Disclaimers: This story is mine. The characters are mine. They do not bear a resemblance to a certain duo, who we all know and love. Although Wilmington is a real city, the names and places of certain areas have been changed to protect me from being sued.

Language: This story contains a lot of foul language.

Violence: This is a murder mystery, of course there's violence. Some of it is graphic.

Sex: This story contains details of a loving relationship between two women. Some scenes are very graphic. If this is not your cup of tea, or you are under the age of 18, I suggest you move on to something else. Additional Disclaimers: Included in this part is a rape scene. It is not graphic. Also angst rears it's ugly head in this one, so be prepared.

Editing Credits: This story was edited by Katia N. Ruiz. Thank you for all your help.

Feedback: Please feel free to let me know what you think. Good or bad reviews I can take, but please don't be cruel. My email addy is

Special Thanks: For Peaches. You helped me to see beyond myself, and gave me the courage to try something new. Muchos gracias, mi amiga.

Additional Disclaimers: There is a little bit of racism in this part. Also, for Uber fans, there's a couple of women who look like the ones we all know and love. They, too, are mine. They make a cameo appearance so don't blink, or you may miss them.

c. 2002

Chapter 9

Johnnie was up at six a.m. Even though she knew that Alma would not be there until nine, she was too excited to remain in bed. She showered and quickly dressed. Thinking about how horribly she treated her nurse the day before, she decided that she had to make things right.

Shift change was at seven, so she waited for her nurse to get shift report. Mrs. Sampson came from the inner office and was startled by Johnnie.

"Uh, is there something you need, Detective?" She nervously asked.

Johnnie sensed the nurse's fear and it made her feel horrible. She was the only nurse who treated her and Alma with respect. She always respected their privacy. The young nurse knocked before entering, closed the door when she left, and kept visitors away when she sensed they wanted to be left alone. You can be a real asshole, Green. "Mrs. Sampson, could I speak with you in my room, please? It's important."

The nurse could hardly keep her hands from shaking. "Sure. I'll be right there." She told her, giving her a hesitant smile.

Johnnie sat on her bed, trying to figure out how to apologize to the nurse, when she walked in.

"Is there something I can help you with?" She asked.

Johnnie began to fidget. "I, uh, would like to apologize for my behavior yesterday. I was upset and I took it out on you. I was completely out of line."

Mrs. Sampson smiled. "All is forgiven, Detective. I saw the news when I got home, and I understood what set you off."

"I still had no right to take it out on you. You have treated me and my lover with nothing but the utmost respect, and I'd like to thank you for that." She told her.

"You're quite welcome. I only treated you how I treat all my patients." She shyly told her.

Johnnie smiled at her. "Too bad the others don't see things your way. Alma was always afraid of being compromised, someone walking in on us." She clasped her hands, "Well, we won't have to deal with that anymore, I'm being released this morning.

"That's wonderful news. I know how ready you are to get back to work." She said.. "It's going to take a while for you to get back into shape. Just know that you shouldn't rush things. If you do, you could do more harm than good." Mrs. Sampson warned.

Johnnie chuckled. "Do you think Alma is going to let me do more than I'm supposed to?"

The nurse laughed along with her. "I see your point. She was the only one that you, how can I put this, gave in to. Even the other pit bull nurses commented on how quickly you did as she asked."

The smile on Johnnie's face told it all; She adored Alma and would do anything she asked of her. Trying to regain some of her bravado, she added, "Well, I just do it to keep the peace. I don't like controversy in the home."

The nurse smirked at her, knowing what the truth actually was. "Sure you do." She gave Johnnie a pat on her shoulder. Johnnie arched her eyebrow and gave her a mock menacing scowl. The nurse snickered. "Just let me know when Ms. Martinez arrives. Your paperwork is at the desk." She turned and left.

Aww geez, now she thinks I'm soft. Johnnie thought to herself. She started packing her things, when she suddenly stopped to look at her reflection in the mirror. This shirt is just a little too loose, and these jeans are too. Shit. She grimaced. Must bulk back up.

Alma stood in the doorway, looking at Johnnie. She noticed the weight loss. Damn. Please don't freak on me, baby. "Good morning, love. You ready to go?" She asked cheerfully.

