Trial of Conscience
The BMW pulled to a stop in front of Sydney's apartment. The small shotgun double house was a typical example of one of the unique architectural styles of New Orleans. The name "shotgun," as local lore would have it, came from the fact that this style of house had a long hall that went straight from the front door to the back door, and all the rooms were off to one side of the hall. It was said that you could shoot a gun through the front door and the bullet would exit the back door without hitting a thing.
Sydney occupied the right half of the house. The house was raised, with steps leading up to a small open porch. Evin could see a light on through one of the windows. All right Moran, do what you came to do. She felt the anger rise, and let it. Finish this once and for all. No more bullshit. Take control.
The car door flew open with an angry shove and closed with an equally angry slam. Fucking European cars. Can't even make any noise when you slam the door shut. Long purposeful strides carried her up the walk and the stairs where she stopped on the porch, in front of the door. With a quick jabbing motion, she pressed the doorbell.
The buzz of the doorbell startled Sydney. The clock showed 9:43. Who could that be? she thought as she got up from the couch and moved to the door. Looking through the peephole, she was startled to see Evin's profile. Sydney opened the door and stood there, not knowing really what to say. Evin stood sideways to the door, her arms folded across her chest.
"Sydney." The voice was low and cold.
"I've, uh, been trying to get in touch with you. Do you want to come in?"
Her voice is so soft. "No." I can't look at her. If I do.... She kept her eyes straight ahead, wishing she didn't have such good peripheral vision. "I'm withdrawing from the case. I'll have everything boxed and sent to the clinic in the morning." She paused for a second. "If you have any questions, please feel free to call me." As she turned to leave, a small hand grabbed her arm.
Sydney could feel Evin's body stiffen in response to her touch, the muscles under her fingers thick with tension. "Please...Wait...Talk to me."
Blue eyes tracked down to Sydney's hand and stared. "Sydney, we don't talk. We fight." Images of Gisela ran through her mind. We were both so good using words as weapons. Is that the only way I can relate to people? I fight people everyday for a living and I'm so tired of it. I don't want to do that with her.
"I know." Her voice was tinged with sadness. This isn't about the case, is it, Sydney? At least not for you. She squeezed Evin's arm gently. I thought I could deal with this later, after the case. But I can't. "Will you at least listen if I talk?"
She has such beautiful hands. It's so warm where she's touching me. Her skin's so soft. Evin didn't move and didn't answer. If I do this, I'll change my mind. I'll let her talk me into staying on this damn case and that means being around her. I don't know if I can handle that.
"Evin...please...look at me," she pleaded. What if she won't even listen to me?
If I look at her, I know what's going to happen. Do I want to do that to myself ? Her little voice interjected 'Do what to yourself? Feel? Care? It's already happened. You think you'll stop caring, stop feeling, after you walk away? Are you sure you're that good, Moran? That good at self-delusion? That good at burying things? Do you want to find out? Because if you can bury this, there's no hope for you, is there? You win and you lose, all at the same time. No pain, no hope.' Hope. Do I have any left? 'Why did you send that blonde away last night? You could have fucked her, used her to shove everything back down into that deep dark hole and locked it away, just like you always do. But you couldn't do it.' I've already made my choice, haven't I? Why does it feel like I didn't really have one?
"Please..." Sydney's voice caught. Her other hand went to Evin's cheek and her voice dropped to a whispered prayer. "Please...I need to see your eyes." A second turned into an eternity until stormy blue eyes raised to meet hers. She felt the intensity, an essence of spirit that was Evin, leave the stormy blue eyes, borne on a lightning bolt that found ground in her heart and soul.
Turning her body to face Sydney, she swallowed hard. I've made my choice. The thought echoed in her mind as she watched fear steal away quietly from the green, replaced by a kaleidoscope of emotions, swirling and creating patterns as unique as snowflakes.
The dark-maned head dipped and full red lips brushed lightly, hesitantly against Sydney's, finding softness and warmth. She drew back a little, her heart beating frantically in fear, blue eyes searching Sydney's green, until she found her answer. Then she captured Sydney's lips again, holding the kiss for long, timeless moments. And when the kiss ended, she found herself with her arms wrapped around Sydney and Sydney's wrapped around her.
A feeling of serenity coursed through her body as Sydney's head settled against her chest and her cheek rested on golden red silken hair. "This feels so, so good." It came out as a drawled purr, her low voice vibrating through Sydney.
"Mmmm." Other words escaped her. All her life, Sydney had believed that it was possible. Possible to achieve a state of total bliss. If anyone had told her that she would have found it here, on the front porch of a shotgun double on a humid New Orleans night in the arms of someone who had made her beyond crazy for a week, she would have started commitment proceedings. "The Raptor..." she mumbled.
