Title: Clandestine

Fandom: Xena Uber/Alt/Original

Rating: 18 or NC-17

Summary: A company burned, ex-CIA operative, who seeks absolution in a bottle, is forced into a situation that could be the defining moment of her life.  Burnt-out and long ago thinking herself incapable of feeling, her numb complacency is tested when she meets an innocent woman who must now suffer the ultimate consequences of her bad choices.

Disclaimer: Just in case there is a need to say this because a few of the characters might slightly resemble some cast members of a TV show we know and love, no infringement is intended to the powers that be at MCA/Universal. Other than that, the story, the characters and the fantasy are mine.

Warnings: This story contains lesbian sex. If that offends you but you continue reading anyway, then I take no responsibility if your retinas catch fire. Once again, I must mention that there is one fleeting recollection of heterosexual sex that is nonconsensual but not violent (you can tell from her snoring). There is also another scene that starts out as nonconsensual but changes very quickly.

Big Warning: My Spanish is rusty. Oh, let's not mince words, it sucks. Crossing my fingers that it isn't too far off.

This is for Ren, who really took me to task on this one. Thanks. I needed that.

And for Canna, whose initial reaction to this story inspired me to finish it. ;-)

Archive: Only with permission from the author

Chapter Fourteen

To know what is right and not do it, is as bad as doing wrong.


Both John Wainwright and the FBI listened to the phone call from the kidnapper and Jody. The multi-billionaire nearly wept as he heard his daughter's frightened voice crack. Sondra Wainwright nearly fainted when she heard the amount of money the abductors were asking not to kill her daughter. The federal technicians started the trace immediately, staring at their screen and then each other in disbelief when the results pinpointed a business district in Shanghai, China.

"Is that possible?" An agitated Wainwright asked Walt Sanborn after the call had ended and the terms of the ransom demand were discussed. "Could they be holding her in China?"

"Anything is possible. They certainly would have had enough time to get her there. We'll contact our office at the embassy and get them going on this. My gut tells me she's still here, though, still in the U.S., probably still in this state. The abductor's voice sounds almost, well, artificial -"

"Artificial? What does that mean?" Wainwright was confused.

"Not real. We're not talking to a real person. The voice could be computer generated. For example, if you call for train reservations, there's an automated voice that talks to you, interacting with your responses. The vocal inflections and lilts are different than with an actual person. I think that's what we're dealing with here."

"But Jody's voice was real," Wainwright protested.

"Yes, that was obviously her. I will talk to my analysts. Her voice could have been pre-recorded, although since she did have the proper headlines from this morning's local paper, that indicates to me that if it was pre-recorded, it most likely wasn't that long ago."

Wainwright shook his head. "I don't understand. You think these kidnappers really don't exist?"

"Oh, no, Mr. Wainwright, I'm sure they exist. They are just using modern technology as opposed to tradition to do their dirty work."

"But if she's still here, how could the call come from China?"

"Cleverly. We're obviously dealing with people who are not to be taken for granted."

"So, in a nutshell, with all of your electronic, digital and scientific methods, you are no closer to finding my daughter than you were yesterday afternoon, when you had no information at all."

"Mr. Wainwright, you need to give us a chance to dissect the data we just received so that we have a better idea -"

"I don't want you to have an idea! I want you to know! I want my daughter back! Alive!"

"Yes, Sir, I understand that but -"

"But nothing! You're advising me not to pay a ransom and right now, that's the only resolution that I see. I will call my lawyer and financial advisor and have them start getting the money together."

"Mr. Wainwright, again I must highly advise against that."

Outraged, John Wainwright put his face close to Walt Sanborn's. "Then find her, Goddamn it, find her before tomorrow's phone call or you won't be running the show!"

Special Agent Sanborn stood there, watching the irrational billionaire walk away from him. He wasn't sure who was turning out to be more difficult to deal with -  the emotional, illogical Wainwright or his detached, shrew of a wife. At least the heiress' husband was willing to listen to reason. Letting out a long, exasperated breath, he turned and walked back to the command center to talk to his team.


Tia had found some vanilla yogurt and toasted a bagel which she brought to her captive. The more she saw the heiress, the guiltier she was feeling. She had decided that, right now, she needed to spend as little time as possible with Jody as her senses were quickly approaching overload, torn between her desire to stay sober and really work on a plan to get them out of this mess or to get rip-roaring drunk and fuck her captive senseless. So, as not to tempt herself, she stayed in the master berth only long enough to deliver the tray and then she left, returning to the salon to pace and think.

She knew she had to call Bruce back, had to find out how deep he was in this thing and what, if anything, he was willing to do to get out of it. The problem was, if Bruce was lacking as many scruples as Montgomery, she could be opening a whole knew can of worms by trying to enlist his help. He could tip off Montgomery that she was fishing for a way out behind his back, searching for something, anything, she could get on the bastard to use as collateral.

On the other hand, Montgomery did not seem the type to want to share anything equally and that included responsibility. She bet that Bruce was in similar circumstances as she, the details of which could be anything. If he was being threatened by Jody's husband to 'do this or else,' he might be more than willing to work with her against Montgomery. After all, there was strength in numbers, even if the total only was two. Or he could be a coward and refuse to betray this monster, thinking he really would get a reward. Was she ready to take that chance?

God, she wanted a drink. But she needed a clear head to think this through.


It had not taken Jody long to finish her breakfast, Tia's brief appearance leaving her perplexed while she ate. Her captor was so hot and cold, mostly the latter, and she never knew what to expect when Tia entered the room.

Oddly enough, she found herself actually looking forward to the tall woman's visits. Jody tried to convince herself that was due to feeling isolated and any company was better than nothing. Realistically, she knew it was more than that. Tia aroused her curiosity in the most engaging way with her daunting yet...protective...demeanor. Jody realized that although her captor frightened her, she also fascinated her.

Jody was discovering that she wanted to know what made Tia tick for more than just using the information for her survival. Yet she couldn't define exactly why she wanted to know. Something changed when Tia alluded to her lesbianism, something that made Jody want to practically interrogate Tia about her orientation and how and when she knew. There were so many questions the heiress had about herself and even though the woman holding her hostage probably wasn't the best source, she was the first person Jody had met that she didn't feel would judge, criticize or demean her for her curiosity.

When Tia came back for her breakfast dishes, Jody was disappointed when her captor picked up the tray, advised her she would be back with her lunch in a few hours and exited the room without further conversation. Common sense told her she should be grateful for the limited contact but, instead, she felt neglected and very, very alone.

The solitude gave her too much time to think about her immediate future, wondering if she even had one.


Montgomery had returned downstairs to all the activity with the knowledge that he had passed his polygraph, not that there was ever any doubt. Wainwright was now in the upstairs study behind closed doors, where the lie detector had been set up, being grilled by the forensic psychophysiologist and after him, it was Sondra's turn.

He sought out Agent Marciano to find out what he had missed during his morning in the box. The young fed filled him in on the ransom call and what they had determined from it. It didn't bother Montgomery that they had figured out so soon that the voice setting up the terms of the abduction was synthetic, nor did it faze him that they realized quickly the call didn't really originate from Asia. They were still no closer to finding his wife and by the time they had unraveled the mystery, the ransom would be paid and she and his accomplices would be dead.

Montgomery was being kept abreast of the hunt for his wife and any other areas that the CIRT group felt was pertinent for him to know. Not wanting the search teams to happen onto The Quintessence by accident, he decided to take that out of the equation ASAP.

He casually mentioned the supposition of Jody just getting fed up and running away. He continued by telling Marciano that she had been acting a little strange the last few weeks, acting unusually antsy. Maybe it was the pregnancy, he went on, he heard women got a little crazy with the sudden hormonal changes and knowing the responsibility of bringing a Wainwright heir into the world may have been too much pressure for her. She was a lot more mentally fragile than even her parents knew, he advised the agent.

