CC's an ADA; Baker 's a cop. They marry, but he dies in a robbery. CC slays both gunmen. Gangsters come at her. Three more go down. Baker's back as a hologram. A reporter falls in love with CC, now a judge. Her .380 drops one more. They set up a "sting" to get the last guy. A gunfight leaves one dead, the other paralyzed. CC tweaks a lead on the others. She and Hug can get 'em, unless they die.
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CC Ryder, Jurist
"Can you guys hold on a sec? I wanna go, um, check on something I think I saw back there in the, um … you know? … those, uh, bushes? I mean those trees." Chelsea Dunnigan broke into a smile, then reflexively put her knees together a moment before changing position again to stand waiting. As if for permission.
The tall, dark-haired guy testing the water temp with his right big toe hopped back quickly, shaking his head. "It's still too cold for you girls to swim in," he suggested as he turned to face Chelsea. "Why, if I might be so bold, do you need our permission?" asked Baker, his pearly white teeth proving their preferred duty was smiling, something he did often. "You're … what, twelve now? Thirteen?"
Shaking her head vigorously, then stopping because it somehow increased the urgency of what she had in mind, Chelsea barked, "I'm fifteen, Baker Mann, and you know all too good and well how old I am!" Her knees touched again briefly before she overrode the reflex. "I'll be, uh, right back. Honest! I just need to, um—"
The older girl, maybe early 20s, laughed and gave a wave of dismissal. "Don't worry about us," she chuckled. "If you've gotta pee, just go do it."
"Oh, CC!" Chelsea almost screeched, her eyes like saucers. "Baker is standing right there beside you!" Her knees almost touched together again, but she caught herself in time.
CC laughed gleefully. "Yeah, I know, but he pees, too, honey."
"CC! Stop it!" replied Chelsea with a horror stricken look. "He's a guy, for Pete's sake!" She involuntarily took a step backward, then stopped, fidgeting as she waited.
"So?" CC chuckled again. "Like I said, he pees. I've even seen it."
"OhmyGod!" Chelsea squealed, her faced turning beet red. "I think I'm gonna die right here and now!"
"Naw," CC corrected, shaking her head as she grinned, silken waves of golden brown hair moving across her back in a crisscross motion. "You might wet your pants, but it won't kill you."
"CC!" Unable to avoid it now, Chelsea's knees locked together and she went into a preventive squat, lowering herself half a foot.
"Go on," Baker said reassuringly, his handsome face now split into a broad grin. "We'll wait, as long as you don't squirt out a couple gallons."
"You guys!" she squealed again as she pivoted in place on the sand, then hobbled as fast as she could toward the trees 100 feet away. "Wait, darn it! I'll be right back!"
CC playfully socked Baker's left biceps. "You can be crude, ya know?"
Feigning injury, Baker rubbed his bare arm where CC punched him. "Isn't that all part of the code? After all, I am a guy, right?"
Raking him from head to toe with her cocoa eyes, CC puckered her lips as if in deep concentration. "I think so, but I can't testify to it." Her gaze moved slowly back up from his feet, taking in a lithe, well-muscled body bronzed by the sun since early April, clad now in just a black bathing suit, boxer style.
Baker's dark brown eyes, almost as deeply obscure as the soft, silky hair combed back on the sides, soon locked on hers. "Can't say I never offered," he teased, doing his own inspection of CC's svelte body.
"We gonna have that argument again?" she inquired, standing spread-eagled with her fists planted against the sides of her hips.
"The one about whether or not I'll ever get in your pants?" he chortled, his vision seeming to halt a moment at the bottom piece of a skimpy navy bikini before moving up to the top, which seemed even tinier. "Depends? Which side of it are you taking now?"
"Ha-ha," she said drolly. "What a rib splitter," CC added sarcastically. "Don't be eyeballing my boobs, either, Baker. I know they aren't all that big, so there's no sense in you rubbin' my nose in it just to prove a point."
"What? Hey, girl, your boobies are just fine." He held up his right arm, the palm of his hand facing her. "As I dimly recall, each one's a complete handful."
"So?" CC queried with a mildly sarcastic sneer. "You've got small hands, then."
