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5. Justice Served
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JUSTICE SERVED

by

RADCLY f FE

2005

What Reviewers Say About BOLD STROKES’ Authors

ú

KIM BALDWIN

“Her…crisply written action scenes, juxtaposition of plotlines, and smart dialogue make this a story the reader will absolutely enjoy and long remember.” – Arlene Germain, book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and the Midwest Book Review ú

ROSE BEECHAM

“…a mystery writer with a delightful sense of humor, as well as an eye for an interesting array of characters…” – MegaScene

“…her characters seem fully capable of walking away from the particulars of whodunit and engaging the reader in other aspects of their lives.” – Lambda Book Report

“…creates believable characters in compelling situations, with enough humor to provide effective counterpoint to the work of detecting.” – Bay Area Reporter

ú

JANE FLETCHER

“…a natural gift for rich storytelling and world-building…one of the best fantasy writers at work today.” – Jean Stewart, author of the Isis series

ú

RADCLY fFE

“Powerful characters, engrossing plot, and intelligent writing…”

– Cameron Abbott, author of To the Edge and An Inexpressible State of Grace

“…well-honed storytelling skills…solid prose and sure-handedness of the narrative…” – Elizabeth Flynn, Lambda Book Report

“…well-plotted…lovely romance…I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!” – Ann Bannon, author of The Beebo Brinker Chronicles.

“…a consummate artist in crafting classic romance Þ ction…her numerous best selling works exemplify the splendor and power of Sapphic passion…” – Yvette Murray, PhD, Reader’s Raves JUSTICE SERVED

© 2005 BY RADCLYFFE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

ISBN 1-933110-15-5

THIS TRADE PAPERBACK ORIGINAL IS PUBLISHED BY

BOLD STROKES BOOKS, INC.,

PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA

FIRST EDITION: JUNE 2005, BOLD STROKES BOOKS, INC.

THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. NAMES, CHARACTERS, PLACES, AND

INCIDENTS ARE THE PRODUCT OF THE AUTHOR’S IMAGINATION OR

ARE USED FICTITIOUSLY. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD, BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS, EVENTS, OR LOCALES

IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.

THIS BOOK, OR PARTS THEREOF, MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY

FORM WITHOUT PERMISSION.

CREDITS

EDITORS: STACIA SEAMAN AND RUTH STERNGLANTZ

PRODUCTION DESIGN: STACIA SEAMAN

COVER PHOTOS: LEE LIGON

COVER DESIGN BY SHERI ( [email protected]) By the Author

Romances

Safe Harbor

Passion’s Bright Fury

Beyond the Breakwater

Love’s Masquerade

Innocent Hearts

shadowland

Love’s Melody Lost

Fated Love

Love’s Tender Warriors

Distant Shores, Silent Thunder

Tomorrow’s Promise

Honor Series

Justice Series

Above All, Honor

A Matter of Trust (prequel)

Honor Bound

Shield of Justice

Love & Honor

In Pursuit of Justice

Honor Guards

Justice in the Shadows

Justice Served

Change Of Pace: Erotic Interludes

(A Short Story Collection)

Acknowledgments

With each Justice entry I write, I say, “That’s it. I’m done with this series.” It’s difÞ cult to write on many levels, but each time I begin a new story in the series, the characters spring to life and I lose myself in their journey.

My beta readers sustain me through the long weeks of uncertainty as each tale unfolds and I question if I will ever be able to do the story justice. They never let me down, providing insight, encouragement, suggestions, and critiques with tender care. I count on them to keep me from going astray. Thank you Athos, Diane, Denise, Eva, Jane, JB, Paula, Robyn, and Shelley.

In addition, I’d like to extend my appreciation to all the members of the Radlist for constancy and inspiration, to Ruth Sternglantz and Stacia Seaman for Þ ne editorial input, and to Linda Hill, for her vision and commitment to lesbian Þ ction.

Lee has never complained about the sacriÞ ces she’s made to help me realize a dream. For that, I am ever grateful. Amo te.

Radclyffe 2005

Dedication

For Lee

For Taking a Chance

Justice Served

CHAPTER ONE

Monday

I don’t think the doctor wants you going up and down stairs yet,”

warned the small blond in the skintight black Capri slacks, white ribbed tank top, and open-toed stack heels. October was around the corner, but Sandy Sullivan rarely wore more than the bare essentials.

“Have to try,” OfÞ cer Dellon Mitchell grunted. Grimacing with the effort, she swung her injured left leg free of the crutch as she maneuvered up the Þ rst stair in the hospital stairwell. “You live on the third ß oor, remember?”

