~ Echoes of the Past ~
J. M. Dragon & E. O'Reilly
Part 6
© J.M. Dragon  &  E. O'Reilly 2007


This story primarily features stories involving women. If it is illegal in the state, province, or country in which you live; or if you are under the age of 18, please find something else to read.The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental.

Language - Violence - Hurt/Comfort:  There are elements of strong language, violence,  physical and/or mental, as well as emotional hurt and discomfort in this story.

The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental. 

Acknowledgments - Thank you Teresa and Alice for your invaluable help in editing this story.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to Parker who graciously let us use her name.

Author's Note:   This story the third storyline to J.M. Dragon's When Heaven Meets Hell and Fatal Hesitation. Although it is not necessary to read those two stories it might give the reader more background.

Chapter 15

The persistent vibration of her cell phone distracted Olivia from her wanton need for Parker's body. For a few precious minutes, she’d forgotten all that had happened in the ensuing years and indulged in memories - good ones. So much so, they almost became recent ones again.It has to be either Amelia or Teal. She looked at the soundly sleeping Parker and her eyes took in the naked body once again. With a sigh of regret, she deftly moved Parker on her side and wrapped the blanket around her. She grimaced at the pain in her shoulder and eased off the bed before reaching for her phone. “ Santos.”

“I have only one thing to say to you Olivia. The eagle has landed.” Teal announced dramatically.

Olivia quietly made her way out of the room and stood in the farthest corner of the living room. Great, Teal being smart…that’s all I need to top of the day. “Don’t be cryptic Teal. What do you mean the eagle has landed?”

Teal felt her tension ease when she heard Olivia’s voice in its usual brisk manner. “She knows, at least I figure she’s worked it out since Jerry wasn’t subtle.”

“What do you mean? I take it the she is Amelia and just where did she and Jerry meet up?” Olivia’s eyebrows met. “Did you have one of your Wednesday evenings early Teal and invite Amelia? If you did so help me…” Olivia took a deep breath and didn’t finish. It might not be as bad as it appears.

“Don’t you check your voice mail Olivia? I sent you a message earlier today and, just so you know, it hasn’t anything to do with me…besides, I’d never ask Amelia. Jerry came by the office this afternoon and I tried to get rid of her before Amelia appeared. Just like most things in life, things never quite work out the way you hope,” Teal replied.

“That ditzy blonde came to my office!” Olivia’s eyes darted around the familiar room as she sucked in a deep breath. “Exactly why did she do that?” Olivia retorted angrily. Jerry is great in bed and ok for a few dates, but I’m not into long-term relationships. If I were, it certainly wouldn’t be with someone like her.

“As crazy as this might sound, she wanted to see you. When she left, there was no doubt in Amelia’s mind that you’d slept together…at least once.”

Olivia ground her teeth. “Oh shit! Where is she now?” she whispered loudly.

“Jerry or Amelia? Ok, I know. Amelia is at the nunnery…”

Olivia cut in, “What? She’s gone back! I don’t believe it!” She wouldn’t do that even if this were a shock! Agitated, Olivia said, “Damn, can’t you speak with her Teal? She trusts you and I’ll explain when I get back.”

Teal scratched the side of her head as she looked down at the sleeping Amelia. “You never let me finish Olivia. I’m with Amelia and she is sleeping it off. Apparently, she got drunk and gave a mean karaoke performance of You Don’t Own Me, according to the good Sisters who picked her up.”

Olivia couldn’t help it. Of all the images she had of Amelia, drunk at a karaoke bar wasn’t one of them. She laughed as she asked, “You’re joking right? Just how did the Sisters know to bail her out?”

“I wish I were,” Teal said with a smile. “That’s exactly what I thought when Sister Angelica called me. It’s a long story. Amelia hasn’t changed who her immediate contacts are for an emergency. With her parents out of town they called her work contact.” She laughed derisively. “Lucky me.”

Olivia sighed heavily. That figures.Sometimes, you just can’t shake the last vestiges of an old life. Her eyes traveled to the bedroom and the sleeping Parker. Nope, sometimes it catches up with you and the results…well they certainly are surprising.

