Will Tom make Laura forget Perry Mason? Laura deceives and defies Tom Robertson. Will Tom put Laura in her place? The return of Tom Robertson that irresistible stick of TNT. A follow up story to Laura's Lost Love and The Wallet

PG-!3 for language and sexual tension.

As always, I don't own the characters and make no profit from using them.

Acknowledgment: I'd like to thank my beta for her time, effort, support and friendship.


Laura's run for Congress

Laura Robertson scooped the papers from her desk and neatly placed them in her briefcase. The day had been hectic with Audrie Pratt, other office staff in and out and endless phone calls. The shadows sweeping across her office were a welcome sign, an end to a long and tiring day.

Slipping the lighter from her drawer, she lit a cigarette and turned to enjoy the sunset. She loved her office, especially the glass panel that filled one entire wall. All of the firm's senior partners had an office and a view like hers. There was only one more prestigious. It encompassed the entire corner of their third floor and was occupied by Tom Robertson, the firm's founder and her father-in-law.

Laura drew deeply on the cigarette and exhaled a carefully controlled thin line of smoke. She wanted that office and the power that went with it.….. eventually. Her thoughts drifted to the other senior partners and tomorrow's meeting. What would their reaction be to her newest ambition?

Flicking embers into a cut glass ashtray, she once again admired the gleam of the engagement ring and the diamond encrusted wedding band on her finger and marveled at how the years had passed. Marriage to Glen was as she had expected…. warm and comforting….. like a nice soak in the tub. He was a companionable presence in her bed and a reliable supporter who willingly catered to her needs…. a very pleasant existence.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and each night, before slipping between the sheets, she made sure her medications supplied by Dr. Emmit Michaels would block out any thoughts of Perry or even Tom. Only her husband's steady breathing filled her subconscious. Dear Glen… her thoughts wandered back a couple of hours.

~~~Back a couple hours~~~

Her ears picked up his words to a junior staffer just seconds before he entered her office and closed the door behind him. Smiling, he moved behind her as she stood at her desk. Slipping his arms around her waist, he whispered into her ear. "Darling, you should speak with Dad about your Congressional plans."

She reached back and gently stroked his cheek. "I've been busy, Glen. Besides, I wanted time to research my possibilities. You know how I like to do my homework."

He chuckled, enjoying the close contact with his wife. "This decision to run for Congress needs his blessing."

Easily she slipped from his embrace and turned to face him, her eyes sparking with life. "This is my life…our life. Since when do I need his blessing to do what 'we' want?"

Glen sighed heavily, his finger rising to wag back and forth in front of her. "Now, now, this is not wise."

How dare he take that tone with her! Was he trying to be his father?

"Don't try pulling 'his' tone on me!" Laura began heatedly. "You thought I should take the chance. You're my husband aren't you? You're the one who will be by my side in this election, not him. You should stand up to him for once, be your own man!"

His eyes fluttered from the sting of her words as his hands dropped to his side. "I'm sorry you feel that way." He stepped back. "I am my own man and part of that is trying to keep my willful wife from unnecessarily angering someone she will need on her side."

She crossed her arms across her chest, her chin elevated in defiance as she watched him retreat to the door. His hand gripped its handle as his eyes lowered in thought. "You know," he began, turning, raising his eyes to meet hers, "I love you, Laura. I want to make you happy. If running for office will make you happy, I'll do everything in my power to make it happen. But please, for us…for me, talk with him."

~~~Back to the present~~~

Slowly she exhaled a cloud of smoke while a niggle of reproach danced lightly on her conscience. Glen was his own man in his own kind and endearing way. She stared at a distant mountain peak. Why did she get so cross with his gentle ways?

She sighed and grimaced. She did need his father's backing in order to succeed but getting a private audience with Tom Robertson had gotten harder and harder to achieve.

Talk with him before tomorrow, indeed. When and how? Both men had left for the evening. Glen was home by now. And where was Tom? Not in his office. How long had it been since they'd had one of their chats by his window? She couldn't recall. After the wedding, he had withdrawn from her both publicly and privately.

