RESURRECTION: CHAPTERS 2 & 3CHAPTER 2: When the dog nipped at it, again, it jerked …After a couple years of riding, he had become reasonably comfortable in the saddle. When he saw the foot, it was enough to make him unsteady, but when it jerked, he nearly fell off the horse. As it was, he slid off quickly to investigate for himself. A part of him still wasn’t believing the human foot, much less that it belonged to a live person. But, if it was … how could it be if it was buried?He pushed the pawing dog aside and took its place, pulling dirt off the mound. Even as he pulled dirt into the space between his knees, he couldn’t keep from looking to his left at the foot and the now exposed shin. The body wasn’t deeply buried and his heart sunk further when he exposed a breast. A woman … how … why … He moved further up to find the head, pulling and pushing dirt. He found an ear and realized that she was in the depression with one shoulder higher than the other, which apparently resulted in her face being turned to the side. He uncovered her face, then pulled on her shoulders, pulling her out of the shallow trench and out from under the dirt. He knelt down next to her chest, one hand feeling at her neck. It took some moments for him to find a faint pulse, but her breathing didn’t seem noticeable. He could see no rising and falling of her chest, despite the feeling of a slight pulse. Was he imagining the pulse? Was the foot jerk just a release of a muscle reflex?No, the pulse seemed real enough to him, if very faint. He moved her a couple feet to flat ground, then straddled her prone body, pressing into her sternum. His CPR training from the Army kicked in and he applied mouth-to-mouth, alternating between pressing on her sternum and breathing into her. It took several cycles of this, and when she gasped on her own, a small cloud of dust came from her mouth into his. He coughed with her as she gasped a breath. Her sternum and chest rose strongly underneath him as she took in, and exhaled, gasping volumes of air. Then her eyes flew open and a chilling, terrifying scream came from her as she clawed at him, digging into his T-shirt. One moment she was screaming and fighting, the next she was u*********s, again. But, she was breathing.He sat back onto his heels, still straddling her. He needed to get her to a doctor or hospital. He looked at his horse, his only means of travel back up the mountain and down the other side to his place. His riding competency came back into question in his mind, but there was little real option. It was too far to attempt carrying her up and over. The other direction was far too long before he might expect to intercept any vehicles, much less a park employee.He looked at the horse and then at his surroundings. In the saddle by himself, he had become fairly comfortable, but the idea of supporting an u*********s person on the horse at the same time was intimidating. She was still alive; it would be a shame for her to die because he dropped her off the horse. Ironically, that thought felt good. A little humor was something he was known for in even the stickiest of situations.Again, he surveyed his surrounds, but this time it was more intentional to find a solution. There was always a solution if you looked hard enough. He spotted a natural outcropping of rocks nearby and had his answer. He picked the woman up and slung her over his shoulder, something they were trained to do in the military … don’t leave a brother behind … and she was far lighter than a fellow combatant. He grabbed the reins of the horse with the opposite hand and led the horse to the rocks where he climbed to the proper height and extended a leg over the saddle. Putting his feet into the stirrups and balancing himself, he manhandled the woman from his shoulder so she was astride the saddle in front of him. With one arm clamped tightly around her, he rode as fast as he dared to the house.He had never had anyone ride behind so he couldn’t help but be a little impressed with his control of the horse and his stability in the saddle. The woman was still u*********s and dead weight in his arms, providing no assistance at all in holding herself in place. As the ride continued, he also couldn’t help but wonder where she came from and how she got into this situation. Her hair blew and bounced around him, her head lolling one way and then the other. He lengthened his hold of the reins and realized that he could not only have enough lead to hold her head with that hand, but that the horse was on a route for the barn on his own. The rest of the ride was more comforting to him that he was able to hold her steadier and reduce the impact from the horse movements.At the barn and corral, he used his foot to raise the latch to the gate, then backed the horse up for it to swing out. Inside the corral, he maneuvered the horse to the feed bin, stepped off the horse while supporting the woman and eased her off the horse and into his arms. He moved her directly to his old pickup truck and lay her across the bench seat. He had the choice of his old truck with the bench seat or the newer truck with the divided seats and crew cab. The bench seat, old truck seemed the easier choice to hold her steady. He stripped the saddle and bit off the horse, closed the gate to the corral, ran into the house for the keys, and returned to the truck.Back at the truck, he folded her legs into the truck and in the process pushed her onto her side. For the first time he saw her back. He leaned in further and gently turned her more to her front. Her back, butt, and the back of her thighs were crisscrossed with ugly red bruise lines. Even more reason to get moving. He climbed behind the wheel, picking her head up and placing it onto his lap. As he raced down the tract that is his drive out to the dirt road of the wilderness, he looked down at the face on his thigh, “What happened to you?”He raced out of the mountains on the dirt roads, blowing plumes of dust in his wake until he reaches the narrow black top road, sk**ding sideways as he held onto the wheel while making the left turn west for the nearest town, Sunizona, with 281 people that was 10 miles away. It was the closest patch of civilization and he heard of a doctor being there, but didn’t know if there were regular hours or the doctor only came in when an appointment was made. How would he know? He didn’t even have a cell phone. Who would he call, anyway?As he approached the town, he made his decision. His mind was working like it used to: assemble as much information as was available, consider the options, make a decision, and commit to that decision. Don’t waste time; don’t over analyze. He blew straight through the town, running a stop sign in the process, his speed topping 80 mph at that point. He wouldn’t have bet his old pickup could hold that speed, but it held the road fine with no shimmies, bounces, or shudders. Willcox, 33 miles beyond that, was larger with 3757 people, but more importantly he knew it had a small, single story hospital on the west side of town, just before hitting Interstate I-10. Northern Cochise Community Hospital was small but was his