Johnnie was startled, but maintained her cool. She looked at the clock, which read 8:15. "How did you get in here so early. I wasn't expecting you until nine."

Alma closed the door and walked over to her, wrapping one arm around her waist, while she used her free hand to pull Johnnie down into a kiss. After kick starting Johnnie's libido into overdrive, she pulled away. "Well, if you're not ready to leave..."

Johnnie quickly interrupted, "Don't even try it. I was up at six. All I have to do is let the nurse know that I'm all set."

"Querida, would that be the same nurse you terrorized yesterday?" Alma asked.

Still ashamed at how she acted, Johnnie lowered her head. "Yeah."

"Well, don't you think that you should apologize?" Alma inquired.

"As a matter of fact, I already did." Johnnie beamed, pulling Alma closer into her embrace.

Alma smiled and kissed her chin. "That's good. I'll have to give you a special treat when we get home." She teased.

Cupping Alma's behind, Johnnie kissed Alma's neck. "I'm thinking the red teddy; you know the crotch-less one I got for you last Valentine's day?"

Reveling in Johnnie's embrace, Alma moaned, "I think that can be arranged." She paused long enough to brush her lips against Johnnie's. "Let's go home, beloved."

Johnnie rang the call bell for the nurse. After a couple of minutes Mrs. Sampson came in, wheelchair in tow.

Johnnie looked at the nurse, then down at the wheelchair. Pointing her finger at the contraption, she forcefully asked, "I know you don't think for one second that I'm getting into that thing?"

"Hospital policy, Detective." The young nurse replied.

"You can just forget it." Johnnie snapped. "Later for the policy."

Shaking her head, the nurse looked to Alma for support. Alma authoritatively cleared her throat as she walked up behind the chair, placing her hands on the handles.

Johnnie looked at Alma. "Please, baby, don't make me." She begged.

"Sit." Alma demanded. The nurse couldn't control her snickers. Johnnie growled at them both, but did as she was ordered.

"Are you sure she's going to be released today?" The photographer asked.

The reporter, Karen Grace, sighed. "Yes Jim, my sources said she's being discharged this morning." It's good to have friends that work in this hospital. She mused. She saw her interview as the group exited the elevators. "Get ready Jim, here she comes."

Johnnie saw the cameraman and reporter as soon as they entered the breezeway. "Aww, fuck."

"What is it?" Alma asked, slowing the pace of the wheelchair.

"That Grace woman is out there with a fucking camera. Shit." Johnnie hissed.

Alma placed a comforting hand on Johnnie's shoulder. "Just relax, say 'no comment' if you want but please be nice."

"Hey, what do you mean, be nice? I'm always nice." Johnnie retorted.

Alma stopped and leaned down to Johnnie's ear. "I love you, but you can really be a hard-ass when you want to be."

Johnnie had a feral smile.

"Please, Johnnie. Be nice." Alma begged.

Johnnie looked up into those big beautiful brown eyes. Now, how can I say no to her? She relented, "For you, anything." She took Alma's hand from her shoulder and kissed it.

"Thank you." Alma said.

They proceeded down the breezeway with the orderly pushing the cart that was full of flowers. The reporter and cameraman were standing behind Johnnie's Chrysler 300M. When the doors opened they were on Johnnie in a flash.

"Detective Green, How are you feeling?" Karen asked.

Alma locked the brakes on the wheelchair and went to unlock the trunk. Johnnie sat in silence until Alma glared at her.

"I'm feeling fine." Was all she offered.

Karen was a little agitated at the lack of response, but continued her questions. "Do you know how long it will be before you return to duty?"

"No comment." Johnnie stated.

"Does that mean you won't be able to go back on active duty?" Karen demanded.

Johnnie stood to her full height, which was a couple of inches taller than the reporter. "It means just what I said. NO COMMENT." Before the reporter could ask any more questions, Johnnie got into her car and slammed the door shut. Alma quickly got into the car and they drove off, leaving the reporter behind them.

Karen turned to the camera. "My deepest sympathies to the perpetrator of these heinous crimes. You have one angry detective on your trail. This is Karen Grace reporting."

"Okay, we're clear." Jim said.

"She's one angry bitch." Karen muttered. "I just hope the murderer can make it to trial."

