Don't Tell Me You Love Me With That Gun In Your Hand

Title from Two House by Paul Gross and David Keeley

Characters belong to Alliance and many other people that aren't me. ;)

Many thanks and a caramel dipped RayK for my beta and o' great sharer of my
brain, Nat


Ray Kowalski cringed as his unofficial partner Constable Benton Fraser, bolted away from him and started running down the street.

"Christ! When can we have one lunch without you savin' the world?!" Pulling his gun from its holster, he ran after the sprinting figure ahead of him.

Benton Fraser grabbed the man's arm as he was about to strike the woman again.

"I believe that is ungentlemanly. Didn't your elders teach you not to strike a lady?" Ray burst forward and slammed the man against the wall.

"Eat brick, pal. Spread 'em. Chicago PD. You're under arrest for assault and battery and whatever else the lady would like to charge you with." Fraser stepped aside and directed his attention to the young woman.

"Are you alright ma'am?"

Rayni Mason stood in stunned silence by the events that had just occurred. One minute she was arguing with the loser she called a boyfriend and then the next she was falling hard to the pavement and wiping the blood away from her nose. When she tried to stand up she felt John's hand grab her wrist and jerk her forward. Then as quickly as she had been struck, he let her go. A man in bright red slammed him against the building. And now she was being escorted to a bench.

"Ma'am? We're going to call an ambulance." Shaking her head, Rayni held out her hand.
"No. I'm…I don't need an ambulance." Fraser knelt in front of the obviously dazed woman and tried to be of some comfort.

"Ma'am, he may have broken your nose. Please let us help you."

"Who…who are you?"

"I'm Constable Benton Fraser. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. My partner Ray Kowalski is with the Chicago Police Department. Will you be pressing charges?"

Rayni pulled her hand away from her face and looked at the blood pooling in her palm. Confusion gave way to anger as she began to notice the pain surging through her cheek and nose. She looked at the man standing in front of her and then to John Kale as Ray was cuffing him.

"You son-of-a-bitch! You hit me!" Rayni leapt from the bench and lunged forward. Fraser managed to jump to his feet in time to restrain her around the waist.

"Maybe you oughta let her go Frase. Maybe this guy needs the crap knocked out of him."

"Ray, that would not be….Ma'am, please calm down." Rayni pulled and pushed against the wall of red that stood between her and the object of her fury. Failing at breaking free, she resorted to screaming at him instead.

"How dare you put your hands on me, you bastard! Why I date losers like you is beyond me. But I'm not one of your two-dollar hookers! I'm pressing charges!" Ray smiled at the irate brunette. She didn't look like the type to date a greasy looking creep like the guy he was pulling down the street and back toward his car.

"Sounds like your girl just dumped ya there buddy."

"Stupid bitch! I was done with her anyway." At that, Rayni pushed past Fraser and stood toe to toe with John Kale. Ray tightened his grip as Rayni shoved her finger in John's chest.

"You listen to me, you piece of shit. I'm going to have you booked and thrown in jail. You messed with the wrong chick this time. I don't put up with crap like this from anybody."

"What are you bitchin' about?! You asked for it!"

"What?! I asked for you to hit me in the face?!"

"If you would have just shut up when I asked you this never would have happened." Ray had heard enough. He jerked the guy forward and slammed him head first onto the trunk of the car.

"Cool your jets, slime ball. I ain't carryin' ya in my car." Ray radioed for back up while Fraser escorted Rayni to the passenger side of the car and offered her his handkerchief.

"Thanks."

"You're quite welcome." Rayni placed the perfectly starched handkerchief on her nose and tilted her head back.

"You gotta lean forward." Ray called from the back of the GTO.
"Huh?"

"Lean forward. Otherwise the blood just goes down yer throat." Fraser nodded in agreement so Rayni complied.

"So what happens now?"

"Well, Detective Kowalski and I will escort you down to the police station, while a marked patrol car will transport Mr. Kale and see that he is processed."

Rayni glared over the top of the handkerchief at John leaning on the hood. The voice of her best friend echoed in her head. 'Why do you always date the losers? You're too good for that guy. What a creep. What do you see in him?'

Rayni sighed loudly and looked up at the two men that were standing protectively beside her.

"What a sucky day."

Chapter 2

Rayni dabbed the handkerchief to her nose while she rode to the police station in the back of the GTO. She still couldn't fathom how her day ended up like this.

"So what were you two arguin' about anyway?"

"Money."

"Money?"

"Yeah, I informed him that the bank of Mason had just folded and I was looking to collect on overdue loans."

"Ah." Fraser nodded his head and cast a glance at Ray. Rayni sighed and looked out the passenger window. After a few minutes she started to think out loud.

"My mom always tried to get me to go out with the boy next door. Date the quarterback, he's such a nice boy, she says. Did I listen? No. I date the bad boy. The loser. The more the loser the more I think I can turn them into the catch of the county. Well, Rayni, look what it got you, a bloody nose, black eye and a ride to the police station. Why is this my life?" Folding the handkerchief once again, she placed it back on her nose.

"Perhaps next time you will make better decision in regards to a mate." Rayni cocked her head and glared at the Mountie.

"Ya think?!" Ray couldn't help but laugh at the shocked look on Fraser's face when Rayni nudged him in the shoulder and pointed at Fraser.

"Well, uh, you do realize he'll probably be out of jail by mornin'."

"So what then? I just wait for him to come back to my place to get some of his stuff and finish me off."

"He live with ya?"

"No. I'm may not have given off the best first impression, but I'm no moron. Besides, my dad would kill me if he caught me living in sin."

"How long were you two datin'? Does he have a key to your place?"

"No, not that I know of. We were together about four months. But I think I'll change the locks anyway."

"That sounds like a wise decision, Miss Mason."

"Thanks Constable. It appears it's the best one I've made all day."

"Nah, the best was pressin' charges. Most women don't in these cases."

"Well, I don't take kindly to being hit in the face."

"We need to get some ice on that eye. It's gonna look pretty bad in the morning."

"Great, that's all I need. How am I going to explain this to my boss?"

"The truth would probably be your best approach."

"Yeah, but how embarrassing."

"Where do ya work?"

"I work in the Cook County Engineering Department. I'm a cartographer."

"You take pictures of cars?" Ray looked at her in the rear view mirror as he drove.

"She makes maps, Ray."

"Maps? Maps of what?"

"The county. Every time a new subdivision is added or if any of the zones change I make the changes on the map."

Rayni looked out the window and sighed as they pulled into the Police station.

Chapter 3

Rayni twisted the bloody handkerchief in her hand while Ray asked her some questions.

"Name?"

"Rayni Elizabeth Mason." Ray hit the 'r' on the keyboard and then looked at Rayni.

"Like 'rainy day'?"

"R-a-y-n-i. My mom liked the way it sounded."

"Oh. 'kay, um address?" Rayni gave him all the information required for the police report. Once the paperwork was complete, Ray left to check on Huey's processing of John Kale. Fraser returned from the canteen with a soft drink for Rayni and escorted her to another room in the station. Rayni's injuries were photographed for the district attorney's office and Rayni was once again returned to Ray's desk.

"Your boyfriend's been placed in holding for the time being. He should be there until morning. I'm gonna run this over to Franny to process. I'll be right back."

Before leaving his desk, Ray pointed Rayni in the direction of the restroom so she could clean herself up a little.

