Murder Has Two Faces


Tonya S. Coley


For disclaimers see Part 1.

Chapter 27

"You're shitting me?" Tori asked, looking at her friend who was seated across from her in total disbelief.

"I kid you not. I was there and I couldn't believe it." Johnnie revealed as she too was still in shock.

They were downstairs in the basement, drinking Pepsi's after playing a few games of pool. Tori sat comfortably in the recliner while Johnnie lay sprawled on the sofa, one leg resting on the back.

"You can sit there with a straight face and tell me that Alma didn't go ballistic when she saw Maddie?" Tori smirked.


"No screaming or hair pulling?"



Johnnie laughed. "No bullshit. At lunch, I would swear that they were very comfortable with each other. They even smiled."

The drink that was in Tori's mouth came flying out. "What? No shit?" She wiped her chin.

Johnnie chuckled and thanked the spirits that she was not laying at the other end of the sofa. Tori would have gotten her for sure. "Alma said that they talked while they were in the ladies room."

"They weren't fighting in the ladies room, were they?" Tori inquired.

Johnnie studied her friend. You, Tori, are a gossipmonger. Who'd a thunk it? Hell, if I didn't know the scoop I guess I would be digging too. "No, actually they just talked."

Tori realized that she had been asking the same questions over and over, but she couldn't help it. She noticed the teasing expression on her companion's face. Are you laughing at my inquisitiveness, Ms Smarty-pants? Let's see how you answer this one. "Guess that means Maddie is off your jock now, eh?"

It was Johnnie's turn to do a spit take. Unfortunately for Tori, she got showered with Pepsi.


Glenda watched Mark as he sat on the sofa in the ICU waiting area. He looks so thin and pale. She thought while she noticed the dark circles around his eyes. He hasn't had a good night's sleep since the accident. It's a wonder he hasn't collapsed yet. Where does he get his strength? "Mark, would you like for me to get you anything?"

"No, no thanks." He distractedly told her, giving her a half-hearted smile.

She noticed that it was nearly time for a visit with Tracy. "Mark, would you like to visit him first? If you'd like, I can wait until the next hourly visit so you can have more time with him."

Mark rubbed his arms. "You have been waiting here too, Glen. We can split it." He looked at his watch. "It's almost time. You go in first."

Glenda stood up and stretched, getting the kinks out of her back. "Ok, Mark. I won't be long."

She stood at the doorway to Tracy's room, looking at his seemingly lifeless body. Tracy, come back to us. We need you. She squared her shoulders and walked into his room, sitting right next to his bed. "Hey Tracy. You're looking better." She lied as she held his hand. "Kaia misses you. She asks me everyday when her Uncle Tracy will be back to play with her." Glenda struggled to hold back her tears. "Johnnie's trial will soon be over. That asshole Abbott is making it look like she has already been convicted."

'Do you hear that? Looks like your girl may be in a bit of trouble.'

'Oh, shut up. Johnnie is innocent. There is no way that the jury will find her guilty.'

'Unless they can find evidence to prove that she didn't do it, she will be convicted. Haven't you been listening to what they have been telling us? You are so pathetic, lying in this bed instead of doing all you can to help her.'

'There isn't anything I can do to help her.'

'What if there was something that you could do? Would you do it?'

'Johnnie has been good to me. I would do anything that I could to help her.'

'Uh huh, I thought as much.'

'Why? What are you getting at?"


'There is something that you are not telling me. I want to know what it is.'

'Get me off this deathbed, and maybe I will tell you.'

Mark caressed Tracy's hand. "Tracy, you are doing well. The doctor said that your lung is healing, that's why he removed the ventilator. Your broken bones are knitting as they should." He sighed and kissed Tracy's hand. "All we are doing now is waiting for you to regain consciousness. We all miss you, my love." He looked at the impassive face of the man he loved, hoping against all hope that he would be out of his coma soon. "Alma is getting bigger everyday. Johnnie says that she is eating them out of house and home."

Before he could continue, he felt Tracy's fingers as they twitched against his hand.

Mark stared at Tracy's hand as if in shock. He reached for the call button to get the nurse's attention, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Do it again, baby. Please."

The nurse came in and Mark told her what happened.

"That could have just been reflex, a muscle twitch of some sort." The nurse replied.