"The roller coaster, in Cedar Point. That's what it's been like...that's what you're like."
Evin chuckled and squeezed Sydney tighter. "That gonna be a problem?"
"Nah," she mumbled into Evin's chest and hugged her tighter. "I love roller coasters."
"Good thing for me, then." I could stay wrapped around her like this forever.
"You wanna come inside?"
Sydney led Evin inside, guiding her to the couch. "You want something to drink?"
"Just some water, please."
"I'll be right back."
Sydney disappeared into the kitchen. Evin glanced around the room. A typical student's apartment really, but with unmistakable traces of Sydney everywhere. Books piled haphazardly into two bookcases, a computer set up in one corner on an old desk. Photographs interspersed amidst everything. Two Jazz and Heritage Festival posters. A stereo system with CD rack. A sofa that had seen better days, but still had a little life left. A wooden coffee table, an end table, and a stuffed leather chair. An old Guerilla Girls poster about Newt Gingrich. Evin laughed out loud.
Between tinkles of ice cubes hitting glass, Sydney called out from the kitchen "What's so funny?"
"Guerilla Girls. I love 'em. I've got twenty four of their posters."
"How many are there?" Sydney walked back in and handed Evin a bottled water.
"Thanks...I don't know. But one day, I will have them all." Her eyes drifted to a Young Republicans plaque with Sydney's name on it. She's a Republican? Christ, I kissed a Republican! "Uh...what's the deal with that?" she asked pointing to the plaque. Young Republicans and Guerilla Girls? How incongruous.
Sydney looked at the plaque. Using her best Tennessee drawl, she said "You, ma'am, are looking at the former treasurer of the Shelby County Tennessee Young Republicans Federation in lovely Memphis."
"A Republican," Evin muttered. "No wonder we fight so much."
Sydney laughed as she settled on the couch next to Evin. "Actually, I'm a card-carrying Democrat. That's from high school. My daddy's very active in the Republican Party and I did that as a concession to him. I keep it up as a reminder."
"I was wondering." Evin breathed a small sigh of relief. "Guerilla Girls and Young Republicans don't exactly mix."
Sydney pulled her legs up underneath her and settled back, hands wrapped around her iced tea. Smiling, she asked "Would you hold it against me if I was a Republican?"
"Nah," she said, returning the smile, "It'd just make for some interesting discussions ."
"That it would."
Evin took a long drink of water. Twenty minutes ago, I was going to be off this case. Sydney Parker would be out of my life and now I've kissed her and I'm sitting on her couch, wanting to kiss her again and again and again. Roller coaster is right.
"Hey, you alright? You kind of went out of it for a minute."
Blue eyes refocused on Sydney. "Um...yeah..."
"Are you ready to talk about what's been going on? With us?" Sydney put her tea on the coffee table and reached out and took Evin's left hand. Looking down at it, she noticed the two swollen knuckles and the angry purple bruises. "Ouch! What did you do to your hand?"
"Heavy bag. Hit it wrong, I guess." Wrong? How about too hard?
"Does it hurt? Do you need some ice?"
"Nah, I iced it down this morning." She flexed her hand a little as Sydney held it. "Just a little stiff."
Sydney kept her eyes glued on the hand she held and traced the fingers with her other hand. All right Sydney, honesty time. "I know why I've been fighting with you the way I have."
"Yeah. It's because I, uh, I've had a...." Oh God, here goes nothing, everything , "really strong reaction to you...good reaction...good, not bad, not bad at all. Really great, actually. And I, uh, didn't now how to handle it. The attraction. Well, that's not true, only sort of. I didn't understand what I was feeling, and it...well, it scared me a little...no, a lot...I got scared, so I got angry. You were the target. We had that fight Thursday, and that's when I figured out that...but then you were really sweet and all. We had a good talk once I figured it out and I wasn't angry anymore. Scared, but not angry." I'm babbling. She looked up sheepishly at Evin. "So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it." A hesitant smile crossed her face as she looked into unreadable blue eyes.
"Then why were you so angry this morning?"
Sydney reached for her iced tea glass. Oh shit. I was hoping she wouldn't ask that. That is none of your business, Sydney. She doesn't owe me an explanation and I have absolutely no right to be jealous. Jealous...I was angry because I was jealous. Oh man, I am so in trouble here. When I jump, I don't even look, do I? "Wayne went to Tea yesterday." Throw the ball in her court. If she wants to say something, she can. If not, I'll deal with it.
What does Tea have to do with this? Blue eyes blinked slowly. "And?"
"He...uh..." This is none of your business Sydney. Stay out of it and just deal with it. "I overreacted to something he told me and took it out on you. I'm sorry."
