squeezing them gently. A strangled sound was torn from Ghisí throat, Della wasnít sure if it was her name or a plea or something in between. She continued her exploration further, getly biting the soft skin on one breast as she let her fingers brush against the sensitive piece of hot skin right above Ghisí behind. A blonde eyebrow rose and the detective smiled against the soft breast. The tall, dark and dangerous wasnít wearing any underwear. Mmmm...

Rubber groaned and complained as it rubbed against another similar surface, the shining agent providing some lubrication but not enough to prevent the noises. They mingled with the womenís strangled groans as they tried to be as quiet as possible and not quite succeeding. Della ground her hips agaisnt the ones in front of her and the move was replied in kind, speaking of urgent, building need in the fierce dark woman.

"Please," Ghis breathed, her hands white fists against the Dutch tiles. She could smell the scent of heady arousal from the woman making love to her, barely held control and passion. Her plea was received and as a way of response, Della latched her mouth to the pulsepoint at her collarbone and brought one hand up to cup the delicious weight of a breast, thumb brushing a rubber-covered nipple. Della heard a sharp intake of breath at this and she proceeded to pinch the already hard nipple through the slick material.

The first really audible moan out of the dark woman came when Della slipped her free hand under the hem, to gently brush against the clubownerís sex.

"God, youíre wet," Della whispered heatedly. She traced her finger around the area, brushing the soft skin there. Soft skin? "And youíve shaved yourself?!"


The panted word was cut short by a deep, thrumming growl, brought on by two fingers that had just been thrust inside her. Ghisí hips bucked and she slammed her palms against the wall, stubbornly holding them away from her lover. Her head followed her hands. It rested against the cool wall, slittted eyes gone dark blue of passion focusing on nothing particular in the ceiling. Her mind was on the scorchingly hot woman pressed against her, loving her with her mouth and hands. She was spiralling higher, the delicious feeling in her groin, brought on by the two- no, three fingers moving in and out of her, transforming her abdomen to a quivering mass of pleasure.

So concentrated Della was on pleasing her lover she didnít notice when someone entered, until the door slammed. Over her raspy panting breath and the low, growling incoherent noises the woman between her and the wall was making, it was no wonder. Apparently that someone decided to return later for Della heard a receding footsteps and the door again. Good.

Switching the position of her hand a bit, she brought her thumb to the small nub of nerves, rubbing the slickness around it. Ghisí hip bucked again and inner muscles clenched around her ever-moving fingers, the whole lower body of the clubowner trembling in strain. She was getting close and Della added to the fire by moving her free hand to the other breast and squeezing the nipple there, hard.

"Oh... Della... Iím... Iím...," Ghis breathed towards the roof as she felt heat gather at her groin, signalling impending release.

"Let go. Let it go, love..."

At the soft words, the dark woman groaned loudly and went over the edge. Hands flew from the wall and grabbed Dellaís head hard, shoving it between the rosy breasts. The detective almost suffocated but if she had to go, this was most definetely the way to do it. A flood of moisture washed her hand and she held on for her dear life as spasms took over the bigger woman.

It was like drowning in fire, being swallowed by a sea of white-hot pleasure. Without her knowledge, a throaty primal sound that distantly resembled her loverís name was torn from Ghisí lips at that high moment as she ascended to new heights. She came down with calmness, floating towards something warm and comfortable. Her loverís arms.

"Iíve got you," Della whispered and wrapped her arms around Ghis whose legs seemed unable to hold her up. It took the clubowner at least a dozen deep breaths before she regained control on her muscles. She managed to straighten up and gather Della to her arms, breathing the scent of the fair hair as she waited for her racing heartbeat to calm down. When the ground under her feet finally settled, she tilted the lovely face of the detective towards her and kissed it, hoping her eyes and this kiss would convey the love she felt for Della. And it did.

They managed to get out of the ladiesí room a while later and by that time, morning was nearing and the party was beginning to be over. Ghis fetched Herc and signalled they were ready to leave.

"Iím hungry," Della announced as the Silver Phantom II glided along grey streets.

"Really?" Good-natured sarcasm was evident in the answer, pronounced in unison by Ghis and Lawrence.

"Iím in the mood for some... finger food," Della smirked and Lawrence was baffled at the strong blush that coloured the dark clubownerís cheeks. An inside joke of some sort, he deducted.

"Finger food it is," Ghis managed, after clearing her throat twice and blushing some more at the cute smirk the detective still had plastered on her face. The eyes told an another story though. They promised that the night was far from over.

"What did it say?"

An eye opened and blue light washed over her. It was close, so close she could see the small specks of white that sometimes clustered around the pupil.

Della was reclining on her stomach, using her partner as an impromptu mattress. She was a bit hard for that use but the detective wasnít complaining, no. Ghis was warm and solid, some inner heat source pushing out consistent warmth. And her skin was so smooth... Della traced her finger over a sculpted shoulder, fascinated at the contrast of the silken skin to the rock-hard muscle under it. It was the epitome of her lover really, the sum of harsh contrasts and little in between. Della wouldnít have it any other way.

Her shoulder complained a bit at the move but it wasnít too painful as the skin tightened on her shoulderblade. There, in stark contrast to the milky skin, stood an angry red mark in the shape of an X inside a circle. The design was simple and she had decided on it after perusing her great-aunties journals. An ancient scroll had described the slaves of one warlord carrying a mark like that and she had liked the idea instanteniously. So, Ghis had made the metalworks and tonight, she had received the brand on her skin where it would stay forever, as a sign of her love for this gorgeous woman under her.

"What did what say?"

"The note you sent to Wells. The one that made him so angry?"

Ah, that. Ghis had pondered on that for a long time until she had come up with a suitable content. The one line she had chosen had provided the man an alternative. A way out, a reasonable way. Or he would be provoked. Either way, they would reach a closure and sadly enough, he had taken the latter of the options. Ghis cleared her throat.

"So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate."

"Milton, isnít it?"

"Yeah. From Paradise Lost."

Della rested her hands on Ghisí chest and lowered her chin there. A small smile played on her lips as she regarded the dark woman.

"He was right, yíknow. Milton, I mean."

The reply was made in the low thrumming alto voice, rich in its dark timbre. Della felt the voice vibrate inside her, finding into every small nook of her body and setting small fires of warmth all over her body.

"I know."

--- The End ---

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