Note: This story is a sequel to The Agent. While it is not necessary to have read it first, there are references in it that will not be clear without the background provided in The Agent.

Subtext: This story depicts sexual relations between two women who are in love. If that offends you, there are plenty of other stories you might want to read. If you are under 18 or it is illegal where you live, please stop and read no further.

Thanks: I would like to thank Alina, Buff, and Lunacy for beta reading and providing feedback. The story is much stronger because of their valuable input. Thanks also to Lori, Nancy and Verda for their help. I would also like to thank the people in the Expert's Directory who never tired of my endless questions. Lastly I'd like to thank Lunacy for creating and maintaining the Beta Reader’s Directory and the Expert’s Directory.

Comments. Feedback is encouraged. Questions and comments are welcome.

© July 25, 1999


Part 1 of 4

C Paradee

Tony Viglioni walked down the familiar hallway toward Huey’s office. Knowing she probably wouldn’t have a reason to visit this part of Quantico again, her thoughts flickered back in time to when she had last seen her ex-boss. It had been less than two months ago, yet it seemed a lifetime. The only life she had known revolved around her assignments. Tony remembered the uneasiness and fear she had felt when she made the decision to transfer. She hadn’t known if she could adjust to a "normal" life. Turned out all that worry had been for nothing. Not only was she adjusting, but she was happier than she ever thought possible. Smiling to herself, she acknowledged the transition wouldn’t be going so smoothly without Megan’s help.

Tony focused her thoughts on the upcoming meeting. She was looking forward to seeing Huey again. It would be nice to voice her concerns to him. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m not, it has to be someone from inside the agency. What would the motivation be? Well Huey should be able to figure that out. I’ll turn it over to him and be done with it.

Tony didn’t know many of the other covert agents. They basically operated in cells. There were usually just four agents to a cell, and none of them knew all the other members. Each knew only one other. That way, if anyone was compromised, the information they had was very limited and it prevented the whole cell from being exposed.

Tony stopped in front of a door with a placard attached to it identifying it as the office of the Director of Covert Affairs. Walking over to the secretary’s desk and stopping in front of it, Tony looked at the elderly woman fondly and smiled. "Hi Jean. How are you doing?"

Jean returned the smile. She had always liked this agent. The tall attractive woman was always pleasant and took the time to speak. "Hi Tony. It’s good to see you."

Picking up the phone, she said, "Mr. Straton, Agent Viglioni is here to see you." Nodding her head, she said, "Ok," and hung up the phone.

"You can go on in."

Tony flashed a smile and said, "Thanks."


Huey settled his large frame comfortably in the chair, leaned back and propped his feet up on the desk. He had an hour until his next appointment. It was the first one today he was actually looking forward to.

Tony Viglioni had called a couple of days ago asking to see him. Smiling, he knew the reason for the visit. Life in Cleveland had turned out too mundane for her. He’d known all along that she’d never be happy outside the fast life in covert operations. Maybe I’ll tease her a little first. Let her think we don’t need any more operatives now. Yeah. That would work. Smiling to himself, he picked up the cordless phone and began going through his messages, returning calls.

When Jean announced Tony, Huey stood up and walked to the door to greet the special agent. Smiling at her, he was amazed that he had forgotten just how attractive she was. Tony was wearing a mauve suit with a very light, rose-colored blouse accenting her olive complexion. Her thick black hair flowed loosely over her shoulders with longish bangs almost covering her eyebrows. Her skirt was fashionably short ending just above the knee, yet professional in appearance.

"Are you going to stand there and stare or are you going to ask me to have a seat?" Tony asked smirking, her blue eyes twinkling. She was used to this reaction from Huey and loved to tease him.

Huey’s face warmed at the comment, but not one to be caught short, he replied, "Hey, you can’t blame me for looking. And besides, if you didn’t come in here looking so good I might not have noticed."

Tony chuckled and said, "I look the same way I always look, but thanks for the compliment." She walked over to the chair in front of his desk and sat down. "Same old Huey. So did you get the files on my last two cases? I asked Jean to make sure they were available for this meeting."

"Yeah. I got them. But what do they have to do with anything? And how are you Tony?" Huey asked trying to keep a smug expression off his face, but not being entirely successful.

"I’m wonderful. And why are you grinning like a Cheshire cat? Got something up your sleeve? Whatever it is, it won’t work."

Huey’s smile lost some of its luster. Wait a minute. That didn’t sound like someone who was unhappy and wanted to come back to the fold. It was time to ask a few specific questions.

"How do you like Cleveland?" He asked, watching Tony closely.

Tony smiled and said, "I like Cleveland just fine. You giving me that assignment was the best thing that ever happened to me."

Huey, who had long ago learned to control his facial features when meeting with the operatives in his section, was just able to prevent his mouth from dropping open in surprise. The smile remained plastered on his face, but it no longer reached his eyes.

"Care to fill me in?" He asked in a neutral tone. Damn, I can’t believe she’s content there. What in the hell could have happened in Cleveland? I told everyone she was coming back.

Tony smiled and said, "I met someone wonderful. Guess I should thank you for giving me that assignment."

Huey watched the change come over Tony when she spoke. Gone was the teasing, all business operative he was used to seeing. She literally glowed. It was obvious that whomever she had met, this was not just a diversion. This was very surprising. One of the things that had made Tony so effective was her ability to not become involved. Whoever it is, they must really be something.

Huey left his position propped against the desk and walked around it to sit down in his chair. He needed to gather his thoughts. Things were definitely not going the way he’d planned

All of a sudden it dawned on Tony why Huey thought she’d made the appointment. Raising an eyebrow in question, she said, "You thought I wanted to come back?" Her voice rose as she finished the query conveying her surprise.

"Well Tony, think about it. What other reason could you possibly want to see me for? It made sense to me. You’re one of my best operatives. Couldn’t see you rotting away in a desk job."


"Was, Huey. The key word is was. I am now just a regular special agent like almost everyone else in the agency. I have a place to call home now, and I’m not going to throw that away. I never knew what I was missing. I do now. I’m not the operative you remember," she smiled kindly at her ex-boss, knowing he was disappointed.

"Well, what did you want to see me about then?" Huey asked, now genuinely curious.

"Could I see the files on the cases I asked for? I just need to verify something first," Tony replied, but imperceptibly tensed. This would let her know if her suspicions were correct. I hope I’m wrong.

"Technically, since you’re no longer assigned to this office, I can’t authorize that. Is there something specific you want to know?" Huey asked, picking up one of the reports and flipping through it. He had quickly scanned the files before the meeting and they looked like routine cases.

Tony raised an eyebrow and said, "I’m the one who wrote the reports."

"Well then it seems to me you should know what they say," Huey answered reasonably.

Tony knew Huey was just following procedure, but she’d wanted to look at them first to see if they had been altered, and if they had been, how they copied her signature on the bottom.

Sighing, she said, "Would you read me the impressions at the end?"

Huey picked up one of the reports and flipped to the last page. "This organization is deemed to be no threat to the security of the United States or to the safety of other citizens."

Tony felt a sense of relief flood through her. "What does the other say?"

Huey picked up the other case folder and located the summary. He began reading, "Based on the irrefutable evidence that this organization is planning a major terrorist activity, I recommend termination at the earliest possible time."

Tony’s eyes narrowed and in a steely voice, she said, "I never wrote that." Her thoughts turned to what she had written and for Huey’s benefit, she added, "My impression was that there was absolutely no threat from that group. They were merely soldier wannabes."

Huey forgot his disappointment and said, "What are you saying? Do you think someone falsified your report? That’s a very serious accusation Tony."

Looking pointedly at Huey, she said, "Yes it is. Unfortunately, it happens to be true."

Standing up, she began pacing back and forth in front of his desk. "I just can’t imagine why someone would do that. You know how rare termination orders are. I can count on one hand the number of cases in which I recommended termination. Most of my cases that were possible threats I suggested further infiltration of."

Tony had unconsciously reverted to her most intimidating persona and she met Huey’s look with cold blue eyes.

Huey’s mind registered the change in the tall woman standing in front of him glaring before he was even cognizant of it. She was radiating an essence of danger. Huey felt a chill run through him.

"Hey, take it easy." She certainly hasn’t lost her edge. I’d hate to be on the receiving end when she’s like this.

Tony forced herself to relax. Just turn it over to him. That’s what you came here for. You’re out of it now. Taking a deep, calming breath, she said, "Sorry. It just infuriates me that some asshole is doing this."

Huey thought quickly. This was very delicate. Tony was one of the best operatives in the agency. He had no reason to doubt her. But no matter what he thought, it was going to be difficult to try and investigate something of this magnitude on the word of one agent.

"Why didn’t you say something before now?" Huey asked.

Tony sighed. "Because I wasn’t sure. I needed some time to think about it. I was going to check it out on my own. But I decided it would be better to turn it over to you." With a little encouragement from Megan, of course.

"Ok. I’ll look into it. There is a possibility you could be called back to Washington to testify if evidence is uncovered to support your accusation."

Tony shook her head, saying, "Yes, I know."

Huey stood, indicating the meeting was over. Tony walked with him to the door.

"Good seeing you. Take care of yourself."

"You too," Tony said before exiting the office.


The sun emerged from behind the clouds and reflected off the large bay window in the hotel room. Megan raised a hand covering her eyes from the unexpected glare. She was sitting at a small table in the hotel room looking at a pamphlet about tourist attractions. It had been a cloudy, rainy day and this was the first time the sun had appeared.

Standing up, Megan walked over to the window and opened it. The bright light filtered through the window accenting the red highlights in her hair. Little dust particles danced through the air visible in the arc of light from the window to the floor.

Megan smiled at the sight. When she was a child, she used to try and catch the little flying specks. She never could though. Laughing at the memory, Megan thought, the sun always makes you feel so good. It had been sunny when they’d left Cleveland that morning bound for Washington, D.C. and a bit of trivia popped to the forefront of her mind. She remembered reading once that Cleveland was a top contender for the fewest days of sunlight per year. Amused, she thought, what a thing to be known for. A few minutes later the wayward sun once again disappeared into the clouds.

