Murder by Association

part 3


Tonya S Coley



For Disclaimers: See Part 1


Chapter 6

Johnnie’s eyes flickered open. She was lying on her back in the forest. She could see the trees stretching to touch the clear blue sky, and could hear the forest animals and a stream nearby. When she sat up, she noticed she was wearing white ceremonial buckskins and moccasins. What in the hell is going on here? She asked herself as she stood up.

She heard a falcon cry out, and she looked toward the sky. She watched as it gracefully glided toward her. It stopped mid flight, about three feet in front of her, and then transformed into a man. The figure was 6’2" in height with tanned skin and white hair. He was dressed similarly to Johnnie. She looked into the nearly black eyes. "Dad? What are you doing here? What am I doing here?" She asked.

"Red Owl, you are here too soon. You have many seasons to go before you can be here. You must go back." He told her.

"Two Feathers," she said, using her father’s tribal name, "Where is here? I don’t understand."

He looked upon his daughter with prideful eyes. "Child, you are trying to enter our spiritual plain. It is not your time. Quickly, you must go now. She’s waiting for you. Look." He told her pointing to a spot across the stream.

She could see Alma crying uncontrollably into Annie chest. She saw Pizo standing with his hands against the door jams, crying quietly. She saw a figure lying on the hospital bed, and realized she was seeing herself. She looked at Alma again, and she began to cry. "I’m sorry, baby. I’m sorry."

Her father stood next to her. "Your woman is beautiful. Go to her, and be good to her. You have a lifetime of love to share with her. Make her yours, completely." He told her.

"I have to get back to her." Johnnie told him. "How can I get back to her? Help me, Daddy, please."

"Close your eyes, and you will be back. I must warn you, things are not as they seem. Keep your eyes and ears open, and watch over Alma." He whispered mystically, and then he was gone.

Johnnie closed her eyes. "I’m coming Alma."

The nurses were turning off the equipment, when Johnnie’s body convulsed as if it had been dropped. The doctor was speaking with Pizo, when he saw her body jerk. "Turn the monitors back on." He shouted.

The nurse did as she was told, and the monitor picked up Johnnie’s irregular heartbeat. It was not too strong, but it was beating just the same. "This is phenomenal." The doctor said as he examined her.

Annie whispered in Alma’s ear. "Do you hear that? She came back. She came back to you, Alma."

The tears that Alma shed now were tears of complete joy.

When they had settled Johnnie down for the night, the nurse told Alma that she could see her. "Only for a few minutes." The nurse told her.

Alma immediately went to Johnnie’s bedside and took her hand, caressing it lightly with her thumb.

"You frightened me, beloved." She whispered as she moved Johnnie’s hair from her face. "I’m so glad you came back to me. Now, you have to get better, baby. Remember we’re going on vacation? You promised."

Alma, I’m so tired, baby. Just let me rest a little while. Johnnie said in her mind, but Alma couldn’t hear her.

As if Alma did hear her, she whispered, "I know you need to rest, so you do just that. I’ll be here when you wake up. Take your time, I’m not going anywhere."

Pizo and Annie were back in the waiting area.

"That’s the damnedest thing I ever saw. I knew J had a strong will, but damn." Pizo said.

Annie chuckled. "As I’ve said before, Red Owl has a warrior’s spirit. She will fight until there is no more fight left in her."

Pizo looked at her quizzically. "Why do you call her that?"

"It’s her name. The name she was given. You do know her father was Cherokee, don’t you?" Annie asked.

"Yeah, I met him a couple of years ago before he died. They never spoke of tribal names. He told me his name was Charles Phillip Green. It never occurred to me that they had any other names." Pizo scratched his head. "You’re Cherokee, too. Are you guys from the same tribe?"

"No. Johnnie’s tribe is in Pembroke, NC. My tribe is from Tennessee." She told him. "We do share some of the same ancestors, though. When the Cherokee were part of the Iroquois."

"And what is your name?" He asked.

"I’m Standing Bear." She proudly told him.

He chuckled. "I can believe that." Before they could continue their conversation, Alma returned. "How is she?" Pizo asked, as he wrapped an arm around Alma’s shoulders.

"Holding her own. She will get through this." Alma said.

"Alma," Annie whispered, going to her and touching her shoulder gently. "You need to get some rest. Lie down. You take the sofa, and I’ll take the chair. I’ll stay with you tonight."

"I have to get some sleep. I have to speak with the captain at 9 am. I’ll be back after that." Pizo told them. He kissed Alma on her forehead. "If anything...."

Alma interrupted. "Nothing will happen." She said decisively.

Alma finally drifted off to sleep. Annie kept vigil, walking over to the doors to ICU every so often to peek in.

After about two hours, Alma woke up. "Have I been asleep long?"

