Author: Lisa

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Disclaimer: I do not own TP, or any of the characters. This particular story is my own and is not written for any monetary gain, just fun! :D

Some point in the six to eight months of blankness...

Jamie sighed. What an awful day. She couldn't believe she'd gotten Reece off. She felt sick. Good job, Alan had told her when she'd returned to the office. Yeah, Jamie thought sarcastically. If that was her proving to Eugene she was strong enough to handle any case, Jamie was ready to admit she was way out of her depth. Not on the legal technicalities; obviously having won her case there was nothing wrong with her knowledge or presentation. It was the victim, sitting in the front row, it was Reece's expression when he looked at her, knowing he had won and Jamie had been the sole reason. She felt sick.

Jamie silently opened Eugene's door and put her bag and coat in their usual spots. She managed to smile as she entered the living room. Eugene was in the kitchen, watching some chicken defrost in the microwave and bopping to the R'n'B music in the stereo.

Jamie cleared her throat.

"Hi," she said as he turned around. "What are you doing?"

"You think this is funny?" Eugene asked as he saw Jamie trying not to laugh. "I'd like to see you try, white-girl."

"Oh, I'm a white-girl now?" Jamie teased back. She took off her jacket and approached him, giving him a quick kiss as she took his hands and started dancing with him. Eugene, however, was not going in the same direction as she was. He was checking out her ass though, Jamie laughed. She held her hands on his hips and tried to get him to shake it, but this was Eugene.

"You see, it's not that hard!" Jamie insisted as she gave him another demonstration. "Or do you just like watching me?" Eugene raised his eyebrows, reaching to his hips and removing Jamie's hands. "Hey, we're not done yet!"

"Oh, we're done," Eugene answered. Jamie pouted. "You can shake your booty as much as you like but I can not and will not move from the hips in the presence of a beautiful young woman who I may just scare off with my lack of co-ordination." Jamie stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on her tiptoes.

"You have to loosen up Eugene."

"No I don't," Eugene answered, supporting her lower back as she stretched to meet his eyes. Jamie nodded, smiling shyly.

"Yeah you do," she repeated, tilting her head and kissing him softly.

"Show me how," Eugene answered. Jamie pulled back, smirking.

"I thought I just did." Eugene looked at her blankly. Jamie huffed, setting herself back on her heels. As she began to walk away, Eugene stopped her, his arms threading easily around her waist from behind, his fingers fiddling with the button at the top of her slacks as his lips caressed her ear. Jamie lifted her head back into his chest, looking up at him.

"Eugene I," she began softly, covering his hands with her own and pulling them back to her waist. "I don't want to. Not tonight."

Present...

Eugene sighed as he stared into his glass of beer.

"Haven't seen you here for awhile," Ellenor announced once she'd approached him. Eugene turned his head to look at her as she took the seat next to his at the bar.

"I could say the same for you," he answered.

"What's going on?" she asked after ordering a drink for herself. "You've been sulking for a week now." Eugene didn't answer. "Is it Jamie?"

"No," Eugene answered.

"Yeah, right," Ellenor chuckled.

"Kendall's been arrested," Eugene stated after a long period of silence.

"Kendall..." Ellenor recognised the name.

"My son," Eugene added.

"When?"

"Last week."

"In Boston?"

"He and his mother live in Washington now. DC. Sharon called me the other day."

"You haven't mentioned them for so long."

"Years," Eugene replied.

"What was he arrested for?" Ellenor asked.

"Rape." Eugene stared at the glass in front of him. Ellenor opened and closed her mouth, trying to work out what to say.

"Did he do it?" she managed. Eugene glanced at her, his eyes narrowed. She looked at him innocently. In their line of work it was a perfectly reasonable question, and Eugene knew it.

"I don't know. I haven't spoken to him." Ellenor nodded, facing the bar. They drank in silence for a long time, Eugene ordering another.

"How many times have you come here after work this week?" Ellenor asked.

"A few."

"You know you're always welcome to come to dinner a couple of nights a week-"

"She was blonde," Eugene interrupted her.

"Who was?" Ellenor asked.

"Sharon was telling me all about this girl, the one who said Kendall...assaulted her. She said she was a freshman at Kendall's college. 'A blonde-haired, blue-eyed slut', I think was the exact phrase she used."

"So in a roundabout way, this is about Jamie," Ellenor stated.

"I-"

"Does she know?"

"Jamie? No," Eugene shook his head.

"Listen, if you want to go to Washington-"

"I don't."

"Why not?" Ellenor asked softly, ordering herself another drink.

"I rang the police in Washington for the reports. They faxed over what they could. There's DNA evidence so Kendall's defence will be that the sex was consensual but some of the medical reports I read were inconclusive. He's an adult, Ellenor. He'll get five years."

"He could be out in two," Ellenor added. "If he's convicted. Were they dating?"

"Sort of. Kendall says yes but the girl says not really. Sharon wouldn't tell me much. She blames me, I think. The detective I spoke to was helpful once I explained who I was."

"How can you blame yourself for this Eugene?" Eugene didn't answer. "Are you at least going to let me drive you home?"

000

"Thanks for the lift," Eugene stated as he looked over at Ellenor.

"You're on the way," Ellenor answered, glancing ahead of her. "Is that your place?" she asked of the front steps a few houses up, past a few shrubs. "Do those heels belong to you too?" Eugene looked over there and saw the bottom half of two legs propped up on his front steps.

"Jamie," Eugene answered.

"You recognise her feet?" Ellenor asked. Eugene shrugged. "What's she doing here?"

"I don't know," Eugene answered, taking off his seat belt. "Thanks for the lift," he repeated, before getting out of the car.

000

Jamie was sitting on Eugene's front steps, her arms crossed over her chest, her small bag resting in her lap.

"Hi." Jamie looked up as Eugene spoke. She smiled. "What are you doing out here?" Jamie looked at him, confused. Waiting for you, she answered silently. Isn't that obvious? "You still have a key."

"I um, didn't want to intrude," she answered. "It's a nice night."

"Could I join you?"

"They're your steps," Jamie continued with a smile. Eugene sat beside her. Not too far away, but they weren't touching either. "Where were you?"

"Doesn't matter," Eugene answered. Jamie blushed, her hands straightening her pale skirt.

"I um, came by to talk to you. I'm sorry if I caught you at a bad time."

"Talk to me about what?"

"Me. I um, I think I owe you an explanation and I came to give you one and also, maybe to see if um, you'd give me a second chance."

"Jamie," Eugene sighed.

"Please," Jamie reached out and grabbed his wrist. She turned her head to look at him and waited for Eugene to return the glance. "Please, hear me out."

"Okay. Out here?" he asked. Jamie shrugged.

"The street's empty tonight."

"Okay," Eugene agreed. Obviously she didn't want to go into the house.

"I um, it's about sex. And uh, I mean, it's not you, it's me so don't go getting a complex on me okay?"

"Just talk, Jamie," Eugene urged her.

"I'd um, had a couple of boyfriends between what happened to me and when I started seeing you. Semi-serious, I suppose. We had sex." Eugene shifted his jaw. Did he really need to know this? "I guess I...wasn't very good at it. I knew guys used to love it, well, like it at least, and I...I thought something was wrong with me, because of...what happened."

Eugene nodded, half of him listening intently to Jamie, the other half picturing the girl Kendall had allegedly raped giving this same speech five years down the track.

"Eugene, it was different with you," Jamie continued. "It was so easy. Wait, that didn't come out right," Jamie smiled. "Um, I meant, I guess I did something right, you know? For the first time in years, I hadn't disappointed someone. Maybe your expectations were just really low, I don't know." Eugene shook his head, but he knew Jamie was looking at her hands and not him. "And I..." Jamie blushed, turning in to slightly face Eugene. "I never wanted to make love to any other man before you, and it's only been you, since we started working together. It was never just about sex, Eugene. And...you let me. I," Jamie shrugged. "I don't think I've ever truly been able to relax with another man since..."

"Is this...why you broke it off?" Eugene asked. "Because it was different?"

"Because it was real," Jamie answered. "And you are so, so, not the kind of man I always imagined myself with. I needed time to think about my future. And..."

"And?"

"I need to know if you've been humouring me or not. Would you... Can we work this out?"

"I don't think so," Eugene answered. Jamie's head snapped up to his, her eyes wide. That was not the answer she had been expecting. "I think it's best if we both move on."

"What if I can't?" Jamie asked softly. Eugene had to use all his self restraint not to brush his hand across the single, fresh tear on her cheek.

"Jamie, you, are not the kind of woman I always imagined myself with. Now that I have...all the information...I need time to think about-"

"Your future," Jamie finished his statement, a regurgitation of her previous one.