"Do you think she would set all this up herself just to get lost for a while? No disrespect, Sir, but that would be a federal offense."

"Nothing her father couldn't get her out of. She pleads temporary insanity, agrees to get help, the attorneys on retainer do their legal magic and it all disappears."

Shaking his head in disbelief, Marciano still didn't want to discount even the slightest possibility of that scenario. "Hypothetically speaking, if she did something like that, any idea where she might go?"

"Well, to start, has anybody checked the family's three yachts?"

Chapter Fifteen

Courage is being the only one who knows you're afraid


"Goddamn it! Fucking son-of-a-bitch!" Tia swore, clicking the phone shut. She really could not believe Montgomery was actually bringing the FBI directly to her. She did understand the theory behind it but it didn't make the reality of it any easier. Moving quickly around the deck and the interior of the yacht, she picked up any mess she had previously made, using the trash compactor to get rid of it. She then did a quick tidying up of the stateroom she had been sleeping in. Performing a spot check walk-through, satisfied with her hasty cleaning job, she then walked down to Jody's room.

Unlocking the door, opening it wide, leaving it in that position, she didn't bother knocking, announcing herself or trying to determine where the heiress was in the room, she just barged in with a purpose. She headed right toward Jody, who backed up against the wall, startled by Tia's unexpected aggressiveness. Grabbing Jody's upper arm, pulling her along, Tia moved first to the head, as she quickly wiped down any excess water with the bath towel Jody had used that morning. She then removed any dirty clothes from the hamper.

Coming back into the stateroom, opening a closet door, she placed the items in the very back behind a stack of shoeboxes. The ex-operative then began searching through drawers. "I need scarves, kerchiefs, anything along that line, where can I find them?"

"Why?" Jody asked, suddenly afraid of the savage look in Tia's eyes. She couldn't have known that expression had nothing to do with her.

"Where?" Tia stopped short of yelling, trying to convey an urgency, her grip on Jody's arm tightening.

Leading her to one of the storage containers under her berth, Jody pulled out several silk scarves as Tia removed the entire drawer and then sat Jody down on the bed, binding her feet together. "What are you doing?" Now she was beyond alarmed, her heart in her throat.

"Just don't ask and do what I say." Finishing her knot, Tia grabbed for another scarf.

"Please don't do this," Jody begged, hanging on to the last shred of composure she possessed, as Tia tied her hands.

"Shhhh, shhhh, I have to, okay?" Tia was surprised at how soothing her own tone of voice was. "No debate here. If you do exactly as I say, you'll be fine. If you don't? I'll have to hurt you."

Jody's eyes grew wide, terrified of what that might possibly mean. So far, Tia had been benevolent toward her, had treated her with as much respect as the situation would allow. However, she had caught a glimpse of the taller woman's temper and strength and did not want to test their boundaries. "Why are you doing this?"

"My source tells me that this boat is going to be boarded. You can't be found here and neither can I. This will only take as long as it takes for them to walk through and make sure you aren't here."

After tying a gag around Jody's mouth, Tia carefully laid her down on the floor, gently pushing her into the compartment, face first, and then slid in behind her, pulling the drawer closed as she inched them in. The quarters were so close that both women were tight up against each other, Tia knowing Jody had to feel every curve of her body touching Jody's back. Reaching over the heiress, Tia pushed the opposite drawer out slightly, so that she could reposition herself, using the least amount of space possible and then she pulled that drawer to her, securing them in total darkness, inside the bed. Not wanting to lay on her right arm for fear it would go to sleep, Tia maneuvered it so that it snaked under Jody's neck and around to cup Jody's left shoulder, her left arm around Jody's waist to hold them tightly together. Jody had no choice but to rest her head on Tia's bicep, leaving Tia now breathing into Jody's hair.

They could not see each other but a visual was not necessary as both were very aware of the full body contact. They could feel each other breathe, hear each other's heartbeat, sense each other's apprehension about being that close. Tia's desire to kiss the back of Jody's head, to nuzzle her neck, to run her hands over the body in her arms was overwhelming. They torturously maintained that position for ten minutes before they heard conversation in the distance, indicating there was now someone else on the yacht.

As the voices and the footsteps got closer, Tia regulated her breathing and gently put her index finger to Jody's top lip, who also forced herself to draw shallow breaths. Both Tia and Jody started to perspire, each wondering if their thundering heartbeats could be heard outside the compartment. The lack of ventilation and danger of the moment wasn't the only factor causing the women to heat up.


Danny Marciano and another agent accompanied Montgomery on the three yacht tour, starting with The Quintessence. He was sure they would find nothing out of the ordinary but he was grateful to have something to do away from the estate. He had questioned the heiress' husband as to why this boat wasn't anchored with the other two which were right off shore and was fine with Montgomery's answer that this is where his wife wanted it. Montgomery had also apologized in advance, saying he wasn't sure in what condition the live-in security officer left it before going away on his vacation.

Agent Marciano asked Montgomery who was watching the yacht while the guard was away and Montgomery told him that he was trying to keep an eye on it himself while Kevin was gone, he'd try to get out here once a day on his lunch break. He then admitted that his schedule had not permitted him to leave work and he had skipped a day or two, trusting that no one would bother it, being where it was.

The two agents boarded The Quintessence and walked through while Montgomery waited on the bridge. He was tempted to go with them, to make sure they didn't find anything but he was pretty confident that Tia would keep herself and his wife out of sight and quiet, for her own safety as well as his.

It took them a total of fifteen minutes to search the yacht, not surprised that they didn't find anyone aboard or anything strangely out of place. While the other agent looked behind closed doors, Marciano also went through the motions of a half-hearted search, including tugging out the drawers under the berths. Seeing them filled with clothes, he shoved them back in, the one under the bed in the master stateroom stopped from slamming Jody in the face by Tia's hand.

"Why is the TV and stereo system removed from the bedroom and sitting in the living room?" the other agent asked Montgomery.

"Oh...our security person advised me that the room needed to be rewired, he was concerned because the plug kept getting hot, so he just took everything out. I've been meaning to get someone over here to fix it before Jody had her next little party here."

Easily believing him, the two agents were satisfied with their inspection and left to move on to the other two Wainwright yachts.


Pushing the drawer back out, Tia had to use her free arm and foot, which required her to stick her lower leg between Jody's knees to get the proper amount of leverage. If they both didn't feel like they were suffocating, Tia might have opted to stay there a while longer. The body contact had been impossible to put into a decent perspective and Tia keeping her hands to herself, except for what needed to be touching Jody, had been a nearly unattainable exercise in self-control.

When the drawer was free, Tia helped ease Jody forward until her body wormed its way out, Tia right behind her. Standing up, Tia reached down and delicately pulled Jody to her feet. Both women were bathed in sweat and after Tia removed Jody's gag, she ran her thumb smoothly over a red mark next to Jody's mouth left by the scarf and then guided a wisp of wet hair behind Jody's ear.

"Are you okay?" Tia inquired, untying Jody's hands, then her feet as the heiress stood before her.

Still reeling from the incident they had just endured together and resulted in them being as intimate as they could get without being naked, Jody couldn't speak, she could only nod. Tia holding her for the last forty-five minutes, saving her from certain pain by halting that drawer being jammed into her and then the almost tender touching of her hair, Jody's head was spinning from the sensation that was now encompassing her entire body. She felt faint and sat down on the bed before she passed out.

Tia noticed this and placed her hand on her captive's shoulder to steady her. "What's wrong?" The question was just a formality as Tia was sure she knew what had happened to Jody. If they were experiencing the same thing, the heiress wasn't weak solely from the sweltering space they had just shared and she wasn't wet just from the perspiration.

"I don't know," Jody finally answered. "I felt a little dizzy. Probably too much..." She pointed down, toward the vacancy left by the drawer. "...of that."

Tia wondered if she had purposely left that statement up to interpretation. She reached into the refrigerator and plucked out a bottle of water, twisting off the cap, handing it to the heiress. "Rehydrate yourself."

