tagRomanceThe Lady in Blue Ch. 03

The Lady in Blue Ch. 03


Chapter Three: The night belongs to the Hawk

Ted's point of view

I sat next to her on the curb, my arm around her shoulders as she sobbed. The smell of fire was still strong in the air. Flashing red and blue lights lined the street. Police and firefighters surrounded the burned out hulk of her car, their radios squawking. The area was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape the same way they had sealed the street with sawhorses. The Harris County Medical Examiner's van was parked just short of the burned out car.

Other than taking an initial statement, no one had spoken to either of us. The uniformed HPD cop standing nearby had indicated that the bomb squad had arrived and a homicide detective was on the way. All Lisa could do was nod her head and cry. I pulled the blanket that they provided closer around her and leaned her against me. She turned and threw her arms around me, burying her head against my shoulder. Her tears burned my neck, hot and wet.

"Why?" she sobbed. "Why, Ted? Why would someone do this? Oh God!"

I brushed my hand across her head. "I don't know." I didn't know what I could do but I had to say something. "We'll find out. I promise."

As Lisa cried, I heard a low throbbing noise that grew louder. Over her shoulder, I saw a big, black Harley Davidson turn the corner and glide to the curb. My eyes were drawn to the kick stand as a black boot swung it out and set the bike down, the rider shutting it off. As the other boot swung over the bike and the rider unsnapped the helmet, I looked up. Long black hair spilled out as a tall, striking woman removed her helmet and let the rich mane settle across her leather jacket.

The Harley rider strode up to the police and words were exchanged as I watched with some confusion. The police had been shunting people away. Who was she? I saw a uniformed cop point at us and she headed over with long strides.

Another policeman interrupted the Harley rider's march toward us and I could clearly hear what he said. He gestured at the burned out car. "Hawk, the stiff is Calvin Samson. We'll have to wait for the coroner to make a firm ID, though. He's a crispy critter."

I felt Lisa jolt in my arms and then sag. Her crying became almost a wail. I wanted to get up and punch that insensitive bastard!

Hawk grabbed his collar, yanking him close. "You keep your damned mouth shut, Parker. You do that again and I'll see your sorry ass on parking meter duty. I do not need to be called in while off duty and get this kind of shit." She got further into his face. "Now get the fuck out of here before I do something you're going to regret." She shoved him off and as she turned, I could see the mouth working on his enraged face. I'm pretty good at reading lips. He mouthed, "Dyke bitch."

As Parker stalked off, I turned my attention to this Hawk. I could see her sizing us up as she came closer. Then her pace slowed down and an odd expression crossed her face. She cocked her head to one side and I noticed that she seemed to be looking at Lisa. A slow grin, not of humor, but of amusement, crept onto her face and was quickly wiped away.

I looked at Lisa and saw that her knees were spread a little. Her skirt had ridden up really high. Remembering her panties in my pocket, I suddenly realized that this Hawk was looking at Lisa's sex. Flushing, I pulled part of the blanket across Lisa's front. The woman looked at me and shook her head. Then she sped up her step and knelt in front of us.

"Lisa Davis? Ted Stansbury? I'm Detective Shauna Hawkins. I know this is hard but I need to ask you some questions."

Hawk's voice was a little husky and deeper than the average woman's. Her eyes on Lisa had a surprising compassion. She reached out and put her hand on Lisa's knee. Lisa looked up and nodded. "Go ahead."

Hawk nodded to her and then at the destroyed car. "You told the patrolman that the man in the car was Calvin Samson and that the car was yours. What I need to know is why someone might want you or him dead. Can you think of anyone with a grudge against either of you?"

Lisa nodded. "Where should I start?" she asked with a sad laugh. "Calvin and I are - were - Assistant District Attorneys in Galveston County. We've put a lot of people in jail and we have a number of cases in progress." hung her head and I held her. "This is so unreal. I can't believe he's dead."

Hawk looked at me with the greenest eyes. "Mister Stansbury, did you see anyone odd tonight? Was someone watching you? Someone out at the cars when you came out? When Mister Samson got into Miss Davis's car?"

I shook my head. "No, I didn't. We - ah, weren't looking at the car."

Hawk quirked an eyebrow and then slowly nodded. "I see. You were leaving together?"