Evin kept her gaze even. I suppose it's my turn. "Um...I've pretty much felt the same way you have...about the attraction...and confusion...and the, uh...." Pausing, she took a deep breath. Can't even say you're scared, can you? "I tried not to...."
"Tried not to what?"
Sydney didn't even realize Evin had moved until she felt her lips taken hostage. Can you be a hostage if you're willing? The fleeting thought left her mind as she wrapped her arms around Evin's neck and pulled her closer. She felt a tongue brush her lips and moaned, her lips parting to allow entrance. As Evin's tongue explored her mouth, her body felt as if it were on the Raptor, hurtling through the one hundred eighty degree roll. Her breathing became ragged as adrenaline thundered through her, her mouth and tongue responding, hands moving into the dark mane, feeling the pull of the undertow, drowning in sensation.
Evin slipped both arms around Sydney's waist and pulled as she sat back, the end result landing Sydney in Evin's lap. Evin's whole world condensed to a single point of focus, Sydney Parker. The texture and taste of Sydney's mouth and tongue, the weight of Sydney against her body, how Sydney fit into her curves, how Sydney's hands felt running through her hair. She wanted to never stop feeling what she was feeling. Somewhere in her subconscious, a small spark of recognition flared. I've met my match , it whispered.
Air breathed out by one was inhaled by the other, nourishing one now as it had nourished the other, saturating the blood, racing through the vessels, feeding each cell. The kiss was finally broken, a guttural moan escaping Evin's throat as air hissed into Sydney's lungs.
With a shaky rasp of "Oh God," Sydney collapsed against Evin's chest.
"That." Evin's voice was low and smoky.
"I was answering your question."
"Mmmhmm," Sydney mumbled, having no idea what Evin was talking about. "This is sooo much better than fighting."
Evin chuckled and held Sydney tighter. "Much, much better."
Neither wanted to move from the position they were in and were content to stay were they were for a few minutes, until Evin felt something wet and cold dripping onto her back, soaking her t-shirt.
"Yeah?" came the mumbled response as Sydney continued to drift in a pleasant hazy state, lost in feelings and sensations.
"My back's wet."
Suddenly, Sydney sat up as she realized they were talking about something wet. She felt the heat increase as her face turned red. "What did you say?" she asked as amused blue eyes peered at her, both brows raised.
"Something's dripping onto my back." Evin's lips brushed Sydney's lightly. "You're even more beautiful when you're blushing."
"Oh no," Sydney groaned. She lifted her left arm up off Evin's shoulder, displaying the iced tea glass. "Sorry. I must have tilted the iced tea glass." She thinks I'm beautiful.
"How did you manage to hang on to that?" Evin shook her head as Sydney bent and placed the glass on the coffee table. "Never mind," she mumbled as the movement caused Sydney's sleep shirt to shift, revealing a delicate collarbone and a fair expanse of skin.
Her heart skipped a beat and she felt an intense rush of adrenaline throughout her body. I've got to get out of here before this goes any farther , she thought as her lips found the collarbone and kissed it gently. And then she found her lips wandering up the collarbone to Sydney's neck and down the top of her shoulder as her hands moved slowly down Sydney's back, coming to rest on her waist. Her nostrils flared as she inhaled Sydney's scent. She could hear Sydney's breathing starting to become ragged. She felt Sydney's body arch into hers, her breasts pressing into Evin's chest. Gotta stop this now. Can't lose control.
Sydney's mind couldn't find words to describe the sensations that cascaded through her body from Evin' touches and kisses. She knew she had reached another plane of existence where the only thing that mattered was feeding her carnal desires. Tingles and waves and shivers of pleasure took over and chaotically rampaged through her body. She arched into Evin as she felt a tongue trail down her collarbone. Then suddenly, the sensations were gone.
Sydney opened her eyes to find herself sitting on the couch with a very aroused Evin Moran standing in front of her. She's going to kill me yet. Sydney took a deep breath, trying to settle herself as her body begged for more. Okay, Sydney, calm down. There must be a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation why she stopped. You can see that she was enjoying it, and your reactions left little doubt you were.
"Yeah." Evin's eyes looked everywhere but at Sydney.
"Why are you standing and I'm sitting?"
"Uh...I..." Evin ran one hand through her hair and shoved the other into her jeans pocket. What do I tell her? That I don't want this to be a one-night stand but I don't know how to do anything but that. What if that's all she wants? Why did I kiss her in the first place? I can't handle this. "I shouldn't have done this. I'm sorry."
"I wasn't objecting."
Evin glanced towards the door as the panic started to rise. I can't do this. It'll only turn out bad. I can't do that to her.