"Honey, calm down. You know how reporters are. She just wanted you to answer her questions in more detail." Alma consoled.

Johnnie was in a world of her own. Does that mean that you won't be returning to active duty? Nosy little bitch! Just who in the fuck does she think she is? She fumed silently.

"Sweetheart, are you listening to me?" Alma asked.

"What? Oh, sorry love." Johnnie said. "My mind was on that bitch reporter. God how I hate her ass."

Alma placed her hand on a denim-clad thigh, rubbing it lightly. "I know you're not going to let a pesky reporter ruin your homecoming, are you?" Her hand moved ever so slowly, closer to Johnnie's nether region.

Johnnie's anger quickly dissipated, and her sex began to throb. Capturing Alma's roaming hand with her own, Johnnie softly warned her, "If you don't stop that roving hand of yours, you're gonna have to pull over."

Not wanting her plans to be ruined, she immediately placed said hand back on the steering wheel. Johnnie smirked at how quickly Alma composed herself. Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you when I get you home, dear heart?

Alma unlocked and opened the door, allowing Johnnie to enter first. As soon as she closed it, Johnnie was all over her; kissing her eyelids, nose, lips. Alma wrapped her arms around Johnnie's waist, pulling them into a closer embrace.

"I've missed you so much. Our home was so empty without you." She whispered, sorrow laden deeply in her voice. "Welcome home, beloved."

"It's good to be home, sweetheart." Johnnie told her, looking into Alma's tearful eyes. "I missed you, too." She leaned down to capture full lips. After tasting her, Johnnie lustfully whispered, "Come, take me to bed."

Once inside their bedroom, Alma slowly removed her blouse, revealing her firm, round breasts. Johnnie licked her lips and moved closer. Alma reached to unbutton Johnnie's shirt. When she finished, she slid it off Johnnie's shoulders. With the sunlight filtering in through the windows, she noticed the faint remainders of the paddle burns from the defibrillator, and she could see the bullet holes; the one in the middle of her chest that nearly pierced her heart, the one on her side that entered her lung, and the one that entered her liver. Tears spilled from her eyes as she touched each mark.

Johnnie cupped Alma's face in her hands. "Shh, don't cry baby. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon." She soothed, embracing her. Johnnie resumed the kiss. Tongues battled for control as hands roamed over breasts, shoulders and backs. Moaning and heavy breathing echoed as they, due to the lack of oxygen, had to break their kiss.

Johnnie kissed Alma's forehead and whispered, "I've wanted this for so long; to have you here in our bed. I need this. I need you."

She let her hands glide down Alma's waist, where she was able to slide her skirt and panties off. Alma's hands frantically unbuttoned Johnnie's jeans. Johnnie guided them toward the bed. Alma reached down and pulled the covers back, revealing the rose petals she placed between the sheets. Smiling, Johnnie stepped back and removed her shoes and jeans. Alma smiled seductively as she slid between the sheets, beckoning her lover to follow. Johnnie didn't hesitate, as she climbed in bed next to her lover. She pulled Alma on top of her. Their lips met as if it were the very first time. Alma moved against her, bringing her intense longing to the surface. Johnnie flipped them over, putting Alma beneath her. Alma marveled at Johnnie's strength, as she didn't allow body contact to be broken.

Johnnie insinuated her thigh between Alma's. She began her slow writhe, driving Alma near to madness. Murmurs of love and heavy breathing were all that could be heard in the silent bedroom. She groaned against Alma's breasts, as she licked away the tiny droplets of perspiration. Alma dug into Johnnie's buttocks, urging her to move faster. Johnnie complied as her thrusts became faster and more urgent. Alma's nails scraped against Johnnie back as she bit down on her shoulder. Johnnie sucked harder on Alma's already tender nipples, moving from one to the other.

"Johnnie, more, I need you inside." Alma begged.

Johnnie entered her with three fingers, as Alma screamed. She stroked her, thrusts matching the ones she gave to Alma's thigh.

"Come with me, beloved." Alma rasped.

"Oh god, Yes!" Johnnie hissed.

They both went over, each calling the other's names. Johnnie collapsed on top of Alma's heaving body. After a short time of recovery, Johnnie stood on unsteady legs and walked over to the dresser. Alma, still weak, lifted her head to see where her lover went. She smiled when she saw Johnnie strapping it on.

