Dead Heat: Stormbringer Ch. 04byvelvetpie©
The alarm clock's ring startled Taima out of a deep sleep and confused her even more because it didn't sound familiar. It wasn't. It took her a few moments for her to realize that she was not at her home and in her bed. She was in Pilar's stylish condominium, tucked deep into a queen-size bed with a warm and half-naked Pilar in her arms. Pilar raised her arm and pressed the snooze button, replacing the irritating buzz with smoky jazz and stretched like a cat. Taima welcomed the opportunity to press Pilar back into her body, running her hands over silk-covered flesh.
"Good morning." Pilar whispered, turning her head for a kiss and gasping when she received a deep, soul-stirring one from Taima.
"Perfectly." Taima tucked her nose into Pilar's neck, hugging her warmly and wishing that she didn't have to face the day.
Last night had been so hectic. Nathan Rhodes had been murdered by his wife, Harmony. They found him in the same position that she'd first seen him in, dangling his feet into his swimming pool, Haggar slacks rolled up to his calves and his tie loosely dangling around his neck. The crime was so fresh that smoke still curled from the bullet wound and his quickly congealing blood spread like a red velvet blanket beneath him.
Albert Whitley had heard the shot and had found an unresponsive Harmony Rhodes slumped on her haunches, the .38 in her hand. He had immediately called the police and Mahalo had called her minutes later. Taima had worked the scene, coming down to check on Pilar and was happy to see and hear that she was all right and was hanging in there. It meant so much to her just to know that Pilar was waiting for her.
It was a hard life and Pilar knew it. She dealt with the aftermath, once it had been cleaned up. Taima's world was different. She saw the raw aspects of the seamy underside of life, which was one of the reasons Pilar wanted her to spend the night. Taima had no one to help her cope with the realities of her cop life and Pilar knew that the best person for the job was herself. Pilar had welcomed her into her home and in the process, had let her further into her heart.
"Are you glad you stayed?"
Taima smiled, hearing the uncertainty and shyness in Pilar's voice. "Absolutely." Taima checked the numbers on the clock. "Shit, I've got to go. We're heading over to interview Mrs. Rhodes and I have to wear a suit."
"I bet you'll look good." Pilar laughed when Taima made a funny face, surmising that she hated dressing up. "Would you ever wear a dress for me?"
"What? Are you kidding? I'd rather be shot!" They laughed together for a few moments before Taima leaned down and fitted her mouth to Pilar's, turning them face to face. It was so hard to keep from rubbing Pilar's hard nubs or sliding her hand into her silk shorts. Pilar smelled so wonderful, musky and earthy. "I've really gotta go, love."
"Call me later?"
"How about I fix us dinner? My place, this time."
"I'll bring the wine."
"Sounds wonderful." Taima slid out of the bed, turning to hold Pilar's hand. "Thank you."
Pilar blinked, her eyes tearing. "For what?"
"Just being there." Taima looked down, then caught Pilar's eyes again. "Just letting me be me."
"No problem." Pilar whispered softly, arising to coax another long, deep kiss from Taima's mouth. "See you tonight."
* * * * *
"Where have you been?"
The young woman glared at him, hoisting the bag and letting it thump onto the floor. "Where do you think? I still have to work."
"No, you don't. I pay you enough money to make sure that you're at my every beck and call."
"Maybe I don't want to be at your beck and call."
"Doesn't matter. That's what I want so that's what you give me."
"I don't think so."
The man produced a small bag of crystal methamphetamine, dangling it just in front of the young woman's nose. "Wanna make a bet?"
"That's not fair!"
"Who said life was fair? Now, get over here. I want you to suck my dick."
The pretty girl with strawberry-blonde hair walked over, wrinkling her pixie-ish nose and sitting on the bed. She had known the old man for a long while, but hadn't begun a relationship till this past year. It would never have started if she hadn't started modeling again. Working and modeling didn't mesh well and when one of her fellow models had suggested meth, she eagerly partook, loving the abundant energy that followed. She hated, despised herself for becoming an addict. She loathed the fact that this man held her existence in her hands.
The old man unbuckled his belt, watching as she snatched the glassine bag of meth packets and snorted two quickly, smiling happily as euphoria swept through her body. "I have a little surprise for you." He produced a small envelope and using a tiny spoon, spread a long line of white powder down the length of his hard dick. "Now, suck that!"
The young woman eagerly bent to her task, bending to inhale the precious cocaine and using her tongue to draw the residue into her mouth, sighing at the tingle that spread from her lips to her throat. "Mmmm."
"Like that, don't cha?"
"You know I do, you old bastard."
"Open your mouth." She did as she was told, taking the old man's wrinkled penis into her mouth and enduring the humiliation of him smacking the fat-headed tube of meat against her cheeks. "Yeah, little bitch. Suck my cock." He pushed his prick into her mouth, rubbing against her tongue. She gagged a bit, then quickly recovered as he shoved in again and again, fucking her mouth for all he was worth. Thankfully, it didn't take long before he was pumping his hot, salty cum down her throat, both hands on the back of the girl's head as he grunted in the throes of his climax. "Fuck, that was good."