Rayni stood in front of the mirror and looked at the dried blood on her cheek and lip. Her eye was swollen and red. Lightly rubbing a wet paper towel over her face, she felt the sting of tears. Anger had given way to realization as she wiped the blood from her face. If the police hadn't been walking down the street, who knows what John would have done to her. The cool water from the faucet washed over her fingers as she stared at her image in the mirror. Her face began to blur as her eyes filled with tears. Rayni leaned against the sink and sobbed.

Francesca quietly closed the door to the restroom and went over to where Ray was standing in the hall.

"Ray, where's Fraser?"

"He's with Huey. Why?"

"That assault victim you brought in is pretty upset."

"Rayni Mason?"

"I guess. She's in the bathroom crying her eyes out. I think Fraser needs to talk to her. He's good with things like that."

"Don't worry, I'll talk to her." Francesca followed Ray to the women's restroom. She was horrified to see him walk right into the bathroom with out so much as a knock.

Ray saw the woman who had been so strong before holding on to the edge of the small sink sobbing. Her small 5'5" frame shook as she gasped for breath. Francesca decided to go look for Fraser. She knew Ray would probably have her wishing she were dead by the time he got through cheering her up.

"Hey, uh, you alright?" Ray took a step forward and placed his hand on her shoulder. Rayni sniffed and tried to act as if she weren't crying.

"This is the ladies room Detective Kowalski."

"It's okay to be upset you know. Some guy just knocked the crap out of ya. If that don't entitle you to be upset, I don't know what does." Rayni couldn't help laugh.

"Gee, I feel much better now. Can I borrow your gun and really end the day with a bang?" Ray grinned at the sarcastic smile on Rayni's face.

"We're done here. You want me to help you get a restraining order against lover boy out there?"

"Do you really think I need one?" Rayni turned and met the soft blue eyes of Ray Kowalski. He coughed nervously and looked at the floor.

"Couldn't hurt. That way if he comes sniffin' around again, you can have him picked up." Ray met her gaze. He could see the tears welling in her eyes again.

"How did things get so screwed up?"

"You fell for the wrong guy. I see it everyday. It happens. Just remember, next time if he looks like a loser, run." Rayni laughed again in spite of herself.

"Sage advice Detective. Thanks."

"Eh, call me Ray."

"Thanks. Well, I guess I better figure out how I'm going to get home. Do I need to sign anything else or am I free to go?"

"You're set. You want me to drop you home?" Rayni wiped her hand across her nose and then looked up at the lanky detective. When she didn't answer he continued.

"It's no trouble really. I'm heading out and your place is on the way." Ray noticed by her address that she lived about three blocks from his apartment building.

"Thanks." Ray offered her his best boyish grin and retreated from the bathroom. Turning, he ran squarely into Fraser.

"Is everything alright, Ray? Francesca was concerned."

"Francesca is a concern."
"Ray."

"Everything's fine. Do you need me to take you home?" Ben cocked his head to the side and looked at the eyes of the man before him.

"No thank you Ray. I had promised Diefenbaker we would go for a run in the park this afternoon."

"Greatness, I'll see you in the morning."

"Afternoon Ray."

"Yeah, see ya Fraser." Rayni exited the restroom and walked past the two men talking. After their conversation was finished, Rayni walked over to Fraser.

"Thank you."

"Thanks is not necessary."
"Well, I'm offering it just the same. I don't want to think about what could have happened if you and Ray weren't there." Fraser tucked his head and rubbed his thumb across his eyebrow.

"Have a pleasant evening Miss Mason."

"Thanks." Rayni placed her hand on his arm and squeezed slightly. Ray walked up behind her and placed his hand on the small of her back.

"You ready?"

"Sure."

Chapter 4

Rayni rubbed the back of her neck and cringed at the pounding that was building in her head.

"I sure hope you got some aspirin or somethin' at home. Otherwise, that headaches gonna kill ya."

"Hmm, yeah, I've got some Tylenol. My eye feels like it's going to explode."

"What till the morning. It's going to look as bad as it feels." Ray smiled over at her as she rested her head against the passenger side window.

"Great, you're a real comfort."

"So what were you doing with that guy anyway?"

"That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Who knows? He was a loser so I dated him. That seems to be the only guy I like. I'm like a beacon for losers. Give me your lowlifes, your jerks, your lazy deadbeats."

"But you're so pretty. You could have any guy." Rayni faced him and smiled sweetly.

"Thanks mom."

"Funny."

"I just wish I could find some great guy with a job and a sense of decency who wanted to date me for more than the fact that I had a steady source of income and a reliable car."

"Don't aim too high okay."

Rayni grinned. "It's true. I'm a bum magnet."

"What do you tell the decent guys that ask you out? 'No thanks, you don't look like you'd break my heart.'"

"The last time I accepted a date from a decent guy, his wedding ring fell out of his pocket while he paid the dinner bill."

Ray laughed as he steered the GTO into a parking space in front of her building. Before Rayni could gather her purse and her copy of the police report, Ray was opening her door for her.

"Thank you."

"Sure."

Rayni walked up the steps and into the foyer. Ray followed closely behind. He had only intended to see her to her door, but when Rayni unlocked the door she pushed it open and walked on inside.

"Lord, what a lousy day. You want something to drink? I've got bottled water, coke and some beer John left." Ray looked from side to side as he ran his hand along the back of his neck and through his hair. *What the hell.*

"I'm off duty, so how about a beer?" Rayni dropped her purse to the floor and dropped her paperwork on the end of the couch as she made her way to the kitchen. Ray closed the door behind him and stood in the front entrance to the apartment. He looked around at the neatly kept apartment. He took a step toward the couch when he heard her call out his name.

"Ray? What should I put on this eye?" Ray walked through the main room and into the kitchen. Rayni stood with the freezer door open looking at its contents.

"Let's see it." Rayni turned her face toward Ray and looked up towards the light.

"Is it getting worse? I don't have any steak. I'm supposed to put a steak on it right?" Ray chuckled. "Nah, ice will be fine. Ya got an ice pack?"

"Yeah, third cabinet over." Ray reached behind him and opened the cabinet door. She handed him the ice tray and he filled the pack with ice and a little water.

"Here. Keep that on it for as long as you can stand it." Rayni winced with pain as Ray placed the ice pack on her eye.

"This really sucks." Closing the freezer door, she opened the refrigerator and handed Ray a beer.

"I guess it's still good. John bought it about a week ago."

"Least he had good taste in beer." Ray took the Budweiser and twisted off the top. Taking a drink, he took a long look at the woman leaning on the counter in front of him. One of the things he noticed was how comfortable she was around people. He felt as if he had known her for years.

"You better take some Tylenol." Rayni sighed as if it was such a burden to her. Ray grinned as she walked past him and down the hall.

She returned a moment later with a bottle of Tylenol in her hand.

"I wonder how many is too many. Think five would kill me?" Rayni's sideways grin made him smile. She emptied two of the pills into her palm and held her hand out for Ray's beer. Without hesitation, Ray handed her the bottle and she took a small swig.

"Ack, nasty." She made a face and handed the bottle back to him. "Come on, let's go sit down. The way this day's sizing up, I don't need to be around the kitchen knives too long."

Ray followed her into the main room and took a seat in the armchair by the window. Rayni walked to the end of the couch and flopped backwards over the arm. Ray took another drink of beer and wondered if he was overstaying his welcome. He started to tell her goodbye when she tossed him the remote.

"If you want to watch the news, you can. I don't mind."

"Nah, that's okay. I get enough of the news first hand. Maybe I should go and let you get some rest."