Johnnie, strapped tightly, maneuvered herself back to the bed. She kneeled between Alma's thighs. She looked at the beautiful sight, leaned in to lick and suck it reverently. Alma's thighs shook from the wicked way Johnnie was using her tongue, flicking and sucking against an already engorged clit. Johnnie settled back on her knees, and gently rubbed the phallus along Alma's dripping cleft. She coated the head for easy entry, and also indulged in a little teasing.

"Please Johnnie, take me now." Alma beseeched, writhing beneath her lover.

In one swift motion, groaning as she suckled Alma's breast, she entered her. She held it inside, allowing Alma to enjoy the feel of her muscles as they contracted around the dildo they affectionately named 'Little J'. Johnnie began her ministrations, arching her back for deep penetration. Her thrusts were slow and winding. As their tongues entwined, Alma's moaning into her mouth made Johnnie's thrusts become more powerful. Not missing a stroke, Johnnie returned to her knees. She pulled Alma's knees up, spread her wide, and gazed at the phallus as it slid back and forth inside her.

Johnnie stroked Alma's calves, placing butterfly kisses on both of them. She then draped Alma's legs over her shoulder, and leaned forward for leverage. Alma was unaware of what Johnnie was doing; she just knew that it felt good. She had never been put in this position before, so she had no idea that she would be at Johnnie's mercy.

A feral grin formed on Johnnie's face. I hope you are ready for this, little one. She leaned forward a little more, locking Alma's knees into place.

"God, Johnnie, this is incredible. You make me wanna..." She panted between passion-filled breaths.

Johnnie intensified her thrusts. Alma was soaking wet, so the thrusts went deeper. She could hear Alma's state of arousal, as their bodies moved against each other.

The connection between the two of them made Johnnie think that she could feel Alma pulsing against the phallus. She drove harder and faster as they moaned in ecstasy, each one feeling the desire and passion of the other.

Alma felt a tightening in her lower region. "Oh baby, I'm ... coming."

Johnnie growled in response.

"Johnnie, release me. I can't take it." Alma begged.

Her pleas fell on deaf ears. Both her legs were strategically placed on Johnnie's shoulders. Her thrusts were jack hammer-like. They screamed as they reached climax and fell over the edge together. Johnnie released her, and then moved between Alma's thighs to taste her. Alma's hips continued to buckle, until she had to beg Johnnie to stop.

"Please, are you trying to get two months of lovemaking back in one morning?" Alma rasped, her voice hoarse from her screaming.

Johnnie chuckled. "No, my love." She moved to lie beside her. "We have the rest of our lives."

Alma snuggled closer. "I love you, Johnnie. With all my heart."

Johnnie grinned. "I love you too, sweetie."

They both drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 10

The phone rang, pulling Alma from a restful slumber. Johnnie did not stir, as half her body was sprawled across Alma's. Alma grunted as she reached for the phone. She caught it on the third ring.

"Hello?" She rasped.

"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty." Rosa told her in a singsong voice.

"Mami, what time is it?" She whispered. Johnnie began to stir, so Alma rubbed her head. Johnnie mumbled and settled back into sleep.

"It's almost one o'clock." Her mother told her.

Alma immediately sat up, causing Johnnie to wake up. "What?!" She exclaimed.

Johnnie's eyes opened wide and she sat up. "What's wrong, honey?"

Alma looked to her lover. She quickly recovered, not wanting to give away the surprise. "Nothing, querida. Mami just startled me, that's all."

Johnnie flopped back onto the bed.

"You better get her out of there, mija. Miguel and Javier will be there at 1:30 to set everything up. Javier has the key remember?" Rosa asked.

"Thanks Mami. I'm glad you called. I didn't want to sleep the day away. It's so nice outside, I'm hoping Johnnie will take me to the park." She said, more for Johnnie's benefit. Johnnie groaned. "Talk to you later. Bye."

Alma looked over to Johnnie. "Don't be like that, beloved. You've been cooped up for almost two months."

"Let's just stay inside for one more day." Johnnie said as she brushed her fingers against Alma's nipple.

Alma playfully slapped Johnnie's hand away and gave her a mock pout.