Accepting the bottle from Tia, Jody looked up at her, feeling very indefensible at the moment. "Shouldn't you drink too?"

"Oh, I intend to," Tia told her. She peered down into Jody's questioning eyes. There was a storm raging in her own. She wanted to reach down and caress her captive's face. Instead, she tightly balled up her fist and kept it at her side, hoping to redirect the energy of the licentious tempest brewing within her. Jody's expression told Tia that she felt something, as well.

Something undefinable electrified the air between them and it jolted both women to their cores. Seconds seemed like hours as neither could break eye contact. A current traveled through Jody's body in a continual loop that damned near set her blood on fire. She had never experienced anything quite like it.

What the hell was happening in that room? Jody was encountering a fluttering in her stomach that she only got when a situation sexually excited her. She closed her eyes and tried to will it away. It had to be fear. Or fatigue.

Jody indirectly looked at Tia again, avoiding that sapphire gaze that had so stirred her before and was continuing to have a profound effect. It was an impossibly sultry expression which, once again, left the heiress breathless.

Jody's undisguised reaction to her prompted Tia to cut their interaction short. She really did not trust herself alone with her captive anymore. "I'll bring back some lunch for you."

"I'm...I'm too upset to eat," Jody admitted.

"Then I will be back at suppertime with something for you."

"Okay." She watched her captor's back as she walked to the door. "Tia?"

"Yeah?" Tia turned toward her voice but would not look at her.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Stopping that drawer from hurting me."

"I told you I need to keep you safe and well until this is over."

"I think it's more than that. I think that deep down inside, you're a decent person."

"You're wrong. Anything else?"

"I'm not wrong," Jody argued, quietly.

Not responding to that, Tia closed the door behind her, locking it.


Jody again sat on her berth, stunned. She could not believe this. Taking a long drink of the cold water, which did nothing to help cool her elevated body temperature, she pondered the spot she was now in. To say her life was certainly a mess was a gross understatement.

Yet more troubling, more disturbing than the fact that she had been abducted and had no idea what the immediate future held for her welfare, was her unmistakable attraction to the woman who was holding her hostage. What was that about? Jody tried to shake the thoughts out of her system, horrified that she had clearly been aroused by the woman who might very well kill her. It had to be because she was scared and tired and her emotions were all over the place.

Yes, this woman was coarsely stunning and she had an obvious commanding presence but to feel such an unexpected...desire...for her? No. It had to be something else. It had to be just her reaction to those suggestive blue eyes reflecting the tall woman's own libidinous inclinations.

Shaking the absurdity of those thoughts from her brain, Jody retreated to the head to take another shower. She would definitely use more cold water than hot this time.

Chapter Sixteen

Choice, not chance, determines destiny.


Tia had started drinking heavily the rest of the day after she had showered the sweat from her overheated body. She had been trying to stay away from the booze, trying to keep a clear head, trying not to act on the personal feelings she had been rapidly developing toward her captive but it was too much. She wasn't that strong yet.

The beguiling blonde hadn't turned out to be quite the pretentious bitch Montgomery had made her out to be. On the contrary, she appeared to be one of the nicest, most down-to-earth women the former operative had ever met. Tia was quickly reaching a point where she knew she couldn't do this anymore.

Jody was petrified and that was obvious to Tia regardless of how the heiress tried to disguise it. The ex-officer was being besieged with an acute attack of conscience and suddenly she knew she wanted not only a whole new deal, she wanted a whole new deck of cards. She poured herself one more shot of the good stuff and chased it down with the rest of her beer. 

Tia had just settled onto the bridge, placing the scotch bottle on the small table beside her seat, one that faced the vast expanse of the ocean, when the cell phone rang. She clenched her teeth and drew in a deep breath. She really did hate this man. As she reached back into the refrigerator for a cold beer, she answered the phone. "Yeah?"

"Nice job, Ramone. If they suspected anything, they hid it well so I think you're safe there until we conclude this little operation." Montgomery was clearly very pleased with himself.

"Define safe," she growled at him, opening her beer and taking a long pull.

"Are you always this surly?" He sounded amused. "I would think after having to be in such close proximity to my wife that you would be thanking me."

"If you think your wife so fucking hot, why the hell do you want her dead?" She spit out.

"Although she is a delectable little morsel, I can get that anywhere."

"And you think I can't? I've got news for you -"

"Yeah, whatever. I'm not wasting time arguing with you about whose is bigger. So how is the little woman after her ordeal this afternoon?"

She was tired of his arrogance and smugness so she decided to try a different approach. "You'll be happy to know that she was all over me. So your wish finally came true." There was dead silence on the other end of the line, which actually made Tia smile. "What's the matter, Montgomery? Cat got your tongue? I thought you'd be happy to know a certain pussy had mine, too."

"You're kidding me," he said, finally, his tone one of disbelief. "You are kidding me, right?"

"I thought this was what you wanted, what you fantasized about. Yeah, she's quite the hot little ticket. Very responsive. I guess being so close to me in that tiny compartment triggered something in her. I have to tell you, Montgomery, she's very, very eager to please. Why you'd want to get rid of that, I don't know."

His voice seemed strangled. "You're telling me that my wife fucked you?"

"No. I fucked her but I left her wanting. I'm sure tonight when I go back for more, it will be a different story."

He snorted. "Now I know you're kidding me. You can't be talking about my wife. Beautiful, yes. Phenomenal body, yes. But she's more than a little boring in bed."

"Maybe in your bed." Tia reveled in the mute response from Montgomery.

Finally, tightly, he said, "Did you rape my wife, Ramone?"

"You can't rape the willing. And besides, why are you sounding pissed? Like I said, I thought this is what you wanted." It was just as she suspected. His fantasy was better than the reality. Tia was sure the actual thought of her having sex with his wife wasn't quite as stimulating as he assumed it would be, not for anything else than until Jody was dead, she was still Montgomery's property. And all dirty joking aside, he was a very territorial man. Now that she'd had her fun, she chose to be honest. She didn't want him thinking that, because of this imagined intimacy, Jody would be less afraid or Tia would be less likely to kill her and have him suddenly change his plans. She needed time to think about how to get herself and her captive out of this alive and, hopefully, unharmed. Tia then laughed, the inflection having a cruelty to it. "You're such an idiot, you know that, Montgomery? I haven't touched your wife. She's terrified and I'm keeping her that way," Tia lied. "But thanks for letting me know that you couldn't satisfy your wife in bed."

"I never said that," his voice bordered on defensive. "Even if she did go for women, which she doesn't so I know the only way you'd get her would be by force, she's too damned inhibited to be satisfied in bed."

"No woman is inhibited if she has the right partner."

His smugness returned. "Trust me...if I couldn't open her up, nobody could."

Rolling her eyes, making a quick, silent gesture as though she were a male jerking off, she said, "I'm sure. So...what's on the agenda for tomorrow?"


It was getting chilly after the sun had disappeared from view. Tia looked out at the offing, stood up from the deck chair, hooked the scotch bottle and descended the staircase to the salon. She placed the bottle back in the cupboard and contemplated her next move very carefully. Constant drinking, recalling the day's events and her conversation with Montgomery about his wife had worked her up to frenzied horniness. Normally, if it had been anyone else, Tia would have accepted the unspoken challenge that Montgomery presented regarding his wife's restraint in bed. But she could not look at Jody as a conquest or as a pawn in Montgomery's sick game.

On the other hand, despite Montgomery, Tia decided she had to have Jody, she could no longer stand that sexually magnetic pull. And she was pretty sure Jody wanted her, too, except Jody wasn't acknowledging it as such. Or maybe she was. The candidly wanton look in her eyes and her distracted, flustered behavior that afternoon after being enclosed in the compartment together and, even the night before, when she said to Tia, "If you don't have fire in yourself, you can't very well warm others, now can you?" spoke volumes...or at least it did to the tall, desperately lonely brunette.

