Private thoughts. Thoughts of privacy. Jim had them. Peace, quiet, order, consistency, hot water at his command, freedom of choice, good and bad cholesterol and the days when he didn't know or care about the difference.....As Martha Stewart might say, "Good things"....and yes, he'd watched the damn show. Okay?
All good things, and to anyone on the outside looking in - he currently had them. He should be fucking delirious.
Jim scrunched even further into his petulant posture in the corner of the couch, arms crossed stubbornly, as he frowned at the television. He could be happy again. He could.
Profound thought for the day:
If a man spent an entire summer's day being terrorized by a mosquito, by the constant fly-bys, the annoying and incessant buzzing, the fucking mysterious way they could land and take off before even a sentinel hand could squash their existence, would he not *miss* the bugger once squashed?
Profound answer for the day:
So this was - just that. The temporary missing of a pest. He'd get over it. Not many people committed Hari Kari over the sudden absence of a mosquito.
Jim scratched the back of his neck....and smiled. The mosquito in question was home.
He quickly reached for the remote, hit power, flipped to CNN and made like content.
A few minutes later, Blair *the mosquito* Sandburg breezed in with a "Yo, Jim," before making a bee-line for the shower....or should that be a mosquito line? Gotta keep these pests straight in his mind.....
Thirty minutes later the blood sucking gnat breezed right out again, tossing a quick, "Gotta date, man, catch you later."
Another fly-by. Life as Jim now knew it.
Peace and quiet reigned. God dammit.
-> -> -> ->
"Needs more Tarragon, Blair." Francie leaned over Blair Sandburg's shoulder, licking the spoon she'd just confiscated from the bubbling pot that currently had all of the man's attention.
"There's no tarragon in this dish, woman."
"No," he answered, as he grabbed the spoon and started stirring again.
"I *know* you put something green in it - rosemary?"
"This is risotto, and it doesn't need anything...you're just trying to intimidate the cook."
"Is it working?"
"Not in the slightest. Now scat."
"God, I love a man who can cook....and say *scat* with a straight face. Sexy as hell."
"You oughta see me dust and *scat*."
"oooh, when you talk dirty....", she ran her hand up and down the inside of his thigh.
"....and i vacuum, and do windows, and have you ever heard me say, *skidaddle*?"
"More, tell me more....", her hand deliberately brushed against the bulge at the front of his jeans and Blair experienced a random thought about *why* you had to stir risotto for twenty minutes......and you certainly don't have to stir instant rice.....
"....laundry, i do....", he paused as she started to nibble at his ear, small, perfect white teeth biting gently...."i do laundry....", he whispered as his hand began a frantic stirring of the rice mixture...."and i'm completely....housebroken."
Francie scooted under his arm, planted herself between him and the stove, her mouth heading straight for that soft spot just to the side of his adam's apple, while at the same time, she reached back and turned off the burner.....
"...who needs food," she murmured, standing on tiptoe. Blair pulled her pliant body to his chest, eyes focused on soft, moist, slightly pink lips and they were kissing, all thoughts of risotto gone.
The kiss went wet and deep, as Blair's fingers automatically pulled her blouse from the waistband of her skirt, his hands slipping under the silky material to caress the even silkier, soft, pale skin. His mind registered the slight tremor of her stomach muscles as his fingers ghosted over the goosebumped skin....
They moved into the livingroom, two entwined bodies, clumsy, but determined, as heads changed position, and lips parted briefly to lick and nip before delving back in.
The couch was only a few feet away, but Francie's hands were already at his jeans as her tongue darted out to duel with his and as his zipper was lowered, his own expert fingers unfastened the lacy, black bra.
They hit the couch and with soft, shared laughter, limbs were adjusted, loafers were toed off, heels stepped out of, small, slender fingers with french manicured nails were undoing his pale blue oxford shirt and his strong, tapered fingers were pushing delicate pearl buttons. Francie fell back as Blair gently slipped the silky blouse from milky white shoulders.
The bra was discarded and eager lips latched onto one dusky pink nipple as Blair's hand expertly and gently massaged the satin roundness to delicious moans from Francie. Her black skirt had been partially hitched up as she'd positioned herself in the corner of the sofa and as Blair rained small kisses on her neck, her hands fumbled in his pocket for the condom she'd laughingly placed there upon his arrival.