"Not long enough, Alma." She told her. "It’s been quiet. The nurse let me check on her, she still looks weak and pale, but her heartbeat is getting stronger."

Alma smiled tiredly. "That’s good." She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. "I’m going to go see her."

Pizo was at the precinct filing his report. He then spoke with the captain, giving him a verbal report of what happened. Johnnie’s weapon was taken to the lab, and it was determined that she was unable to fire off any rounds.

"She was ambushed." Pizo said, venom laden heavily in his voice. "Man, that bitch is gonna pay for this."

The captain regarded Pizo’s words. "This case is high priority. She shot a cop, which makes her a marked woman. I hope no hot heads run up on her. We want to bring this woman to trial. Let her get a good dose of prison life."

"Do you actually think they’ll be hard on her in prison? She shot a cop for Pete’s sake. They’ll probably give her a fucking medal." Pizo spat. "She needs some good ole street justice."

"Get a grip on that temper, Detective." The captain admonished. "She will be captured and brought to trial. Do you read me?" He paused. "I know she is your partner..."

Pizo loudly interrupted. "She was shot and left to die in an alley. Hell, she did die. Nothing but sheer will brought her back. If I see that bitch, I can’t promise you that I won’t put a bullet in her."

"Put a bullet in her if you have to. Do not kill her unless absolutely necessary." He ordered. "Now get the hell outta here and check on your partner. Be back here tomorrow."

Pizo sighed heavily. "Yes sir." He walked out of the office.

Think I’d better issue a directive, before these hot heads do something stupid. The captain thought to himself.

The morning news was on, and a lone figure sat in front of the television, waiting to hear the condition of Detective Green.

"Detective Johnetta Green was shot in an alley off Oak Street in downtown Wilmington yesterday afternoon." The reporter, Karen Grace, stated. "The detective was shot by a suspect that she and her partner, Detective Pizo Petrillo, were pursuing. Detective Green, a highly decorated member of the Wilmington Police department, is in critical but stable condition.’

Fucking bitch. Next time, you filthy dyke, next time. The television was turned off and the remote was thrown against the wall.

Rosa, Alma’s mother, was an older, shorter version of Alma. She had long salt and pepper hair that she always wore in a bun. She had been widowed for ten years. Her husband, Alberto, was a very handsome man. He was Alma’s height, and had brown hair. Her sons, Miguel and Guillermo remained at home with her; Javier lived on his own.

She was preparing breakfast, rushing so that she could get to the hospital. Her sons were out on dates when she heard that Johnnie had been shot. Since she didn’t drive, she had to wait until the morning to be with Alma. Miguel came into the kitchen first.

"Hurry and eat, mijo. We must get to the hospital and check on Johnnie and Alma." She told him, her accent thick. "Where is Gui? We must leave soon."

Guillermo walked in. "I’m here, mami."

"Hurry up and eat. I want you to take me to the hospital." She told him.

"I’m not going to the hospital to see that bitch. She should have died. She’s a dog that has corrupted our family." He defiantly said.

Before he could sit down, his mother was on him, and she slapped the back of his head very hard.

"Ow, mami!" He yelped.

"Stupido, how come you say such things? No one deserves to die." She yelled. "Johnnie is good to Alma. She loves her and treats her better than you do your girlfriend."

Guillermo rubbed the back of his head, as Miguel snickered at him. He was about to say something, but thought better of it.

"Mami is right, Gui. You treat Marisol like a dog. Johnnie treats Alma like a queen. That pisses you off, eh, big brother?" Miguel taunted.

"Fuck you, Miguel." Guillermo spat as he flipped him off.

POP! Rosa slapped Guillermo’s head again. Miguel’s orange juice sputtered through his nose.

Chapter 7

Johnnie had been in a coma for seventeen days. Alma never left the hospital. Her family came to be with her everyday and Annie stayed with her at night. Rosa would bring a change of clothes and food everyday. Miguel would stay when Rosa went to mass to light a candle for Johnnie. Javier stopped by frequently. Guillermo came by to see Alma, and that was only for a few minutes.

Alma was with her every time she was allowed to see her. It had taken a toll on Alma, not sleeping or eating, as she should. Dark circles had formed around her eyes, and she had lost a little weight; but nothing would deter her from being with her lover.

"The doctor says you are healing nicely." Alma whispered into her lover’s ear. "I’m waiting for you to come back to me. I’ve been worried about you. You haven’t spoken to me in over two weeks." Alma paused. "You remember when I got angry with you and wouldn’t speak to you for three days? When we made up, you told me how heartbroken you were. I know what it’s like now. I feel like I’m dying inside." Alma continued to speak to Johnnie in hushed tones.