“When are you coming home, Olivia?” Teal asked.

Olivia stopped her train of thought and shook her head. “I’ll leave here in under an hour which will put me back at the office for a late breakfast. Coffee on the boil might be good for more than just me Teal.”

“You got that right boss. I’ll have to leave her here tonight since she’s not fit to move. Good thing she wasn’t sick…I really hate puking drunks.” Amelia groaned and the very thing Teal hated, happened. “I have to go Olivia. You have a safe journey see you in …later today I guess.” Her eyes flicked to the mess on the floor and then at her shoe. Crap, why is something that looks like carrots always in the mix! Teal pushed hair away from her eyes and checked that Amelia wasn’t in any danger. She headed for the door and a bucket and mop. You owe me major boss…both of you!

+ + +

Parker groaned as a hand forcefully shook her shoulder. “Parker, wake up! I need you to wake up right now.”

She blinked the sleep out of her eyes. Damn I was enjoying that dream. She opened her eyes and looked up at Olivia. Hmm maybe it wasn’t a dream after all. “What’s happened? Did they find us? Is Sophie ok?” Her mind suddenly jumped to all the wrong conclusions as she sprang up in bed.

“Hey, it is ok there isn’t a fire or any murderer in the house. Something has come up that needs my immediate attention. I need to leave now.”

“Is it the case?” Parker, now wide-awake, asked. Even though she barely had any sleep, it was deep and refreshing and that was what she needed.

Olivia smiled slightly. “No, it’s personal business in Portsmouth.”

The quiet response had Parker dissecting every syllable. “Won’t they want you to rest? You aren’t exactly one hundred percent. I mean before you attempt a six hour journey at…” her eyes traveled to the clock. “It’s two…I bet you haven’t even slept.”

“People like me only need a bare minimum. You must remember that I was never a long sleeper. When this is over, I’ll take a break, maybe even a vacation.” Her thoughts turned to Amelia and the fact that her friend had gone to a bar alone. Not a good sign…it’s not good at all.

“After this is over, we’ll all need a vacation,” Parker said with a wink. “Who knows, we could take it together…like old times.” Parker regretted the impulsive words she hadn’t meant to voice. She stared into the cold, hard look on Olivia’s face and shrugged. “I didn’t mean it the way that sounded.”

Mentally and physically exhausted, Olivia allowed her mind to fall over the mental precipice she’d set when Parker betrayed her ten years earlier. She thinks she can waltz back into my life as if nothing ever happened. She took in Parker’s naked body. I wonder if you realize how close you came to having a bullet in your head Parker. I doubt it…for you never did think I was capable of killing even after I did. Thankfully, you know very little about what I’m capable of doing…particularly now. She waved off the comment and said, “I’ve got to go.”

Parker, suddenly cognizant of being naked, grabbed the sheet and wrapped her body in it. Stupid, she thought as she mentally smacked her forehead. Why did I have to say that! “What about Sophie and her problem?” she asked quietly.

Olivia picked up her jacket on the chair and snorted when she saw the rip again. “I’m not abandoning you Parker or your little friend next door. I merely have other responsibilities that need my attention. I’ll be in touch with the details of the safe house within the next twenty-four hours. When I give you that information, I’ll expect you there within twelve hours. If you’re not…”

The unfinished sentence charged the air and hung there as Parker felt her shoulders defensively tighten. “If we’re not then what…we’re written off like yesterday’s trash?” Parker knew Olivia well enough to know if people let her down or didn’t comply exactly with her demands she’d walk away without a thought.

“Dragging out the same old stuff Parker, you really don’t have a clue about the person I am today. For the record, I’d send out a search party and that will be costly. I’ve written down my emergency cell number. No matter what, this will be answered.” Olivia threw the small blank card except for the number towards Parker.

“Ok, what if something happens and I need to contact you and you don’t answer?” Parker asked.

Olivia nodded accepting that might happen. “Call 555-7282. It’s the direct line to my associate Dr. West.”

“A doctor…wow, I’m impressed” When she saw Olivia’s cold hard stare in reaction to the question, Parker realized that her previous assumptions about Olivia’s partner were correct. “What exactly do I tell her?”