“We can stay at your place, Dell. You have an elevator and a doorman, remember?” Hands on hips, Sandy stepped back to allow the young, dark-haired police ofÞ cer to set her crutches onto the next stair, but stayed close enough to catch her should Mitchell lose her balance and topple over. Considering that Mitchell was a head taller and twenty pounds of muscle heavier, Sandy might have trouble breaking her fall, but she was not about to let anything else happen to her new lover.

“I don’t want to lie around in my apartment.” Sweating, Mitchell paused long enough to brush her forearm across her forehead. The shock of jet-black hair promptly tumbled back into her eyes. Her bad leg felt like it weighed Þ fty pounds, and she couldn’t believe how much her arms were shaking. She didn’t want Sandy to see that or she had a feeling she would be forcibly dragged back to bed. Even if Sandy was half her size, when she was Þ red up, she was unstoppable. “I want to be able to get back to work.”

Mitchell also didn’t want to point out that it would be better for both of them if they remained visible on the streets in Sandy’s neighborhood, a part of town known for its small-time hustlers, corner drug dealers, and prostitutes. Mitchell had just begun an undercover assignment, and Sandy was supposed to be her girlfriend. The fact that

• 11 •

RADCLY fFE

the cover story had suddenly become the truth complicated issues, but they still needed to maintain appearances.

“What’s the matter? Are you afraid you’ll get a bad reputation if you have a hooker in your swanky apartment?” Sandy’s tone was less accusatory than anxious as she watched Mitchell, still in her hospital gown. The young cop was as pasty white as she had been the night before, her dark blue eyes clouded with pain that she thought Sandy couldn’t see. “Getting soft, rookie? I didn’t think you cared what your doorman thinks.”

“I don’t,” Mitchell said through gritted teeth. “Especially about you. But I care about people tying me or you to the action the other night.”

Thirty-six hours before, Mitchell had been stabbed while apprehending several key suspects in an Internet pornography ring.

Those arrests had climaxed weeks of work by an unusual team of Philadelphia police ofÞ cers and civilian consultants led by Mitchell’s mentor and role model, Detective Sgt. Rebecca Frye. Mitchell wanted back on that team more than she’d ever wanted anything in her life, except the young woman who peered at her anxiously with a frown on her pale, worried face. And the fastest way to get back on the team was to get back on her feet. “If I didn’t blow my cover already, I don’t want to now.”

“Screw your cover. You’re shaking, Dell.”

“I’m okay.”

“No, you’re not.” Sandy moved closer and wrapped her arm around Mitchell’s waist. “You’re just as stubborn and blockheaded as a certain other cop I’ve met. But you don’t have to be like Frye all the time.”

“It’s not about Frye.” Mitchell allowed herself to lean against Sandy while she caught her breath and swiped futilely at the sweat now beaded on her entire face. “I’m just not used to these crutches.”

“Yeah. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that you just got operated on yesterday morning and lost a couple of buckets of blood before that, either.” Sandy snorted in disgust. “Jesus, cops are such a pain in the ass.”

“Are you going to bitch at me the whole time I’m laid up?” Mitchell feigned distress, but she was grinning. She leaned back against the wall,

• 12 •

Justice Served

angling her body to take the weight off her leg while making room for Sandy to snuggle up against her.

“I don’t know,” Sandy replied, wrapping her arms around Mitchell’s waist before kissing her neck. They’d been lovers for less than a week, and Sandy couldn’t look at her without getting wet. “It depends on how long it takes you to get better. If it takes too long, I could get very cranky.”

“You think I won’t be able to take care of business?” Mitchell dipped her head, brought her mouth to Sandy’s, and ran her tongue lightly over the surface of Sandy’s bottom lip. Sandy moaned softly, and Mitchell’s heart rate skyrocketed. Oh man, now I will fall down.

With the heat of Sandy’s body warming her all the way through, she didn’t care a bit if they ended up in a heap on the ß oor. As she ß icked the tip of her tongue over the inside of Sandy’s lip, she snaked a hand beneath the back of Sandy’s tank top. She could practically span the entire width of her girlfriend’s small waist with one hand. “God, you feel good,” she muttered.

“I don’t think this activity is on the prescribed list of treatments for stab wounds,” a voice on the verge of laughter announced from behind them.

Mitchell, sliding her arm protectively around Sandy’s shoulders, jerked her head up. Her gaze met the laughing brown eyes of her surgeon, Ali Torveau. Mitchell blushed.

“Uh…morning.”

“Good,” Sandy grumbled, lifting her chin in Dr. Torveau’s direction. “Maybe Dell will listen to you.” Carefully, she disentangled herself from her girlfriend and moved away. “She won’t admit she’s about to keel over.”

