Disclaimer & Notices

Copyright: I completely own all characters in this story.

Slash: This story focuses on women being together. If you don't like it then move on.

Violence: There will be some violence.

Summary: Ashley K. Carver, Maryland State Trooper #1153, is driving home one evening from her girlfriend's house when she comes upon a suspicious car. She tails the car to a cornfield and discovers a young woman, Katia, is about to be harmed. Ashley quickly acts and in the process finds herself in a new friendship that she never expected. This is the story about Ashley and Katia, who find that their opposite lives binds them closer than blood ever could.

Note: This is the revised edition of Maryland State Trooper #1153. I've decided to rework this story at the request of many MST fans, who want the sequel to continue later down the road. I hope this revise will inspire old and new fans, who favor Ashley and Katia as I do. I appreciate and thank all those fans that have stood beside this story for four years now. If you wish to read the original it is still available, but only at my website.

Website: www . redhope . net

Started: August 28, 2003

Ended: January 17, 2005

Revised: July 17, 2007

Series 3: Putting the Puzzle Together – Story #26

Maryland State Trooper #1153

The Test Trial Ứber

by Red Hope

Chapter 6

Captain Caitlin Jonson marched out of her office and wound through the maze of desks until she came to the two occupied desks she'd wanted. She casually came up to the front of the left desk and sat on the cleared corner of it. She remained stoic and observed the hard working troopers.

The trooper on the left finished her work and peered up at the captain.

Ashley Carver was on the right, and she came to the end of her phone call. She hung up and studied the captain. She carefully assessed the captain's mood for today.

The captain was a mere five foot four inches, but yet she seemed much taller because of her hardened demeanor. She was petite and older than the troopers. She had shoulder length auburn hair and smoke blue eyes that paralleled her moods. Then when she spoke she had a naturally husky depth that gave her added authority.

"Haden, Carver..." Captain Jonson glanced between the two troopers. "Executive decision for today." She tilted her head and held back her amusement, but her eyes were bright. "I want you two to work together."

Ashley Carver leaned back in her chair and didn't comment.

Alexa Haden, however, had something to say. "Captain, I work more efficiently when I'm alone."

Ashley ticked off a back molar, but she couldn't wait for the captain's response.

The captain focused her attention on the tall, blond bombshell. "And you're going to learn to work efficiently with Carver."

Corporal Haden did her best not to object again.

"Anything particular you'd like us to do today?"

Caitlin Jonson now switched to Ashley and replied, "Haden is to help you get more familiar with the local terrain." She laced her hands together and placed them on her right knee. "This Friday I want you both on the beta shift." She saw Haden's mouth preparing to open so she held up her hand. "That's an order, not a request." She slid off the desk and strolled off without another word.

Trooper Carver picked up her trooper hat. "I'm ready when you are." She climbed to her feet.

Alexa Haden picked up her hat as well then pushed her chair in all the way. She made no comment and just headed for the rear door.

Ashley shrugged and followed behind. She bit back a slight grin at Alexa' obvious annoyance. She thought back on Katia's question this past weekend about whether Alexa was always like this or just at work.

Ashley approached the dark patrol car that Alexa had selected. She opened the passenger door but paused because of the vibration of her cell phone in her pant pocket. She fished out the object and got into the car.

Corporal Haden started the car and zipped through the rear of the barrack. She glanced at Ashley, who was busy texting a message. She noticed how Ashley had a dark look about something.

Ashley flipped the phone closed and tucked it back in her pocket. She finally buckled up and became comfortable for the ride. "You've been here for two years?"

Alexa knew small talk when she heard it. "Yes."

"Where were you prior?"

"Golden Ring." Alexa fooled with the TETRA radio's volume. "You?"

"I was with Barrack G."

"Westminster," Alexa clarified. "For how long?"

"Five years," Ashley replied. She shifted in the seat some then commented, "It's a little unusual that Barrack E has a captain."

"It is the only barrack with a captain," Alexa informed. "She's originally from Pennsylvania."