"It was not just reflex." Mark said, he voice full of optimism.

The nurse looked at him, seeing the hope his eyes held. "We're you talking to him?"

"Yes, I was." He said, and turned his attention back to Tracy. "Baby, show the nice lady how you can move your fingers."

The nurse waited patiently, but there was no response. "Sir, can you remember what you were talking to him about? Maybe that will stimulate him again." She walked around the bed to adjust the covers.

Mark tried to think amidst his excitement. What was I saying when he moved his fingers? I was talking about Alma and Johnnie! "Alma is getting quite large now."

Nothing. No response.

"Johnnie says that she really has an appetite."

His fingers twitch again. The nurse saw it herself. "Keeping going." She instructed him.

"Johnnie's trial will be over soon, love."

The heart monitor made note that Tracy's heart rate increased a little, and his fingers had more movement.

"Would you like for me to call Johnnie, baby?" He asked.

His heart rate increased again. The nurse wrote it on his chart.

"Can I stay a little longer?" He asked the nurse, hopefully.

She hesitated, knowing that it was against hospital policy. "If it's going to help get him back, then stay." Hospital policy be damned.

"The young woman that is in the waiting area knows how to get in contact with Johnnie." Mark said. "Could you let her know?"

The nurse patted Mark's shoulder. "Of course."

Glenda was reading the latest issue of Redbook when she saw the nurse walking toward her. Fear gripped her heart. Oh God, please let Tracy be ok. She looked up expectantly at the nurse.

"Mr. Kenon seems to be responding to verbal stimulation. The young man who is with him asked me to have you contact someone named Johnnie." She informed her.

Glenda smiled and reached for her cell phone. "What is he doing?"

"Whenever the young man mentions this Johnnie, Mr. Kenon responds."

Glenda hurriedly dialed Johnnie's number.


"So that explains the tension I sensed between you and Alma." Karen said as she sipped her drink.

"That's it in a nutshell." Maddie admitted. She knew that she had to tell Karen the whole truth, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. I hope this doesn't run you off, Karen.

Karen was lost I thought, but only for a moment. "You guys are ok now, right? I mean you aren't still attracted to Johnnie?" Please say no. She hoped.

Maddie moved closer to her new lover. "I am only Johnnie's friend, now. Believe me Karen, I am where I want to be."

Karen smiled broadly. YES! "So am I, Maddie." She kissed her on her nose. "Would you like to go to my place? I can make us dinner."

"There is nothing else that I'd like better." Maddie said. Well, maybe something else. "Let me get my purse."

Karen gently grasped Maddie's arm. "Bring a change of clothes, too."

Maddie did a mental happy dance. Thank God she hasn't run away screaming. "I was hoping you would ask." She gave Karen a quick peck on the cheek.


Johnnie drew lazy circles on Alma's stomach as she whispered to the baby that was growing inside.

"What are you telling your Little One, baby?" Alma asked as she played in Johnnie's hair. "Are you telling her to kick me?"

Johnnie chuckled as she looked up at Alma. "There are some things that are personal between a mother and her daughter." She ducked the playful swat that Alma directed at her. "I wasn't telling her to kick you, baby. I promise."

"I'll just bet, Querida."

Johnnie moved closer to Alma, bringing them face-to-face. "Are you feeling neglected, babygirl?" She placed baby kisses all over Alma's face. Alma giggled. "Let me see if I can do something about that." She ran her fingertips over Alma's sensitive nipples, eliciting a hiss.

"Oh, Querida, that feels so good." Alma whispered, leaning back on the bed.

Johnnie started nibbling on Alma's neck, while Alma's hands roamed over her back. "You taste good, love."

"Si, bebe."

Johnnie chuckled; she knew that Alma was getting excited. She would slip back into her native tongue when she was aroused. Johnnie's hands worked their way underneath Alma's shift; grasping a curvaceous hip before drifting along her side to reach full breasts.

A ringing phone interrupted any further perusals. What the fuck? "Hello?" Johnnie growled.

"Johnnie this is Glen. There has been a change in Tracy's condition."

She immediately sat up. "How is he? What's going on?"

"Mark was with him. The nurse came and told me that he has responded when your name has been mentioned."

"I'll be there as soon as I can." Johnnie said, and then hung up.

"What's wrong, baby? Is Tracy alright?" Alma asked, worry peppering the tone of her voice.