Megan turned her back to the window and looked around the hotel room. Tony probably wouldn’t be back for another hour or two, and she didn’t want to watch TV. She remembered seeing an entrance to the indoor swimming pool when they had arrived at the Marriott. That’s what I’ll do. It wouldn’t hurt to get some exercise. I’ve been kind of lazy lately. That thought prompted another of a tall, dark, beautiful woman who had been taking up a large part of her time. Grinning, Megan thought, not that I’ve minded.

Megan opened the drawer and took out her black Speedo. Looking around for something to wear over it, she spotted a white, cotton, button down blouse of Tony’s hanging on the clothes rack. It was perfect. Tony was so much taller than she was, it hung halfway down to her knees.

Megan thoughts turned to the last time she had borrowed one of her partner’s tops. Tony told her that maybe it was time for them to go shopping since she didn’t have anything of her own to wear. But the half smile and dancing blue eyes gave her away. Funny thing is, I have way more clothes than she does. I just like to wear her things. It makes me feel closer to her. Shaking her head, and smiling, she thought, you are just a hopeless romantic.

After donning the Speedo, she put on the long white blouse. Taking a towel out of the bathroom, she slipped on her thongs and headed toward the pool. Megan shivered in the cool air of the hotel air conditioning and by the time she neared her destination, she had goose bumps over the exposed parts of her body.

The warm humid air around the pool was a welcome reprieve. Megan was surprised to be the only visitor. Setting her towel on one of the lounge chairs, she removed Tony’s blouse and her thongs and dove into the water.

Megan swam the first length slowly and leisurely wanting to give her muscles a chance to loosen up. Reaching the end of the pool, she kicked off the wall, her well-toned leg muscles propelling her a quarter of the length of the pool. With powerful arm strokes and a forceful kick, she began pushing the muscles in her body wanting to give them a good workout. After swimming several laps, she slowed her stroke, just enjoying the feel of the warm water against her body. Rolling onto her back, she began floating, only occasionally propelling herself with a lazy stroke that generated a ripple traveling the length of her body before disappearing.

Megan's thoughts drifted to her relationship with Tony. A warm smile covered her face. I am so in love. Chuckling to herself, Megan remembered the first time she had seen Tony. She hadn't even wanted to meet her that day, but Tony had been very persistent. Her curiosity, spurned on by a very alluring voice, had finally gotten the best of her, and she'd agreed. Her life hadn't been the same since. It was hard to believe how new their relationship really was. They had reached such a comfort level with each other, it seemed they had been together for much longer than they actually had.

Her thoughts turned to their vacation. Megan was looking forward to seeing some of the sights. The Smithsonian museums were a must see. They’d probably spend several days at the museums. From what Tony had told her, most of the other major attractions were in close proximity and it wouldn't be too hard to see most of the monuments even with the limited time they had. A half-hour later, her body pleasantly tired, Megan swam to the side of the pool and pulled herself out using the bars at the deep end of the pool.

After toweling off, she sat down in the chair and watched the antics of two young children who were playing in the water under the close supervision of a woman. Her identity was revealed when one of the children addressed her as Mom.

She smiled over at the busy mother who gave her a grin and shook her head. A short time later Megan decided to head back to the room so she could take a shower and do her hair before Tony got back. They were going to go to dinner and then come back to the room and relax.

It had been a longer day than they expected. The plane had been delayed in Cleveland for mechanical reasons, and their arrival was two hours later than originally planned. When they finally arrived at the hotel, it was time for Tony to start getting ready for her meeting with Huey. Since most of the day had been spent at the airport or on the plane, they decided to start their sightseeing the next day.

Megan took a leisurely shower washing all the chlorine from her body and hair. Drying off, she put on her underpants and bra. Unwrapping the towel from around her head, she began styling her hair with the blow dryer. Megan had already decided to wear it loosely around her shoulders.


Tony opened the door to the hotel room and heard the hair dryer. Walking over to the bathroom, she stepped in behind Megan, and placed her arms around her bare midsection and drew her close, kissing an exposed part of her neck.

Megan saw Tony’s image in the mirror a fraction of a second before she felt the warm moist mouth against her neck. Her mind barely had time to register surprise before her body acted of its own accord, and leaned into the one behind hers.

Smiling at Tony’s reflection in the mirror, Megan said, "Hi. I didn’t expect you back yet."

"Weeelll, I could always leave and come back later," Tony drawled, smirking.

"I don’t think so," Megan retorted. Turning around in Tony’s arms, she raised her hands to the back of Tony’s neck drawing her head down and meeting her lips with her own.

Ending the kiss, she asked, "How did it go?"

"Fine. We can talk about it over dinner. You hungry?" Tony asked, glad the business portion of the trip was over and ready to start the fun part.

Megan smiled, "I’m starved. I worked up quite an appetite at the pool this afternoon."

"Oh no. Hope we have enough money," Tony teased.

"Very funny!"

"Well…" Tony grinned when Megan gave her a mock stare and said, "Ok, ok. Let me find something to wear." Slowly drawing her eyes down Megan’s body, she said, "I think maybe you should get dressed too or we might not make it to dinner."

Megan looked at her partner, cocked her head to the side and said, "Ok. But keep that thought."

Tony winked and said, "Count on it."

At Tony’s suggestion earlier they had decided to go to Chesapeake Bay Seafood House. It wasn’t known for atmosphere but it had great seafood and the dress was casual.

Megan sat at the table across from Tony and sipped on her coffee looking at her partner. The room was well lit and had a steady turnover of diners.

"You weren’t kidding when you said they had great seafood," Megan said before adding, "I’m stuffed."

Tony looked at Megan and smiled. "I used to come here a lot when I was in D.C. It’s probably my favorite seafood house."

"You never did tell me how your meeting with Huey went," Megan said. They had talked about where they would go sightseeing over dinner, and just enjoyed the good food. But Megan wanted to make sure Tony was ok with her meeting and that she was comfortable with turning over her suspicions to someone else.

"It went ok. I told Huey what I thought and he said he’d check it out. He did mention that if anything came of it, I might be required to return and testify."

"Do you think that’s likely?" Megan knew that most cases never ran according to schedule and she was not enthused about the possibility of Tony having to return to Washington.

"It’s really hard to say. He only has that one case to go on. It’s not much. But Huey’s quite tenacious and he has access to a lot of resources. Time will tell I guess," Tony said, shrugging her shoulders.

Megan finished her coffee and Tony asked her, "You ready to go? We can start walking until we see a cab. It’s nice out tonight."

"Sure. I could use a walk after eating all that food," Megan commented.

Tony laughed and said, "We both ate a lot. It’ll do us both good."

The earlier rain had cleared some of the humidity from the air and the night was clear and warm. Noticing the streets were still busy, Megan commented, "There’s a lot of people out tonight."

"D.C. is known for its night life. It wouldn’t matter if it was three in the morning, there would still be people on the streets."

"But not us," Megan said, a sultry smile lighting up her face.

Tony looked at Megan and saw the sexy provocative smile. Her heart skipped a beat before quickening and she agreed, "No. Not us."

Brushing against Tony’s body without losing a step, Megan said, "We have other plans."

Tony smirked at her partner and said, "Yes we do, so let’s find a cab."

Both women felt the cab ride back to the hotel lasted forever prolonged by the teasing touches passed back and forth that held the promise of what was to come.

Entering the hotel room they kicked off their shoes and embraced. Tony lowered her head and when her mouth met Megan’s soft moist slightly parted lips she felt a sudden jolt of pleasurable sensations. Raising her head and looking into the eyes of her lover she was captivated by the swirling gold flecks in the sea of green. Tony’s heart fluttered wildly, and placing a hand on either side of Megan’s face, her voice husky with desire, she said, "I want you."

Megan felt shivers run up and down her body at the sound of Tony’s low throaty voice. Looking into blue eyes almost black with passion, she placed her hands in the thick dark hair guiding the taller woman’s head down and meeting her mouth with her own. The lingering kiss quickly became deeper and more urgent as tongues sought and gained entrance thrusting around and against each other in a sensuous dance.

The passionate kiss ending, Tony moved her arms from around her lover and began unbuttoning Megan’s blouse. Her eye’s never leaving her lover’s, she eased the blouse down over Megan’s arms, her fingertips trailing its path until it fell to the floor. Moving her hands behind her partner she unfastened the bra and with fingers just grazing skin, she freed it from her lover’s arms.

Megan’s breathing quickened at Tony’s touch, pleasurable sensations running rampant. "Tony…hurry," she murmured and placed her hands under Tony’s top slowly moving upward until she reached the full firm breasts. Taking one in each hand, she began gently kneading them encouraged by her partner’s sharp intake of breath.

Tony leaned into Megan’s hands, moaning, the throbbing between her legs growing in intensity. She moved her hands down to her partner’s slacks unbuttoning and unzipping them. Sliding a hand inside, she ran her fingers across the soft skin above the curly hair. Feeling the shudder course through her lover, she moved her hand lower the middle finger gliding between lips laden with moisture before beginning its upward journey.

"Oh God, Tony wait…" dropping her hands from Tony’s breasts, she began pulling her pants and underwear down. Tony quickly drew her top over her head and tossed it across the room. Removing her bra, she undid her slacks and kicked them free of her legs along with her underwear.

Reaching for Megan, she said, "You are so beautiful." Pulling her close, she began backing up toward the bed her lips meeting the full sensuous ones of her lover. When they reached the bed, Tony fell onto it pulling her lover with her. Lifting them the rest of the way onto the bed, she began turning until she was stopped by Megan’s sultry voice and a restraining hand on her shoulder. "No. I want you here." A shiver ran through Tony’s body at the words and the throbbing between her legs became more insistent, her heart thundering uncontrollably as she relinquished control to her partner.