"I'm fine. Do you think I should get a restraining order? I mean, what do most people do when they're in my situation?" Ray leaned back in the chair and started going over the procedure for a restraining order. Before he knew it, the conversation turned to police work and then to why he became a detective. Hours slipped by and it was nearly six o'clock. Rayni had changed the ice in the pack twice and Ray had finished three beers.

"I didn't mean to stay this long." Rayni smiled over at Ray and brushed the hair from her eyes.

"You don't know how nice it is to have a real conversation. Talking to John was like talking to a fourth grader. If I talked about anything other than cars, basketball or him, he wasn't interested."

"What made you go out with the guy?"

"He asked."

"That's it?"

"Well, no not really. I was with my friend Carrie at the Blue Dot. You know that club on Fifth? Well, we went upstairs and these guys were shooting pool. There he was this tall muscular guy in tight jeans and leather jacket. He just looked like trouble, you know? He asked me if he could by me a hot dog." Rayni stared at the ceiling for a moment and then looked at Ray. "You know, hearing that story out loud is really depressing. I've got to raise my standards."

"Couldn't hurt." Rayni sat up and tilted her head towards Ray.

"Does it look any better?"

"It's turning purple."

"Lovely. Gosh I'm sorry. How rude of me. Would you like something to eat? You must be hungry." Ray grinned and nodded his head.

"Why don't I buy you a hot dog?" Rayni laughed and threw a pillow at him.

"Be careful, I just might take you up on that."

"Come on, I'm buyin'. What do you feel like eatin'?" Rayni looked saddened and then shook her head at Ray.

"I really don't want to go out….." * Great Kowalski. You're such a moron. You ask her out? What's wrong with you? * "….I look…I mean…can we order in instead? Do you mind?"

"Mind? I don't even know what I'm still doin' here? I figured you would have kicked me out a long time ago."

"Why? You were nice enough to drive me home. The least I could do is offer you a beer. Who knew you'd be such a joy to be around?" Ray stared at the sarcastic smile spreading across her face.

"Gee thanks, I think."

"Answer me this. Do you always take poor defenseless assault victims home?" Ray looked at the floor.

"No. Never."

"So what makes me so privileged?"

"Like you said, this is just a sucky day for you." Ray grinned which earned him a warm smile from Rayni.

"Come on, let's order a pizza. If we don't order soon, it will take them forever to deliver. Trying to get pizza out of Mario's on a Friday night is nearly impossible after seven." Rayni dialed the number and handed the phone to Ray.

"What do you want?"

"I don't care. Order whatever you like. When it comes to pizza, if I don't like it, I'll just pick it off." Rayni left the room and went into the kitchen to take some more Tylenol. She heard Ray order the pizza and then walk through the den. She swallowed the two pills and placed the glass of water in the sink. Ray walked past her and threw his empty beer bottle in the trash.

"You want another one? The loser bought 12. I don't drink so I'll just throw it out otherwise."

"Nah, I think I've had enough. I ordered a soda with the pizza." Rayni pulled her purse from the floor by its strap and fished a twenty-dollar bill from its contents.

"Here, pay him when he gets here. He can keep the change."

"Put your money up. I'm buyin'." Rayni's mouth gapped open as she stared at him. Ray cocked his head to the side before asking the question. "What?!"

"It's just that I haven't heard that in so long, it kind of stunned me." Ray walked past her shaking his head.

"That's a real damn shame Rayni. I can't understand why you'd put up with shit like that."

"Yeah, well, me either when I think about it. Here I am with a black eye, bruised nose, headache, and contemplating a restraining order and this is the most fun I've had in six months. What does that say about me?"

"You need to get a life?"

"Exactly. I need to get a life. Well, not entirely. I've got a life. I just need to adjust some of the aspects in which I live. Change number one: No more losers. From now on if some hot looking guy turn the corner looking like he just knocked over a 7/11, I'm going to run in the other way."

"Good girl."

"Thanks. I mean it. It's time to make some changes. You sure you don't' want anything more to drink?"

"Maybe in a little while. I really didn't mean to come over and stay. I'm wearin' out my welcome, for sure."

"You know, to be honest, I don't normally make friends easily. I mean, I'm friendly and all, but like tonight. I really don't know why I asked you in and talked your ear off for three hours. I guess my judgements getting better. You seem like a really nice guy."

"Nah, I think your judgement still needs some work." Both of them laughed comfortably.

"I'm glad I met you Ray Kowalski. I wish it could have been under better circumstances, but I'm glad nonetheless."

"Same here."

Chapter 5

Rayni excused herself and went down the hall to change her shirt. She finally noticed the dried blood on the front of her sweater. She entered the bedroom and pulled an old sweatshirt from the closet. When she did, she noticed John's jacket hanging on the rack. She pulled off the stained sweater and quickly jerked the sweatshirt over her head. Her short brown hair was mussed and falling in her eyes. Brushing her hand across her forehead she sighed.

"Bastard." Her anger had returned as her eye caught more of John's things lying around her room. She flung open the door and called to Ray.

"Ray, could you look under the sink and bring me a trash bag?"

Ray stood and looked around the room in confusion. He walked into the kitchen and pulled a trash bag from the cabinet and followed her voice down the hall to the bedroom.

"You okay?" Ray stuck his head through the partially opened door. He couldn't help but smile at the agitated look on Rayni's face. She had changed into a Maple Leafs sweatshirt and a pair of flannel plaid shorts. He watched her shapely form gathering things in her arms and tossed them roughly on the bed.

"John's shit is all over the place. Here, hold this open." Ray held the black trash bag open while Rayni shoved shirts and CD's toward him.

"Rayni."

"Yeah." Rayni jerked John's coat from the closet with such force the hanger went flying to the floor.

"You know he's going to come back for this stuff." Rayni stopped in mid motion. Her arm was elbow deep in the trash bag. She looked up into the pale blue eyes of the man she had just met.

"What can I do? I don't want him near me."

"Well, change the locks like you said and maybe leave his stuff downstairs with the super or somethin'."

"I can't just burn it?"

"Nah, that's a little too brutal, don't ya think?"

"And hitting me wasn't?"

"Point taken." The doorbell interrupted their conversation.

"Pizza guy." Ray handed her the trash bag and went to pay for the pizza. Rayni shoved the last of his stuff into the trash bag and carried out into the living room.

Ray turned and shook his hand in amusement as she tossed the bag up against the wall and swore at it.

"You ready to eat?" Ray placed the box in the center of her coffee table and flipped the lid open. The smell of pepperoni pizza filled the apartment.

"I'm starved. I haven't eaten a thing all day."

"What? Why not?"

"John and I were on our way to lunch we he decided to use my face as a punching bag."

Rayni lifted a slice of pizza from the box before walking into the kitchen for some glasses. She handed a glass of ice to Ray and he poured her a glass off Coke. She traded glasses with him and he then poured a glass for himself.

"This is so good. You want to see what's on?" Rayni asked through a mouthful of pizza. Ray nodded as he took a drink.

Rayni flipped the remote until she landed on a television Musical.

"Oh wow! It's 'Guys and Dolls'. I love this."

"What?"

"Guys and Dolls. It's a musical."

"Oh Jesus."

"It's great. I think you'd like it. It has Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando in it."

"Well considering my family, if it has Brando it can't be all bad."

"Huh?"

"Stanley Raymond Kowalski. Nice to meet ya."

"You're kidding! That's great!"

"Yeah, yeah. Spare me. You really gonna make me watch a show with guys prancin' and singin'?"

"Brando sings in it."

"No he doesn't." Ray gave her a weary look.