Surrendering, Johnnie sat up and scratched her head. "Okay woman. Let me get a shower, and then we go."

Alma giggled and gave her a grateful kiss.

As Johnnie showered, she heard her father's voice calling out to her. Make her yours, completely. Its time, daughter. Johnnie smiled. "Yes, Two Feathers. She will be mine, completely." She whispered softly to her father, whose presence she felt near.

Johnnie dressed as Alma showered. She planned on wearing shorts and a muscle t-shirt, but decided against it due to her weight loss. So instead she put on a pair of gray sweatpants and black t-shirt. While she was lacing up her black Nike's, Alma walked out of the bathroom, naked. Johnnie leered at her, feeling the all to familiar tightening in her lower anatomy. When Alma bent over to retrieve something from one of her dresser drawers, Johnnie groaned and collapsed back on the bed.

Whining, Johnnie asked, "You sure you want to go out? We could lounge around today." She fought to keep her libido in check.

Alma said nothing as she slipped on her underwear. She pulled on her gray t-shirt and black sweatpants. She sat next to a prone Johnnie as she put on her socks and gray New Balance running shoes. Alma then grasped Johnnie's hand, pulling her off the bed. "If we do what I want today, then we can do what you want tonight." She told her, wriggling her eyebrows.

"Anything?" Johnnie asked hopefully.

Alma walked closer to her lover and wrapped her arms around Johnnie's neck. She nibbled on Johnnie's earlobe, eliciting a groan from her.

"Anything you want" She seductively whispered.

Johnnie palmed Alma's buttocks, pulling her close. "You did say something about a red Teddy."

Alma traced Johnnie's ear with her tongue, causing her to shudder. "Garters and Stilettos included."

Johnnie's eyebrows met her bangs. "Come on, woman." She told her as she pulled her from their bedroom. "Fresh air and sunshine is good for my recovery. Like you said, I've been cooped up too long."

Alma managed to grab her purse and Johnnie grabbed her wallet and keys, before Johnnie propelled them through the door. Before getting into the car, Alma noticed Miguel's new silver truck parked up the street. She made sure Johnnie went in the opposite direction, in efforts to avoid Johnnie seeing them.

Johnnie drove slowly, getting acclimated with being in traffic. She purposely drove past the park.

"Uh, sweetheart, you're passing the entrance to the park." Alma told her.

Johnnie picked up Alma's hand and kissed it. "I know, baby. I just want to go to the mall and pick up the new Jill Scott CD. It won't take long."

Satisfied that Johnnie was going to unknowingly help take up a little more time, she quickly agreed. "Yes, I heard it was a nice CD."

Reaching Hanover Mall, it took a little while for Johnnie to find a parking space. She finally found one. As she parked, Alma began to unbuckle her seatbelt.

"No, baby. I'm just going to run in and pick up the CD. It'll only take a minute." Johnnie told her, putting her hand over Alma's to stop her.

Alma leaned back against the door, tilting her head sideways and giving Johnnie a mock pout. "You just don't want me to go in because you think I might do a little shopping."

"Exactly." Johnnie told her, as she kissed the tip of Alma's nose. "I'll be back in a jiff." She got out of the car and walked swiftly toward the mall entrance.

Johnnie's first stop was Starship Music, where she quickly purchased the CD. She then made her way to Zales Jewelers. She and Alma had been in the store before, so she had an idea of what ring to buy for her. Johnnie noticed the sales clerk giving her a suspicious look. Every counter she moved to, she noticed that the older clerk followed her.

This is fucking ridiculous. This bitch thinks I'm going to boost something. Johnnie thought to herself. She moved to the platinum wedding sets.

"May I help you?" The clerk asked in a snobbish tone.

"Yes, you may." Johnnie told her. "I'd like to see a diamond."

The clerk unlocked the case, and moved toward a small diamond. Johnnie chuckled menancingly, looking at the ring, which looked like it had a speck of a diamond in the setting.

"I said a diamond, not diamond dust, lady." Johnnie growled. "I want to see that one." She pointed at the half-carat solitaire with matching bands.

The woman looked at Johnnie in disbelief. "You can't be serious?"

"As a heart attack and twice as deadly." Johnnie venomously hissed. "I don't have all day, lady. Just get the damned set out so I can buy it."