Sydney saw Evin look at the door. "Oh, no! I don't think so, Evin Moran." She jumped up and positioned herself between Evin and the door. "You are not leaving until we sort all this out."
Startled blue eyes looked at Sydney as she jammed her other hand into her jeans pocket to hide the fact that they were shaking. Jesus Christ, Moran, you eat opposing counsel for breakfast and judges for lunch, and one absolutely adorable redhead has you shaking in your boots.
"What is it with you? You show up on my doorstep tonight, tell me you're jumping ship, then proceed to kiss me and get me all hot and bothered and the next thing I know, I'm sitting alone on my couch and you're looking at the door."
Evin stared at Sydney. What is it with me? Well, besides the fact that I totally lose control of my thought processes and now apparently my body when I'm around you, I'd have to say that my 'issues' as Tom so aptly put it, seem to have reared their ugly head. To put it bluntly, you, and the feelings I have for you, after one lousy week, frankly terrify the hell out of me. "Maybe I should withdraw."
"Will you stick to the goddamned issue here!" Sydney yelled.
"And exactly what would that be?" Evin retorted sarcastically.
"You. Me. Us. The attraction. The feelings." She is so damn frustrating. "It has nothing to do with this case."
"What feelings?" She couldn't possibly have feelings for me, could she?
Sydney wanted to jump up and down and scream. So damn brilliant, so damn clueless. I know what I felt. I know what I saw in her eyes when she looked at me. She cares about me. I care about her. "This isn't just about a sexual attraction. I know you feel it. I saw it in your eyes. I feel it, too."
Evin felt a wave of nausea roll through her. She hated the "f" word. Feelings. That's what got me in this mess. And she wants to talk about 'em. Evin's eyes desperately looked around the room. Her inner voice chided her. 'Looking for an escape, big girl? Don't think she's going to let you out of this one.' Ah, but you forget how cold and cruel I can be. The things I could say that would make her run, screaming, all the way back to Tennessee. It would be so easy. She felt another wave of nausea hit her. But I can't. I can't hurt her. I can't....
"I'm scared." It came out as a shaky whisper. Shocked, Evin didn't know where the words came from, much less whether it was her own voice.
Sydney was in front of Evin in an instant, her hands coming to rest against Evin's chest. "Hey..." she said softly. "It's okay." Look at those eyes. She's so vulnerable.
"No, it's not. I...I don't...I've never...." The words wouldn't come.
Sydney moved a hand to Evin's neck and her thumb rubbed her jaw soothingly. "What are you scared of?"
Evin leaned in to Sydney's touch as her arms slipped around Sydney's waist. "Hurting you. I'm not very good at all this." Her eyes closed as Sydney's continued stroking calmed her. "Lousy, actually."
"Maybe you just hadn't found the right person to make it worth your while." She pulled Evin's head down and kissed her tenderly. "You'd hurt me by not giving this a chance to see where it goes."
"Maybe," Evin conceded. "What about the complications?" She offered this half-heartedly, knowing in her mind now what her heart had known all along. She had no choice. She would see where this led, and only hoped that she wouldn't destroy Sydney in the process.
"I..." Sydney started to protest. "How much more complicated could it possibly get? We've been at each other's throats. Maybe now, we can get some work done. We can always go back to fighting if it doesn't work."
"Hmm. So...what do we...uh...do now?"
Sydney found it incredibly endearing that the tall woman, who had not long ago stood in a courtroom and ferociously defended her honor, could be standing before her looking so utterly lost. Tell her what you want, Sydney, then strap your seatbelt on because it promises to be a hell of a ride.
'I would really like it if we could take this slow." Her body screamed 'Nooooo!' "Not too much time," she qualified, feeling her face redden as she remembered that other plane she had existed on, if only for a short while. "I just want us both to be comfortable with this."
"You really are even more beautiful when you blush." Evin hugged Sydney tighter, blue eyes smiling into green. "Could I interest you in dinner tomorrow night?"
Both eyebrows lifted over green eyes. "Counselor, are you asking me out on a date?"
It was Evin's turn to blush, and tanned olive skin couldn't hide it this close to Sydney. "Yeah." Her voice cracked. "Uh...is that too fast?"
"No," Sydney chuckled. "It's just right." Like how you hold me. How we fit together.
"I guess I better go and let you get some sleep." Her arms slid down Sydney's and she grasped her hands. "I'm sorry...I barged in here...and...."
"Shhhh. There is nothing to be sorry for. Pick me up at seven."
"Seven it is." Evin tilted her head sideways, peering into green eyes. She's so beautiful. "One more kiss before I go?"
"Yeah, but try not to short-circuit my brain this time. I've got class and I need to study tomorrow."