"Yes he does. He's not that bad."

Rayni settled into the opposite corner of the couch from where Ray was seated. She crossed her legs underneath her and watched the singers on the screen.

"What's it about?"

"Gambling, cops, guys, dolls, and a mission."

"A mission?"

"As in church mission. The Save a Soul Mission."

"Uh huh. I think I feel a coma coming on." Ray smiled over at Rayni as he reached for another slice of pizza.

"Just watch okay. Please."

"Sure. I'm just kidding." Rayni's pleading eyes softened Ray's heart. He had never connected with a woman so quickly before. * She was nice, pretty and had a nice sense of humor. So what's she doing spending time with a guy like me.* Ray watched her as she hummed along with the show tunes. Her short brown hair was flipping up at the ends near her shoulders. Her eyes were an unusual shade of brown. Not completely brown but brown around the edges with gold flecks near the center. Ray's eyes traveled down her form to her legs. *Nice gams. * His attention was drawn to her right ankle. She had a small tattoo of a purple cartoon flower. It looked like something painted on a VW Minibus in the 60's. On each second toe, she had small silver toe rings. *Green nail polish. Cool. * Rayni could feel his eyes on her as she ate. Her eye throbbed with every chew but she tried not to grimace. She wanted to look in his direction but she didn't want to make him uncomfortable. She had no idea why she was so comfortable around him. Her mom always said that a stranger was just a friend you hadn't met yet. She always thought her mom would be a lousy children's safety officer. *He's just nice. It's like he's an old friend from college just stopping by for some pizza and a little TV.* Ray drained his glass and stood to go into the kitchen.

"You mind if I get another beer?"

"Not at all. I'll get it. You sit." Rayni padded into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to retrieve another beer. *Four. * She looked to see if Ray was paying attention to her or the television. She reached her hand into the pocket of his jacket that was hung on the back of one of her kitchen chairs. She pulled his keys from the pocket and slipped them in her shorts pocket. * You seem like such a nice guy, Ray. Let's hope you don't get mad. *

Walking softly to the other room, she handed Ray his beer.

"I'm going to the bathroom. I'll be out in a sec."

"Sure."

Rayni slipped down the hall and into her bedroom. She placed his keys in the top draw of her nightstand and then walked to the bathroom.

Chapter 6

The two of them watched as Marlon Brando started to sing 'Luck be a Lady Tonight.'

"I'll be damned. He does sing."

"Told you." Ray looked at his watch. It was almost nine.

"I better go."

"You sure? It's still early for a Friday night."

"I gotta go feed my turtle. Thanks for dinner. I had a really nice time talking."

"Me too." Rayni followed Ray as he walked into the kitchen and pulled on his coat. She avoided his eyes as he fished through his pockets.

"Did I lay my keys down somewhere?"

"Why don't I call you a cab?"

"I thought I put them in my coat pocket." Ray noticed her demeanor had changed. He took a step closer to her and looked down at eyes that refused to meet his own.

"I swore I put them in my pocket. You don't know where they are?"

Rayni turned a stone face toward him and squared her shoulders.

"I have them."

"Can I have them back?"

"No."

"No?"

"You've had four beers tonight."

"What?"

"I'm not giving them up Ray. I know we've just met, but you seem like a really nice guy that I would like to continue to have as a friend. So I just can't let you drive." Ray stood and looked at the determined look on her face. She braced herself for the reaction he would more than likely give. To say she was stunned at the reaction he gave her was an understatement. He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead.

"You're sweet. You know that?"

"Huh?"

"Thanks. I only live three streets over so I'll walk. I'll come pick up the Goat in the morning." *Great, now I get to see you again! *

"You're not mad?"

"Gee, I should be mad because you give a shit about a guy you just met? I don't think so. Besides, you're too cute to stay mad at."

"Yeah right. You just want your keys returned in one piece." Ray chuckled as he made his way to the front door.

"That too. I'll see you in the morning. Keep icin' that eye."

"Thanks for everything Ray. I really didn't want to be alone tonight." Ray tucked his head and smiled at the floor.

"See you in the mornin'."

"Come by early and I'll feed you."

"What time?"

"Eight."

"It's a date." Rayni waved as Ray walked down the stairs. He felt a surge of excitement run through his spine. * What a great day. *

Chapter 7

Ray pulled his jacket closed as he walked home in the cool night air. There was an extra spring in his step and he knew it was because of the company he had been keeping. His thoughts swirled in his mind about this strange day. He had never met anyone as interesting as Rayni Mason. He had a strange feeling he never would again for that matter. He crossed against the light and looked at the moon reflecting off the windows of the buildings on either side of the street. He looked at his watch as he entered his apartment building. *11:00. * He bounced up the stairs two at a time and unlocked his door. Rayni was nice enough to agree to give him his house key. The phone screaming to be answered interrupted his thoughts.

"Yeah?"

"Ray, I've been trying to reach you. Is everything okay?"

"I'm fine Frase. What's up?"

"I just wanted…..Did you have plans this evening?" Ray sighed at the Mounties sudden question.

"Uh, I didn't have plans."

"Where have you been?"

"You're nosy."

"I beg your pardon Ray?"

"I dropped Rayni off at her apartment."

"That was at four o'clock Ray."

"Yeah so?"

"Ah." Ray shrugged off his coat and headed to the couch.

"What's 'ah' supposed to mean?"

He could hear Fraser smiling on the other end of the phone and it was really getting on his nerves.

"Nothing Ray. I can see where one would want to be thorough and take one's time when dropping a beautiful woman off at her door."

"You're a freak, Fraser."

"Understood, Ray. Will you be stopping by the Consulate tomorrow?"

"I don't know."

"Ah."

"Stop that."

"Sorry."

"I uh, kinda have plans in the mornin'."

"Really?" Ray ran his hand through his hair and rolled his eyes. Fraser was getting a little too much enjoyment at his expense.

"I walked Rayni to her door. She invited me in. We started talkin'. She offered me a beer. We ordered pizza. Watched a musical. She hid my keys 'cause I had four beers and I'm goin' over in the mornin' to pick up the car. Happy now?"

"You sound like you are." Silence hung in the air. Ray was happy.

"I'll try to call ya tomorrow."

"She seems very nice."

"Bye Fraser."

"Goodnight Ray."

Chapter 8

For the first time in a long time, Ray Kowalski was grateful for morning. He was showered and dressed by 7:30 and out the door by 7:35. It was barely a ten minute walk to Rayni's apartment so he decided he better take his time.

He knocked softly on her door and waited for her to answer. The door swung open and Ray saw that Rayni was on the phone. He took a deep breath and the aroma of breakfast washed over him. Rayni motioned for him to follow her in the kitchen while she talked on the cordless phone.

She continued her conversation while she made French toast.

"Do I need to bring anything?…..Okay….Listen, something happened last night….No I'm fine…I…I said I'm fine. Shut up and listen. John and I had a little fight….A blackeye…." Rayni held the phone away from her ear and closed her eyes at the yelling that was going on at the other end. She opened her eyes and placed her hand over the receiver then turned to Ray.

"My brother." Ray nodded and took a seat at the small kitchen table. Rayni put the phone back her ear and tried to break into the screaming that was assaulting her from the other end.