"Our future," Eugene corrected. "I don't want to hurt you. There are...things, you don't know, going on-"

"Your son," Jamie stated. Eugene looked at her, surprised. "I um, I was actually told by Hayes. We were in court today and she mentioned on recess that you had been to see her. She asked if you'd left for Washington yet."

"I'm not going to Washington," Eugene insisted.

"Why not?" Jamie asked. Eugene didn't answer. "You think he did it, don't you?" At Eugene's silence, Jamie continued. "If he did it, what are you afraid of? That somehow it came from you, that maybe you're unknowingly predisposed to hurting me? Eugene," she grabbed his hand. "Look at me." Eugene turned his head to look into her eyes. "I only ever asked you to stop once. You remember?" He didn't speak, nor did he nod, but Jamie saw the affirmation in his eyes. "You stopped, Eugene." Jamie squeezed his hand tightly. "I had such a bad day in court and was trying to relax with you but I was this close to bawling my eyes out. You stopped. You made me feel safe."

"Kendall's an adult but he's just a kid, really. How can I not be responsible, in part? I wasn't a good father, Jamie. I tried, but he never saw me in a stable relationship."

"Is the girl lying?" Jamie asked.

"I don't think so."

"Is that your bias talking?"

"Maybe but, she was bruised, someone assaulted her."

"I'll come with you," Jamie stated.

"What?"

"If you go to Washington. I'll come with you."

"You uh, you would?" Eugene asked. Jamie nodded. "Why?"

"It's not too late for Kendall to see you in at least a semi-stable relationship, you know, and of course, if you asked, if you wanted me there, I couldn't say no."

"You uh, you want to meet him?" Eugene asked.

"Why not? He's your son," Jamie smiled. Eugene reached across and rested a hand on Jamie's far knee, pulling her to face him as his other hand touched the cheek closest to him.

"Thankyou for being so honest, for explaining. I'm done thinking," he stated. "Are you relaxed?" he asked. Jamie smiled.

"No!" she shook her head. "I was a nervous wreck sitting here waiting for you. I don't openly talk about all that stuff every day either."

"You have to loosen up," Eugene replied, tilting his head and kissing her softly. Jamie returned the kiss, grateful Eugene had changed his mind, as he pulled her gently along the steps until they were side by side. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Jamie knew Eugene's steps were probably covered in dirt and dew, and that her suit would need to be dry-cleaned. Meh, she silenced herself as her hands quickly untucked the dress shirt underneath Eugene's jacket. "Can we go inside now?" Eugene asked as he reached underneath her blouse and unclasped her bra, suddenly in a hurry to take her inside and let her make love to him as much as she wanted to.

"Ahuh."

"Will you come to Washington with me?"

"Yes," Jamie continued breathlessly, returning her lips to his. Eugene took Jamie's hands before they ventured any lower and pulled her to standing. Jamie quickly climbed a couple of stairs so they were the same height. Eugene turned to her, grateful for the rare chance to look directly at her. He smiled, tucking her hair behind her ears.

"I have some new dance moves to show you," he whispered. Jamie smiled and took his face in her hands. She kissed him, carefully and slowly backing up the stairs and pulling Eugene with her as he fished in his coat pocket for the keys to his front door, which was opened and shut in the time it took for the two of them to rush inside.

Three weeks later...

Eugene rolled his head from side to side, stretching his neck as he stood in the crowded airport. Jamie's plane had been in a holding pattern for at least half an hour outside the city due to a storm that had blown in from the east. The jet had finally landed amid the rain, and it now appeared obvious there was some kind of mechanical malfunction with the door.

Travellers began entering the airport half an hour after landing, some of them wet from the rain outside, all of them carrying black umbrellas. Jamie smiled when she saw Eugene waiting for her and collapsed her umbrella as she walked through the glass doors, shaking the water from her long, cream coat.

"That was an experience," she grinned as Eugene walked up to her. They hugged tightly.

"Nice umbrella."

"They were going to make us all sit there until they fixed it when one of the passengers declared very loudly that he'd rather walk across the 'bloody tarmac' than sit there a minute longer. Suffice to say, there were many who agreed. Fifteen minutes later the airline turned up with a barrel of umbrellas." Eugene reached up and touched her loose hair.

"Your hair's still wet," he stated. Jamie rolled her eyes.

"The wind, we couldn't put them up until we got onto the ground. Nice weather you're having here." Eugene laughed, before leaning in for a brief kiss.

"How did the trial go?"

"I was always expecting to lose this one," Jamie shrugged. "He refused the best deal the DA had to offer, and the evidence was overwhelming." Eugene nodded. He'd dealt with those types of clients before. Stubborn or stupid, it was always up for debate. "The DA thinks he'll get twenty to twenty-five," Jamie continued. "But Ellenor's closing was brilliant. As usual." They smiled at each other. "How's it going up here? Have you seen Kendall?"

Eugene had flown up the week before Jamie. The trial was due to start first thing tomorrow.

"His plea is not guilty," Eugene replied. Jamie already knew that. "We haven't had much to say to each other. He did say he was glad I was here."

"Well I guess that's something," Jamie smiled, taking Eugene's hand as grumbling passengers continued to pass by them.

000

"Is this where they live?" Jamie asked in amazement as they pulled up in the taxi outside a set of very nice apartments.

"That's what you get when you marry a doctor," Eugene commented, stepping out of the car and offering Jamie a hand. It was still raining, and Jamie opened her complementary umbrella and held it high enough to cover Eugene's bare head. He took it from her as she tried not to giggle. It was a smaller umbrella, which just barely covered the span of Eugene's shoulders. "Jamie!" Eugene called as she raced around to the boot of the taxi to help the driver with her suitcase.

"I don't fit under it anyway!" she called, her voice louder to carry over the rain. She slung the bag over her shoulder. Eugene held the umbrella over her head.

"Take it," he said.

"You take it!" she replied, brushing her dripping hair from her face and smiling.

"I'll take it," the driver offered in all seriousness. Jamie and Eugene both looked at each other.

"Go for it," Jamie answered for Eugene as he handed the young man the umbrella. "You'll probably need it later tonight."

"Well now we're both getting wet," Eugene grumbled, taking the bag from her shoulder and wrapping an arm around Jamie's back, herding her towards the apartments. Jamie laughed, picking up some speed and jogging ahead to push the glass door open for Eugene.

"Nice to see a drop of rain, isn't it?" the doorman commented as he let Jamie close the door behind Eugene. "Did you have a good trip miss?"

"Yes thanks," Jamie answered the older man.

"See you later," he called as Eugene and Jamie got into the first available elevator.

"Are you sure Sharon won't mind me staying?"

"You're staying with me," Eugene answered.

"You staying with your ex wife is one thing, but I'm your..."

"Girlfriend?"

"Yeah!"

"She doesn't mind."

"They're probably in the penthouse anyway," Jamie commented. "Right?"

"Close," Eugene answered as the elevator climbed slowly. He watched the digital display climb above the door.

"How about us being dripping wet?"

"We'll just have to have a hot shower and change to warm up," Eugene answered, a smile threatening to break his straight-face. Jamie laughed.

"Are we sharing a room?" Jamie asked.

"You're staying with me," Eugene repeated. Right, Jamie smiled as they stepped off the elevator onto the floor just below the penthouse.

"I bet they have a great view," Jamie commented. Eugene smiled across at her.

"You're chatty after such a long flight."

"I'm nervous. Shut the hell up," Jamie laughed. Eugene rolled his eyes as he searched his pocket for the key. Jamie picked up the bag he'd placed on the floor as Eugene opened the door. He put a hand on Jamie's lower back, giving her a little push inside ahead of himself.

Jamie stopped in the entrance as Eugene shut and locked the door.

"It's dark," she whispered. Eugene checked his watch.

"It's nearly midnight."

"What?" Jamie exclaimed, trying to see her watch. Eugene smiled, taking her bag from her and walking through the apartment. There was a large living room centrally placed. To the right were Sharon and Robert's room and bathroom, and Kendall's room. To the left was the kitchen and down a short hallway was the guest room, the spare bathroom and the study.

"Hungry?" Eugene asked softly, opening the fridge. Jamie wrapped her arms around him from behind.

"Famished," she answered, kissing his shoulder. Eugene turned his head towards her at her suggestive reply.

"How about I make some sandwiches?" Eugene asked. Jamie nodded.

"Can we have that shower first? It's cold in here."

000

"This bathroom is massive!" Jamie commented as she got out of the shower, wrapping her towel around herself. Eugene was already standing at the sink, his towel tied around his waist.

"Nice huh?"

"So much better than staying at a hotel."

"You say that now," Eugene commented. "You haven't met Sharon or Robert."

