The Soho club scene was in shock today after the body of club owner Spike B was found on the sidewalk outside his club last night. It appears that Mr B, who owns the glamour club GlamKat, had fallen from the roof of the building housing his club. The cause of death has not been released. This follows the death eight days ago of Katrina Silber in what police are treating as a drugs-related murder. Ms Silber was a dancer at Fur, a few doors down from Mr B's club. A police spokesman refused to speculate as to whether the two deaths are related. Christmas is a busy time for the entertainment industry and business in New York's nightclubs could suffer as a result of these deaths. Our media correspondent reports from the Meatpacking District in Manhattan..."
"Makes you wonder if elementary school teaching was a better career." Faith threw herself on the armchair in the rec room where the six o'clock news was the primary attraction.
"Not when metal detectors at school entrances routinely find knives and guns in kids' pockets," Tara remarked.
"I suppose the police will be paying us a visit again," Kendra added.
"Well, if they look anything like that Detective Lockley, they can come around anytime." This was from Forrest, one of the bouncers.
"Thought Detective Gunn is more your vice," Faith smirked, laughing at her own pun.
The bouncer marched over to where Faith was sitting and stood up to his full height. "Shut the hell up, Faith."
Faith continued to sprawl over the chair, clearly in a belligerent mood. "Touched a nerve, big boy?"
"Shh, they're talking about K-Fed," someone hushed the bickering duo, who continued to shoot daggers at each other.
Sure enough, the police in the form of Detective Ethan Rayne showed up the next day. He nodded an acknowledgment to Faith, who took him to Mr Wilkins' office. They were holed up for about an hour behind closed doors. His interview with April ended with her staggering from the room in tears. Tara was waiting outside and was the first to the shaking girl. Despite her pleading, April refused to say what had upset her so, and Tara was already troubled when she went into Detective Rayne's temporary office.
The detective had his feet up on the desk and was wiping a smug expression off his face. He looks way too comfortable over there. "Ms Maclay, take a seat."
"I thought detectives work in pairs," she said outright. He felt too much like a rogue, and she was uncomfortable that no one else seemed to be partnering his handling of the case.
"Oh, Ripper is momentarily indisposed, but the case waits for no one, you know," he shrugged.
She knew she needed to be bold. "Which case are you working on today, Detective?"
"Both of them actually. I thought you may be happy that we found Katrina's killer," he declared, obviously eagerly waiting for her reaction.
"I'm glad. Is that why you're here, to get statements for the arraignment?"
"Ah, I forget you're a part-time law student. Planning to specialize in criminal law? You'll have plenty of ready clients among your," he sneered and spat the last word, "friends."
She refused to let his taunts get to her. "I haven't decided yet."
"Well, your services won't be required this time. It's very simple - Spike killed Katrina in a lover's tryst after they both got high on a cocktail of Special K, Midnight Blue and whatever the hell they stick in their holes. Eventually he couldn't live with the guilt, so he offed himself. We found a note that told us everything."
She couldn't help gaping at him with wide eyes; it took her a second to snap out of her shock. "From what I hear, Spike's as gay as sunshine, they can't be lovers," she muttered incomprehensibly.
He swung his legs down, placed his hands in a gratuitous steeple and peered at her with a superior expression. "We both know that appearances aren't everything, especially when it comes to sexual preferences, don't we?"
She gripped the armrests of her chair, he was clearly trying to get a rise from her. "I appreciate you coming to tell us in person."
"I just came to tie up loose ends and to inform your boss. He's a person of importance and deserves to be kept abreast of the situation," he said. Then he relaxed somewhat and said, perhaps too nonchalantly, "I'm surprised no one mentioned about Spike and Katrina hooking up. You never said anything, for instance."
"I had no idea, that's why."
"That's hard to believe." His gaze bore into her, but she didn't waver. "Ah well, we won't worry about that now, will we?"
"So, case solved overnight? You must be one hell of a detective," she said evenly. Something didn't sit right. Spike's death was too convenient; there were still unanswered questions; and why was April so scared?
He stood up and leaned over the desk so his face was inches from hers. "Yes. The case is closed. And take my advice, don't mess with things that are over your head," he said ominously.
"Is that a threat, Detective?"
"Lady, you don't know what a threat is."
Tara shook off the unpleasantness of the encounter with the obnoxious detective and concentrated on enjoying her few days' break. She spent a quiet and achingly blissful Christmas with Willow. She was working on Christmas Eve but the sight of Willow braving the snow to meet her when she left work at 2am was enough to melt the coldest, unfeeling heart.
"You're one lucky bastard," Kendra gave her a quick hug before hurrying off to her own holiday festivities.
Tara's eyes were already on Willow's as her lover looked left and right before crossing the street. Willow had a thick white scarf wrapped around her face and a ridiculous bobble hat on her head. Tara smiled at how Willow, in her own words, still occasionally spazzed out when it came to fashion. She looked so cute, and Tara smiled again at how badly smitten she was.