"Mike….Mike….He's in jail…I pressed charges….No, I had a hero come to my rescue. Two actually….Yeah, the ass did it in front of two cops. A cop and a Mountie but I haven't gotten that story yet….No, I said I was fine….I know….Listen, I don't want Josh to know about it okay. So just tell him I fell on my skates okay? I know, but I don't want him to think his aunt's a loser….Yeah, yeah, I just date losers. I know, you're funny….Listen, I've got to go. One of the handsome heroes has stopped by for breakfast…..That's none of your business…..I'll see you at one at the skating rink…okay, love you too, bye." Rayni sighed and rolled her eyes. "Jeez, he drives me nuts." Then she turned to Ray and gave him a big smile. "Hey. You ready for breakfast?"

"I'm starvin'."

"Good. I didn't know what you'd like so I cook what I liked." Ray chuckled at her as she pulled a plate from the cabinet.

"It looks great."

"Well, help yourself." Ray stood and started piling his plate with French toast, eggs, and bacon.

"So you got a brother. Any more of ya?"

"Nah, just me and him. He's two years older than I am and thinks he's my keeper. My nephew's 9th birthday party is today. It's a skating party."

"That sounds fun."

"Yeah, you want to go?"

"Me?"

"No the bacon. Yeah you. It'll be fun. Besides, it will give me someone else to talk to besides my brother and the soccer moms. I'll buy you a suicide."

"A what?!"

"You never had a suicide at the skating rink?! Oh man, you're deprived. You have to go with me now. It's like my civic duty now." Ray laughed at the grin on her face. He couldn't say 'no' to her. He didn't want to say no to her. He nodded his head as he stuck another slice of bacon in his mouth.

"I don't skate all that great."

"Do you have skates?"

"I've got hockey skates."

"We're not going ice skating. We're going roller skating."

"In-line?"

"If you want. I prefer the old roller skates. I have my own pair. They were mine when I was young. They still fit. Besides, I look hot in them."

"I'm sure."

Ray and Rayni ate breakfast and talked about themselves and work and skating as kids and various other things that struck Rayni's fancy to talk about. Rayni was clearing the dishes and Ray was down the hall washing his hands when they heard a knock at the door.

"Who is it?"

"It's me baby, open up." Rayni's blood ran cold when she heard John Kale's voice calling to her from the other side of the door. Ray stood in the hall and waited to see what Rayni was going to do. She looked at him with fear in her eyes and mouthed, 'I don't want to see him.' Ray stepped closer and whispered in her ear.

"See what he wants. If he causes trouble, I'll handle it. Otherwise, I'll just stay in the back."

"Come on Rayni, open up. I'm sorry things got a little out of hand yesterday. You got me in a lot of trouble. Baby, open the door."

"Go away, John. I don't want to see you."

"Don't be like that."

"Just leave. It's over. Through. Finished. Hit the bricks." Rayni jumped at the sound of John's fist hitting the door.

"Just open the damn door!"

"No! I'm not dealing with your shit John. Just leave and you'll make things easy for yourself." There was a long silence but Rayni knew he was still outside the door. In a much calmer voice John called from the hall.

"What about my stuff? Can't I even come in and get my stuff?" Rayni looked at the garbage bag of his things sitting by the door. She walked over to the bag and picked it up.

"Your stuff will be waiting for you down stairs. Now leave or I'll call the police."

Rayni opened the window to her apartment. Ray stepped out of the hall and gave her an incredulous look. An evil grin spread across her face and without taking her eyes off Ray's, she tossed the bag outside. With a definite splat, the remnants of John Kale had been removed from her apartment.

"Rayni? What was that?!" Pounding erupted from the other side of the door.

"That was your stuff. You better get it before the bums do."

"You bitch!" Rayni heard footsteps running down the stairs. Leaning out the window, she saw John burst through the front doors and out into the street. Grabbing handfuls of CD's and clothing, he shoved his belongings back into the bag.

Rayni slammed the window shut and turned to face Ray.

"You think I should get that restraining order?"

"It's probably a good idea. I'll make some calls. Maybe we can get you one before lunch."

Chapter 9

Ray held the door for Rayni to enter the passenger side of the GTO. She was dressed in comfortable faded jeans and a long sleeve gray t-shirt. Ray had managed to get her a restraining order so they decided to take care of that and then go to the skating party. Ray put her skates and gifts in the trunk and settled in behind the wheel.

"Damn."

"What?"

"You still have my keys."

"Oh yeah." Rayni crammed her hand into her jeans pocket and pulled out his set of keys.

"Thanks."

"No prob." Ray smiled and gave her a sideways glance as he started the car. For someone he just met yesterday, they were becoming fast friends.

John Kale watched from the alley across the street as Rayni and that cop left her apartment. * Son of a bitch. So that's why you wouldn't let me in. You're bangin' the cop. Well, we'll see about that. * John stomped his cigarette out on the pavement and walked the short distance to his truck.

Rayni and Ray pulled into the skating rink parking lot fifteen minutes early.

"Does the eye look okay?"

"It's purple and green, but it's not that bad. It just looks bruised. It could've been a lot worse."

"Yeah, I know. My brother used to get shiners all the time in high school."

"Your brother fight a lot?"

"He felt it was his duty to beat up my boyfriends."

"Great. So am I in danger today?" Rayni grabbed her purse and smiled over at him from across the seat.

"Not yet." She stepped out of the car and met Ray at the trunk. He opened the trunk and pulled her skates and the presents she had bought her nephew out and balanced them under his arm. Ray watched as she opened her purse and pulled out her driver's license and a twenty-dollar bill. She neatly folded the bill in half and slid it and her license in her back pocket. Tossing her purse in the trunk she smiled.

"You ready?"

"What's with the money and license? I got money. If you need anythin', I'll get it for ya." Rayni took her skates from Ray's hands and hoisted them by the laces over her shoulder.

"Well first off, you don't have to do that. Second, I always carry my license and enough money to get home on. You never know what will happen. My mom taught me that. And to be honest, I've went on a date in high school and the guy went to the ticket counter at the movies and asked the lady, 'one please.'"

"You're kiddin'."

"No I'm not."

"So this habit of datin' losers started at an early age?"

"Yeah well. What if the building collapsed? With my license in my pocket, my mom won't have to wait and identify any bodies. It's for peace of mind."

"You're a freak, Rayni."

"Thank you."

Chapter 10

Ray followed Rayni into the skating ring. Childhood memories came flooding back as the smell of pizza and feet assaulted his nose. The mirror ball cast its magical light over the floor while the Bee Gees blared over the sound system.

"My nephew Josh loves seventies music. All his little friends think it's cool."

"So do I." Rayni walked along the carpeted edge of the rink and into the game area. A little blond-headed boy rolled across the floor in her direction.

"Rayni!"

"Happy birthday kiddo! Look at those cool new skates! Wow, how do they feel?"

"Great! Mom and Dad got them for me. Look at the wheels. Aren't they awesome?!"

"They sure are. Josh, I want you to meet someone. This is a friend of mine. Detective Ray Kowalski. He's a policeman."

"Cool! Nice to meet you sir." The young boy extended his hand as he had been taught and shook Ray's hand.

"Nice ta meet ya, Josh. Happy birthday."

"Thank you sir." Josh turned quickly at the sound of his mother calling his name.

"Josh! Come get your shoes and put them in a locker."

"Yes ma'am. Rayni's here with the police, Mom!" An attractive looking blonde woman rounded the corner and smiled in their direction.

"Why am I not surprised?"

"Hey Karen. This is my friend Ray Kowalski."

"Nice to meet you Ray. I'm Rayni's sister-in-law, Karen." Karen's attention quickly turned to Rayni's face. The dim lights had masked her eye but now that Karen was close it was obvious.

"What in the world?!"

"It's nothing, really." Rayni cast a look at Josh.

