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Fatal Justice (Chapter 12)

This was it, Freddie decided, as he let Elin drag him through her dark apartment. He wasn't going to back out, he wasn't going to think of his mother, his faith or the promises he made to himself years ago before he'd become a man with man-sized urges. In his right mind, he would've preferred some romance, some candles maybe. Love would've been nice, too.

But that hadn't happened, and this was going to. And it was going to be over before it started unless he could find a way to slow things down.

He reached for her hands, which were at work on his shirt buttons. "Hey."

She nuzzled his chest hair. "What?"

"How about we take our time?"

Rolling his nipple between her teeth, she said, "We have taken our time. We've been out three times, Freddie."

"Three whole times," he said more to himself than to her.

"What's wrong with you? Don't you want this?"

Did he? Did he really want it this way? Then he remembered his resolution. This was the year. He had chosen this woman, knowing she would be easy and uncomplicated. It wasn't her fault that uncomplicated had turned out to be empty and unsatisfying. "Yeah," he said, pulling off his coat.

She took it from him and with a saucy glance over her shoulder, she said, "Get comfortable. I'll be right back."

Freddie sat on the bed and looked around at the surprisingly feminine room. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but pink and frilly wasn't it. Maybe she'd surprise him in other ways, too.

"Freddie."

He looked up and almost swallowed his tongue. Stark naked, she stood in the doorway. Zeroing in on the cupid tattoo on her left breast, he watched in stunned fascination as her pierced nipples sprang to life.

"See anything you like?"

"Uh-huh," he managed to say. "Come here."

She sashayed over to him and stepped between his parted legs. With her hands on his shoulders, she offered her breasts to him.

Flipping his tongue back and forth over one of her nipples, he cupped her firm ass and brought her in closer to him. Every toned inch of her was proof of the hours she spent at the gym. "Did it hurt?"

"What?" she asked breathlessly.

"Having them pierced."

"Like a sonofabitch."

"Then why do it?"

"Because it makes what you're doing right now even more intense, and they make me feel sexy."

"I can't believe you need any help feeling sexy."

She glanced down at him, a vulnerable expression on her usually confident face, and shrugged. Pushing the shirt off his shoulders, she tossed it to the floor and urged him to lie back.

He watched her as she divested him of his pants and underwear. And with that, with both of them naked and needy, he had already gone further than ever before.

Elin kissed her way down the front of him, and Freddie let her, knowing he needed to take the edge off if he was going to get through the main event without embarrassing himself. No doubt a woman like her had some pretty significant expectations. Over and done with in under thirty seconds probably wasn't one of them.

Wrapping her hand around his erection, she stroked him until he was harder than he could ever recall being.

"Mmm," she said as she wrapped her lips around him.

He had heard his friends and coworkers talk about women who actually liked giving blow jobs versus those who did it just to please their partner. If the enthusiastic way in which she stroked, licked and sucked was any indication, he had found one who seemed to like it as much as he did. Clutching her hair, Freddie discovered that watching her make love to him with her mouth was every bit as hot as the act itself.

When she cupped his balls and took him deep into her throat, Freddie cried out as a powerful orgasm gripped him. On the way back down to earth, he realized he still had a firm grip on her hair and loosened his hold.

She lapped at him, cleaning him up. "How can you come like that and still be so hard?" she asked, stroking him.

He reached for her, bringing her up to rest on top of him. "Stamina." And lack of use, he wanted to say but didn't.

"We need a condom," she said.

"In a minute." He captured her mouth in a hot, penetrating kiss, and suddenly it didn't matter that he didn't love her or that he'd been taught this was wrong outside of marriage. It didn't feel wrong. It felt good, and he wanted more. He wanted everything. "Let me grab that condom."

"Oh no, let me," she said with a sexy glint in her eye.

Just as he was about to tell her about the condoms he'd been carrying around in his back pocket – just in case – she reached for her bedside table and produced a black foil packet.

"Ribbed, to enhance  pleasure." With her eyes fixed on his, she used her teeth to tear off the wrapper and rolled it on.

Freddie bit his lip to keep from losing it as she moved her hand slowly over his straining length.

When she was finished, she straddled him and leaned forward to touch her lips to his.