Megan looked into her Tony’s passion filled eyes and placed a fleeting kiss on her lips. Kissing her neck, she could feel her lover’s racing pulse. Running her tongue across her upper lip, she slowly moved her body downward urging Tony’s legs apart with her own. Running her tongue around the nipple, she caught it in her mouth grazing it lightly with her teeth, every moan her partner made driving her on. Her fingers moved to the other breast rolling the nipple between them. Tony moaned, "Please…Megan, I can’t wait…now," her hips moving against Megan’s abdomen her hands wrapped in her hair.

Megan felt her own desire escalate with each thrust of her partner’s hips. Shifting her body over until her legs were straddling one of Tony’s and still sucking on the firm sweet breast, she moved her hand down to the dark curly hair and separated the folds with her fingers placing three into the warm wet opening. With each thrust of her fingers, and the corresponding rhythmic movement of Tony’s hips, Megan’s own center was stimulated pushing her toward the brink along with her lover. Her senses on fire and her voice just a throaty whisper, she said, "I love you Tony." Tony’s hips raised off the bed and biting down hard, she stifled a scream of sweet release, her partner following her a few seconds later. Her body still shuddering from the aftereffects of the powerful orgasm, Tony held on tightly to her lover and murmured, "I love you so much."


Even though it was the weekend, the metrorail was just as busy as it had been the previous two days. Several stops later, Tony and Megan exited the train and began walking toward the mall. Emerging into daylight, Megan commented, "We have to get through the last three today because I still want to see the monuments."

Tony smiled at her partner, the dancing hazel eyes and winning smile contagious. Anything Megan wanted to see was fine with her. Tony had been through all the museums and wanted her partner to enjoy their brief vacation.

Several hours later, Tony and Megan were sitting in the restaurant area of one of the Smithsonian’s eating cold turkey sandwiches and drinking Coke and Pepsi respectively. Tony nudged Megan under the table with her leg. Megan looked up and smiled, "And what was that for?"

"What are you thinking about?" Tony had watched Megan drift off and was curious.

"I just can’t believe that we’ve been here all morning and have only been in one museum. Some of those portraits were gorgeous. There’s just so much to see."

"We’ve still got all afternoon. We may have to be a little quicker about going through them though," she teased her partner.

"This is probably really boring for you since you’ve seen them all before," Megan commented hoping she wasn’t boring Tony to death. She knew Tony would never complain and she wanted her to have fun too. But this was the third day they had visited the mall.

Tony reached across the table, brushing a wisp of hair out of Megan’s face. She looked into the hazel eyes gazing at her and was overcome with the love she felt for the young woman. Her eyes conveying the depth of emotion she felt, she said, "Megan, nothing I do with you is boring. If we sat home after work every evening and watched TV I wouldn’t be bored if you were right there with me."

Megan felt a warm glow fill her inside at the softly spoken words. A smile covered her face. Tony always made her feel so special. She knew her cheeks had reddened with the compliment, and said the first thing that came into her mind, "You are so sweet."

It was Tony’s turn to blush and she said, "Sshh. Somebody might hear you," grinning to lighten the moment.

Megan chuckled knowing Tony’s self image did not necessarily include the word sweet. "I know, I know, we have to keep your image intact."

Tony walked beside Megan through the American History museum content to follow her partner’s lead. She remained attentive to Megan, but had donned her public persona with all senses tuned to their surroundings.

Hearing a commotion Tony quickly located the source. A little boy was expressing his unhappiness vocally while lying in the middle of an adjoining aisle. His small legs were steadily beating a rhythm of their own against the floor.

Her attention momentarily diverted to the child, Tony didn’t see the man who came barreling around the corner of another aisle in time to stop him from clipping Megan hard almost knocking her into the American flag display she was looking at.

Reflexes automatically took over and she grabbed her partner’s arm stopping her momentum into the display. Tony’s eyes narrowed as she tracked the path of the rude tourist. Knowing Megan was ok, she said, "I’ll be right back," with every intention of explaining some manners to the idiot.

The hard impact against her shoulder had caught Megan unaware and before she even realized her balance had been disrupted, she felt a strong hand on her arm steadying her.

At her partner’s words, she quickly placed a hand on Tony’s arm. "It’s ok. Forget about him." She had seen the look on her partner’s face and knew just how overprotective she could be. "He didn’t do it on purpose. He never saw me."

In an unforgiving voice Tony growled, "He could have stopped and apologized," but the hand on her arm had dissipated some of the anger she felt and the rest drained away when she looked at the gentle kind face of her lover smiling up at her.

Megan was enjoying herself. Even though Tony was a little overprotective, it was so reassuring to know she was there for her. She felt safe and protected.

Tony heard a peal of delighted laughter and looked to see what Megan was looking at.

Megan turned to her with a wide smile on her face. "Look. It’s Dorothy’s shoes from the Wizard of Oz and the Fonz’s jacket. I can’t believe they’re in a Smithsonian museum."

Tony smiled warmly back at her companion. Megan’s enthusiasm was so special. She was such a delight to be around. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I’m going to do everything I can to make you always want to stay.

"Kind of cool, huh? I guess someone decided they must be part of the American tradition," Tony said unable to wipe the matching grin off her face when she met the happy sparkling eyes that greeted hers. Chuckling to herself, she thought, we probably look like two silly teenagers. But right now, I really don’t care. When she’s happy I’m happy.

The Natural History museum was less crowded than the American History museum had been, and the two women were able to look at the exhibits in a more leisurely manner.

"Hey look at this. I didn’t think those things still existed. I can’t believe there is actually an expedition looking for them right now."

Tony stood next to Megan and looked at the large display. Grinning she said, "When you were a kid, did you ever watch those Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea repeats? The submarine was attacked by one once."

Bumping her partner with a hip, Megan said, "I’m being serious. I thought they died out a long time ago," she said, turning her attention back to the giant squid display. "I wonder if they’ll find one? When we get home I’m going to go online and check for the updates on this web site."

Tony shook her head amused that Megan found giant squids so interesting. "Come on. Let’s go see the dinosaurs."

Megan feeling the need to get back at her partner, said, "Don’t tell me, Jurassic Park is your favorite movie."

Tony laughed. "Maybe not favorite, but I liked it. I thought the T-Rex was cool."

"You would. I’m surprised you didn’t like the raptors the best," Megan retorted before looking into the mirth filled blue eyes watching her and breaking into laughter.

Walking along, trying not to miss anything, Megan looked up when she heard Tony call her name.

When Tony had the smaller woman’s attention, she continued in a stage whisper, "Your stomach’s growling."

"What do you expect? You walk my legs off all day and all we eat is a sandwich."

Tony gave Megan an affectionate adaptation of her look, and said, "Excuse me? And just who was originally going to try to see all the museums in one day?"

"I know you’re not talking about me. I’m the tourist, remember? I don’t know any better. You’re supposed to be the tour guide. Just because you tried to starve me today, don’t blame it on me."

Tony rolled her eyes and said with an exaggerated sigh, "Somehow I don’t think I’m going to win this one."

"Got that right," Megan said grinning.

"Would the tourist care to join the tour guide for dinner back at the hotel? Room service with all amenities?" Tony asked, bowing her head.

Laughing, Megan said, "The tourist would be delighted to."


The wind blew softly bending the blades of grass around the water. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial facing Reflection Pool, Megan was filled with a sense of peace and well being. Tony stood next to her, their bodies barely touching, but both comforted by the contact. It was a quiet moment in an otherwise busy day.

Megan thought about all they had crammed into the last several days and of how considerate Tony had been making sure she got to see everything she wanted to, culminating in their visits to the monuments today. She had been a patient, attentive guide and saved this stop for last.

Megan thoughts turned to the remaining stop on their vacation. She wasn’t sure what the next few days would bring, and for now she didn’t want to think about it. Later would be soon enough. Megan raised a hand to brush a stray piece of hair out of her face. The breeze felt good after the hot afternoon sun.

The sun was beginning to sink but the Washington Monument was still mirrored in the water and Megan glanced up at her partner and found the blue eyes watching her.

Smiling, she said, "It’s really nice here. It’s so peaceful."

"I know. I used to come down early in the morning and sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and watch the sun come up." Tony knew a moment of pure contentment just standing there with her lover.

A short time later the two women began walking back toward the mall entrance to catch the metrorail back to the hotel.


The alley was devoid of light and quiet except for the muted sound of soft-soled shoes striking the pavement at regular intervals. A lone figure moved confidently down the alley at home in the darkness. Stopping in front of a door that would have been invisible except for the faint hint of light where the door met the frame, he opened it. His ears were assaulted by a cacophony of sound amplified by the deep bass of musical instruments reverberating off the walls. Walking down the dimly lit hallway, he stopped at a door with the word private written across it in gold script and entered, the din left behind.

The room was designed for comfort with four overstuffed chairs and two love seats arranged around a large marble top coffee table. The furniture was soft earth tones accented by plush beige carpeting. Lamps covered with ornately decorated glass shades lit the room creating uneven shadows on the wood grain paneling. On the other side of the room was a table that provided a large wood surface for anything from playing cards to holding a meeting. Tonight it would be used for the latter.

Looking at the five occupants sprawled comfortably around the room he nodded in greeting and received nods and murmurs of, "Hey Ben," in return.

Ben walked over and set his briefcase on the large table. Turning to the fully stocked bar he quickly perused the labels. Settling on MacAllan, he poured two fingers and then added ice. Ben was in his forties with chestnut brown hair that was just beginning to gray. At 5’10" and 180 pounds he was in top physical condition, and moved with the grace of a natural athlete. He was dressed casually in black chinos and a blue, button down sports shirt worn open at the neck.

Taking a large swallow of the scotch, he said, "Let’s get started." He waited for the three men and two women to take seats around the table, cognizant of the puzzled expressions on their faces. He had never called all the operatives to a single meeting before. It was the first time most of them had seen the others.

"I called this meeting tonight because we have a potential problem. An ex-wet Ops/infiltration agent has filed a complaint that her reports have been tampered with. This could cause us some serious problems. The repercussions from this accusation could close us down permanently. And I don’t even want to think about what would happen if the press got a hold of it."