Bodies repositioned, the skirt was pushed away, fingers warred with fingers in the rolling of the condom, small bits of laughter floated up, followed by slight moans and suddenly rushed breathing. Blair's fingers now explored her thighs, running over the black garter she wore, but her impatience and urgency drove her hand to close over his, to guide him to the skirt's waist band, to pull the *barely there* undies away and she shivered in delight as the air brushed her skin as she lay open and vulnerable.
Francie ran her tongue over her lower lip, slowly, her bright green eyes now a smoky sage, as she pulled him to her, her mouth moist, open andinviting. Blair teased, letting his own tongue flick out, run around the kiss swollen lips as his right hand slid down her thigh, fingers ghosting over the heat, playing, teasing, dipping in until on finger slipped all the way and she was ready, hot, waiting.
She wanted his tongue and she took it, gazing into his now dark, midnight blue eyes, smiling into the kiss, jubilant when his whole body joined hers. Frantic for him, she shoved her hands down the waist band of his briefs, massaging his perfect ass, pulling him closer, *willing* him inside as she pushed the jeans down, exhilarated as his hand moved to take himself, to position himself, and she wantonly spread her thighs wider, inviting him with a sultry look and a whispered, "yes".
Blair entered her, thrusting, as he balanced his body on his forearms, eyes searching her exquisite face, waiting for the signals, the telltale signs, that fleeting moment of ecstacy, and when it came, as Francie exposed her smooth and elegant neck, he pulled her by the hips, allowing for just the right angle to stroke her heat as he thrust in hard and their silent lovemaking exploded in her sounds, as her eyes flew open, as her panting speeded up, her moans filling the air, two words repeated over and over and over again....."godblairgodblairgodblair......"
He rose higher, in preparation for moving forward and her chant changed as her legs shot up to capture him in a strong, vise-like grip, clenching, desperate to hold him in place and desperation grew as he gave a low, controlled chuckle. In anger, she wrapped greedy fingers in the wonder that was his hair, yanked hard and he surrendered, lowering himself again, burying his face in her neck, suckling as he resumed, angling even deeper and she was screaming and her body tensed, shook, every muscle tightening, and her orgasm was wrung from her in a powerful shudder, her eyes rolling back, neck taut and fingernails digging into his flesh, tearing down his back.
As she came, Blair lifted his head and gazed down, but he no longer saw the beauty of the woman below him, but a strong, sleek, finely muscled jaguar.....and the cat slammed into him and he shot deep as he experienced his most powerful orgasm since........
O+ O-> O+ O->
Jim hauled himself from the couch, dropped the remote on the coffee table and started upstairs, but as he walked past Blair's room, he stopped.
The door was open, and Jim found himself standing just inside.
The room was neat. Too neat. No mess, no papers, no dirty clothes on the floor.....the bed was made, no dozen books piled in corners, or open on the futon.....it was the room of someone Jim didn't know.
It was the room of someone who no longer spent much time in it. Not sleeping, not reading, not - anything.
Jim backed out, softly closing the door behind him.
Maybe he'd watch a little more television. Bed wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
O+ O-> O+ O->
The lights were on dimmer, a warming fire crackled, bathing the room in sepia tones. Blair lay on the floor, on his side, head propped up by his arm, wearing only his partially unzipped jeans. Francie sat opposite him, in his blue oxford shirt, unbuttoned, her skirt still hiked up, making it easier for her to sit crosslegged on the floor and give Blair a little tease. They were eating the not totally ruined risotto and sipping wine.
"Will you stay tonight?"
"You may not want me to....I mumble in my sleep, you'll never keep the blankets on the bed, and I have to be at the station tomorrow at 7:00am..."
She took a sip of wine, enjoying the buttery Chardonnay, delighting in the slight pear-like undertones and regarded her lover of almost four weeks. She watched the shadows play across his features and marvelled again at his beauty and on the fact that he was totally unaware.......
"You've got to stay." Francie cocked her head in a move calculated to display her loveliness and show her at her innocent best before saying, with a slight quiver, "Is something wrong?"
Blair was prevented from answering by a key turning in the lock and the front door swinging open. Francie quickly stood, pulled the shirt tight across her chest, clumsily shimmied her skirt down and addressed the newest addition.