"Did you fall?" Josh looked up with innocent eyes.

"I sure did. You know me. My mom didn't name me Grace for a reason." Josh laughed and was satisfied with her explanation. He rolled back over to the table and grabbed his shoes. Karen waited until he was out of ear shot before she started interrogating Rayni.

"What really happened? Mike's going to have a fit." Rayni sighed and started taking packages from Ray and handing them to Karen.

"It was John."

"That slimy looking guy?"

"Yeah that's the one."

"God, Rayni. When are you going to find a decent guy?" Karen stopped and eyed Ray. "Or have you?"

"Ray and his partner were the ones that arrested him. Now I owe him big time. So how better to pay someone for coming to your rescue than a skate party!"

"Oh God." Karen rolled her eyes and shook her head at Ray. "Run while you have the chance."

Rayni playfully winked at him while Karen laughed.

"I think I can handle myself. I'm armed remember?"

"Well, the other kids are starting to come in. I better get them corralled or it's going to be a mad house in here." Karen walked in the direction of a group of kids coming through the door. Skates, gifts, coats and hats were making a steady trail through the skating rink.

"Come on, let's get you some skates."

"Greatness." Rayni removed her navy blue sneakers and carried them to the rental booth.

"What size?"

"Eleven. Hey, I didn't know you could rent the inline ones."

"You want those?"

"Yeah, I might have a fighting chance with those." Rayni handed her shoes to the clerk and asked for a size eleven in-line skate. He handed the skates to Ray and quickly turned his attention to the horde of nine-year-olds running in his direction.

Ray carried the skates over to a bench and removed his motorcycle boots. He silently thanked God he had on clean socks with no holes in the heels. He watched as Rayni deftly laced her white skates with lime green wheels. She stood and wheeled a few turns in front of him.

"Slow poke."

"I haven't done this in a while. I have a feelin' I'm going to get a ride in an ambulance later. How come it's not very crowded in here?" Ray looked around at the nearly empty rink. Kids had started to pile in but there were only about twenty people in the whole place.

"Private party. You can rent the place out on Saturday afternoons until six. Oh shit." Ray noticed Rayni's face take on a dark look.

"What's wrong?" Ray finished tying his laces and unsteadily stood on the inline skates.

"Hurricane Big Brother is on the horizon." Ray turned to see a face that resembles the girl he was growing so fond of.

"Hi Mikey." Rayni smiled sweetly.

"Let's see it." Mike gently grabbed her chin and shifted her face toward the light.

"It's not that bad. Ray and Constable Fraser were there in time."

"I'll beat the hell out of him."

"Mike."

"You've dated some real scum bags but none of them ever hit you."

"Mike."

"Did Karen see it? What did you tell Josh? You should have told him the truth. This is what loser-creep-boyfriends do to people."

"Mike! This is Detective Ray Kowalski." Mike looked the detective up and down. Ray wished he had met him before he had put his skates on. He just knew the skates lessened the persona he was trying to portray.

"Nice to meet you. Thanks for helpin' my sister."

"No problem. We took him into custody before she caused him any harm." Mike smiled at Ray's remark.

"I bet. So what now?"

"Nothing. I pressed charges. I'm going to let the cops handle it. Besides, I got a new friend out of the deal. So let's just forget about it okay?" Before Mike could say more, Josh skated toward them.

"Dad! Mom wants you to get more ice. She says she's going to start the cake in about ten minutes."

"Okay, son. I'll be right there." Josh quickly skated back to his friends and Mike turned his attention back to his sister. "We'll talk more about this later."

"Greatness." Rayni responded dryly.

Ray grinned at the use of his term. Rayni started rolling backwards toward the floor. She tugged on Ray's sleeve in an effort to get him to follow her. "We're going to practice a few minutes. Make the announcement for cake."

Mike nodded and went in search for more ice from the snack bar. Rayni easily skated backwards while Ray tried to get used to the skates.

"Sorry about that."

"What?"

"Mike. He's just always been very protective."

"That's what older brothers do for little sister's right?"

"I guess. Have you got any brothers or sisters?"

"Just a younger brother."

"Are you protective of him?"

"Not really. He and I are like oil and water. I think my parents adopted him from some over privileged family." Rayni laughed as she skated slowly across the floor. Ray bobbled slightly and leaned forward. Rayni reached out her hand to steady him. He felt a surge of electricity land in his stomach as Rayni laced her fingers through his.

"Easy! I thought you could skate?"

"I can skate. I just haven't skated in a long time. It ain't somethin' I do for fun on the weekends." Ray stood up a little straighter and managed to set him self off kilter in the other direction. Rayni leaned forward and grabbed his shirt and pulled him towards her. Ray instinctively wrapped his arms around her and held on for balance. Righting himself, he realized they were holding tightly onto one another and their faces were inches apart. He could feel the sweat on the back of his neck. Rayni held tightly to his hand and looked directly in his eyes. She saw something she hadn't seen for a long time in the men she was attracted to. He had a sweetness and a kindness in his eyes. Movement and time slowed as the two of them held one another. Within a breath, the loud speaker boomed and Ray titled forward and pulled both of them to the floor.

"Cake and Ice Cream time. Everyone to the game room."

Rayni rubbed her backside while leaning against Ray for support.

"You okay?"

"I think so. I didn't break nothin' on ya did I?"

"No I'll live. Come on, Josh is going to love what I got him." Ray smiled when Rayni took his hand again and led him to the game room. Rayni rolled up to the snack bar and motioned for the attention of the attendant.

"Ma'am, drinks are provided with the party." Rayni smiled and looked at the nametag pinned to the teenager's shirt.

"That's okay, Chip. My friend here has never had a suicide."

"Gee man, where you been?"

"Fightin' crime kid." Rayni laughed at the defensiveness Ray was displaying. She leaned over the counter and grabbed to large Styrofoam cups.

"Make us two." Ray watched as the pimple faced kid filled the cups halfway with ice and proceeded to fill it with a sample of every flavor soda. Thinking it couldn't get any worse; Chip topped it off with Cherry fruit punch. Handing the brown colored concoction to each of them, Chip smiled at Rayni.

"How much?"

"On the house. It's like a duty since he's never had one. Just don't tell anybody."

"Thanks." Rayni took her cup and took a large sip. Ray eyed her and then smelled the rim of his cup.

"Go ahead. Live life on the edge." Ray took a small drink and waited for the vomiting to start.

"Good, right?" Much to Ray's surprise, it was good.

"Who would have none that all that crap mixed together would taste this good?"

"Told you."

"Yeah, you're the smart one, I'm just pretty." Rayni howled with laughter and looped her arm in his.

"Come on pretty boy, let's go get some cake."

chapter 11

Ray stood beside Rayni and watched as Josh opened his gifts. Rayni had given him a new bike helmet with orange flames and his name airbrushed across the black plastic. Rayni smiled with satisfaction at the reaction the other boys had to his new helmet.

"That is so cool!"

"Mom, can you get me one like that?" A few mothers looked over at Rayni and smiled. Their eyes told the true story. 'Great, I get to search all over town for a new helmet.'

Ray chuckled at the memories of skate parties and trying to be the big kid in the group. Josh was a polite skinny nine-year-old. Ray smiled at the resemblance to his own size at that age.

"Can we go skating now?!" All the kids looked expectantly at Josh's mother and waited for her reply. She smiled and nodded her head.