Pausing, he ran a hand through his short-cropped hair. Only one man present knew him well enough to recognize that simple action as extreme agitation. "Our backers are already getting nervous. My sources say an unofficial investigation is being planned. For right now I am going to halt our activities and try to find a way onto the investigating committee."

The group had originally been formed as a means of quality control to check out some of the agents’ reports and to ensure the standards of the FBI were being upheld. They were fifty-three members strong, and their official function was to infiltrate random targets a second time and independently report their findings. The targets to reinfiltrate were provided by the Quality Control Division. Over the course of the last few years, there were several instances where these operatives’ impressions differed from the original agent’s.

Two members of the Quality Control Division, unbeknownst to the others and hiding behind the guise of what was best for the country, had begun earmarking some of the files for further action. Subsequently, an unofficial subgroup was formed consisting only of the operatives present at this meeting. Their sole function was to carry out termination orders.

One of the men, dressed casually in jeans and a maroon pullover, cleared his throat. Ben looked up at the sound. "You have a question?"

"Is this investigation being planned because of an accusation of one operative?" Sherman asked, knowing that for an investigation to ensue there had to be strong evidence of foul play.

"Yes it is. Her word carries a lot of weight with the Director."

"Well, seems to me they couldn’t very well investigate if the only complainant wasn’t around," Sherman answered, a cold smile turning up the corners of his mouth. At 35, he was one of the oldest operatives in the room, and the most deadly. He had been recruited into wet Ops straight out of the academy based on his psychological profile. Sherman enjoyed killing and felt absolutely no remorse. The Agency weeded out the recruits with sociopathic tendencies in the psychological testing. But tests don’t always accurately assess personality traits.

Ben met Sherman’s slate gray eyes and smug look with a smile. "That would probably work in most cases. But the fact that she is, if not the best, one of the best operatives the Agency has ever produced might make that a little difficult." Looking pointedly at Sherman, he continued, "Ever hear the name Viglioni?"

Sherman felt a strange sensation. Identifying it, he realized it was panic or as close to panic as he had ever come. Narrowing his eyes, he thought fast. This was a much more serious situation than Ben could ever imagine.

Viglioni was a legend in her own time. She had the distinct honor of never failing on a mission regardless of the danger to herself. She was said to be without fear and heralded by the Agency as the ideal agent. Sherman always felt those rumors were highly exaggerated, and only spread as an incentive to the male agents.

Deciding the best way to persuade Ben might be to sway the other operatives to his viewpoint, Sherman challenged him, "You think she’s better than we are collectively?"

"I never said that. But I can guarantee you that some of you would die trying to take her down. I’ve seen her in action. Trust me when I tell you she is not someone to be taken lightly. And due to her high profile it’s not a good idea. Now if you have any other suggestions, I’d be happy to entertain them."

"I still think we should just eliminate the problem. There are ways to make it look like an accident. No one would be able to prove anything. We’re finished if what we’re doing is uncovered. I don’t plan on going to prison or dying in the chair," Sherman retorted, and added, "I rather take my chances, and if some of us die, so be it."


"I’m not going to rot in prison…"

"He’s right…"

Ben slammed his empty glass down on the table and raised his voice to regain control of the meeting. "Stop your whining and listen up. The committee may not uncover anything. The Agency does thousands of infiltration’s each year. In view of that, the scope of our operation has been quite small. You kill her and it might be kind of hard to explain the dead operatives associated with the ‘accident.’ For now we lay low and wait."

"I still don’t like it," Sherman said and smiled inwardly at the agreeing murmurs around the table.

Ben shoved his chair back and stood up glaring at Sherman. "That’s enough. I’m in charge here, not you. Maybe you’d like to be assigned to a desk job. That can be arranged you know."

Sherman’s face reddened and he met the eyes of the man he had considered his friend. Ben was toying with their futures. He was willing to take a chance and compromise all of them instead of just eliminating the problem. The fact that his opinion was influenced by being directly responsible for this development never fazed him. He said, "Ok. We wait," thinking, but I intend to do what I have to.

Ben’s gaze drifted slowly around the table making eye contact with each operative. "If there are no other questions, you’re free to leave. I’ll be in contact."

The operatives began leaving the same way they had arrived, individually and at irregular intervals.

Sherman was the last to leave. Turning to Ben, he smiled and said, "Later."

Ben nodded and Sherman exited the room. Sighing, he poured himself another drink and took a large swallow. He hadn’t expected his authority to be challenged. When the backers had approached him about a way to eliminate potential threats against the government and other citizens, he had agreed to act as liaison and had personally chosen each member of the secret team.

They had also discussed how to administratively handle the cases that were to be acted on. They had a choice of not altering the records and taking the chance that one of the desk jockeys would notice the discrepancy when the termination report was filed or changing the reports. They had opted for the latter. But which one of those two old fools had been stupid enough to target one of Viglioni’s cases? Well it didn’t really matter now. The damage was done.


Megan thoughts had returned to the next stop on their trip. She was worried. She knew Tony tended to internalize things, but this was something they needed to talk about. Maybe she was rushing things. It was a major decision and if Tony wasn’t sure about it, she should wait until she was.

Megan moved from the comforting backrest Tony was providing and scooted around on the bed until she was facing her. Looking into the deep blue eyes that were watching her quizzically, she said, "You haven’t said a thing all weekend about…"

"I know," Tony said interrupting her. Tony closed her eyes and ran a hand through her hair. Opening her eyes, she said, "I’ve been thinking about it a lot."

Megan looked into her partner’s worried eyes. Raising a hand to Tony’s face gently stroking her cheek, she said, "You don’t have to do this. There’s no rush. If you’re not ready Tony, it’s ok. Don’t push yourself."

Tony saw the concern on Megan’s face and the love shining brightly out of the green and gold eyes. A small sigh escaped her mouth. "I have to. It’s something I should’ve done a long time ago. Pausing for a moment, trying to verbalize her feelings, she continued, "You know all the stories we’ve told each other…about when we were kids….well….I guess it made me realize how much I miss my mother. Even if it turns out bad….at least I’ll know."

Megan leaned over and hugged her partner. Tony relaxed against her lover before pulling away and saying, "I think it might be best if you just go on back to Cleveland and I’ll meet you there in a couple of days. If it doesn’t go well, I don’t want to put you through that."

Megan tried to hide the deep sense of hurt that filled her at the words by averting her face. She’s blocking me out. Turning back to face her partner, she said, "We planned this trip together. Not just the fun part, the whole thing. No matter how it goes, I plan on being there for you."

Tony felt a sinking feeling in her stomach when she saw the hurt on Megan’s face. Look what I’ve done now. I have to make her understand.

Reaching out, she placed her hand around one of Megan’s smaller ones. "I’m just thinking of you. I love you, and I don’t want to take a chance and ruin the fun we’ve had the last couple of days. It’s my problem, not yours."

Tony only had a moment to register the impact her words had on Megan before the hazel eyes started flashing and the face looking at her reflected anger.

"What do you mean it’s not my problem? I thought we were partners. I love you Tony and that means sharing. Not just the good but the bad too. After all we’ve been through I can’t believe you said that."

"I didn’t mean it like that…"

"Well just how did you mean it? It certainly sounded like that to me," Megan retorted, more hurt than angry.

All of a sudden the words she had uttered hit her from Megan’s perspective. Swallowing hard, her mouth dry, she moved over to Megan wrapping her in her arms. She felt the stiff, tension filled body against hers. "I’m sorry, Love. I didn’t mean it the way it came out. I thought it was selfish to drag you along with me for moral support. I wasn’t trying to leave you out."

Megan felt some of the tension drain from her body. "You forgot one thing. I’m here because I want to be. It’s a choice I made when I fell in love with you. It’s not up to you to decide what you think is right for me. Those are the kind of decisions we make together." Megan hesitated, then added, "If you don’t want me to go, fine. But remember one thing. It’s not just your problem anymore. It affects you, so it affects me too."

Overcome with emotion and unable to speak, Tony tightened her hold on Megan hoping the increased contact would convey the depth of her feelings and take away some of the hurt her words had caused. Finally able to verbalize, she said simply, "I want you to go."


Charles stood in front of the mirror tightening the knot in his tie, making sure it was perfectly centered. As one of the senior partners in the law firm he felt it was important to set the standard and this included professional appearance. Satisfied, he left the bedroom and walked down to the kitchen for his usual breakfast of two eggs, toast and coffee.

Barbara looked up when her husband walked into the kitchen.

"Morning," she said while setting his breakfast on the table. "How was the trip?" He had just returned on the red eye and they hadn’t had a chance to talk.

"Just routine," Charles said. He had been on a business trip for two weeks visiting some of the law firm's more prestigious clients. He traveled frequently for this purpose, but this trip had been longer than normal because the corporate agreement the firm had drawn up for one of the clients had been inadequate for their needs.

Smiling, knowing Charles would be pleased, Barbara said, "I saved some papers you might want to see. Megan made the headlines."

Charles looked up, his attention now fully on his wife. "Was it about that serial killer case she was working on?"

Smiling proudly, Barbara said, "Yes. She and an FBI agent were credited with solving the case."

"Let me see them."

Barbara handed him the two newspapers and sat down to join him for coffee.

Reading quickly, Charles smiled, very proud of his daughter. This reflected very favorably on the family image. He remembered when she defied him and entered medicine instead of following his footsteps and becoming a lawyer. Then, when she had told him she was going to be a pathologist of all things, he almost lost it. It was one of the very few times he had not been able to persuade her to his way of thinking. But if she was going to bring honor to the family, then maybe it wasn’t such a bad decision.

Charles looked up and said, "Invite her over for dinner. And Barbara…make sure she comes this time." His daughter was a little too independent for her own good.

"I’ll invite her. But you should know by now that whether she comes or not will be her decision." Barbara knew exactly why Megan didn't visit more often. The reason was sitting across the table from her. Charles just wouldn't quit hounding her about her job and personal life.

Charles frowned and said, "Make sure she realizes that she has an obligation to us."