"Not so, lady," he retorted with a grin, his smile erupting a second later to show a million dollars worth of dentition. "When I reach up to catch a football, that sucker stays caught! You know I never dropped a pass all last season."
"Uh-huh," she toyed, "but my boobie didn't, so that oughta tell ya somethin'."
"It does," he nodded. "Tells me I stuck to our deal."
With a smirk, "Yeah? Well, sometimes I wish you wouldn't."
"Oh, you're taking that side this time, eh, Counselor?"
"Baker, you can't call me that," CC chided with a half grin. "Neither of us has a law degree yet, and we won't for two more years."
"Which'll be at least as long as I'll have to wait before I get in your shorts," he added definitively. "However, a deal's a deal, so I'll stick to it 'cause I love you."
"Bet me!" she almost snapped. "When we get to California, you'll dump my butt faster'n I can say 'beach bunny bimbo', I just know you will."
Baker's line of sight dropped to her mid body as he leaned to the right. "And a fine little butt it is, if I might say so." The compliment was followed by a chuckle.
"Yeah, I know, but it won't compete with the beach bunnies, so what does all that matter, huh?"
"I will never chase after any beach bunnies, or bimbos, or anything else", Baker attested. "You're the girl I love now, and I'll always love you, CC."
"Crap," she added in feigned disgust. "You're soft soaping me now so you can get in my shorts, aren't you? Never thought you'd stoop to that, Baker."
"Nope," he argued, now holding his hand as if to take a Boy Scout oath. "You're my girl, CC, and you always will be. There's no one else, and there never will be."
"Wish I could believe you, pinhead. If I did, these might come off a lot sooner." She tugged slightly on her bikini bottom. "Damn, woman!" he shot back, shaking his head and turning his eyes to the sand at his tanned feet. "Don't tease a guy like that. Hell, I've got blue balls half the time now, anyway, because of you. There's no sense in you putting any wild ideas into my head to make it even worse."
"Ya never know, pinhead," she came back with a smile. "If I actually dared to let myself believe you, it could happen."
Baker took three strides and was now a foot away, standing in front of her. "All I can tell you, CC Ryder, is you've been my girl since our senior year in high school, and I've wanted you a dozen times every damned day since then. But," he added with a note of theatrical drama, "I've held myself in check every damned time an opportunity came up because I love you so much."
"What? 'Opportunity' my suntanned ass, Baker! There hasn't been any, so I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh?" he retorted slyly, "there hasn't? What about the New Year's Eve party over at the Omega house? It seems to me somebody was a little polluted on all that disgusting sloe gin and even asked me to do it to her, right there on the couch. Yup, as I think back on it, that's exactly what was going on that night."
"Oh, bull!" she snapped, shaking her head again and creating a chestnut tsunami on her shoulders. "You, my silly friend, are exaggerating to beat the damned band!"
"Really?" Baker barked back with a façade of scorn. "That's not what Sgt. Dinger says, and he knows about these things."
CC stopped, her right index finger raised as she prepared to make a point adding to her last remark. "Who the hell is Sgt. Dinger?"
"Him," Baker replied, his index finger aimed at his crotch as he reddened.
"Oh, God! Baker? You named your damned dick?"
His face now crimson, Baker stood his ground. "You wouldn't understand, CC. It's a guy thing."
"And I wouldn't want to," she added scornfully. "You really named it? Named your freakin' dick? Baker, are you shitting me?"
"Hey, I'll bet you did it, too." He pointed at her crotch. "What do you call it?"
"Pussy," she said with a laugh. "My God, Baker, just when I think you're that one in a million guy, you do something gauche like that. I mean!" Again shaking her head, this time as if mystified by the inanity of guys being guys, she forced her face to lose the grin it was quickly building. "Back to what we were talking about. If there was any way I thought I could believe you, Baker—"
"Don't start," Baker warned her. "I can't handle the two of you at one time if that will be the topic. If you and Sgt. Dinger gang up on me, our deal's gonna get blown all to hell and gone, CC."
"Well," CC shrugged, "If you're not interested …" The unspoken words hung in the air, taunting and teasing.
"Not interested? Jesus, CC, there's nothing I'm more interested in! However, as we agreed, we want you to be a virgin when … um, you know? Later on?"