Johnnie got off the bed quickly as she pulled her sweatpants over her boxers. "That was Glen. She said Tracy responded to my name. I'm gonna go and go and see if this is for real." She said over her shoulder when she sat down to lace her Reeboks. "I think I may be able to help."

Alma crawled over and wrapped her arms around Johnnie's shoulders. "I hope that you can, honey."


'I'm so tired.'

'Yeah, so am I. Didn't know your ass was so weak. Damn, your built like a Mack truck, and you can't do any better than this.'

'Leave me alone. You aren't putting forth as much effort as you could. I can't do this alone.'

'Yeah, yeah whatever.'

'What do you know that could help Johnnie?'

'I didn't say I knew anything.'

'You're lying.'

'Ha, you just keep working at getting us better. Maybe I can come up with something if I think hard enough.'

Johnnie had to park her Navigator at the far end of the hospital lot. Sunday's are usually reserved for visiting the sick, I forgot about that. She let out a frustrated breath as she exited her vehicle, and sprinted across the large parking lot to the entrance. Her long hair flowing behind her as she dodged slow moving passers-by; long legs eating up the pavement, making the journey from no-man's land in record time.

Mark paced back and forth; his excitement made it hard for him to keep his seat. Glenda looked at her watch for the umpteenth time. Johnnie should be here in about 10 minutes. Her jaw nearly hit the floor when she saw her tall friend exit the elevator. "How did you get here so quickly?"

"I have many skills." Johnnie answered as she kissed the top of Glenda's head. She looked at Mark, who was very happy to see her. "Alright, tell me everything." Johnnie had to slow the excited man down a few times so she could understand him through his excitement.

"I can't believe it. He made a response." He said, nearly bouncing off the walls. "C'mon, let's go see him. The nurse said we could as soon as you got here."

Johnnie had no other choice but to follow him, especially since the smaller man held her arm in a death grip.


Alma wandered into the kitchen and fixed herself a snack, two Philly steak Hot Pockets, a small salad and a glass of apple juice. Ah, a well-balanced snack. Johnnie would be so pleased. She was startled from her thoughts when Tori walked up behind her.

"What are you doing?" Tori asked, peering over her shoulder. "I see, an after dinner snack."

Alma backhanded Tori in her stomach. "Oh be quiet. The baby is hungry."

Tori smiled. "I guess she didn't get any of that huge ass dinner you ate only two hours ago."

Alma turned and faced her tormentor. Tori had taken great pleasure in teasing Alma about the amount of food she ate. They both knew that it was all in fun. "Where is your wife? I wonder if she knows how you tease me? Maybe I should go tell her."

Normally this would have frightened Tori; instead she puffed out her chest. "She's sleeping."

Alma recognized the cocky stance that Tori had taken. She had seen it many times after Johnnie had made love to her until she was unconscious. Alma smirked at the way Tori grinned like a Cheshire cat. "She is going to wake up sometime and when she does, I'm telling."

That took the wind out of Tori's sails. The look on her face made it hard for Alma to control her giggles. She turned and placed her food on her tray and walked out of the kitchen, with Tori on her heels.

"C'mon Alma, I was just kidding. Can't you take a little jokey joke?" Tori whined.

Alma smiled broadly, but Tori couldn't see it. "No!"

Oh gods. Tori groaned. "Alma, I was just playing."

"I feel like crying right now." Alma teased. "I don't even think I can eat this."

Shit, shit, shit! If I don't fix this, Ceecee will have my head. "I'm sorry, Alma. What can I do to make this up to you?"

She shoots, she scores. "This tray is heavy. Will you carry it to my bedroom?"

"Yes, Alma. I will do anything you want." Tori said, relieved, thinking that she was now off the hook. She took the tray and happily carried it to Alma and Johnnie's bedroom. Once Alma got settled, she placed the tray over her lap. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Alma grinned evilly. "As a matter of fact, there is. I know that Bob will not be calling you to testify tomorrow, so you can come with me and Ceecee when we go shopping for baby things."

"Sh…shopping? Tomorrow? With you and Ceecee?" Tori grimaced. No, not that, anything but that. Somebody shoot me now.

Alma mock pouted. "You said anything. It would make me feel so much better, since you hurt my little feelings." Gotcha. I bet you will think twice about making fun of me again.