best bet for full service and close proximity.He turned off the highway into the parking lot, scanning the available signs for an emergency entrance. The emergency entrance appeared to be the main entrance under a canopy covered walkway. He sk**ded into a handicap space at the front of the building. As he ran around the front of the truck, he yelled at someone exiting the building to call inside for an emergency. He scooped up the woman from the front seat, recognizing that she was naked and covered with dirt. They could deal with that inside. He banged his way through the double doors just as a nurse was coming out, nearly bowling her over in the process. She looked into the eyes of the woman in his arms as a gurney was brought to them. Finally, the woman was covered, if only by a loose sheet and the nurse and associate hustled the woman through some doors and down a hall. At the same moment, the loud speaker above called for the doctor.Jake tried to follow the gurney through the doors but was intercepted by a woman very intent on having his attention. She led him back to the admissions desk and took her place behind the computer monitor, pointing him to the chair in front of her. He tried to argue with her, but she assured him it will only take a moment and that nobody was admitted to the hospital without being properly put into the system and that included insurance. That moved the process from ‘only take a moment’ to much more complicated. The hospital administrator was called when Jake informed the woman that he didn’t know the woman he just brought in. Jake, then saw the administrator calling someone and rightly assumed that it was the Sheriff. The woman was admitted as ‘Jane Doe’, but the insurance question was causing a problem. He took out his personal Visa card and gave it to the administrator. Given the way he was dressed in dirty jeans, well-used cowboy boots, and a Springsteen T-shirt, and the way he looked with longish hair and unshaven, they were skeptical even with that. His credit card checked out, of course, and he was moving away from the desk.He slipped through the double doors, wandering down the corridor in search for the room they took the woman into, only to bump, literally, into the doctor coming out … to look for him. The doctor filled him in on the woman’s condition, but was at the same time guiding him down the hallway. It was a gentle effort, but very deliberate, an easy action undoubtedly the result of years of dealing with anxious and emotional relatives and concerned friends. He assured Jake that she was stable now. She still hadn’t come to, but she was on IV’s for fluids and pain. The nurses would be giving her a sponge bath that was necessary for her condition but also to fully assess her injuries and run some tests.His phone rang and there was a short conversation. He got up but asked Jake to please remain in the office for a moment. He was back in just minutes; coming in behind him were two police officers. The lead man introduced himself as Frank Orland, the Cochise County Sheriff. The county seat is in Bisbee, which was almost in Mexico and over 70 miles from Willcox. With him was Bobbi Mendoza, one of his deputies, and a woman. Both are in uniform. The Sheriff is overweight, balding, with grey coming into his hair. He is about 50 years old. His deputy is quite a bit different. Even under the circumstances, it is easy for Jake to see that the woman deputy has a nice figure. Her uniform is tailored and fits her hips, waist, and breast nicely. He estimated Bobbi Mendoza to be 29 or 30 years old. She had dark brown hair, which was in a ponytail but would be past her shoulder blades if hanging free. She was about 5’ 8” and a fuller figure, but strong and muscled. She had browner skin that looked more natural as opposed to tan. He guessed that there might be Native American and/or Hispanic blood in her family somewhere.The sheriff explained that she was here for the woman Jake brought in. Maybe a female officer would be easier for her to talk to. Jakes suspected the Sheriff was just as glad to have a woman direct the necessary questions surrounding how she ended up buried in the Wilderness Preserve naked. The female deputy and doctor disappear, leaving Jake with the Sheriff who took the chair behind the desk. Jake knew his interrogation was about to begin. Despite the fact that it was he who brought the victim in, he would need to explain how it was he found her, what condition she was in, where he found her, and where he had been in the hours before. Of course, the last part was easy … he was alone on his ranch except for the a****ls … not another soul for miles … many miles. If an alibi was going to be needed, he wouldn’t have a reasonable one.Jake went through the entire timeline, showed him on a Preserve map the general area of the shallow grave, and indicated the tire tracks he saw and the general direction they seemed to point to. Jake found it interesting in using the map that a nearly straight line that he indicated for the tire tracks pointed to a parking area used as a starting point for hikers. The Sheriff stated the obvious, that vehicles and ATV’s went supposed to be off the roads. Jake could only nod. The Sheriff leaned back in the chair, his hands interlaced behind his head. Jake couldn’t help but wonder who had sewn those buttons on the shirt; they were doing extra duty in keeping the shirt together. But, after some reflection, the Sheriff dropped his eyes back to Jake. “I got some reports of some idiot blasting through that little town, running the stop sign, and going about a 100 miles an hour.”Jake was staying calm, purposely calm to avoid trouble. He wasn’t known around the county, going into a town only for the supplies he needed. “It was only 80, Sheriff. I thought that under the circumstances, it was warranted.”He nodded and agreed. He leaned forward, his forearms on the desk, and asked why he got involved. He could have just notified someone.“Her foot moved when the dog licked and nipped at the toe. It nearly scared the shit out of me, when it jerked. When I knew she was somewhat alive, I gave her CPR to get her pulse stronger and her lungs sucking better air. I had to take her. Either way, I had to ride the horse over the mountain shoulder, transfer to my truck and drive a long way. I don’t have phone service at the house.”He sat up straighter, “You the guy living in the old Olsen place?” Jake nodded. “Huh … you don’t look like an old hermit. Sorry, there’s a lot of speculation about you. Why someone would choose to live so primitive.” He stood and extended his hand and smiled, “I have to say, there are times I would be tempted.”Jake explained that he needed to get back. He still had those cattle to roundup and fix the fence. The Sheriff wondered out loud how he could get in touch with him.