"Randy? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Last time I checked, I still paid the rent, still had squatting rights." He slammed the door as Blair jumped to his feet, eyes narrowing. He glanced at Francie and asked, "What's going on here?"
Without taking her eyes from the other man, she said, "Blair, this is Randy."
Randy stepped into the livingroom and sneered, "Randy - the *husband*."
At Blair's stunned expression, he laughed dryly and added, "I see the little woman didn't tell the paramour about the not so little man of the house? Well, don't worry friend, she never does." He slipped off his jacket and tossed it to the hall tree where it caught and hung, then as he undid his cuffs and rolled them up he asked, "So, what are you? A reformed drinker on the edge of falling off the wagon? A druggie three days clean? An ex-con?"
"Randy, don't." Francie finally spoke, and took two steps toward the man.
" *Randy - don't*", he mimicked. He focused on Blair, really focused and his eyes widened. "Well I'll be....Francie, girl, you've out done yourself this time.....you're that Sandburg fellow, the one who pulled the wool over everyone's eyes with that superdetective crap, right? Boy, I gotta tell you dude, that was one supreme con. But one piece of advice I feel compelled to share....in the future, don't confess *before* the millions are safely tucked away in a swiss bank account, okay?"
Blair was very grateful for the shadowed room at that precise moment...shadows that could hide a heated face. Francie took another step toward Randy, hands out, almost pleading.
But Randy wasn't done, not by a long shot.
"You see, you've got to understand a couple of things about my dear Frances.....One, my wife likes taking in strays," he missed Blair's wince, "She loves whipped puppies, men who are, shall we say, *tainted*? And two, I allow it - for awhile. Until I decide to reclaim my property. See, you're a freak to her, Sandburg, a novelty...."
Blair never took his eyes from the man's face as he said, "Fran, do you want him to leave?"
"Oh, ho, he doesn't believe me, honeylamb. Maybe *you'd* better tell him.....and then escort him to the door."
Blair took a step forward, but Francie stopped him.... "Blair, maybe - you'd better go now....I'll call you."
The way she gazed at her husband as she spoke, the glint in his eyes, the sense of ---- gloating, hit Blair straight in the solar plexus with the force of a fist. He turned away, snapped his jeans, grabbed the sweater he'd discarded upon his arrival, and was about to pull it over his head when Randy spoke again.
"Was she good, Sandburg? Did she make you feel like a man? She does have the sweetest pussy this side of the Mississippi, eh? Bet she gave you the ride of ........" he got no further as Blair's fist connected with his jaw. He'd have swung again but Francie put herself between the two, with both her hands on his chest.
"Please, GO - Blair."
Shocked by her touch, by her words, Blair pulled the sweater over his head, which gave Randy the opportunity to land a sucker punch. He caught Blair just as his head had begun to reappear. Blair reeled back but managed to remain standing, in spite of arms still trapped within the woolen confines. He yanked the material down just as Francie reached her husband, crooning, fingers going for the split lip.....
"It's okay, Randy, it's okay....just leave him alone, he's leaving now.....," her hands stroked his hair as his right arm snaked around her waist.
Blair left without a backward glance.
O+ O-> O+ O->
It caught up to him on highway 30. His hands began to shake, giving the car a little shimmy. He checked traffic, signaled and pulled to the shoulder. With the deliberate movements of a man unsure of his capabilites, he slowly turned off the engine and switched off the headlights, then sat back......
....something, trickling down his face......
He put up a hand, touched it to the wetness and discovered blood. He reached up and flipped the rear view mirror to the left and examined his face in the eerie light. A cut, just above his eye, still oozing, and he remembered Randy's ring. Must have caught him with that ring, just as his head had appeared......
Well, this should please Jim no end. New fodder for the troops......Blair had finally been clobbered by an angry husband....who hadn't been in the slightest bit angry.
Words suddenly swam before his eyes.......as if someone were using flashcards......
Was that the last weeks had been about? A pity fuck? A challenge? A game?
Blair brought himself under control, tamed the breathing that threatened to get away from him, shook his head slightly and restarted the engine.
As he drove, he asked his car if life could get any worse, if it could spiral out of control any farther than it already had.......His car didn't answer. Wise machine.
He made his right onto Prospect, crested the hill, and he prayed Jim would be in bed.