Tori sighed heavily. "Alright. Shopping tomorrow with you and Ceecee."

"Good. You are dismissed." Alma said in a mock regal tone.

Stunned, all Tori could do is walk out. I think I have just been played.


Johnnie looked at Tracy's still form as it lay in the hospital bed, remembering the day they first met. It was during the inter-departmental touch football game, Homicide versus Special Victims Unit.

"Green, you take that big guy over there." Sgt. Coley laid out the play.

Johnnie looked over at her adversary. "Are you nuts? That guy will cream me." She told the shorter Sgt., who happened to be the captain of their team.

"Quit your whining, Green. I've seen you take down guys a lot bigger than he is." Coley said.

Johnnie grumbled, but took her spot on the defensive line. Her opponent gave her a warm smile. This guy is not like all the other arrogant assholes in the SVU. He seems kinda friendly. Gonna feel bad when I mow him down to get to that idiot quarterback.

The ball was put into play, and Johnnie made her charge, only to be stopped by the human brick wall. Shit. Johnnie grimace; she was taken out of the play completely and was sitting on her ass. What did I hit? A large hand reached down and helped her off the ground.

"Sorry about that. My name is Tracy Kenon. What's yours?" He asked as he steadied her.

What is my name? Johnnie shook the cobwebs from her head. "Johnnie, Johnnie Green. Nice to meet you."

Johnnie smiled at the memory. They had become fast friends after that. She walked over to the bed, taking a seat next to it.

"Hey buddy." She whispered and took his larger hand into hers. "I hear you been moving your fingers a bit." Johnnie looked at his hand, and could see the fingers twitch slightly. "That's right, Tracy. Move these sausages you call fingers."

'She came. She came. I knew she would.'

'You really like her, don't you?'

'I love her. She is a very special woman.'

'Do you think she would ditch the little brunette and go for me?"

'You are an idiot. No way, no how would she go for anyone like you?'

'Why because I have a bat and two balls?'

'That, plus the fact that you are an asshole.'

'Fuck you.'

"Tracy, I need for you to come back to us." Johnnie said. "Alma is going to need all of you to help her if I get convicted."

'No, Johnnie, don't say that. You didn't do anything.'

"I know that I am innocent, but the evidence points directly at me." Johnnie said soberly.

'Sure looks that way.'

'Shut up.'

Tracy's fingers moved a little more against Johnnie's hand.

"Tracy, I know you are tired. You have to keep trying, buddy. You can't just give up."

'I'm trying, Johnnie. It's so hard.'

"Mark misses you. He has been here since the accident. We can't get him to leave."

'Aw, ain't that sweet.'

'Mark still loves me after what you did to him. He has forgiven me.'

Tracy moved his fingers again. Johnnie smiled. "I know you have just about had it, so I am gonna go. I will be back tomorrow as soon as court adjourns." She patted his hand, remembering how hard it was to come back to the ones she loved.

Mark and Glenda ran over to Johnnie. "How did it go?" Mark asked.

"He is responding. Not only to me, but also to you." She revealed.

He smiled. "He is going to come back to us."

Glenda wrapped her arms around them both and shed silent tears of thanks.

Chapter 28

Jonas Peters met Abbott for an early breakfast. "How do you think the trial is going?"

Abbott took a sip from his coffee cup. "I think we will win. I know we have jurors one, six, and seven. Three and nine seem to be leaning our way. Not too sure about the others, yet."

"What sort of witnesses will Wooten be calling?" Peters inquired, feigning only a passing interest.

"He is calling a few of his own forensic experts and a couple of character witnesses." He paused. "Although there is one witness he is calling that serves no purpose."

Peters leaned forward in his chair. "Really? Who?"

"I think it is the woman Green shared her cell with." Abbott unwittingly revealed. "I don't know how credible a convicted felon's testimony will be though."

"Neither do I." Peters sat back in his chair, his mind spinning.


Johnnie had just finished her breakfast when Tori wandered into the kitchen. She smirked at the pathetic look on her friend's face. Alma had clued her in on the game she was running on Tori when she returned from the hospital. Johnnie had doubled over in laughter at the antics of her playful wife. "What's wrong, Tori?"

Tori flopped down in her chair. "I have to go…shopping with Alma and Ceecee."