“Sandy,” Mitchell complained with a sigh.

“It’s true, Dell.”

Torveau leaned against the wall in the stairwell and folded her arms across her chest, her eyes narrowing as she watched Mitchell maneuver down to the landing. “How do you feel?”

When Mitchell hesitated, Ali added, “And don’t try to snow me.”

“Uh…”

“That bad, huh?” Ali pushed away from the wall and eased over to Mitchell. Casually, she slipped her hand under Mitchell’s elbow.

“Come on. Let’s go back to your room and have a look.”

• 13 •

RADCLY fFE

Once Mitchell was back in bed, Ali collected disposable gloves and dressings from a cart in the hallway and prepared to change the dressing on Mitchell’s left thigh. She glanced sideways at Sandy, who was standing by the head of the bed, her hand on the police ofÞ cer’s shoulder. “You okay with this?”

“I’ve probably seen worse.”

Ali merely nodded. There was something in the young woman’s eyes that spoke of hard truth. A minute later, she had the bandage open and perused the row of sutures that extended for ten inches from the top of Mitchell’s midthigh down the inner surface. Carefully, she probed along both sides of the incision, then straightened. “The wound’s nice and clean. Let’s see how the artery is doing.” When she Þ nished palpating the pulses in Mitchell’s foot, she nodded with evident satisfaction. “Everything is in working order.”

“See. I knew that.” Mitchell’s voice was breathy with relief.

Sandy snorted again.

“However, your blood count this morning was lousy. If you were any older, I’d transfuse you. But I’d rather not unless it becomes a problem.” As she spoke, the surgeon rewrapped Mitchell’s thigh. “You feel crappy because you’re weak, and you’re not used to that.”

“When will I feel better?” Unconsciously, Mitchell had reached out for Sandy’s hand, and now she entwined her Þ ngers with Sandy’s much smaller ones. The strength in Sandy’s grasp was comforting, and she held on tightly.

“It will probably take several months for your counts to come back up to normal, but you should start feeling better day by day.” Ali smiled. “It just takes a little patience.”

“Oh yeah, she’s got lots of that.” Although her tone was laced with sarcasm, Sandy regarded Mitchell tenderly.

“It seems to be an occupational trait,” Ali replied. “If you’ve got someplace to stay where you won’t have to do too much walking, you can go today.”

“Okay! Yeah, we can make that work.” Mitchell looked to her girlfriend for conÞ rmation. “Right, San?”

Sandy sighed. “Yeah, yeah, rookie. If that’s what you want.”

The truth was, Sandy wanted Mitchell out of the hospital every bit as much as Mitchell wanted to go. The place scared her under the best

• 14 •

Justice Served

of circumstances, and seeing her normally strong and capable lover weak and in pain was scaring her even more.

Softly, she stroked Mitchell’s cheek. “We’ll Þ gure something out, baby.”

v

Dr. Catherine Rawlings pushed a stack of Þ le folders aside and reached for her phone. “Yes, Joyce?”

“Rebecca’s here,” her secretary announced, adding without needing to be asked, “and you’ve got thirty minutes before your Þ rst appointment.”

“Thanks. Tell her to come in.”

Catherine waited behind her desk for the simple pleasure of watching her lover cross the room. They had met in this room not quite half a year before, when Detective Sgt. Rebecca Frye had been in the midst of a harrowing serial-murder investigation. They had begun their joint involvement in the case as polite adversaries and ended as passionate lovers. As if the whirlwind onslaught of unexpected love had not been enough, Rebecca had nearly died from a gunshot wound, and both she and Catherine were still recovering, physically and emotionally. Even had she not nearly lost Rebecca, Catherine doubted that the pleasure of seeing her for the Þ rst time after they’d been apart would have been any less. Rebecca, more than any woman she had ever known, moved her in the deepest reaches of her being. She smiled as the door opened and her tall blond lover, slender in her trademark tailored dark suit and coolly beautiful, entered her ofÞ ce.

“Hey,” Rebecca said as she walked around the side of Catherine’s desk and leaned down to kiss her. “Got a few minutes?”

“Mmm. On your way to see Dellon?” Catherine replied.

“That too.” With an uncharacteristically self-conscious expression, Rebecca suddenly stepped back and slid her hands into the pockets of her trousers. “But I wanted to talk to you Þ rst. I…have some news.”

“Oh?” Regarding her with concern, Catherine rose, walked around her desk, and slid an arm around her lover’s waist. “Did something happen at your ungodly-early morning brieÞ ng with Captain Henry?”

“A lot,” Rebecca conceded. “We worked out a compromise to keep the team together so that we can Þ nish hunting down the leak in

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