Eyes growing moist, she hurriedly ground out the remaining cigarette in the ashtray. Tomorrow the partners would have their weekly meeting. She would make her dramatic announcement in front of everyone. He couldn't ignore her then.

For a moment, the vision of Tom's shocked and angry face played before her and she smiled. Then she shook her head, picked up her purse, and headed towards her door. As much as she hated it, Glen was right. Purposefully making Tom Robertson angry was taking a great chance, like striking a hornet's nest. Was she willing to take that chance?

~~~At the home of Tom Robertson~~~

A faint mist rose slightly from the surface of the enclosed heated pool as another evening alone in the big house unfolded. Tom Robertson angrily tossed the large towel on a deck chair and watched his reflection in the sliding glass door. Clad in red swim trunks, he ran his hands across the muscles of his chest and abdomen and felt a sense of pride. For a man his age, his muscle tone was amazingly youthful and he could still turn heads at the beach.

He moved slowly, watching his reflection in the door as he approached the edge of the pool before gracefully diving beneath its surface. Three or four vigorous kicks and he broke the surface and began a breaststroke for the length of the pool. Methodically his body moved in the water, breaking the surface for a quick gasp of air, then disappearing again, freeing his mind to think and releasing his growing anger. Like a sixth sense, he felt the end of the pool approaching. He curled downward and flipped, kicking off the edge of the pool, pushing off, continuing his routine along with his thoughts.

~~~Earlier that evening~~~

Eliot Moore slipped into Tom's office and into a chair by his desk, reached over and retrieved a cigarette from his gold case and used his own lighter to ignite it. Annoyance flickered in Robertson's eyes. Moore had always been a cheeky little bastard and this was just one of his irritating habits. He watched his associate enjoy the purloined cigarette, taking his own sweet time, enjoying the tension he was building. The attorney restrained himself from asking the obvious and waited until Moore could stand it no longer.

"I thought you should know," the smaller man stated then stopped, waiting for Tom's anxious look and found the attorney looking out the window, eyes heavy lidded, appearing bored and uninterested.

"We have our meeting tomorrow morning. I thought you should know."

Damn it, Moore, stop being a drama king! What should I know? Robertson thought, refusing to bite.

Eliot delivered the news with a smirk. "Laura has moved beyond the exploratory stage and is now gathering signatures and completing the application process in her run for Congress. This firm and all its dealings will be placed under a public and media microscope; we will all be under great scrutiny." And with a final dig, he added, "You do know that, don't you?"

The urge to react increased like pressure in a volcano; Tom fought the tension in his jaw and the flutter of his own lashes. Calmly he sat upright and turned in his chair to face his associate.

"Yes, Moore. I know that." He lied in the most calm and bored tone he could deliver. "This firm has nothing to hide and neither do I." / Now you little bastard, I'll put you on the defensive. / "Do you have anything to hide, Eliot?"

Moore's eyes blinked rapidly for a moment, thinking how he would answer the question. Tom smiled, enjoying the satisfaction of putting him on the spot.

"That's what I thought," Robertson announced. Taking his cigarette case and lighter from his desk, he stood and slipped them into his pant's pocket. "I'd suggest you get your own house in order… least the firm find out it is you, not Laura, that we need to distance ourselves from. It's been a long day. I'm going home."

The other attorney stood, the smirk replaced by concern as he thought of his various dalliances with the opposite sex and creative financial dealings. Clearing his voice, he made one more jab. "Just make sure your daughter-in-law doesn't take this firm down a rat hole with her political ambitions."

The senior attorney smoothed down the front of his suit and straightened his tie. "You mean the same daughter-in-law who pulled off the largest corporate take-over in Colorado history and earned this firm a very generous bonus?"

Tom stepped closer to the smaller man and looked down at him. "You're envious, Moore."

The other man's eyes widened in surprise.

"Yes, you heard me right," he emphasized. "You've made it your mission to make everyone believe Laura became a senior partner by marrying Glen. But in reality, you're filled with envy because of her talent and tenacity and you know it."