"What's wrong with that?" Johnnie mockingly asked as she sipped her orange juice. She knew full well that Alma was relentless when it came to shopping for baby things. When Alma was nine months pregnant with Phillip, her feet, ankles and legs were obscenely swollen but she still spent an entire day at The Baby Factory with Johnnie whining and complaining. Good luck, Tori.

Tori looked at her as if she had grown another head. "Are you crazy? Those two are shopaholics. I will be in the mall all fucking day. Not to mention the outlet shops." She paused as she tried to formulate a plan. "Are you sure that Bob won't need me today? I mean in case the direct and cross goes quicker than he anticipates?"

Sorry Bud, but if Alma suspects that I am trying to help you she will have my ass. Not the way I want her to have it, either. "Tori, Bob knows what he is doing. If he doesn't need you, he doesn't need you. I'm sorry."

Alma waddled into the kitchen and kissed Johnnie. She then took a sip of Johnnie's orange juice. "Good luck today, baby. I hope everything goes well."

"Thanks babygirl." She rubbed Alma's tummy. "Be good for Mami today, Little One."

Alma looked at Tori, nearly unable to keep from laughing at the crestfallen look on her face. "Come Tori. Ceecee and I are ready."

"But it's only 8 am. Nothing is open yet." Tori said, trying to prolong the inevitable.

"I know that, silly. We are going to the breakfast buffet at Golden Corral." She told her. I can hardly wait to get those pancakes.

"That should take at least two hours." Tori mumbled, nearly making Johnnie choke on her juice.

"What did you say?" Alma growled.


"Just for that, we are going to down to Atlantic Beach. I know of a few shops there, too." With that, she went to find Ceecee.

"Johnnie, help me." Tori pleaded.

"Nope, not gonna get in that. You shitted and stepped back in it, buddy."


The Wilmington City Council met a little earlier than usual. The chairman of the council, Terrence James, had called the board to order. "Mayor Ballantine had less than three years left on his term. Although we have done an extensive search in finding his successor, I think it would be prudent for us to have someone we all know and trust to continue running this city."

All eyes fell upon Marie Ricotta. She was the Mayor Pro Tem, and well liked by the council and the community. Marie was caught off guard by the statement. "Me? You want me to continue his term?"

"Well, you are the Mayor Pro Tem." Judith Bates, another member of the council, said.

"Yes, but…"

"No buts, Marie. You have been doing one hell of a job. I don't know of any who loves this city more than you and your family." Mr. James stated.

The Ricottas were an affluent family, well grounded in the history of Wilmington. They were philanthropic in a number of charities and groups for the betterment of their fine city. Her father was a staunch supporter of Ballantine, who she detested. His views were not her views, for she was 'family'. She was deep in the closet because of her family's convictions, convictions that got Alexander Ballantine nearly all of his local campaign contributions from her father.

"Well, I guess I can only go with the council's decision." I bet old Alex is spinning in his grave right now. Marie mused.

"All those in favor?" All hands went up, smiles plastered on their faces. "Motion carried. Now lets get down to business." James said.

After the meeting, Marie walked from council chambers over to her new office. Building maintenance did everything they could to remove the bloodstains from the carpet. This will have to go, along with all his pretentious furniture. She thought as she looked around.

"What are you doing in here?" Peters demanded. There was no love lost between him and Marie. He had tried to date Marie, but she spurned him at every turn. Peters wanted to latch himself to a wealthy family so he could escape Ballantine and his dealings. The fact that Marie was drop dead gorgeous was an asset he could live with. "You are not the mayor, so get out."

She turned and glared at Peters. Biting back her anger and disgust, the glare softened into a smirk. "As a matter of fact, I could ask what you are doing here."

Peters started to speak. "I was Alex's…"

Marie interrupted. "Assistant for years, blah, blah, blah. We all know the story, Jonas." She walked over to the desk. "Alex is dead. You can't assist him anymore."

"You disrespectful little bitch." Peters hissed.

"Watch your mouth, Jonas." Judith yelled from the doorway.

They both turned to face her. One face was full of relief, the other full of embarrassment.

"I was just wondering what she was doing in here. She is the Mayor Pro Tem, not the mayor." He stuttered. Wouldn't do to look bad in front of a council member.

"She has every right to be here." Judith told him. "This is her office, now."