“I’m losing sunlight now, but I’ll be back here in the morning.” He looked out the door at the hallway, not really seeing the room, but in the direction. “I’m a little invested in her. I’d like to know she is okay.”The Sheriff put a hand on Jake’s shoulder as they moved to the door. “You’re a good guy. Mendoza canlı bahis will be here most of the time. Somebody buried her in the wilderness. They must have thought they had a dead woman. Her being naked, those marks on her back, something bad happened. We’ll give her a little protection, at least until we know more.”He peeked into the room. The woman was sleeping peacefully. The Deputy stood up and confronted him, the nurses turned his way. The Sheriff called over Jake’s shoulder that it was okay and Mendoza relaxed. It was only then that Jake noticed that she had her hand on the butt of her automatic pistol. The head nurse gave him a short report but there wasn’t much there besides that she was resting.All night, Jake wondered about the woman, who she was, if she was really alright, what had happened to her, why had it happened … It was a long night for him.He had managed to install the top wire before dark and finished the job first thing in the morning. This time, he showered and shaved before heading back to the hospital. He mused about that on the way back, that he must be invested in the woman, but he knew nothing about her.He got a smile from the woman at the reception desk and she pointed down the hall. He knocked on the door. It was opened by Mendoza who wasn’t reaching for her gun this time. She hooked her arm around his in a surprisingly friendly action and led him to the side of the bed. The woman was awake and looking very much alive. She held her arms out, even with the IV tubes stuck in her. He self-consciously bent over to accept the hug and received a kiss on his cheek. He stood up, Mendoza standing at his side. “Annie, this is Jake Collins, your shining knight.”He chuckled, “Well, you wouldn’t have thought so if you saw me yesterday.”“Jake, meet Annie Tolley.”Annie looked at him long and hard. “Bobbi gave me a summary of what happened, but I would appreciate hearing it from you, if you don’t mind.”“What do you remember?”“Nothing.”Bobbi inserted, “We’ve had quite a discussion overnight and this morning. She remembers everything right up to the night before, then everything is lost until she came to last night. She remembers drinking something her husband gave her and it tasted funny, unusual. Much after that is lost.”Jake recounted his morning the day before, how he rode past her but the dogs spotted her … her foot really. He recounted the ride back to the house and the race to the hospital and his questioning by the Sheriff.Mendoza, “I’m impressed, Jake. That pretty good riding. I have been around horses all my life so I should know. So, tell me again, how were you holding her on the horse? She was naked, right? And, call me Bobbi.”Jake was blushing and Annie was watching him with the same playfulness that Bobbi was. He provided the details, playing along with the teasing. But, his blush continued to bloom, even if he knew they were teasing him.He was surprised when Annie responded, “Makes me wish I had been awake.” And, she didn’t blush.Bobbi added as an aside to her, as if Jake wasn’t there, “I think we should both experience it sometime.” They laughed, but their looks at him made him aware that they were not making fun of him. There was something about these two women and their quick, comfortable, and easy response to him that made him feel comfortable and appreciated. It was odd to him how the feeling in the room with the three of them developed. He was reminded of the old sayings about feelings under intense situations, but at the moment he only resolved to consider nothing beyond seeing to the safety of Annie. The feeling of investment in his mind was platonic, even if the feeling he was picking up from her might not be so limited. Intense situations … but still … there was something intriguing in the room and it was the three of them. Annie and Bobbi had seemed to quickly connected somehow and they were both reacting to him, very similarly and not competitively. And, he found himself responding, which was a good sign of his emotional state. Perhaps this time of isolation had worked its healing magic on him, after all.CHAPTER 3: There had been little progress in understanding what had happened to Annie, but now armed with her name, the Sheriff was hopeful of making some progress. When Jake returned to the hospital late in the afternoon of the second day, he was armed with a bunch of wild flowers he had found on the property. They had probably always been there, but now he was seeing new things around him. That wasn’t lost on him. There had been moments of guilty pangs as he realized he was connected with someone besides the memory of Katie, even if it was platonic. But, he also knew in his heart that Katie had been too full of life to want him to lose his will to new life. That had been the reason for his retreat; he needed to come to that realization, again. But, he committed to himself not to expect anything … intense situations …As he walked into the lobby of the little hospital, he was holding the flowers in one hand as he gave a wave of recognition to the woman behind the desk. She smiled at him. The flowers weren’t arranged in any kind of way, just jumbled together as he had cut them. It wasn’t the arrangement or the types of flowers that brought the smile to her face, it was his attention and consideration. Jake Collins had been a big mystery in the county. What kind of man buys a ranch in the wilderness with absolutely no modern services? He was turning out to be a complete surprise to everyone he now encountered as he made his regular twice a day visits to the hospital. And, the word was spreading quickly out from the hospital. It seemed that wherever he went now, he was being greeted with a nod, wave, or ‘hello’. People he had never met or encountered were now aware of him. He had come to this remote county of Arizona to be away from others and all that was quickly changing because of his encounter and response to the discovery of Annie. For better or for worse.Jake softly knocked on Annie’s room door and peeked inside. She was asleep. She was still doing a lot of that. The doctor and nurses assured him that it was natural and expected. Her body and mind had suffered significant trauma and that was all part of the recovery process. It had been confirmed through toxicology tests that she had in fact been d**gged. The wounds on the back of body had been from repeated strikes of from some form of cane. They had considered some form of whip, but finally decided on a thin cane of some kind. The marks left on her indicated that she had been struck over two dozen times, just counting the number of red marks on her back, buttocks, and thighs. They had also confirmed that she had been sexually abused vaginally and anally. They had been able to extract indication of multiple separate DNA types indicating that up to five men had left semen in one or both of her orifices. And, she still had no memory of it. The doctor believe it was only temporary, a combination of the d**g, the abuse, the injury to her head, and, perhaps, a defensive mechanism of her mind.Annie’s physical recovery, though, was proceeding well and there was talk that she could physically be ready to be discharged in the next day or