B.L. Wilson has currently published three novels, with many more to come. Her novels encompass a variety of themes and genres, including Mystery, Romance, Suspense, and Comedy, all with gay and African American characters at the center.
Old Man Peterson is a murder mystery with a romantic bent. The novel opens with the discovery of a skeleton embedded in the wall of an apartment in Central Harlem. The secrets in an old woman’s journals, her rapist’s contradictory 55-year-old memories and her recent statements during a murder investigation tell several versions of the same incident. The opposing viewpoints of the old woman and her rapist provide a glimpse into the 1940’s and 1950’s world of cash poor but land rich southern Blacks and their northern wealthier counterparts. A second story line traces the growing attraction between the principle characters who are African Americans lesbians, newly promoted Lieutenant Abigail Truman and wealthy party-girl Jannita Peterson Davis, feel for each as the murder investigation proceeds.
Next is Safe Haven, suspenseful romance novel. Joanna Fairfield and her young son, Danny, are running to escape the clutches of a truly evil man. Joanna ends up in a small town in North Carolina, where she meets Dr. Ellie Winston, a smalltown doctor who is yearning for true love. The two are hooked on each other right away, but can their love overcome Joanna's baggage and Ellie's fear of rejection?
In honor of Halloween, B. L. is also publishing third novel I’m Your Baby Tonight. A City Park Ranger trades in her identity for one night of loving an older woman who refuses to accept the real her.City park ranger, Kayla Zeno, meets, Deidre Adams, on a career track to become an assistant principal, for the first time when another park employee escorts her to the park’s entrance. Several hours earlier, Deidre shared lunch with her best friend, who spends much of the meal pressuring Deidre to attend a Halloween Party five weeks away. Deidre lost the love of her life, two years ago when she died from diabetes complications. She hasn’t dated since her lover’s death. When Deidre meets Kayla, she immediately dislikes her. She thinks the park ranger is too young, too rude and too overly confident in her attempts to ask her out. Deidre dismisses her as too much of everything negative. No matter what Kayla does, Deidre sees her as an annoyance, abet a sexy annoyance but a woman she doesn’t want in her life until one magical night. What is it about a Halloween costume party that allows for one night of complete abandon?
One of B. L.’s next novels is Tyson,a historical mystery with a romantic bent whose main characters are African-American women from the Deep South and New York City. It takes place in the Harlem of the 1920’s and 30’s during the Harlem Renaissance but before the Great Depression. While B.L. has written several romance novels, Tyson is the first historical novel. Tyson’s first chapter won third place in Pen & Brush Literary Contest for 2005.
Genre: Suspense or Thriller
Joanna Fairfield AKA Ms. Smith AKA June Davis is on the run from a murderous man who wants more than her love. Vicious killer Vernon Brown wants to take Joanna’s son, adopt him and kill her. Running away for the second time on a dark stormy night, Joanna stops in a place called Eagle View, North Carolina. It’s the small town her grandmother always claimed was a good place to raise any child. Her son, Danny is ill and she needs a doctor. When she meets the town’s one and only family doctor, Dr. Ellie Winston, sparks fly.
“What do you mean you can’t find her?” The tall, slick-looking Black man roared at a sturdy-looking, thick-necked man with a barrel chest. “I pay you to watch the bitch for me! How the hell did she get away again?” The tall man poked the shorter man twice in his large chest for emphasis.
The shorter man wanted to break the finger thrust into his chest but he knew better. He drew a deep breath. Anger flashed in his dark eyes but left as swiftly as it came. He realized the man poking him in the chest could have him killed with one snap of his manicured fingers. He’d replace him just as quickly. “My best guys are working on it, Mr. Brown. Near as I can figure, she’s been planning this for some time. We’re havin’…”
Vernon Brown held up a perfectly manicured hand. “I don’t want to hear anymore of your bullshit excuses, Keith.” He stood so close that Keith could feel the man’s warm breath on his nose and smell the subtle aftershave he used. He added a threat in a dead calm voice he used to intimidate his subordinates. “You got ten days to find the bitch. You don’t find her and you’re gone permanently, understood?”
Keith looked into the darkest eyes he’d ever seen. What he saw in them frightened him. The man’s eyes looked dead. There was no life in them. One glance into those flat black eyes and Keith realized that he was lucky Brown didn’t kill him today. “Yes sir, Mr. Brown. I understand.”
“Ten days, Keith.” Vernon Brown strode to his car without another word. He folded his tall lean form into the expensive sports car and squealed off, leaving a long, smoking strip of tire tread and the acrid smell of burning rubber as the only reminder that he’d been there.
Keith let out the breath he was holding. He had more ten days to live before Vernon Brown killed him. He could handle the timeframe but it meant calling in favors from people he didn’t trust. Hell, if this wasn’t an emergency, he didn’t know what was! He’d better get started on those calls after he talked to the men about finding the tricky bitch and her kid. That good-looking piece of ass was more trouble than he ever imagined. “Ain’t no pussy worth getting killed for!” he muttered, flipping out his cell phone then punching in the first of several phone numbers.
He called Charlie the tracker first. He’d found Joanna the last time and helped bring her to Vernon Brown. It’d be a long time before he forgot Brown’s reaction when they brought Joanna Fairfield home.
He and his men brought her to Brown’s compound just as he ordered. They stood outside next Keith’s car, waiting for the boss to appear. A minute later, Brown stepped out of the house. He stood looking down at them from the wide porch that surrounded the house. When Brown saw Joanna, his face turned to solid granite. Keith found it hard to believe that dead eyes could get colder but Brown’s eyes looked like shark eyes…deadly and unblinking.
Brown suddenly grinned when he saw Danny but the smile didn’t touch those cold eyes of his. He strode down the steps to hug and kiss the little boy. “Hey little man, want some ice cream?”
Danny nodded then happily sang out. “Yes, Uncle Vernon!”
“Take, Danny inside, Huffs. He doesn’t need to see this.” Brown ordered. He handed the little boy to Huffs and watched as he took the bouncing little boy into the main house.
Keith watched Joanna’s eyes follow Brown as he held her son and played with him then turned him over to one of his men. He remembered how desperate and scared she looked.
When Brown turned to face Joanna, his eyes turned a hard, dull black. He spoke in a soft, calm voice that contradicted his words. “I’d kill you dead where you stand if it weren’t for the kid. You can’t keep running away from me, Joanna. You have to be taught a lesson.”
Brown advanced on her slowly, unbuckling a thin leather belt and then slowly pulling through it his belt loops as he studied her face. When he finished pulling it through all the loops, he folded it in two then snapped it as he stared at a terrified Joanna. “You know where to take her and what to do when she gets there.”
“No!” Joanna screamed and rapidly backed up as far as she could go, until she bumped into two of Brown’s men.
They grabbed her arms and dragged her, struggling into the small soundproof guest cottage that Vernon sometimes used to perform his ‘attitude’ readjustments.
“Let me go!” Joanna cried out, desperately.
Keith watched Joanna kick, squirm and almost pull away as she tried to break free of the strong hands that held her. Her face said she knew it was useless to struggle but still she kept up the fight. He wondered if she resisted so Brown wouldn’t think he’d broken her. It didn’t matter what he thought, did it? Brown was paying him to do a job so he’d better get to it.
Two of his men dragged Joanna between them into the bedroom. They threw her face down on the bed. Then nearly wrenched her arms and legs out of their sockets as they yanked them straight out, stretching them until they reached the cuffs attached to the four bedposts and snapped the cuffs tightly shut.