Ashley was clearly interested and commented, "Now what makes a Pennsylvania Trooper come to Maryland?"

"And why the only captain at a barrack?" Trooper Haden furthered. She tilted her head. "Captain Jonson was previously a major in the army."

Ashley wasn't the least surprised to hear that about the captain. She wondered what else Alexa Haden knew about the captain. "Interesting," she softly spoke.

Alexa didn't reply back. She focused on her driving because she was following Route 13 and going deeper into Salisbury. She proceeded to explain the local roads to Carver so the new trooper would become more familiar.

About halfway through Ashley's day, she received another text message but it was from Katia this time. The college student merely greeted her friend and wanted to see how her day was going so far. Ashley replied back quickly.

Katia picked up her cell phone from the wood table when it vibrated. She opened the message from her front screen and read it. She could tell Ashley's mood was slightly off so she texted back to see if everything was okay.

Afterwards, she set her phone back down and looked back at her lunch company. Earlier on, Bobby had called her and asked if she was free to go to lunch. She decided to meet him at the college's Commons for a quick lunch. They were seated at one of the long, wood tables that was located in the larger dining hall. The hall was rather busy with other students, who chatted and laughed.

"Everything okay?" Bobby could tell by Katia's look that something was up.

"Yeah." Katia set aside her concern and focused back on their earlier conversation. "I can go this Friday."

Bobby smiled at the agreement. He really wanted to go with Katia to see the movie 30 Days of Night that was coming out this Friday. "Great. Do you want to do dinner before? We can eat at Red Lobster."

Katia grinned and teased, "Is this more of a date?"

Bobby smirked, pushed his empty plate aside, and teased, "It can be. Are you offering?" He enjoyed Katia's suddenly coy smile.

Katia was about to respond but her phone's vibration caught her. She picked it up and read another message from Ashley. She was stunned to read that Ashley planned to travel to Lancaster tonight after work. She hastily replied back and asked why.

"I'm sorry," Katia insisted after she closed the phone. She then slightly dropped her shoulders and recalled Bobby's question. She cupped the cell phone down in her lap. "I think I'm free for a date."

Bobby recovered from his initial annoyance that the cell phone kept distracting Katia. He now had a date. "I know the movie isn't the most romantic but..."

"Don't worry," Katia insisted. "I love a good horror movie."

Bobby chuckled and teased, "My kind of date." He grinned at Katia's faint blush.

Katia looked at the time on her cell phone then mentioned, "I need to get back. I have class soon."

"Right." Bobby recalled that detail so he climbed to his feet. He picked up his tray that had his plate, utensils, empty glasses, and used napkins.

Katia got up and collected her tray too. She and Bobby slipped through the doors of the dining room and went down to the side room to return the dishes. She soon had her tray on the moving conveyor belt, and she was headed to the main doors of the Commons.

Bobby took Katia's side as they went down the steps outside. "How long is lab?"

"It's an hour and forty minutes." Katia slipped her hands into her pockets. "Sometimes we get out early though."

"What science?"

"Earth and Space," Katia replied, "but I think it's more like Earth and Some Space."

Bobby grinned, but he watched where he and Katia were going as they crossed the parking lot. "You room with Erin, right?"

Katia nodded a few times. "This is our second semester together. We knew each other from class. So we decided to room together when her original roommate left SU."

Bobby nodded his head a few times while he listened. He then saw Katia going for her cell phone again. He briefly watched her type something out then he inquired, "So you knew those cops at the party?"

Katia closed up her phone after sending the message. She focused on Bobby's question. "I only really know the one cop... she was the dark haired one." She glanced at Bobby, but she reached into her pocket for her Gull Card. She stopped in front of the locked dorm door to the skyrise building. "She's my friend."

"Some friend," Bobby joked, "if she gave you a citation."

Katia shrugged and honestly replied, "I was breaking the law though."

Bobby shook his head and grinned at Katia. "You're defending her."

Katia laughed and argued, "No. I'm just being realistic about it." She shifted closer to the door. "I'll call you Friday if I don't see you before then."