"I'll try not to," she mumbled as she bent her head towards Sydney's lips again, but her body hadn't heard the request.
"Sydney's on line one." Jeffrey practically sang the words through the intercom. His boss had smiled more that day than in all the three years he had worked there. He suspected that a certain law student had more than a little to do with the smile that was plastered on her face.
"Thanks," she replied as she picked up the receiver. She was sure the grin on her face bordered on idiotic. I've smiled so much today thinking about her that my cheek muscles are burning.
"Hey," Evin drawled.
"Hi." That voice makes me melt. "How was your day?"
"Not too bad. A lot of research. Nothing major. How was yours?"
"School is school. I did get some studying done though. I'm almost caught up."
"Almost? Do we need to postpone tonight so you can catch up?"
"Not a chance, counselor," Sydney laughed. "My eyes are crossing from reading so much. I need a break. I can't tell a tort from a tart right now."
"You're taking the legal cooking class as an elective?" Evin teased.
"Oh, yes," Sydney giggled. "Right now, we're concentrating on tarts whose tastes commit torts."
"Intentional or negligent?"
"Actually homemade and store bought," Sydney laughed harder. "Um...what do I need to wear for dinner?"
Oh God. Evin muffled a groan. That is so tempting. How about nothing? Take it slow, Moran. It's what she asked for. "Casual. Jeans are fine."
"Where are we going?"
"Actually, I considered several places. Depends on what you're in the mood for."
After thinking about you all day, I know what I'm in the mood for. But I did say take it slow. Now why exactly did I say that? Oh yeah, 'cause she looked like a deer caught in headlights and I want more than a one-night stand. "Anything, really."
Evin swallowed hard. Now Moran, if it was anybody else saying these normal, everyday words to you, you wouldn't be thinking these thoughts, so get your mind off sex. "Think about it and when I pick you up, we can decide."
"Sounds good. I guess I need to go and get ready." Sydney hesitated. "I'm...um...really looking forward to tonight."
"Me, too. I'll see you in a little while."
I'm actually going on a date. Evin placed the receiver back in its cradle and stared at the phone in wonder. In the space of one week and one day, little Sydney Parker's turned my world upside down.
"Oh, wow. I love this place." Sydney's eyes roamed around the small restaurant as they were led to a corner table. I'm so surprised she chose this place. It's so intimate and romantic.
Having decided on Italian, Sydney let Evin choose the restaurant. Di Piazza's, a small Italian restaurant on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter, had an old world charm to it. Ivies hung from wrought iron hooks set in exposed dark brick walls. Eight candle-lit tables were nestled in a small room on the bottom floor of the building. Thick curtains covered the two front windows. The air was laden with the aroma of Italian spices and baking bread.
The waiter seated them at a corner table in the back. A smile played across Sydney's face as he handed her a menu. She had been nervous all day and was wondering if she'd be able to eat, but once the aromas found her olfactory nerves, she decided she was starved. In a thick Italian accent, the waiter asked for their drink orders. Sydney ordered an iced tea and Evin ordered a Stoli martini, slightly dirty, and asked for the wine menu.
Evin opened her menu and stared at it. Oh Moran, you're in deep, deep trouble here. I can't believe I'm this nervous. She briefly wondered if she could just hook up some type of IV and put the vodka directly into her bloodstream. She had thought about Sydney all day, but it wasn't until after Sydney called that it really hit home: she was going on an honest to goodness, real-life date. Then her stomach started doing flips, which intensified when she'd rang Sydney's doorbell. The little redhead had opened the door, smiling brightly.
For a split second, Evin felt like she wanted to pass out as her stomach dropped through the floor. Her mouth went dry and she was barely able to voice a hello. Then it hit her. What do I do? Do I kiss her? I didn't even think about this. I'm so stupid. How could I not think about this? I couldn't keep my hands off her last night. If I kiss her, will she think I'm moving too fast? What if I don't kiss her? Will she think I'm not interested? Sydney had abruptly stopped that line of thought when she planted a sweet kiss on Evin's lips and murmured a "Hey, you. I couldn't wait to see you." Evin hugged her tightly, and without thought, murmured back, "Me either."
Sydney's voice interrupted her musings. "Evin. I've got a problem."
Evin was instantly alert, looking at Sydney. Sydney started laughing and Evin relaxed slightly.
"Sorry, wrong choice of words. This menu's in Italian and, well, I can't read it."
"Oh...okay...I'm sorry, I should have realized. You want me to read it to you?"
"Sure...that'd be great." Why am I not surprised she knows Italian?