Johnnie felt someone hunching her shoulder. A soft voice was calling her.

"Just a couple of minutes more, ma." Johnnie said lazily.

A voice in her head laughed. "No, now little one. She’s been waiting long enough."

Johnnie looked and saw her mother standing over her. "Mama?" She croaked.

Maxine smiled at her. "Yes, daughter. Now wake up, Alma is waiting for you."

Johnnie returned her smile. "You look so good, ma. How?"

"This is how you remember me." She told her. She was very attractive. Maxine was African-American, about 5’8" tall, with medium length black hair. Her eyes were light brown and her skin was dark. "It’s time for you to wake up. You’ve had enough rest to begin your healing, and it’s time for you to return to Alma."

"Alma." Johnnie said, smiling at the thought of her.

"Yes. Now go on, and mind what your father told you." She told her, placing a kiss on Johnnie’s forehead. She then faded away.

Alma continued to talk to Johnnie, as she held and rubbed her hand. Alma noticed that Johnnie squeezed her hand a little.

"Johnnie, thank god. Do it again baby, please." Alma begged.

Johnnie’s grip tightened on Alma’s hand, loosened and gripped again. Tears began to flow from Alma’s eyes as she rang the call bell for the nurse. The nurse answered and then paged the doctor. After a couple of minutes, the doctor came in and began to examine Johnnie. He checked her reflexes by running a pen on the bottom of her feet, eliciting the response of wiggling toes. He used the penlight to check her pupils, and got a response. Johnnie, eyes still closed, used her hand to swipe at the respirator tube.

"Welcome back, Ms. Green." He told her. "Do you feel like talking?"

A moan was the only thing she could manage.

The doctor called for a nurse, and she brought in what was needed to remove the tube and an emesis pan.

"Ms. Martinez, if you would wait outside, this should only take a couple of minutes." Dr. Pedrazo told her.

Alma reluctantly left the room, closing the door behind her. She stood close enough to the door to hear what was going on inside. She could her the doctor talking in hushed tones, then Johnnie gagging. She walked over to the window, and cursed herself for closing the blinds. 'If I had been a man, there would have been no need to close them. They wouldn’t have thought twice about me kissing her.' Alma then heard Johnnie coughing violently. After a few moments, the coughing stopped.

The door finally opened, and Alma was allowed back in. She walked over to Johnnie’s bedside, taking her hand once more.

"Alma?" Johnnie managed to croak.

"Yes, baby. I’m here." Alma told her as tears flowed from her eyes again.

"I love you." Johnnie whispered as she fell asleep.

Alma kissed her hand, then left to let her rest.

Johnnie recovered in ICU for another week, before she was moved out of the unit and into a private room.

"Good morning, baby." Alma told her as she walked over to her bedside.

Johnnie’s eyes lit up when Alma walked in. "Hi, honey." She studied Alma when she sat down. She had noticed that Alma looked tired, and had lost some weight. Johnnie knew she had to tell her that she should stay home and get some rest, but she didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I have got to tell her to go home and get some rest. I just hope she doesn’t get angry with me.

"How are you feeling?" Alma asked as she leaned in for a kiss.

They kissed passionately, not caring if anyone walked in. When the kiss was broken, they were both left breathless. Johnnie touched Alma’s face.

"You haven’t been taking care of yourself, have you?" Johnnie asked.

Alma suddenly found herself fascinated with the bedspread. "I’ve been eating, and…"

Johnnie interrupted her. "Alma, I know that you have been through a lot with me being here, but you have got to get some rest. I can’t have you collapsing on me." She tugged on Alma’s shirt. "You’ve lost some weight."

Alma shrugged her shoulders, and lowered her head. "A little."

Johnnie lifted Alma’s head, and kissed her nose. "You’re here from the time visiting hours start, until they have to practically throw you out when they are over. I want you to go..."

Alma started to protest, but Johnnie placed a finger over Alma’s mouth.

"... Home and get some rest, and some food. No arguments, Alma."

Alma relented. "Alright, Johnnie. Whatever you say."

Whew, that went well. She must be tired, she didn‘t even get mad. A seductive smile crossed Johnnie’s lips. "I want you well rested when I get out of here. You’re gonna need it."

"Now baby, remember your condition. You shouldn’t try to do too much, too soon." Alma admonished sternly. She placed her hand in the middle of Johnnie’s chest.

Johnnie placed her hand over Alma’s, holding it close to her heart. "Do you feel that?" She asked.

Alma nodded, meeting her lover’s eyes.

"It beats for you, Alma. I couldn’t live without you." She whispered.

Alma had a serious look on her face. "I know. I couldn’t live without you either, my love. When I thought I lost you, I wanted to die, too."

Johnnie held Alma’s hands. "I know. I saw you."