"Tell me about Robert," Jamie urged, pushing herself up to sit on the sink, losing her towel in the process. She blushed, picking it up from around her hips and holding it to her chest once again. Eugene smiled at her unnecessary yet endearing modesty. "How come Sharon didn't tell you she'd remarried?"

"She didn't have to," Eugene shrugged. "I stopped paying child support when Kendall was eighteen, she got married after that."

"What about alimony?"

"Sharon didn't want any. She was always independent, she worked. I was happy sending what I had to for Kendall." Jamie nodded. "You uh, remember you commented once on my belief in our differences were a non-issue." Jamie nodded. "Robert has a big chip on his shoulder."

"Is he black?"

"Yeah, he came from a rough home, he did it tough."

"Oh. Opinionated?" Eugene nodded. "Well I'm used to that," Jamie smiled. Eugene chuckled.

"We don't agree on much," Eugene added. Jamie shrugged, reaching out and pulling him to her for a kiss. Her towel dropped to her hips once again and Eugene eagerly held his hands against her ribcage.

"Hey Eugene," Jamie whispered.

"Yes?"

"How about those sandwiches?"

"Now?" Eugene pulled back, teasing.

"I'm hungry!" Jamie whined, sliding off the counter and heading into their room. Too tired to dig through her bag, she opened the cupboard and found one of Eugene's t-shirts sitting on a shelf. Pulling it over her head, she turned to see Eugene putting on his own shirt and boxers. "Food?" she asked, giving him her best innocently pleading expression.

"Only because you were stuck on that plane so long," Eugene grumbled happily as she followed him silently back into the kitchen.

000

Jamie groaned as the alarm clock went off beside her head.

"Oh God," she moaned. Eugene's arm fell across her ear as his fingers stretched to turn off the persistent beeping.

"Gotta get up," he sighed, rolling onto his back.

"We just went to bed," Jamie answered, sliding closer to him and wrapping an arm around his waist. Eugene used her embrace to sit her up. Jamie sighed, yawning and bending forward to rest her hands on her knees, stretching. "Okay I'm up," she mumbled, getting out from under the covers and looking around the room for the first time in the morning light. "Holy shit," she whispered.

"What?" Eugene asked, leaning back against the bedhead, enjoying the sight of Jamie in his plain navy shirt, which rested high on her thighs.

"This place is huge!" Jamie hissed, turning to face him. "What's that grin for?"

"You wanna put some pants on?" Eugene teased. Jamie scowled.

"What time are we leaving?" she asked, walking to the window and looking out over the city. The Washington monument was clearly visible from the window. The sky was grey, and it was drizzling. "This is really pretty."

"Gotta be there in two hours," Eugene replied, checking the time.

"I'm going to wash my hair."

"Okay," Eugene yawned, climbing out of bed as Jamie headed for her larger bag, kneeling on the floor and unzipping it.

000

"You got in late," Sharon commented as Eugene made his way into the kitchen, finding an apple to eat. Robert was sitting at the dining table, reading the paper and eating some kind of cereal as Sharon stood at the kitchen bench, waiting for her toast. Eugene nodded.

"Plane got caught in the storm."

"It's Jamie, right?" Sharon asked. Eugene nodded. "And she's a lawyer?"

"You know she is sweetheart," Robert called from the table.

"I always thought you'd end up dating Rebecca," Sharon added, before joining her husband at the table. Eugene raised his eyebrows.

"What gave you that idea?" he asked, knowing exactly what had given her that idea. Rebecca was the only other black lawyer Sharon had ever been introduced to. Sharon had stopped listening, however, and instead of replying to Eugene's question, divided up the paper with Robert. Eugene rolled his eyes, throwing out the apple core and heading into the bedroom to get changed.

Jamie was standing in front of the mirror buttoning her white blouse when Eugene knocked softly on the door and pushed it open. She turned her head and smiled.

"Just me," he said as he entered.

"You're wearing your suit, right?" she asked, smoothing her navy skirt. Eugene nodded. It was a trial, that's what they did. "I don't look too much like a lawyer?"

"You are a lawyer," Eugene answered with a small smile, opening the cupboard and pulling out his grey suit. Jamie rolled her eyes, opening a smaller bag and deliberating silently on a shade of lipstick. "I wouldn't put that on yet," Eugene added as he threaded his belt through his slacks. Jamie turned to him, holding up the lipstick with a coy smile.

"And why not?" she asked innocently.

"Because I'm not finished with you," he answered. Jamie laughed out loud.

"Oh, yes you are," she took the cap off the lipstick and raised her eyes, challenging him to object. Eugene accepted, making up the distance between them quickly and tightly gripping her wrist, easily restraining Jamie's attempts to push past him. "You're too strong for your own good," she huffed as Eugene captured her lips with his, kissing her deeply.

"Is that a bad thing?" Eugene asked softly as he pulled away.

"Um...no," Jamie replied. Eugene smiled.

"Good." He walked back over to the bed and picked up his tie.

"Are you done with me now?" Jamie asked, teasing. "Can I finish?"

000

Sharon and Robert looked up as they heard heels clicking on the floor boards. Their mouths fell open when Jamie walked into the living room, Eugene following.

"Good God," Robert managed softly.

Eugene gave Jamie another brief tour of the kitchen as she got herself a glass of water.

"Hi," she smiled over the kitchen bench at Sharon and Robert.

"Sharon, Robert, this is Jamie," Eugene introduced with his back turned as he dug around in the bottom half of the fridge, looking for the bread.

"Well hi," Sharon smiled, standing up from the table. Robert followed, shaking Jamie's hand.

"Nice to meet you," Jamie added sincerely, a little unnerved by the expressions on their faces but hiding it well. Eugene closed the fridge door, bread and fruit in hand as he turned towards the group. Sharon looked over at Eugene, her eyebrows raised.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," Sharon shook her head. "So, Jamie, you work with Eugene?"

"I do," Jamie answered as Eugene silently handed her the apple he'd retrieved, before setting up the toaster. Sharon looked Jamie up and down. Conservatively dressed in her white blouse and navy skirt, Sharon was sure there was a navy jacket laid out neatly on the spare bed. Right next to Eugene's jacket. Jamie was an inch taller than Sharon without the heels, and her hair was braided loosely, lending her a youthful appearance despite the sharp suit.

"For very long?" she continued. It was the closest she could come to asking Jamie's age without being rude.

"A couple of years," Jamie answered. "I'm twenty-five," she added with a small smile.

"Oh," Sharon hummed. Jamie nodded, eyebrows raised as she bit into her apple. Luckily, Jamie thought, Sharon's mobile rang and she excused herself, racing into her room to answer it.

"Who on earth is that?" Eugene asked as Jamie joined him by the toaster.

"Probably Susan," Robert answered. "Her latest priority client."

"Client?" Jamie asked.

"Sharon's a psychologist," Robert answered. "She does a lot of work with substance abuse patients."

"I knew she was a psychologist," Jamie replied. "That must be a very demanding area though."

"It is."

"And you're a doctor? Do you specialise?"

"I'm an opthalmologist," Robert answered. "You don't wear contacts, do you?"

"No," Jamie smiled. "Twenty-twenty, so far."

"I perform a lot of refractive surgeries."

"Laser surgery?" Jamie asked. Robert nodded.

"Mostly."

"Cool," she answered. Robert raised his eyebrows. He didn't hear 'cool' every day, that was for sure.

"You practice criminal law?"

"And civil," Jamie answered.

"So you're familiar with all of this too." Jamie nodded, her smile fading.

"Unfortunately I am. Are you very close to Kendall?"

"Not really," Robert answered. "As much as I tried..." Robert drifted off and Eugene cleared his throat as the toast popped.

000

Jamie had seen pictures of Kendall, of course, Eugene had them sitting on shelves in his office, but the eldest she could place him at was twelve or thirteen. At nineteen, he was nearly as tall as Eugene, but much skinnier in his adolescence. His facial features were similar to Sharon's from some angles. He had more angular cheekbones, but when the young man turned to look at his parents, she saw Eugene's strength in his eyes. Eugene nodded at Kendall as they took a seat and waited for the jury to be brought in. Jamie sat next to Eugene, who was sitting next to Sharon, with Robert on the other side. As the gallery chatted softly, waiting, Jamie took the opportunity to take Eugene's hand and lean towards his ear.

"You didn't tell them what I looked like, did you?" she whispered. Eugene turned to her.

"They never asked," he answered, a twinkle in his eye. Jamie smiled, shifting a little closer as she felt Eugene grip her hand, the jury filing in.

000

Jamie grinned as she walked away from the group during lunch and approached Kendall's defence attorney in the hall.

"Small world," she stated.

"Nice to see you again Jamie," Justin Hartford replied. They shook hands.