Ten minutes later, a visibly relaxed Evin Moran sat chuckling as Sydney tried to make her final decision on her entree. It usually took Sydney quite a while to figure out what she wanted to eat. She'd pick five, then narrow it down to three and finally settle on one. That is until the waiter or waitress came to take her order. Then she'd rapidly scan the menu again and blurt out her choice, which usually wasn't one of the five she'd originally picked. Except the menu was now in Italian, and that had thrown her for a loop.
"Sydney," Evin drawled. "Have you decided on what you want?"
"Yes and no." Sydney had a mildly frustrated look on her face, one where her nose was just slightly wrinkled and one corner of her upper lip was curled.
Evin smiled at her. "I have a suggestion. Is there anything on the menu you won't eat?"
"No, well, except that anchovy salad thing. Oh, and anything with cauliflower, but I don't think you mentioned that." No matter how it had been fixed, even when there was so much cheese on top of it that she was really eating cheese with a little bit of cauliflower, she had to force it down. And the anchovies...ugh....she shivered when she thought about them.
"You cold?" Evin asked, concerned.
"No...anchovy reaction," she chuckled.
Evin grinned. She is so adorable. "Why don't we let them serve us? Everything here is delicious. I'll make sure to tell them no anchovies and no cauliflower."
"Oooh. That sounds good."
"Would you like some wine with dinner?"
"Yeah, but just a little."
Evin let the BMW glide gently to a stop in front of Sydney's house. The law student had fallen asleep in the car almost as soon as she had gotten in. I guess red wine really does make her sleepy. Evin found herself reluctant to wake her. Such an angel. How did she ever decide she wanted to be an attorney? The car's air conditioning blew cool and Evin closed her eyes briefly, enjoying the quiet sense of peace she felt.
Dinner had been incredible. It always is there , she thought, glad that she had suggested that they let them serve she and Sydney. The amount of food that girl can put away is incredible. If I ate like that they'd need a forklift to get me out of bed. For appetizers they had the gamberi alla caprese and calamari fritti. Evin declined a salad. Sydney had the insalata caprese. For entrees, the seafood pasta fradiablo and the stuffed veal chop with proscuitto made an appearance.
She had eaten until she was full and couldn't believe it when Sydney pretty much polished off everything but the dishes. Evin had raised one eyebrow as she asked, "So, your dad gonna retire early?"
Sydney had gotten a puzzled look on her face. "What do you mean?"
Evin maintained a steady expression, but there was a mischievous glint in the blue eyes. She pushed back slightly from the table and held Sydney's eyes. "He must be saving a fortune on food with you out of the house."
"He probably is," Sydney said, unabashed. "Do you want some dessert?"
One eyebrow raised. "You have room?"
"Ooooh yeah, I always have room for dessert."
Sydney had uttered an almost sensual groan when she saw the two desserts placed in front of them. The soffiato di cioccolato bianco was white chocolate melted with a touch of cognac, folded with whipping cream and served in a chocolate cup with raspberry sauce. The torta di cioccolato ameretti was a chocolate sponge cake, white chocolate mousse, semi-sweet dark chocolate soaked with amaretto, layered and topped with chocolate whipping cream and a touch of raspberry sauce.
Evin figured she had two bites of each. It had been really hard to concentrate on eating with Sydney issuing small moans of pleasure every time she took a bite. When Sydney had whispered, sensually reverent, "Ooooh, raspberry," with that Memphis accent, Evin briefly thought of changing her name to Raspberry Moran.
"Mmm," came the murmur from Sydney at the gentle shake of her shoulder.
"Sydney, we're here."
"Mmmhmm." Sydney just snuggled further down into the leather seat, her head tilting slightly.
I suppose I could just pick her up and carry her to her door. Evin eyed the expanse of soft skin on Sydney's neck. Maybe there's a better way.
Sydney's eyes fluttered open to the most pleasant sensations. Something incredibly soft and warm was tickling her neck. The scent of citrus and spice and something else Sydney couldn't identify, but that made her heart jump nonetheless, filled her nostrils. She moved her head, exposing more flesh.
"Feels so gooood," she purred.
Evin felt the soft tickle of Sydney's voice in her ear and responded with a low moan of agreement.
A nip of sharp white teeth followed by a tiny lick of the skin, and the tickling feeling changed into something entirely different. The intensity of it brought her body fully awake. The next thing Sydney knew, her body responded and she found their positions had changed drastically. She was vaguely aware of a gearshift against the outside of her thigh.
A somewhat surprised Evin found herself pinned back in her car seat by Sydney's sudden movement. Her lips were locked in a kiss that scorched her soul, Sydney's tongue dancing in her mouth like flames. We've really got to define what exactly 'taking it slow' means. Her hands wanted to wander, but the press of Sydney's weight had one arm fixed in place and the steering wheel was in the way of the other. The kiss broke and they both gasped for air.