"We don't have layaway here ma'am." The clerk snidely told her.

"What did you just say to me?!" Johnnie shouted. "No, scratch that." Johnnie looked around until she found another clerk. "Excuse me sir, do you think you can help me?"

The young male clerk smiled and walked over to them. "How can I help you today, ma'am?"

Johnnie smiled. She knew they worked on commission, and the older clerk would be kicking herself later. "The set this person has in her hands," She pointed to the expensive set, "I need the engagement ring and smaller band in a size six and the larger band in a size ten, please."

The clerk looked at the set, then the price and swallowed audibly. "Yes ma'am, right away." He headed toward the back of the store.

"Could you ask the manager to come out please?" Johnnie asked him. He nodded his head in compliance.

The older clerk grumbled, and walked away to attend to another customer. Johnnie walked over to the register and waited. The clerk, followed by the manager, came from the back. The clerk showed Johnnie the rings, already in a ring box. She looked at them, and then nodded her approval.

"I'm Mr. Waxman. How may I help you?" He asked as the clerk rang up the purchase.

"From the moment I came into this store, I was followed like a criminal by that woman." She said, pointing at the clerk, as she tried to control her anger. "I don't like being profiled."

"Ma'am, I can assure you that it will never happen again. It is not our policy to 'profile' our customers." He apologetically told her.

"Not a problem, because this will be my final purchase in your store." She announced.

"That will be forty seven hundred dollars and twenty-seven cents." The clerk told her, grinning like a fool over the almost five hundred dollar commission he just made. "Will you be charging this?"

"Yes." She told him. Reaching in her pocket, she pulled out her wallet. She put her Discover platinum card on the counter. "And here's my two forms of ID." She added, showing them her driver's license, and her gold shield.

The manager and clerk looked at each other, then to her. "You... your that cop that got shot a couple of months back." The clerk said.

The manager looked at her in awe. "Detective Green, I sincerely apologize for your treatment here today." The manager flustered as he realized who she was. Glaring at the older clerk, he continued: "I assure you that it won't happen again."

Johnnie looked at him. "Not a problem. Like I said before, I won't be doing business with you or your company anymore." She took the package from the clerk, and retrieved her card and ID. "You have a nice day." Stopping where the older clerk was standing with another customer, she whispered, "Not all of us are thieves, like all of you aren't card carrying members of the Klan." She turned and left the store.

"Mrs. Cobb, I'd like to see you in my office. NOW." The manager ordered.

The clerk, feeling two inches tall, lowered her gaze to the floor and obediently followed the manager.

Johnnie fumed as she walked through the mall. Then she remembered the love of her life was waiting in the car. A smile quickly returned to her face. She patted her pocket knowing that their lives for taking a turn for the better.

Alma sat in the car listening to the radio, when she saw Johnnie walking briskly toward her. She smiled at her tall lover's gait. I'm glad I'm not trying to keep up with her. Johnnie stopped and leaned into Alma's open window, and gave her a soft, lingering kiss.

"What is this?!" She asked in a mocking tone. "You were in that mall for almost thirty minutes and your not stomping and swearing? Tell me that you are going to start to enjoy shopping, and we can spend all day doing it."

The smile on Johnnie's face quickly faded. Alma fell into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. "Oh come on, my big bad butch. Let's go to the park." Alma told her.

Johnnie's smile returned. She thinks I'm butch. I'm tough, a hard ass. Yeah! She thought to herself as she mentally pumped her fist through the air.

As they drove to the park, they listened to the CD Johnnie purchased, commenting on how well Jill Scott sang. Alma had her hand on Johnnie's thigh. She began to stroke it, and moved her hand up her thigh, nearly reaching the pocket that held their future. Johnnie quickly grabbed Alma's hand, kissed it, and held it within her hand.

They strolled around the park hand in hand, noticing the mothers watching their young children at play. As they walked, a raven-haired boy ran up to them and stopped in front of Alma.

Alma bent over, placing her hands on her knees. "What's wrong little boy, are you lost?" She softly asked, looking into his clear blue eyes.