“Simple…you tell her that I told you to call her for help. She’ll be on the case immediately.”

“What if she doesn’t believe me?” she asked. Parker shook her head and added, “I’m not sure involving another party in the already complicated case is wise.”

Olivia stretched and found the pain in her shoulder bearable. “We worked out a code - mysteries of the universe.”

Parker softly laughed. Who the hell thought of that? “And if she’s not there?”

Exasperated, Olivia flung a disgusted look at Parker as she headed for the door. “Teal’s number is 555-8282 and her code is small but mighty.”

“Ok, I get the picture. I’ll only call them if I can’t contact you, right?”

“Precisely. Now, I need to go. Will you give my apologies to your parents? Tell your mom that I’ll see her soon.”

Never one to give in lightly, Parker had a final question. “Just out of interest, what’s your code?”

Olivia opened the door. “Give it a rest Parker, I’ll be in touch.” She smiled slightly as she closed the door. Her mind uttered the words Parker wanted to know - darker than dreams.

Chapter 16

Sophie woke the next morning feeling more refreshed than she had in a long time. She stretched, closed her eyes and contemplated exactly why she felt so good. It has to do with Olivia Santos…how strange that is. She had a distinct dislike for the dark mysterious woman that arrived the night before, but the woman made her feel safe – extremely safe. Her thoughts turned to Parker and she smiled as she wondered about the obvious bond her friend had with the dark woman who arrived the night before. I wonder if they realize how much electricity they generate. Maybe today I will figure out just what their story is.

She got up and started dressing, but paused when she saw her reflection in the mirror. “Who do you think you’re kidding…you’re jealous of Olivia.” She snorted and shook her head. “You want Parker all for yourself.” She winked at her image. “And you shall have her.”

When Sophie entered the kitchen she said, “Something sure smells good.”

“Oh good morning dear,” Ruth said over her shoulder. “I’m making blueberry pancakes, they’re Olivia’s favorite.”

Sophie said, “Sounds good to me too. I didn’t hear either of them moving around.”

“That’s good. They both need a good long sleep. Did you see the dark circles under Olivia’s eyes? And, my Parker…I’ve never seen her so on edge. She’s usually really mellow when she comes home.” Ruth turned to face Sophie. “Olivia is just the cure she needs.”

A small polite smile crossed Sophie’s face. “It seems to me that they are really good friends.”

Ruth turned her attention back to the stove and flipped over a pancake. “At one time they were very close, but something happened and…well,” she sighed, “no need to dwell on the past. Olivia is here now and that is all that matters.”

Both women turned when they heard, “Good morning.” Parker stood in the doorway. “Mom, are those your famous blueberry pancakes?”

“Yes, I remember how much Olivia likes them,” Ruth said as she looked beyond her daughter. “Isn’t she up yet?”

Parker shook her head. “She had to leave early this morning. There was some sort of emergency. She said to tell you she’d see you soon.”

Unable to hide her disappointment, Ruth asked, “Did she get any sleep?”

“No, but I will call her later to make sure she made it to Portsmouth safely.” Parker felt her stomach churn for she knew she wouldn’t call. Olivia made it clear she would call me…besides I don’t think she’d appreciate me calling to check up on her. She bit her lip. I’m the last person she wants calling her. Last night she all but confirmed what I already knew. She has someone new in her life…do I care? She felt the knot in her stomach double. I’ll talk with mom later. She’s always been a good sounding board for me when it comes to Olivia. Unwilling to explore the answer further, she turned her attention to Sophie. “Good morning, did you sleep well?”

Sophie’s face lit up. “Yes, I had a wonderful rest. It is so calm and peaceful here that I feel more relaxed than I have in a long time.”

A genuine smile crept across Parker’s lips. “I’m glad you feel that way,” she said softly. “After breakfast I’ll show you around the place.”

Just then, Crystal came charging into the kitchen. “Who the hell was that on the motorcycle making such a racket? Frank had his shotgun out ready to shoot them.”

“Oh Crystal, stop being so dramatic,” Ruth chided. “It was Olivia. Remember Parker said that she was coming for a visit.”