"You've got your nerve!" Moore flared with indignation.

"Yes, I've got nerve," Robertson smiled, his eyes cold and menacing, "and I'm in charge and I make the final decisions around here."

Moore started for the door in a huff then turned back. "You won't live forever Tom Robertson; you won't be in charge forever." Quickly the little man opened the door and made sure it slammed shut behind him.

With all the calm he could muster, Robertson slipped his hands into his pockets and walked to the window. Eyes narrowed, the muscles in his jaw twitched as his mind angrily processed this new information. In a few quick steps he moved from his office down the hall to Laura's office. The light was on and the office empty. He glanced down the hallway for any signs of office staff or even Moore hoping to eaves drop on their discussion. No, not here, he would wait.

Jingling his car keys in his pocket, he briskly walked to the elevator and punched the buttons for firm's private area of the parking garage. Glen's vehicle was missing, but Laura's BMW still sat in its stall. Slowly he walked around the vehicle, resisting the urges he felt. Fingering his keys, he turned and walked to his black Jaguar. Leisurely he opened the door and slipped behind the wheel.

She had never defied him….until now. Turning the key in the ignition, the V6 roared into life. Shifting into reverse, he backed the car from its spot and nosed the vehicle toward the exit.

Slowly he took the curves of the garage, recalling Glen and Laura's wedding reception. As the party cleared, the guests waited outside the country club for the bride and groom's departure. Laura had excused herself for the ladies room and as fate would have it, they found themselves alone near the bath and powder rooms.

She was beautiful in the strapless, salmon, beaded gown. He had been told the color and design was all the rage at the Paris fashion shows. As his eyes moved over every inch, he realized he'd never seen her look more beautiful or more radiant. Her sly smile revealed her knowledge of how the dress affected him.

"Good evening, Mrs. Robertson," he greeted softly, looking down at her upturned face and the smooth curves of her bare shoulders. The gentle swell of her breasts rose above the beaded lace and satin bodice. Her eyes moved over his red bow tie and black tuxedo and gradually the tears began to well in her eyes.

Gently he ran his fingertips along her jaw to comfort her before folding his arms around her.

"Brides should never cry. This should be a joyous occasion," he whispered in her ear, his hands stroking the bare skin of her back comforting her.

"Oh, Tom." Laura's voice seemed so small, muffled by the folds of his tuxedo. "What shall I do?"

Releasing her, he leaned back and captured her eyes with his. "You'll do just fine."

Her fingers swept across the front of his tuxedo, nervously smoothing the lapel of the garment. Tom bent to kiss her forehead in reassurance. Her hands moved to his face and redirected his lips to hers. Encircling his neck, she pulled him even closer. The softness and taste of her lips were all that he'd imagined as they caressed and explored his. Eagerly her tongue slipped between his lips, urging him to join her. His body trembling, he forced himself to pull away. Gasping, the back of his hand moved across his mouth, hoping to wipe away the taste and sensation of the unforgettable. "What are you trying to do to me?"

From their initial meeting, it was the same question he'd asked himself over and over again. Its answer and fulfillment forever just out of his reach…. and here it was again. "What are you trying to do me?"

His fingers left the steering wheel and unconsciously moved across his mouth, still feeling the sensation of her eager lips. Laura had crossed that line back then and even now he was still trying to push that genie back in the bottle. The task was arduous and impossible. At every turn she was part of his life, his family. The once comfortable time in his office, their private talks, their lively banter, had been taken from them like a thief.

Her years as Mrs. Glen Robertson had been harder on him than he had ever imagined. With each passing year, they had drifted mentally and physically in limbo and now …her secretive defiance.

