Therese could not shake the feeling that someone was watching her. After running her errands on Saturday afternoon, she came home, dead bolted the door and closed all of the blinds in her third floor apartment. That night she slept fitfully and when she woke the next morning, it was still there. She stared out her windows for a while, searching for anything out of the ordinary, but nothing jumped out at her. She decided to go for a run, and made sure to do so without headphones on and kept her eyes opened for anything that felt weird. When she got back she cleaned her gun, but no matter what she did, the feeling remained.
Later that afternoon, Therese felt her phone buzz. There was a message from Carol.
C- Dinner at 6- but come any time before. We are home
The text was followed by a second one with the address. Therese replied with a simple, Can’t wait. See you soon. For a few minutes she thought about cancelling, worried that the nagging feeling would ruin their evening, but she eventually decided the best person to talk it over with would be Carol. Therese took a quick shower, making sure to take her gun into the bathroom with her. Her thoughts of being ridiculous were battling with her thoughts to trust her instincts.
Therese kept her outfit casual, settling for jeans and a black V-neck tee. She kept her make-up simple and after drying her hair, she pulled it half up in a bun and left half hanging down below her shoulders. She slid on her black converse and then grabbed her badge and her gun. It wasn’t something she would normally take for dinner, but her instincts were on hyper drive. Finally, she grabbed a bottle of red wine from her personal reserve and headed out the door.
She pulled up to Carol’s townhouse in Georgetown at 4:30 and found some street parking. She sat in her car and waited, watching cars drive by for a few minutes. Once she felt comfortable enough, she took her badge and gun and locked them in the glove compartment of her car and then walked to the front door. Before knocking she turned and watched the street again. At 4:45 she finally accepted that she wasn’t followed and turned to knock on the door. Therese heard a young girl’s voice followed by the muddled sound of running feet. A shorter and younger version of Carol opened the door, “Hi!”
“Hi, I’m Therese. You must be Rindy.” Therese held out her hand to shake, but Rindy just turned and ran back inside the house.
“Mom! Therese is here!”
Therese turned to look over her shoulder one last time before she let herself in the door, making sure to close and lock it behind her. As she looked through the door window, she noticed a dark blue sedan slowly moving down the street and she made a mental note.
Rindy was back behind her when she turned around. “You’re in the FBI like my mom?”
“Will you tell me stories? Mom never tells me stories about her job.”
Therese felt like she was being interrogated. “Oh, I don’t know…I mean…I’d have to talk about it with your mom.”
Suddenly Carol’s voice echoed through the house. “Nerinda Aird, stop harassing Therese and show her to the kitchen!”
Rindy sighed and took Therese by the hand. “This way. You’re very pretty!”
“Thank you.” Therese blushed. She wasn’t sure how to respond to the high energy, precocious seven-year-old. She turned her attention to the house, noting the colors and art work on the wall. Carol clearly had a love of classic art and antique furniture. They walked down a hallway that opened to an open floor plan with a large eat-in kitchen and huge open living room with a fire place. Therese could tell the home had been remodeled recently, but there were still elements of the original architecture. “This place is beautiful.”
Carol was standing in the kitchen, knife in hand, cutting some kind of vegetable. “Thank you.”
Therese watched her for a moment and smiled. “So gun and knife skills? A woman after my own heart.”
Carol let a small blush cross her face and gave Therese a sideways glance. She felt much more relaxed today, in her own home, Rindy safe by her side. “I’m afraid my knife skills are nowhere near as good. I’ve almost taken off my finger more than once.”
“Oh we can’t have that. Can I help?” Therese walked over and stood next to Carol in the kitchen. “What are we making?”
“An orange and fennel salad, followed by pasta. I remember you saying you were a vegetarian.”
Therese’s smile could have lit up the room. “That sounds amazing.”
“I’m not really that talented in the kitchen, so I keep it simple most nights. It helps having a daughter that lives on dinosaur nuggets and macaroni and cheese, but I didn’t want to subject you to that.” Carol let out a small chuckle.
“I would have happily eaten the mac-n-cheese!” Therese felt so comfortable with Carol. It had only been a few minutes, but this felt so…normal.
“MOM! What is the Netflix password?” Rindy called from the living room.
“Will you excuse me for a second?” Carol walked over to the living room and bent over to type in the new password. Therese couldn’t help but take a peek at the blonde’s perfectly formed ass. Carol turned to see Therese staring and raised an eyebrow before returning to chop fennel. “I have to change the password every week or two because a certain seven going on 30-year-old keeps trying to watch horror movies when I’m not around.”
Therese laughed, “I love horror movies!”
“Ugh! Not you, too!” Carol rolled her eyes. “Isn’t what we do scary enough?”
“Oh I only watch the ghost stories. The psycho thrillers do hit a tad close to home, but I’ve never had to arrest a ghost or a demon, so I feel safer with those.”