They yanked on her clothing until the neck of her blouse pressed firmly against her throat. Seconds before Joanna lost consciousness, the back of her blouse gave way and ripped open. She gasped for breath. They grabbed at her skirt, stretching the fabric against the weight of her belly until it too exploded as her blouse did moments earlier, exposing her underwear for everyone in the room to see.
Brown arrived and stood looking down at her for a moment. He knelt down to trace a path down Joanna’s back, starting from her shoulder blades and ending at the top of her hips. Using the same hand, Brown unhooked her bra then roughly pulled her panties down. She jerked at the cuffs on her hands as if she thought she could escape. She finally stopped struggling when Brown leaned down to warn her in a hard, hollow voice that made Keith glad his boss wasn’t angry with him. “You’re gonna be sorry you ever ran away, Bitch! Be still or I’ll hurt your little bastard.” Then he stood up quickly
Keith sensed the first contact from Brown’s belt, took Joanna by surprise. She screamed in agony as the leather bit into newly healed wounds. He watched her struggle to avoid the blows as they rained down her but the steel handcuffs held her firmly in place as the belt created new blood red, roadways across her back and hips.
Joanna called on God for the blackness to descend as it always did and put her out of her misery. This time her body defied her. She remained painfully aware of what was happening to her. “No! Please, Vernon, stop it! You’re hurting me. No! Jesus, help me!” she screamed and then begged.
Keith could hear the desperation in her voice. He wanted to turn away from the ghastly sight but he knew he’d be dead within minutes. Brown hated public displays of weakness in his men.
“Bitch, scream as loud as you fucking want! No one can hear you in here. Why do you think I made the damn thing soundproof? You could avoid all this pain if you’d stop running away and be nice to me. You know I could just take what I want but I want you to give it to me, freely.” Brown whispered as he ran a finger lightly down one heart-shaped hip that remained untouched by his belt.
Genre: Police Procedural whodunit
OLD MAN PETERSON is a story of revenge and retribution inside one African American family. The Peterson-Kennedy clan has everything. They are wealthy and powerful. Patriarch, Hiram Kennedy, has helped several mayors, judges, and district attorneys earn their positions in life. His niece, Jannita Peterson-Davis, is a playgirl who spends her time bouncing from one woman’s bed to another and just having fun. His sister-in-law, Miss Ina, is losing her memory, but so what – she is almost eighty years old. The clan is untouchable until a plumber discovers sixty-year-old bones buried in Miss Ina’s bathroom wall and all hell breaks loose.
The family’s nice little world turns upside down when Lieutenant Abigaile Truman reports that the bones belong to Miss Ina’s murdered husband, Hiram’s half-brother, Bernard Peterson. Family legend says that Bernard went out to get Ina a quart of milk for baby son Delbert and never returned. He and a girlfriend moved to the southwest to make tons of babies. Now, DNA evidence says Bernard Peterson wasn’t even Delbert’s father; Hiram Kennedy is. That means Hiram Kennedy isn’t Jannita’s uncle. Instead, he is her grandfather, but how could that be when Ina never cheated on Bernard? What else is wrong with the Peterson- Kennedy family portrait?
“He musta been the thing stinking up my closet all them years. Smell like old Mr. Rat crawl off an’ die. I use me some ammonia up in there. It cut smell right down. I thinking the old coot went out for a quart of milk an’ got lost or find hisself another woman. Guess that’s why he never come back, huh?” The elderly Black woman looked up at the female officer from her seat on the living room couch when she asked the question.
Lieutenant Abigaile Truman wanted to laugh when she heard the old woman statement. She might have chuckled to herself if the old woman’s granddaughter… a Miss Jannita Davis hadn’t begun to wail and then tried unsuccessfully to silence her grandmother. This was going to make an interesting story to tell her captain when she returned to the precinct. Unfortunately, for her going back to the station wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. She mused as she eyed the two women huddled to together on the outdated gray couch. She wondered if the old woman, Mrs. Ina Peterson was telling the truth. That’s why she and her detectives were here to find out what happened to the skeleton buried in the old woman’s closet behind her winter coats. It was one helluva way to start a Monday morning.
“Mrs. Peterson, do you know why we’re here?”
The granddaughter’s head jerked up suddenly. She glared at the lieutenant as she rubbed her grandmother’s bony hand. “Don’t answer that, Nana. They’re just trying to blame you for something.” Angry dark eyes stared hard into the lieutenant’s face until she sighed uncomfortably and looked down at the narrow, black notebook in her hand.
Abigaile shrugged. She needed to get the granddaughter away from the charmingly frank old woman. She ignored the nasty eye roll from the granddaughter to smile at the old woman. She motioned for Detective Vaughn Mercer to follow her into the apartment’s hallway where they could speak privately. “Excuse me a minute, Ma’am. I need to see how my officers are doing.”
Mercer reluctantly followed her into the hallway, muttering softly under his breath. “What did Lieutenant Bitch want now?” He sighed. She was disturbing his viewing time. The Davis woman was a hot-looking babe. She was available too. He’d noticed there wasn’t a ring on her finger as soon as he met her. Her figure was just the way he liked his women to look, too. She wasn’t too tall. She was maybe about five foot, five inches tall. She had big tits, a heart-shaped ass, a small waist and shapely legs that could wrap easily around him in bed during a passionate encounter. He bet her coffee-light complexion turned bronze in the hot sun of summer. She’d fit underneath him just right unlike the overrated Amazon the department thought would make a better lieutenant than he would. As far as he was concerned, the lieutenant was a series of twos. She was too tall for him. At five foot ten, she stood nearly eye-to-eye with him when she issued her dumbass commands. Her figure was too broad. She had a shape but he didn’t give a shit about solid and wide. Her cinnamon complexion was too dark for his tastes. Her manner was too bossy. She lacked a sense of humor and she was too clever for her own good.
“Detective Mercer, are you with me?” Abigaile ignored his disrespectful utterances and snapped her fingers under his nose to gain his attention. Once she caught his eye, she pointed a thumb in the direction of the living room couch. “Keep an eye on those two for a minute. Don’t let them out of your sight. I’ll get Stevenson to finish the interview.”
Mercer rolled his eyes at her orders then folded arms across his chest. “When did I become a goddamned babysitter? I don’t see why I can’t interview them.”
Abigaile mentally counted to ten before she answered him. Mercer was acting exceptionally difficult today. She’d be glad to rid of him for the few hours she’d be able to spend back in her office. “You know Stevenson is the primary on this one, Mercer. Wait for him to do the interview. Okay?”
Mercer waved a dismissive hand at her. “Yeah, yeah, I heard ya…Truman.”
Abigaile considered confronting Mercer for not addressing her as a superior officer but she decided against it. Bringing Detective Ron Stevenson back into the picture was more important than her personal feelings about one of her detectives. She strode down the hallway where the crime scene technicians set up shop. She nodded at one of the technicians she knew from another case. She pulled on a pair of latex gloves before she touched anything.
Abigaile looked around the bathroom. She might have to expand the crime scene to include the bathroom too. The granddaughter wasn’t going to be happy about that. Ms. Davis didn’t impress her as being happy period.
For somebody who had great taste in expensive clothes, jewelry, makeup and perfume, Ms. Davis looked miserable today. Who knows, maybe her negative attitude was a result of discovering a human skeleton in her grandmother’s wall. She made some quick notes as a reminder to consider expanding the crime scene. She eyed the granddaughter from her position in the hallway outside one of the bedrooms. She wondered what the Davis woman’s story was.