"Alright." Bobby smiled and stepped back once. "Have fun in lab."

"Thanks." Katia grinned, but she waited until he was a bit away. She then swiped her card through the door's reader. She entered the busy dorm and went up to the third floor where her room was located. On the way up the steps, she received yet another message back from her friend. She flipped open her phone and muttered, "Do you ever do anything at work, Ash?" She smirked because she could almost hear Ashley's smart answer. She quickly replied back.

Ashley Carver opened her cell phone and only read the message. She decided not to text back right now and wait until later. She was more focused on handwriting out the speeding ticket for the car that Alexa Haden had stopped. She and Alexa had setup a speed trap on Route 50 and planned to work it for a few hours.

Earlier in the day, Ashley had received a text from her girlfriend. At first, Ashley had ignored it and tried to put her thoughts together. She hadn't spoken to Laurel since Saturday, and she wasn't in the mood to yet. She then decided it was time to make her choice especially after Laurel's text. She'd texted to Katia earlier that she planned to go up to Lancaster tonight. And that was exactly what she planned to do.

The alpha shift always came to an end at five o'clock in the afternoon. So the troopers drove back to the barrack around four so they could go through their paperwork. Ashley was seated at her desk, but her attention was pulled away from her paperwork at hearing the counter conversation.

Ashley lifted her head and stared at the sergeant's back. She carefully listened now.

The sergeant always manned the front counter, and he chatted with a young woman. He asked for her to hold on a moment, and then he started through the desks.

"Sarge," Ashely called.

Sergeant Jonathan Radel paused by Corporal Carver's desk.

The trooper signaled the young lady that was waiting. "What's that about?"

Sergeant Radel had a sad look, and he tapped the corner of Ashley's desk. "It's a college student."

Corporal Haden picked up into the conversation too. She peered up and listened.

"She's reporting..." Sergeant Radel shook his head and sadly finished, "She wants to report a rape." He didn't say anything else and walked away. He went to the section of the barrack where the detectives resided. There were only two detectives on duty today, and Sergeant Radel softly told them about the college student.

The two detectives were Brooke Owens and her partner, Eric Staine. The detectives followed the sergeant to the front, but they went through the glass door and went to speak with the college student. Brooke soon reentered, but she guided the college student to an interrogation room. Eric though went to get coffee for all of them.

Ashley Carver had watched the entire time, and she was curious. She didn't say anything and went back to her paperwork.

Alexa Haden glanced at the other corporal, but she held her silence too. She wondered why Carver was so curious about the case. Then it struck her that it most likely had to do with the college student that Alexa met a few days ago. What was her name? Alexa jogged her memory and came up with Katia Danforth.

Ashley finished up her work and ended up being a few minutes after five. She then collected herself and told Haden to have a good evening. She almost made it out the door.

"Carver," the captain hollered out of her office.

Trooper Carver softly grumbled, turned on her feet, and marched over to the captain's office. She tucked her trooper hat under her right arm and entered the office.

"Close the door," the captain ordered. She was seated behind her desk.

Ashley shut the door then came over to the desk.


The trooper complied, but she remained formal in the seat. She patiently waited to hear what the captain had to say.

Captain Jonson tapped a thick file on her desk then mentioned, "You have an excellent record." She rocked back in her seat and studied the trooper. "You spent two years in the army."

Ashley slowly nodded. "I've been a trooper for five years."

The captain laced her hands in usual fashion and rested them in her lap. "Your record is pristine and prestigious." She tilted her head. "But your academic education is lacking."

The trooper bowed her head momentarily then met the captain's gaze again. "I have considered going to college."

The captain listened carefully and mapped out her pending words. "You're getting to a critical point, Carver. To move up any further in rank, you really require at least an associate degree." She watched Carver's expression and eyes. "You have potential to be a detective. You can become a sergeant without any further education if you wish to remain in that rank for a long time."

Ashley understood what the captain was ultimately telling her.