so. The doctor felt that getting back to some activity out of the hospital might even stimulate her mental recovery, as well. All of this flashed through his mind, as he stood at the door watching her sleep.He almost jumped when a hand took his elbow and pulled him into the hall. It was Deputy Mendoza. Bobbi, as she continued to insist. And, he was giving in. The way she touched his elbow and led him from the door was nothing like a Sheriff’s Deputy; it was fully feminine, respectful, and concerned. The duty nurse was standing alongside Bobbi holding a vase with water. Apparently, the receptionist had alerted her about the flowers. A small hospital in a small town, nothing goes unnoticed.Bobbi led him to the Doctor’s office where the Sheriff was waiting with the doctor and another woman dressed in uniform. She was about 55 years old with greying hair worn pinned up off her shoulders. She was the county crime scene specialist. As expected, all they found at the sight was tire tread markings, which might be of significance if they found a vehicle to match them to. There was no other forensic information to be found at the sight. It seemed that in his rush to attend to Annie, Jake had effectively destroyed any other possible markings like shoe or boot prints. There was no fault or criticism attached to the comment, it was merely presented as fact.Without Annie’s memory, all they had was the information leading up to the critical events without any way of defining those critical events. They were now 99% sure that the husband had d**gged her. After that was mere educated speculation: given the activities of the husband sharing Annie and his attempts to use her to gain acceptance with a group of men, she was undoubtedly taken somewhere to be more aggressively used in a way she would otherwise have resisted based on past events; those activities based on the evidence of her body included forms of BDSM including the caning, involuntary sexual abuse, and restraint; Jake hadn’t noticed before the significance of the injuries on her wrists and ankles, indicating her struggle against restraints, tearing the skin in those locations; something happened during the course of the subsequent activity that led to the injury to her head that led to the belief that she had died; and, their panic decision to hide the body.Jake thought about all that, staring at the closed door, thinking about Annie in the room down the hall. When he turned back to the others, they were all watching him.He calmly asked, “Why do you think it was a panic reaction to bury her?”They all stared at him, but it was the CSI woman who answered, “It’s a natural reaction. An unexpected death that would be difficult to explain so you have to get rid of the body.”Jake shook his head, disagreeing. The Sheriff asked why. “What about the husband? It’s been what … two days … has he reported her missing? Anything?”Frank, the Sheriff, studied Jake, then looked at Bobbi who nodded. “Yes, he has. This morning he notified Phoenix PD that she was missing with her car since that night.” Jake continued to watch him, daring him to leave it at that. “Yes, he waited a day and a half before notifying anyone. We’ve looked everywhere in the county and cannot find her car. It’s not down here. She didn’t drive down here, run into someone and get buried. That’s what you are getting at, isn’t it?”“Only partially. Something happened up in Phoenix, hours away, and she is buried down here. That isn’t panic, that’s thoughtful. A reasonable person familiar with that location could easily assume it could be months before even a shallow grave was discovered. Also, a shallow grave would provide only cover from casual observance, but not protection from predators who might just as easily strip the bones clean quickly.” He had their attention now and it was Bobbi who was encouraging him to continue. “Somebody in that group had to be familiar with the location, probably through some off-road 4-wheeling, despite it being against the law. We all know it happens because it is virtually impossible to effectively prevent it; if they don’t intend to follow the rules of the preserve, they just do it and suffer the consequences if by chance they are caught. So, as I see it, someone knew just were to get rid of the body and was willing to invest several hours of driving with a body to accomplish it.” Bobbi and the other woman were taking notes of things to follow-up on later. “And, it wasn’t the husband. Even Annie says he’s a wimp, he wouldn’t come up with all that, much less have access to a 4-wheel drive vehicle. And, he waited a day and a half. Why? Because he was scare and didn’t know what to do. Someone, probably the same one or ones who devised bringing her here, prodded him for appearances sake.” The doctor had a wry smile on his face. He wasn’t a criminologist, but the train of thought made sense. The cops in the room were looking at each other, raising eyebrows or nodding. Jake looked at the doctor, “You say that Annie could be released soon, possibly tomorrow.” He confirmed that with a nod. Jake turned to Orland, “Have you notified the husband, yet?”“No. That was what we wanted to do when she remembered her name, but …” he looked to Bobbi, his deputy for support, “… but she didn’t want us to.”“She didn’t trust him, even at that early stage.” They shrugged and nodded. “If her car is missing, we need to find it.”Orland laughed. Not funny, but exasperation. “It’s a big state and a lot of nothing. Listen Jake, I appreciate your concern for her, I really do, but finding that car is going to be difficult or impossible. It could be in LA by now.”“No, it’s around here. Not here, but in the state. There was late planning involved here. The burial was one thing, but the cover story is different. They, the husband and the others, are setting this up as a run-away. Check places where she could drop the car and meet someone to run-away.”Bobbi was interested in his chain of thought. “A large mall, you mean?”Jake hesitated, looking out the window at nothing in particular. “No, not a shopping mall. A car dropped in a large parking lot would be obvious at night. Some place where there is a lot of changing of cars, lots of traffic, plenty of coming and going to add to confusion. Something like one of those large refueling/convenience/restaurant centers on a highway or Interstate. Make it look like she met up with someone and could have gone in any direction or distance by now. With no body, who could say otherwise?”Orland added suddenly, “By the way, the local newspaper guy has been nosing around. He heard about a body being found in the desert … not a Hispanic. I know, that sounds harsh, but we get those sometimes. They cross the border with a 16 oz. bottle of water and don’t make it very far if they aren’t fit and healthy. Anyway, sooner or later he is going to figure out that the body is recovering and in this hospital. I put him off, but … he isn’t stupid.”Jake looked at him, “The local paper. You mean the County paper? What kind of guy is he?”“The Cochise Gazette. He’s it. He’s bahis siteleri the publisher, reporter, editor, advertising, everything. You have to remember, Jake, this whole county only has 127,000 people total.”