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The muted ring of the bedroom phone interrupted Dee. She removed her hand from her breast where idle fantasizing had drawn it while reading a graphic romance novel; her nipple a firm mound under her tee shirt. She reached for the phone wondering who could be calling this time of day, and also why she had nothing better to do than read a trashy novel on her day off. It wasn't as if the FBI was giving her many of them lately.
She listened for a moment, grimaced, and hung up. Another telemarketer. Why couldn't it have been someone she wanted to talk to, like Jantz Preston or Mary Andrews? They were the only two at the Houston regional office she had gotten to like in the few months since her assignment. And damn the telemarketers, anyway. No matter how many laws were passed or how many barriers she put up some still found loopholes into her system. Dee picked up her book again wondering what had compelled her to seek out something like this. Her usual reading material ranged from science fiction to mysteries, with thrillers thrown in for variety.
She stretched out with her head propped on pillows allowing her thick mane of wavy black hair to spill down over her shoulders. She twirled a lock around one finger. The book cover featured the standard bosom-revealing heroine clasped in the arms of a larger-than-life, bronzed muscular man. As if any men looked that way, Dee thought, turning back to the passage, trying to recapture the fey mood that came over her more and more often lately.
... his hand stole to her breast in sneaky increments while he sent a questing tongue...
Dee again became absorbed in the luriddescriptions. Before she knew it she was mimicking the male protagonist in the story, cupping and fondling her breasts while imagining he was doing it, except that the character resembled Jantz Preston. Her breathing deepened and became more rapid. Suddenly, Dee became the person she was fantasizing about: Mary with the blue eyes and loose blond hair she saw at work, only now she was undressed, breasts swaying as she leaned over her. Dee became aware of how forcefully she responded to the fantasy, and flung the book away and rolled onto her stomach.
Her breasts flattened, her nipples rubbing against their covering causing her lower body to react. Her hips squirmed, pressing down against the bed in frustration. She felt as if the thermostat had been turned up. She rolled back over, and closed her eyes trying to visualize Jantz in bed beside her. Damn it, what did he see in Lisanne, anyway? Her hand crept down to the waistline of her white shorts. Her fingers played with the hem of her tee shirt, inching it up until she felt bare skin. But again, it became Mary she thought of and it was Mary's fingers she imagined sliding beneath the fabric of her shorts.
What on earth is going on? Dammit, I like men, not women!
Even as she tried to convince her mind to go in a different direction her hand slipped under her shorts and moved down to her mons. She felt her soft crinkly pubic hair through the thin material of her panties. Her hips moved in an upward thrust. Her thighs parted. She pressed down and stroked herself while using her other hand to play with first one breast then the other, her book quite forgotten. She was propped up enough so that she could see her image in the mirror attached to the closet door opposite the bed. Watching herself stroking herself and handling her breasts gave added impetus to her fantasies.
Dee gasped reaching toward orgasm. She closed her eyes and forced the image of Jantz to dominate her thoughts. Just as the impending climax was surging her into that indescribable out-of-body sensation the doorbell rang, shattering the illusion.
"Oh, goddammit! Who can that be?"
She thought about pretending not to be in, but her inherent honesty prevented her from playing games like that. She got up, made a quick adjustment of her clothes, and went to see who was there thinking dark thoughts at the lack of eligible men who attracted her at this new office.
Dee gave no thought to security as she crossed the den and opened the door. The big apartment complex on the northern outskirts of Houston was well protected; the tenants thoroughly screened before moving in. Besides, many of them were government agents, a fact apparently known to miscreants because she had seen no problems since renting her place.
Jantz Preston was at the entrance shifting his weight from one foot to the other when Dee pulled the door open. His pleasant countenance held a hangdog look, but Dee brightened. She liked Preston. Maybe too much. It was too bad he was taken.
"Hi Jantz. Lose your car again?"
Preston was famous for his absent-mindedness, especially when he was involved on a case requiring lots of thought.
"I may live that incident down one day, but it doesn't seem likely. No, I just drove up in my car. It's Lisanne; I seem to have misplaced her. Have you seen her?
Dee frowned. "No, I haven't." And I don't want to.
Jantz shrugged. "I had to stay over last night to catch up on some stuff for a court appearance. I tried calling, but no answer. And now the door is locked."
Dee grinned. "And you've misplaced your card again. Why don't you keep it in the glove compartment of your car?"
"Because sometimes I lose my car." Jantz laughed, but it was a short chuckle with no mirth attached.
Recent gossip had it that he and Lisanne hadn't been getting along. If he were lucky it would be her instead of the card that was misplaced. And you're a bitch for thinking that.
"Well, come on in. Maybe I can remember where I keep your spare card."