The young woman crawled onto the bed, breathing heavily and rapidly swallowing from the open bottle of Jack Daniels. She knew what was next.
"We lost the first shipment, but another is on its way." He pulled the leather harness on, selecting the largest dildo from his suitcase to slide into the holder. "I know that you're sorry but I'll accept your form of payment."
The young woman trembled inside. "Yes, master."
He pulled her onto her knees, pulling her undies down and spreading her cheeks apart to see her unused pucker. "And I hope it will be a well-learned lesson for you." He leaned forward, his pink tongue pressing past her tight muscle and spitting into her cleft. "If you take care of your part, we'll be rich and home free."
When he pressed the head of the huge dildo into her tiny asshole, she knew that this was just a warning.
* * * * *
When Taima pulled into her driveway, she knew something was wrong.
Her home was small and she had taken extra care in planting chrysanthemums, marigolds and begonias around the front, along with a Japanese maple and a white birch. The bright green, burgeoning shoots that signaled flowers were gone. Gone, as in now non-existent. Taima's entire body went cold as she surveyed the dark earth, now dotted with sliced blooms and her police instincts kicked in, her eyes swinging toward her front door.
It was open.
Taima pulled her revolver and thumbed the safety off, flattening against the wall. She took a deep breath, attempting to slow her heart as she pushed the front door the rest of the way open with her foot. Silence met her. She knew better than to call out. Whomever had been here might still be here and wasn't welcome. Alicia certainly wouldn't have left everything open, nor would she have hacked Taima's plants.
Quietly, Taima checked each room, ending her search in the bedroom. On her bed was a message, punctuated by an unpotted flower, its root ball hacked into pieces.
First, Nathan Rhodes. Next, you.
* * * * *
"What does it mean?"
Mahalo Jenkins shook his head. He had been unusually quiet since arriving with the team. She knew that it was because of her, because this crime had been committed against her. His protective nature came out and his cop instinct kicked in right behind it.
"I don't know, Tam, but I don't like it."
A thorough examination had discovered that nothing else had been disturbed, the plant had been torn out of a flower bed on the side of the house and no other fingerprints other than hers and Alicia's. When no other information could be gleaned from the scene, everyone left. Except for Mahalo.
"What's going on, Taima?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Malo. I swear."
"Oh, so it's a usual occurrence to have your house broken into?"
Taima shook her head, stepping into the walk-in closet and yanking the overhead bulb. "And you haven't had your house broken into, Mister Police Chief?"
"Of course I have. But the circumstances were different and you know it."
"Do I?" Taima laid her tweed suit on the bed, tossing a camisole on top of it. "I can't help it that I was a victim. I'm not doing anything that I don't ordinarily do."
"What about girlfriends? Ex-girlfriends?"
"Don't have any of them. Too busy."
"Messing around with anyone? Piss anyone off that didn't know you were gay?"
"Malo!" Taima paused in her preparations to stare at her friend. "You know me better than that."
"Who are you messing around with?"
"Malo ... "
"Tell me, Tam!"
"Alicia Brewster and Pilar Petersen."
Mahalo's face wore an incredulous expression. "Pilar Petersen? How'd you score her?"
"I haven't yet, Malo, and it's not a 'score'. She's the one."
Jenkins grinned, shaking his head. "She's a beaut. Guys have been trying to get her for a long time."
"Well, if I have anything to say about it, she'll be off the market soon. Permanently."
Mahalo smiled again. It was nice to hear that Taima had finally found someone. "And what about Alicia?"
"That's a problem."
"You think she'd do this?"
"Maybe, but she doesn't have anything to do with Nathan Rhodes."
The phone rang and Taima quickly picked it up. It was Pilar, who had heard about the break-in from one of the funeral home employees. "I'm all right! Really!"
"I don't like it, Taima! What if you'd have been home?"
Pilar's concern was touching and she smiled. "Then I would have shot the bastard!"
"That's not funny!"
"I know, Pilar." Taima softened her voice. "But there's really nothing to worry about."
"Not any more. You're staying with me."
"Pilar ... "
"No. You pack your bags and come by here. I'll give you a key."
"You don't have to do that."
"Yes, I do." Her voice was suddenly warm. "I'm falling in love with you."
Taima felt like a chunk of chocolate in the red hot sun and the saliva in her mouth dried up quickly. "I feel the same, Pilar."
"Then say it."
"I can't. I have company."
Pilar giggled. "Okay. I'll let you off the hook. For now."
"Handle your other business and come by."
Alicia. Taima had tried her best to forget about that little chore. "I will. See you."
She hung up the phone, ignoring the knowing smirk on Mahalo's face. "All right. Get dressed. Let's get going."
* * * * *
On the ride over, Mahalo filled Taima in with some information. Benny Rhodes' car had been processed and nothing much had been found. His body had contained 75 ounces of crystal meth and an employee of the Sheltering Elms Cemetery had since disappeared. Her name was Julianne Bennett. The general contention was that Bennett arranged for the body to be used for the drug transportation.