The apartment belonged to Ina Peterson. The super told the detectives that much when he let them into the building. When Ron asked the super about Ina Peterson, he said that she lived alone except for the visits from her granddaughter every few days. He said Jannita Davis had been coming by to check on the old woman more often lately. When Ron asked why, the super signaled with a winding motion of his finger to his head that indicated the old woman was crazy.
He claimed that Ina Peterson heard voices in the middle of the night and constantly pestered him to check her place for signs of a break-in. He said he’d never found anything or anyone. When pressed further, the super said one of the local alley cats liked to visit Ina’s apartment. It would climb through her open window and take up residence under her bed or in her closet at night. According to the super, the cat’s purring and growling sounds were the only noises Ina Peterson heard at night.
Now, the discovery of the skeleton in the closet added a different dimension. The super said the plumber’s helper was repairing a leak in one of the basement lines and a pipe broke. He opened the floors and wall area directly above the leak to check the condition of the remaining pipes. The helper discovered about forty feet of corroded pipe that ran from the basement to the first floor tenant’s bathroom and ended in on the second floor in Ina Peterson’s closet.
When the helper opened Ina Peterson’s closet wall to replace the pipes, he discovered the skeleton. The super confided that the helper was shook up. He didn’t know what to do after he found the skeleton. He didn’t want trouble with the police since he was on parole. The super let the helper leave then he called the granddaughter. She rushed over to check on her grandmother. Once the granddaughter saw the skeleton, she called the police, which is how the crime scene crew came to the apartment.
Abigaile sighed as she eyed the Davis woman from her position in the hallway then she checked her notes for the helper’s name and address. She’d send Detectives Green and Lopez to check out his story. She needed to find out why the Davis woman delayed calling the police. The timeframe the super gave for Davis woman’s arrival left at least sixty minutes between her arrival and her first call to the precinct. What did the Davis woman do in the apartment for over an hour?
I’m Your Baby Tonight
Genre: Romantic comedy
Suppose you could be anybody that you wanted for one night. You could dress up in a magical costume and party ‘til the sun came up. Nobody not even your mother, if you had a mother, would know it was you. Suppose you learned a woman that you’d always wanted but had rejected you a million times, was attending the party, too. What do you do? Would you go to the party? If you went, who would you be and what would you wear? How would you recognize her?
You decide on a great disguise for the Halloween party. You’re dressed as the gangster Al Capone and you discover she’s Raggedy Andy. After a few minutes of discomfort, the two of you connect at the party. She doesn’t suspect that it’s you underneath the gangster disguise. You and she dance and talk most of the night. The two of you have so much fun that you wind up making love that night. You feel guilty about the ruse you used on her. Do you tell her it was you or let her think she’s met someone new? Can you be satisfied with just one night? Can she? That is the premise for the story. When Andy discovers Capone’s trickery, she’s angry but also embarrassed by her own lack of control around Capone and so she resolves never to see Kayla again.
Ninety minutes later, Deidre waited outside for Quincy to lock up the concession stand and join her on the walkway. “You don’t have to walk me home, Quincy. I’ll be fine.”
“I know I don’t have to but I’d feel better doing it. Let this old woman do something for you tonight.”
Deidre studied Quincy’s back as she pulled the gate down and then inserted two locks through the upper and lower hasps. “I bet you’re not more than two maybe three years my senior. I just turned thirty-eight a month ago.”
“Happy belated birthday, Teach!” Quincy turned around to grin at Deidre and then she winked. “I’d give you a birthday hug but people might talk.”
Deidre groaned loudly. “Talk about what? I’m gay. You’re straight. What’s to talk about?”
“Come on. Let’s get to walking before my knee swells up.” Quincy carried two empty shopping bags under one arm as she pulled a shopping cart.
Deidre shoved hands into the pockets of her jacket as she studied Quincy. “Thanks for listening to me rambling on about Bev.” She sighed as they walked up the bridge spanning the width of the Westside Highway at 145th Street. “I haven’t talked this much about her in a while.”
“I’m glad you did. You’ve been holdin’ plenty of grief inside that needed to be free.”
They walked over the bridge and passed the security station.
The guard recognized Quincy and smiled. She came out of her station and touched the brim of her smoky the bandit hat. “I see you found a friend to walk you to the bus tonight, Quincy.”
Quincy nodded and stopped. “Yep, Kayla I did. I won’t be needin’ you tonight.”
Kayla placed a hand over her heart and pretended to grimace in pain. “Oh, no, you’ve hurt my feelings, you fickle woman.” She caught Deidre’s eye and winked. “Aren’t you going to introduce us, Quincy? I wanna know the name of the woman you kicked me to the curb for tonight.”
Dark eyes assessed Deidre. She perused Deidre’s shoes, up her stockings to her skirt and then to her blouse, stopping to note the rainbow necklace nestled between two full brown breasts. She finally settled on Deidre’s face.
Deidre flushed red with embarrassment. She hadn’t inspected that thoroughly since her last physical. Maybe she had been but she’d just never paid attention until tonight. Her best friend Genie was always telling her this woman or that woman was trying to catch her eye and she should turn around to acknowledge it. Genie claimed women had a hard enough time being assertive enough to ask woman for a date so she shouldn’t ignore them when they admired her.
She bet the park guard had no trouble being the aggressor in a relationship. The woman studied her the way a woman who wanted to bed her looked or was it the way Fabian her cat looked when he played with his prey. She shuddered at the graphic images her thoughts created.
“Jesus, Kayla! Be polite to the nice woman! Put your eyes back in your head an’ quit staring at her like that or I won’t tell you!”
Kayla stared at Quincy with narrowed eyes then removed her hat to wipe the sweat from the inner band. “I figured if you knew her, she’d be used to it.”
“Humph, I’m not like you. I don’t tell my business to every Tom, Dick or Harry!”
Kayla held the hat in her hand, playing with it. She debated what to do next. Quincy already put her business in the street. She took one long stride that landed her in front of Deidre. “Hello, I’m Kayla Zeno. My friend Quincy likes to keep pretty women’s names a secret. I haven’t scared you away, have I?” She pointed to the rainbow colored necklace that was Deidre’s unspoken nod at coming out to the school system. “Most of all, I hope you know what that necklace signifies.”
Deidre stared into amazing chocolate eyes that reminded her of Hostess cupcakes. They were soft, deep brown and surrounded by long eyelashes. She cleared her throat. “I bought it because I liked the primary colors.”
“Oh shit!” Kayla muttered softly.
Deidre watched the disappointment wash across Kayla’s face and almost giggled.
Kayla took a step backward. “Why is it always the difficult ones that interest me?” She muttered, putting her hat on and becoming coolly official. She touched the brim of her hat. “I’m sorry, Miss. I hope I haven’t caused you embarrassment. Quincy’s right, I can be too direct sometimes.” She stepped back into her security booth and nodded. “See you tomorrow, Quince.” She nodded to Deidre and touched the brim of her hat. “Have a nice night, Ma’am.”
Quincy frowned and opened her mouth to explain when Deidre tugged at her hand.
“Thank you. Come on Quincy. I wanna show you something before it’s too dark to see.”
Quincy allowed Deidre to guide her to the bus stop. “You gonna tell me what just happened? Why did you let Kayla think you’re straight?”
“Oh the hell with her!” Deidre snapped. “Why did you let me think you were?”
Quincy sighed. “I am straight. I used to love this one woman but that don’t make me gay cuz I still like men. You ain’t out on your job and I ain’t either!”