Alma looked at her, totally confused. "What are you talking about, Johnnie?"

Johnnie then recounted the events. The forest, her father being there, what he said, and what she saw going on in ICU. Alma was shocked.

"You had an out of body experience?" She asked.

"I’m sure that’s what it was." Johnnie told her. "My work is not finished. I’m going to catch the woman who shot me, and killed those women."

Alma sat there, quietly listening to what Johnnie was telling her. She knew that she was going to ask Johnnie to quit the force, but she didn’t know how or when.

Johnnie noticed how quiet Alma had gotten. "Something on your mind? Talk to me, tell me what it is."

Alma gave her a half-hearted smile. "It’s nothing." She kissed her. "I’m going home, as ordered. I’ll call you later." She kissed her once more. "Te amo, mi vida."

Johnnie smiled. "You know what that does to me, baby. I love you, too. Get some rest."

Alma stood and saluted. "Yes ma’am."

In the two weeks that followed, Johnnie’s days were filled with taking tests. EKG’s, EEG’s, ultrasounds of her heart, lung and liver. She also had respiratory and physical therapy. The atrophy to her muscles was not too extensive, so she was able to regain some of her strength quickly. Alma had returned to work, stopping by the hospital in the afternoon. As much as she loved having her there, Johnnie only allowed her to stay for a couple of hours, and then she would order her home.

After returning to her room following the respiratory therapy session, she realized she needed to use the bathroom, which she was now allowed to on her own. When she came out, she was surprised to find a visitor in her room.

"Mmm, all assed out and no lock on the door." Myra said, leering at Johnnie’s lean, but now thinner behind.

A startled Johnnie quickly pulled the hospital gown closed. She had forgotten to put on her robe. "Myra, what a pleasant surprise. How are you?" She asked as she awkwardly made it back to her bed.

"I’m fine, and I see that you are too." Myra told her. "I’m really glad you are ok."

"Thanks, me too." Johnnie said as she pulled up the bedcovers. After she was settled, she asked, "So, how’ve you been?"

"Staying safe. I’m out of the business." She stated, proudly. "Someone has made an honest woman out of me."

Johnnie was floored. "Well, that is good news. I’m happy for you. Who’s the lucky lady?"

"Annie." Myra said, smiling softly. "She said it was time I settled down."

"Well, I’m happy for both of you." Johnnie said, smiling as broadly as Myra did.

"I can only imagine what other people will think." Myra revealed, her smile fading. "With me being in the life and all."

Johnnie looked at her and felt sympathy for her. She knew everyone wouldn’t be happy for her. "Fuck what other people think. As long as you two love each other, it doesn’t matter."

"Thanks, Johnnie. I guess I need to be reassured." The young woman said.

"C’mere." Johnnie told her, holding her arms open for a hug. Myra walked over to her, and leaned in for it.

A huge figure encompassed the doorway, listening to the conversation. She was touched by what her friend told her lover. Hoping to lighten the mood, Annie walked in and growled playfully, "Hey! What’s going on here?"

Johnnie held up her hands in a peaceful gesture. She smiled at Annie. "I was just extending my congratulations, that’s all. Now get over here, you big lug, and give me some love." She noticed that her friend looked happier than she had in a long time.

They hugged each other, and then Johnnie punched her on her shoulder.

"Ow, why’d you do that?" Annie asked. "I should take you up for police brutality."

"If I could get out of this bed and properly kick your ass, you’d have every right." Johnnie scolded. "You’ve been here almost every day, and you didn’t tell me."

Still rubbing her shoulder, Annie answered her. "Myra wanted to tell you. She didn’t think you would approve."

"Listen guys." She told them. "We are judged, and condemned, for who we love. Don’t worry about what other people think. Fuck ’em. As long as you two love each other, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks."

Myra added, "I’ve always practiced safe sex, Johnnie. I was..."

Johnnie interrupted. "I’m glad that you did, Myra, but that’s between you and Annie."After smiling and winking at her, she turned her attention to Annie. "So, now that you’ve gotten yourself on lock down, how does it feel?"

Annie laughed. "Best jail I could ever be in." She smacked Myra on her behind.

"Ouch!" Myra yelped. "You’re such a roughneck, that’s what I love about you." She pulled Annie into a tight embrace.

Johnnie noticed how happy they looked.

Annie smiled. "So, when you getting sprung?"

"Hopefully tomorrow or the day after." She sighed. "I’m ready to get the hell outta here."

"I hear you. I know you’re ready to get your hands on that bitch. I haven’t seen her around, but if I do, I’ll leave enough for you to fuck up." Annie angrily told her.

"Annie, I’ve already told you, this is a police matter. Let us handle it." Johnnie warned.