"I'll get the DJ and you can all start skating. If you want to play video games, everyone gets ten tokens each." The 'wow's and 'cool's drifted through the small crowd of kids. Ray noticed that there was an equal amount of boys and girls at the party. The remembrance of an old skating rink phrase flooding back to his mind.

"What are you smiling at?" Rayni saw the goofy grin spreading over his features.

"Couples skate only." Rayni laughed knowingly.

"Yeah, I wonder how that will go. I can't remember if I skated with a boy when I was nine or not."

"What about now?"

"I might could be persuaded." The sounds of a cheesy DJ blared through the speakers welcoming everyone to Josh's birthday party. As children poured out onto the floor, the speakers erupted with the Bee Gees 'Staying Alive'. Josh rolled up behind Rayni and grabbed her around the waist.

"Come skate with me." Rayni smiled down at her nephew.

"You want to show Ray how it's really done." Josh nodded enthusiastically.

"Rayni's the one that taught me to skate."

"Well let's see what you got." Rayni took Josh by the hand and allowed him to pull her across the floor. Ray watched as Josh grabbed her by both hands and the two of them started spinning in circles. Josh released one of her hands and skated in a large circle around her. Rayni shifted and started skating backwards at full speed. Josh started skating toward her as fast as he could go. Just when Ray thought he would crash into her, Josh bent his knees and skated through Rayni's legs. The other children whizzed around them and laughed at the show they were providing. Josh waved his thanks to Rayni and skated off with a group of boys. Rayni motioned for Ray to join her on the floor. Ray stood and glided towards her.

"You're good."

"You're getting better."

"I'm gettin' the feel of these things again." The music slowed and the DJ announced something that sent Ray and Rayni into a fit of laughter.

"Couples skate only. Couples only. Find you a girl and hang on." The lights dimmed and the mirror ball began to spin. Ray held out his hand to Rayni.

"Shall we?"

"I'm honored." Rayni laced her fingers through his and rolled across the floor.

Karen sat down beside her husband and leaned over to talk in his ear.

"I worry about her."

"Hell, who doesn't? I like this guy though. He's a cop. That's got to win him points somewhere."

"He does seem nice. He likes her."

"I saw that too."

"I wonder if she feels the same."

"We'll find out soon enough. Look." Mike pointed out to the floor at the sight of Rayni and Ray skating. She had turned around backwards and he had his hands on her waist. Ray was saying something to her and Rayni looked up and smiled. Mike shook his head and looked over at Karen.

"She's falling for him."

"Yep, I saw it too."

"I think I'm happy about that. He seems like a nice guy."

"Let's hope."

"We're being watched." Ray gave Rayni a confused look. "My brother and his wife haven't taken their eyes off us."

"Great. Your brother gonna come beat me up?"

"Nah, I'll call my mom on him."

"Where are you folks?"

"Retired to Florida. Yours?"

"Arizona."

"Nice buffer zone." Ray laughed as Rayni spun around and skated in front of him.

"Don't get too fancy. I'll bust my ass."

"Wouldn't want to ruin that cute ass of yours." Ray grinned. *Flirting. Good sign. *

chapter 12

"My feet are killin' me."

"You're not used to it. You'll be fine in the morning." Rayni unlocked her door and walked into her apartment. Ray stepped inside and waited for an invitation.

"Sit. Stay awhile if you want." Ray grinned. That's what he wanted to hear.

"Thanks." He sat on the couch and waited for Rayni to put her skates away.

As she sat on the opposite end of the couch, his cell phone rang.

"What?…hey Fraser….no, sorry buddy. No can do….Yes….That's none of your business…..No, I won't tell her…..fine…..See you Monday….bye."

"Your partner?"

"Yeah the nosy Canadian."

"What did he want you to tell me?"

"He said hello."

"How's a Mountie wind up in Chicago anyway?"

"It's along story, takes about two days to tell. I slip into a coma so I'd rather not go into it."

"Oh okay. He's cute though." *Of course. * Rayni noticed several emotions flash across Ray's face. He looked at her with what she thought was hurt in his eyes.

"You want me to give him your phone number?" *They always fall for the Mountie.*

Rayni smiled slightly. *Wounded heart. We're not so different after all. *

"Not unless he needs to call here looking for you." Ray looked over at her in disbelief.

"Huh?"

"What's the deal? You think I'm just waiting for my chance with the Mountie?"

"Most people are."

"Like I said, I'm not most people."

"I'm beginning to see that." Ray leaned toward her and smiled. She returned his smile and leaned in closer to him. *Don't suck Kowalski. Just do it. The worst she can do is throw ya out. * Ray placed his hand on the side of her neck and guided her face closer to his. Rayni slid forward and braced her hands on the couch and his knee. Ray licked his lower lip expectantly and closed his eyes. The soft feel of her lips on his sent his head into a spin. Rayni's tongue playfully licked his upper lip as she kissed him. Parting his lips, his tongue sought entry into her mouth. Slowly they kissed. Soft, slow warm kisses. Ray finally pulled away and looked at her. She was beautiful. Black eye and all, she was amazing to him.

"Go out with me." Ray asked in almost a whisper.

"I have been out with you all day." Rayni giggled. Ray tucked his head and smiled. He lifted his head and looked into her brown eyes.

"I mean a real date. Dinner-holding-hands-movie-sharin'-popcorn-kiss-at-the-door date."

"Sounds nice. When do you propose we take this date?"

"Now's a good time."

"Sounds good to me." Ray leaned in and kissed her again.

"Let me go to my place and change. I'll see you in a hour."

"I'll be ready." Ray leapt from the couch and rushed toward the door. Rayni laughed at his excitement. Ray reached for the door handle and then swore as he spun around.

"Oh damn."

"What?!"

"Forgot something." Ray leaned across the back of the couch and kissed her again.

"See you in a hour." Rayni laughed as Ray scurried down the stairs.

*Congratulations Rayni. I think you just found yourself a really great guy. *

chapter 13

Rayni dabbed some perfume on her neck and checked her make up in the mirror. She looked at herself and was pleased with her appearance. After changing clothes three times she decided on a dark green silk blouse and black slacks. Hearing footsteps on the stairs she walked out into the living room.

"I'll be right there." Swinging the door open she smiled. Her smiled turned to disgust at the sight before her.

"Hey baby."

"What do you want?"

John Kale pushed his way into her apartment.

"Where you goin'? Got a date with the cop?"

"Get out. I'll call the police if you don't leave."

"Go ahead, call them. We won't be here."

"What?" Rayni's anger began to turn to fear. She had never seen John like this. He had a darkness in his eyes that terrified her.

"You shouldn't have had me arrested Rayni." John reached into the back of his jeans and pulled out a gun and pointed it at Rayni.

"What are you doing? John, this is crazy."

"I love you Rayni. How could you do me like this?"

"John, you hit me. I didn't do anything to you."

"You have me arrested for nothing and then you start bangin' the cop the next day."

"I'm not sleeping with him John. He's a nice guy." Rayni realized she had said the wrong thing. Anger flashed across John's face as he grabbed her arm.

"Shut up! I don't want to hear about the fuckin' cop. You're mine, Rayni. You love me."

"John, what are you doing!?" John pulled her toward the door and down the stairs. Before leaving, Rayni managed to kick over the small table near the door. Grabbing her by the hair, John dragged her to his truck.

"Get in."

"Where are you taking me?"
"Get in!" John pushed her hard and into the door of the truck. Rayni scrambled into the cab and looked on in fear, as the gun he held was pointed at her face.

"John please…."

"Shut up! You shouldn't have done me this way Rayni. We could have been perfect together."