"They were at Harvard together," Eugene explained as Sharon and Robert watched the exchange from a distance.

"Harvard," Robert stated, umimpressed. Eugene nodded.

"That's right."

"She's white, Eugene," Sharon added.

"Is she? I hadn't noticed," Eugene replied evenly.

"And you wonder where your son gets it from," Robert continued. Eugene scowled, taking a step forward.

"I have 000never000-"Eugene stopped as he saw Jamie return out of the corner of his eye. He stepped back.

"The doctor and Carla's friends are up after lunch," Jamie began, taking the opportunity to obviously diffuse whatever Eugene was about to do or say to Robert. She took Eugene's hand in her own. "I uh, I actually thought I'd go for a walk. Justin said you could talk to Kendall if you wanted. I'll be back in time, I promise."

"Okay," Eugene answered, smiling as Jamie turned and left. He turned back to Sharon and Robert. "I'll be with Kendall," he stated curtly.

000

"Hey dad," Kendall leant back in his chair.

"Kendall."

"Who's the honey?"

"Who?" Eugene asked, playing dumb as he sat on the other side of the table. Justin leant against the back wall, listening but not interfering.

"The girl you brought along."

"The woman's name is Jamie. She's a lawyer."

"You sleeping with her?"

"I'm not raping her," Eugene replied. Kendall sighed.

"Are we still on this?"

"Yes we're still on it," Eugene stated, frustrated. "Why didn't you take the two years?"

"Cos I didn't do it!" Kendall insisted. "Why should I do two years when I could get off?"

"Because they're probably going to convict you," Eugene answered.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, dad."

"Carla's going to testify."

"Good for her. Justin'll fix her on cross." Eugene sat back in his chair.

"You're going after her?" he asked Justin. Justin nodded.

"And her friends."

"I'm gonna get off," Kendall said. "Don't sweat it." Eugene leant across the table.

"Did you rape that girl?" he asked, not for the first time.

"No," Kendall replied.

000

Jamie spotted Carla sitting on a small park bench and approached her. Carla looked up as Jamie took a seat next to her and took the lid off the fruit salad she'd purchased.

"Nice day today, isn't it?" Jamie began. "I mean, despite the grey sky."

"Yeah," Carla replied. "I saw you in court, didn't I?"

"I'm a lawyer," Jamie nodded. "Hungry? I bought another one. It's for my boyfriend but I can always get another."

"Oh um, okay."

"You're probably not very hungry," Jamie reasoned, reaching into her bag and pulling out the small plastic tub and fork. "But you should eat something."

"Is your um, your boyfriend, that's Kendall's father isn't it? You're from Boston."

"Yep," Jamie answered, eating a piece of pineapple.

"Are you here to try to talk me out of testifying?" Carla asked.

"Nope," Jamie replied. "I think you should testify."

"You do?"

"It's really scary, but if you think you're ready then don't let anyone talk you out of it."

"My lawyer doesn't really want me to testify," Carla admitted. "You're a lawyer, right?" Jamie nodded. "I um, so if I tell you something, it's in confidence, isn't it?"

"If you want it in confidence, then it is."

"I'm studying pre-law," Carla smiled. "They don't want me to testify because of the defence lawyer. Apparently he's pretty relentless. And I wasn't the most conservative girl, if you know what I mean."

"I know exactly what you mean. Don't let that stop you." Carla looked over at Jamie.

"Do you really understand?" she asked. Jamie nodded. "Oh. Sorry." Jamie shrugged.

"Don't be. You are, uh, telling the truth, aren't you?"

"Yes," Carla nodded.

"Good," Jamie replied.

000

Eugene approached Jamie as she walked back towards the courthouse.

"Hi," she smiled.

"Were you talking to Carla?" Eugene asked.

"Were you spying on me?" Jamie replied. Eugene shook his head.

"What did she say?"

"Not much. I think she's telling the truth. I'm sorry, Eugene." Eugene sighed.

"Are you going to be okay for this?" he asked. Jamie nodded.

000

"The clock exam showed bruising from eleven to one o'clock... Semen present was later identified as Kendall Young's... There were bruises on her wrists as though she'd been restrained..."

"Doctor Steward, is it possible all of these facts were the result of consensual sexual intercourse?" Justin asked as he stood.

"This type of vaginal bruising is highly unlikely."

"But possible."

"Yes," the doctor conceded.

000

"How many boyfriends has Carla had over the past year?" Justin asked Carla's best friend, Shania.

"Um...Six."

"How many boyfriends have you had over the past year?"

"Objection."

"Sustained."

"How many of those six men did she sleep with, Shania?"

"Um...five," Shania replied, looking uncomfortable.

"Was one of those men Kendall Young?"

"Yes," Shania stated. "They had sex once, but then when she tried to break up with him, he raped her!"

"Did you see it?" Justin asked.

"What?"

"Did you see it? Were you in the room, watching?"

"No," Shania said, screwing up her nose in disgust.

"So you only say Carla was raped because that's what Carla told you."

"Why would she lie?" Shania asked.

"Nothing further, Your Honour."

000

"Well that went well," Justin concluded as court was adjourned for the day. Justin, Jamie, Eugene, Sharon and Robert sat in a small conference room. Eugene nodded as Jamie crossed her arms, leaning beside the window. "I expect the DA to rest after Carla's testimony. There's really not much to this one."

"What's the girl going to say?" Robert asked.

"Basically you know it. They were at a party and he raped her."

"Wasn't she unconscious? Drunk?" Sharon asked. "How would she know?" Robert glanced to Jamie as he saw her roll her eyes in his peripheral vision. He frowned at Eugene. Just whose side were they on?

"She only remembers regaining consciousness with Kendall leaning over her. She can't prove he raped her. Any boy at that party could've had sex with her."

"What about the DNA?" Robert asked.

"They had sex before," Justin answered. "The girl was unconscious. Reasonable doubt on a silver platter."

"What if he did it?" Eugene asked.

"He says he didn't," Sharon insisted. "Eugene, as his father, you have to believe him."

"What if he does it again?" Eugene asked. Sharon stared at him, trying to hide how upset she was at the suggestion.

"You get murderers off. It doesn't worry you they might kill someone else? How is this different? Since when do you have a conscience?" Eugene didn't answer. The room was silent.

"Maybe he'll learn his lesson from this," Robert began, finally breaking the silence.

"And what lesson would that be?" Eugene asked condescendingly. Robert stared at him. His eyes flicked to Jamie and Eugene's jaw twitched. Robert remained silent.

000

"Oh yeah, this is going 000really000 well," Jamie sighed as she lay across the bed on her stomach that evening. Eugene sat beside her, taking off his tie.

"Sorry," Eugene apologised. Jamie chuckled, turning her head to look up at him.

"Don't be. Did you get a chance to talk to Kendall?"

"Yeah. He says he didn't do it."

"Maybe he's telling the truth."

"You said you thought the girl was telling the truth," Eugene answered. Jamie shrugged.

"If Kendall gets not guilty and he walks away from this, will you always look at him and talk to him as though he were guilty? Sharon's right, you know. As his father, you have to act like you believe him, even if you don't."

"Kids see past that stuff."

"Maybe. Maybe Kendall just wants his dad to believe him." Eugene looked down at Jamie as he pulled off his socks. She watched him earnestly as he leant down and kissed her. Jamie pushed herself up and scooted closer to Eugene on the bed, gripping his waist as they kissed lightly, their lips brushing and pressing gently.

"Do you want to go out for dinner?" Eugene asked as he pulled himself away.

"Okay. Got anywhere in mind?"

"Nope, but I'm sure Sharon and Robert can give us some names." Jamie smiled.

000

Several hours later, Jamie laughed as Eugene opened the door to the apartment and let her in.

"You had a good time?" Sharon asked, surprised, as they entered the living room.

"Yeah, it was great," Jamie answered.

"Nice outfit," Robert commented. Jamie was in heels, a short black skirt and a loose, silver halter top that covered the tighter black lining, the material falling freely from her breasts to her waist. Her black coat was hooked over her right arm.

"Thanks," she grinned at Robert. "That was a great club."

"Do you go there often?" Eugene asked.

"Not as often as we used to," Sharon replied. Eugene smiled. He was almost certain Jamie had been one of only three Caucasian women in that club, but it hadn't stopped her from dragging him out onto the dance floor.

"You should go," Eugene replied. "I hear they're letting white-folk in now."

000

"I have a question," Jamie began later that night, leaning on her elbow to face Eugene.

"What?" he asked.

"When do you want to put the Christmas tree up this year?"

"Christmas is, what, three months away?" Eugene asked.

"That is not my point," Jamie replied.

"You want a Christmas tree?"