"Listen to her, honey. They’ll handle it." Myra added, knowing full well of Annie’s temper, and the damage she could do. She placed a comforting hand on her arm. "Let them take care of it."

The telephone ringing interrupted them. Johnnie answered. Alma was calling to check on Johnnie.

"Hi baby. How are you feeling?" Alma asked.

A smile grew on Johnnie’s face. Realizing who it was on the other end of the line, Myra and Annie moved toward the window, giving Johnnie a little more privacy.

The act did not go unappreciated by Johnnie. "Oh, I’m fine baby. How is your day going?"

Alma sighed heavily. She missed being with Johnnie, watching over her and taking care of her. "Slowly, love. I’d rather be with you. I miss you."

Johnnie’s smile broadened, but the reason was of a different nature. She wanted to feel Alma’s naked body writhing beneath hers. She wanted Alma’s hot breath on her skin. Johnnie wanted to taste Alma. Knowing that Alma would never risk being caught by one of the watchdog nurses, Johnnie willed her desire down. "Umm, I miss you too, baby. You have no idea." She lustfully told her.

Alma smiled as she caught the meaning of Johnnie’s last statement. She knew that Johnnie’s libido was beginning to go into overdrive. After having to practically fight the woman she loved off for the past couple of nights, she knew that Johnnie wouldn’t continue to take no for an answer. Trying to take Johnnie’s mind off of making love, she asked, "What are you doing, watching the news?"

Johnnie chuckled, realizing exactly what Alma was doing. "No, it’s not time for the news yet. Annie and Myra are here and they have given me some good news."

"Oh, really? Tell me." She anxiously asked.

"Well," Johnnie started, "It seems that Annie has finally decided to settle down."

Upon hearing Annie’s name, Myra and Annie both turned to look at Johnnie.

Alma laughed happily. "With whom?"

"Myra." Johnnie told her.

Alma knew that the two of them shared a special bond. She could see it when Myra would come to the hospital to bring Annie food, or keep them company, while Johnnie was in a coma. She knew that Myra was a prostitute, but could see in Myra’s eyes that she would not be participating in that lifestyle much longer. "That is great news. Give them my congratulations."

Johnnie gave them the ‘thumbs up’ sign, and told them what Alma had said.

"Honey, I have to go, but I will see you in an hour." Alma said. "I love you."

"I love you too, baby. See you soon." Johnnie softly said, then she hung up. She turned her attention back to her visitors. "You know this calls for a celebration?"

"We will, as soon as you get outta here." Annie said. "But for now, you need your rest."

Myra agreed. "Yes, Johnnie, you need your rest." She leaned in to kiss her on her cheek. "Take care of yourself."

Johnnie smiled at the sweet gesture. "I will, thanks." She told her, and then looked at Annie. "Congrats, Standing Bear. I’m very happy for you."

"Thank you, Red Owl." Annie told her, smiling broadly. "It means a lot coming from you."

"She’s good people, Annie. Don’t worry about what other people think. You two just love and be good to each other." Johnnie told her friend in a whisper.

"Ok." She softly said. "Later, babe."

"See you guys later." Johnnie told them.

Chapter 8

Pizo ran into Alma as they entered the hospital. "Hi Alma." Pizo greeted, putting an arm around her shoulder.

"Hey Pizo. How are you?" Alma asked her friend.

"I’m exhausted. We found another body this morning." He wearily told her.

"My God, that makes three." She paused. "Does Johnnie know?"

"I haven’t told her yet. She’s gonna be pissed." He told her, knowing full well how Johnnie would react. He was almost afraid to tell her but he knew he had to.

"Pizo, I’m going to ask Johnnie to resign from the force. It’s too dangerous." She announced.

He studied the young woman. He knew that she was afraid, but he also knew that Johnnie would have a fit if Alma asked her to resign. "Uh, Alma I don‘t think that it would be a good idea." He warned.

She pulled away from him, and looked at him indignantly. "Why not? I’m entitled. I love her, and nearly lost her. I don’t know if I can face leaving her in the mornings, not knowing if she will come home to me." Tears formed and fell from her eyes. "I can’t handle that. I can’t live without her."

Pizo motioned for them to sit on one of the benches in the breezeway. "Alma, you’ll be taking a big part away from her. It’ll kill her." He paused. "Has she ever told you why she became a cop?"

Alma shook her head. "No. I asked her about it once, but she didn’t want to talk about it." She softly answered.

"When Johnnie and I became partners, she took me with her to Goldsboro for their family reunion." He paused. "It was a year before her father died. What I learned that day, Johnnie never told me. She doesn’t even know that I know this." He paused once more. "Alma, I’m only telling you this so you can see everything from J’s point of view. You can’t let her know that I told you."