Barbara looked at her husband and shook her head. When would he learn that this particular daughter was done bending to his will?

Finishing his breakfast he walked over to Barbara, kissed her goodbye, and departed for the office.


Tony had the cab driver drop her off at the corner to give her more time to go over in her mind, once again, how to approach her mother. She wanted to see her mother, but she had no idea what her reception would be. What if she doesn’t want to see me? What do I do then? I don’t even know what to say to her. Tony had spent the whole flight to Boston going over what she was going to say when her mother opened the door. Megan had simply said, "Tony, you will know what to say when you see her. Trust me on this one."

Sighing, hoping Megan was right, Tony began walking toward her mother’s house. She stood on the sidewalk looking at her childhood home. The small white house with green shutters had been replaced by gray vinyl siding and maroon trim. Her lips turned up in the barest hint of a smile when she saw the red roses around the base of the house and the plant hangers with brightly colored flowers adorning the porch. Her mother had always loved flowers.

Tony’s thoughts turned back in time to when she was four years old. Wanting to please her mother, she had picked a bouquet of beautiful little yellow flowers. She had been rewarded with a big hug and kiss. Her mother had told her they were the most beautiful flowers she had ever seen and put the dandelions in a vase on the kitchen table. They had remained there until they finally wilted and died.

It’s time, her mind nudged her. Tony snorted and thought, yep, here I am. A big bad fearless FBI agent and my stomach is in knots over seeing my mother. With the steely determination that had marked her success in the FBI, Tony pushed her doubts aside and walked up the sidewalk to the front door. Ringing the doorbell, she stood waiting for her mother to answer, her mind a contrast of conflicting thoughts.


Rosa finished dusting the coffee table and looked around the living room. She was in her late fifties, but had aged well. A handsome woman, her face was offset by a pair of deep blue eyes and short wavy black hair that was just beginning to gray. She wore a yellow dress with short sleeves and a full skirt. Rosa was 5'6" and still stood tall. Over the years she had put on a few pounds, but she wore them well. One of the pillars of the small community she lived in, Rosa was a kind woman and well liked by her neighbors. Her own life had had its share of tragedy, yet she was always there to listen to their problems and offer sensible advice.

Her eyes rested on the one shelf she hadn’t dusted yet. She always saved it for last. Walking over and standing it front of it, Rosa looked at the three pictures. Picking up one, she wiped the surface of it. Her first born, George, had been such a handsome boy. He had looked a lot like his father with his brown hair, brown eyes and roman nose. Setting it down, she picked up the next one. Running the cloth over it, she looked at the picture of Joey. He had been her youngest child. He had a heart of gold that matched his blond hair. The smile on his face was a testament to his whole personality, sunny. She returned the picture to its place on the shelf.

She picked up the picture she had saved for last. The picture was of a teenager with dancing blue eyes and shoulder length black hair. The high cheekbones gave the face a sculpted appearance. White teeth contrasted sharply with the tanned face smiling brightly out at her. The face held the promise of a beauty yet to be fully realized. She walked over to the couch and sat down, the picture in her hands, the dusting forgotten.

Holding the picture out away from her, she saw dark circles form under eyes that were now red rimmed from crying. The tanned face became pale and looked haunted. The happy fun loving teenager was gone. That was the way her only daughter had looked the last time she saw her at George’s and Joey’s funeral. She had been so lost in her own grief, she had been unable to share her daughter’s. She remembered Tony blaming herself for their deaths. She knew better, but she had been in shock from the cruel turn of fate and been unable to console her.

Rosa reflected on the words of her friend Joyce about a week after the funeral. She had said, "Rosa, sometimes there are very special people put on this earth for just a short time. They affect everyone they come in contact with. They spread love. They are a joy to know and a gift to be treasured. Accept the gift you were given and remember the happiness they brought you." The words had struck a chord deep inside her and allowed the healing to begin. She finally accepted their deaths and was able to move on.

Her thoughts returned to the present, and she asked the questions she asked herself every day. Tony where are you? Are you ok? Have you found happiness? Do you still blame yourself? Do you ever think about me or miss me as much as I miss you? She hugged the picture to her breast, the cold hard surface a poor substitute for the living breathing daughter she knew was out there somewhere.

She had tried to find her. Rosa had contacted all their friends and everyone else she could think of who might know where her daughter was. It was as if she had disappeared into thin air. The police did file a missing person’s report, but nothing ever came of it. Rosa doubted they even looked for her since it was obvious she had left by choice after the events of her departure were revealed. The last attempt she had made was several years ago. She had finally saved up enough money for a private investigator. He told her Tony had graduated from college and then entered the FBI, but there the trail ended. The only consolation Rosa had was knowing that her daughter had to be alive or the FBI would have notified her.

Rosa stood up and walked slowly back to the shelf. She lovingly set the picture in its place between her two sons. I love you Tony, was the thought she turned away from the shelf with.

Walking into the kitchen she took her shopping list off the refrigerator. Adding eggs to the list, she set it on the table and went to get her purse.

It was a warm pleasant day and Rosa was looking forward to the walk to the market. Her friends Mary and Gino owned it. The neighborhood had changed very little from when she first moved in so many years ago. It was full of Italian immigrants, and they took care of each other. It was often referred to as Little Italy.

Rosa picked up the shopping list and put it in her purse. She had just opened the back door when the doorbell rang. Shutting the door, she turned around and made her way to the front of the house.

She opened the front door and said, "Yes?" and a heartbeat later her eyes widened and a look of shock covered her face. A gasp escaped her mouth and she closed her eyes tightly, murmuring, "Mi Dio. Non e’ possibile, sto allucinando." She was afraid to open her eyes, and afraid to hope until she heard the barely audible, "Mom..."

The door opened and Tony looked into the deep blue eyes that met hers. Everything became surreal. She heard her mother say, "Yes," and then saw her face transform into a look of disbelief. She heard a gasp and her mother’s whispered words, "My God. It’s not possible, I’m hallucinating," and the eyes tightly closed.

Tentatively, she said, "Mom…" and watched the eyes slowly open revealing a myriad of emotions.

Rosa opened her eyes and looked at the tall woman wearing jeans and a blue pullover top standing in her doorway. The casual clothes did not detract from her natural beauty. Her heart racing out of control, she asked the question she already knew the answer to, but needed to voice. "Tony…is it really you?" Rosa raised a hand to her daughter’s face needing to touch her. Finally convinced her mind was not playing a cruel joke on her, she murmured, "Non sono pazza."

Tony’s mind and emotions registered several things simultaneously. Her mother was not upset with her. She seemed glad to see her. Could that be true? Had her long self-imposed exile been unnecessary? It certainly appeared her fears had been groundless. Not knowing what to say, and overwhelmed at the enormity of the thoughts churning in her mind, Tony stood there mutely.

Rosa gained a semblance of control and placed her hand on Tony’s arm pulling her into the house. Shutting the door, she turned to her long lost child. Walking up to her, sensing her daughter’s discomfort, she said, "I have missed you so much Tony. Would you give your old mother a hug?"

Tony covered the few steps between them and wrapped her long arms around her mother and felt the answering squeeze. During that one moment of contact between mother and daughter, feelers were tentatively sent out touching a bond severed years ago. "You are not old, and I’ve missed you, too," she said quietly to her mother.

Ending the hug, both women stood there awkwardly. Rosa said, "Can you stay for a while?" She almost laughed at the absurdity of the words. Her prayers had been answered, and now she didn’t even know what to say to her own daughter.

"Sure," Tony answered.

Rosa smiled. "Good. Sit down. I’ll get us something to drink. What would you like? I can make some coffee. I have orange juice…" She stopped when she realized she was just prattling on.

Tony felt some of the tension drain out of her. Realizing her mother was as nervous as she was, she said, "Coffee would be great."

Sitting on the couch, the rich smell of the freshly brewed coffee permeating the air, the two women looked at each other. Both noticed the changes that had occurred in the other over the years. Tony saw lines she never remembered on her mother’s face and a few strands of gray in her hair. She had gained a little weight but had really changed very little in appearance. Rosa was pleased to see that the young gangly teenager she remembered had grown into the beautiful woman she had always known her daughter would become.

Tony asked, "How are you Mom?" The question was simple, but it was a starting place, and Rosa accepted it for what it was and began to tell her daughter about her life. She told her about their friends, and brought her up to date on the small community she had grown up in.

"What about you? Where do you live? Are you married? Are you still in the FBI?" Rosa stopped when she saw Tony raise an eyebrow and look at her, the question clearly written across her face.

Rosa met her daughter’s eyes. "I tried to find you. I hired a private investigator. He told me you had entered the FBI, but couldn’t find out anything else."

Tony took a deep breath. Voicing her thoughts, she said, "I never meant for you to worry. I just thought it was best for me to leave."

The older woman looked at the troubled face of her daughter. She had not been there for Tony when she needed her, and had lost her. She was getting a second chance and she intended to make the most of it.

Reaching over, she took one of Tony’s hands between hers and began talking. "You left because you needed me and I wasn’t there for you. I couldn’t see past my own grief to share yours. I knew you blamed yourself but I was helpless to act. That was very selfish of me." Rosa paused a minute, gathering together the words that should have been spoken so many years before, "It wasn’t your fault. I know that now and I knew it then." Looking into Tony’s eyes, Rosa continued, "I’m so sorry, Tony. If there were any way I could go back and change things I would. But I can’t. Can you forgive me?"

The words impacted on Tony like a sledgehammer. Disbelief and relief warred with each other. After years of shouldering the blame in her own mind, she had to make sure. In a voice just short of incredulous, she asked what had been answered, unable to stop the question, "You didn’t blame me?"

Look what I have done to my own child. "No Tony. I never blamed you." Rosa’s voiced hitched and she had to pause before she could continue, "I’m so sorry I never told you that then."

An enormous weight lifted off her shoulders and seeing the tears spilling down her mother’s face, she gently squeezed the hand holding hers and said, "It’s ok Mom. Don’t cry," her own eye’s moist, she continued, "You’ll make me cry too." Leaning over, she hugged her mother and repeated, "It’s ok."