“He’s the biggest threat of getting information out before we’re ready, right?” He agreed. “Maybe we can use him to our advantage. Keep this under wraps and have him put out only information we want out.”“How and why would that happen?”“Give him the exclusive when this is over. At least my part, the find, the race to save a damsel in distress with all the harshness of the desert fight me.”“Oh, boy … you should be the reporter … okay, if you can do it. Don’t promise anything else, though.”He gave Jake the number and he called on the hospital line. They went through the introductions. Then Jake went for the meat, “Listen, we need you to hold off on writing anything about that situation.” “Why should I?”“It’s sensitive. I’m the guy who found her and brought her in. I’m a good judge of people and I think I can trust you. This case needs to progress a certain, controlled way.”“Case? What case? There was a body, what difference does it make?”“I want to trust you … the ‘body’ survived.” Silence on the other end. “You hold off and let the police agencies pursue this the way they need to before the people responsible learn that she didn’t die and I will give you the exclusive to the story of finding her, getting her out on horseback, and the race to the hospital. Every other news agency will be quoting you.” He agreed. He was anxious to agree.Orland looked up at Jake, “Good judge of people, huh? He’s a reporter, but if it works, we could use the time.”Orland was on the phone to his office Bisbee to spread the theory to Phoenix and the State Patrol. Jake got up and left the office. Bobbi hurried after him and caught him at Annie’s door, taking him by the arm. “You really care about her, don’t you? Why? From everything we can determine, you are a loner with a story you don’t want to share. Why care about a problem case like her?”Jake looked at the door, moved to look through the narrow window slit before turning back to her. “Why do you care? I’ve seen it in you, too. You’ve attached yourself to her, also. The Sheriff won’t say, but there is something in your past that brought you into law enforcement, something that made him surprised that you volunteered to look after her. It was like you have a reputation for being the one to bust guy’s chops, being in the action to bring them to justice. What made you agree to stay with her?”They stood looking the other down, not that either was going to succeed. They were both strong individuals; they were both reluctant to finally open up to someone, to share their hurt and pain. What they both did share, however, was Annie. They both saw someone who needed support and understanding, emotional and physical understanding and acceptance. Their own broken conditions were suited to an understanding and easily relating to Annie’s situation. Each had spent hours individually and together listening to Annie as she cried and talked until they felt tied to her. After only a few days, Annie had entwined herself into them and, whether they were ready to act on it or not, entwining them with her and each other.But, they weren’t ready just yet. So they turned to the door, as if it were choreographed to move in unison. Even they recognized it and laughed as Jake held the door for Bobbi to enter ahead of him. Annie was awake and beamed as she saw them come in together with smiles. “You two look happy; is there good news? Did you bring those flowers, Jake?”He confirmed that he had but that there was no new information except that her recovery was progressing well and could be discharged as early as the morning. That, however, brought a frown to her face.“Where would I go? I can’t very well go home, can I?” Jake and Bobbi sat on opposite sides of her bed, each reaching for a hand. The three of them looked at each other, realizing and accepting how they were sharing their contact and mutual concern. Nobody had an answer and nobody ventured an opinion. The conversation shifted to more mundane topics, but that question never was far under the surface. When the doctor and nurse returned for her follow-up testing, Jake and Bobbi each gave her a kiss on the forehead, looked at each other, and left the room.Jake took Bobbi’s arm and guided her to the doctor’s office, but they found it empty. He turned her to him at arm’s length, “I think we need to talk. We need to come to grips about Annie and ourselves.” He turned and guided her toward the entrance.“Where are we going?”“Dinner. I’m buying.”“Are you taking me on a date, Jake? Or … just talking?”He smiled at the question. As he flashed the remote to unlock the doors to the new truck, “That’s up to us … let’s see.” He gave her a smile she couldn’t read. But it was a smile that was open and accepting. And, she had to agree with his basic premise before. They each had things about them that drew them to Annie, things they weren’t sharing, things that kept them apart.Bobbi directed him to the local eating place, specializing in mediocre steaks. She was surprised when, after ordering, he launched right into his story, no longer challenging her for hers, but deciding to open the door himself. That took up much of the time during dinner. Then, over drinks after, she opened up about herself.She grew up in a loving, caring family. They were mixed race with known descendants of white, Native American tribes, and Hispanic. Mostly, they thought of themselves as Hispanic. She grew up on a small ranch, probably not that much different than Jake’s except they did have electricity and water, even if both might breakdown occasionally. Being the oldest, she was set on a course to be the family’s first high school graduate and then going further to become a Veterinary Technician. She had dreamed of being a full Vet, but that was hopelessly beyond their financial means. The Community College classes were enough of a stretch for the family, requiring her to leave home on top of the credit expenses. Her life changed forever, though, one night as she was walking from a late class to her little apartment above a nearby bar.As she cut through an alley to get to the outside stairs to her apartment, her head was suddenly covered by a sack and pulled into a vehicle. She was repeatedly ****d over the next several days. She never knew how many men there were. She was bound, blind folded, and gagged during the entire time. After the first couple hours of fighting them, she gave up and remained limp for the rest of the time. They complained, saying they like the fight and hit her repeatedly in efforts to create more resistance. After what was the first night, she didn’t care any longer if she lived or died.She was dumped, still bound, blind folded, naked and abused, in the city park. By the time she was found in the new light of day, she was done crying. As it turned out, it was Frank Orland, the County Sheriff, who responded to the call. He took her to the hospital, notified her parents, and worked the case himself, tirelessly for weeks but nothing ever came of it. The DNA led nowhere without suspects to check it against and she had no clues to offer him. Her dreams of becoming a Vet Tech suddenly changed to law enforcement with the single minded intent to bring as many assholes as possible to justice. And, she was efficient and effective. She never broke the law in her actions, but she did push the limits occasionally, then being reminded by the County DA that all her efforts could jeopardize a conviction.She looked over her beer bottle at Jake. “So, in a way I saw some of myself in Annie’s condition and it got to me. It might have even gotten to me in ways that my own experience didn’t. My life changed completely. I was set to be on a wonderful life course of helping and caring. I gave it all up. I dedicated myself to hunting down assholes. I gave up on any idea of my own happiness or relationships.”Jake reached across the table and took her left hand in his, fingering the ring on her finger. “What about this? You did get married, though?”She smiled shyly at him, “No … that’s to keep guys away to let me focus.”