Alma stared at him, looking into his gray eyes. "I will not break this confidence, Pizo."

Pizo resolved to tell her. He didn’t want this to come between them, his dear friends. "Mr. Green told me that when Johnnie was eleven, her mother was raped, beaten and left to die by the roadside."

Alma gasped. "Oh my God." Her hands began to tremble, and tears spilled from her eyes once again. "She has never spoken to me about this."

Pizo stroked her shoulder and continued. "They found her. She was in a coma and never regained consciousness. She died a week later. The police never really investigated the case. You know how it is: small town, black victim. So, when Johnnie graduated from high school, she went to the community college. She got her associate’s degree in law enforcement, and then joined the Goldsboro police department. Johnnie fought tooth and nail to get them to re-open the case. When they finally did, she solved the case, bringing the murderers to justice." He paused. "So you see, Alma, it’s her calling, her passion."

Alma was sobbing. Her lover has endured so much pain. What am I going to do now? I can’t very well ask her to quit, knowing all this. I can’t bear the thought of losing her. She thought to herself.

Pizo gave her time to compose herself, and then they headed for Johnnie’s room. Both of them deep in thought.

Johnnie had just finished watching Judge Judy chew someone out for wasting her time. Johnnie loved they way the judge would tear into people. She laughed at the animated little woman. "You go, Judge Judy." She laughed. When the five o’clock news came on, the lead story was at a crime scene. Johnnie recognized the area.

"There has been another body found here at Atlantic Beach. The area, known as The Dunes, is the scene of another grisly murder. Area college students found the victim, who has not been identified, at sunrise. Here is one of the investigators. Excuse me detective, could you answer a few questions?"

Johnnie sat in her bed, seething with anger. "That son of a bitch."

"No comment." The detective, who turned out to be Pizo, told the reporter.

Johnnie turned the television off, and screamed. The scream was heard all the way to the nurses’ station. The nurse ran in. "What’s wrong Ms. Green?" The nurse asked. "Are you in pain?"

Johnnie glared at her. "Get the fuck out!" She yelled as she threw the remote control at her, shattering it against the wall near the nurse’s head. The nurse immediately turned and ran out.

Pizo and Alma stepped off the elevator and saw a couple of nurses talking. One of them was visibly upset.

"Ms. Martinez," The older nurse said, turning towards them. "Ms. Green is terribly upset, and has upset her nurse. Please try to calm her down."

Alma and Pizo ran into Johnnie’s room. "Johnnie, what’s going on?" Alma asked, as she rushed to her bedside.

Johnnie didn’t acknowledge Alma’s presence, focusing all her attention on Pizo. "You son of a bitch. Why didn’t you call me? I have to hear about it on the fucking news." She yelled.

"Honey, please calm down. This isn’t good for you." Alma pleaded as she stroked her shoulder.

Johnnie was so angry she was unable to respond to Alma.

"J, I didn’t have time. I came right here after I got off duty." He calmly told her, moving a little closer to her.

"Bullshit." She spat. "You have a cell phone. You couldn’t take a couple minutes to let me know what’s going on? Is it the fact that I’m laid up in the goddamned hospital and am useless? Is that it, partner? "

Pizo tried to explain. "J, it’s not like that. You know I’ve been running all over the place. I had to get the CSU and the coroner..."

"Fuck that." She interrupted.

Alma begged. "Baby, please..."

Johnnie got out of bed, and headed toward the closet. Alma was walking behind her. "Johnnie what are you doing?"

Johnnie pulled her gown off, and stood naked before her lover and her friend. Pizo was stunned, and quickly turned his back to them. Finally acknowledging Alma, she yelled, "I’m getting the fuck outta here, and I’m going to find the bitch that did this."

"No, querida, you are not." Alma adamantly told her as she stood in front of her.

"Move Alma, or I’ll move you." Johnnie growled.

"I will not." Alma yelled. "You are not going anywhere but back into that bed." She ordered as she picked up the gown. "Put this back on before Pizo has a stroke."

Johnnie stood there, glaring at her and trembling in her rage.

Alma, getting a reign on her own temper, put her hand in the middle of Johnnie’s chest. "You are not strong enough, beloved. You have to heal and regain your strength." She then slid the gown up Johnnie arms, and tied it closed. Alma took Johnnie’s face into her hands. "Calm down. She will be caught and all this will be over." Alma softly said.

All of Johnnie’s anger faded, leaving her trembling. Tears formed and fell; tears for the victims, including her, and tears of helplessness. Alma wrapped her arms around her sobbing lover, whispering soothing words. Pizo came over to them, and helped Alma get Johnnie back into bed. Alma sat on the bedside, stroking Johnnie’s face, neck and shoulder.