"I have two detectives that will be retiring in roughly four years," the captain explained. "I need replacements, and I have my eyes on you and Haden." She stretched out her legs some under the desk. "Haden has a degree, but you do not. I'd hate to promote her and not you considering the fact that you're both excellent troopers." She then sat up better and eyed the trooper. "Tell me, Carver... what can you do to help yourself?"

Ashley took a deep breath then replied, "I will apply to SU, captain." She relaxed when she saw a grin pull at the captain's lips.

"See that you do." Caitlin leaned back in the chair. "And keep me informed."

The trooper nodded then climbed to her feet. "Is that all, captain?"


Ashley headed to the door then paused. She gazed over her shoulder at the captain. "I'll see you tomorrow, captain."

"See you then, Carver."

The corporal left the office and didn't close the door this time as she knew the captain liked it open often. She noted that Trooper Haden had left, and she too needed to go. Ashley left the barrack and went to her car. She decided to go home briefly before the long drive to Lancaster.

Ashley quickly arrived back at home, and she changed out of her uniform and into loose jeans. Then she pulled on a plain white tee-shirt that had a v-cut. Lastly, she plucked her light weight black jacket out of the closet and made a brisk walk for the front door. She made sure to grab her wallet, cell phone, and car keys. She get into her car and just as she pulled out of the driveway, her cell phone vibrated from its spot in the center holder down on the lower dash.

Ashley scooped up her ringing phone and read Katia's name on the caller ID. She flipped open the phone while she drove down the quiet back road. "Hey, K."

Katia Danforth was in her dorm room, and she'd finished up her science lab over an hour ago. She now took a chance and called Ashley to see what was happening. "How are you?" She rested back in her desk chair.

"A little worn from work," the trooper admitted.

Katia was glad that she was alone in her room. "Is everything okay?" She reached forward and plucked a pen off her desk. She began to toy with it.

"Yeah." Ashley stopped at the end of the road and made a turn. She then explained, "I just need to settle some things with Laurel."

"And you have to go all the way up to Lancaster for that?" Katia tested.

"Afraid so." Ashley used her shoulder to hold her phone against her ear, and she quickly turned the radio off. She grabbed the phone again. "I prefer to do certain things face to face."

Katia could appreciate Ashley's method. "How long does it take to drive up there?"

"About three and half hours... one way."

"Oh gee... Ash." Katia shook her head and did the math aloud. "That's seven hours of driving without figuring in the time you spend there." It was obvious she was worried about Ashley. "You won't be back until like two in the morning." She heard Ashley's low chuckle, which made her sigh. "I'm serious." The worry was now more apparent in her voice.

The state trooper ruefully smiled at her friend's concern. She coaxed, "I'll be fine, K."

"At least text me now and again so I know you're okay?"

Ashley stopped at a stop sign and looked for traffic in the quiet intersection. She gave into Katia's need and replied, "I will."

Katia felt relieved, but she decided it was best that the trooper focus on her driving. "Thank you. I'll talk to you later, Ash."

The trooper's smile returned, but it was far from sad. "Later, K." She heard Katia's goodbye then she closed up the phone, which cut off the call. She now fully focused on her long drive.

The trip gave Ashley plenty of time to work out her thoughts for Laurel. She felt confident about her choice, and she'd grown up without regretting anything in her life. Now she had another chance to make the right choice in her life. When Ashley was about fifteen minutes from Laurel's house, she picked up her phone and called her girlfriend. Laurel immediately answered.

"Hi, Ashley."

Ashley stopped at a red light and waited. "I'm not far from your house."

"Really?" Laurel's brief shock passed, and the smile could be heard in her tone. "How far?"

"I'll be there in about fifteen minutes... or less." The trooper released the brake and hit the gas once the traffic started to move through the intersection. "So, what are you wearing?"

Laurel had a chill rise up her back from Ashley's sultry tone. "I just finished work so..."

Ashley smirked and huskily teased, "That sounds like too much clothing, to me." She made a right onto another small highway.