“Focus on being alone and unhappy?”“Like you.”They smiled at each other and he admitted it, “Yes, like me.” He was still holding her hand. Their eyes drifted to the table top, both looking at their hands, each using a finger or thumb to caress the other’s. Their eyes drifted up. In deep silence, a silence that drowned out the clatter, conversation, and chair scr****g around them, they stared into each other’s eyes. Jake dropped $40 on the table, way more than necessary to include the tip, and he led her out to his truck. Once inside the truck, he put the key in, but hesitated. Without looking up, “I was going to offer to drop you at your place, but … I remembered your cruiser is at the hospital.”He felt her hand on his thigh. It was soft and tender with a light caress. “It will be just fine there.” He looked up at her face and found a shy smile. “If the offer is real … I’d very much like that.”She directed him to her little apartment in a nearby town that allowed her to cover her assigned section of the county. Along the way, their hands and fingers sought out each other’s hands and thighs. The tension in the truck could nearly be touched.Once at her apartment building, she led the way up the stairs to the third floor. She took several two at a time, making Jake hustle behind her. Not that it was a problem for him. As he kept pace with her, his eyes focused more on her uniform encased butt more than the stairs. Fumbling with her keys to unlock the door like a nervous but anxious college student, she dropped them. Bending over to pick them up, her rear end pressing into him, he placed a hand on her left ass cheek. It wasn’t even a thought, it just happened. But, before he could panic at taking the liberty, she turned and pressed into him, pushing him across the hall and into the opposite wall. She kissed him and pressed into him harder. She broke the kiss, licking her lips, unlocked the door and pulled him inside where she repeated the same action after closing the door.His hands went around her, stroking her hair and back, down to her waist and ass. He encountered her service belt and flinched. She smiled into his mouth, pulled her body away from his without breaking the kiss, undid the buckle and dropped the gun and equipment to the floor.With her lips still in touch with his, “Better?”“Much. Very intimidating to kiss someone wearing a gun.”They both laughed but she pulled him down the hall. He realized immediately that this wasn’t a slow seduction on either of their parts. She was pulling him to her bedroom.Her bedroom was small, like every other room he saw in the apartment. It was sparsely furnished, which was in keeping with an impression of someone who was focused on things other than relationships and comfort. She closed the door behind them and pinned him against it. He was beginning to feel like he might become a part of her wall furnishing.He broke this kiss and looked into her eyes, his hunger was fever pitched, but … “You closed the door. Are you expecting someone to come?”Her smile was devilish, “The more doors closed, the harder it will be for you to escape.” Her smile was devilish, but her eyes reflected lust. He kissed her again, passionately, holding her tightly to him, his hands moving over her back, pulling her into his body. She moaned and gasped, “Oh … God … Jake, I … OOOOOOH, Jake!” She broke the kiss and buried her face into his shoulder, still moaning into him as she pressed her pelvis into his groin, moving side to side, up and down, like some hot salsa dance in slow motion. She moaned into his neck, “Jake … is has been … sooooo long … I …”He pulled back and kissed her lightly on the lips, moved a finger over her cheek, then up to her hairline, then back down over her cheek, and under her chin, lifting it to receive another soft kiss. He dipped down and lifted her into his arms, moving the five feet to the bed and placing her softly onto the edge. He bent over, kissing her lips, then knelt in front of her, untying and removing each of her uniform shoes, then her socks, before moving up to kiss her, again.Her eyes never left him. No man had ever treated her this way, devoting his attention only to her, slowing his own bodily needs to satisfy and appease her. Tears nearly came to her eyes as he knelt before her, lifting each foot and removing her utilitarian shoes and socks as though they were heels and stockings. He raised her feet, kissing her toes before rising up to again kiss her lips. She sighed deeply into his mouth. She couldn’t remember ever being so turned-on, but her level of excitement also made her nervous and intimidated. He didn’t appear to mind in the least and proceeded slowly. His hands moved to her uniform shirt, unbuttoning the top ones as he finished the kiss. Then, pulling his face back, he focused on her face, mouth, and eyes as his hands continued down the buttons. He checked her face with an unspoken question and she gave an almost imperceptible agreement. He pulled the shirt tails from her pants, pushing the short sleeved shirt off her shoulders and down her arms.He looked at her sitting before him, now in her plain white T-shirt, standard uniform dress. The T-shirt fit her excellently, pulling the fabric tight across her proud breast. He looked at her, seeing her eyes on him, he gave her an appreciative smile before reaching to the article and pulling it out of her pants and up her body. She put her arms up over her head to ease its removal and shook her hair out as the shirt released it. He moved his hands to her head, entangling his fingers into the same mass of hair, pulling her and him into another passionate kiss. When he broke the kiss, he leaned back and unabashedly gazed at her upper body now clad only in her plain white bra, her nipples pressing the material to show the excitement underneath.He leaned into her, kissing her lips, her chin, her neck, shoulders and onto her chest. His hands slid the straps of her bra over her shoulders and she shivered. He smiled and moved his hands behind her, seeking the bahis şirketleri clasps, praying he could undo them without fumbling. Talent or luck, the clasps released and her bra sagged to her elbows, revealing