Pizo grasped Johnnie’s hand. "We’re going to get her, partner. You and me, we’ll get her."

Johnnie lay in the bed, tears still flowing. She was calmer, and able to accept Pizo’s explanation. When she finished crying, Pizo then filled her in on the case.

The doctor came in after making final rounds. Johnnie was in bed; Alma was in the chair beside the bed. They were holding hands, and waiting for word on when Johnnie would be released.

"Well detective, your test results are good. Your EEG’s and EKG’s are normal, and your lung and liver are healing nicely." Doctor Pedrazo told them. "So, it looks like you will be leaving us tomorrow."

Alma leaned over and kissed Johnnie, as she breathed a giant sigh of relief.

"No offense, doc, but I’m ready to get outta here." Johnnie told him.

The doctor smiled. "I know you are, and I also know why. I hope you catch the killer, detective."

"Thank you." She told him. "When can I go back to work?"

Alma cringed at the thought of Johnnie going back to work. What am I going to do? How can I make her understand? Oh God. She inwardly groaned.

"In two weeks, I want you to come in for a follow up. We will go from there." He told her. "You can use the time to condition yourself."

"Thanks, doc. I’ll do just that." She said, pleased that she would be getting back into the thick of things.

"You’re welcome. Good luck to you." He told her. He smiled at Alma and left.

Alma was distracted, trying to figure out what she was going to do. She was pulled from her revelry by Johnnie’s voice. "I’m sorry, love. What did you say?"

Johnnie noticed the tension on her lover’s face, and had an idea what was going on with her. She knew Alma would have a hard time adjusting to her going back on duty. "I said, that’s great news, isn’t it?"

"Oh yes it is. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention before. I have a lot of things on my mind." Alma told her. She then stood and walked over to the window.

Johnnie got out of bed and walked up behind her, wrapping her arms around her waist. "What’s going on, baby? Talk to me."

Alma stiffened at her touch. Her mind was racing. What should I do? Do I tell her the truth? That I want her to resign. Or should I just say nothing? "It’s nothing really. Don’t worry about it." She sadly whispered.

Johnnie leaned close to Alma’s ear. "Don’t keep anything from me, Alma. I can see that you are upset and I want to know why. I love you, baby, with all my being. I want to help you."

Alma leaned back to enjoy the feel of her lover’s body, the warmth of Johnnie’s breath against her ear. Johnnie’s deep contralto voice rang to her very soul. The thought of losing her made tears form in her eyes. She lowered her head and steeled herself. "I’m afraid, Johnnie. I can’t bear the thought of losing you." She finally admitted, her voice trembling. "This time we were lucky. I don’t know if I can go through it again."

Johnnie’s fears were realized. Alma’s words hit her like a sledgehammer. She’s going to ask me to resign.

"Alma," Johnnie softly said as her voice quavered, "I’ll be careful from now on, baby. I’ll wear a vest; I won’t go into any more alleys alone. I’ll take all the precautions."

"Will that be good enough, beloved?" Alma softly asked. "Can you guarantee that you won’t go to work one day and never return?"

Johnnie knew she could not make any guarantees. Her job was dangerous, and Alma knew this. Why now? She wondered. Because up until now, she didn’t fear losing you, idiot. You’re going to have to make a decision. Will it be Alma or the force? Her inner voice questioned.

They stood holding each other in awkward silence. Each wondering what the other would do. Johnnie wondered if Alma would eventually leave her, and Alma wondered if Johnnie would wind up resenting her for asking her to resign.

I love Alma more than anything in this world. If I have to give up my job, then I will. Johnnie decided. She turned Alma around, so she could look into her eyes. She saw her tear stained face. "I will do anything you ask of me." She kissed her on both cheeks.

Alma looked deeply into her eyes. She could see the despair, but she could also see that if she asked her to resign, Johnnie would do just that. She remembered what Pizo had told her. Her calling. Taking a deep breath, she began to speak. "I won’t ask you to give up your job. I know1 how much it means to you. But you have to promise me something."

Johnnie eyes held unshed tears as she gave silent thanks. "Anything."

She tightened her grip around Johnnie's waist. "I want you to promise me that you will do everything in your power to come home to me every night."

"As God is my judge, I will do anything it takes to be in your arms every night. I love you, Alma."

Alma pulled Johnnie’s head down to kiss her. A soft, chaste kiss, but it went deeper as Johnnie’s tongue begged for entrance. Their tongues wrestled as moans echoed in the room. Their need for air made them break the kiss. Johnnie kissed Alma’s chin then moved down her neck. Johnnie’s sex was pulsing as she pulled Alma closer, slipping her thigh between Alma’s.

"Baby, we need to stop." Alma breathlessly whispered.