Preston followed Dee inside her apartment looking embarrassed. Once he and Dee had gotten to know each other at the FBI office he had given her a spare door card to keep for these occasions. She went back into the bedroom and rummaged in a dresser drawer. While she sorted through the odds and ends she remembered her recent fantasy and her face got hot. She found the card, but waited until her color returned to normal before going out into the den. Jantz was standing there looking his usual rumpled, good-natured self. If she didn't know him better Dee would have thought he might be farmer trying to dress for a formal occasion. He was good looking despite his slightly dated suit and the need of a shave. She handed him the card allowing a momentary fantasy of them together to flash through her mind once more.
"Thanks, Dee. You're a good friend."
"Glad to help. Now, go find Lisanne, and try not to lose her again."
Jantz smiled his thanks and shuffled down the walk. Dee watched him turn the corner leading to the units where he lived then closed the door. Her comp day off for working on Sunday had been uneventful so far, but that was changing. It was late morning, but she decided on a glass of wine rather than going back to her book. She poured it, sorted some crackers and cheese, and settled back into her easy chair.
She had no sooner become involved in a downloaded movie than the doorbell chimed again. Exasperated, she told the computer to halt and went to answer the door. Again, Jantz Preston stood in her doorway looking even more rumpled as he ran his hand through his short brown hair.
"Dee, I hate to bother you, but can I ask you a few questions?"
Puzzled, Dee led him inside. "Is it too early for a drink while we talk?"
Jantz agreed. "Damn right. I mean, no, it isn't too early. A drink is just what I need. Scotch if you have it, bourbon if you don't."
"All I have is bourbon. I'll let you pour."
Jantz followed her to the bar dividing the kitchen from the spacious den and took the bottle of Jack Daniels she handed him. Dee raised her brows as he poured a hefty dollop over a couple of ice cube, filling the four-ounce glass almost full. She replenished her glass of Zinfandel and led him back to the big lounger.
Jantz took a large gulp, and grimaced. "Lisanne left a note. She's left me, too."
"Oh, Jantz, I'm sorry. What happened-or isn't it any of my business?"
"Well... I was just wondering... have you seen her with any other women?"
Dee frowned. "Well, not really. Oh, I did see her at the pool last weekend while I was taking a swim. She was talking to a woman, but I don't know her name; I've never seen her around here before."
"How were they acting?"
"What do you mean?"
Jantz swallowed more bourbon. "In the note she said she was going to live with a woman. Damn, I never thought--" He shook his head and stared down at the drink clasped in both hands.
"Don't jump to conclusions. Maybe she's just staying with another woman."
"I'm not jumping to anything. She said she discovered that she prefers women. I just don't understand. I know we weren't getting along that well, but I didn't think there was that much wrong with the sex part. Listen, are you sure you don't know who that woman was? Did you maybe hear her name?"
Dee tried to be gentle. "Would it really matter? Apparently she's made a life-changing decision and wants to be left alone."
He sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right. Hell, maybe it's my ego getting huffed up because my girl friend has run off with a woman. Not but what we wouldn't have split up pretty soon anyway. It just wasn't working." He leaned forward as if he wanted to say more.
"Is it anything you want to talk about?" Dee asked.
Jantz sighed, and leaned back on the lounger. "I don't want to bore you."
"I promise to stop you if I get bored." The day really had changed for Dee.
Jantz gave her the hint of a smile. "Thanks. You haven't gotten involved in office politics much. I like you for that. So much of the bureau is going the wrong way, seems to me. I won't play games trying to stay on the good side of Slater or Meridian, and Lisanne wanted me to kowtow like they were goddamned royalty or something."
Dee didn't like Burley Slater, the SAIC of the office, and liked Seth Merridian, the regional supervisor in Washington, even less, though she had only met him once. Slater was trying to pattern himself after the Ashcroft mold and it appeared Merridian would be content if the office spent all its time on sex crimes instead of pressing national problems.
She nodded. "I don't blame you for not liking either one of those..."
"Yes. To listen to them you'd think the whole country wanted to spend twenty-four hours a day enforcing the abortion and pornography laws."
"And that's where the problems with Lisanne came in. Not only did she want me to suck up to those..."
"Yeah. They're that, too. But whenever we were around them she acted like she believed in that crap and..." Jantz stopped, realizing he might have stuck his foot in his mouth.
"Don't worry," Dee assured him. "I think it's crap, too. And a goddamned crying shame that it's so hard to get an abortion anymore. And that cloning is illegal, and stem cell research is limited, and..."
Jantz laughed and waved a hand. "Stop. We're on the same wavelength. Anyway, that's why Lisanne and I wouldn't have lasted long. We didn't seem to be on the same page, or even in the same book. But I never had the least suspicion that she had lesbian tendencies. In fact, on the only occasion the subject came up, she said something or other to put them down."