"Yes," I said. "We were going to go dancing. Calvin was going to take her car, pick her up tomorrow morning and go to work with her."

The detective's eyebrows rose. "On a Saturday? Isn't that a bit unusual?"

Lisa shook her head and used the blanket to wipe her eyes. "Not really, no. There's always more work to be done than can be done in five days. Calvin and I have been working Saturday mornings for over a year together. We have been pulling together some pretty big cases lately, with a lot of research."

"Were you and he romantically involved? Was Saturday all work and no play?" Hawk asked Lisa.

Lisa glared at her. "No. We were just friends."

I couldn't tell what was going on behind those green eyes that were considering Lisa.

"Okay. So, you were going dancing with Mister Stansbury and then what? To his place or back home?" Hawk pressed.

"Back home. I figured we would dance and then be there by midnight or one." Lisa responded.

Hawk looked at me. "Was Ted going to be spending the night?"

Lisa stiffened. "What the hell business is that of yours!" she almost shouted. "I'm over twenty-one and I can damned well sleep with whomever I choose!"

I could tell that the detective was not put off by that response. She chuckled. "Don't get your panties in a twist," she said with a knowing look at me. I could feel the lump of fabric in my pocket. "You can sleep with him or anyone else for all I care. Hell, as good looking as you are, you should have men and women knocking down your door. Have a good time, cause you never know. How long have you been going out?"

"We saw each other a few days ago but we didn't even speak. Today is really the first time we've met," I said.

Hawk's eyebrows rose again. She glanced back at Lisa with mingled amusement and respect. "You guys move quick. I like that."

I felt myself heating down to my toes again and Lisa frowned at me. Under the blanket, I took her hand and put it on my pocket where her panties bulked.

Her eyes grew wide and she stared at Hawk, her face coloring. Her knees, even though out of sight, pulled together convulsively. She opened her mouth but nothing came out.

Hawk leaned forward and put a finger on Lisa's lips. "Shhhhh. It's no skin off my nose and you don't have to worry. I get in too much trouble for my lifestyle to cause anyone grief over theirs. I won't tell." She smiled. "Besides, I think Ted and I can agree that the view was great, right Ted?"

I colored again but nodded. Then, clearing my throat, I tried to bring this conversation back into some kind of professional ballpark. "This won't help but I have something else that needs to be considered. Lisa drove the same model and color car I do."

I could see that jarred Hawk. She sat back on her heels, whistling slowly and softly. "No shit? Damn, that does make it a little more difficult. Does anyone hate you, Ted? Enough to see you dead?"

"Yesterday, I would have said no. Hell, I'm still not sure how real it is but I had words with a lobbyist for the wine distributors this morning over legislation that could put a serious dent in their - and his - pocketbooks. He was plenty pissed." I related the details of the encounter as she pulled out a pad and made notes.

"It might be nothing," Hawk agreed. "Then again, maybe not. We'll check him out but we'll play it as more likely Lisa here was the target." She looked back at Lisa. "I'll get someone in your office to get me a list of people that might have you on their hit parade but I do not, I repeat, I do not want you going back into that office until it is full of people. That means Monday and don't get there early. I'd also rather you didn't go home for a couple of days, just in case. I intend to have Galveston PD lend us a hand and search your place just to be sure there are no more surprises. Will you let them?"

Lisa paled and slowly nodded. "You... You think that someone may have been in my house, too?" Her voice was shaky.

Hawk put both hands on her legs, rubbing them through the blanket. "Keep it together, lady. You're tough; you have to be to be a prosecutor. I want to keep you both safe. I'll be wanting the same permission from him. Any objections if I go through your drawers?" She grinned.

Now it was my turn to goggle and Lisa elbowed me. My mouth snapped shut. "Sure, if Lisa has no objection to you being in her drawers, why should I?" I didn't realize quite how that sounded until the elbow returned twice as hard. A look confirmed Lisa was blushing furiously.

"Ted!" Lisa exclaimed.

Hawk just laughed. "You two are sweet. Well, since I have your permission to handle your - things, I'll get that rolling. Lisa, do you have somewhere to go?"

Before Lisa could answer, I spoke up. "She can use a spare bedroom in my place. We have plenty of room."

She looked at me and I could see her thinking about it.

I raised a hand. "No funny business, just a place that is quiet and has some privacy. You have my word."