"Why not?" Jamie asked. "You always had one, right?"

"Yeah," Eugene nodded.

"Well then, I want one too."

"Is this some kind of deal where I have to fast?" Jamie punched him playfully, keeping her fist on his shoulder and pushing him onto his back, falling half on top of him. "Christmas tree sounds good," he added as Jamie gave him the evil eye.

"Can I put the star on the top?" she asked, kissing him.

"You won't be able to reach," Eugene answered.

"I can reach if you pick me up."

"I think if I did that we wouldn't get much decorating done," he continued, lifting the back of her top up to her shoulders before sliding his hands to her front, repeating the action.

"That's why we're starting two months early," Jamie replied with a smile. Eugene laughed against her mouth before using his weight to push Jamie onto her back.

000

"Sharon," Eugene sighed. Robert had a surgery that morning and Jamie was talking to Justin. "Don't start."

"Is this serious?" she asked.

"Yes," Eugene answered.

"She's twenty-five, for God's sakes."

"And I'm thirty-eight. So?"

"She's white, Eugene. Is she Catholic?"

"No," Eugene answered. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Are you actually considering marrying this woman? Having her children?"

"I haven't ruled it out," Eugene replied, not impressed with this line of questioning. "It wouldn't hurt if you had a word to Robert, you know. The guy treats Jamie like a piece of meat, even though she's just as smart as him. You wonder where Kendall gets it from, Sharon? Take a look around."

"You know Robert's history, Eugene."

"No actually, I don't," Eugene answered. "Someone forgot to tell me they got married the summer before last."

"He was engaged to a nurse once, a white nurse. She hurt him bad."

"I'm sure it had nothing to do with the colour of her skin."

"Listen, Eugene," Sharon softened. "I care about you. I don't want to see you hurt. Jamie seems like a lovely girl, but that's what she is. She's barely out of college. She doesn't want to settle down. I bet she doesn't want to settle down with a black man."

"You don't know what you're talking about," Eugene answered.

"I hope I'm wrong, then," Sharon added with a sigh.

000

"You passed out. Why?" Justin asked Carla.

"I'd had too much to drink, I guess."

"Take any drugs?"

"I...smoked a joint, but I wasn't stoned. I was drunk."

"Do you know what phencyclidine is, Carla?" Justin asked.

"No," she answered.

"It's abbreviation is PCP. Ever heard of Angel Dust? It's the same thing."

"I've heard of it."

"Ever tried it?"

"No."

"You sure about that? Because your blood test begs to differ." Justin quoted the medical report.

"Maybe someone drugged me. I'm sure Kendall could find some if he wanted. He used to be into that stuff."

"You were taking drugs," Justin stated. "You were tripping, weren't you Carla? Mixed with a couple of drinks and you were out like a light. You probably dreamed the whole thing."

"Objection."

"Sustained."

"Withdrawn, Your Honour. Have you ever hallucinated before? Ever thought you saw something but it wasn't there?"

"I didn't hallucinate being raped. If someone drugged me then it just makes it worse!"

Beside Eugene, Jamie tensed. Eugene reached across and kneaded her thigh through her slacks.

"The thing is Carla, you were unconscious weren't you? You woke up and the rape had already happened."

"That's right. But Kendall was standing over me."

"Was he inside you?"

"No," Carla answered.

"Had you had sex earlier that day?"

"No."

"You took an oath to tell the truth, Carla."

"We fooled around, but we didn't have a condom so he withdrew."

"So you didn't actually see Kendall raping you?"

"No," Carla sighed.

"Nothing further."

000

"You're starting to believe he's innocent, aren't you?" Sharon asked Eugene as they stood in the kitchen making dinner. Jamie sat silently on one end of the kitchen bench as Robert finished off a phone call with the hospital in the living room.

"I don't know what to believe."

"You're so stubborn. Years ago you were so adamant that your son was not dealing drugs. How is this different?"

"The guilty deny most insistently."

"So do the innocent," Robert replied as he hung up. "How do you tell the difference?"

"You don't," Sharon answered, staring at Eugene. "You just do your job, no matter whose lives you're affecting, isn't that right?" Eugene rolled his eyes, leaving the room.

"Eugene's a good lawyer," Jamie stated softly. Sharon looked at her.

"I know he is. That doesn't mean he's a good man." Jamie's eyes narrowed.

"I don't know what kind of marriage you both had," Jamie continued. "You obviously don't understand-"

"Oh, I understand. You defend the guilty, ultimately protecting the innocent. But you set the guilty free to kill the innocent, and you lock the innocent in jail."

"Kendall will be released," Jamie insisted. "She didn't see it. Nobody saw it."

"You don't get it, do you?" Robert sighed. "Kendall's black. That slut is white. What she says, goes. The jury only has one black man on it. You think, if you stood up on that stand and accused Eugene of rape, that he wouldn't go to jail? All you'd have to do is turn on the waterworks and you'd have a jury eating out of your palm. Lawyers don't care about that."

"We do care," Jamie insisted. "And for the record," she added, standing and stepping closer to him. "Do you call all white women sluts?"

"Don't test me, Jamie," Robert stated softly. Jamie took another step closer.

"What are you going to do? I think you're full of shit," Jamie replied. "Don't expect me to respect you when you have no respect for Eugene or myself. We're good people, we have decent jobs and in our own way we save lives. You're no better than me, Robert. If you think Kendall's innocent because he's black and she's white so she must be lying, you're scum of the earth and I'd love nothing more than to kick you in the balls."

"Been practising?" Robert asked. Jamie scowled.

"Jamie, step down," Eugene called from behind her. She didn't turn around. "Step down," he repeated.

"Robert," Sharon urged. "Don't be a fool." Robert took a deep breath and dropped his eye contact from Jamie, turning to look at Sharon. Jamie turned her back on them immediately, coming face to face with Eugene.

"I'm going for a walk," Jamie whispered.

"Want me to come?" Eugene asked. Jamie shook her head, silently heading for the front door. Eugene turned to Robert. "I don't care what you think of me. I've heard it all before," he glanced at Sharon. "But don't you threaten Jamie."

"You're in love with her, aren't you?" Sharon asked. "Ever told her?" Eugene didn't answer. "I didn't think so."

000

Jamie sat on the ground, leaning up against a pillar inside the Lincoln Memorial, staring at the large statue of Lincoln in the centre. She brushed a few stray tears from her cheeks. The memorial was quiet. It was late at night in the middle of the week, even the tourists had disappeared.

"Jamie."

Jamie looked up at the familiar voice.

"Justin," she replied.

"I thought that was you," he continued, walking up to her.

"What are you doing here?"

"I come here when I need some extra confidence. What are you doing here?"

"Couldn't think of anywhere else to go," she shrugged, resting her head on the cool stone.

"Oh. Could I join you?"

"Sure," she answered. He sat beside her.

"Fight with Eugene?"

"Nope," Jamie sighed. "Robert."

"I'm not surprised, that guy is carrying around a helluva lot of anger."

"Kendall is going to be released, isn't he?"

"If he's not, I'd be very surprised," Justin nodded. "Whether or not he's innocent is another story."

"The PCP?"

"It was probably in the joint she smoked and she didn't even realise. How's Eugene taking all of this? He's quiet."

"I actually think he thinks Kendall is guilty, but he feels bad for thinking it," Jamie answered. "All he'll tell me is it was a look in Kendall's eyes. I don't know. I spoke to Carla and she just...something was off."

"Do you think he's guilty?"

"I don't want to believe it," Jamie sighed. "It would destroy Eugene, and I'm afraid that if...if Kendall is guilty, Eugene will always look at me as though I were Carla. I couldn't stand that."

"You're cute together, you know," Justin grinned. "How long have you been going out?"

"Uh, eight, nine months? There were a few weeks there where we weren't."

"Wow," Justin nodded. "That's not bad. Have you uh, taken much heat from people?"

"Which people?"

"Just people. Your parents, friends, coworkers, waiters, whatever."

"Not really. My parents don't know. Our friends are our coworkers. I think um, just one, Jimmy, might find it hard to accept if we ever got married or had children, but he'd get over it. He's grown, or so I've been told. I don't think Sharon or Robert think too highly of me."

"Sharon's jealous Eugene finally found someone and she can't tell herself she's better than him any more," Justin smirked. "You should've heard her picking at him before you came."

"You knew I was coming?"

"Oh yeah, Eugene mentioned you and I asked 'Jamie Stringer?'" Jamie smiled. "It's getting kind of late. Does he know where you are?"

"Justin, I haven't been to DC since I was a teenager. I don't know where I am. I was just going to call-"

"I'll take you home."

"Really?" Justin stood.