“Well the child in the other room has enough nightmares as it is. We don’t need to add to it.” Carol spoke loud enough so that Rindy could hear her.
Carol and Therese continued to work together to make dinner while making polite small talk. “Tell me something about your life, Therese. I feel like you know so much about me, but I only know about Richard.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Anything, really. Tell me about your childhood. Where did you grow up?” Carol started boiling the water for the pasta.
“Oh, well I grew up in foster care in New York, so I don’t talk about it too much.” Therese looked down at the pile of orange slices now in front of her.
Carol stopped moving and turned to look at the younger woman. “Really?”
Therese didn’t like it when people felt sorry for her, but what she saw in Carol’s eye’s wasn’t sympathy. It was empathy. “Yes. My dad died when I was Rindy’s age and my mom…well…I guess she couldn’t deal with being a single mom. She just left me at school and never came back.”
Carol’s blue-grey eyes were watering up. “Therese…that’s…I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. It helped to make me who I am today. I’m strong, independent...though sometimes too much so.” Therese reached for a triangle of parmesan and started to grate it.
“How do you mean?” Carol started heating up the pasta sauce.
“I don’t really connect with other people, so, I built this whole life in my head. I read a lot, stay to myself, and well, you don’t come out of a childhood like that without some trust issues. I had one shrink try to diagnose me with schizoid personality disorder.”
Carol shook her head. “That is ridiculous.” She added the pasta to the boiling water and stirred the sauce.
“Well after that I tried to be more interested in people. I still struggle when I get lost in my own head, as you saw in Chicago.”
“I just thought you were pouting because I disagreed with you.” Carol smirked.
“Wow! Really?” Therese mocked outrage. “I do not pout.”
“Hmmm…well you seem to connect with me just fine.” Carol nudged her with her hip and Therese relished the brief physical contact.
“I feel very connected with you.” Therese said honestly.
Blue-grey eyes locked with green and their internal magnets started pulling them together once again. “I’m glad.” Carol whispered.
They finished making dinner, working in sync while stealing glances at each other. Therese set the table while Carol retrieved Rindy from her Netflix binge and they all ate, laughed, and enjoyed spending time with each other. Rindy filled Therese in on the drama-filled life of the 1st grade. And for several hours, Therese forgot all about her odd feelings of being followed.
After dinner, Carol cleaned up the kitchen while Therese and Rindy played Mario Cart and giggled away. Carol couldn’t help but watch them and let herself dream. She wanted this life; someone to love, someone who loved Rindy, peaceful, simple, and beautiful. “Rindy, you have school tomorrow. Time to get ready for bed, sweet pea. Bath, teeth, clothes set out. You know the drill.”
Rindy jumped up and shut off the game and then wrapped Therese in a bear hug that took the woman by surprise. “Thanks for playing with me Therese. Goodnight,” she said before she took off running upstairs. Carol came and sat next to Therese on the couch, taking Rindy’s place.
“I love your kid,” Therese said with a genuine smile.
Carol gave her a sweet smile. “She’s a demon spawn in the mornings.”
“Hmmm…like mother, like daughter.” Therese leaned into the blonde and gave a smirk. “I’m not much better, to be honest. Super cranky until I get my coffee.”
‘God, I really like you’, Carol thought to herself as she let her gaze fall into the green warmth of Therese’s eyes. What would it feel like to kiss those lips, to feel her skin? Her thoughts were heating her up from the inside and she started to lean closer before hearing a loud thud from upstairs that drew her out of her reverie.
“I’m going to go help that little tornado get ready for bed.“ Carol said as she placed a hand on Therese’s knee. “Um, I left a folder for you at the kitchen table.”
Therese ran her hand over Carol’s and swore she felt the older woman shiver. “Do you want me to wait for you?”
“No…no. Go ahead and look through it all. You’ll be less biased than I will, especially after yesterday.”
“You never told me what happened with that, by the way.” Therese was now creating little circles lightly on the back of Carol’s hands.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes, and then I’ll fill you in.” Carol went upstairs and Therese went to the kitchen.
Therese pulled each item out of the folder, making organized stacks of phone records, credit cards statements, and business information. She stopped when she heard giggles from upstairs and she felt her heart melt before turning back to job at hand. Therese started with the credit card receipts and tracked every city Harge had travelled to in the past three years, paying particular attention to travel during the time of the murders. While Harge did travel a lot, the cities and dates never matched with the exception of Abby’s murder, but she was killed in D.C., so that didn’t really count.
Therese then moved on to Harge’s phone records. She circled any repeated numbers around the time of the murders so that Carol could identify them, but nothing was sticking out that was abnormal. She leaned back and let out a frustrated breath.
“That doesn’t sound promising. Coffee?” Carol offered.
“No, I’d never be able to fall asleep if I had caffeine now.”
Carol nodded and sat down next to the young brunette. “So? Anything?”