Lisa blinked and nodded. "Okay, Ted. I'll try it."

I looked at Hawk. "Will you need a more detailed statement?"

Hawk nodded. "Yes, but I can come out and get it tomorrow. I have both your cell numbers. I'll make arrangements for the Sheriff to look over your house when you get there."

Turning her attention back to Lisa, Hawk reached under the blanket and took her hands into her own and leaned forward. "Honey, I'm really sorry for your friend. I promise you, I will nail the bastard that did this. I swear it." The conviction on her face was so strong that Lisa broke into tears again and impulsively wrapped her arms around Hawk, hugging her close.

"Thank you!" she sobbed.

Hawk smoothly slid her arms around Lisa and held her for a moment, putting Lisa's blonde head against her dark tresses. Her green eyes swiveled to me to take in my reaction and she smiled. Then she let Lisa go. "Take good care of her, Ted. I can tell she's special."

I slid my arm back around Lisa, somewhat protectively. Was she hitting on Lisa? Was I jealous? If it were a man, I would be jealous. If Hawk were a lesbian, was it the same as if it were a man hitting on Lisa? I finally just let it go and nodded to her. "She'll be safe."

A man wearing heavy padding came up and interrupted us at that point. "The other car is clean, detective. We can release it."

Hawk nodded. "Thanks, Frank."

I helped Lisa to her feet and pulled her close. "Thank you, Detective Hawkins."

With a grin, she said, "Call me Hawk. Everyone does." She clapped my shoulder in an almost brotherly fashion. "That's what they pay me the big bucks for. Drive slowly and safely. Do not go inside the house without the sheriff's deputies. Got it?"

Hawk leaned in and whispered softly in my ear, away from Lisa. "She'll be a wreck for a while, then she'll get mad. Don't fight with her."

I nodded and she let go. Turning with Lisa, I left Hawk talking with the man from the bomb squad and made our way back to my car. After opening the passenger door, I helped Lisa in and buckled her seatbelt. Walking around the car, I looked for the best way to get out and saw a uniformed officer by the sawhorses waving at me. I waved back and climbed in. My breath caught in my throat as I started the car but nothing untoward happened. I relaxed and saw Lisa relax as well. We had both been thinking it.

Slowly, so as not to hit anyone or anything, I pulled between the vehicles and people. The officer moved the sawhorse and I drove past it. As we left the crime scene, I could see people crowded on the sidewalk, looking to see what was going on. Just a bit further along the street, there were lights, cameras and talking heads. Vultures. I stepped on the gas a bit and left it behind.

A quick couple of turns and we were on the interstate heading north. It seemed surreal to be doing something so normal after the events of the last few hours. I found my thoughts preying on me: what had happened, what a terrible attack this had been and how it could have been Lisa or me in that car.

I looked over at her and she was huddled in her seat, not looking out. She was crying again. Reaching over, I opened the glove box and pulled out a packet of tissues. After I closed the glove box and gave them to her, I just put my hand on her leg so she could feel my presence as she grieved.

Lisa loudly blew her nose. She seemed to shrink deeper into herself and cried. I didn't try to stop her. Her hand clutched at mine as she sobbed.

The traffic grew lighter as we escaped the metro area. Soon we were away from the lights and noise of the city. When I left the interstate and began to drive the smaller roads toward Spring. Her tears had subsided and she only sniffled occasionally.

It took a little more than an hour to finally get home and when I pulled into the long drive, I could see sheriff's vehicles parked with their lights off. Several deputies perked up as we pulled to a stop and turned off the car.

Leaning back over to her, I whispered, "Stay here. I'll search the house with them and then come back. Okay?"

Lisa's makeup was a total loss; her eyes red and weepy. Still, even in her anguish, she was beautiful. She tightened her grip on my hand and then released it. "Don't be long. Please, be careful."

I nodded and climbed out. I could now see there were three cars and three deputies.

One of them came up and offered his hand. "Mister Stansbury? My name is Zoboroski. These are Deputies Willis and Chambers. We've already looked in the outbuildings. They all look clear. Willis will stay out here with the lady and we three will go look over the inside of your place, okay?"

Zoboroski gestured and one of them followed us while the other stayed where he was beside the cars. I unlocked the door and the shrill whine of the alarm greeted us. Stan must not be home. It suddenly dawned on me that I had no idea how Stan meant to get home or when he would get here.