She unlocked the master stateroom door quietly and closed it after she'd crossed the threshold. She let her eyes adjust to the dark and then studied the still form of the heiress, supine above the covers. So beautiful, so vulnerable, so trusting in slumber. Tia knew Jody was exhausted, knew she fought losing consciousness for fear of it being her last night's sleep. The first day, Tia wouldn't have cared but now, after a little less than forty-eight hours since she took this woman hostage, Tia knew she wasn't going to, couldn't hurt her. At least not in a violent way. Something about Jody Montgomery was drawing her in, was almost familiar and, as though she were suddenly on a mission, Tia was overwhelmed by the need to sexually connect with the heiress. She may have been wrong about this but she couldn't stop herself.

Tia settled herself on the bed as lightly as possible so she wouldn't suddenly awaken and startle her captive. She stretched out behind the sleeping form lying on her right side and slowly snuggled in close, up against Jody. Almost instantly, the heiress cuddled back into Tia's body, as though it was routine.  Obviously she was still asleep. Gingerly, Tia placed her left hand on Jody's hip and lightly traced a pattern, over her clothing, up to her shoulder, repeating this movement several times. Leaning her head in, she nuzzled the side of Jody's face, inhaling the fragrance of her lightly fruit-scented shampoo. Burying her nose into the short, blonde mane, she began kissing Jody's neck, from her earlobe to her collar bone and that's when she felt the smaller woman start to stir.

As Jody moaned lightly in her sleep, Tia snaked her hand around her captive's waist, securing their bodies closer together. The ex-operative nipped lightly at the inviting, delicate throat displayed before her, following with slow kisses, as her hand found its way under Jody's blouse and connected with warm skin. Feeling the woman in her arms involuntarily shiver, Tia continued her path up the heiress' ribcage to make lazy circles outlining Jody's breast. A smile came to Tia's face as her thumb brushed over a very stiff nipple. Tia cupped Jody's full breast and lightly pinched the erect flesh causing another moan to rise up from deep within Jody's chest.

Propping herself up on her right side to give herself better access, Tia's lips led a trail of more kisses along Jody's cheekbone. She touched the side of Jody's mouth with her own and again, unexpectedly, the heiress turned her face toward Tia, Jody seeming to crave more, direct contact. Tia was amazed to find Jody was still out of it, that the reaction appeared impulsive.

Jody's lips were very soft, very kissable, but Tia had decided that long before the desire to make love to her had practically consumed her. An unexpected thrill surged through her body as she intently pressed her mouth to Jody's and the heiress was responding so positively to her, she had to pull her head back slightly to see if Jody's eyes were open. She was surprised to see that Jody was still, for the most part, asleep.

Tia continued to lovingly assault Jody's mouth as her hand persisted in manipulating the heiress' breasts. Suddenly she felt Jody's fingers on her face, caressing her chiseled cheekbone before finding their way to the back of her head, tangling in her hair. Jody's other hand covered Tia's as it massaged her breast and her lips parted begging for Tia's tongue to come out and play.

Dueling with her captive's sweet, languid tongue, Tia realized that Jody was waking up, albeit slowly. She lingeringly slid her fingers down the front of the heiress' cotton panties, feeling wetness through the material. She slipped her hand inside the undergarment, massaging the moist, soft curls she felt there. It pleased her when Jody arched into her touch, moaning loudly. Slithering two fingers over the well lubricated area, Tia circled and teased Jody's clit, applying a little more pressure each time. The longer the strokes, the more intense the contact, the harder Jody breathed.

Now, wide awake, Jody could not have pushed Tia away even if she'd had the presence of mind to as what she was doing felt so good, so needed, so wanted.  Her mild bucking encouraged Tia to continue as Jody could feel the whirlpool of emotions swirling within her body, a sensation between her legs she hadn't felt since she could not remember when, if ever. So fast and so strong was her climax building and pumping through her veins, she thought she would burst.

Tia had stopped kissing Jody to study her expression as she so obviously was reaching the edge. Their eyes locked, Tia's looking ferocious and expectant while Jody's were a mixture of desire, surprise and gratitude - but no apprehension.

Closing her sea green eyes, now darkened by a voracity she never knew existed within her, Jody tilted her head back, opening her mouth to scream her release. Instead, she buried her face in Tia's shoulder, muffling her vocalizations against her captor's jersey, quivering as the orgasm continued to roll through her.

"Come on," Tia whispered into her hair, "let it out. Nobody's going to hear you but me. Let it out."

It was the impossibly sultry voice in which the words were spoken, added to the fact that Tia never stopped stroking her that almost instantly brought Jody right back to coming again. She dug her fingers into Tia's arms, preparing for the sensation to wash over her once more only this time when the climax hit her, she did as Tia suggested and yelled her release with several "Oh gods" "Oh fucks" and "Tias" before she regained control of her senses and her body. 

Kissing Jody passionately as she settled down, Tia gratefully - if not somewhat smugly - held Jody as she relaxed back on the bed, occupying the same position she had before they started. Feeling the woman in her arms shuddering again, the former operative rose on one elbow and looked at her to discover that the heiress was ever-so-quietly weeping.

"Jody...please don't cry," Tia whispered in her ear. 

The smaller woman tried to wiggle away from her, tried to move from her captor's embrace, coiling up in a fetal position, folding her arms protectively across her body. "I can't believe I just let you do that." Her voice was hushed and her tone sounded ashamed.

Brushing her lips next to Jody's ear, Tia lightly outlined the delicate shell with the tip of her tongue, feeling the heiress stiffen, not sure whether it was from regret and horror or resisting her own traitorous urges. "It's okay..."

"No," she spat out in an anguished hush, "it is not okay. Jesus! What is this...do I have a sign on me that says fuck me while I'm sleeping? Please go. Please, Tia."

Embarrassment and anger burned in the cheeks of the taller woman, who was suddenly sober and momentarily frozen in place. Had she been wrong? Had she just forced herself on someone unable to resist her from fright? No, no, no, she wouldn't be able to live with herself if fear was the cause of the submission. Instinctively she knew it was not the case and she would not leave that room without an explanation from the heiress as to her sudden retreat.

Rolling over Jody's body, Tia straddled her, grabbing Jody's wrists and pinning them to the bed, making the smaller woman focus on her. At first Jody looked so innocent, afraid and exposed. Then she got mad, and tried to fight her way free from the stronger woman's grasp but there was no way she could match the former CIA officer's energy and muscle. "Get off me, Tia! Let me go!!"

"Not until you answer a few questions," Tia told her, evenly, her eyes now ice blue and narrowed. Tia was wrong about a lot of things but she never misread the signal of attraction, almost having a sixth sense about when even the most aloof woman wanted her. She wished the little blonde would stop struggling. Her movement and the action of restraining her was firing up Tia's libido in the worst way. "Why are you so pissed off? You certainly didn't act like it was against your will. If you had told me to stop, I would have."

Scrappling in an attempt to achieve her physical freedom, unable to gain any ground, especially since Tia exerted little effort to hold Jody down, Jody surrendered and stopped wrestling with her captor, the tears beginning again. "I don't want to have these feelings toward you..." she finally admitted, breathing it out as though she had been fighting to keep air in her lungs and had to exhale.


"WHY??!!" Jody almost laughed at the question but thought better of it when she saw that Tia was deadly serious. "You abducted me! You are holding me hostage and you're probably going to kill me once you get the money!" The impact of her own words struck her like a hard slap in the face and her eyes promptly stung with tears again.

Realizing what Jody was saying and fearing, Tia felt the immediate need to comfort and reassure her. She knew she had to tell her she would not only never kill her, she would never allow one hair on her head to be harmed. "Shhhh, shhhhh, Jody, no. No." Tia loosened her grip on Jody's wrists. "Listen to me...shhhhh." When she had the heiress' undivided attention, she continued. "I'm not going to kill you. I give you my word."

"Your word? Jesus Christ, Tia...!" Jody's expression was incredulous.