her breasts and nipples. She heard an audible sucking in of his breath as he took in the view for the first time. It made her sit a little straighter, pushing her breasts out further to his view. His hands moved softly, slowly, and tenderly to the sides of her breasts, barely touching them, sliding underneath and lifting them together, his thumbs touching her pert nipples, rotating around the aurora, then pressing on the erect nubs. She gasped at the tenderness, the loving touch, and the control he exhibited, just for her, easing her into the experience, holding back his need and desire that was clear in his eyes and face. But, also evident in his eyes as he watched his own hands on her breasts was appreciation and respect.He looked up at her face and gave her a timid smile. “Beautiful … maybe I’ll just play them for a while.”She smiled back at him, reached out and kissed him. “It feels so good, Jake. I love the way you touch me. And … you can play with them all you want, but … there is more I want you to discover and for us to enjoy. Then … then you can play with them all you want.”He smiled at her, kissed each breast, each nipple, taking each rigid button into his mouth. All the while, his hands were working on her belt, the snap to her pants, and the zipper. He encouraged her back onto the bed, took the waist into his hands and pulled. She raised her hips to assist him, just as anxious for this moment as she anticipated he was. He pulled her panties with her pants and stopped as her sparse pubic hair came into view. He kissed her stomach, her abdomen, her pubic hair, taking some into his mouth between his lips and pulling up gently. She gasped, mostly at the teasing he was giving her, but also from the proximity that this particular man was to her core of sexuality. The longer he spent, the more excited her body became, and the more she wanted to be devoured by him … for maybe the first time in her life, she was going to be with a man who cared more about her experience and that was almost enough to put her over the edge. But, not quite.He continued to pull, revealing her entire crotch, down her legs and off her feet. He kissed his way up her left thigh, stopping at her hip where he pulled up slightly and looked between her legs. She raised her head to look at him, gazing between her own breasts, as he lightly blew into her pubic hair, followed by his lips teasing her hair. His hands moved to her knees and applied gentle pressure outward, not forcing, but indicating his desire. She moved them open for him and his lips moved from her mound down, finding her pussy lips, teasing them with his tongue. He slipped his tongue just inside and muttered a satisfied, “Hmmmmmmmm … lovely.” She dropped her head back onto the bed as his tongue made contact with her clitoris and she gasped out a long moan.He smiled at her reaction and made the decision that if she was enjoying it that much, he would give her more. He slips his hands under her knees and raised them up until her legs were bent, then pushed them to the sides, effectively splaying her legs apart. His hands moved to her pubic region and his thumbs spread her pubic hair and her outer lips, then slipping his tongue into her pussy, running it up the inside until he hit her exposed clitoris nub. He captured the nub between his lips and sucked on the sensitive clit. She raised her hips in reaction, moaning and gasping as she did. This reaction encouraged him even more as he moved his mouth down to her open hole, one thumb now gently rotating over her clitoris.“OHHHH … my Godddddd!! Jake! What are you doing to me???”He took that as a rhetorical question and continued, changing his approach frequently to create varying contact and stimulation. Sucking on her clit seemed to create the strongest immediate reaction but he was aware of the danger of over stimulating any one place too long. He wormed his middle finger inside her and curled it up to stroke her front vaginal wall. Her hips shot up into the air and she cried out, indicating to him that he had found the spot and it was very sensitive. While stroking the spot on the inside, he lowered his mouth to suck on her clit, now attacking her sensitive spot from both directions. Her hips rose and her head jerked up and back down. She was thrashing on the bed as she cried out, her hands on his head, pressing it harder into her body. When she climaxed, she exploded. She didn’t squirt, he had never seen that, but she leaked her fluid to an extent that he removed his finger and lapped at her pussy, tasting her orgasmic secretions.She raised her head as her body slowly settled into a more normal condition, her heart rate returning to closer to normal, her breathing slowed and easy. She put her hands on either side of his head and gave a tugging suggestion to encourage him up alongside her. He moved with her slightest of indications of her desire. She marveled at this man, he seemed dedicated to her pleasure and had forgotten that he was still completely dressed. With him lying alongside her, she rolled over on top of him. She looked down into his eyes, very much aware that he was looking at her naked on top of his clothed body. He cupped her breasts in his hands and she smiled down at him, closing her eyes for another moment at the soft and welcome touch.She refocused, wanting much more. He had already made her orgasm without even being undressed himself, she wanted to experience the rest, too. She opened the buttons of his short, running her hands inside and feeling his chest. She wasn’t surprised at the feeling she discovered. He wore loose clothes, in keeping with a modest life of working and no consideration of impressing anyone by his appearance, although she knew that in a prior life he probably was very much a stunning image in tailored suits and casual clothes. His body was hard and fit. His chest was large, his shoulders wide and strong. His stomach was flat and muscled. She scooted down onto his thighs and worked the belt, snap and zipper of his pants. Once opened, she raised her left leg as if dismounting a horse, knowing that she was fully exposing her sex to him, but she felt so completely comfortable and safe with him, and showing him everything now was no longer an issue after he had just spent so much time pleasuring her pussy with his mouth. He was transfixed by her as she worked at his clothes. Her breasts jiggled and swayed as she worked the buttons and his pants. When she swung her leg over him to get off, he could still see the glistening of his mouth and her orgasm on the lips of her pussy, her pubic hair matted against her pussy. She pulled his arms to get him sitting to quickly remove his shirt. Then, after pushing him back onto the bed, she grabbed the waist band of his pants and underwear, tugging them down. He lifted his hips to assist, but she stopped as his penis came into view. It was hard. She looked at it, then up at his face. He was watching her. She gave him an impish smile, then bent down to lick the head, then the length of his cock before taking the head into her mouth. She sucked on it, took about half of it into her mouth, then backed