“Nothing.” Therese leaned forward and leaned her head in her hands. “Looks like you were right. Harge was always in a different city.”
“Oh,” Carol looked over at Therese and swept some hair behind her ear.
“Is that good news? Bad news?” Therese suddenly couldn’t read Carol’s expression.
“No…I guess…it’s good for Rindy, for me…but I hate that we aren’t any closer.” Carol explained and rested her head in her hands, close to Therese.
Therese could help be gaze into Carol’s eyes as they subconsciously moved closer to each other. “I understand.”
Carol’s voice dropped to just above a whisper. “Do you? I mean, it’s been three years since by best friend was murdered and I feel like I’ve done nothing but fail her.” A sadness crossed her face.
Therese gently stroked Carol’s cheek. “You haven’t failed her,” Therese said softly. “Failing would have been to give up, but here you are…with me…and we’ll find him, Carol. I promise.”
The gazed into each other’s eyes, unspoken words passing between them. “Therese,” Carol closed her eyes, unable to resist the pull towards the younger woman.
“Can I kiss you?” Therese whispered. She wasn’t sure where the courage came from, but she couldn’t stop herself from asking.
“I’m…your…” Carol paused as Therese leaned in a placed a soft sweet kiss on Carol’s lips. “Boss.”
“I,” Therese kissed her again. “Don’t,” another sweet kiss. “Care,” and with that, Carol pulled Therese in for a deeper kiss. They sat close to each other, exploring each other’s mouths tenderly and passionately. Carol’s tongue requested entry and Therese granted it, tongues slides together. Carol moaned at the sensation and electricity hummed through her body. Heat was rising from her core as her desire was building and Carol knew that if she didn’t stop now, she wouldn’t be able too. She finally pulled back, lust filled eyes staring deeply into Therese. “God.” She breathed heavily.
Therese felt like her heart was about to beat out of her chest. “I’m sorry,” she worried that she crossed a line.
“Are you? Really?” Carol sat back, brows furrowed. Did Therese regret it?
“No.” Therese never diverted her eyes from Carol’s. “I’m only sorry you stopped.”
Carol’s lips turned up in a small smile and she leaned in closer again. “You make me feel things I’ve never felt before, Therese.” She whispered honestly.
“I know,” Therese agreed. “I feel the same…I feel…connected. But, I should go. If I stay, I’m going to kiss you again and this time I won’t let you stop.”
Carol nodded slowly, knowing that if Therese didn’t leave something more would happen. “I wouldn’t either, but we do have work tomorrow.” Carol chuckled and then her eyes turned serious, “speaking of which—“
Therese placed a slim finger over Carol’s lips, feeling their warmth. “It won’t be a problem.”
“Gen already suspects something, darling.”
“I promise not to kiss you at work…but I cannot promise that I won’t mentally undress you with my eyes. I seem to do that a lot.” Therese’s eyes twinkled when she was flirting and Carol found it absolutely adorable.
“I’ll be sure to wear something special tomorrow, just for you.” Carol flirted back.
Therese loved how perfect this felt. This was her Carol, relaxed, flirtatious, warm, and incredibly sexy, and this Carol was for her eyes only. “I’ll see you in the morning,” Therese said as she stood and started walking towards the front door. “and then you can tell me about what happened yesterday.”
“Text me when you get home?” Carol walked with her, placing her hand on the small of Therese’s back, creating an instant reaction under Therese’s shirt.
“Ok.” Therese felt her heart skip at the simple statement and the lingering touch.
Before opening the door, Carol turned back to Therese, her face serious. “I need to tell you something, Therese. I don’t do this….I don’t invite people to my home and I don’t introduce people to Rindy…I don’t have flings with my co-workers.” She said quickly, clearly anxious.
Therese took Carol’s hands and placed a slow kiss on each one. “I don’t have flings. Thank you for introducing me to Rindy. She really is an amazing kid, Carol.”
Minutes passed, unspoken as they just stood and gazed into each other’s eyes. Whatever this was, was clearly stronger than anything either of them had ever known in the past.
“If I don’t leave now Carol, I won’t be able to.” Therese whispered.
Carol nodded and opened the door. “Thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for dinner.” Therese was delaying her inevitable departure as she moved slowly.
“Thank you for going through all of that stuff with me.” Carol smiled sweetly.
“Thank you for being…you.” Therese smiled back. “Goodnight, Carol.” Therese walked down the front stairs and towards her car. Carol waited to close the door until she saw Therese get into her car.
As soon as Therese got into her car, the uncomfortable feeling of being watched returned. She looked around, but there was no blue sedan in sight. She started the car and retrieved her badge and gun, placing them in her lap, and looked back at Carol’s house. She watched as the downstairs lights were turned off and she waited, making sure no one was stalking Carol’s house. Once she sure no one was watching Carol and Rindy, she slowly drove away.