"You are still the good person you always were Tony," Rosa said when she was able.

Tony was a little embarrassed by the compliment and decided to change the subject by answering the questions her mother had asked.

"I live in Cleveland now, Mom, and I’m still in the FBI. I worked covert operations for years. That’s why the guy you hired couldn’t find me."

"Do you like it there?" Rosa asked.

"Yes." Smiling Tony added, "Some great people live there."

"You have such a pretty smile Tony."

"Mom…!" Tony said rolling her eyes.

Rosa said, "Well you do," and laughed at the familiar action by Tony.

"Have you met anyone?"

Tony looked at her mother. How do I handle this? With the straightforwardness that was her style, she met her mother’s eyes and said, "Yes I have. We are not married yet, but we have talked about a commitment ceremony."

"A commitment ceremony? That’s a strange thing to call a wedding. Is this something new?" Rosa asked drawing her eyebrows together in question.

Tony said simply, "I am in love with another woman." Seeing the shocked expression cover her mother’s face, she continued, "You’d like her Mom. She’s the most wonderful person I have ever known."

"But a woman Tony. Why?"

Tony looked into her mother’s eyes and saw her confusion. Words were inadequate to describe how she felt about Megan. But she had to try to help her mother understand. Tony began speaking, "She is kind and gentle and smart and beautiful and strong and she loves me." Tony paused and then decided to tell her mother the part Megan had in their reunion.

"Shortly after we met, I was injured. She took care of me and while we got to know each other we shared childhood stories. I told her what happened to George and Joey. She helped me to realize that it wasn’t my fault." Tony stopped for a minute and smiled at her mother. "Sooner or later I would have come back Mom. But it is because of her that I am here now."

The war waging in Rosa’s mind came to a screeching halt when the implications of the last thing her daughter said registered. She had watched Tony’s face change when she spoke of this woman. She would have to be blind not to see the love Tony obviously felt for her. Rosa wasn’t sure how she felt about this new revelation, but she was not going to turn her daughter away again. She appeared to be very happy and with that thought in mind, Rosa said, "Tell me about her."

Tony sighed inwardly with relief. This was going better than she had hoped considering her mother was a devout Roman Catholic. A large warm smile covered her face and she began telling her mother about the woman she loved.

Rosa watched the play of emotions cross Tony’s face when she spoke. If a person could glow, her daughter did. Tony talked for over an hour before saying, "I really should go now. Megan is waiting for me at the hotel."

Rosa had been caught up in Tony’s description of Megan and was intensely curious. She wanted to meet this young woman who meant so much to her daughter.

Voicing her thoughts, she said, "I’d like to meet her Tony. Could you go get her and come back? I’ll make lasagna for dinner. Is that still your favorite?"

Tony smiled, "Sure Mom, and your lasagna sounds great. What time do you want us to come back?"

"How about 5pm? I need to go to the market and pick up a few things."

"We’ll be here," Tony said, standing up and hugging her mother. "I need to use the phone to call a cab."

"There’s no need to call a cab. I can take you."


Paul Lewis followed the hostess to a booth in the rear of the diner. He ordered tea and thought about the call from Sherman. He had never requested a personnel file before. Their friendship had developed to a point that each fully trusted the other. But still, this was unusual and why a file on an operative? Shaking his head, he thought, it doesn’t make sense.

Sipping the hot tea, Paul thought about the first time he’d met Sherman. It had been three years ago. He was working his first covert assignment. He remembered his excitement when he was able to infiltrate a militia group that no one had been able to penetrate before. He was young and optimistic and wanted to make his mark among the seasoned operatives.

He left to make a routine drop and was unaware he’d been followed. Upon his return, the leader of the organization questioned him. He’d made up an excuse about seeing an old friend, but the leader was clearly suspicious and he came away from the meeting very uneasy. Later that night he pulled out the emergency transmitter and sent a message asking to be relieved from the assignment fearing his cover had been blown.

The next day he was advised to return to base. He almost made it too. The camp was a mile behind before his legs were knocked out from under him and he heard the echo of a high-powered rifle. In excruciating pain, he tied a tourniquet around his damaged leg and sent off an emergency transmission before passing out.

The next thing he remembered was Sherman putting him in the back seat of a car and transporting him to the hospital.

He now had a 5-inch steel pin in his leg and walked with a slight limp. If it hadn’t been for Sherman coming along when he had, he would be without that leg. But he was no longer physically fit to do covert work, and because of this, he held a deep-seated hatred for all militia groups.

When Sherman told him about what two of the committee members were doing, he requested a transfer to the covert files’ area. The rogue committee members reviewed all the cases in which the operative’s report deviated from the original agent’s report selectively choosing some for further action by Ben’s group. The cases they did not target were returned for filing.

Paul reviewed each of the files that had not been selected, and the ones involving militia groups, he copied and gave to Sherman. He altered the reports identically to the ones altered by the two committee members, and filed the termination order after Sherman personally eliminated each leader.

Sherman stood near the table for a moment and watched his friend. He was 28, but still looked like a kid. His red hair and freckles contributed to his youthful appearance.

"Hey Paul…" he said, sliding into the opposite side of the booth.

"Hi," Paul replied leaving his thoughts behind.

"Man you were a thousand miles away," Sherman said looking at his friend. "Did you get the file I asked for?"

"Yes. But what do you want an operative’s file for?"

Sherman quickly told Paul about the meeting with Ben finishing up by saying, "That was one of the cases you provided me with. The last thing we can afford is to have Ben uncover what we are doing. If she is eliminated, she can’t testify that her report was altered."

"I don’t like it. She’s an agent," Paul replied.

Well aware of Paul’s hatred of militia groups Sherman said, "If she had done her job in the first place, this would have never happened."

Seeing the youthful face age and become bitter, Sherman pressed on saying, "If we have to stop now, the militia groups win by default. You’re the one who loses. Your career is ruined because of them," pausing he added, "think about it. She is actually protecting them."

What Sherman said made sense. She was the one who was at fault here. But still not comfortable with targeting an agent, he said, "Ok. But Sherman…I’m not providing any more operatives’ files."

"Relax. I’m only doing this because it is necessary. I’m not crazy about taking out an agent either," Sherman said convincingly. "Don’t worry. She is just going to have an accident. No one else will be hurt. I’ll make sure she’s alone."

"Ok. The file’s in my trunk."


Megan laid her book down and looked at the clock on the dresser. Only ten minutes had passed since the last time she looked at it. Disgusted that she couldn’t lose herself in the book to help pass the time, she walked over to the window and looked out.

She knew it made sense that the longer Tony was gone, the better chance things had gone well. But her mind had decided to play devil’s advocate and insisted that if she were too upset she might not come straight back to the hotel.

Megan turned around when she heard the door open. Before she had a chance to ask how things had gone, Tony had crossed the room and wrapped her in a big hug, a huge grin on her face. Laughing, Megan said, "I guess things went ok."

"Yep. Mom invited us for dinner," Tony said, finally releasing Megan. "She’s making lasagna."

Megan hadn’t expected this. Suddenly nervous, she said, "She did?"

"Well after I told her about you, she wanted to meet you."

Trepidation filling her mind, Megan asked, "Did you tell her?" she paused suddenly at a loss for words.

Tony saw the worried expression on her partner’s face. Taking Megan’s hand, she led them over to the bed and sat down, guiding her lover onto her lap, her arms loosely draped around her.

"Yes I did," Tony paused searching for the right words. "I know there are times when I forget to think of both of us." Like last night, she silently added. "I never had to do that before." Tony looked into Megan’s eyes and continued, "But you are more important to me than anyone. You are a part of my life now. She needed to know that."

Megan’s mind struggled to grasp the enormity of the chance Tony had taken. She had been willing to risk a renewed relationship with her mother by telling her about them, yet she did anyway. Megan said, "I love you," and drew her partner’s head down, meeting her lips with her own.


Sherman sat at the table in his room carefully going through the file on Antonia Viglioni. He grudgingly acknowledged that it was quite impressive. She had excelled from the time she entered the academy and with each assignment became more proficient. What a worthy opponent she would have been to take on. Too bad he had to stage an accident.

The only thing he didn’t understand was why she had requested a transfer out of covert operations and taken a desk job in Cleveland. It was obvious she had a personal interest in militia groups because of her brothers’ deaths. So why did she transfer? It doesn’t make sense. Abandoning that train of thought, he decided it really didn’t matter anyway. It wouldn’t change the outcome.

Knowing he couldn’t plan what type of accident to stage until he arrived in Cleveland and became familiar with her schedule, Sherman wanted to cover anything that might come up. With that thought in mind, he began mentally listing the things he needed to do before departing. Request leave, rent a car, pack weapons and alternate identities, take pertinent information from the file, put the file in his safety deposit box and see about acquiring some electronic equipment. He knew the last item might be difficult. The agency usually provided this and he couldn’t very well ask for it.

Taking his suitcase out of the closet, he began packing enough clothes to last a week, making sure that he included a wide variety. If for some reason he was gone longer than a week, the hotel would have laundry services. Sherman then began mentally ticking off the other things he might need as he packed them.

Satisfied he hadn’t forgotten anything, he closed the suitcase and departed for the administrative offices to request leave. Ben had actually done him a favor by halting all operations. Since he wasn’t assigned to a case right now, he knew the leave would be automatically approved.


Megan looked in the mirror again checking her appearance for the third time. Making another minor adjustment to her makeup, she sighed and hoped she would make a good impression on Tony’s mother. I need to relax. I’m a nervous wreck.

"You ready yet?" Tony called from the other room.

Looking in the mirror once more, Megan answered, "Yes," and walked out of the bathroom.

"You look nice," Tony said, smiling at her partner.

Megan was wearing a pair of wine colored slacks and an off-white blouse. She had put on a pair of gold earrings with a matching rope style necklace.

Tony had donned a pair of white slacks and a teal V-neck pullover. A silver chain adorned her neck. She would have rather worn jeans, but Megan wanted to wear something a little less casual to meet her mother in, and knowing how nervous she was Tony had decided to dress in kind.