Deidre frowned then corrected her grammar. “Say I’m not out. Don’t use the word ain’t. Use the proper grammar, Quincy. Besides, I can’t be out if I’m teaching people’s children. Where I teach isn’t gay friendly. Parents may talk liberal but when it comes to teaching their precious little ones, they want somebody straight just like them. You, on the other hand could be openly gay here at your job. I heard the Parks Department is gay friendly.”
“Is that your way of sayin’ a bunch of dykes and fags work in the department.”
Deidre shrugged. “So I’ve been told.”
Quincy studied Deidre. “You still ain’t told me why you lied to Kayla.”
Deidre rubbed her temples hard, leaving a mark. “A spur of the moment decision I guess. She was just a little too much for me right now. I thought she going to devour me right there.”
Quincy laughed heartily. “You could do a lot worse than Kayla Zeno. She’s nice, Dee.” She studied Deidre’s face again. “She might be just what you need to bring you out of the doldrums you mentioned.”
Deidre folded arms across her chest. “Humph! She was uncouth, Quincy. She made me feel naked when she looked at me!”
“I hope you ain’t gonna tell me you don’t enjoy being admired, Dee.”
Deidre shrugged. “I guess not. She was just too bold with it.”
“Come on, Dee, cut the woman some slack. There wasn’t nobody there but me an’ you that seen her do that.” Quincy stroked her chin as she considered Deidre’s words. “So you like finesse in your women.”
Deidre nodded. “Yes, a little diplomacy goes a long way with me.”
“What would you say if somebody like me asked you to share a cup of red zinger over dinner sometime?”
Deidre frowned as she glanced at Quincy. “Are you asking me to have dinner with you?”
Quincy shrugged and then played with the metal stays on the shopping cart. “Could be if I thought you’d say yes.”
“You’d to have ask, if you wanted to know.” Deidre’s own words surprised her, tonight. She didn’t think she could attract two women in one night. God, she must be going nuts because she considered asking Quincy for a date. “Well? Are you going to ask me or do I have to do it?”
Quincy stared at Deidre and teased. “Ooo, I’d like to see that! Talk to me, Sugar.”
Deidre cut her eyes at Quincy then sighed. She liked Quincy. What would be the harm in asking her to dinner? “Would this Friday be too soon for dinner?”
Quincy grinned broadly. “Nope, Friday is perfect. That’s my day off. Where?”
“I thought we might try my place.”
“Hmm, I see.” Quincy stared at Deidre with a calculated look in her eyes as she tapped on her lower lip.
“If you think that I’m making an overture to get you in my bed, Quincy York, we can just forget about the dinner date!”
“Hey, hey calm down, Teach! I was just pullin’ your chain a little. I’d love having dinner with you. You just say when and where, I’ll be there.”
Deidre stared off into space and then frowned. She wondered how much more to say to Quincy. “I love to cook but I miss cooking for somebody. I thought you’d enjoy somebody else doing the cooking for a change.”
Quincy grinned at her. “I like that.” She glanced over Deidre’s shoulder. “That’s my bus. See you Friday. I’m looking forward to sharin’ a meal with you.”
“Goodnight, Quincy, I’ll see you Friday. Thanks for… listening to me.”
“It was my pleasure.” Quincy stepped on the bus and waved to her from the back as it pulled off heading south.
Something made Deidre glance at the guard’s booth when she turned around to walk home. She caught Kayla What’s-her-name studying her from a distance. She thought the tall woman was staring at her but she could be wrong. Kayla could be watching the night traffic whiz by on the drive. Cars speeded on the tree-lined road known as Riverside Drive. She’d even raced down the road once or twice on a Sunday night when it was nearly empty.
It must be boring standing around in a small booth all day, answering repetitious questions while you watched people come and go. She sighed with regret. Maybe, she was too critical of the woman. On second thought, maybe not, she’d made her decision. One woman at a time was all she could handle. She had more than enough to think about with dinner for Quincy. Hmm, she’d need to plan a decent menu and then go shopping between tonight and Friday. She’d fix something nutritious and filling but impressive too since Quincy was a cook by trade. She’d have to give the meal some more thought.
City building inspector, Maxine Simms, finds Samantha Armstrong’s children in a dangerous basement and brings them home slightly injured but no worse for the wear. She forgets to return the little girl's bike and it becomes the excuse to see Samantha again. They begin dating and things couldn’t be better. Maxine is crazy about Samantha and her children. The children - Emma, Timmy, and Billy (Samantha’s nephews) - love Maxine and her scrappy little bulldog, Butchie. Samantha thinks she loves Maxine until her ex, Sergeant Norma Higgins, pops into the picture, injured and in need of tender loving care.
Will Samantha become disenchanted by Norma's aggressive nature, or has the ambitious cop turned over a new leaf? Or, will Samantha find that the gentle Inspector Simms' is a better choice for building a relationship with her family?
Using the city-scape of Manhattan as a backdrop, BUILDINGS is a novel about love and choices, and the important role family plays in the romantic choices women make!
Samantha pulled her robe tighter as she answered the doorbell. Looking out through the peephole, all she could see was a colorful selection of balloons and two large hands holding several large bouquets of flowers. “Yes? Can I help you?” she asked behind the locked door.
“It’s me, Samantha. Let me in, please.” Dark eyes peered at her through the balloons and flowers. “These are for you. I wasn’t sure what flowers you liked, so I bought a little of each.”
Samantha’s eyes widened when she recognized Maxine’s face among the flowers. She grabbed Maxine’s hand to pull her into the apartment, releasing everything. Balloons floated to the living room ceiling and flowers fell to the floor around the two women when Samantha pulled Maxine into a heated kiss. Their lips blended into each other.
Samantha maneuvered Maxine until she’d pressed her against the front door. Then she frantically undressed her. Buttons popped off and flew to the ground as Samantha desperately tried to peel off Maxine’s button-down shirt and unzip her jeans. Her fingers trembled and then her body shook uncontrollably. She was ready to collapse.
“Damn it, I need to feel you. Why can’t I …?”
Maxine stilled fidgeting hands and led Samantha to the couch. “Easy, take it easy.” She smoothed a hand down one of Samantha’s arms and helped her lie down on the couch. “I’m here, sweetness. I’m not going to leave you. We have all the time in the world,” she remarked, studying Samantha’s distraught face. “Just lie back and let old Maxine take care of you. Close your eyes, sweetness. Try and get some rest.” A large hand settled a pillow behind Samantha’s head. She covered her with one of the decorative quilts she found on the couch. She stroked Samantha’s forehead and watched her eyes close. Samantha’s tremors gradually subsided as her body grew warmer.
Butchie barked loudly, scratching at the door as he tried to get inside the apartment. “Christ, I forgot about him!” Maxine rose from the couch to let the dog in.
“Don’t leave me, Maxi.” Samantha suddenly reached out to grab a hand to stop her.
Maxine’s large hand patted Samantha’s hand. “I’m just going over to the door to let Butchie inside. Okay?”
Samantha nodded, then released her grip on Maxine’s hand. She reclined against the pillows and closed her eyes.
Maxine let the stubby dog with the big heart into the apartment.
Butchie sniffed at the fallen flowers, then trotted over to the couch and sat on his hind legs, waiting for Samantha to shake his hand. He barked, then watched her until she opened her eyes.
“Hello, Butchie,” Samantha said half-heartedly until she noticed the clown collar and the large bow tied to it. She smiled. “What’s this little guy, uh?” She reached out to pet him and he licked her hand. “Somebody thinks you’re a clown, huh, boy?”