Rayni felt the tears start to stream down her face. He had lost it and there was no telling what he was going to do to her.

chapter 14

Ray climbed the stairs to Rayni's apartment and noticed her door open. As he approached the landing in front of her apartment he noticed the table next to the couch and the broken glass. Pulling his gun from the holster, he cautiously entered her apartment.

"Rayni!?" Stepping over the broken picture frame and knick-knacks that had been knocked to the floor, he looked behind the door and walked down the hall to the bedroom.

"Rayni?! Where are you?!" Ray walked back into the living room and saw Rayni's purse lying on the floor.

"Shit!" He reached for her phone and dialed two numbers; the most important first.

"Fraser, I'm on my way to pick you up. It's Rayni. I think the guy took her." Slamming the receiver down and jerking it up again, he dialed the station for back up.

Ray ran down the stairs and started banging on the apartment door next to the entrance.

"Chicago PD! Open up!" An elderly woman answered the door with a worried look on her face.

"Is there a problem officer?"

"Ma'am, did you see where the woman in apartment 2B went?"

"Rayni? Sweet girl. Bad taste in men though. Her loud boyfriend came and picked her up about twenty minutes ago. She's so pretty. She needs a nice boy."

"Yes ma'am. What was he driving?"

"Oh he drives one of those big pick-up trucks. It has the big tires on it. I never understood why anyone needed such a big truck to live in the city."
"What color?"

"Black. They must have had a squabble. He uses such foul language. She looked upset when she left. What I could see anyway."

"Thanks." Ray ran through the front doors to his car. Steering into traffic, he broke several traffic laws getting to the Consulate. Fraser and Dief were standing out front waiting for him. Ray filled them in on their way to the station.

"We'll find her Ray." Fraser looked over at Ray when he didn't answer. Ray sat rigid in the seat. His knuckles were white from his grip on the steering wheel. The vein on the side of his neck was throbbing and his jaw was clenched. *I have to find her! *

Francesca saw the emotion on Ray's face as he entered the bullpen. Fraser's posture was rigid as they walked over to her desk.

She typed the information he had called to her as they stood behind her.

"It says that a Black '94 Chevrolet Z71 is registered to John David Kale. Plates RCW 139."

"Address?"

"1434 W. Parker Street." Franny looked up at Fraser after reading further down his file.

"He's got a cover sheet Ray."

"What?"

"I believe she means a rap sheet. What are his priors Francesca?"

"Aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. He was on parole until about a year ago."

"I want every one on the look out for that truck. Tell them to just hang back. We don't know what he's going to do."

Chapter 15

John pulled into the alley beside his apartment building. Pulling Rayni by the wrist, he climbed the stoop. She struggled and pulled against his grip to no avail. Once inside, John slammed her back against the wall.

"You're only making things worse on you. Why couldn't you just shut up when I told you to and none of this would be happening!? I love you Rayni. Why couldn't you see that?" Rayni's mind was spinning. The jolt to her head had made her see stars but the sheer weight of the situation was too much for her. Hysteria was starting to take root.

"John, please! You have to let me go!"

"Shut up! You're mine."

"This makes no sense! Please stop this!" John grabbed her by the arm and shoved her through the door of his dingy apartment. It suddenly dawned on her that she had never been to his apartment before. She looked around at beer bottles and pizza boxes all over the floor. * Oh God. He's going to kill me. *

John pushed her up against the wall and ran his hand over her chest. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she felt as if she would vomit. Through her sobs she pleaded with him.

"Please don't do this. Please." He pressed his hips against hers and ran the barrel of the gun along her cheek.

"You know you want it baby. I love you. We are meant to be together."

Chapter 16

Ray Kowalski threw the mike of the radio on the dash and made a screaming left turn. A patrol car had spotted John's truck in the alley near his apartment. There were five minutes away and Ray couldn't drive fast enough.

Rayni's breathing quickened. Panic was gripping her senses. Fear told her not to move. Survival told her to run. Somewhere in her mind the two were at war. John pushed her along the wall toward his bedroom. Rayni did little to help him, which made him even more agitated.

"I love you baby."

"Please let me go."

"You're mine baby. All mine. We were meant to be together." The cold metal of the gun rested along her collarbone. John used his free hand to hold her by the hair. He pushed himself on her mouth and fought to gain entry. Rayni tried to twist her head and fight his advances.

"Stop it bitch! I'll shoot you now if I have to."

Ray motioned to Fraser as he was climbing the back fire escape. Ray slipped quietly through the front entrance, his gun at the ready. Sweat was collecting on his forehead as he slid along the wall up the stairs. He heard Rayni begging from the other side of the door. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. *Please God, don't let her be hurt. * He let go of his gun with one hand and slipped it into his coat pocket. He pulled his glasses from his coat and slipped them into place. Tightening his grip on his gun he took another step closer to the door. * One..two…Please Fraser be there….Three! *

Ray kicked at the lock on the door and burst into the room. The sound of broken glass and a woman's scream shattered the silence of the building. Fraser leapt forward and tackled John as he jerked away from Rayni in surprise. Ray lunged forward and put his foot on John's back and pointed his gun at his head.

"You're under arrest! Don't move!" Fraser made quick work of the handcuffs and lifted John to his feet. Rayni ran forward and was engulfed in Ray's arms.

"Ray!" Rayni collapsed in sobs as Ray held tightly on to her. Fraser escorted John downstairs to the arriving police cars.

Once again the room was silent. Rayni clung to Ray and cried in the middle of the dirty apartment.

"Shhh, you okay?" Ray pulled her face into view and stroked the hair from her forehead. Unable to speak, she shook her head.

"You're okay. I'm here. He's going to jail for a long time. I won't let anyone hurt you anymore." Rayni wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and buried her head in his chest.

"I…I'm sorry Ray." Ray pulled back from her and gave her a confused look.

"What?"

"I…It's my fault."

"Shh, no it's not. Come on, I'll take you home." Ray cradled her head in his arms and kissed her on top of the head. He held a protective arm around her as he walked her downstairs. Fraser held the door for her while Ray helped her into the front seat of the GTO.

"I'll ride with detective Huey, Ray."

"Thanks Fraser. I'll call you later tonight."

Ray climbed behind the wheel and started the engine. Rayni held her arms tightly around her waist.

"Come 'ere." Ray pulled her close to him and draped his arm over her shoulder. She snuggled in to him and softly cried while he drove to her apartment.

chapter 17

Ray guided her up the stairs and into her apartment. She still hadn't said a word since the drive over. She sat on the end of the couch and Ray lifted the overturned table back into position. He closed the door and locked it. He pulled off his coat and draped it over the back of the couch. Sitting down beside her, he pulled her close to him. She seemed to mold to his form. Resting her head on his chest she began to cry again.

They sat in silence for a long time. Ray just held her while she cried. He lifted her head and kissed her forehead.

"You're okay now. I promise." Rayni sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"I knew you'd come. I just knew it." Ray smiled and hugged her close to his chest.

"Yeah well, I hate to be stood up for a date." Ray smiled when he managed to get a small laugh out of her. "Come on, you need to go to bed."

"Stay with me." Ray looked down at her and grinned. "Please. Just stay here with me. I don't want to be here alone."

"Do you want me to call Mike."

"No! You can't tell him. Please Ray, as long as you live, don't tell him. Even when we're old and gray you'll never tell him."

"Okay. Don't get upset. So you think you'll know me when we're old a gray huh?"

Rayni smiled up at him.

"I sure hope so." Ray kissed her softly.

"Yeah me too."