"That was for waking me up so sweetly." Sydney's face hovered inches from Evin's, green eyes smoky with desire. "This is thank you for dinner."
Evin only thought that her body had responded to Sydney's first kiss. As Sydney's lips renewed their assault on hers, she realized just how wrong she had been. The position of their bodies in the car only served to tease Evin further. She ached to feel soft skin, the press of Sydney's full weight against her. She started to shift her body and Sydney's hand moved to gain purchase on the steering wheel.
Sydney screamed as the horn blared. Startled by both the horn and the scream, Evin's head banged against the side window.
"Oh, poor baby. Is your head okay?"
"Yeah," Evin grumbled. She was getting frustrated. Too little room for maneuvering. Too little room to hold Sydney. It's getting awfully hot in here. And what the hell does 'take it slow' really mean?
"I'm sorry about the horn," Sydney said as she settled back into her seat.
"'S'alright." Evin stared sullenly down at the steering wheel.
Sydney sensed the shift in Evin's mood, and grasped Evin's hand. "What's the matter?"
Evin sighed. "What's your definition of 'take it slow?'" It was almost a plea.
"Not doing the jump into bed thing."
Evin looked at Sydney hopefully. "We don't have to jump or use a bed."
"You, counselor, are incorrigible."
Evin feigned innocence. "Hey, I was just using your definition."
"Yeah, yeah, I know...live by the word, die by the word." Sydney said sarcastically, but a smile played on her lips. "You want literal? Okay. No sex until we're both ready."
"What's your definition of sex? And is that physically ready or mentally ready?"
"You want me to define sex for you?"
"Yup." Evin leered at Sydney.
Flushing under the hot gaze, Sydney decided both she and the topic were literally and figuratively getting too hot. But the hell with it. Torment me and I'll torment you. "When we're both ready, you won't need words to know my definition of sex."
"But words can add so much to it."
The implication of those words and Evin's sultry tone of voice almost sent Sydney over the edge. She bit her tongue as her body begged her to scream out "In my bed. Now!" Instead, she offered "A promise of things to come?"
"No promise...a guarantee. And things to come...well, let's say it won't be 'things' coming." Evin watched as Sydney reacted to her words. Ah, the sweet torture of this game. But it's not a game, is it? Sydney's not the type who plays games, especially about this. And that's all I know how to do. I'm way out of my league here.
"That's pretty cocky, counselor...I'm beginning to regret our agreement," Sydney said ruefully.
"Please don't. I don't...It's just that..." Evin searched for words. I really am so way out of my league here. At word games, I'm great. At the honest expression of feelings, I'm up the proverbial tributary with no visible means of propulsion.
"I really don't. Well, part of me does," Sydney chuckled. "The part with all my hormones raging. But I can deal with that." What's bothering her? Sydney thought, as she noted the change in the baby blues from smoldering to unreadable.
Evin squeezed Sydney's hand. "Let me walk you to your door. It's after eleven and you've got school in the morning. I can at least try to end this date with somewhat respectable behavior."
Part of her wanted to say, to hell with it, and just tell the tall lawyer to come inside and let nature take its course. She knew they'd end up in bed, and if the sex was half as good as the kisses were, well.... But something in her gut told her not to give in. She had this feeling about the tall lawyer. Nothing she could put into words. The feeling was more like a specter in her mind. Shadowy, ill-defined. But she sensed that jumping, falling, or even gently sliding into bed wouldn't bring the specter into focus. "Okay."
Wednesday morning found Evin standing in front of the big white board, a mug of coffee in one hand and the other absently smoothing her hair. The intercom buzzed and she called out "Yeah?"
"Andrew's on line one."
She moved to her desk and settled in her chair, hitting the speaker button with a long finger. "Please tell me you found her."
"No, not yet. But we're getting closer."
"I don't need close, Andrew. I need found. We're running out of time here." The fingers of one hand tapped out a rhythm on the desktop.
"Who's division did it get transferred to?"
She grinned at the speaker. "I haven't sent the Order in yet for Keller to sign."
Standard court protocol dictated that the attorney who won the motion prepared the order for the judge to sign. It was usually done within a few days of the hearing. With a Motion to Recuse, until an order was signed, the case would sit in limbo, neither party able to move forward.
Andrew laughed heartily. "You are so, so bad."
"Look, I'll take any advantage I can get right now. I'm going to sit on it until they pressure me."
"But it's Keller."
"Fuck Keller. What's he going to do? Fine me? Put me in jail? Been there. Done that. Next." She laughed. "Ya gotta live dangerously, Andrew, my friend. Besides, he's still trying to pull that gavel out of his ass from Sydney shoving it up there. He's more worried about disciplinary action than whether or not an Order's been filed in this case."
