Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between women
Author's Note : This is a prequel to my series of Riley Parra stories. Basically all you need to know going in is that Riley is a police detective and Zerachiel is Riley's guardian angel. For the sake of clarity, Zerachiel is referred to as "she" in this story despite, technically, being an "it."
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2010 Geonn Cannon
One moment she wasn't, the next moment she was. Angels didn't have a bullpen, a batting cage where they waited to be called on-deck. Most of the time, he existed in what they thought of as a "null" state. Inchoate, but present, aware. One moment Zerachiel was at rest, and the next she was in the backseat of a familiar car. A bag rustled as the passenger dug for something within. Three French fries, which were promptly consumed. The driver ignored the feast and kept her eyes on the building across the street.
"He's not coming back tonight," the passenger said. Her name was Kara Sweet, known as Sweet Kara to all who knew her. She was peripheral to Zerachiel's interest; her true focus was on the driver, Detective Riley Parra. Sweet Kara's partner and friend, Riley was slumped in her seat to make less of a silhouette in the window, her dark hair hiding her face from Kara's examination. But Zerachiel could feel the frustration rising from Riley in waves.
"Did you hear me?" Kara asked.
"Yeah, I heard you," Riley said. "I'm just ignoring you."
"Not nice," Kara said. She dug for more fries and came up empty. "Shit. Okay, I'm calling it. Ten more minutes and we're out of here."
Riley checked her watch and then looked back across the street. "He'll be here. His brother said he would be here."
Kara scoffed. "Real reliable source of information there."
"Fifteen more minutes, and then we'll go," Riley said. "Happy?"
Kara grinned. "Fifteen will do."
"You have a hot date tonight or something?"
Kara said, "Me myself and I, along with a couple of double-As. You?"
Riley shook her head. "Might go down to the bar. See what's going on."
"That's your problem. Always picking up skanks for a one night stand. You need to find a nice girl and settle down. Maybe Lieutenant Hathaway."
Riley laughed. "Yeah, that would solve all my problems, wouldn't it? Tell her I didn't finish my paperwork because I was too busy banging her in the break room."
Kara grinned, but it faded quickly. "Aw, shit. I was so close to a boring night in front of the TV. Check out the corner." She nodded toward the broken streetlight, illuminated by the flickering light coming from a nearby window. A broad-shouldered man was limping down the street, his head ducked and his hands stuffed into his pockets. His elbows stuck out to either side, making him look like a teacup. The limp was the clincher; the dead clerk had gunshot residue on his hands, indicating he'd gotten a shot off. The blood trail showed he'd hit his mark, and the security camera indicated it was his lower right leg.
Riley said, "That's our boy."
They waited until he was past them before Kara got out of the car. She jogged across the street, ignoring the suspect's progress. Riley got out of the car a few seconds later. The suspect was focused on Kara, making sure she wasn't doubling back on him, and didn't hear her as she approached. He ducked into his building and Riley followed him.
Zerachiel didn't leave the car; she didn't have to. She simply changed her perspective to Riley's. She went directly from the backseat to the lobby of the suspect's apartment building. Half the lights were out, giving just enough of a glow to keep people from falling down the stairs. The man at the front desk opened his mouth to speak, but he shut up when Riley pulled up the tail of her shirt to show her badge.
He didn't even turn to look before he started running. Riley said, "You're going to regret making me run. Freeze right now, Mr. Wright."
Douglas ignored her. When he reached the landing, he dropped to one knee and spun to face her. Zerachiel put her hands in the middle of Riley's chest and pushed her to the side. Riley credited her instincts as she hit the wall and dropped to one knee, avoiding the bullet by a hair. She moved into the small alcove for the light fixture and cursed. A second bullet hit the plaster near Riley's head; Zerachiel placed the side of her hand against the wall and the bullet deflected toward the ground.
"It's clear. You have three seconds," Zerachiel whispered.
Riley leaned out and took her shot. The bullet grabbed Douglas Wright's shoulder and twisted him back, knocking him flat on the ground. Riley came out of hiding and hurried up the stairs. Zerachiel reached Douglas before Riley did, and she pinched her fingers together where his trigger finger attached to his hand. He tried and failed to fire it as Riley approached. She pulled the gun from his hand and tucked it into her belt.
"Got him," Riley said. She flipped him over onto his stomach and pulled his arms together. "Douglas Wright, you are under arrest..."
Kara came up the stairs with her gun still drawn. "Jesus, Riley."
"It's fine," Riley said. "Didn't even come close." She patted Douglas on the shoulder before she cuffed him. "Don't worry, Mr. Wright. We're still gonna charge you with assault on a police officer, attempted murder of a police officer. Lots of fun stuff. We'll keep you busy for a good long while until we get you on the grocery store robbery. You have the right to remain silent..."
Lieutenant Hathaway came out of her office as Riley and Kara returned. "Riley. Dr. Hunt wants to see the two of you. Something about the Watson case."
"We'll head down once we're done with this paperwork," Riley said.
Hathaway nodded. "Douglas Wright?"
Kara said, "Downstairs in a nice set of new bracelets."
"Nice work, you two. You might want to check with Dr. Hunt before the paperwork. I had a feeling she was kind of swamped, so you may not get a chance later."
Riley said, "Anything to put off paperwork." She draped her jacket over the back of her chair before she turned and went back to the stairs.
Kara followed her and, unseen, Zerachiel joined them as they headed down the stairs. Kara waited until the door was closed before she spoke. "So you'd really do her?"
"Who?" Riley said.
"Hathaway. I mean, God knows she's interested, but--"
"God, no," Riley said. "The woman is a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. I don't need to get involved with that." They arrived at the morgue level. The hallway leading to the coolers was dark, as usual, and shadows hung on either side of the corridor like tapestries.