"Was that Kendra who had her arms around you? I hope she didn't cop a grope?" Willow winked.
"She wishes." Tara took Willow's face in both her hands and kissed her soundly. "Hmm, you taste good. Been munching on chocolate while you wait?"
Willow giggled. "You keeping track of me now?"
"Doing my wifely duties."
"Wifely? Jeez woman, I haven't even proposed yet!"
Tara smiled even more. They were teasing, but underneath the banter there was a seriousness about this banter. It was too early to touch on matters as heavy as long term commitment, and they skirted the topic by unspoken consent. It would have to be addressed eventually. But for now Tara snaked her arm around Willow's waist, simply to feel their closeness. "Well, while you think about how big a diamond you're gonna get me, I'll get us a taxi home."
"Smooth talker," Willow grinned.
Getting home late didn't mean skimping on properly greeting each other and celebrating the start of the holiday season. They spent a few hours enjoying each other's taste and touch before falling into deep, satisfied slumber.
They slept very late on Christmas Day. Since there were only two of them they decided on simple food that they enjoyed rather than following any tradition. Willow showed off her cookery skills by making a hearty chicken and sausage bake which she served with potatoes roasted in goose fat and, their concession to Christmas, brussels sprouts.
Tara made a Yule log and a double portion of chocolate icing. When Willow asked her about the extra icing, she answered by solemnly stripping off her clothes and spreading the sweet, gooey mess on her breasts and stomach. Willow wasted no time in accepting the invitation to create bark-like patterns using a plastic fork, and was equally enthusiastic in slowly licking off the chocolate. By the time she finished, Tara was about to explode and she was begging Willow to taste her in other sweeter, hotter, needier places. Later, they crowned Willow champion icing lover but not before Tara had her turn in testing out her own icing tasting skills.
"What a pleasure December should be for you. Jupiter, the giver of gifts and luck, will act like a kindly uncle who will arrive with his big coat stuffed with goodies in all his pockets: chocolates, assorted pretty little boxes tied with bows, and lots of money - all earmarked for you! Romantically, the lineup of stars in your eighth house will make you unusually affectionate. You won't hold your feelings in, nor should you. If you and a loved one have been planning a trip, perhaps a romantic getaway, this is the week for it."
"What does that tell us?" Tara risked a glimpse at Willow while she was driving up the motorway at a speed that was over the speed limit yet not so much over to attract the attention of the police or speed cameras. Willow was reading from a magazine and looked fabulous in a thick sweater and sunglasses.
It was the day after Christmas and they loaded up their rented SUV bright and early to get ready for the drive to Vermont. They allowed the whole day for the 300 mile drive to Sugarbush Valley, determined to enjoy the journey. Tara had almost wanted to throw Willow's immaculately planned itinerary out of the window but wisely decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. After all, this was their first trip together, as friends and a couple. There were bound to be minor differences in habits, and their thinking may take some time to become synchronized. Some couples never achieved this level of attunement, but Tara had a good feeling about their connection.
"That we're compatible travelers - and we made the right decision to go on this trip." Willow moved the hand that was on Tara's thigh an inch higher, to Tara's pleasure and ... discomfort. Tara squirmed in the tight confines of the driver's seat, randomly glad that she was wearing loose fitting cargo pants rather than jeans. Jeans had hard seams in sensitive places.
She was torn between giving in to the fabulous sensation that was rapidly spreading all over her, and the need to be a safe driver. She settled on placing her hand over Willow's and keeping it from moving further up. Her lover smiled mischievously.
"And does your horoscope tell you that we will have a good trip?" she asked conversationally.
Willow pretended to read more. "Hmmm, let's see. It tells me that if I'm traveling with the right person, the trip will always be memorable and exciting."
Tara laughed. "Is that really what it says?"
"Ack, a horoscope should always say what I want it to say." Willow flipped the magazine over the back of her seat and returned to the matter of keeping Tara just a tad teased while she drove.
They made good time and was unpacking in their cozy room at the country inn by late afternoon.
Skiing on fresh untouched powder could be described as one of life's most indulgent pleasures. The cleansing mountain air seemed to permeate into Tara's lungs, chasing away the pressures of everyday life with each breath. The resort wasn't as empty as they anticipated but there weren't any lines at the ski-lifts and they were able to make several leisurely runs on both the powder and groomed slopes. They retired early after dinner in their hotel to rest out-of-shape ski muscles and to exercise other, more intimate, ones.
The next day they deliberated between taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride or a more adventurous snowshoe hiking tour. Tara was afraid that Willow's horse fear may skew their decision but the sheer romance of the sleigh ride was too irresistible. Covered in thick travel blankets, tasting the wind in their hair and listening to the jingle of the horses' bells, she felt like she was transported back in history to the early pioneer days.
It was so easy to be in love. In the idyllic, snow-covered, postcard-perfect New England countryside, it was like they were on their honeymoon.