Maxine knelt down in front of the couch and her dark eyes searched Samantha’s face. “I thought you could use a little clowning around. Butchie and I are at your service for as long as you need us, madam.” She gave a little bow, looked at Samantha, and winked. “This time, I brought dog food. It’s in the car. Come on, woman; let’s get you to bed. I’ll fix you some tea later, if you’d like.” She stood up and looked down at Samantha. She suddenly scooped Samantha up and carried her to the bedroom.
Samantha scowled at Maxine. “Hey, I’m not disabled or anything. My legs work fine. I’ll thank you to put me down. I can walk, Maxine Simms!”
Maxine shook her head no. “Shut up, Sammy, and let somebody take care of you for once.”
“Okay, Maxi,” Samantha whispered, grateful that somebody cared enough to offer help. She snuggled against Maxine’s chest as she carried her to the bed. “Hmm, this feels nice. Thank you.” Samantha closed her eyes.
“Hey, don’t you go to sleep yet. I mean, you have to put on a … gown.” Maxine looked down at the sleeping woman in her arms and smiled, then kissed her forehead. “Okay, you just rest, Samantha. I’ll take care of everything.”
Samantha murmured something as soon as her head made contact with the pillow on her bed. She felt warm hands tuck her into the bed. She was sleeping too soundly to realize Maxine shared her bed until dawn.
When the sun came out, Maxine napped on the living room couch until she heard small footsteps and low whispers, then giggles.
“Wow, balloons,” Timmy said, pointing to the helium balloons hanging from the ceiling
“Yeah, loons.” Billy sucked his thumb and pointed upward.
Butchie was beside himself with excitement, racing to greet Emma, then running back to Timmy and Billy, prancing and whimpering.
They giggled when they saw him in the clown outfit.
He wiggled his tail in a happy frenzy, barking and yapping.
“Hey, guys. Can you hold it down?” Maxine yawned. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.
The children crowded around the couch, asking a million and one questions.
Maxine held up her hands to quiet them. “Okay, okay. Let me talk. Will you? Your mother isn’t feeling well, so keep it down, okay?”
The three children nodded.
“She’s not sick or anything, is she, Miss Maxine?” Emma asked, looking worried.
Maxine shook her head. “No, baby, she’s just tired. Come here, Emma.” She smiled and patted the couch. “Sit down next to me.” She patted the space on her left side. “Timmy, honey, sit here.”
One child sat on either side of Maxine and a long arm reached out to lift Billy onto her lap.
“Emma, boys, this is the deal. Samantha saw something at work last night that upset her a great deal, so she called me. I came over to see if I could help her figure it out. She may be a little tired and cranky for the next couple of days, so be on your best behavior. Okay?”
“What did she see, Miss Maxine?” Emma asked.
Maxine shrugged, not wanting to tell the children about Samantha’s little patient. She’d leave that story for her to tell. “I don’t know, but I’m sure she’ll tell you when she’s ready. Are you kids hungry?”
The children shook their heads.
Maxine nodded sympathetically. “What do you eat, uh? Even more important, what time does school start?”
“School? We’re not in school.”
“Regular school is over for the year, Miss Maxine.”
Emma and Timmy smiled confidently. They thought Maxine wouldn’t know that they were both in summer school.
“Humph, that’s strange.” Maxine frowned at the children. “I coulda sworn Samantha mentioned something about summer school for you two. She said Billy goes to day care for half a day and you guys go to summer school. I could be wrong. If somebody’s playing games this morning, they won’t be going to the baseball game tomorrow.”
Emma looked at Timmy. He returned her glance, then shrugged. “Umm, we were just kidding, Miss Maxine. Timmy and I have to get ready for school. Billy goes to school with us. We pick him up after we get out.”
“What time would that be?” Maxine asked.
“How do you get there?”
“Mommy lets us ride our bikes there ‘cause it’s only seven blocks away.”
“How about if I drive you today and pick you up?”
Emma frowned. “Can Butchie come with us?”
“Do they allow dogs in school, Em? ‘Cause if they do, that’s news to me. I believe it’s against the health code, kiddo.”
“How about Butchie and I walk you to school on your bikes, then come pick you up at one o’clock. Maybe we can find a park around here to play in for a while.”
“Will Mommy be there too, Maxine?” Emma stared at the tall woman. She worried that her mother was sick and Maxine didn’t want to tell her. Grown-ups always thought they were protecting kids against bad news, but she preferred to know.
“Yes, Emma. I’ll be there.” Samantha stood leaning wearily against the doorframe. She watched the children sitting quietly on the couch next to Maxine. She was grateful to the big woman. She held out her arms. Emma rushed into them. The boys slowly came over and allowed her to hug them. Timmy was more reluctant than Billy was about the hugs. She kissed their foreheads and then their cheeks. Timmy wiped off her kiss immediately. Billy quickly followed suit, mimicking his big brother.
Maxine caught Samantha’s eye and winked. She barely contained her laughter behind a large hand.
As tired and sad as she was, Samantha allowed a small smile to come forth as she watched her nephews erase her kisses from their faces.
Maxine glanced at her watch. “Come on, Lady Emma, gentlemen. Let’s get dressed. Timmy, you help your brother dress while I fix us some breakfast and call my job. Emma, take Butchie with you. Hey, kiddo, I forgot to ask. How’s the ankle?”
“It’s fine. Mom says it’s healing nicely,” Emma called over her shoulder as she limped to her room with Butchie trying to lick at her heels.
The boys quickly followed her.
“That’s good, Em.” Maxine smiled at the little girl and gave the boys a small pat on the back as they passed. “Samantha, do you want to stay here? I could carry you back to the….”
“Come here, you.” Samantha crooked a finger, then pulled Maxine into her arms. “Thank you, Maxi. I needed someone to talk to last night. I felt so lost when we couldn’t save that little boy. It’s just not fair that his mother is about to bury a son who hasn’t even experienced life yet. She’ll never have grandchildren. That’s so sad.”
Maxine embraced Samantha. She glanced into tired brown eyes. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, but I would have slept better with you next to me, Maxi.” Samantha searched dark eyes as she made the last remark.
“I was there all night, but I left at dawn to come out here.” Maxine shrugged. “You know; for the kids’ sake.”
“I must’ve been out of it not to notice you in my bed.”
“Why don’t we get you back to bed? I’ll fix breakfast for the kids. You try to get some more sleep, um? Come on; I’ll walk you back and tuck you in.” Maxine walked behind Samantha with hands on her shoulders, steering her to the bedroom. “I’ll only ask one thing,” she said as she sat Samantha on the side of the bed and then knelt down to remove her slippers.
“What’s that, Maxi?” Samantha smiled, reaching down to stroke her short hair.
“Don’t take your robe off until I leave the room.” Maxine sighed, then studied her face. “I know you sleep in the … without—um. You know, in the nude. And I don’t see myself leaving this room if you’re—um.” A large hand pulled at her knit shirt. “You see what I’m trying to say, here.” She fiddled with the neckline of her shirt again.
Samantha hid a smile. She pretended not to understand. “No, you’re vague, Maxine, real vague.”
Maxine noted the twinkle in Samantha’s soft brown eyes.
“Maxi, you look a little warm to me. Let me help unbutton your blouse and cool you off.”
“Huh uh. That wouldn’t be such a good idea, sweetness.”
“Okay. What if you cooled me off?” Warm brown hands untied the thin silky robe as Samantha lay back against the headboard.
A pair of trembling hands stopped the robe from opening. “Damn, I’m all thumbs today.” Maxine re-tied the sash several times before getting it right. “Not a good idea, sweetness. I have breakfast to fix. You need your rest. Get under the covers, Sammy. I promise to join you later.”