He smiled shyly at her, then handed her a wildflower. She smiled at him and accepted his lovely token. "Thank you, kind sir." She then ran her fingers through his dark locks. He gave her a snaggled tooth grin and ran over to his mother. The blonde woman picked him up and gave him a kiss. Johnnie thought maybe she and Alma would bring their kids to this same park. She smiled broadly and kissed Alma on her cheek. They watched as a tall brunette walked over to the pair. She lifted the small boy onto her shoulders and took the blonde woman by the hand, and led them toward the park entrance. Alma sighed and a hint of sadness crossed her face. Johnnie noticed and mentally kicked herself for not putting her plan into motion sooner.

Johnnie led Alma over to the large oak tree that was in the middle of the park. She sat down, pulling Alma down beside her. "Alma, I'm sorry, baby."

Alma looked at her. Her brows knitted together in confusion. "Why, querida?"

Johnnie reached inside her pocket and pulled out the small box. "For making you wait so long before I did this." She held the box up for Alma to take.

Alma froze. Oh my, she's finally going to ask me to marry her. Her hands trembled as she took the box from her lover. Tears quickly formed and spilled from her eyes. She just stared at the box.

Johnnie reached over and wiped the tears from Alma's face. "I want to share the rest of my life with you." She softly told her. "I love you more than anyone in this world. I want your face to be the first thing I see each morning and the last thing I see at night. I want to have babies with you. I want to grow old with you." She took a deep breath as Alma opened the box. "Alma, will you marry me?"

Alma's voice was caught in her throat, her words nearly strangling her. She looked at the diamond engagement ring, and the matching wedding bands. She looked up at Johnnie, then back to the rings. Her mouth tried to form words, but her voice wouldn't cooperate.

She doesn't like them. No, it's not that. She doesn't want to marry me. Johnnie's heart sank. She swallowed hard. "Alma, say something. Please, baby, anything."

Alma struggled to get her voice to work. "I...I can't..." She croaked, shaking her head.

Tears formed in Johnnie's eyes. You fucking blew it, asshole. How long did you think she would wait for your ass?

Alma looked at Johnnie, and could see the disappointment in her eyes. She finally got her voice back. "I can't believe it. Of course I'll marry you, Johnnie. I love you." She said as she cupped her lover's face.

"I was stupid for waiting so long. When we came so close to... I knew I had to get my priorities in order." Johnnie told her. She took the box from Alma's hands and took out the diamond ring. She reached for Alma's left hand and carefully placed the ring on her finger. "You're mine, completely."

Alma leaned in to kiss her. She pushed Johnnie onto her back and straddled her. "I've always been yours. We're just letting the world know that we belong to each other."

Kissing her once more, Johnnie whispered, "Let's take this home."

Johnnie put the key in the lock and opened the door.

"Surprise!" Everyone yelled.

Johnnie, as a reflex, reached for her gun. Fortunately she wasn't wearing it. Getting over the shock, she smiled broadly at her guests. She turned and pointed accusingly at Alma. "You set me up good, honey." She pulled her close. "Paybacks are a bitch. You just remember that."

"I will." She told her. "Welcome home, my love."

Johnnie was overwhelmed by hugs and kisses from their friends and family. Everyone that is, except Guillermo. He stood near the kitchen, brooding.

Miguel put on a hot musical mix. He played some Latin, old school and a little hip-hop. As Johnnie and Alma danced, they were oblivious to the tempo. They held each other and slowly swayed, molding their bodies together perfectly.

Javier walked over to Guillermo. "Come on little brother, join in the celebration."

Guillermo stared at his brother in disbelief. "Why should we be celebrating? Alma is living in sin with that puta, and you say let's celebrate." He scoffed. "It's too bad the killer missed the target. Maybe Alma would come to her senses."

"Are you loco? If Alma hears you talking like that she'll never forgive you." He warned.

"Look at that display. It's disgusting. Alma is a whore, a slut. I spit on her and her bitch." He loudly said.

Javier grabbed him by his arm and shoved him into the kitchen. He then shoved Guillermo against the refrigerator. "Don't you ever say anything bad about Alma. Do you hear me?" He growled. "You'd better get the hell out of here before I kick your ass."

Guillermo pushed him away. "Fuck you and your whore sister." He quickly ran out the back door.

Pizo was standing in a corner and witnessed the whole scene. Javier noticed him and walked over to him.