Megan smiled at the compliment before her thoughts turned once again to the upcoming evening. "Well…I guess we should get going," Megan said after looking at the clock. The last thing she wanted to do was be late.

Arriving promptly at 5pm, Rosa opened the door and invited them in.

"Mom, this is Megan. Megan, this is my mother, Rosa," Tony said smiling, while unobtrusively watching her mother.

"Hi," Megan said smiling. Looking at Tony’s mother she could see the family resemblance. Both had blue eyes and black hair, but there the similarity ended. Tony had high cheekbones, fuller lips and a smaller nose. Rosa was quite attractive in her own way, though.

"Hi Megan." Rosa smiled at her guest. She took in the beautiful woman with blonde hair highlighted with red, and soft hazel eyes. She was a little thing, but well proportioned and there was a warm smile on her face.

"Why don’t you both have a seat? Dinner will be ready in about 15 minutes."

"Need any help?" Tony asked.

"No. I’ve got everything under control. Do you two want something to drink while you’re waiting?" asked Rosa.

"No thank you," Megan said followed by "No thanks," from Tony.

Rosa went back to the kitchen leaving her guests to entertain themselves for a few minutes.

"Your mother’s pretty," Megan said to Tony.

Tony smiled, "I think so too, but I may be a little prejudiced."

Tony noticed Megan’s hands clasped in her lap. Putting her hand over Megan’s she said, "Hey, relax."

Megan smiled at her partner. "I’m trying. I’m just a little nervous," Megan said and thought, yeah right. Try very nervous.

"There’s no need to be," Tony said reassuringly.

Tony was surprised at how comfortable she was. It just seemed right to be here at her mother’s house with her partner. A few months ago if anyone had said there was ever any possibility of this, she would have laughed it off. Life is strange sometimes, she acknowledged silently. But this time in a good way.

Megan looked around the living room. It was decorated simply, but felt warm and cozy. The furniture was old but well cared for. There were little knickknacks in a shadowbox on the wall. On a shelf across the room there were three pictures. Focusing on them, Megan recognized a younger version of Tony and two boys. She knew they had to be Tony’s brothers. All three were quite different in appearance, yet the family resemblance was apparent.

Rosa bustled around the kitchen. Taking the lasagna out of the oven, she placed it on the table on a couple of hotplates. She had already set the table and prepared the salad ahead of time. She was looking forward to chatting with her daughter and her friend. Taking out a couple bottles of salad dressing, she called out, "It’s ready," and waited for her guests to join her at the table.

"This is really good," Megan said smiling over at Rosa.

"Sure is," Tony agreed.

"Thank you," Rosa said. Directing her attention to Megan she said, "Tony tells me you’re the Assistant Coroner in Cleveland. How did you get interested in that line of work?"

"One of my classmates was murdered when I was in college. That’s when I decided that I wanted to do my part to help stop the senseless violence. I felt I could do that in forensic pathology."

Rosa listened to Megan and heard the passion in her voice when she spoke about her job. It was obvious she had a good heart. She seemed so young for a job like that.

"Do you come from a large family?"

"Well…I have two sisters and one brother. I never thought of our family as large though."

"They must be very impressed to have a sister who is a doctor," Rosa commented.

Megan blushed. "No, not really. Charles is an attorney just like Dad, Ashley is a CPA and Taylor has an MBA."

Tony looked at her partner and said, "I think Megan’s being a little modest. She was credited with finding out how a serial killer was murdering his victims. No one else had been able to figure it out."

Megan thought, I’m gonna kill her. Looking at Rosa, she said, "Your daughter was credited with solving the case and made the front page of the newspaper."

"So did you," Tony retorted.

Rosa looked from one to the other and started chuckling. It had been so long since young people had been around. It felt good.

Tony and Megan looked at Rosa. "What are you laughing at?" Tony asked.

"You two," Rosa said smiling.

Megan and Tony answered a multitude of questions during the meal. Megan found Rosa easy to talk to, and had relaxed enjoying the dinner. Her outgoing nature reasserted itself and she often gave elaborate answers to Rosa’s delight.

When they were finished eating, Rosa said, "I made cannoli’s for dessert. Anyone want one?"

Tony’s mouth watered. Not only had her mother made her favorite meal but also her favorite dessert. "I do."

Rosa smiled when she saw the delighted look on Tony’s face. It was so good to have her daughter back again.

Megan had never had a cannoli and had no idea exactly what it was other than a dessert, but judging by Tony’s reaction, she was willing to try it. She had a weakness for desserts anyway. "I’d like one too, please."

Megan took a bite of the Italian delicacy. It was delicious. The pastry shell was filled with a blend of cheese, chocolate and fruit.

She and Tony both consumed two of them before helping Rosa clear the table and retiring to the living room.

Rosa sat in her favorite chair facing Megan and Tony on the couch. She had decided to be blunt. This was a personality trait her daughter shared.

"Tony said you took care of her when she was injured. What happened?" Rosa asked.

Megan glanced over at Tony who just shrugged her shoulders. Ok, where to start. "We were working on a serial murder case together. Tony had only been in Cleveland a few days and she was stabbed when we were investigating the area the murders occurred in," Megan said, trying to be honest but not wanting to embarrass Tony.

Rosa turned her attention to her daughter, "You were stabbed?"

"It was just a fluke. The guy got lucky," Tony hedged. "It was no big deal."

Rosa looked pointedly at her daughter. "No big deal huh? Have you been wounded before?"

Oh God. How do I get out of this one? "A couple of times, but never anything serious," Tony said knowing her comment was not entirely accurate, but she’d come out ok, so her mother really didn’t need to know the details.

Rosa had a feeling Tony was down playing her answer but decided to let it slide for now. Turning to Megan, she said, "Tony tells me she loves you."

Tony’s eyes widened and she had to stop her mouth from dropping open. "Mom," she said in a cautioning voice.

"Tony, I want to talk to Megan about this. You told me you love her." Directing her attention back to Megan, she asked, "Do you love Tony?"

Megan had become very uncomfortable. It just seemed so strange to be talking to Tony’s mother about her feelings. But this was a question she could answer easily.

Meeting Rosa’s eyes, she said, "Yes I do. More than I ever believed possible." Glancing at Tony, she continued, "I can’t imagine life without her."

Tony smiled at Megan and relaxed a little. Even though she and her mother had already had this conversation, she had not wanted her partner to feel uncomfortable. But it looked like Megan was handling it just fine.

Rosa met Megan’s eyes and what she saw there wiped any doubt about this woman’s commitment to Tony from her mind. She was also surprised to find that she liked Megan. She had been prepared not to.

Rosa was a religious woman, but she knew that God would never condemn two people for loving each other. Setting aside years of religious indoctrination, she made a decision.

"Well then I’m happy for both of you. But you do know you have chosen a path that will not be easy."

Megan and Tony both nodded, acknowledging the truth of the words. "We know that and we’ve talked about it," Tony said to her mother. "But it’s the right path for us and that’s what really matters."

"Yes it is," Rosa agreed.

"So Tony…how about telling me about some of your adventures?"

The rest of the evening passed quickly.

Tony looked at her mother and said, "The cab is probably here. We should get going." She had insisted on calling a cab because of the late hour.

Tony paused and then added, "Mom, I want to go to the cemetery while we’re here. Would you come with us?"

Rosa looked at Tony and said warmly, "Of course I will."

"We could meet you here at 9am," Tony said.

"How about if I pick you up from the hotel at 9am?" Rosa asked. "There’s no reason for you to have to take a cab here first."

"Ok. Thanks."

Tony and Megan stood up and walked to the door. Turning around Tony hugged her Mom and said, "Thanks. Dinner was great. We’ll see you in the morning."

Megan said, "It was nice meeting you. Thanks for dinner." Before she had a chance to turn around, she found herself being hugged by Tony’s mother.

Rosa said, "It was nice meeting you too, Megan. See you both in the morning."


Barbara was frustrated. Every time she called Megan’s number the answering machine picked up. It was 10pm, and it didn’t make sense that she wasn’t home yet. And it didn’t help matters that Charles kept insisting she keep trying.

Knowing that Megan and Ashley kept in close contact, Barbara decided to call her oldest daughter.


"Hello," Ashley said, placing the phone between her shoulder and her ear while taking the twins’ clothes out of the dryer.

Sitting down, Barbara said, "Hi. How are the kids?"

Surprised to her from her mother this late, Ashley said, "Hi Mom. They’re fine. Let me tell you bedtime didn’t come soon enough tonight. I don’t know where they get all their energy from."

Barbara laughed and said, "They take after their mother. You were quite a handful yourself."

Ashley snorted, "Yeah right. Why is it that all mothers love to tell their daughters that?"

Still chuckling, Barbara said, "Because it’s true. But the reason I called is because I have been trying to get a hold of Megan all evening and there’s no answer."

So that's why she's calling now. "She’s on vacation. She’ll be back tomorrow or the next day. I forget which."

Barbara was surprised. "Megan actually took a vacation? I can’t believe it. She hasn’t taken vacation since she started that job."

"I know. It’s about time she took some time off," Ashley agreed, preparing herself for the questions that were sure to follow.

"Where’d she go?" Barbara couldn't believe Megan hadn't even mentioned taking a vacation to her.

"She went to D.C. with a friend of hers," Ashley said, still expertly holding the phone while folding clothes.

"What friend? Has she met someone finally? It’s about time." Barbara said pleased.

Ashley smiled to herself, thinking, Oh yeah Mom. She sure has. But you’re going to go off the deep end when you find out.

"She went with the FBI agent she met while working on that murder case. What did you want her for anyway?" Ashley said, attempting to redirect the focus of the conversation.

"Your father wants her to come over for dinner. I showed him the articles in the paper. He’s really proud of her."

Ashley rolled her eyes. Yeah right. "You mean she finally did something he approves of? I can’t believe it."

"Ashley!" Her oldest daughter could be so impertinent.