“Promise me, Maxi.”
Maxine raised a hand and placed it over her heart. “I promise.”
Samantha sighed. She slipped between the sheets and rolled over onto her belly as Maxine tucked the covers around her, then kissed an exposed shoulder. “Hmm, that feels nice, Maxi. When I’m not so tired, we should do—” She yawned. “Oh, sleepy. Sorry, Maxi … too sleepy to finish this.” She faded into a deep sleep before she could finish the thought.
Maxine waited until Samantha fell asleep to tiptoe out of the room and then quietly closed the door behind her. She and the children made a quick breakfast of cold cereal with milk, juice, toast, and boiled eggs.
“Okay, boys, Em, are you ready to go? Did everybody have enough to eat?” she asked.
“Yes!” the kids chorused in unison.
Maxine looked down at the little dog. “Butchie, how about you; are you ready to go?”
He jumped up and barked.
Timmy looked at Butchie, then Maxine, and shrugged. “I guess that means yes, Maxine.”
“Tim, my man, you’re learning to speak doggie.”
Tim looked up at Maxine and grinned proudly.
“It looks like we’re ready to go. Emma, where does your mother keep a spare key?”
“In that desk over there.” Emma pointed to a small, locked writing desk in the corner of the living room. “Mommy taped the key to the back of the desk.”
“I don’t want to wake her when I come back.” Maxine felt behind the desk for the key, then opened the drawer and slipped the extra key in her pocket, then replaced the desk key.
“You’re still gonna pick us up, aren’t you, Maxine?”
Maxine patted Emma’s head. “A promise is a promise, Em. I try to honor to mine as much as I can. Tell me something. Why is a bright young lady like you in summer school?”
“I hate math! I think it’s a stupid, useless subject! I mean, where am I ever gonna use it? I don’t see why I have to learn something useless and stupid! I hope you’re not gonna give me a lecture like Mom does about math! If you are, I heard it all a million times.” Emma crossed her arms across her narrow chest and glared defiantly at Maxine.
Maxine held up a hand in surrender. “Whoa, princess, take it easy. I agree with you. I don’t think you should have to learn anything useless or stupid either.”
“Humph! That’s not what Mom says.”
“I bet if you asked her, she’d agree that you shouldn’t learn anything stupid or useless either. We know math isn’t either one of those.”
“Where do you use math, Maxi?”
“On my job.”
“Show me what you mean.”
“Yeah, show us,” Timmy chimed in.
“We’ll see, we’ll see.” Maxine stroked her chin, thinking hard about what she could do to convince Em about math’s usefulness as they approached the school building. “Do I need to take Billy inside, Emma?”
“No, we’ll do it.” Emma and Timmy took Billy’s hand and raced up the school steps, dragging the poor kid between them. “Bye, Miss Maxine. Bye, Butchie.” the kids shouted. They made it inside just before the school’s safety agent closed the door.
Maxine stood on the sidewalk, laughing as she watched them hustle Billy down the hall. “Come on, Butchie. Let’s take a walk around the block while I think this math thing through a minute. It seems to me I could take the kids to Samantha’s building and show them what I do as an inspector. Do you think that would work, Butchie? If I didn’t know math, I’d never be able to take measurements. I could borrow a couple of hard hats and take them in the basement. I could show ‘em how to take measurements in a room or sidewalk…stuff like that. What do you think about that, Butchie?”
The bulldog barked and stopped chasing pigeons to look at Maxine.
“Come on, dog. We got work to do before one o’clock.” Maxine headed to Samantha’s place.
Maxine tiptoed to the main bedroom to check on Samantha and found her sleeping soundly. In her sleep, Samantha managed to throw the covers off and untie her robe. She stood at the doorway, gazing down at all the smooth, warm brown skin that greeted her eyes. “God, you are gorgeous, Samantha Armstrong.” She quietly crept closer to cover Samantha with a light quilt. She kissed Samantha’s forehead and made a promise. “I’ll be back, Sammy.”
Samantha mumbled something unintelligible and rolled onto her back.
Maxine saw one dusty rose nipple peeking out from the sheets. Her thighs clenched together in response to the provocative sight. Christ, if she didn’t go pick up the stuff for Emma, she’d never leave. She backed out of the room, leaned against the wall outside, and took several deep breaths. Even in her sleep, Samantha Armstrong had the ability to excite her, as crazy as it seemed. Yeah, she’d better leave while she was still sleeping. Once Samantha awoke, there’d be hell to pay for not coming back to bed with her. She left a note on the kitchen table, explaining what she had in mind and that she’d be back in an hour. She and Butchie drove to the office.
Genre: Romance; Suspense
Lieutenant Gwen Weston “meets” playgirl Dr. Angela Bennett when she investigates an attempted murder on the doctor’s life. Fifteen months before, a brutal assailant left Dr. Bennett to die on an isolated stretch of Harlem River Drive in New York City. The beating put her in a coma and Gwen was as surprised as everyone else that the woman could survive the extensive loss of blood and physical trauma.
After her investigation reveals no suspects, Gwen closes the doctor’s case but maintains a monthly vigil at the coma clinic. When Angela regains consciousness and begins rebuilding her wounded body and chaotic personal life, Gwen reopens the case. Then, one of Gwen’s officers dies in a shootout. Angela becomes Gwen’s confidant, and providing comfort becomes the pretext for the two women to draw even closer.
Angela Bennett lay exhausted on the exercise mat. She’d just finished cursing out the big, muscular physical therapist and his ancestors, starting from the Stone Age and moving forward. The big blond man with the strawberry beard looked like he wanted to pummel something. The angry woman glaring up at him from her perch on the exercise mat was the most likely candidate. At least, it looked that way to Gwen from her position in the hallway.
“Look, doc, all the cussing in the world isn’t gonna get your legs and arms in shape. Let’s get to it. I said ten more for each leg and I meant ten more.” He stood over her with his arms crossed.
For a minute, when she looked up at him again, he saw fear in her lovely hazel eyes. He shrugged sheepishly, stroked his beard, and then squatted down. “Sorry, doc, I forgot. I’ll just stand over here at the edge of the mat and watch you do them.” He patted her shoulder in a comforting way and grinned. “Come on, doc. I know it hurts like hell, but you can do it. Show me what you got!” The big man glided over to the edge of the blue plastic mat and watched his client struggle through the last ten exercises.
Gwen quietly watched from the doorway as the doctor did ten leg lifts, using each leg with the ankle weights attached. Dark lines of perspiration streaked her gray sweats down the front between her breasts and at the crotch area when she finished the routine.
The big man threw the doctor a towel and gave a thumbs-up sign. “Way to go, doc! I knew you could do it.”
“Like hell you did! I think your greatest joy in life is trying to kill me with these Goddamn exercises, Eddie,” the exhausted woman on the mat gasped.
Eddie smiled at her and then winked. “One of these days, you’ll thank me for what you just did, doc.”
Angela wiped the sweat from her face. “Sure I will, Eddie! I’ll be sure to do that when pigs fly or when the devil serves strawberry ice cream in hell!”
Eddie laughed. “You always did have a way with words, doc. Do you need help getting up?”
Angela waved him away. “No, just let me sit here for a minute and gather my thoughts.” She sighed. “Eddie, do you think I’ll ever be able to walk without this?”
Gwen saw the doctor point to the cane hanging on the exercise bar and noticed a brace on her wrist.
The big man stared at his client. “Yeah, doc, I do,” he said softly. “By all rights, you shouldn’t be here. But you are because you got guts, doc. That’s what’s going to have you walking out of here under your own steam—your guts and my exercises. Just remember that the next time you start defaming my relatives, okay?” He grinned as he looked at her.