A look of disgust crossed the pregnant woman’s face. “Olivia,” she snorted. “I should have known.” She looked around. “So where is the perfect Santos?”

+ + +

Later that morning Parker drove Sophie around the farm in her dad’s old Ford pickup. “Parker?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“I’d have to be deaf and dumb not to see that you and Olivia have a history.”

“I already told you that we were partners on the Portsmouth police force.”

Sophie reached over and touched Parker’s arm. “That’s not what I meant,” she said softly.

The old truck came to a stop. “What exactly do you mean Sophie?” Parker’s eyes narrowed and locked Sophie with a scowl.

“You two have an undeniable chemistry,” said defiantly.

Parker did not intend on sharing anything about Olivia with the woman. “That’s not a subject that’s open for discussion.” She pursed her lips and nodded. “First you tell me about you and Camille.”

“She was my best friend…nothing more.”

The brown eyes refused to let go. “Now is not the time to lie to me Sophie.”

“Ok, we were lovers! Satisfied…is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Will you tell me about her?”

Sophie adjusted her position then looked out of the window. “Cammie always had a crush on me…she knew I didn’t feel the same.” She returned her gaze to Parker. “She took me in and we became lovers…more out of need on my part than love.” Her eyes filled with tears. “She had pictures of me at every stage of my life…I needed to feel connected and she gave me that.”

Parker’s defenses let down some and she put a comforting arm around Sophie. “We all do what we have to so we can survive,” she said softly.

“Is that what happened to you and Olivia?”

“No, I wish it were that easy.” Parker blew out a breath and sighed. I need to let O go…maybe its time to talk about her. “She is the love of my life.” She looked past Sophie to the distant trees. “She killed someone and I turned her in. I saw it as saving her she saw it as betrayal. Until I called her the other night, we haven’t spoken in ten years.” Their eyes met. “Just because you have a misunderstanding doesn’t mean you stop loving someone.”

“You still love her?”

Parker creased her forehead. “She’s moved on.”

Sophie let out a derisive laugh. “You may think she’s moved on, but from what I saw last night, that’s hard to believe.”

Parker put the old truck in gear and let out the clutch lurching it forward. “I don’t think so…she hates me!” she said. “Right now, the most important thing to me is keeping you safe. Olivia has ways of doing that and I don’t. Therefore it was necessary to involve her.”

Sophie grabbed the dashboard as they bumped along the dirt road. “What do you mean?”

Once again, Parker pressed the brake pedal and stopped the truck. “I wish I could , but I can’t guarantee that you’ll be safe until the conditions of your grandmother’s will are met. Over the years, I’ve kept track of Olivia and I know that she possesses contacts, resources and skills that I don’t.”

Sophie’s mind flashed back to the morning and how safe she felt knowing Olivia was there. “Can’t ask for much more can I?”

“Neither of us can,” was Parker’s soft reply.

Chapter 17

Olivia parked the motorcycle in its designated bay within the warehouse apartment complex she called home. Exhausted head to toe, she blew out a breath and then chuckled as she recalled Teal’s account of rescuing Amelia. Teal spoke with Sister Angelica when she collected Amelia and the negativity that the order felt about the depravation of one of their own was unmistakable. Although Amelia had given up the order, Teal had the distinct impression of once a nun always a nun. One of their own waking up in the convent with a hang over hadn’t settled well with any of them…especially Amelia. The downside of Amelia’s adventure was that she was in no condition to work and Teal had to scramble to cancel all her appointments. I can see it all now, Teal in a spin and Amelia with a face as long as a wet weekend, wish I’d been there.

When she dismounted the bike, Olivia winced at the pain in her shoulder. It’s getting worse. Damn, I’ll need to go to the doctor and get it looked at.Maybe I should’ve have taken Parker up on the offer of a doctor. A part of her was wary of the new situation of Parker back in her life, while another felt its rightness. She walked over to the central console and checked for the email she was expecting from her associates. As predictable as always, her private, secure inbox was flashing. Should I look at the mail or find Amelia…choices…choices. The mail won out as her fingers raced over the keyboard entering her code. She saw the familiar name and opened the message.