Laurel revealed a grin. "You do, huh?" She walked through her living room and went to the front window. She slightly parted the curtains. "Maybe you can show me what you prefer me in." She gazed outside but didn't see Ashley's red Mercedes yet. "Or not in." Now Ashley's deep laugh tickled her stomach, and she became further excited.

Ashley knew the side street that went to her girlfriend's house was coming up. She adjusted the phone against the side of her head and mentioned, "I'll be there shortly."

"I'll be waiting," Laurel promised. She then hung up the phone then decided she'd start it out by preparing drinks for them. She wandered into the kitchen and fished out a bottle of wine she'd had on reserve. Next she retrieved two wine glasses, but she didn't quite have the time because a car pulled into her driveway.

Laurel set aside the bottle beside the glasses and went to the door. She didn't want to keep Ashley waiting so she opened the door just as Ashley came up the steps. "Hello, sexy."

The trooper closed the door behind her, and she smirked at her girlfriend. She stepped closer to Laurel and still didn't say a word. She lifted her hand and traced Laurel's jawline with her fingertips.

Laurel grew just as nervous as excited at seeing the smokiness in Ashley's eyes. She knew that look very well. "I suppose you'll be staying the night?" She lifted her right hand and clutched Ashley's black buckle. "Take tomorrow off?"

Very slowly, Ashley revealed a sensual smile. That arrogance that attracted Laurel from the beginning suddenly took command. Ashley still said nothing, yet she suddenly shoved her lover off to the left and pinned her to the wall.

Laurel was briefly caught off guard, but she loved this dominant game of Ashley's. Before she could speak, Ashley roughly claimed her lips. She felt Ashley's hips grinding against hers then a large hand crept under her blouse and trailed over her stomach.

Ashley broke the heated kiss and moved down to Laurel's neck.

Laurel tiled her head to the side and moaned loudly. She locked her right hand into the back of Ashley's hair while her left hand gripped Ashley by the hip. She groaned then whispered, "My god, Ashley... I've missed this."

Ashley bit at her girlfriend's neck and a smirk showed before she came back up for another demanding kiss. She moved her hand off her lover's stomach and went down to her inner thigh. She noted how Laurel automatically spread her legs in invite.

Laurel whimpered at the end of the kiss. She closed her eyes and briefly realized how thankful she was that Ashley came around. She really didn't want to separate from Ashley Carver.

Ashley came to the other side of Laurel's neck. She proceeded to kiss and nip over the tender flesh while she lightly trailed her fingertips over Laurel's heated center. "I thought about what you said," she murmured.

Laurel groaned when Ashley's hand cupped her and lightly rubbed her. She slid her hand under Ashley's top and dug her nails into smooth skin. "I can see... that."

Ashley lifted her head and started another fiery kiss. She loved how Laurel so easily gave into her. She came out of the kiss some, but her lips moved across Laurel's when she spoke. "You said it was either you or her."

"Mmmm." Laurel trailed her hand across Ashley's stomach, and she clasped the cool belt. "I'm glad you made the choice."

Ashley chuckled and leaned in for another kiss. She stroked her tongue across her girlfriend's, but she suddenly ended the kiss. She then removed her hand from between Laurel's thighs. She planted both her hands against the wall on either side of Laurel's head. She could tell Laurel was curious about the change.

Laurel had dark eyes, and she leered at Ashley's sexy smile. She leaned in for another kiss and grabbed Ashley's waist. She jerked Ashley's body against hers.

Ashley slowly withdrew from the kiss. She opened her eyes to view Laurel's passionate features. "Laurel." She waited until amber eyes were upon her. "It's... her."

Laurel's passions slowly shattered as the words sunk through her burning haze. Her eyebrows drew together, and she rasped, "Her?"

Ashley Carver leaned in but this time she brought her lips close to Laurel's ear. She then softly informed, "I've picked her." She suddenly pushed off the wall and started towards the door.

Laurel broke from her daze, and she turned towards her lover. "You're a real asshole, Ashley Carver." She was referring to how Ashley had completely tricked her, excited her, and now dumped her within a matter of ten minutes. She was furious now.