"What? I don't understand."

"Well let me break it down for you, then." Marie said, now taking great pleasure in Peters' embarrassment. "I am the new Mayor of Wilmington. This is my office that you barged into."

"When did this happen?" He demanded.

"About 20 minutes ago." Judith informed him.

Peters was floored. "Why wasn't I informed?"

"Since you no longer work for the city, and are not a member of the council, there was no need for you to be informed." Marie said, proudly.

What am I going to do? I have got to fix this. "Well, since I am experienced in the dealings of the city, I could stay on as your…"

"No, that won't be necessary." Judith held up her hand in protest. "Marie has been doing a wonderful job, and I doubt very seriously of she is in need of your assistance."

Marie marveled at the way her friend took control. "If that is all, then please leave my office, Jonas."

Peters looked at Marie with disgust. "You will need me, Ricotta. Wilmington is a large city and you won't be able to handle it alone." He spat, and walked out.

Marie and Judith looked at each other, and then burst out into laughter.

"Did you see his face?" Marie asked. "He looked like he was going to have a stroke."

"Indeed he did." Judith said, still laughing. "He still has a thing for you, Marie."

"It was never about me, just my name." Marie revealed. "Besides, he isn't my type."

Judith gave her a knowing look. "Marie, I understand."

Marie caught the look, and a silent agreement formed between the two friends.

"So when are you moving in?" Judith asked.

"I will have the movers take Ballantine's things to charity, get new carpet in here, and then we will see." Marie said. "Thanks for coming over, Judi. I don't know if I could have kept my cool with him."

"Anytime, my friend."


Abbott had just finished his cross-examination of the forensic witness that Bob had called. The few points that Bob had won were quickly wiped away by Abbott's questions. They were waiting for the bailiff to bring in Bob's next witness, Mary.

The bailiff came in and tapped Bob on his shoulder and asked him to step into the hallway. When Bob came back, he was quiet.

"Mr. Wooten, is there a problem?" Judge O'Connell asked.

"May we approach, Your Honor?" Bob asked.

The judge gave consent, and they walked up to the bench. Abbott and O'Connell looked quizzically at Bob.

"Your Honor, my next witness will not be testifying." Bob said.

"Why not?" Abbot asked.

"She was found dead this morning in the prison showers." He revealed.

"All right, Mr. Wooten." The judge said. "Step back." He paused. "Court is recessed for the day. We will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9 am."

"Bob, what's going on?" Johnnie asked, as Bob sat back down.

"Mary can't testify."


"She's dead Johnnie." He told her.

"Damn." Johnnie said. "Do they know what happened?"

"All they know is she was found dead in the showers this morning. She had been stabbed." He said.

"I know stuff like this happens in prison, but this is just too coincidental, don't you agree?" She asked.

"There is a rat somewhere, and I don't like it." Bob said, flatly.

Mary is dead. That is just too hard to believe. Johnnie thought as she drove to the hospital. Someone knifed her on the day she was to give testimony at my trial. Why? It's obvious that someone didn't want her to testify. All that her testimony would have done was given the jury reason to think that someone else was involved. The person involved must know who the killer is, or they are the killer. It must be someone with connections. But who could it be? "You can't think about this now. Later, when your head is clear." She said aloud.

Mike and Laura were waiting in the ICU area when Johnnie walked up to them. Laura could see that her friend was a little bothered. She hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "How are you, Johnnie? Did everything go ok today?"

Johnnie sighed. "I'm fine. Mary, the woman who was to testify today, was found murdered in the prison showers this morning."

Mike looked at her. "Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't think twice about it. But, it's almost like somebody didn't want her to testify."

"I know. This is just too much of a coincidence." Johnnie said quietly.

"We will look into it for you, Johnnie." Laura said. "I have a friend with the prison system. I can get him to look into it for us."

"Laura, how do you know so many people?" Johnnie asked.

Laura blushed. "I don't know. I guess I am just a likable person." This was a true statement, but Laura was one month from becoming a member of the State Bureau of Investigations. She decided that this was not the life she wanted, when she met and fell in love with her husband Courtney.

"I'll make the phone call right now." Laura said.

"How are you holding up, Johnnie?" Mike asked, placing his hand on her shoulder.