He filled his hands with her breasts and had to remind himself to breathe. This was really happening. Finally.

"How do you like it?" she whispered.

"Any way you like it."

"In that case, it's a good thing we have all night."

Using her hand, she led him to her slick channel and sank down on him.

Buried to the hilt in her heat, Freddie gasped.

"Does that hurt?" she asked, looking down at him with concern.

Unable to breathe let alone speak, he shook his head and gripped her hips.

She leaned back and took him even deeper.

Freddie wasn't sure if he should move or let her ride him, but his hips seemed to have a mind of their own as they surged up to meet her thrusts. Oh God, why had he waited so long to do this? Why?

As if a wild beast had been unleashed inside him, he sat up, wrapped his arms around her and turned them over so he was on top. Bringing her to the edge of the bed, he kept his feet on the floor to gain maximum leverage and pounded into her. Sweat pooled at the base of his spine, burned his eyes and wet his forehead, but he felt nothing beyond the velvet heat surrounding his cock.

She sank her fingers into his ass, holding him deep inside her when she came with a sharp cry.

Somehow, Freddie managed to hold on to his control long enough to take her up and over once more. When he finally gave himself permission to join her, the relief that he'd managed to get through this without embarrassing himself tempered the mind-blowing release. Panting on top of her, still joined with her, he wondered how long he had to wait before he'd be able to do it again.

Sam rested her head on Nick's chest and listened to the soft cadence of his breathing. They had shared the leftover lobster and a bottle of wine, inaugurated the new Jacuzzi and done some serious power snuggling. He hadn't tried to make love to her, and she had been relieved that he seemed to know she needed something else tonight: A shoulder to lean on. His shoulder.

Touching her lips to his chest, she sighed with contentment. An odd sense of peace had come over her after she shared her deepest, darkest secret with him. That he knew the worst of her and loved her anyway was such a special gift in the midst of everything else he had brought to her life.

"Why are you awake at four a.m.?" he whispered, startling her.

"Why are "

"Insomnia."

"How come I don't know that after a month of sleeping with you?"

"Because you're usually sawing logs when I'm awake."

"I do not 'saw logs,'" she said indignantly.

"Um, yeah, you do."

"Want me to rub your back?" she asked.

"Really?"

"Turn over."

They shifted into position so she could caress his back.

He released a long deep breath. "Feels good."

"What's the deal with the insomnia?"

"It comes and goes, usually depending on the stress level at the moment."

"And you thought being a senator would be good for that?"

He laughed into his pillow. "It was a concern. One of many."

"You should see a doctor about it."

"As soon as you see Harry about your stomach." He referred to his friend, the internist, who'd agreed to sneak her in.

"I have an appointment on Friday."

"Good. Want me to go with you?"

"You'll be knee deep in nomination hearings on Friday."

"I can be there if you need me."

"I'll be fine." She kissed his shoulder. "Go to sleep."

He put his arm around her and drew her in close to him. "Only if you do."

"Deal."

They were both on their way when the phone rang.

"It's mine." She reached for her cell on the bedside table. "Holland."

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Lieutenant," Detective Jeannie McBride said. "We've got a homicide, and you asked us to let you know."

"Where?"

"Lincoln Park."

"I'm on my way." She got up and reached for the clothes she'd worn the night before and realized they were inappropriate for a middle-of-the-night winter crime scene. "Crap. I'll have to go to my dad's to change."

"You know, if you lived here, your clothes would, too," Nick muttered.

"Ha ha."

He got out of bed.

"What're you doing?" she asked.

"Saving you some time." He stepped into his closet and emerged with a sweater of his that he tossed to her. In his other hand, he held up a pair of running shoes. "You left these here last week."

"Excellent," she said, as she pushed her arms into the sweater. "Mmm, smells like you."

"Do you need socks?"

Pulling on her black dress pants, she flashed him a sheepish grin. "Um, yeah."

He handed her a pair.

"Thanks." Wrapping her arms around his warm, naked body, she went up on tiptoes to kiss him. "Try to get some sleep."

"Be careful out there, babe."

"I always am."