“It’s a deal, Eddie,” the tired woman on the mat remarked and returned his smile.
Gwen cleared her throat and they turned to look at her.
“Oh no, Angie; it’s the cops!” Eddie exclaimed, pretending fear as he wrapped a towel around his damp neck. He chuckled as he caught Gwen’s attention. “I’m out of here. Are you sure you’re all right down there, doc?”
Angela nodded. “If I need help getting up, I’m sure the SERGEANT can help. Won’t you, sugar?” She smiled sweetly and fluttered long eyelashes at the big woman.
Gwen sighed. The term “victim” was the wrong one to use to describe the woman on the floor mat who was pretending to flirt with her. “Afternoon, Ed.” She nodded to the big man as he left the physical therapy area.
“See you, lieutenant.”
For the past six weeks, the hospital staff or the doctor herself gave her the runaround. The staff thought they were protecting the doctor. That was understandable, but the doctor’s behavior mystified her. If their roles were reversed, Gwen knew she’d help the cops investigate her own case.
“Dr. Bennett, if you need help getting up, it’s not a problem.” Gwen approached the doctor cautiously from the front. She made sure not to move suddenly or to loom over her.
Dr. Angela Bennett’s medical file described how disturbing and frightening that could be for her. The first time it happened, doctors sedated her overnight before she calmed down. Gwen remembered being curious about the doctor’s reaction, so she spoke to the police psychiatrist. He said Angela Bennett was suffering from flashbacks about the assault.
Gwen wanted to know whether forcing the flashbacks might be a useful interview technique, but the psychiatrist said it was too risky. He thought it could push her over the edge emotionally. But he noted without examining the patient that he couldn’t accurately diagnose her state of mind.
“Would you like me to help you?” Gwen knelt down at the far edge of the mat, putting herself on the same level as the doctor’s face. Her dark, almost black eyes stared into hazel eyes for a half-second.
“No, Sergeant Weston! I believe I can manage to stand up if you’ll just hand me my cane,” Angela responded sharply. It embarrassed her to flirt with a woman who didn’t seem the least bit interested in her.
Gwen reached over, handed the doctor her metal cane, and then stepped back. She watched as the doctor painfully struggled to make her body obey her commands. Now that’s a stubborn woman. She watched the doctor’s battle of mind over matter. Angela Bennett could have accepted my help, but she had to do this herself. I hope this isn’t how she always does things. If it is, this case is gonna be a humdinger to solve with such a stubborn victim.
“Why are you here disturbing me when you could be outside enjoying a lovely afternoon, sergeant?” Angela Bennett said, looking confidently into the lieutenant’s impassive face. “You’re never going to solve this case anyway. I’m the only witness you have. I can’t tell you anything. Somebody struck me from behind. I….”
Angela didn’t finish her sentence before she shivered suddenly, then lost her balance. Her hands trembled violently. “Shit! Oh no. God, my head hurts!” She moaned and then dropped the cane. She grabbed her head. She felt rather than saw someone helping her to the nearest bench. She was too busy biting her lips. She tried to hold back the blinding flashes of pain and the strange images that always followed the migraines and focus on the officer’s helpful arm around her waist.
“Take it easy, Dr. Bennett. Sit down. I’ll call someone.” Gwen guided her to the bench and rubbed her shoulder, frowning. “Are you gonna be all right while I go get a doctor?”
Angela started to nod but groaned instead as she tried to block another wave of pain.
Gwen debated whether to leave her alone on the bench to find help when one of the center’s nurses happened by. After a quick, cursory examination, she sent Gwen for a gurney and, together, they lifted the inert doctor onto it, heading for her room.
When Angela Bennett woke up again, she was in the safety of her hospital room. The female detective was sitting in a chair by the window, reading a magazine. Angie stared at her. The cop didn’t look like she was reading the magazine. She was flipping through the pages too fast to read them. She’s probably waiting for me to wake up. Ah, she found an article that interests her. Keep reading, lieutenant, while I check you out, she mused.
Angela studied the sturdy detective. She was attractive, no doubt about that. She watched Gwen turn the pages of the magazine.Her cocoa brown skin looked smooth. Her dark eyes were alert and intelligent. She liked the way the short, neat dreadlocks framed Gwen’s face. They weren’t too long or too short. They looked well tended. When the lieutenant helped her sit down in the physical therapy room, she had smelled of coconut and vanilla. It was a delicious mixture. But what she appreciated most about the lieutenant was her patience. She’d tried to provoke the woman by calling her “sergeant,” when she knew the woman was a lieutenant.
Why did she care what the lieutenant did or thought about her? It annoyed her that the big woman pretended no interest in her. But she knew that wasn’t true. Hospital buzz talked about the female cop who came back to the center numerous times to check on her medical status. Most importantly, she found her own interest in the cop equally puzzling.
“I see you’re still here, sergeant.” Angela Bennett stated the obvious as she tried to draw the woman closer so she could see the effect of her words on the cop.
Gwen sighed. She chose to ignore the intended barb once again. She put the magazine on the small table and strode over to the foot of doctor’s bed. “How are you feeling, Dr. Bennett? Better, I hope,” she added politely.
Angela scowled at her.
“Look, Dr. Bennett, I don’t like asking these questions any more than you like not answering them. Let’s call a truce?” Gwen raised an eyebrow as she looked at the doctor. “If you answer all my questions tonight, I’ll leave you the hell alone for a while. How’s that, doctor?”
“Well, sergeant, it depends on the questions, doesn’t it?” Confident hazel eyes stared into annoyed dark ones. “The last time you started this interview, I wound up with a severe migraine. They had to sedate me.”
“If this is the way you want to play this, then so be it,” Gwen grumbled as she returned the woman’s hard stare. A hand restlessly roamed through her locks and she shook her head.
“Excuse me, sergeant. I didn’t catch that last remark!” Angela snapped. “Could you please repeat it?” She folded her arms across her chest and glared at the lieutenant.
“I said….” Gwen sighed heavily, then blew out a long breath.
Angela realized the lieutenant was counting to ten as she tried to hold her temper in check. The lieutenant’s jaw muscle was working overtime; tightening, then releasing. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“It took me a long time to earn my lieutenant’s gold. I haven’t been a sergeant in eight years, so get the rank straight, lady!” Hard dark eyes stared straight into the doctor’s eyes until she looked away.
“All right, LIEUTENANT Weston! Go ahead. Ask your damned questions, so I can get this over with and go to sleep,” Angela remarked huffily as she sat on the bed with her arms crossed and her lips poking out in an exaggerated pout.
Trying to ignore her attitude, Gwen started the interview. “I want you to think back to the day of the assault, Dr. Bennett. Did anything unusual happen that day? Anything jump out at you or seem out of place? Even the smallest thing.”
Angela closed her eyes and rubbed her temples as she thought back to that horrible day. “No. I went into the office as usual. I saw my patients until around noon. I remember that I scheduled surgery for two o’clock on a female patient. I removed a large, fatty tumor. I finished the surgery around five. Then I picked up my car from the staff lot at six. I remember expressing surprise when the pathologist called to say the tumor was benign. That means non-cancerous.”
“I know what benign means.” Gwen sighed, annoyed that the snotty woman automatically assumed her ignorance in medical matters. “My father is a doctor.”
“Oh, how nice for you,” Angela exclaimed sarcastically but at the same time curious about the lieutenant’s personal revelation. “Where does he practice?”