"So...uh...what'd you do last night?"
"Went to dinner." She answered then frowned at the phone. "Why?"
"Andrew...answer my question."
"Jeffrey said you left early."
"Christ, I left at five thirty."
"Yeah, but you didn't have anything on your calendar and you never leave before eight unless you do."
"You people are unbelievable. First Jeffrey, now you. Weren't you just saying the other day that I needed to 'get a life' as you put it?"
"Well, yeah. So are you getting a life?"
Evin asked sharply, "Andrew, if there's something specific you want to know, ask. I don't have time to play twenty questions."
"Who'd you go to dinner with?"
"Sydney." An involuntary grin came to her face.
"Oh, so it was business." He sounded disappointed.
"I didn't say that."
"Oh. Good." He sounded surprised. "Was it like a date? Did you have fun?"
"Andrew...." There's that 'fun' thing again. Oh, what the hell. Apparently everybody knows about it already. "Yes and yes."
"Good...good." He paused. "So, are you two going out again?"
"Is there anything else you'd like to know since I seem to be in a talkative mood?"
"Three 'yes' answers don't exactly constitute talkative." Then he chuckled. "But this is you we're talking about."
"Will this inquisition occur every time I go out on a date?"
He ignored her question. "Would you and Sydney like to come to a barbecue Sunday afternoon?" Dead silence for a long few seconds was his answer. He could picture her sitting in that big leather chair, totally still and tense. He knew that if she said yes, then this thing with Sydney was serious. And he knew that Evin Moran hadn't been serious about anyone since Gisela.
"I'll have to ask Sydney if she's free. I'll let you know."
That was just as good as a yes in his mind. "Great. Carole will be so glad to see you. It's been a while."
Time to move this in another direction. This is about all the personal chat I can handle. "How close are you to finding Angela Battiste? I need that affidavit from her attesting that Hynes received those checks. Ideally, I want to depose her."
"Gary's up in Lafayette. He talked to her parents and they confirmed that she had quit working at Hynes several weeks ago. She stayed with them for a couple of weeks, but then she took off last week with her boyfriend and they haven't heard from her since. I've got people out trying to pick up the trail. I'm in Breaux Bridge trying to find the boyfriend's aunt."
"When you find the girl, I want to know immediately."
"Gary's supposed to report in at twelve. That's about forty-five minutes from now. I'll be in touch."
The private line rang. "Evin Moran."
"You sound so serious."
Evin's voice softened. "Lawyer voice. You'll get one of those, too, when you graduate."
"Great. Your voice is soooo sexy." It slipped out before she could stop it. I can't start this now. After last night's conversation....
"Um...uh...thanks." Evin heard music in the background. "Where are you?"
"Wayne and I came to A. T. II's. I had to have cheese fries for lunch. But what I really wanted was more of that dessert from last night. That was sinful."
"We could go back tomorrow night if you want to."
"Actually, I thought we could grill something and maybe watch a movie. Just relax. Does that sound okay?"
"Yeah, that sounds good. How's your day going?"
"I'm actually caught up. And I got Maria and Wayne to cover my clinic tomorrow so I can come help with the case. I haven't even done anything on it since last week. I kind of feel left out of the loop." At Sydney's insistence, Evin had agreed to a "no conversation about the case" rule when they were on a date.
"How about I give you daily status reports?" She let out a small sigh. I wish I could see her. "Andrew's trying to track Angela Battiste. He's up in Breaux Bridge. It seems she and the boyfriend took off last week and her parents don't know where they went."
Sydney heard the sigh. "What's the matter? You frustrated?"
"No...yeah, a little." She sighed again. "I want to talk to Angela Battiste and I don't like the fact that she took off. If we can't find her..."
"Andrew will find her. You told me he's the best. What else is wrong?"
"Nothing," she said wistfully.
"It doesn't sound like nothing. What are you doing tonight?"
"Working. I've got some stuff to catch up on. Since I didn't come in Monday and left early last night, I'm kind of backed up. Nothing major."
"We never really talked about Monday. I wanted to apologize. I acted like a total ass. I made a Carl Lewis sized leap to a conclusion and didn't even give you a chance to explain."
"It's all right."
"No, it's not. I really am sorry. You don't do that to a friend."
Friend. Well, we're not lovers. We're kissers, but I don't think that's a category. So I guess we are friends. "It really is okay. Uh...what got you so upset?"
"Just some stupid stuff...nothing I really had a right to get upset over. Wayne's about ready to go, so I...uh...I guess I'll see you tomorrow. Is nine tomorrow morning okay?"
"Yeah, that's fine. I...see you tomorrow." Nine a.m. can't come soon enough.