"Okay, all right, I know that sounds ridiculous under the circumstances," Tia conceded, "but..." Then the ex-operative thought about what she was saying. Of course it made no sense. She was not exactly exhibiting that she had the heiress' best interest at heart by holding her captive in a secluded, self-contained area until she got paid handsomely for this task. She relaxed her grip even more on Jody's wrists as her anger dissipated. "Jody...I don't want to hurt you. Not any more than I already have."

"Then why are you doing this?" Her words emerged as a hiss but there was a genuine question in her eyes.

"Because your husband is paying me to..." It came out before she thought about it, startled by her own slip, wondering if it was Fruedianly intentional but her surprise at herself was no match for the stunned look of ultimate betrayal and hurt on her captive's face.

"Wh-what?" No. Not Tony. She knew things weren't perfect between them and that he had a greedy side but...this...? Tony had it too good to do something like this. Didn't he? No. It couldn't be. This woman had to be making this up. Yet why would she? What would she possibly have to gain?

"I'm sorry. But your husband is behind all of this." Tia released her hold on Jody but still remained in the dominant position over the heiress, astride her hips, watching for her words to really be absorbed.

"You're lying. Why would he? He has everything, why would he risk it by doing this?"

"I don't know the answer to that. I guess he wants out and wants more than what he'd get from a pre-nup. And, why would I lie to you, Jody?"

"Why wouldn't you lie to me?"

"How do you think I got access to this yacht? Why do you think your personal security officer so conveniently was sent on vacation right now? How do you think I had the inside scoop that we were about to get boarded? How do you think I knew about that space under the bed? Your husband set all this up. He's protecting me...at least until your family pays the ransom. And what happens after that is anybody's guess. For both of us."

What the taller woman was saying was sinking in and Jody couldn't hold back her hurt and confusion at the thought of Tony betraying her like this. She was torn between taking Tia at her word and defending her husband. "No, I don't believe you!" But she did and that was what fueled her angry outburst. She began furiously slapping at Tia, struggling to find a vent for her outrage.

Before she could restrain the rambunctious heiress again, Tia felt the contact of Jody's fists against her shoulders and one that actually connected with the side of her face. Finally taking control of the smaller woman's wrists, Tia held them to the bed on each side of Jody's head. Struggling more, Jody almost bucked Tia off her, which prompted the former operative to reposition herself so that she could immobilize the heiress. "Stop! Stop it, I am not going to hurt you!"

The look in Jody's eyes was belligerent. What she had just found out had caused her to feel a combination of panic, wrath, contempt, hate and the utmost infidelity. But what was transmitting to Tia, on top of her, was rabid lust and as the smaller woman thrashed about beneath her, Tia could not resist the temptation to lower her face to Jody's and unapologetically seize Jody's mouth with her own. It was a bold, arrogant move and a spontaneous decision to temper the heated moment, quite sure she could transfer Jody's rage to passion.

After a valiant but wasted effort to gain control of the situation, trying not to react to Tia's lips against hers, moving the way they were in the kiss, sparking more than longing within her, Jody ceased her struggling, actually becoming aroused again at being held down by this more than exciting woman. She returned the gesture with an equal amount of fervor, feeling the heat between her thighs again, wrapping her legs around Tia's waist. Unconsciously, Jody began to rotate her hips, pushing her pubic bone into the taller woman's belly, an action which caused Tia to growl almost uncontrollably and in one swift, fluid motion, Tia extricated herself from Jody and almost ripped the heiress' beach pants off her. This aggressive movement only served to fuel Jody's desire even more and she watched, almost helplessly fascinated as Tia quickly stripped her completely of any clothing.

As Tia slowly, reverently, scanned Jody's fit, enticing body, the heiress found it difficult to breathe. No one had ever looked at her like that before, with such fiercely untamed want yet with an almost gentle adoration and appreciation that paralyzed her with a deep-seated need for her captor, something of which she never would have believed herself capable. Jody's hands found the front of Tia's jeans and grabbed on, pulling the stronger woman down to her. Tia settled her body over Jody's, completely covering her, staring down into impatient but exposed green eyes, an expression that displayed vulnerability and an unsated hunger, a combination which Tia found irresistibly intoxicating. 

"Jody..." Tia's voice was hoarse with desire and she could not have elevated it above a whisper if she tried," I have to have you. All of you. It will be very hard to stop but I will if you tell me to."

"I know it's probably wrong...but I want you, too...I -" She was quieted with a smoldering kiss, one that she closed her eyes for and allowed herself to bask in the sheer bliss of the moment. She had never been kissed the way Tia was kissing her. Nothing had ever elicited the sexual excitement surging through her now and the beginnings of what had rippled through her only moments ago when the raven-haired woman had effortlessly fingered her to orgasm. She was awed by the way her body responded to Tia, rapt with the sudden knowledge that this was what it was supposed to feel like when someone made love to her.

As Tia appreciatively brushed her lips to every area of the heiress' upper body, taking her time, Jody savored every sensation, wishing each touch would last forever. Sometime, between Tia resting herself on top of Jody and hovering above the reddish-blonde curls that covered her mound, the enterprising ex-operative had taken off all her own clothes. Jody cursed herself for not paying attention as this was a body she really wanted to see up close and personal but Tia had kept her, well, deliciously occupied.

"Tia. Tia." Jody was breathless at the thought of what Tia was about to do to her but she needed to get her attention. She wanted to tell the woman dominating her not to be gentle.

"Yes?" Eyes the color of an unclouded sky locked with Jody's.

"Don't hold back." The look of prurient desire that Tia wore at that request was so overpowering, Jody could no longer speak. Instinctively recognizing that her captor would not be restrained, that she would, indeed, fuck her hard and completely and would not be concerned with whether or not this was something the heiress was used to, was no longer a question.

Silently acknowledging Jody's wishes with barely a nod, Tia's smile was feral as she returned her attention to getting things started. Nuzzling Jody's curls, she kissed her before parting her and firmly, ambitiously, assaulting her with her tongue. The sharp intake of breath she heard in response to her action, the hand in her hair pushing her head closer and the slight gyration of Jody's hips told Tia she was right in her appraisal of what the heiress wanted. The ex-operative did not have to ask Jody what it was she liked to do in bed. Tia would do it all.

As both women settled into a rhythm, evening became night and night became morning. At some point before the sun rose, they had fallen asleep tangled up in each other, warm, sweaty, bare skin seemingly connected and difficult to decipher where one body started and the other one ended.

Chapter Seventeen

Ability is rated by what is finished, not what is attempted.


Rising slowly into consciousness, Tia stretched the after effects of marathon sex out of her muscles and sighed contentedly. For someone who had never been with another woman before, Jody surprised her with the enthusiasm in which she thoroughly and vigorously participated. Tia expected a little more reserved, straitlaced behavior from the young aristocrat in bed, not the forward, wild, no-holds-barred woman who eagerly satiated her every whim. Before they had fallen asleep, Jody confessed that she didn't know what had 'gotten into her,' a remark that immediately made Tia bubble with laughter, to which she received a rather spirited swat on the shoulder.

The heiress went on to say that she had always practiced a tame, controlled, discreet manner during sex, possibly because she felt that was what was expected of her. She then held Tia tightly to her and told her that she really had no idea sex could be like that, that her body had the capacity to feel those things. Obviously, Tia had awakened something dormant in the heiress, unleashed something primal within her and she hoped there was no putting it back. It was then Tia suddenly realized the other side of the bed was empty.

Flying off the berth, it took three steps for Tia to reach the door, expecting it to be locked from the outside. The panic had risen to her throat and was nearly strangling her. In her haste to have sex with the heiress last evening, she had not thought about the fact that she could not secure the door from the inside when she had entered the stateroom. As much as she felt she had convinced Jody that she wasn't going to hurt her and they would figure this out together, the fact remained that she had abducted this woman, was holding her for ransom and with Tia confined, Jody could drive the yacht right up to the marina and have the cops waiting to arrest the disgraced former CIA officer.