"I've always been kind of terrified of the morgue. I've had nightmares about this place."
"It's not so bad," Riley said. She led the way to the examination room doors, but she paused with her hand poised to push the door open. Through the glass, she could see Dr. Gillian Hunt pushing an empty bed toward the coolers.
"What's wrong?" Kara said. "Squeamish all of a sudden?"
"No," Riley said. Zerachiel moved closer to Riley. There was something ailing her, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Riley stepped away from the door and said, "Listen, you find out what she wants, and I'll go up and take care of Douglas Wright's paperwork. We don't both have to be here for this."
"You'll take all the paperwork? That's a deal." She looked past Riley to the window. Gillian still had her back to the doors, her red hair bundled in a sloppy ponytail to expose her neck. "You know what's odd? You'll joke about having sex with anyone. I mean, you joke about going down on Lieutenant Hathaway, banging a suspect, you've even joked about having sex with <i>me</i>."
"What's your point?" Riley said.
Kara brushed past Riley and flashed a knowing smile at her as she gestured at Gillian. "You never, ever joke about her."
The door swung shut on Riley as her face started to flush. Zerachiel felt the distress again, and identified it this time. It was a difficult thing to label. There was loss, but not loss of something that had ever been acquired. There was pain of something yet to happen, and shame at being unworthy of something. Zerachiel held onto these feelings until they became something slightly more identifiable.
Riley watched as Gillian and Kara spoke, and then turned away. Zerachiel followed. It was strange to feel desire - a good thing - grown to the point where it was pain. She didn't understand it. If desire caused pain, why wouldn't Riley just put an end to it? Why didn't she simply attempt to acquire what she wanted? Either the desire would be fulfilled or, in the case of rejection, the desire would fade and she would move on.
Then it made sense. The joy of desire was conflicting with the pain of possible loss. If Riley never tried to get Gillian, then Gillian could never reject her.
Zerachiel put out her hand and brushed it over Riley's shoulder. Riley paused as if she felt the touch, shook her head, and left the stairwell.
Zerachiel left Riley that night. The important people in Riley's life were like beacons to her, and she followed the trail of each one until she found who she was looking for. Dr. Gillian Hunt was asleep in her bed, her hair covering most of her face. She was tangled in her blankets, one leg stretched out across the empty mattress. Zerachiel crouched next to the bed and felt Gillian's thoughts. It was like sorting a crowded closet with both eyes closed and thick gloves on both hands; mostly guesswork and intuition.
Zerachiel found Riley. She occupied a small but protected corner of Gillian's consciousness. It was a stronger section than the one set aside for other colleagues. Zerachiel pushed harder and found an image.
Riley standing by an exam bed in the morgue, her hair up. There was a loose strand of hair on her neck, and Gillian seemed obsessed by it. They were talking, but the words were lost to Gillian's memory. There was a quiet hum, white noise as Gillian lifted one gloved hand. She used the back to brush the hair away, her fingertips brushing Riley's neck. Riley shuddered at the touch and Gillian withdrew her hand with a quick, "Sorry, I was just..."
"It's okay," Riley said, but she didn't look at Gillian.
Zerachiel retreated. Her exploration had brought the memory to the forefront of Gillian's mind, and she stirred in her sleep. She rolled her shoulders and made a quiet noise of contentment. She shifted under the blankets. Zerachiel watched and then, with only a thought, returned to Riley.
Riley was asleep on her couch in a pair of jeans and an old T-shirt. The television was on, the remote on the floor by Riley's outstretched hand. Zerachiel touched Riley's temple and then focused on Gillian's apartment. The two connected, and Riley tensed in her sleep. Gillian rolled onto her back, the shoulder strap of her nightgown falling down as she tried to find a more comfortable spot. Her arm dropped, her hand resting on her thigh before her fingers brushed aside the lace hem of her nightgown.
Riley moved a hand between her legs, pressing against the crotch of her jeans. Riley had her other arm tucked under her head, and she turned her face against it as she began to rub with two fingers. Zerachiel knew that she was seeing Gillian in her bed, picturing the plain white nightgown with perfect clarity. And she knew that Gillian had a crystal-clear image of Riley touching herself on the couch.
After a few seconds, Riley woke up enough to get her jeans undone, pushing them low on her hips and then pushing her hand into her underwear. Gillian bit her lip at the sight and slipped her hand under her nightgown. Riley whimpered and gently nipped the flesh of her arm.
Neither of them lasted very long before orgasm. Riley groaned to prevent herself from saying the name of her fantasy, but Gillian said, "Oh, Riley, you're beautiful." She licked her lips and pressed her thighs together, rocking her hips against her hand until she was finished.
Zerachiel withdrew her hand, and Riley's eyes opened. She sat up, pulled her jeans back up, and ran her fingers through her hair. "God. Damn it." She sighed, rubbed her eyes, and picked up the remote control to turn the TV off. In the silence of the apartment, Riley sat with her head in her hands for a long time, breathing slowly, trying to ignore the remnants of what she thought was just a dream. Finally, she got up and walked to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.
Zerachiel watched her go before she moved to the bedroom. Riley took off her jeans and crawled into bed with her T-shirt on. Zerachiel moved to the far corner of the room and let her presence slowly dissipate. She returned to the place she had started, the place that was there while being insubstantial.
Riley would need her again, she was sure. Until then, she was content to watch and wait.
Be sure to check out my novels, On the Air , Gemini (finalist for the GCLS Literary Award) and World on Fire (finalist for the GCLS Literary Award), and please check out the other stories in the Riley Parra universe at my website: http://www.geonncannon.com/site/?page_id=152
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