"Why does he hate Johnnie?" Pizo asked. "What did she ever do to him?"

Javier let out an exasperated breath. "He thinks she's the reason Alma is a lesbian." He paused. "Gui is loco."

"Does everyone in your family feel the same way he does?" Pizo inquired.

"No. It's just him." Javier paused. "It was strange at first, but we have come to accept it."

Pizo shook his head. "I don't think he should keep fucking with Johnnie. She's right on the edge. She might hurt him."

Javier became alarmed. "Johnnie's not dangerous is she? She won't hurt Alma?"

"Oh no." Pizo assured him. "But she'll hurt anyone who messes with Alma, though. That I can guarantee."

Rosa, Myra, Diana and Alma set up the buffet in the dining room and called everyone to eat. While the mob rushed for the food, Johnnie pulled Rosa off to the side.

"Rosa, I need to talk to you." Johnnie said.

Rosa became concerned. "Sure Johnnie. What is it, you not feeling well?" She asked, reaching up to feel Johnnie's forehead.

Johnnie chuckled. "No, that's not it." Johnnie cleared her throat, and then began to stammer. "Uh, Rosa...I ... I um..."

Rosa was amused by the way the normally stoic woman stood in front of her, fidgeting like a child. "Spit it out, Johnnie."

Johnnie took a deep, calming breath. "You know I love Alma. I would give my right arm for her."

"I know, Johnnie. Sometimes I think you spoil her too much." She chuckled.

"I want to marry Alma and I want your blessing." Johnnie told her in one breath.

Rosa, who was shocked, paused thoughtfully. This goes against everything I was taught, and everything I taught my children. She looked into Johnnie's eyes and could see that she loved her only daughter with all her heart. "Si, Johnnie. You have my blessing."

Johnnie lifted Rosa, twirled her around and kissed her on her cheek.

"Put me down." Rosa cried out, laughing at Johnnie's antics. "Go and claim your woman."

The other guests noticed the commotion. They saw Johnnie put down Rosa, and watched her run over to Alma. She whispered into Alma's ear, then picked her up and twirled her as she did Rosa.

News of the upcoming nuptials spread among the guests like wildfire, turning the party from a welcome home to an engagement party.

Javier hugged his little sister. "Congratulations." He paused, looking into his baby sister's eyes. "Regretably I have to go now, pepita. I have an early flight tomorrow, and I haven't had time to pack." He shook Johnnie hand. "Welcome to the family, Johnnie. I'll see you guys when I get back." He kissed his mother, who handed him a plate of food that she prepared for him.

The party went on full tilt. They ate, drank and celebrated in the happy news. Rosa took notice of the time, and recruited some of the guests for a clean up detail. Some of Johnnie's colleagues helped Miguel pack up his equipment, while others prepared doggie bags for people to take. The clean up took no time.

Annie, Myra Pizo and Diana remained after everyone else left. They spent time going over wedding plans and bachelorette parties. Then Pizo's cell phone rang.

"Petrillo." He answered briskly.

Johnnie sat on the edge of her seat, waiting to find out what was going on. Alma hoped it had nothing to do with the case.

Pizo's eyebrows furrowed as he listened. "I'll be right there." He looked at Johnnie. "They found another one."

"Where?" Johnnie asked.

Pizo was hesitant about telling her, but he knew he had to. "In the alley where you were shot, J." He stood up. "Annie, could you guys drop Diana by her place when you finish here?"

"Sure, Pizo. Not a problem." Annie told him.

Johnnie looked at Alma, her eyes pleading. Alma stood and walked to the closet in the foyer. She pulled Johnnie's bulletproof vest from the top shelf and walked back over to her, placing it in her hands.

"Put this on, Johnnie. Please be careful." Alma softly told her.

Johnnie kissed her, then put the vest on. Alma was trembling with fear. Johnnie, feeling Alma's nervous vibe, pulled her into a reassuring embrace. "I promised you, anything I have to do to come back home to you, I'll do. I love you."

Alma nodded. "I love you, too."

Johnnie walked toward the door. Pizo walked over to Alma.

"I'll take care of her, Alma." He whispered.

Alma, eyes full of tears, looked up at him. "Thank you." She walked them to the door. After closing the door behind them, she leaned against it and sobbed.


To be continued in part 5

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