The way Ashley saw it, she was only stating a known fact. "Well it’s true."

Deciding to ignore the last comment, Barbara said, "Well if you talk to her before I do, tell her I’ve been trying to get a hold of her."

"Ok. Mom." Ashley said. Once she finished with the clothes, she planned to call and leave a message for Megan so she could give her fair warning.


"Bye," Ashley said before laying down the phone. Her thoughts turned briefly to her younger sister and she smiled remembering how happy Megan had been when she told her they were going on vacation.


Sherman walked into the Renaissance Hotel carrying his suitcase and approached the desk in the lobby.

"Can I help you?" the desk clerk asked looking up.

"Yes. I have reservations for Scott O’Malley," Sherman said. He took a Visa card out of his wallet and handed it to the woman assisting him.

Once the paperwork was completed, he took the key he was given and headed for the second floor. Entering the room, he laid the suitcase on the bed and began unpacking his clothes. Finishing, he took out a map he had picked up before exiting the turnpike. Sitting at the table, he unfolded it and began locating the streets he had written down in his notes from Viglioni’s file.

After he located the street the hotel was on, Sherman circled it and began looking for Edgewater Drive. He found it in a suburb called Lakewood and circled it. Taking a yellow highlighter, he marked the route from his hotel to the newly marked street on the map, carefully noting that it could be reached off the Route 2 expressway. Next he looked at the downtown area searching for East 9th Street. The Federal Building was located on this street and Sherman knew this housed the local FBI office. He marked the shortest route from the hotel to the Federal Building mentally noting it was within walking distance. Committing the directions to memory, he folded up the map and put it in his rear pocket. It would be handy to keep in the car just in case he needed it.

It was still early and not wanting to waste time, Sherman decided to check out both places and become familiar with the routes.

Glancing at the lake while driving down the scenic route, he saw the waves breaking against the shoreline, an indicator that the weather report predicting thunderstorms was probably correct. He loved thunderstorms. The devastating power of lightening had intrigued him since he was a boy. It reminded him of himself. It destroyed what it hit.

Finding the exit for Edgewater, he exited the freeway. At the end of the exit he bore to the right following the well-marked route. The address he was looking for was a half-mile from the exit. Parallel parking on the crowded street, he sat in the car and looked at the apartment building. It was situated between two other apartment buildings and another complex was on the same side of the street he was parked on.

Getting out of the car he sauntered across the street entering the middle building. It had a security system that required you to ring the apartment of the tenant you were visiting. Sherman had already ascertained from the apartment number 412, that it should be on the fourth floor.

He rang the buzzers for two different tenants. He wasn’t surprised when neither answered. Most of the tenants would be a work during the day. He arbitrarily rang two others and smiled at his quick success when the door buzzer released. As was the case in most apartment buildings people often just released the door without checking whom it was.

Entering the lobby, he walked over to the mailboxes. Locating the box for 412 he noticed that in addition to the name he was expecting, Megan Donnovan was also listed on it. This was surprising considering Viglioni hadn’t even been in Cleveland for two months. Sherman decided this could actually work to his advantage.

The operative casually walked over to the elevators. He gave every indication of belonging in the building. Stopping on the fourth floor he walked down the hallway to 412 and stopped. It was the second to the last apartment and faced the north side of the building. This would be perfect if the apartment complex across the street had any vacancies. Smiling at his luck Sherman walked back to the elevator. This job just might turn out to be much easier than he expected.

Sherman took the elevator down to the basement. Looking around to make sure there was no one observing him, he took the electronic pick gun out of his pocket and unlocked the door that gave him access to the telephone and electrical lines. He didn’t expect to need to use anything here, but experience had taught him it was better to cover all contingencies. After checking out how the lines were routed to the various apartments, he returned to the lobby and left the building.


Tony cleared the table and threw out the empty Chinese food containers. After wiping off the table and putting the dishes in the dishwater she opened the cupboard. Raising her voice so Megan could hear her, she asked, "Want something to drink?"

"Iced tea would be great," Megan answered. She was listening to the messages on the answering machine. The first three were from her mother, and the next one was from Ashley.

Playing the last message, she heard, "If you are a homeowner…" quickly pressing the erase button, Megan thought, what’s the use of having an unlisted number? It never stops the telemarketers.

Tony opened the freezer and placed several ice cubes in each glass. Getting the iced tea out of the refrigerator, she filled both glasses and carried them into the living room.

Megan looked up when Tony walked into the room. She unabashedly watched her partner walk across the room with the feline grace that was integral to her.

Tony set the two glasses down on the coffee table before joining Megan on the couch. Leaning over she placed a fleeting kiss on Megan’s lips and said, "You shouldn’t look at me like that. We’ll never get anything done."

"It’s your fault for wearing those short shorts and showing off your legs," Megan said smiling.

"Well I guess I could put on some jeans," Tony said and started to stand. Megan grabbed her arm chuckling and said, "No you don’t. Laying her hand on Tony’s thigh, she continued, "I like what you’re wearing just fine."

"Well ok. If you insist," Tony teased. "Who called?"

"Ashley called once, and my mother called three times. Ashley said to make sure I call her before calling Mom." Musing aloud, she said, "Wonder what’s up with that?"

Tony handed her partner the portable phone and said, "Maybe they want you to visit. You said Ashley mentioned it last time you saw her."

Megan punched in her sister’s number and said, "Yeah. That’s probably it."


"Hi. What’s up?" Megan asked.

"Hey Sis, how's it going? Did you have fun on your vacation? Did you see everything you wanted to?" Ashley asked, the questions pouring forth nonstop.

Smiling into the phone Megan said, "It was great. I don’t think it’s possible to see everything, but I sure tried."

Megan poked Tony in the ribs with her elbow when she heard her partner murmur, "Ain’t that the truth."

Ashley laughed, and said, "I bet you did. Did you get any pictures?"

"Yep. I got some really good ones. Maybe we can do lunch one day next week. I can show them to you then," Megan said, looking forward to seeing her sister.

"Ok. I’ll look at my calendar tomorrow and give you a call. You’ll be at work, right?"

"Uh huh. I can’t believe how fast our vacation went. It sure doesn’t seem like we’ve been off a week and a half. How are John and the twins?"

"John’s fine. Been working long hours though. The kids…now that’s another story. I’ll fill you in on their latest exploits when I see you." Ashley loved to talk about her children and couldn't wait to tell Megan what they'd been up to lately.

"So why did you want me to call you before calling Mom?" Megan asked, while reaching for the glass of iced tea.

"Dad got back early Monday and Mom showed him the paper with you on the front page." Ashley gave Megan a chance to digest that little nugget of information and then continued, "So of course he’s bursting with pride and wants to see you."

Megan sighed. She should have known. He hadn’t approved of anything she’d done since she entered medical school. But her picture in the paper would be a big ego boost for him.

When Megan didn’t say anything, Ashley said, "You know you haven’t been over there for a while. They do miss you."

Megan sighed. "Yeah…I know they do. I’m just not comfortable there. Dad’s always got some snide remark to make about my career and it’s going to be really hard to take his enthusiasm all of a sudden just because my picture was in the paper."

"It’s up to you. But it would probably be best to go and just get it over with. Next time he’ll be back to normal anyway," Ashley commented. If nothing else, their father was predictable.

"Yeah, you’re right. Guess I better call them now. Thanks for the warning," Megan said.

"No problem. I’ll give you a call tomorrow."

"Ok. Bye."


Megan laid the phone down and looked at Tony. "You were right."

Tony had never met Megan’s father but already disliked him just from some of the things Megan had told her. "You don’t have to go if you don’t want to."

"I know. But I haven’t seen them for a while, and they are my parents. Dad can be very persistent, and he really doesn’t understand why I don’t visit much."

Tony met Megan’s eyes and said, "How can he not understand? It’s not like he supported you in anything you ever wanted to do."

Megan watched the expression harden on her partner’s face. She knew Tony had no use for her father. She also acknowledged that what Tony said was true.

"He honestly believes he was looking out for my best interests. I’ll just go and get it over with."

Tony’s thoughts were dark. In her mind he was nothing but a control freak that had used mental and emotional abuse, and on a few occasions physical abuse, to get Megan to conform to his wishes.

Pushing the dark thoughts from her mind, she knew that regardless of her personal feelings, she would support Megan’s decision.

"You do whatever you think is right." Quirking a half smile, she continued, "It’ll be over before you know it."

Megan smiled a silent thanks to Tony. She might not understand, but she was there for her and that was good enough.

Megan picked up the phone and dialed her parents’ number.

Barbara heard the phone ring and looked around for it. She found it on the kitchen counter, and picked it up, pushing the on button. "Hello."

"Hi Mom." Megan said, sitting forward on the couch.

"You’re finally back. Did you have fun on vacation? You never even mentioned you were going." Barbara said, wanting Megan to know her feelings were a little hurt about not being told about the vacation.

"Sorry, Mom. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision. But, yeah, it was fun. It ended too soon though." Megan said, standing up and walking over to the balcony.

Placated, Barbara said, "Well I’m glad you finally took some time for yourself. You spend way too much time at work."

Megan smiled to herself thinking, not anymore. "It was kind of nice for a change."

"Your father and I would like you to come over to dinner Saturday. He’s really proud of you." Barbara told her daughter, hoping what she said would convince Megan to accept. The last time she had come to dinner all Charles had done was belittle her job.

"Sorry Mom. We’re going to the game Saturday evening." Megan was glad she already had plans because Saturday was just a little too soon. She wanted more time to mentally prepare herself if her father decided to attack her job again.

Wouldn’t you know she’d have other plans. "What about the following Saturday then?"

That would work. "Ok. What time?"

Barbara sighed in relief. Now she wouldn’t have to listen to Charles complain about Megan never visiting. "How about 6:30pm?"

"Ok. See you then."

"Bye Megan."

"Bye." Megan disconnected the call and laid the phone down.

Scooting closer to Tony, she waited for her partner to move her arm before snuggling up against her.


Continued..Part 2 of 4

Return to The Bard's Corner