His prayer went unanswered - as usual. As he parked, he could see the flickering of the television set and gave a sullen thought to *why* Jim hadn't as yet learned to watch the television set when it was *off*. And if there was only one set - why was it called a *set*?
Ah, the great questions of life and wasn't Blair Jacob Sandburg just the guy to answer them?
Thirty years old and, and, and.......nothing. Absolfuckinglutely nothing.
He stalled the inevitable by taking the stairs, and damn, still only three flights. Why couldn't they have moved?
#307. In front of him. Had to go in....He inserted the key, turned it and walked in. To Jim. Who stood in front of him.
"Hey, man, still up?"
O-> <-O O-> <-O
Jim's being at the door when Blair arrived home has simply been good Sentinel timing. It was sneaky, unfair, but the moment he'd got a gander at Blair's face, he was glad.
"You're bleeding, Sandburg."
Blair lifted a hand without thinking, then dropped it. "Yeah, I know."
Blair started to slip by Jim, but the detective simply sidestepped with him.
"It's a doozy. What happened?"
"Just a misstep."
"More like another jealous husband, Chief."
Blair shook his head, eyes closing as he said, "You really are a prick, Ellison. Get out of my way." He shouldered past the bigger man, one goal in mind - the haven of his room.
Jim was so stunned by the coldness of Sandburg's voice, he actually stepped aside.
The french doors slammed shut, leaving Jim staring at empty space.
O-> <-O O-> <-O
Blair kicked off his loafers, tore off the sweater, noticed the blood on it and tossed it into his trash. A bottle of water sat on his nightstand so he grabbed it, a couple of tissues, went to the closet, took out his old travelling bag, rummaged around until he found his first aid kit, then sat on the bed with a small mirror and administered his own brand of medical attention.
He gently dabbed at the cut with the water soaked tissue, spread some first aid ointment on it, then tore open a small butterfly bandage and carefully applied it to his eyebrow. He checked the mirror, noticed the swelling already beginning and wondered where the frozen peas were when a guy really needed them.
He put everything away, got into his sleep sweat pants and dropped back onto the bed.
"Blair?" Jim spoke softly from the other side of the doors.
"It's not locked."
Jim stepped in, his face a study in shame and discomfort. He carried a tray full of First Aid paraphernalia but he paused when he spotted the job Blair had already done.
"You fixed it."
"Big boy now." Blair's voice was soft, almost a whisper, his eyes focused somewhere over Jim's head. Elison moved the rest of the way into the small room and after setting the tray down on Blair's desk, he pulled the deskchair around, straddled it and said, "I'm sorry Chief, about what I said."
"Uh, huh. You always are. It's amazing to me that you actually believe I'd date someone who was involved or married."
"I don't, not really. It's just something to....say. But let's face it, Chief, you're love life....."
"Jim," Blair broke in, "You've heard the old saying about living in glass houses?", at Jim's sheepish nod he continued, "well buddy, you live in a glass castle. The biggest in the fucking US of A."
Jim glanced down at the Peruvian rug Blair had added a little over a year ago and mumbled, "Good point....", he looked back up and asked, "So, who did hit you?"
".....her - husband."
Blair had never been very good at hiding his emotions what with his face and eyes, sending out his feelings like a lighthouse. Even when he managed to control his face, the emotions leaked into his voice - like now. There was so much pain in his tone....in the words.....Jim thought his own heart would break.
"I'm sorry, Blair."
"You want to talk about it?"
O-> <-O O-> <-O
Naturally, Jim heard them before they made it up to the third floor landing. And by the sound of them - cops. Before they reached the door, he was robed and crossing the distance between the stairs and them. As they knocked, he undid the chain and opened the door.
Two men, and yes, cops. One, tall, heavyset, dark hair, said, "Blair Sandburg?"
"No. *Detective* Jim Ellison. Major Crime."
Between the two detectives from the twelfth precinct, they had over 25 years experience and training at keeping expressions neutral. At Jim's identification, all pretense of neutrality flew right out the door.
"My partner, *Detective* Sandburg is asleep. What seems to be the problem?"
The detectives were clearly stunned and the hemming and sudden hawing set Jim's teeth on edge, but before explanations could be wrung from the two men, the french doors opened and Blair stepped out, rubbing his eyes, Jim's name on his lips and looking for all the world like a sleepy ten year old.