The state trooper turned and remarked, "I've been called worse, Laurel." She tilted her head and waited for Laurel's explosion that would bring her more pleasure than having sex with Laurel.

Laurel stalked up to her lover and snapped, "What's that kid going to offer you, Ashley huh?" She pushed back her hair in an angry manner. "She's going to break your heart, and I fuckin' hope she does it."

Ashley stepped up to Laurel, and she imposed her height over Laurel. "And now that's not your concern, Laurel."

"You're delusional." Laurel burned with anger, and she stood toe to toe with Ashley. "She's a young and stupid kid that's straight... but maybe that's a good match for you."

Ashley wasn't concerned about that aspect because she wanted Katia's friendship. Her pursuit wasn't to become Katia's girlfriend, and Laurel didn't understand that part. She lowered her head near Laurel's and informed, "She's more of a woman than you are, Laurel." She said nothing else and walked back to the door. She had her hand on the doorknob.

"Now I know what your weak spot is, Ashley."

Ashley Carver remained still as she processed those words. She understood the undertones of what Laurel was saying to her, and it spoke volumes to her. She turned back to Laurel, and suddenly she had a menacing look.

Laurel regretted her words and even more so when Ashley slammed her against the wall again. This time it was harsh, and the pain shot through her body.

The state trooper kept her arm across Laurel's chest, and she had Laurel locked in place. She leaned in and snarled, "You come anywhere near her... you'll lose your job, your home, your security... everything you've work for." She held Laurel's eyes with her own dark ones.

Laurel tempted fate and cut, "Such a noble state trooper." Ashley suddenly slammed her head against the wall, which caused her vision to briefly defocus.

"Nobility is thrown out the window when you threaten somebody I care about." The trooper then grounded out, "Stay away from her." She then instantly was off of Laurel and quickly out the door. She left the door wide open and went directly to her car.

Laurel let out her breath she'd been holding. She sunk down onto the floor, and in the background, she heard Ashley's car pulling out of the driveway, and the headlights passed. She closed her eyes, dropped her head against the wall, and she realized she couldn't cap off her rising fury for the trooper's well planned stunt tonight. If it was a strong trait that Laurel possessed it was holding grudges that could consume her.

Ashley was back on the main route that would take her out of Lancaster. She felt relieved to have ended her relationship with Laurel, but she didn't like how it ended. She had to admit she wasn't pleased with how she reacted to Laurel's threat because it was so natural. She rarely became volatile unless she needed to be, like at work. But Laurel's hidden suggestion to bring Katia into this had set Ashley off badly. Katia had plenty going on her in her life and adding Laurel's antics to the mess wasn't right.

The trooper decided to make a quick stop at Burger King to have dinner. When she pulled into the parking lot, she first called Katia and let her friend know she was fine. She mentioned to Katia that she'd be heading home shortly, which seemed to settle Katia down. She told Katia not to stay up and wait, but Ashley promised she'd send a text to Katia once she was home. She hung up then went to get her dinner.

Late into the night, Katia had finished all her homework and even was a little ahead in her accounting class. She now glanced at the clock and groaned at the very late hour, especially since she had class in the morning. Her gaze traveled back to the television that she had on low volume. She didn't want to disturb her roommate. For the past few hours Katia had fruitlessly worked at getting to sleep, yet she was too concerned about Ashley. She didn't like the idea of her friend traveling so late at night. She estimated though that Ashley would make it home shortly though.

With that in mind, the petite blond scooped up her cell phone from the floor and replied to an old text massage from her friend. She wanted to find out Ashley's estimated time of arrival to Mardela Springs. After a minute, the LG phone silently lit up with a new message. Katia opened it up and smiled at seeing Ashley would be home in about twenty minutes.

Katia closed the phone and rolled onto her back. She settled the phone onto her chest, and she seriously debated an idea. She tapped the phone against her chest then made her choice. She got out of bed quietly and quickly went to her small closet. She fished out her sneakers and a pair of clean socks. She put them on then turned to the desk. She picked up her car keys, black wallet, Gull Card, and grabbed her light weight jacket. She shrugged on her red North Face jacket while she went to the door.