Gwen looked up from her notes. “He doesn’t.” She resumed taking notes without further explanation. “We checked out your patient list, doctor. Is there anyone on it that you could think of who might be angry with you?”
Angela shook her head no.
Gwen looked up and then recorded the doctor’s response. “How about hospital employees or co-workers? Your colleagues? Was anyone angry with you?”
Once again, the doctor shook her head no.
“What about your neighbors?”
Angela shrugged. “There was one thing.”
Gwen stopped writing in her notepad to look up into hesitant hazel eyes. “Yes, Dr. Bennett? Go on; you can tell me.” She noted the doctor’s hesitance and added, “I’m not here to judge you, doctor. I want this case over with just as you do. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Angela cleared her throat and then swallowed hard as she picked at the bedcovers. “I had an affair with one of my colleagues. An ex-lover found out about it. We were trying to get back together when she found out I was two-timing her. I believe that’s the proper expression these days.” She stared at the lieutenant, expecting a negative reaction or at least a hint of disapproval. Surprisingly, the lieutenant went back to her notebook to continue taking notes. She didn’t say anything.
“Which woman were you trying to get back with, Dr. Bennett?” Gwen flipped back several pages in the small notebook until she found the list of names. “Was it Ms. Fenton or Ms. London?”
“My God, you have been doing your homework, haven’t you?” Angela snapped angrily. “Did it titillate you to snoop into the private little corners of my life and find out that you might be dealing with a wild lesbian affair gone wrong?”
“Should it, Dr. Bennett?” the lieutenant asked as she calmly returned the doctor’s gaze.
“You don’t bait easily, do you, Lieutenant Weston?”
“I’ve lost it a few times.” Just ask my kids or my father, Gwen mused. And you, Dr. Bennett, are good at evading questions. She didn’t make her thoughts public.
Humph, I’d like to be around when that happens, Angela Bennett mused.I bet that’s a sight to see. I love to watch that, lieutenant. An image of the lieutenant naked in bed, sprawled across the sheets, flitted across her brain for a split second. The policewoman’s generous chest was heaving while she was in the throes of a passionate high. Angela frowned, wondering where the vision had come from.
“Are you all right, Dr. Bennett? I…look. I mean that I, er, I…” Gwen found she was stammering for some reason. “I don’t want to cause you any more pain than you’ve already been through today. We can finish this another time.” She flipped her notebook shut and approached the side of the bed. “You get some rest.” A large, gentle hand squeezed a shoulder. “I realize that we didn’t get off on the right foot and I’m sorry.” The tall lieutenant stared into wary hazel eyes. “I’ll send one of my men to finish the interview tomorrow, if you like.”
“There’s no way I’m letting you do that. ‘You brung me to this here party and I always leaves with them that brung me,’ to quote my grandmother,” Angela Bennett remarked wearily. She pressed a button to lower her bed and closed her eyes. “If anybody’s going interview me again, lieutenant, I want it to be you. Please, don’t send anyone else.”
Gwen considered the doctor’s request as she watched her drift off to sleep. Why does she want me back here? Everything she’s done so far says to me that she doesn’t want to help us catch whoever did this to her. Hmm, wonder why a woman …a doctor no less, that nearly got the life beat out of her… wouldn’t want the person caught?
She studied the sleeping woman. The doctor looked much better than she had twelve months ago. She was lovely, with the smooth, almost flawless caramel skin of a model and ripe, full lips. Gwen couldn’t tell much from the shapeless hospital clothing the doctor wore in sleep, but she’d bet the doctor was stunning underneath the baggy garb.
Gwen remembered the pictures of the doctor that she and the lab crew examined in the doctor’s apartment when they were looking for information about her. The pictures showed that the doctor’s shapely legs were made for short skirts. She had a nice round behind and a full bosom. The good-looking doctor smiled broadly into the camera. She stood with her arm around a tall, pretty, dark brown-skinned woman. If she remembered correctly, the other woman in several of the pictures was Dorothea London. The lab guys found other pictures of the doctor with at least two other women, all in intimate poses. One of them was with Ms. Marilyn Fenton, a tall, light-skinned Black woman with startling green eyes. The first investigation revealed that the doctor had told Ms. London and Ms. Fenton that she was in love with each one of them at the same time. The doctor convinced the women that she was leaving each woman for the other one.
Gwen sighed as she stared at the sleeping woman. The doctor confirmed what the original investigation showed as far as her relationship went with the two women in her life. The lieutenant wondered if the two women forgave the doctor. Had they contacted her since she was back in the world again? She smiled at the thought.
Well, she wasn’t going to resolve anything tonight. She might as well turn in the evidence from the road to the forensic lab. She patted her pocket just to make sure the evidence from her roadside inspection was still there. Even if the evidence didn’t amount to much, a good cop always established a documented chain of custody for the legal system. In her twenty years of experience, she’d seen good cases thrown out for a lack of it. A sharp defense attorney could cast doubt on the validity of the evidence chain when the cop couldn’t prove he had sole possession until it went to the property clerk.
That’d be all she needed on this case, she thought, sighing. It was bad enough the only witness didn’t want to cooperate. Even if Angela Bennett did cooperate, Gwen doubted if she could provide much more than shadowy images and faulty recollections of the assault. She glanced down at her watch. If she wanted to get sleep tonight, she’d better get a move on. The police lab was all the way downtown inside One Police Plaza. It was a lengthy trip from the Coma Rehab Center in Riverdale to the crime lab. She stretched her arms behind her back and then wiggled them. She sighed as she wearily climbed into the unmarked patrol car and headed downtown.
She parked under the Brooklyn Bridge in the area designated for police parking on the Manhattan side. She nodded to the guard in the booth and then walked up the side stairs near the municipal parking lot. She strolled through the quiet red and orange brick courtyard. She passed the huge red steel artwork and headed into Headquarters’ lobby after she presented ID to police security posted in the booth outside the entrance. It was a beautiful warm night. If she had the time, she’d love to walk over to City Hall Park. The view of the mayor’s centuries-old office building was stunning with the office workers gone for the day.
She loved the old buildings surrounding the plaza. A dark night like tonight with only the moonlight and the old-fashioned gaslights from the newly renovated park was the best way to view them. In the winter, City Hall reminded Gwen of one of those Currier and Ives Christmas cards. There’d still be some traffic but nowhere near as much as during the daytime. The only pedestrians she’d run into were the residents of Chinatown, who used the courtyard as a shortcut home or other cops going to police headquarters. Yeah, the park was beautiful on a winter’s night. She took a deep breath as she looked up at the full moon and grinned. God, she loved the city and being a cop in it.
She flashed her badge at the duty officer, signed in the logbook, and then took the elevator to the Forensic Lab. She discovered her favorite forensic wizard, Park Chin, had gone home for the night. She left the evidence bag with Chin’s lab assistant, with explicit instructions for Chin to call her immediately. She drove around the park and over to several blocks to the Westside Highway, heading uptown to Innwood. She was thinking how she should have called Park before she drove all the way downtown tonight. But it was good to get the evidence to the lab so she wouldn’t have to worry about the chain of custody. She just wished she could speak to Park and find out if her theory made sense. Throughout the years, he had been her sounding board on interesting cases and his insights usually proved invaluable.
She unlocked her front door and then re-secured it. She checked the entire house as she always did. She made sure all the doors and windows closed and locked before she went to bed. Old habits are hard to break. She smiled as she walked into her bedroom. Across the street, someone in a car with tinted windows watched the tall female cop exit from the unmarked patrol car. The same person wondered what she’d discovered about the Bennett case.
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