One of the detectives recovered enough to step up to the plate and repeat his query.
"Blair Sandburg?" As he spoke, he flashed his badge and as Blair gave a puzzled nod, he added, "I'm Detective Rudy Castillo, this is my partner, Detective Mitch Griffen, and you're under arrest for the murder of Randall Wagner. You have the right to remain si.....", that was as far as he got as Jim exploded into words and action. He charged both men, yelling "WHAT THE FUCK?" and, "HE'S A GOD DAMNED DETECTIVE," followed by a quieter, "Is this someones fucking idea of a joke?"
Blair quickly stepped between the two detectives and his rampaging partner and received a, "Get the fuck out of my way, Sandburg."
"Jim - STOP." It was all he had to say - Jim stopped.
Blair faced the two men and asked, "What is this all about?"
With a wary eye on Ellison, Detective Castillo said, "We have a warrant for your arrest, you'll need to come with us."
"I see. Well then, you'd better wrap this up."
"Chief....." Jim said pleadingly.
Detective Castillo took out a pair of handcuffs and before anyone could say anything, Blair turned and offered his wrists. He was cuffed and as he was turned, Detective Griffin spoke for the first time.
"We also have a warrant to search the premises. That your room?", he indicated the room behind Jim. Blair nodded and Griffin walked uneasily past Ellison, who had taken on the visage of a volcano about to blow.
The three men were quiet as Griffin walked about in Blair's room, but Jim did move to stand in front of the doors, suspicous and wary. He watched as the detective pulled Blair's blue sweater from the trash, examine it, and finally with gloved hands, bagged it. He observed the man move throught the tiny space, shuffle items around, pick up Blair's jeans, note the blood on them, bag them, label both bags, and now satisfied, turn to leave. He stopped as he realized he's have to move *through* Jim Ellison, and sighed with relief as Jim stepped aside.
"Looks like blood on both of these. That's it, let's go."
"Now just one fucking minute here....you're not taking my partner anywhere.....anyone can see he's got a cut....the blood is his.....and there's no fucking way you're taking him dressed like that.....he'll freez...."
"Jim, shut up. Call Cheryl Booker, her number is in my book and you can follow and bring me clothes." At Jim's suddenly lost expression, Blair added, "You remember Cheryl? She's a lawyer now. Call her, Jim. Everything will be fine."
Jim blinked at his guide several times, but nodded, as his anger drained away in the face of Blair's calm and practical tone.
"I'll call Simon, Chief, we'll have you out in no time. We'll get this straightened out."
Blair gazed back at him, gave him a brief smile and said, "I know."
They led Blair Sandburg from his home, wearing only sweatpants.
It took Jim several minutes to dress, call Simon, find Cheryl's number, call her, fill the woman in, and to listen as she promised immediate action. But finally, he was on his way, feeling confident for the first time since he'd opened the door to the homicide detectives from the twelfth.
Blair sat in the back of the car, his mind in fifth gear despite the cold, the discomfort and the pain in his arms.
Randall Wagner was dead. And they thought he'd done *it*. But more amazing than that was the idea that two cops had managed to get both warrants on a Friday night, or rather, Saturday morning, and they couldn't have any evidence.
Because of course, Blair Sandburg had not killed anyone.
His mind rattled on......
The weapon. Must already be in the cops possession. They certainly hadn't searched his room very thoroughly or the loft. They weren't looking for a weapon. They'd been looking for blood samples. His clothing. And some bit of Wagner's blood could certainly be on his clothes. He'd wiped his hands, undressed.....But not any significant amount.
Blair quickly reviewed the items he'd touched in Francie's apartment.....
The stock pot, cooking utensils, but *no* knives or anything else that could be used....unless you count a wooden spoon....He'd touched a light switch, and that was it. Besides the plates, eating utensils, wine glasses and wine. He'd opened, and poured.
They couldn't have any kind of evidence to warrant this kind of immediate action, unless Francie had told them he'd done it. An eyewitness account.....
But his word against hers....
His shoulders slumped.....
She was a lovely woman, with a dead husband. She worked with the elderly. Volunteered for the Red Cross.
He was known throughout Cascade as a cheat and a liar. Oh, yeah, this was going to go well.