Katia had her hand on the metal doorhandle, but she paused and glanced at her sleeping roommate. She debated whether to leave a note, yet she figured Erin would just call her. She silently slipped out of the room, gently closed the door, and hurried down the hallway. She found the dorm rather quiet at almost three in the morning, which was a relief.

Soon enough, the college student was in her car though. She pulled out of the parking lot and zipped down Camden Avenue. She easily picked up speed because the streets were so quiet. She headed in a north-west direction.

Back on Route 50, Ashley Carver was approaching her hometown. She'd just recently texted Katia back, but she remained focused on her driving. She brushed back her bangs and hoped to wipe away her weariness. She was tired both mentally and physically. She was also relieved that her relationship was now over. Yet pieces of her were fragmented because she wasn't accustom to being so alone.

It was true that Katia was her friend here in Salisbury, but back in Baltimore she knew so many people. But wasn't that the original problem? Trooper Ashley Carver was overly known throughout Baltimore's lesbian community. Ashley had called moving to Salisbury a way to get out of Dodge and also be closer to her mother. The thought of her mother made her ruefully smile. She'd been at her mother's this past Sunday, and boy was it something else.

Katheryn Carver had a way with her children, especially her only daughter. Katheryn had been thrilled to see Ashley since their last visit several months ago. When she first heard word about Ashley's decision to move to Salisbury, it had been the finest news. Katheryn didn't overly pry as to why Ashley decided on the change, but she was grateful. She'd also picked up hints of a new friend in Ashley's life, but she suspected something was brewing by the way Ashley insisted it was just a friendship. Katheryn Carver knew her daughter far better than anybody else.

Ashley Carver pulled away from her thoughts once she saw the driveway to her house just ahead. She pulled into the lonely driveway, and she was pleased that she'd left her outside lights on for later. Ashley bite back a yawn then shut off her car. Then it felt amazing to stand up from the small car and get out. She effortlessly shut the door and strolled across the brick walkway to the front door. She climbed the steps, but she paused with her hand in her front pocket for the keys. She surprisingly heard a car coming so she twisted her head to the right. From over her right shoulder, she spotted a light brown Mercedes coming down the street. She was stunned.

Katia Danforth pulled into the driveway and parked beside her friend's red Mercedes. She noted how Ashley was staring over at her from the front patio. She realized that Ashley had just arrived home. She ignored her hammering heart, turned the car off, and got out. She was in her sleeping attire, jacket, and in her jacket her wallet protruded out. She didn't care though about her looks and simply approached her friend.

Ashley Carver had her right hand slightly up with the house keys. She lowered her hand, which caused the keys to jingle. She cocked her head at the petite form now a few steps from her.

"Hi," Katia merely greeted. She slid her hands into her jacket pockets.

The state trooper kept staring and not sure how to react at first. She studied Katia's obvious mussy features from being in bed along with the teeshirt and soft, black gym pants.

Katia tried not to lose her confidence about coming out here. She casually remarked, "I just wanted to come by and check on you."

Ashley couldn't stop her eyebrow from lifting. She coolly checked, "At three in the morning?"

The college student shrugged. "And some people find it normal to drive up to Lancaster and back in one night." She relaxed at seeing the grin play on Ashley's face.

Ashley couldn't have stopped herself if she cared to do it. She shifted forward and pulled her friend into a warm hug. She felt small but strong arms around her, and she lowered her head closer to Katia's. She murmured, "Thanks."

Katia rested her head against her friend's chest. She closed her eyes and enjoyed their closeness. She gave a brief squeeze after a beat and mentioned, "I was worried about you."

Ashley silently consented because she was worried about herself driving such late hours. She was fairly use to it, yet it was never the smartest thing to do. She withdrew from the hug some, but she still held onto Katia. She realized she wasn't about to send Katia back to the dorm – she wanted Katia to stay.