"I wouldn't offer if I wasn't serious," he answered, holding out his hand and pulling Jamie up and off the ground.

000

"Good luck tomorrow," Jamie said, thanking Justin again as she knocked on the door to the apartment. Justin stepped back into the elevator, smiling as the doors closed. Eugene swung the front door open as Jamie turned back. He exhaled, pulling her into a bear hug.

"Are you okay?" he asked. Jamie nodded, pushing back from the embrace slightly. She stood on her tip-toes and kissed him.

"I love you," she whispered, her voice shaking as she kissed him again, pulling his face closer to hers. She felt Eugene's fingers dig into the soft flesh of her waist.

"I love you too," Eugene stated in all seriousness after breaking the kiss, his forehead nearly touching hers as he raked his fingers through her hair. "Marry me, Jamie," he whispered. Jamie met his eyes, shocked, her mouth open. Eugene caught her bottom lip gently between his, his eyes fluttering shut. Jamie whimpered, sick of him tugging on her lip as the meaning behind what he said hit her head-on and she pulled from his lips, taking his head in her hands, her fingers stroking his smooth cheeks.

"Eugene," she whispered. He opened his eyes to look at her, warily. Jamie broke out into a kind smile. "Yes," she added, still keeping her voice down, before pulling his face to hers for a passionate kiss. Eugene's arms wrapped tightly around her back. "On one condition," Jamie interrupted, pulling back.

"What?" Eugene asked seriously.

"Can we get a room tonight?" They grinned at each other as Jamie rested her forehead against his. "Because I don't want to be quiet, and I don't want them to listen in."

"Condition accepted," Eugene mumbled, ushering her into the apartment to pack their things.

000

"Where are they?" Sharon hissed to Robert as they sat in court the next morning following the Judge's entrance.

"Who knows?" Robert whispered in reply.

Half-way through testimony, Jamie and Eugene quietly slipped in and took a seat at the back of the room.

"So you'd had sex with Carla earlier that day," Justin was saying.

"That's right," Kendall replied.

"At her house?"

"No, at mine."

"And Carla said you withdrew, is that true?"

"Well...I tried. I'm nineteen, you know. I don't have a lot of control."

"Did you ejaculate while having consensual intercourse with the plaintiff?"

"Yes," Kendall answered, blushing as he met his mother's eyes.

"Did you rape her?"

"No, I didn't."

"Did you see who did?"

"No."

"Tell us what happened at the party."

"I was drinking but I wasn't smoking anything. Carla had a joint. We went up to a room and started macking. She passed out and I left. About an hour later, I hadn't seen her so I went looking, and when I found her she was just coming to. I didn't even know she'd been raped."

"Carla said her skirt was pushed up."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure I pushed her skirt up while we were making out, before she passed out. I didn't touch her once I realised she was unconscious."

"Can you explain the bruises on her wrists?"

"Yeah," Kendall nodded. "She got them when we had sex that morning. She wanted me to tie her down and she was pulling on the ties."

Jamie felt Eugene shift uncomfortably beside her and rested a hand on his knee.

"When you left Carla in the room, did you tell anyone she was passed out?"

"No."

"Did you leave the door to the room open?"

"No I closed it, but it was unlocked. Anyone could've gotten in."

000

"Kind of like thinking about your parents doing it, huh?" Jamie asked as the courtroom emptied. Eugene looked at her, not amused. Jamie laughed. "If it makes you feel better, I believe him Eugene."

"I still don't know," Eugene answered. "I've seen it so many times."

"Tell me what he said to you," Jamie urged seriously. Eugene shook his head.

"It doesn't matter now." He took her hand in his. "Listen, I want to take you shopping in Boston for your ring."

"I don't need a ring," Jamie insisted.

"I don't care. You're getting one," Eugene replied. Jamie smiled.

"Well I won't object..." They laughed, standing as Justin, Sharon and Robert approached them.

"Nice of you to show up," Sharon stated in a huff.

"How long do you think the jury will be out for?" Robert asked Justin.

"Hard to say. For every person I put up saying anyone could have gone in there, the prosecution put up someone else saying they didn't see anyone else go in. I'm sure it won't be immediately unanimous."

000

"Xylophone?" Jamie exclaimed, frustrated as they sat cross-legged on their bed in Sharon and Robert's spare room. Eugene chuckled, adding up his total. "That's not fair."

"It's a word," Eugene replied. "You left me right open!"

"I can't do anything with it though," she sighed, before grinning, looking at her seven letters: S E N C I R K.

"What?" Eugene asked warily. Jamie giggled.

"Oh, I can't decide!" she exclaimed, batting her eyelashes playfully. Eugene frowned.

"I thought we agreed on keeping this game clean," Eugene growled, amused, as Jamie made a decision and laid out her tiles stemming from the P tile he'd previously used. Jamie laughed.

"It was either that or prick, babe. I thought this was the more politically correct option. Triple points to me!"

"You've been waiting all night to do that haven't you?"

"No!" Jamie exclaimed. "I just noticed it then."

"Ahuh," Eugene smiled. "Because you're a beautiful, dumb, blonde, right?"

"You think I'm that easy?" Jamie teased. Eugene got onto all fours and leant over the scrabble board, kissing her. Jamie quickly uncurled her legs, knocking the scrabble board onto the floor in the process. Eugene burst out laughing, and Jamie joined in.

000

First thing the next morning, Jamie held Eugene's hand tightly as Kendall's verdict was read aloud.

"We the jury, find the defendant, not guilty."

"Members of the jury, this completes your service. Mr Young, you are free to go."

000

"When are you going back dad?" Kendall asked that night at home.

"Uh, I was able to get a flight back the day after tomorrow. Jamie's booked on the same flight, but she's on standby for a flight out tomorrow afternoon."

"Can't wait to get home hey?" Robert asked. Jamie looked at him.

"I have a murder trial starting next week," she answered evenly.

"Okay, okay, enough talk about work," Sharon announced. "A toast!"

000

"You see what I mean about the work?" Eugene whispered in bed that night. "If I couldn't talk about work, what could I talk about?"

"You can talk about work with me," Jamie smiled. "And non-work stuff like...sports." Eugene gave Jamie a funny look.

"Sports?"

"Yeah, I can deal with sport."

"Like what? Tennis?" Jamie pinched him. "Ow!"

"No. Like baseball. I love baseball."

"Well I know that," Eugene stated.

"Well maybe we could go to a game. It's off-season I know-"

"I won't forget," Eugene kissed her. "Are you sure you want to head back tomorrow?"

"If I can," Jamie nodded. "You should have some time with Kendall on your own."

"Are you okay? You were quiet tonight," he continued.

"Yeah," Jamie sighed. "Something just feels off about this whole...thing."

"Robert hasn't said anything else to you, has he?" Jamie shook her head.

"I just don't feel well," she mumbled, snuggling in closer to Eugene as he kissed her cheek.

000

Jamie and Eugene returned from brunch with Justin, both grinning. Jamie had accidentally spilled they were engaged and Justin was rapt. It had them both on a high. Eugene let Jamie in before realising he had to duck to the shops down the road to pick up some fresh groceries. Jamie declined to join him. She had to pack anyway to head to the airport for the afternoon flight, in case they were able to let her on.

Jamie was folding her tops into her suitcase when she heard the front door open and close. She smiled, heading into the living room.

"That was quick," she called. Her smile faded when she realised it wasn't Eugene, but Kendall. "Oh, sorry, I thought it was your dad." Kendall shrugged.

"That's okay. Whatcha doin?"

"Packing," Jamie smiled. "How was your morning?"

"Sweet, ya know," Kendall answered. Jamie gave a little wave, before heading back into the spare room. Kendall followed her. "Need any help?" he asked. Jamie looked up, surprised at being followed.

"No, I'm good. Thanks." Kendall nodded, strolling into the room.

"You have really nice clothes. Are they for work?"

"Yeah." Kendall reached down and touched the fabric of one of her skirts. Jamie watched his hand.

"You have a murder trial?"

"I do."

"Did he do it?"

"She. What I think doesn't really matter," Jamie answered.

"Did you think I did it?" Something about the way he looked at her... Jamie's stomach knotted.

"At first I wasn't sure, but I think you deserve to be free."

"Really?" Kendall asked. He rounded the bed before Jamie realised the door was on the other side of the bed, and that she'd backed herself into a convenient corner.

"Yes," Jamie answered, holding her voice steady. He took another step towards her as Jamie took another step back, feeling herself back up against the side table. She leant against it for support, saving her strength. She didn't care who Kendall was, if necessary, she'd fight to the death.

"I can see why my dad is going out with you," Kendall stated, reaching up and touching Jamie's cheek. She recognised the gesture, but instead of her heart skipping a beat, it ached. She bit her bottom lip, determined not to let her fear show. "You're so beautiful."