A small piece of the puzzle had been fitted into place. But more questions were left unanswered. Who was running the drugs? And where were they going? Taima's worry was that the drug was coming into town and a drug like crystal meth would bring a storm that no one would be able to survive.
The visit to the psych ward in the jail was a wasted trip. Harmony Rhodes sat across the table from them, her dark eyes dull with confusion. Her immaculate hair was rough and unkempt and her elegant hands were curled into claws. It was clear that she was not going to be able to help with the investigation.
By the time Taima returned to her desk, it was lunch time and she was starving. She knew what she should do. She pulled into the school parking lot and found Alicia grading papers.
Blue eyes raked over her coldly. "What do you want?"
"I guess we need to talk."
"Don't bother." Alicia stacked the papers, tucking them into an orange folder. "I saw you and your little whore at Samone's."
Taima lowered her head. "I'm sorry, Alicia. I never meant to hurt you."
"You pressure me to have sex and then you dump me?"
"I didn't pressure you."
"The hell you didn't! Don't you remember? It happened right next door!"
"But you wanted it! Remember that?"
Alicia's thin grip on her control snapped and she burst into tears. Taima went to her, embracing her friend but Alicia pushed her away. "Get the fuck out of here and don't come back."
"Alicia, I can't just leave like this."
"Then I will."
The slam of the door echoed in the tiny room and Taima bowed her head, sobbing over a lost love and a lost friendship.
* * * * *
Chief WhiteEagle was not surprised to see Taima. RunningEagle, his son and tribal medicine man, had told him that she would be coming for a visit. At first, he didn't believe him because it had been more than twenty years since she had visited him. Taima had changed when Mitena had died and she had quarreled with her grandfather when he insisted that she remain on the reservation. No one understood her, she had said and no one will ever love me like my mother. It hurt him that she could not look past the importance of his office and see how much he loved her. She saw him only as Chief, not as Grandfather.
Now, he watched his granddaughter enter his home, frowning at the tentativeness in her body language, sadly realizing that she was not even comfortable here. She graciously accepted her uncle's welcome hug and gave WhiteEagle a long embrace, tears streaking her cheeks when they parted.
"Welcome, Taima. It makes my heart glad to see you." His words seemed to upset her more and the Chief motioned for RunningEagle to leave. It was obvious that she was troubled and he was gratified to know that she had come to him for assistance. "Would you like some tea?" She nodded 'no'. "How about some whiskey?" She nodded again and he poured them two sturdy shots, pushing the beveled rocks glass into her hands. He waited as she took a sip, steeling her nerves. "How are you?"
"My spirit is confused, Grandfather." Taima had never thought that she would ever connect with her spirituality, but the manic rollercoaster of the day's events had drained her and made her aware of a deficit that she'd never acknowledged. As physically strong as she prided herself on being, she was as emotionally weak. "I – I ... "
"Do you know why your mother named you 'crash of thunder'?"
Taima paused in mid-sip, her mind going back to when she'd first heard the story. A great storm had passed overhead just as she was being born. "Yes, the storm."
"You were not named Taima just because of the storm, little one." WhiteEagle refilled his glass, pausing to add a little to hers also. "The entire time that Mitena carried you, you made yourself known. She had the morning sickness for nearly four months and when you started kicking, she was afraid that you would kick your way out." He returned her smile, noticing that it didn't reach her eyes. "But she named you Taima because she knew that you had a strong spirit."
"But I don't, Grandfather. I've hurt someone that I've known my entire life for no other reason except that I found someone else."
"Have you made a commitment to her?"
Her. That was the first time she'd ever heard him acknowledge her lesbianism, even obliquely. "No."
"And the 'someone else' that you found. Have you made a commitment to her?"
"But you feel strongly about this second woman. You feel strong enough to make a commitment to her?"
"Yes, I do."
"Taima, even though we have not spoken, I know about your life." WhiteEagle paused, letting his eyes meet hers when she raised her head. "I know that you are not promiscuous and I know that you choose to have relationships. It can't be helped that you hurt Alicia. You didn't pursue her with anything but love in your mind and in your heart. In time, she will see that you loved her."
"I still love her, Grandfather, but I met someone ... "
"The young lady that works at the funeral home?"
WhiteEagle genuinely smiled. "She is known to me."
"She has prepared many of our tribes people for burial and she was respectful enough to ask about our traditions. No other has ever asked."
"Oh, Grandfather, she is my soulmate. She is so wonderful."
"I can see the love you have for her in your eyes." WhiteEagle tossed his whiskey back, with a sigh. "I am an old man, Taima. I have many summers under my belt and maybe not too many more winters. I have loved many women but only one was the owner of my heart. That is a blessing that many do not receive." One of his wizened hands enfolded hers, tenderly caressing while the other wiped her falling tears. "Alicia will understand, little one."
Taima smiled through her tears and Chief WhiteEagle was happy to see that it finally reached her eyes. "Thank you, Grandfather."
"Now, would you like some lunch?" Taima nodded. "And maybe you can tell me more about what's been happening in your life."
She gripped his smooth hand, threading her fingers through his like she'd done as a child. "I'd like that, Grandfather."