"Come on." Ashley slipped up the three steps and keyed open the locked up house. She felt Katia follow her inside, and she switched on a low set of lights. "You need anything?"

"Just a bed." Katia then placed her hand against Ashley's back. "And you in it too."

The trooper was surprised by the bold statement. She was midmotion of hanging her jacket up on the peg board to her left. She did so then faced her friend. "I'm not too tired."

Katia peered up into blurry blue eyes above her. She smirked and teased, "I can see."

Ashley frowned at how Katia could see through her.

Katia chuckled, removed her jacket and hung it beside Ashley's. She then took her friend's hand and instructed, "Come on, tiger. It's late enough." She led the way to Ashley's bedroom.

The state trooper entered her dark room, but she flipped on the overhead light. She played with her long bangs and pushed them aside. She lowered her eyes to Katia. "Get into bed. I'll be a minute."

Katia agreed by going to the bed. She merely stepped on the back of her own heels so that her sneakers came off easily. She then pulled the sheets back and crawled under them. She softly moaned once she was in the comfortable bed. God she could almost move into here because her dorm bed was much stiffer.

Ashley Carver soon returned from the bathroom. She stood in the lit doorway and stared at her golden head poking out from the covers. She softly smiled because of the simple fact that Katia cared so much for her. She'd never had that, outside of her family. She also realized that she was glad Katia was here because the idea of coming into an empty house wasn't appealing tonight.

"Ash?" Katia gently called.

The trooper flipped the bathroom light off then switched off the low overhead. She then came back to the empty side of the bed and climbed into it. She sunk into the cool but comfortable bed, and she closed her eyes.

Katia was on her back, but she rolled to her side so she faced her friend. "Wake me before you go to work?"

Ashley stretched out her right arm after Katia's request. She picked up her travel alarm clock from the nightstand and set it for tomorrow. She gently groaned at the fact she'd get about four hours of sleep. She put the clock back then tucked her hands under her head.

Katia stayed quiet and motionless although her breathing wasn't slow yet. She felt she needed to say something that'd been on her mind all night. She decided to get it out. "Ash?"

"Mmmm?" The trooper turned her head to the left.

"Don't ever do something like this again," the college student stated.

Ashley lifted an eyebrow. It wasn't really a request but more like a demand. She often didn't respond well to those, obviously. She lowered the eyebrow and slowly grinned at Katia's authority. "Or else?"

Katia tasted the witticism in her friend's words. "Or else," she carefully drew out, "I'll tell your mother next time." She clearly sensed Ashley's form going stiff.

"You wouldn't," the trooper tested.

"I would," Katia teased. She and Ashley chuckled together, and Katia smiled. She opened her eyes then seriously insisted, "I was worried about you."

"I know... thank you." Ashley studied her friend's concerned features. She not only knew but felt how lucky she was to have Katia in her life.

Katia processed the adoring expression on Ashley's face. She was taken by it so she shifted closer and slipped her arm over Ashley's waist. She then rested her head on the trooper's shoulder once Ashley adjusted them.

Ashley closed her eyes again now that Katia was comfortably snuggled up to her side. There was definitely something between them, and Ashley knew she had to open to Katia soon. Or else everything could get construed soon. Ashley no longer cared about the bet Katia and Sara had placed. It was time to end the cat and mouse game between her and Katia.

"We need to have a talk, K."

Katia was almost asleep, but she shifted from her dreams. "Okay," she muttered as if it would be right now.

"Tomorrow," the weary trooper expressed. "Go to sleep."

"Mmmm." Katia shifted some then muttered, "Are you sure?"

Ashley softly chuckled and promised, "I'm sure."

Katia snuggled in deeper then murmured, "Goodnight, Ash."

"Sleep well, K." Ashley had a smile twitching her lips as she started to drift off. She really hoped tomorrow would be far better than today, but she decided that at least the day ended well. If anything, she knew that she had a valuable friendship that she hadn't seen in a long time. Ashley had not intent to lose it either.

To be continued.