Not that he was worried. If it got to a point where he was booked, went before a judge.....well, the idiots in the front seat had not mirandized him. Fucking amazing what a little neanderthal Jim could do......without really trying.
But booking him wasn't likely. They'd interrogate him, compare blood stains, realize they had nothing.....and let him go.
But of course, that's what happens in the normal world
Not in the Sandburg zone.
Detective Castillo pulled into the back of the precinct and a moment later they were none to gently dragging the near naked Blair from the car.
They both failed to protect Blair's head with the usual gentle push, and as Sandburg swung his legs out, and they pulled, he whacked his head on the door jam. He bit back a moan and managed to stand, barefoot, on the cold cement.
He was led inside and moved quickly through swinging doors and down a flight of stairs and into the bowels of the building.
Blair Sandburg was now officially worried. The interrogation rooms were upstairs. Welcome to the Sandburg zone.
The next forty minutes were the most difficult of Blair's life, if you didn't count dying. He was strip searched, thoroughly, shamefully, and roughly. The pain during the rectal search was almost unbearable and Blair knew he was bleeding. From the small, cold cubicle, he was led, still cuffed, to be fingerprinted, photographed, and yes, booked. On murder one charges.
He was finally dragged cold, bruised, bleeding and violated to a cell. He was pushed inside and left alone - still cuffed. He walked painfully and unsteadily to the bunk, dropped down on his side and curled up. He shut his eyes, tightly, and prayed that Jim would be here soon....then he let his mind go numb. Because he understood.
Jim swung his truck in and alongside Simon's car and sighed in relief at seeing that his Captain had beat him. Maybe.....maybe Blair was already out.....
He nearly ran inside and the first thing that hit him was Simon's voice. The larger man was standing at the counter, his long black coat hanging straight as he stood at his complete height, his voice dangerously low. Next to him stood a petite blonde, well dressed even at this ungodly hour, a briefcase in her right hand. Obviously this was Cheryl and Jim placed the face with a brief meeting at some University function Sandburg had taken him to over a year ago.... "
.....don't tell me he's not here. Two of *your* detectives arrested him and where else would they bring him? Now - find - him."
The desk sergeant, sweating and clearly nervous, cleared his throat and squeaked out,
"I'm sorry, Captain, but there is no record of a Sandburg on my log and I haven't seen Castillo or Griffin since midnight."
Simon reached over the counter and daring the man to say anything, grabbed the phone and began dialing. "Captain Lopez, please. Captain Banks. Thank you," his fingers drummed impatiently on the counter as his angry eyes met Jim's.
He arched one eyebrow, but before Jim could answer, Simon was talking again.
"Russ? Simon. I'm here at the twelfth because two of your men arrested one of mine earlier this morning. They dragged him from his home, wearing only sweatpants, Russ, and no courtesy call? Remember Robert Talbert? Thought you might. I want my man now and your sergeant claims no knowledge of him. Yes, their names are," and he looked to Jim who immediately mouthed, "Castillo - Griffin." Simon repeated the names into the phone and with a nod and a satisfied smirk, handed the phone back to the sergeant.
The man was given no chance to speak as he was berated and orders yelled. Sentinel hearing was not required. He finally put down the phone and red-faced, excused himself to *get some fucking answers*.
Jim turned back to Simon and said, "Simon?"
"Russ is calling Lieutenant Hargrove, their boss. Russ knew nothing about this, which I find worrying." Simon's voice was still dangerously low and he spoke with a clipped efficiency that bespoke a heavy duty anger rarely seen in Simon Banks. Jim glanced down at Cheryl and stuck out his hand, "Chery, thank you for coming, and have you met my boss?"
She took the hand in a firm, strong grip, smiled and nodded up at him, "Yes, we arrived at the same time and exchanged names. And it's no problem being here, not for Blair. He's a friend and I owe him big time."
Jim wasn't surprised. So many people seemed to owe Blair Sandburg *big time*, but so few were willing to go the distance, not that Blair ever tried to collect. Not his nature. The three people waited, Simon fingering his cigar, Jim tapping one foot as his jaw clenched and unclenched and Cheryl just watching the two men. Finally the sergeant returned, his face solemn and pale. This was not good.
"I don't know how this happened, Captain, but your man is here. He's - already been booked and is in a cell. He's scheduled for arraignment Monday morning at nine, in front of Judge Coulter."
This was not possible.