Dee formed a picture of Lisanne in her mind; short auburn hair, but that didn't mean anything. On the other hand, Dee never felt comfortable around her the few times they'd been together. She lacked sincerity, as if she were acting a part rather than relating to people. And that included Jantz. But with her looks and body, any man might be smitten. She certainly was a dish.
"I can see why you're so puzzled if she felt that way about lesbians." Dee hoped she wasn't blushing.
"Yeah, that's the kicker, all right. It doesn't make a lot of sense unless she had the genes and was trying to repress her feelings by acting out. I don't understand it."
"Curiouser and curiouser," Dee said.
Jantz's glass was empty and she held out her hand for it when she got up to replenish her Zinfandel. He handed it over and she took it to the bar. Dee could feel his eyes following her as she crossed the den and smiled in spite of herself. She often drew admiring looks from men and it didn't bother her a bit. If he only knew what had been in her mind earlier! In the meantime, it was a shame that such a nice guy had been hurt... or had he been? She thought he looked more aggravated than dejected, and that gave impetus to a wayward thought that they might get together once he got over the shock. It should make her feel guilty, but somehow it didn't.
Jantz eyed the refill Dee handed him. "Thanks. I better make this my last one. I don't drink that much, especially this early in the day. Besides, you've probably got other things to do besides listen to me carp about Lisanne and the office."
"I haven't been here long enough to know many people, so usually I stay home and read."
"I can see that," Jantz said, looking around at several full bookcases. "I like to read, too. Another bone of contention at home. Or what was home. Lisanne would rather surf or play those silly television games."
"How on earth did you two ever get together? It sounds as if you had nothing in common."
"Sometimes you don't know how these things happen. She certainly didn't turn out to be what I thought she was. I think she might have thought it was romantic and exciting to live with a real live FBI agent, and she was even talking about marriage." Jantz laughed. "I should have told her that investigative work is much more boring than exciting. At least most of the time. "
Dee chuckled. "My time here sure has been boring. I've been doing background checks so much that I'm starting to dream about social security numbers."
"Newbies always get the scut work. But we're getting in some replacements, so maybe Slater will pull you off those." Jantz sipped his bourbon. "Just hope he doesn't partner you with me."
Dee was startled. "Why on earth not?"
"I shouldn't say anything, but hell, everyone knows it. Slimy Slater has me going undercover at some of the clubs in Montrose. Talk about sleaze. I'll be damn glad to be finished with that and get back to real work. If Slater gives me any, that is. Half the population of Houston is here illegally, and half of those want to blow up something, and he has me chasing pornographers. Fagh!"
"When will you start something new, do you know?"
"Next month, or so Slater said. He reamed me out for not developing more leads, but the hell with it. I didn't join the FBI to arrest interstate pimps."
"Why did you join?" Dee asked.
Jantz shrugged. "Hell if I know. Maybe because I got a degree in a field that's being stepped on by our stupid government. No one in genetics was hiring, but the bureau was looking for bright young graduates. I thought I could keep up in the field as an agent, or maybe move into the forensics lab. No such luck."
"You're talking human genetics, I assume."
"Yeah. Since the ban on stem cell and embryonic research killed a lot of promising treatments there aren't many jobs in the field other than government labs."
"Why aren't you in the lab here with that kind of training?"
"Slater keeps telling me that's where I'll be assigned as soon as there's an opening. I'm not holding my breath."
Dee understood Jantz better now. They had gotten together several times for lunch once they discovered they lived in the same apartment complex, and Dee had been invited over to his house, but the frosty reception from Lisanne had stopped that from happening again. She smiled brightly at him.
"I hope you get what you want. I talked to Mary Andrews once when I dropped DNA swabs by for recruits. She seems like a nice person to work for."
Jantz nodded. The way the personnel at the Houston office interacted according to who was in or out of favor with the brass made friendships problematic. "Mary is good people. A good scientist, too, from what I've seen of her work."
Dee was glad to hear that. For someone new it was sometimes hard to judge. But Jantz was a winner, even if he did have to put up with Slater. "Do you have any idea what you'll be doing when you come out from undercover?"
He shook his head. "Not a clue, but I can probably forget about real work. Slater will probably have you trolling for pimps and me for candymen if I know his befouled mind." He stood up. "I've bent your ear long enough for one day. Thanks for listening."
Dee smiled. "Any time. Don't be scared to ask if you need anything."
"If we're both available for new work at the same time, would you like to, uh, maybe partner with me?" He raised his brows.
"Oh, golly, yes! Everyone talks about how good you are."
Jantz nodded absent-mindedly. "Thanks. We'll see if we can work it out."
Dee walked him to the door. "I really am sorry. It will get better, believe me. I know from experience. But let's save it for another time." Unaccountably, she leaned forward and kissed him, then turned quickly and closed the door.
Copyright © 2003 by Darrell Bain