Taking a deep breath, her fingers around the handle, she pushed down and the door opened easily outward. Relieved, she stood there, her eyes adjusting to the brilliant sunlight and searched the salon and the galley for her new lover. Her panic would have risen again, since Jody could have just as easily left the yacht and taken the dinghy back to shore, if she had not smelled the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Descending the stairs from the bridge, mug in hand, green eyes captured softening blue ones and a smile of almost shy indulgence greeted the tantalizingly naked woman leaning against the door. "Happy to see me, I see," Jody teased, giving Tia a drawn out once-over.

Glancing down at her taut nipples, the ex-operative then looked back at the beautiful blonde she had confidently and successfully ravished only hours earlier and grinned. "In more ways than one."

"Did you think I had left to turn you in?"

"It crossed my mind," Tia admitted.

"Why don't you get dressed and join me for a nice cup of coffee and we can talk about it."

"Does my nudity bother you?"

"Bother me? No. But it is distracting and I really think we should talk about our situation. You sit near me in that state and I can't guarantee we'll get any talking done."

Crossing her arms, Tia smirked. "And that would be bad because...?"

Shaking her head, Jody laughed and pointed. "Go put some clothes on."

Before Tia retreated inside the master state room, she and Jody exchanged a heated, meaningful look. Tia had no doubt she and the sexually adventurous little heiress would be warming up the sheets again before the sun went down and she felt a flash fire between her legs she knew could only be extinguished by one woman. What had Jody Montgomery done to her?


At the initial break of first light, Jody had quietly slipped out of bed and threw on her robe. She stood at the side of the berth, observing the long, naked form of the woman who, just mere hours before, had done magical things to her and to whom she had done things she never would have dreamed herself having the ability to give or receive. Her body still tingled as the residual effects of their passion thrummed through her. As she studied the gorgeous, sensuous woman in her bed and visions of their raw fucking rippled within her, her arousal began to build again and she knew if she did not get out of that room, she would not be able to control herself. Not that attacking Tia would have been met with any resistance, she was sure, but she needed to let her body calm down from the permissive force with which she had been taken and had just as aggressively answered with a potent flair of her own. The fact that this woman was dangerous only served to enhance Jody's excitement and the thrill of sexual play that was different, more fulfilling, compelled her to unabashedly crave more.

The reality was, however, that Jody was still a captive and regardless of the sudden, overwhelming change in their relationship, she didn't know if she could trust this intriguing woman. With that little bit of suspicion still in the forefront, Jody sidled over to the door, keeping her eyes on Tia and tried the handle. She then remembered, as the door opened freely, that Tia had removed the interior lock and could not have secured the door from the inside after she had entered.

Quietly shutting the door behind her, Jody pushed the bolt closed, leaning her forehead against the cool surface of the frame. If Tia was lying to her, this was her chance to escape. If Tia was telling her the truth and Tony was behind all this, escaping might put her in greater danger than she was in right now. If Tia was lying, just to get Jody to sleep with her, she would have left the room after sex and locked her back in. If Tia was telling the truth just to clear her conscience for wanting to sleep with her, her captor would still be her only hope to figure a way out of this situation. Closing her eyes, she opened the bolt and sighed. It amazed her that she decided she would rather take her chances with an unpredictably contentious (and unmistakably amorous) kidnapper than a man she had been married to for over three years and one she obviously didn't really know at all.

Once in the salon, Jody stopped to contemplate her next move. She had a lot to consider and she determined the very first thing she wanted was a decent cup of coffee. Maybe Tia was exceptional at everything else she put her mind to but she couldn't make coffee for shit. Walking into the galley, the disheveled heiress activated her Jura Capresso Impressa F9, figuring that the only reason Tia's coffee was so bland was that she probably didn't have the patience to figure out such a high-tech machine. How many coffeemakers had a touch screen with internet connectivity? How many coffeemakers cost nearly two thousand dollars? Her perfect cup of brew in hand, she climbed the stairs to the deck to watch the full sunrise and think.


"I should have let you out to make the coffee before," Tia smiled after taking a sip of the steaming beverage. She had chosen to wear a sleeveless t-shirt and a pair of Tony's boxer shorts she found in the drawer under the bed. Her tanned and toned arms and legs were a clear contrast to the pale, exposed limbs of the fairer woman seated opposite her.

"So you don't really like it awful, you just couldn't be bothered to crack the code of the complicated coffee machine," Jody joked.

"I was afraid I'd break it so I just made instant instead."

"Oh. Well, that explains why it sucked out loud. All you had to do was push the button and it makes coffee that rivals Starbucks."

"I'd rather have Dunkin' Donuts." Tia held the mug in both hands, took another sip and looked out over the water. "Why didn't you run?" She then focused on her new lover.

Under the scrutiny of intensely unique blue eyes, Jody refused to look away. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. "I thought about it. I really did. For about a minute. And then...I realized that I believed you. I believed you, basically a total stranger to me, that my husband is behind this, without even talking to him about it. How pathetic is that?" The heiress looked as though she were on the verge of tears, torn between disgust and sadness.

Tia leaned forward, also, and took Jody's hands in her own. "Is that the only reason you didn't run?"

"No," the smaller woman acknowledged, barely above a whisper. "I don't want to believe you are a bad person." She looked down at their joined hands. "I...I don't want to think that you have entered my life just to do me harm."

"Originally, I did. That's exactly why I was here. But now? I couldn't hurt you if I tried." She brought Jody's fingers to her lips and kissed them.

"I believe that, Tia. I know I shouldn't, but I do. If I wasn't listening to my gut instinct, you'd be in custody right now." Jody looked surprised at the boldness of her own statement. "Does Tony just want more money or does he want me dead?"

Tia's reluctance to respond to that question gave Jody her answer and then she watched helplessly as her companion broke down. First her abduction and then finding out who was responsible for it...it had to have been difficult to realize that everything she had previously thought was safe and secure was now shattered. Pulling the heiress into a tight embrace, Tia positioned Jody on her lap. "Listen to me," the ex-CIA officer said, quietly but firmly, "I don't know what kind of marriage you two had but he's an idiot to want you out of his life. In any manner. I am hoping very much that his loss is my gain. In whatever capacity."

"We don't even know each other. I know nothing about you and all you think you know about me is only what you've read in the papers. Yes, granted, we just spent an incredible night together...but you have to admit, Tia, it was under the most extraordinary of circumstances."

"Yes. It was. All I know is that from what I've seen and what I feel, I want to get to know you better. A lot better." Tia cuddled Jody closer, wiping away her tears. "I don't give a flying fuck about your wealth. I don't care that you're high profile or that your family is famous. Your bank account doesn't impress me, I want to get that out into the open right away. My last lover was extremely well-off and it was not the reason I was with her."

"Did you abduct and take advantage of her, too?" Jody sniffed and lightly ran her finger along the pattern embroidered on Tia's t-shirt.

"No." Even though she could feel the smile on Jody's face against her shoulder, and Jody's tone seemed congenial enough, Tia's remorse was obvious.

"You like to pick up rich women?" Jody loved the physical position she was in. She felt unusually protected and it was comfortable. She tucked her head into the curve of Tia's neck, as Tia put her arms around the heiress and clasped her hands together over Jody's hip.

"It is the woman and not the money that I'm interested in."

"You do realize this is insane..." Jody commented.

"Yes, I couldn't agree with you more. My life is insane and I've needed for the insanity to stop for a while now and nothing has even come close to giving me the incentive to turn my life back around to being the responsible person I once was. Until you."

"Why me?" Her tone was curious...and hopeful.

Tia shrugged as much as her shoulders would allow with a blonde head lying against them. "Well...other than the obvious, I honestly don't know."

"How much was Tony going to pay you to finish the job?" The question was asked out of curiosity, not maliciousness but Jody felt Tia's reaction.