The package you forwarded is secure.
No sign of the other package…will continue to monitor for its arrival.

Expect imminent danger. Old partner now part of the equation.

In deep thought, Olivia stroked a hand down her chin as her eyes scanned the mail. It wasn’t until she heard the rattle of shoes on the metal staircase that she became aware of another’s presence.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you,” Amelia remarked in a cool voice. Amelia allowed her eyes to wander over every inch of the woman she thought trusted her as a friend - she saw a stranger.

Olivia closed her eyes. I wonderhow sensitive a chat this is going to be, she thought before swinging around to face the woman. “No, I came back earlier than expected. I heard you were partying last night?” She tried a smile and it froze on her face as angry glittering eyes caught her gaze.

Amelia’s lips curled in snarl. “It’s none of your business if I chose to party or not! What I do in my own time is my affair! I hope you didn’t make a special journey to keep me out of trouble because, I don’t need your help.”

Ok, this isn’t going to be sensitive…it will be more like a head bashing against a wall talk. Right now, I can do without that. “I believe you have a message for me?” Olivia asked quietly.

As if in a Mexican standoff, brown locked with blue. They held each other that way for a few moments while all the senses in their bodies responded to the raw charge passing between them. Amelia was the first to drag her eyes away, as she looked every where but at Olivia.

“A friend of yours…no, let me rephrase that, a girlfriend of yours…Jerry. Yes, that was her name, would like you to call her. She said to tell you that the bed was cold without you in it.” The coolness of the words belied her rapidly beating heart or her pent up anxiety. Once she had confronted Olivia with the information, she felt her shoulders drop in relief as she turned her head away.

Without thinking, Olivia moved quickly and had to suck in a deep breath as the pain in her shoulder hit her hard. “Thank you. Is that all you wanted to say to me?”

Not realizing that Olivia was in such close proximity, Amelia spun around and the sensual overload it caused had her taking in a sharp breath. “I’d like to know just one thing…why Olivia?”

When Olivia saw Amelia’s brown eyes fill with anguish and plead for understanding, she bitterly regretted her act of omission. It wasn’t Amelia’s words, but the expression of betrayal in her eyes that cut her to her heart. I know damn well, how that feels. It hurts to the core of your very being. “I won’t insult your intelligence by asking exactly what you’re talking about Amelia. I didn’t think it mattered who I slept with or what my sexual orientation was. We’re friends Amelia and business partners. What we both do in our private lives, as you rightly pointed out, isn’t either of our businesses.”

Amelia growled her irritation. “Damn you Olivia, that’s a cop out. You can do better than that…I deserve better.”

“Do you? What gives you the right to judge me? Have I ever asked you who you preferred to go to bed with or why you decided celibacy was for you. Isn’t me being me enough for you Amelia? If we are true friends, it should be.”

Amelia stepped back as if Olivia had slapped her. She’s right…why does it matter. “I have a headache, I’m going to take a nap.”

Olivia watched as Amelia took several steps knowing that it wasn’t the end of the conversation - it was the beginning. “I’d never bring anyone here that would make you embarrassed Amelia…if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Amelia felt her back go ramrod straight. “I can’t have this conversation now Olivia.” She lightly pressed her hand against her churning stomach hoping to quell the emotional upheaval she felt.

“Ok, maybe we should table it for good.” Olivia watched as Amelia silently strode to her bedroom and slammed the door. Hmm, that wasn’t so bad. Man, she looked terrible. Hangovers can be a bitch. She returned to the console, flicked on the speaker phone and deftly dialed a number. I need to get Parker away from the farm and some place safe. I owe her that much. Then I’ll take care of Amelia…I know just the remedy. An indulgent smile hovered on her lips as she shook her head as the picture of Amelia drunk and singing karaoke entered her head again.

+ + +

Parker heard her phone ring and raced out of the bathroom naked. “Hello,” she said breathlessly.

“It rang six times. I thought I told you to have the phone with you at all times,” the low smoky voice said.

“I was in the shower. Did you expect me to take it into the bathroom?”