"You think so?" Jamie asked. She thought she heard the front door open and close but she didn't want to draw Kendall's attention to it.

"I want to touch you Jamie, but you can't tell anyone about it. No one would believe you, anyway," he whispered. "My dad would hate you if you made something like that up."

"That's not true," Jamie whispered, her eyes shutting as Kendall dipped his head quickly and kissed her.

"Kendall."

Jamie gasped as Kendall quickly pulled away at the sound of Robert's voice as he appeared in the doorway.

"What are you doing?"

"Just helping Jamie pack," Kendall explained. "You're back early."

"Yeah a surgery cancelled," Robert replied, his eyes focussed on Jamie, who hadn't moved. She was staring at the ground, her cheeks and ears bright red. "How about you head down to check the mail?" Robert suggested.

"All right," Kendall answered, leaving the room without looking back. Robert waited until he heard the front door close before walking up to Jamie. He touched her elbow and she flinched, her head snapping up to look into his eyes. She wasn't able to hide it in time, and he saw her fear.

"I'm sorry, are you okay?" he asked sincerely.

"Yeah," Jamie replied, recovering and straightening. "I'm fine. I should get going."

"You want a lift?" Robert asked.

"No, no, I'll get a cab. Tell Eugene I'll call when I get back."

"What if there's no room on the flight?"

"Then I'll find another one," she answered, already halfway out of the room, bag slung over her shoulder.

000

Jamie checked her watch as she sat on the plane. Thank God someone had cancelled, was all she could say. She had to get out of DC. Jamie felt like crying. She was so angry at herself for leaving without speaking to Eugene. Had Robert even seen what was going on? She didn't think so. Jamie didn't know how she could face Eugene. She didn't want to tell him, she didn't want him to think she was...vying for his attention, or whatever! She just wanted to go home, his home, their home, and go to bed. Focus on the trial, Jamie told herself, reaching into her handbag for some case notes she'd brought along. Just focus on the trial.

000

Eugene frowned as he noticed none of Jamie's things scattered over the dresser in their room. Her bag was also missing. He turned to the doorway, where he saw Robert standing.

"Where'd she go?"

"Airport."

"But the flight she was going to be on isn't for another two hours."

"I guess she got an earlier one," Robert answered.

"Why?" Eugene asked. She hadn't even waited for him to get back from the shops. Something really wasn't right. And the look on Robert's face made Eugene think the man knew something. "Why?" he repeated, stepping closer. "What went on here? What are you doing home? If you touched her I swear-"

"We need to talk."

"Yeah," Eugene stated emphatically. "Let's do that." Robert turned and shut the bedroom door, before taking a seat on the bed.

"One of my patients cancelled because of a death in the family, so I came home for lunch," Robert explained. "I heard Kendall's voice so I called for him, heading towards where it was coming from."

"And where was that?" Eugene asked.

"In here. I heard a woman gasp and so I stopped outside this room. Kendall wasn't standing a metre from Jamie; she was backed up against that table next to you." Eugene cast a wary glance towards the wooden table.

"What are you saying?"

"I think I interrupted something. I sent Kendall out and when I approached Jamie, she jumped. She then insisted she was fine. She seemed...embarrassed." Eugene stared at him. "I'm not suggesting what you're thinking, Eugene. I never thought I'd say this but I was worried, because Jamie was terrified."

"You should have stopped her," Eugene replied. "I have to talk to her." Robert shrugged.

"I couldn't stop her. I didn't want to touch her. I don't know what was going on. I didn't want her to freak out."

"You should have stopped her."

"If you had walked back in here and she was crying and I was holding her what would you have done?"

"I would have asked Jamie what was going on, and she wouldn't have lied. It's not because you're black, you know?" He took a deep breath, calming himself. "Was she crying?"

"No, but she left in a hurry." Eugene checked his watch.

"If I leave now, I can make that flight she was registered for on standby. Maybe I'll get lucky."

"Need a lift?" Robert offered.

"How fast can you drive on these streets without getting arrested?"

000

Jamie headed into the office at around four that afternoon and was grateful to see Tara sitting at her desk.

"Hi!" Tara exclaimed, smiling as she looked towards the door. "You're early!"

"Yeah," Jamie smiled. "Earlier flight."

"What about Eugene?"

"Still in DC."

"How'd it go?"

"He got off," Jamie answered.

"That's great!"

"Yeah," Jamie replied, her voice shaking.

"Isn't it?" Tara asked, settling down.

"Oh, yeah, it is."

"You don't sound very convinced, Jamie." Jamie was about to say something when the front door opened and Jimmy strode in.

"Oh, hey Jamie. Good to see you again."

"Hi Jimmy," Jamie answered, giving Tara a look and heading into Eugene's office. Tara bit her bottom lip and waited for Jimmy to join Alan in the conference room, before following.

Tara closed Eugene's door behind her quickly when she realised Jamie was sitting on his small couch, crying, her hands covering her face.

"Oh my God," Tara whispered, sitting beside her and resting a hand on her back. "What's wrong? What happened?" Jamie shook her head, not able to explain as Tara pulled her into her arms. Jamie buried her face against Tara's shoulder as she sobbed, not making any effort to hold Tara, her arms folded across her own chest, an action Tara found very unusual. "It's um, it's okay, it's okay now," Tara managed, completely blown away by the obvious depth of Jamie's hurt.

After a couple of minutes, Alan opened the door.

"Tara, are you wearing something special?" he asked. With Ellenor in trial and Eugene gone, Alan had ruled the office, much to Jimmy's distaste. Tara turned her head towards the door.

"Not now," she stated. Alan stopped in his tracks when he saw Jamie pull from Tara, furiously trying to stop her tears. He walked forward, kneeling in front of Jamie and looking up at her.

"What's wrong?" he asked. Jamie swallowed hard, meeting Alan's eyes. He reached up and touched her face, brushing her hair back. "What's wrong sweetheart?" he repeated. Jamie's eyes drifted skyward as a smile tugged at her lips.

"That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," she managed. Alan reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, handing it to Jamie.

"Well we can't have that. Blow your nose. I can see your boogers." Jamie laughed, shaking her head and taking the handkerchief, still sniffling. Alan managed to squeeze onto the edge of the seat, wrapping an arm around Jamie's waist. "Can you tell us what's wrong?" he asked.

"Eugene's son is guilty," she stated.

"But he was released," Tara answered. Jamie nodded. "Well how did you come to the conclusion that..." She drifted off as Alan looked over at her, alarmed.

"Jamie," Alan began. "Do you need to see a doctor?"

"What?" Jamie asked, looking over at Alan. She read what he was thinking easily. "Oh, no, no I don't," she laughed. "No."

"No?" Tara asked, not sure what Jamie was saying 'no' to.

"I don't need to see anyone."

"But something happened," Alan stated. Jamie turned to look at Alan.

"We were interrupted."

"By Eugene?" Tara asked. Jamie shook her head.

"Eugene doesn't know."

"Okay," Tara added. "Wow, um, but you're okay?"

"I think so," Jamie nodded. "I mean, yes I am, it's just-"

"It's all right," Alan interrupted. "You shouldn't be here."

"I was going to go home but I just...came here instead."

"Well," Tara began. "Alan and I were going to have a bit of a movie night tonight. Being Friday."

"Rent some movies and sit in front of my absolutely huge television in our pyjamas. You're very welcome to join us."

"I would never intrude-"

"You shouldn't be alone," Alan insisted. "Please, my treat. And Tara will be there, so there's no reason to feel threatened by me."

"Oh, why, because you're so threatening?" Jamie smiled.

"I knew that sense of humour was in there somewhere," Alan smiled back. "What do you say?" He rubbed her back a couple of times as Jamie nodded, wiping her cheeks with his handkerchief.

"Thankyou," she whispered.

"It's okay, we're your friends," Alan replied.

"We won't let anything happen to you," Tara added sincerely. Jamie smiled over at her shyly, realising that she'd never really thought of these people as her friends before. But they were. Good friends.

000

Eugene arrived home late that night, having missed a spot on Jamie's booked flight. However, he'd managed to squeeze himself in between two very large women on the next flight. He'd tried calling Jamie at her house, at his house, at the office. She couldn't be reached. He'd gotten onto Ellenor at the office. Everyone else had left. She hadn't seen Jamie, she said, but she'd been in court all day, so she could have come in. Just great, Eugene had thought.

He now stood in his very dark house. It was empty. Rolling his lips together, thinking, Eugene tried to work out where to go next. He'd gone to her house first. Also empty. Where would she go? Jamie didn't have many friends. The only name he could think of was Tara, but she wasn't answering her phone either.