Expelling a long breath, the former operative's shoulders slumped slightly. "Ten million dollars."

"That's all? Huh. Nice to know what my husband thinks I'm worth."

"Well, actually...he's asking five hundred million..."

Jody sat up and looked directly at Tia. "And you're only getting ten? Oh dear, you need a business manager..."

"Honestly, I cared less about the amount of money than I did having enough to get me out of the States and get me started elsewhere. I would have probably pissed it all away on women and booze anyway."

Jody smiled, "Well, that's a glowing argument in favor of wanting me to be with you..." It surprised her that she was being so playful when they were talking about an acceptable price for killing her. "So what changed your mind about doing it?"

"You did." She kissed the top of Jody's head. "I honestly didn't think I was supposed to kill you when I got involved in this. I just thought I was supposed to keep you here and safe, keeping you out of sight and guarding you until the ransom was paid. Then, after I got you here, your husband changed the plans."

"Would you actually have done it?"

"If you are asking me if I am capable of doing it, the answer is yes. If you are asking me if I wanted to do it, the answer is no."

Jody sighed and slid her arm over Tia's middle. "It's wrong, my wanting to be with you, isn't it?"

"I don't know if it's wrong but I can assure you that it's probably not wise."

"Are you purposely trying to dissuade me from succumbing to your subtle charms?" Jody kidded, patting Tia's waist.

"You mean it isn't too late already?" Tia teased back. "I'm just saying we need to have a little chat about my past before you make any decisions about me."

"Should we talk about that before we discuss what we're going to do about my abduction?"

"I think we should." Tia wanted a drink. She wanted to start herself on her path to daily numbness before she revealed all to the woman in her arms, positive that someone as cultured and dignified as Jody would be horrified and repelled by her history. Maybe the heiress would surprise her and accept her as is, unconditionally. After all, Tia had already been pleasantly surprised that Jody wasn't quite so refined between the sheets. It also elicited a lascivious smile at the memory and a little unexpected heat between her legs.

She bit back the urge to deposit Jody in her chair and grab a beer and the bottle of scotch she had been working on yesterday. But the feeling of the heiress tightening her arms around Tia caused Tia to stay where she was and reassuringly kiss the side of Jody's neck just below her ear. This action sent an obvious shiver through the smaller woman and she moved her head back to look at Tia. "You keep doing that and we're never going to get anywhere except right back in bed."

"Again...that would be bad because...?" Tia inquired, her voice husky.

Green eyes engaged blue. "We'll never get anything else accomplished. And as much as I really want you to fuck me senseless again...and oh, God, do I...I think this is a little more important."

"Unfortunately, you're right." It was hard tearing her eyes away from Jody's, the expression the heiress wore was so unintentionally coy and inviting. Lifting Jody's chin with her index finger, Tia could not resist kissing Jody one more time before their dreaded talk.


They had made out a little longer than either had intended, finding it difficult to stop kissing each other and move apart.

Jody could not completely comprehend her body's impulses toward Tia and the magnetic tug that kept her wanting to touch this perilously beautiful woman. She could not recall ever being so attracted and drawn to anyone in her life and each time she even glanced at Tia, it brought her right back to a state of heightened arousal. Finally, she took the initiative to lightly push herself away from the woman who was igniting her libido and sit back in her own chair. "Okay, what is it you need me to know?"

"Everything." Sitting up, folding her hands on the table, Tia rested her forehead on her knuckles. Taking a deep breath, she sat up and looked beyond Jody, out to sea. "One thing you need to know is that...I'm a drunk." It was the first time Tia had ever said it out loud and she winced as she heard the words come out of her mouth. She focused on her companion whose expression was blank. Whether Jody had already guessed it or not wasn't evident by her reaction. When the heiress did not comment, Tia continued. "And it is because I'm a drunk that I got into this mess."

As Tia unraveled the tale of Montgomery entrapping her and blackmailing her into abducting Jody, Jody sat agape, all cognitive thought leaving her momentarily. Who was this man? Finally, she realized she was staring incredulously at the woman across from her and she closed her mouth and cleared her throat. "Tony murdered a prostitute? With your gun?"


Jody absorbed this with a slight nod and said, "A gun that you kept from when you were a CIA agent -"

"Officer," Tia corrected. "I was a CIA officer. An agent is usually a foreign national hired by the Agency or an officer of the Agency to spy on his or her own country. I guess the movies like the sound of 'agent' better than 'officer' so that's where the confusion comes in." She then went on to tell a riveted Jody about Maria Maladin, the case and being burnt which led her to drinking more and more until she just did not care.

"But, I still don't understand...how did Tony find you? I mean, how did he know who you were?"

Tia shrugged. Her throat was really dry. A cold beer would taste really good right about now. "He told me this Bruce guy who is working with him found me. How Bruce knew who I was, I don't know. He ever mention a Bruce to you?"

Searching her memory, Jody shook her head. "Not that I remember. In fact, to my knowledge, I didn't know he knew anyone named Bruce. But then...I'm discovering that I really didn't know this man at all." There was a hint of sadness in her voice.

"Well, whoever this Bruce is, he led your husband to me."

"You can stop referring to him as my husband because as soon as we figure out what it is we're going to do, he won't be my husband for too much longer." Jody threaded her fingers through her blonde locks as she slowly processed all this information. "Why? Why does he want me dead?"

"Now that, I'm not really sure. I do know it has something to do with him getting even with your father."

"My father?" What could her father have possibly done to push Tony to this point? Standing up, shaking her head, she looked down at Tia and said, "I really need a drink. Can I get you anything?"

"Oh, God, yes."

Chapter Eighteen

Plenty in the purse cannot prevent starvation in the soul.


Montgomery awoke after a great night's sleep. His little guided tour of the Wainwright yachts had been a success and so far everything was going along as smoothly as he could have hoped for. Just a day or two more and he would be free and independently rich, without the family ties. He enjoyed being able to toy with one of the wealthiest dynasties in the world but now he was getting bored and it was time to get this ball rolling.

He wondered what was going on at his in-laws' estate, how rabid and frightened John must be and how chafed and indignantly out of her mind Sondra probably was, but first, before he jumped into that frying pan, he needed to call the killer and then the geek.

Bruce, although obviously very smart, was a moron in Montgomery's book. Bulking up for some woman he didn't even know, getting hooked on steroids, making himself beholden to punks and becoming a victim of his own addictions and low self-esteem. If Montgomery had not needed Bruce's computer expertise, he would have eliminated him the second he refused to kidnap and kill Jody. Montgomery mistakenly thought, with Bruce's debts, conscience would have been secondary.

How fortunate that Bruce had recommended Tia Ramone to him. The burnt out alcoholic had been the perfect patsy for his sinister plan. Regardless of her anger and resentment at being involved, he had her between that proverbial rock and hard place where she had to do what he told her. For the once respected, enterprising, rising star CIA operative, there was no way out. He could not afford any witnesses. Both she and Bruce would have to die. Two loners with only enemies. No one would miss them.


Tia's cell phone rang right in the middle of a tender kiss with her new lover. Jody had just placed a beer in front of her and Tia pulled her in for a gentle liplock.

"Do you want to listen in on this?" Tia asked.

Jody was undecided. She wanted to believe Tia and yet, she wasn't sure she wanted to hear Tony's voice on the other end of the line. She sat down next to Tia and shrugged. "I'll just sit here." As Tia answered her call, Jody poured champagne into her flute half-filled with orange juice.

"Good morning, Agent Ramone," Montgomery greeted.

"I'm not an agent, you mook, that's FBI. What do you want?"

Although he bristled at the slang insult, he refused to let it come through in his voice. "First, I'm impressed. It's eight A.M. and you don't sound three sheets to the wind already. Second, you actually sound awake and alert."

"Gee...I'm so glad you're pleased," Tia responded, blandly. She looked over at an apprehensive Jody and winked at her, smiling automatically. Reaching over, Tia curled her fingers around Jody's.