"Maybe I don't know," CC taunted. "When you walked me back to the house last night, I was even kinda thinking we might, you know? But then, when you kissed me on the porch there like I was your kid sister—"
"You just wait a freakin' minute, girl! I damned sure did not kiss you that way!
"No? Sure couldn't've proved it by me. Hell, we barely kissed at all."
"Aw, jeez!" Baker said in exasperation, turning around to face the other way. "I
was tryin' to behave myself, CC!"
A little surprised at the emotion and stress in his words, one eyebrow notched as she looked at him, CC asked, "Why, pinhead?"
"Because I love the hell out of you, CC, and I was really feeling as horny as a guy can be, that's why. Damn it all, I wanted to screw your brains out right there on that big front porch of your cottage … if a million dollar house sitting on a resort lake can even be called a damned cottage."
"You wanted to screw my brains out, Baker?" She pointed at her chest. "Since I'm so damned smart, that'd mean a whole lot of screwin'." CC finished with a throaty chuckle and watched his face for a reaction.
"Believe me, girl," he promised, "if I even thought you might've said yes, I'd've been all over you like white on rice. Like flies on dog crap in the hot sun. Like ugly on the ape, and I mean it."
"Shit," she muttered. "I'm in love with a diehard romantic and now he tells me he was feeling frisky last night."
"Damned straight, CC. There wasn't anyone else around, and—"
"Oh, that's why, huh? I was the only one available?" She couldn't suppress the grin his confusion put on her face.
"You know damned well that's not why, CC! Why, if I even thought—"
"Hold that just a minute," CC cautioned, pointing off to her right and behind him. "Chelsea's on her way back right now. However, if you're really that interested, maybe we can move up the date to … oh, I don't know … tonight, maybe?"
Furrowing his brow, two thick, dark brown eyebrows knotting like a convulsive caterpillar, Baker asked, "You want to get married tonight?" He began scratching his head, clearly mystified and overwhelmed at all the idea contained.
"No, pinhead," she chuckled in amusement. "That's still gotta wait until after we both have a law degree. I'm talking about the … uh, the diddling?" Now CC blushed at having addressed the topic so directly. "Are you serious?"
"Yes," she said cautiously, fear and concern sprawled across her face. "I am if
you are. Serious, I mean. About that … um, sticking with me thing you mentioned."
"'If'? CC, there's no damned 'if' to it, but I never even once thought—"
"What? That I don't love you with all my heart and soul, Baker? Damn it, you can't possibly wonder about that! Not after all this time."
"Well, I've always hoped … tonight, CC? Are you sure?"
"Sure about what?" asked Chelsea, skipping happily on the tawny sand as she came back, her face showing all the relief she was feeling. "What's goin' on?"
"Marshmallows," CC answered when Baker began to redden. "Baker wants to know if we can roast marshmallows tonight. I told him I'd think about it." She smiled.
"Yeah?" asked Chelsea with a grin starting to emerge on her face. "If that's what you guys were talkin' about, why's he got that thing?" She pointed toward the erection now rapidly forming in the front of Baker's boxer-style swim trunks. "He kinda queer for marshmallows, is he?" she giggled.
As Baker whirled in place, with CC struggling to withhold the laughter fighting to erupt, CC told her, "I'd explain it, honey, but it's a guy thing."
"Really? Man, I knew guys could be weird, but that's some crazy stuff!"
Taking a cautious step into the water, then another, Baker said without turning to face them, "On second thought, I think I will take a dip." Three more long strides and he dived in a flat plane, hitting the water and disappearing from sight.
Chelsea asked, her eyes enlarged again, "How'd you give him that thing without even touchin' him?"
"He says it's my butt," CC joked, putting her left arm around the girl's shoulders. "C'mon, I'll walk you back to your place while Baker's cooling off."
"You ain't gonna tell me how you did that to him, are you?"
"When you're older, maybe," CC bargained. "For now, since it'll cut off a couple hundred yards, let's use that path through the trees, okay?"
"Okay," Chelsea agreed with a shrug, "but I still wish you'd explain it to me how you did that to him."
"If I ever get it figured out, honey, maybe I will."