Olivia considered switching off the speakerphone, but when she glanced in the direction of the firmly shut door, she left it on. She needed to walk around to reign in her anger. “Frankly, yes.”

“Well, I’m sorry Olivia, but you did say you’d call in twenty-four hours and I thought I’d at least have time for a shower.”

“Well, you don’t have time. For the record, you must do as I say and keep that phone with you twenty-four seven. When I call, I expect an immediate answer and not wait for you to answer as you see fit,” Olivia angrily retorted.

What the hell did I do? “Hey, I don’t treat you that way, so knock it off! Who rattled your cage anyway?” Parker said tersely.

Olivia snorted like a bull in a rage, at the confident way that Parker seemed to assume that the last ten years never happened - they had. “I’m not in a cage Parker, never have been…never will be. You think you know me so well don’t you…well think again!” she spit out angrily. “Are you ready to leave?”

Sophie opened the door and said, “Hey Parker do you think…” She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the naked woman. Wow, naked woman are everywhere around here. Her eyes gave Parker a deliberate once over. Not bad…not bad at all. “Sorry,” she said. When their eyes met and she saw the anger, she backed out of the room.

Parker felt her jaw torque in anger. “Listen, I never said I think I know you…in fact…oh screw this, I should have known better than to call you.” She ground her teeth. “Just forget it Olivia! I’m sorry to have bothered you!”

“If you put the phone down on me Parker it’s the last thing you’ll ever do,” Olivia threatened. She closed her eyes and tried to put the lid on the angry emotions that boiled over into the conversation with Parker.

Parker blew out several breaths before she answered. She decided an angry retort of - what are you going to do kill me too - would be pointless. “I need your help O,” she said in a calm, measured voice. “Either you want to help or not…it’s your call.”

It would be so easy to walk away and leave Parker to her own devices. She’s given me the perfect out. She closed her eyes. You always did that Parker. Even when I killed the DA, you gave me an out - turn myself in. She opened her eyes and turned them to the closed door of her friend and business partner. What would you do Amelia? Abandon the innocent because of a personal argument - highly unlikely. I guess even if you never speak to me again that I’ll follow your path of doing the right thing for the right reasons. In a much calmer tone she said, “I want you and Sophie to leave the farm by the morning and arrive outside our old precinct in Portsmouth as soon as possible. Call my number or one of my associates when you get there. Someone will come to take you to the safe house.”

Parker felt tears well up before they cascaded down her cheeks and she angrily swiped one away. “Thank you. We should be there by two…three at the latest. I don’t drive as fast as you,” she said with a forced laugh.

Glad for the relief that allowed her facial muscles to change from a frown, Olivia smiled. “That’s good to hear. If you speed and had an accident on the way here, I might feel guilty,” she said with a softer voice.

“One thing you can count on O, is my driving safely.”

“I’m sure there are other talents of yours I can count on and before this is over we’ll need them all. When you get here I’ll update you fully on the situation your friend and you are in.” Olivia mentally decided in those few seconds that it was pointless not using Parker’s skills. I never like to waste resources.

“Sounds good,” Parker said as she bit her lip in thought. “O…”

You never disappoint me do you Parker…you always want to know more. “Yes?”

“Thank you for giving me a chance. I know you and I have issues and you have every reason not to help me.” She paused. “I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you’re doing.” She added softly, “When you got here last night I could tell you were spent. Then, you turned around and drove back to Portsmouth. Please try to get some sleep.”

A door opened and Olivia watched as Amelia moved in her direction. Tired doesn’t even come close, exhaustion would be a better choice of word. “Save it Parker for when you get here.” Amelia stopped and stood near Olivia and allowed a hiss to escape. Olivia looked up at Amelia in query. “Anything I can help you with Amelia? I’m nearly finished here.”

Amelia glared at her. “I can’t believe that you’re inviting a strange woman here! You said you wouldn’t?”

Parker listened wide-eyed to the conversation Olivia was having with another woman. That must be her new love interest.

“I’m on the phone with a client, can we talk afterwards please?” Olivia asked distracted between business and personal problems along with her waning physical and mental state.