"How's my little scorpion this morning?" The complacence in his tone was just aggravating as hell.

"Your little scorpion?" Tia repeated, puzzled. She saw Jody's eyes close in recognition of the phrase. It must have been that term of endearment that convinced Jody it was, indeed, her husband on the phone. Tia squeezed Jody's hand in reassurance.

"Yeah, that's what I would call her occasionally. Her birth sign. Scorpio."

"Your little scorpion seems fine." She was going to let it go at that and then she added, "I heard her moaning earlier, she seemed to be in some kind of distress but I found something to relieve her...aching." Tia and Jody exchanged an intimate smile.

"Good, good. Is she sick or do you think it was just stress?"

"Come on, Montgomery, do you really care?"

"Well, it bothers me to think of her being sick."

"But it doesn't bother you to think of her as being dead?" Tia watched as Jody bowed her head on that last word. Again, Tia tightened her fingers around her lover's in a comforting touch.

"That's different. You know, you had me going there last night, Ramone. I guess deep down inside, despite my taunting and even knowing your preferences, I really didn't think you'd force my wife to have sex with you. After all, you did have some honor at one time."

Yes and thanks to your wife, I'm getting it back, Tia thought. "Whatever," she shrugged it off. "What'd you call for? I'd like to get my day started. I have some serious drinking to do."

"I can't imagine what your liver must look like. Okay, on to business. I have another couple sentences, with a list of individual words, that my wife needs to read to Bruce. Got a pen?"


The first thing Montgomery found out when he got to his in-laws was that Sondra Wainwright had failed the polygraph the day before. Her results were inconclusive. This news made Montgomery chuckle. Here he had passed with flying colors and he was lying through his teeth and his mother-in-law flunked and the only thing she was guilty of was being a cold bitch.

Searching out Agent Marciano, Montgomery put on his best concerned expression. "I just heard my mother-in-law didn't pass her polygraph. What does that mean? She's not involved, is she?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Montgomery, I can't discuss the results of Mrs. Wainwright's test with you," Marciano advised him.

"Why? My father-in-law already told me that Sondra -"

"Mr. Montgomery," Marciano interrupted, politely but firmly, "I can't. Again, I'm sorry. What Mr. Wainwright tells you is between the two of you but I am not allowed to talk about it with you."

Montgomery held his hand up in concession. "No, it's okay, I understand. I'm just anxious. It's just..." he hesitated for dramatic impact, "Sondra has always hated my wife." He shrugged, knowing Marciano would pick it up from there.

"Wait," the young FBI man began, not disappointing Montgomery and taking the bait, "Mrs. Wainwright hates her own daughter?"


Dialing Bruce's number, Tia waited for him to pick up while Jody quietly reread the script her husband had prepared for her.

"I wish there was a way I could let my father know that I'm okay," Jody sighed.

"Me, too. Unfortunately -" Tia heard Bruce answer and spoke into the phone. "Yeah, it's me. She is ready with her dialogue."

"Okay. Put her on." Bruce told Tia.

Handing the phone to her new lover, Tia studied the table, thinking, while she listened to Jody recite what was on the paper. When Jody was finished, she gave the phone back to Tia. "Got all that?"

"Yep," Bruce responded.

Taking a chance, Tia said, "Bruce...can we talk?"

There was dead silence on the other end of the line and then, "You know my name?"

"It's only fair. You know mine. In fact, you know it so well, you gave it to Montgomery."

"I...uh...look, it was nothing personal, okay? I mean, I don't know you, it's just -"

He sounded apologetic, Tia thought. This was a good sign. "Bruce," she interrupted him, "we can talk about that another time. Listen, you know Montgomery is going to kill us when this is over, if not before, right? He's not going to want any loose ends and that's exactly what you and I are. We both know way too much and there is nowhere on this planet we could hide where he can't find us."

There was more silence and finally Bruce said, "What do you want?"

"I want to meet. Can you come here? Without anyone knowing?"


Bruce stared at the phone after terminating the call. Well, that was unexpected. And a relief. But could he trust Tia Ramone? Probably more than he could trust his boss at this point. Plus, Mrs. Montgomery was right there and heard everything so, clearly, she was now aware of who was behind her kidnapping and the plan to eliminate her, regardless of whether or not the ransom was paid. Why was she still going along with it?

What did Ramone have up her sleeve? What could she possibly suggest that could get them out of this mess? He was desperate enough to find out.

But first, he had a job to do.


"Coffs Harbor, Sir." Agent Marciano told Wainwright, in response to the question of from where the call was pinpointed as originating.

"Where?!" The multi-billionaire asked again, his tone a reflection of hope that this location was more believable than Asia.

"Coffs Harbor. It's in Australia. New South Wales. The coast, Sir." Marciano braced himself for the tirade he knew was eminent.

Wainwright took two steps closer to Marciano and put his face right up to the agent's. "Do you believe the kidnappers have taken my daughter to Australia?" He bit off every word.

"Uh, no, Sir. It's, um, highly unlikely." Marciano hated his life at this moment.

"What kind of dog and pony show are you people running around here?! I want to know where my daughter is and I want to know today! Do you understand me, you imbecile?!"

"Mr. Wainwright, there's no need for name calling. We're doing our best, Sir," Marciano told him, as civilly as possible.

"If that's true then that is a sorry state for the FBI. Where is your boss?!"

"He had to brief his boss in Washington before he came here, Sir." Marciano checked the time on his watch. "He should be here any minute now."

"Good. When he gets here, maybe he can tell me why his boss in Washington isn't here, directing you inept fools on how to get my daughter back! I want some progress made on this today or I start handling it myself!"

"Sir, as I have advised you already -"

"Shut up, Marciano, or I'll have your job!" Wainwright hissed.

"Yes, Sir," Marciano obeyed, as he watched the irate father stomp away from him. Shaking his head and expelling a breath, he thought, 'you can have my job and then you'll know what it's like to have to deal with people like you.' Turning to walk back to the living room, he ran into Anthony Montgomery.

"Don't mind him. He's just used to saying 'jump' and having people respond with 'how high?'. I know you guys are doing everything you can. I mean, the whole world's watching, so I know the last thing you want to do is screw up." Montgomery's voice was soothing...in a snake-oil salesman sort of way.

Marciano was appreciative that Montgomery was a lot easier to deal with than Wainwright but that was starting not to set well with him. Montgomery was almost too easy to deal with. Although he had been nothing but helpful and cooperative, there was something about Montgomery that made the little hairs on the back of Marciano's neck stand on end. Maybe he was just too wary because of the unnecessary dressing down Wainwright had just given him. Montgomery was more solicitous than either Daddy or Mama Wainwright but then it was his wife who was being held for ransom and having God only knew what being done to her in the interim. That would make any husband crazy.

"So how close are we to zeroing in on getting my wife back safely?"

But that was one of the problems. Montgomery wasn't exactly acting crazy. Studying the too-well-rested-looking man opposite him, Marciano made a snap decision. "I don't seem to be giving out the right answers here and I'm not in charge of the case, so I think from now on, you should probably get your information from Agent Sanborn." With a polite nod, Marciano walked away.


Cocking his head, curiously, as Marciano moved away from him, Montgomery then shrugged, figuring that the agent was embarrassed by Wainwright's outburst. He tried to reassure Marciano that the old man's hissy fit wasn't personal but he could certainly understand how a grown man not used to dealing with Wainwright's tantrums would get self-conscious. He'd give Marciano an hour or two and ask him again what their progress was so he could plan his next course of action.

As long as he and his unknowing participant father-in-law could keep up the 'good cop, bad cop' routine, he was pretty sure the young agent would remain his best bet for inside information. By tomorrow, if the money ball wasn't already rolling, he'd have to raise the stakes. Although playing the FBI and watching his in-laws squirm was fun, this was getting tedious already and he did not want the feds to get too close before he eliminated his two accomplices.


Section 4


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