away causing his cock to stand straight up before leave her mouth and smacking against his abdomen. He saw her lick her lips, but she moved to his feet, removing his shoes and socks before pulling his pants and underwear the rest of the way off.He opened his arms to her and she went to him, sliding her body over his in the process. Once they were in an embrace and kissing, though, he rolled them over with him on top and between her legs. They continued to kiss as his right hand slid from her shoulder, over her left breast, and down her left side to her hip. He moved his hand inside her thigh and stroked her pussy, slipping it just inside the lips, parting them and penetrating her hole, again. He broke the kiss and fixed his gaze on her eyes as he moved his finger in and out and up her slit to her clitoris. He smiled at her, holding her gaze as he moved the head of his cock to her pussy lips, moving it up and down the length, transferring her lubrication to the head, then placing the head at her entrance. He glanced down at her pussy, at his cock just outside it. He looked up at her, her eyes moving up from looking at the same place and now focused on his. She smiled at him and nodded.He looked down, then, “I don’t have a condom.”She smiled, but her eyes were glazing in need. “It’s okay, Jake. Thank you, but I am on the pill.”His smile got bigger, “No, I’m fixed. I meant in case you were concerned about … diseases.”She pulled him down to her and in the process, he penetrated her. She kissed him and pulled him higher, causing more penetration. “I’m not concerned with you, Jake. I want this, Jake. I want this more than I have wanted anything in a very long time. You made me orgasm, once. Now, I want to orgasm again with you … together.”He pressed forward, positioned himself on his knees for support and anchor and thrust deeply into her. She gasped. She was wet … very wet. He slid into her nearly to the maximum depth he could and he reached that maximum after only a few more strokes. She gasped, moaned, groaned and mumbled unintelligible sounds into his neck and shoulder as they fucked.He braced himself and stroked in a steady rhythm in and out, in and out … then he raised himself above her, creating a new angle, all the while stroking … in and out. He wanted to cum … needed to cum. He hadn’t been with a woman since Katie. He had almost forgotten the feeling of a hot, wet pussy around his penis. Bobbi was unbelievable. He couldn’t and wouldn’t make any comparisons with Katie, but he knew in his soul that Bobbi was special, that she was connected to him … not just with their bodies, but far deeper, deeper than words allowed to express. It was that feeling about her that drove him to satisfy her, to please her, to pleasure her. But … it had been so long, that feeling her hot, wet vaginal channel around him, feeling it clenching around him, making his need to cum increase and rise. She stated her desire, her wish that she could now orgasm at the same time as him and he willed himself to resist what his body, especially his balls and penis wanted; he diverted his mind as he changed his stroked, the angle, the depth, all in an effort to bring her to orgasm.He was concentrated so much on avoiding his own climax that he missed the initial signs of her approaching orgasm. But, her voice took care of that and brought him back to their needs.“Ohhhhh … my god, Jake!! Oh, I … I love … I love what you are doing to me!” She clawed at him to bring him against her, mashing his chest into her breast as he continued to stroke into her. “Yesssss … yes, Jake … Oooooooooooo … Jake!!!! Jake … I … I … I … oooooooooo … nnnnnnnn … mmmmm … oh, Jake … I am … I ammmmmm … Ohhhh, Jake, I am cummmmmmmmmminnnnnggggg!!!”He pulled nearly out of her and thrust deeply back in. Their pelvis bones crashed together, penetrating as deeply as was possible. Over and over, out and in … he knew they were both sooooo close … then he felt it, he felt her canal clench tightly around him, felt her legs go rigid, felt her chest inhale sharply and not exhale, felt it all … and he couldn’t resist any longer. He drove deeply into her one last time and stayed where he was, felt his cock jerk, twitch, and finally spurt his seed deep inside the hot, wet sleeve surrounding him.He grunted and groaned as she cried out. Both together. They came and they gave to each other. He felt her quake and shiver and shake as her orgasm took over her body. All he could do was grasp her, hold her tightly to him as their bodies rode out this experience.Later, Bobbi was leaning against two pillows braced by the headboard. Jake was between her legs, his face no more than six inches from her pussy. His fingers moved hairs, touched her lips, parted them slightly, but mostly he was looking, inspecting.Bobbi was sipping from a glass of wine, bemused by this antic displayed by Jake. “What are you looking at?”Without looking up, Jake answered with mild exasperation, “You don’t know what I am looking at?”She laughed, “I know what you are looking at. My pussy. Surely you’ve seen one before, you were married to what I trust was a wonderful woman.”“Yes, I have. But, yours … I want to know yours intimately, to know everything about it … what it looks like, every part … how to stimulate it, in every way.” He looked up at her with a boyish grin of joy. “Do you mind if I get back to what I was doing?”“Actually, you can spend as much time there as you want, but … I was trying to have a short conversation.”He squirmed out from his special place and crawled to her side, taking his glass of wine from the night stand. “Okay. To answer your question, yes. Yes, I like her … a lot. Yes, I feel a connection. A connection I can’t explain, nor can I ignore.” He looked to the side at her, “You?”She reached for his hand and he switched the glass to the other and grasped her hand. “What does this mean for us? I can’t explain it, either. But, yes … yes, I feel a connection with Annie, too. I feel something that doesn’t make any sense. It should seem impossible, crazy, absurd. How can three strangers be so drawn to each other … of course, that depends on Annie feeling the same way. Do you think she does?”“Yes … you’ve seen the way she opens up to either one of us, how she relaxes when either one of us is with her.” Jake kissed the back of her hand. “She’s the most vulnerable, though. We need to approach her carefully, slowly.”Bobbi pulled his hand to her breast, pressing his palm over her nipple. “Can this work? Can it really work so there is no conflict?” She chuckled, “I know I’m not lesbian, you sure proved that … and, I never thought of myself as bi-sexual.”“Bi-sexual is a word, Bobbi. It’s a box that others put people into. What we focus on is loving and caring for each other.”“You are an amazing man, Jake Collins. I never thought I would let anyone get close to me, again.” She took their glasses and put them on the nightstand. “You know what I want right now?” He shook his head warily. “I want to be on top. You know I am a cowgirl, right?”And that wasn’t the final time for them that night or the next morning …* * * CHAPTER 4 will follow * * * Thanks for reading.