Eugene sighed. Maybe they went out, but if Jamie was upset, why would Tara take her out? Eugene was starting to get worried when he made one last attempt, picking up his phone.

"Hello?" Alan answered.

"Alan, it's Eugene."

"Are you back?" he asked.

"What's wrong with your voice?" Eugene asked.

"Sleeping beauty's right here. Are you back?"

"I'm at home. Have you heard from Jamie?"

"You don't listen, do you? Come on over, Eugene."

"What?" Eugene asked, but Alan had hung up. Eugene wanted to hit something. Not something. Alan. Hit Alan. Was that a 'yes I have seen Jamie'? Who knew? He wasn't waiting around though, she had to be somewhere and if she was at Alan's, fine by him.

000

Alan jumped up and raced downstairs to answer the door when he heard Eugene pull into the gravel drive so he didn't use the doorbell. Eugene got out of his car and looked up, surprised to see Alan waiting for him.

"Took you long enough."

"I'm here, aren't I?" Eugene replied. "Is Jamie?" Alan nodded.

"What made you call here?"

"I thought she might be with Tara. When I couldn't find Tara, I tried to think of where Tara might be." Eugene followed Alan into his house and up the stairs into the bedroom.

"King-sized," Alan explained before Eugene could comment. Tara, stretched out on her side, turned her head back towards the door as they entered. She looked half-asleep but smiled at Eugene anyway. Eugene stood, staring. Jamie was fast asleep, stretched out in the middle of the bed in a jumper and tracksuit pants – she'd obviously been lying between Tara and Alan before he moved to answer the door.

"She came into work," Tara whispered. "Distraught. I've never seen anyone cry like that, it was so painful-"

"Did she tell you why?" he asked. Alan took a step closer to Eugene, meeting his eyes.

"She says your son threatened her, sexually, but was interrupted before he did any physical damage." Eugene scowled. "You don't look surprised."

"I'm gonna kill him," Eugene rumbled. Alan gripped Eugene's elbow.

"Maybe, instead of that, you should stay here with Jamie. She told us she was date-raped once before when we asked what she thought of 'The Emperor's New Groove'. This is the spare room. No point waking her up when she's only just fallen asleep." Eugene looked at Alan.

"If this is the spare room, where will Tara stay?" he asked. Alan grinned.

"The, other, spare room," Tara answered for herself, giving Alan a look. "This is practically a castle."

"Okay?" Alan asked. Eugene nodded, still staring at Jamie. Tara gently eased herself off the bed and approached them. Eugene smiled at her.

"Nice PJs," he commented, doing a once-over of her grey oversized jumper and blue star and moon flannel pants. Tara pulled the collar of her jumper to the side.

"Matching top," she smiled. "Sleep well."

000

Once Eugene was left alone in the room with Jamie, he truly did not know how to proceed. He decided undressing would be a good option. He removed his coat, shoes and socks. He'd been wearing a dress shirt and slacks at brunch, and that was what he was still wearing.

He removed the slacks and undid a few more buttons on the shirt, before carefully leaning across Jamie. She was lying on the blankets in what were obviously Alan's clothes adjusted for her size, and the room had a chill to it.

Eugene was grateful Jamie moved easily as he eased the blankets down underneath her. Eugene was able to climb underneath, and then work the blankets under her feet quickly, which were planted firmly against the mattress. He covered them both. Not wanting to lie too close or trap her in an embrace during sleep, he placed a kiss on her shoulder, before turning his back to her and trying to rest.

000

Jamie woke up the next morning and sighed, her eyes fluttering open. She stared at an unfamiliar ceiling before remembering the movie night. Not that she remembered any of the movies, her mind on other things. Someone shifted beside her and she looked over, expecting to see Alan or Tara. Jamie instead saw the familiar bald head of Eugene, turned away from her and fast asleep. She shifted closer, speechless, and leaned across him. Yep, definitely fast asleep. Jamie didn't know what to do. She didn't want to wake him up. Instead, she climbed out of bed and headed downstairs, following the smell of coffee.

"Morning," Alan smiled as Jamie appeared at the kitchen bench.

"Hi," Jamie answered, running her fingers through the tangles in her hair. "Do you have a brush?"

"I do," Tara replied. Jamie turned to see Tara sitting on the couch with the morning paper in her lap. Jamie had asked last night if their movie nights were a regular occurrence. Not particularly, had been Tara's reply. We'll see. Jamie smiled.

"Thanks," she added as Tara returned moments later with a brush, which Jamie started gently tugging through her hair.

"Is Eugene still asleep?" Alan asked. Jamie nodded.

"When did he-"

"About one am."

"Oh."

"You okay?" Tara asked as Jamie put the brush on the bench.

"Yeah I just...don't know what to say to him."

"You don't have to say anything," Eugene answered. Jamie turned quickly to him, blushing. "Robert put two and two together and told me what happened as soon as I got back," he explained. "I got here as fast as I could."

"What did he say to you, so early on, that made you doubt him?" she asked. "I want to know why after such a good defence, you still doubted your son."

"He said nothing, no evidence. I've been able to tell when he was lying since he could talk. I just knew. I didn't know he was home."

"He wasn't. Just after," Jamie answered. Eugene walked towards her, resting both his hands on her upper arms.

"Where did he touch you?" he asked softly.

"My...my cheek," Jamie whispered, meeting his eyes. "Just like you but, different. He kissed me." Eugene reached up and stroked her cheek tenderly.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm okay. Robert, I...was so grateful. I am." Eugene nodded. "You um, you mean you believe me?"

"Of course I believe you," Eugene answered.

"You scared Tara and I half to death," Alan interrupted. "If Eugene didn't believe you we'd be beating it into him with a stick."

"I can always count on you Alan," Jamie chuckled, wiping some tears from her cheeks before turning back to Eugene. "But Kendall is your son."

"No," Eugene replied. "I'm so, so angry at him right now. He's not my son. But you...you are my fiancé. Right?"

"If you still want me," Jamie answered, nodding. Eugene nodded with her, stepping forward and pulling her tightly into his arms. Alan and Tara stared at each other, grinning.

"You're engaged?" Tara asked. Jamie pulled back, nodding before Eugene leant down and, in a rare display of public affection, kissed her, holding her jaw gently against his hand. Jamie pulled back, wrapping her arms around Eugene's neck and hugged him, muffling a couple of sobs against his chest.

"Oh no, she's at it again," Alan commented. Jamie laughed against Eugene.

"Shut 000up000!" she exclaimed, but before she knew it, Eugene was laughing with her, rubbing his hands up and down her back supportively. She could cry if she wanted to, but she looked up at him with a smile, and Eugene couldn't remember a sight that made him happier.

"Now that I've broken the serious mood, who wants some breakfast?"

"Not if you're cooking," Tara answered Alan.

"How about I make something?" Eugene offered. Jamie looked up at him, surprised.

"Can he cook?" Tara asked Jamie, who nodded silently. "Sure!" she added. "It'll be a nice change."

"Can Alan cook?" Jamie asked.

"No but Tara sure can!" Alan answered.

000

Jamie sat curled up on Eugene's couch as he hung up the phone and walked back into the living area.

"Well?" she asked. Eugene sat beside her, pulling her back to rest against his chest, taking pleasure in the simple sight of her pale legs encased in his.

"Robert spoke to Sharon," Eugene began, his fingers caressing Jamie's stomach as she sucked in a breath. "She doesn't believe it. Kendall denies it. He says you made it up, some kind of complex."

"But?" Jamie asked, sensing it coming.

"But, Robert knows what he saw. He'll ring back in a couple of days, when you're up for it. He wants to apologise to you. If he and Sharon can't get past this, he says he's out of there."

"Because of me?" Jamie whispered softly.

"No," Eugene assured her. "It's Robert's decision. He might not always approve of our occupation and he may blame the ratios of black to white in prisons on us, and he might not like me being with you, but at the same time, he's not willing to be party to an assault on a woman, even a white woman."

"Oh, even," Jamie smiled. "I um, wow." Eugene nodded, nuzzling her cheek with his. She leant into him, covering his hands with hers. "I think I'll be okay for the trial on Monday."

"You sure?" Eugene asked. Jamie turned in his embrace, nodding and hugging him tightly.

"Thankyou."

"I love you," Eugene stated, kissing her softly. Even though they were now engaged, he was taking it very slowly, following Jamie's lead. This had hit a little too close to home, and he could see her trying to break back through her shell, to give herself to him like she told him she wanted to on the steps to his apartment only a month ago, but he wasn't going to try to speed up the process.

"I love you too," Jamie answered, returning the kiss. "So much," she added, turning her back to him once again and closing her eyes, relaxing in his strong embrace.

THE END