"I need you. I want to touch you, and taste you. Please baby, touch me and let me touch you." She begged as she fondled Alma’s breasts, teasing her nipples. Johnnie’s lips caressed her skin.

"We can’t. Someone could walk in." Alma moaned, as she involuntarily rubbed herself against Johnnie’s thigh; her resolve was crashing and her libido was taking control.

Johnnie continued her assault on Alma’s neck, licking and sucking it. She pulled Alma with her over to the chair, then with her as she moved the chair to the door to jam it shut. "No one will be able to walk in. Touch me baby, please. I can’t wait any longer." She led them back over to the bed, pulling Alma down on top of her. "Please."

Unable to resist her love anymore, Alma slipped her hand underneath Johnnie’s hospital gown. Her fingers brushed against Johnnie’s thighs causing them to shudder, leaving individual trails of electricity coursing through them. Johnnie’s free thigh spread, giving Alma access to her pulsating sex. When her fingers reached Johnnie’s swollen bud, Johnnie gasped loudly as it felt like a thousand fires were lit in her belly. Alma covered her mouth with hers and kissed her, absorbing the moans and gasps as her fingers stroked and teased her clit. She slid two fingers inside and used her thumb to continue her assault on her clit. Alma eased her own ache by rubbing it against Johnnie’s thigh. The onslaught on both Johnnie’s mouth and sex made her come quickly. Johnnie was sweating profusely and breathing heavily. Alma looked at her, afraid that it might have been too much for Johnnie. She stopped her own ministrations immediately.

Johnnie saw the concern on Alma’s face, and gave her an exhausted smile. "I’m fine, baby. Don’t worry." She kissed Alma, and began pulling up the hem of Alma’s skirt. She cupped her buttocks, pulling her harder against her thigh. She moved her hands up Alma’s hips, lacing her finger around the waistband of her panties. In one fluid motion, she pulled them down and tossed them on the floor. "I want to taste you." She motioned for Alma to climb up her body.

Excitedly, Alma complied and settled herself on Johnnie’s face. "Mmm, Johnnie." She whispered. "It’s been too long."

As Alma writhed above her, Johnnie’s tongue was like a tornado whirling around her engorged clit.

"Yes..." She hissed, as Johnnie flattened her tongue and let Alma ride her. She pushed up Alma’s blouse and bra and she kneaded the flesh of her soft, full breasts.

Johnnie touched her own sex to moisten her fingers. She tweaked Alma’s nipples, making her grind harder.

Alma had to cover her mouth as she came, to squelch the scream that was bound to tear through her. Johnnie gave her a couple more licks, for good measure, before Alma slid down to nestle against her.

"Nothing like a quickie to get you through the night." Johnnie chuckled. "That was a preliminary. Just wait until I get you home."

"Tomorrow won’t get here soon enough for me." She told her. "I’ve missed having you in our bed."

Johnnie became angry all over again, thinking about what she nearly lost. She tried to hide it from her lover. That bitch almost took me away from all this; my love, my life. I’ll make her pay. I swear it.

She failed miserably as Alma noticed a change in her demeanor. Propping herself on her elbow, she asked, "Is anything wrong?"

"Oh, I’m sorry. No, everything’s fine." She told her, unable to look at her. "Just going over some things in my mind."

"You’re lying." She softly told her. "I have a feeling it has something to do with the killer. I can see in your eyes the revenge you are plotting."

Johnnie eyes snapped up to meet hers. Damn, I could never pull one over on her. She reached over to touch her cheek. "I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m going to make her pay, but I’m going to use the system to do it." She told her. "I just got upset because she nearly took me away from you."

"I know what you mean, honey. Although, we have to do this the right way. She has to pay not only for what she did to you, to us, but she has to pay for her crimes against the other victims." Alma whispered as she ran her fingers through Johnnie’s hair.

Johnnie closed her eyes, relishing the feel of Alma’s fingers. "You’re right, as usual." She told her.

Alma smiled. "This is true."

Johnnie chuckled, and swatted Alma’s behind. Kissing her cheek, she told her, "You’d better get up before one of the nurses from hell kicks the door in."

Alma got up to straighten her clothes and retrieve her panties. She walked back over to the bed and leaned down for one more kiss. "I’ll be here first thing in the morning. Are you going to be ready, or will you be sleeping in?" She teased.

"My love, you have no worries. I’ll be ready when you get here." Johnnie told her, giving her a lopsided grin.

Alma kissed her once more, and then left.

When Alma got home, she made a couple of quick phone calls, letting everyone know that Johnnie would be released the next day, and that the welcome home party would be held that afternoon. She showered and dressed in one of Johnnie’s Wilmington PD t-shirts and a pair of shorts, put on a Santana CD and began to prep the food for the party.

To be continued in part 4

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