With a shake of my head, I put that out of my mind. He was a big boy and would find a way home. I snorted wryly. Or go home with Dina. I stepped to the side and the two deputies moved into the house, drawing their guns.

"Sheriff's Department!" Zoboroski called out as they advanced. Together we went through every room in the house. It took about fifteen minutes. No masked man leapt out on us and nothing looked disturbed.

When we came back out the front door, I looked immediately to see Lisa still in my car. She seemed to relax at the sight of us.

Deputy Zoboroski stopped at the edge of the drive. "Why don't you and the lady go on inside, Mister Stansbury. We'll wait out here 'til you're in. Turn on your alarm, you hear? I'll drive by several times tonight and make sure everything still looks good out here."

I went to the passenger side of my car. Lisa was still a bit shaky as I helped her out. Without the blanket wrapped around her, she almost glowed palely in the overhead lights. I put an arm around her and urged her toward the house. "Come on inside. I'll help get you settled in." Then to the deputies, "Thanks, boys. I really appreciate it. Come back out some Sunday and look me up." They nodded and I felt a pang in my stomach. I had said almost exactly the same thing to Calvin and he would never keep that appointment.

Once inside, I locked the door behind us and turned on the alarm. "I don't know if Stan will be back tonight." I led her through the house but she seemed too sluggish and drained to see much of it. I had already decided to put her up where she might feel a bit more comfortable so I led her to my sister's room, the one she lived in when she was down here, both before and after she married. It had her touch all over it, from the color scheme to the extra clothes in the closet. She and Lisa were close to the same size so she might find something to change into.

"This is my sister's room. She's living up near Bend now, with her husband and kids. There is a private bathroom and shower. I bet there is something in one of the drawers or closets you can change into. Why don't you take a shower and let me make us a light snack. Then you can go to bed."

Lisa nodded and went into the room, closing the door behind her. I heard the lock engage. With a deep breath, I went back into the kitchen. I started to toast some bread, then made a few grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

While they were frying in the pan, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the folded panties. How far the night had gone, from promising to disastrous. Almost unconsciously, I brought the garment to my nose and inhaled the subtle scent of her. A hint of her earlier arousal made my heart flutter. With a sigh, I slid it back into my pocket. That was out of the question. The very last thing she needed right now was me hitting on her. She needed support and space to get her feet back under herself.

When the sandwiches were done, I set them on plates at the table. Then, I pulled one of the bottles of merlot off the rack. That would go well with the sandwiches and we both might need something to help us sleep. Wine was better than pills.

I had just poured the wine when she stepped into the kitchen, barefooted with her hair wrapped in a towel that fell across the shoulders of the robe she wore tightly belted at her waist. She looked at the food and sat down slowly.

"I don't think I'm hungry, Ted." Lisa' voice sounded washed out.

Nodding, I put a glass of wine by her hand and the bottle in the center of the table. "Then drink a glass of wine. It will help you sleep." I sat down and sipped on my wine, watching her.

Lisa took the glass in her trembling hands and I was afraid she was going to drop it or spill it. She didn't sip the fine merlot; she drank it in gulps until the glass was empty. With a light 'thunk', she set it back on the table and exhaled shakily. "I don't usually drink much but I think tonight is an exception." She looked over her glass at me. "If I get drunk, just put me in my room, okay?"

I got the point and nodded. "Okay." Snagging the bottle, I poured her another glass and then nibbled on a sandwich as she sipped this one more slowly. She finally picked up a sandwich and tasted it. Once she did, she tore into the plate of sandwiches.

In half an hour, the wine was gone, the sandwiches eaten and Lisa was feeling considerably less pain. The towel was gone from her head and her hair looked a bit wild. Her voice was a little slurred but she had started talking again. She talked about Calvin and what a great guy he was; about Austin, where she grew up; about her job and how much she loved it. It was like a flood pouring out of her.

I filled in her pauses with stories of "growing up grape," as Stan called it. I didn't think she would remember very much tomorrow but it felt good just talking with her.

When we were done, I set the glasses in the sink and the bottle in the recycle bin. She tried to get up but sat back down heavily and laughed. "I'm drunk!" she pronounced.

I smiled. "Maybe a little." I handed her a glass of water and four aspirin. "Take this and you'll thank me in the morning."

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