Sam raised the yellow crime scene tape and stepped into Lincoln Park. The blustery winter wind smacked at her face as she worked to shake off the stupor of a sleepless night. She shivered, yearning for Nick and the warmth of his bed.

The first hint of sunrise graced the horizon. Across the park, under the glare of lights that had been brought in, two patrol officers stood watch over the victim.

"What've we got?" she asked Detective Jeannie McBride.

McBride consulted her notebook. "Victim is male, Caucasian, late sixties. Killed with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. His hands and feet were bound."

"Execution style?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"ID?"

"None on him, but he's well dressed."

"Start a log of everyone who's here now or comes in later."

"Got it."

"Where's Cruz?"

"Not answering his phone or pager."

Startled, Sam glanced at Jeannie. "That's odd."

"Yes, Lieutenant."

Wondering where in the hell her partner was, she jammed her hands into her coat pockets. "Try him again." Sam's long-legged stride ate up the distance to where the victim lay crumpled on the ground.

Nodding to the patrol officers, she tugged on latex gloves and squatted down to examine the twine that had been used to bind his hands and feet. His shoes, she noted, were missing. Blood pooled at the site of the gunshot wound. With her hand on his shoulder, she turned him and gasped as she looked down at the dead face of the man they'd dined with the night before.

"Oh God," she whispered. "Oh poor Nick." Standing over the lifeless body of Supreme Court nominee Julian Sinclair, all Sam could think about was the day she and Nick had gone to Leesburg to tell the O'Connors their son had been murdered. And now their longtime friend was dead, too. She couldn't imagine how any of them would withstand this new blow on top of the one they'd so recently sustained.

"Lieutenant?" Detective McBride said from behind her.

"It's Julian Sinclair."

McBride gasped. "The Supreme Court nominee?"

Sam nodded. "Contact Malone and Farnsworth. Let them know that Senator Cappuano, Senator and Mrs. Graham O'Connor, and myself were among the last people to see him alive."

McBride stared at her for a long moment.

"Make the calls, Jeannie."

"Yes, ma'am."

Jeannie walked away, and Sam returned her attention to the victim. "What happened, Julian?" she whispered, feeling horrible about the odd confrontation she'd had with him the night before. She checked his hands and found no defensive wounds. Whoever grabbed him had caught him off guard. "What happened after you left Nick's house?"

"Lieutenant," McBride said a few minutes later, "the medical examiner is here. The chief and the captain are on their way. No luck reaching Cruz."

"Thank you." She took another long last look at Sinclair before she stood up and tugged off the gloves. "Who found him?"

"A drunk tripped over him. The guy is freaking out." She pointed to an ambulance parked at the curb. "Paramedics are with him now."

"Let me brief the brass, and then I want to talk to him. Canvass?"

"Tyrone and a couple of uniforms are on it," she said, referring to her partner.

"Good job, McBride. Thanks."

"So, um, you met him? The vic?"

"He had dinner with us at Nick's new place on Capitol Hill. They were friends."

"Jeez, and he just lost his other friend."

Her lips tight with tension, Sam said, "Yes."

Captain Malone and Chief Farnsworth arrived minutes apart, and Sam filled them in. "I left before dinner, so I need to talk to Nick about what time it ended and how Sinclair got back to the hotel."

"Get to it," the chief said, his expression grim as he studied the gunshot wound to Sinclair's head.

"I'm waiting on crime scene to get here," Sam said.

"I'll wait for them," Malone replied. "You go on ahead."

"Gonna be another hot one, Lieutenant," Farnsworth said.

"And the spotlight will once again be on me and my personal life," she grumbled.

"Will it be too much of a distraction?" Farnsworth asked.

"No, sir. McBride, you're with me." She gestured for the other woman to follow her.

Jeannie trotted along behind Sam as she stalked across the park to talk to the wino who'd found Sinclair. He was all but incoherent, adding nothing to the investigation.

Furious, she took off for her car, again with Jeannie in hot pursuit.

"Do you want me to try Cruz again for you?"

"No." Sam struggled to find the words she would need to break the devastating news to Nick. The very thought of it broke her heart, but there was no room for her emotions in the midst of what needed to be done in the next few hours. "He'll have to catch up when he resurfaces."

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