Amelia retaliated, “Even though you lied to me, I was prepared to trust you Olivia I really was. It certainly didn’t take you long to arrange a rendezvous…I think you’ve a compulsion,”

Olivia took umbrage to the remark and turned to face Amelia squarely. “Compulsive, me! Give me a break! You’re the compulsive one in this partnership, ask anyone.”

Fascinated by the conversation, Parker noted Olivia’s mood. I remember how she would come back to the apartment and I’d always know by the tone of her voice what her physical condition was. It’s clear that she’s exhausted, in pain and she cares about this woman named Amelia. Wonder why they are arguing about me…I’m certainly no threat. Olivia has made that clear enough.

The headache that caused Amelia to return to the room for medication was pounding like a thousand drums in her head. She sucked in a deep breath before replying. “You have the nerve to say that to me…me! I’m not the one who labels every damn thing in the place and has to have every room just so. If I put a magazine in the wrong spot on the coffee table, you have to move it to the magazine rack. I can’t even have my personal knick-knacks in the bathroom because you need it orderly. I call that compulsive. Take it from me that I know these things if you remember what I do for a living.”

Olivia angrily bit out, “If you feel that way why didn’t you tell me that I irritate you. Oh, and you could always leave you know…I’m not holding you prisoner.”

Amelia felt outrage at the answer. Oh, she wants me to leave now so she can have a string of girlfriends over. “You’d like that wouldn’t you? Then, you can have girls over anytime you please.”

Not for the first time, Parker felt like a voyeur and wondered how to let Olivia know she was privy to the conversation. She smiled. She always tells me not to get involved personally. She snickered. From the sound of it, she’s in hook, line and sinker. Maybe I can cough or clear my throat or sneeze…that would be subtle. The little devil on her shoulder said, go ahead do it and she coughed loudly.

Distracted by the sound from the loudspeaker, Olivia realized that Parker was privy to the spat she was having with Amelia. Crap that’s all I need. But, she has given me a great idea. “You know, I love…the way your mind works. Have I ever told you that? Give me a minute please.” She saw the look in Amelia’s eyes and added, “Just don’t argue ok.”

Stunned, Amelia nodded mechanically as she wondered where did that come from? Nevertheless, she felt the words send a soothing balm over her ruffled emotions.

Olivia took a deep breath. So help me if you say anything Parker, she thought before returning to the conversation. “Do you understand my instructions Parker?”

Parker smiled. She knew what Olivia really meant - keep your mouth shut. “Yep, I understand them perfectly. See you tomorrow.” When she closed the phone and felt a chill run over her body and her eyes open widened. Shit, Sophie saw me naked.

+ + +

Olivia shut off the connection and paused for a moment. “I understand why you’re upset with me Amelia. Believe me I do.”

Amelia heard the sincerity in the words. The few seconds of patience she exercised as Olivia finished her phone conversation settled her nerves enough to speak in what she thought was a logical way. “It’s like you don’t trust me. Do you know how hurt I was finding out like that? I really thought you and I could say anything to each other.”

Yeah, but you find my ways irritating and have never mentioned it. It works both ways my friend. Olivia grinned. “Yeah, I heard you got stoned in a bar across the street and gave a mean karaoke.”

A hint of a smile traced Amelia’s lips. “Apparently so, I think I scandalized the bar when the Sisters arrived to collect me. I’m not sure who was more surprised, them or the nuns.” Moving closer to Olivia, she placed a hand on her shoulder and immediately Olivia winced. “You’re hurt?”

With a frown, Olivia nodded. “Yeah, I have to get to the doctor. Want to drive me and we can discuss the case? I’m gonna need your help.”

Amelia felt her world right again as the previous disagreement pushed to the back of the queue. This is how it works between us - nothing else is important. “Sure, but we need to collect my car from the bar’s parking lot.”

“We’ll take the jeep.” Olivia reached for the keys and handed them to Amelia.

Wide-eyed, Amelia stared at the keys. “You’re going to trust me with the black monster?”

Olivia softly replied, “Yeah and with a lot more.” She walked along side Amelia and allowed her to open the door to the door for her. “I think you named it the Shrek case. I’d like your take on the situation.”

To be continued in part 7

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