"I'll be just fine as soon as all of this is behind us, Mike." Johnnie said. "This not knowing is driving me nuts. Abbott didn't have to drag this case out the way he did. Bob said he should be finished with our side by the end of the week."

"Yeah, Abbott is notorious for prolonging a trial. It's like he wants to get more press. Guess he has political aspirations." Mike joked, hoping to lighten his friend's mood.

Johnnie chuckled. "Well he will never get my vote, that's for damn sure." She paused. "How is Tracy doing? Has he been responding anymore today?"

Mike walked down the hall to the waiting are with Johnnie by his side. "Yeah. He has been responding to Mark, and anyone who mentions your name."

"That's good news. He is working his way back to us." She paused for a moment. "I wonder what it is about me makes him respond."

"Johnnie, I haven't known Mark as long as you have, but believe me when I tell you that he considers you more than a friend. He considers you family. Now, he adores Glen, but there is something different between you and him. I just can't explain it."

Johnnie considered that for a moment. We did hit it off when we first met. Guess there is just a closeness that no one can explain, so just accept it. "Maybe you're right, Mike."


Tori sulked the entire drive home. They had been shopping all day, Johnnie's Navigator packed full of not only baby things, but groceries and things Ceecee bought as well.

Ceecee winked at Alma, and then turned to her brooding wife. "Did you enjoy our little outing today, baby? I know I had fun. How about you, Alma?"

"Oh yes, today was wonderful. Too bad Johnnie couldn't have been with us." Alma said.

"Yeah, too bad." Tori groused.

They drove into the garage, so that the bags would be easier to unload. Ceecee helped Alma get out of the truck, and they walked arm in arm into the house.

"Bring the groceries in first, Tori, so we can go on and put them away." Alma ordered.

"Yes, Your Grace." Tori mumbled. Alma and Ceecee snickered.

When Tori brought the last of the bags inside, Alma and Ceecee were relaxing in the living room. Tori collapsed on the sofa between her "masters", closing her eyes and stretching her legs.

Ceecee leaned in and kissed Tori's cheek. "Thank you for a wonderful day, baby." She paused. "I hope that this little excursion has taught you a lesson."

Tori's eyes sprang open. "What do you mean by "taught me a lesson"?"

Alma leaned close to Tori's ear. "Never, ever tease a pregnant woman about her eating habits. You will be punished if you do." She pulled away from Tori's ear, and she and Ceecee went into fits of laughter.

"You have been teasing Alma mercilessly about what she eats, Tori. You should know better than to do that." Ceecee told her. "Or have you forgotten the wrath you had to face when I had had enough of your jibes?"

Tori remembered what Ceecee did to her, and it sent chills up and down her spine. She looked over at Alma and felt ashamed. "I'm sorry, Alma. I was only kidding. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

"You didn't hurt my feelings, Tori. That's why I took great pleasure in torturing you with all the shopping." She told her with a big smile on her face. "I knew that you weren't being cruel."

Tori smiled. "I guess paybacks truly are a bitch."


Johnnie sat in Tracy's room telling her friend about her day.

"Then we find out that Mary was killed. She had information that would have helped my case. Now, the jury will never hear that she was approached by someone to kill me in my cell." She said softly.

'Oh Johnnie, I wish I could help you.'

"Bob says that he should be able to wrap up our side of the case by the end of this week." Johnnie told him. "Then my fate will be in the hands of the jury."

'Yeah, a jury that doesn't know you. You could have never killed him.'

"I'm not so much afraid for me, as I am for Alma. If they convict me, then she will be alone. I know you guys will be with her, but Alma is my wife. I am afraid that she will close herself off to love, that she won't move on." Johnnie stood and shoved her hand into her pockets. "I'm not crazy about another woman loving my wife, touching her and giving her pleasure; but after I am dead, I don't want her to wither away and die. Do you understand what I am saying, Tracy?"

'Johnnie don't talk like that. You and Alma will be together for a long time.'

'She is facing the inevitable, Tracy.'

'Shut up, you don't know her, you have no right.'

'Oh, but I do have a right. She's innocent.'

'I know that. It's what I have been trying to tell you the whole time. She is not a monster. She couldn't have killed Ballantine.'

'I know she didn't kill him.'

'What are you saying?'

'She didn't do it, but I know who did.'


'I know who killed Ballantine. I saw them do it.'

To be continued in part 15

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