She was intelligent enough to know how her political aspirations would affect the firm. What was her intent in not asking him? They had discussed politics before and he had expressed his disapproval. How dare she do anything that would cause such a disruption to their livelihood without first discussing it with him?

~~~The pool~~~

Inhaling above the surface, he slowed as he neared the end of the pool and ended his routine. A dark form appeared at the deck's edge. Coasting through the water, his eyes foggy, he leaned back and swept the water from his face and smoothed back his hair, clearing the image. Laura Robertson stood on the edge in knee length black high heeled leather boots and a charcoal gray tailored suit, with his towel in her hand.

Effortlessly he glided through the water to the steps and the ladder. The clicking of her heels rang in his ears as she moved to meet him. Grabbing the single rail, he pulled himself up the steps.

He watched her eyes move over his form, taking in every detail as the water glistened and flowed over every muscle, curve, and bulge of his body. He fought the urge to grab the towel and lash out at her.

Laura couldn't stop her mind from comparing father and son. Glen was the man who shared her bed, his body smooth and soft like a comfy pillow. His mother's maternal influence on her son manifested itself both physically and mentally. And then there was the lean, taunt, muscled body of Tom Robertson who moved with the controlled energy of a top predator. She sighed inwardly.

Robertson stepped to the pool deck and was greeted by Laura's attentive hands moving the Egyptian cotton gently across his chest and shoulders, grooming him, enjoying the moment when she could be close. The urge to confront him replaced by the need to be near him.

Circling each other with restraint, Tom broke free and wordlessly moved to a small changing room connected with the house. Laura followed carrying the towel, not wanting to lose sight of him before the door to the room closed behind him, followed by the sound of running water.

Bringing the towel to her face, she placed the moist surface to her cheek before tossing it on a deck chair and mentally shook herself. Why did she love men like Tom, like Perry? Why must she crave men who created strong passions of both love and anger in her in order to feel alive? Why couldn't Glen make her feel this way?

Suddenly the door opened and Tom emerged in a brown wrinkled knee-length terry robe.

Words tumbled out before she even thought. "Oh Tom, that robe is hideous!"

Robertson's eyebrow cocked upward in annoyance and reached for the robe's ties. "Well, if it offends you then I shall remove it." The ties loosened exposing a bare hip.

Laura's eyes widened as he began to remove it; her words halted his actions. "You'd like that wouldn't you, to stand naked in front of me, tormenting me with your male prowess like some preening…." Her hands moved to her hips as she tossed both her head and words. "…like some preening peacock."

"Preening peacock am I!" Tom countered sarcastically, still gripping the sash of his robe. "Oh, how I live to cater to your every want and need. You know I would gladly do it just to satisfy your feminine fantasy. Please tell me your highness, how else can I change my life to better suit your mood?"

Angrily she turned and stormed away, yelling over her shoulder. "I just wanted to talk! You're such an ass Tom Robertson!"

Tom tightened the sash and in three quick strides grabbed her arm and whirled her around to face him.

"You're not leaving here 'til you've said your piece!"

"I'll leave when I want and do as I please!" Laura jerked away from him.

His fingers firmly held her forearm, pulling her close. His eyes flared with an intense fire equal to the ones that stared back at him.

Angrily she fought against his restraint, chin elevated in defiance. "Who do you think you are? You're not my husband and even he doesn't tell me what to do!"

With the swift motion of a dancer, Robertson took both her wrists in his hands and spun her against the wall of the changing room, pinning her. His legs stood on either side of her body as he pressed his hips against hers. His mouth found hers with great urgency. Hungrily they caressed, his tongue slipping between her lips.

Filled with both anger and excitement, Laura felt light-headed as though she might faint. The strength and heat of his body pressed against hers filled her with an intense fire; his kiss made her long for a gasp of air. His body trembled against hers as his lips and eyes momentarily hovered above hers.

"Tell me, did Mason ever make you feel this way?" he breathed.

Closing her eyes, gasping, her tongue trailing across her lips, she breathed softly. "No."

Again his mouth captured hers, probing, sucking, leaving her lips and trailing along the angle of her jaw. Kissing the nape of her neck, his hips moved against hers, pinning her firmly against the wall. Continuing to hold her wrists in his hands, his lips trailed down her neck to the indentation near her collarbone. The heat of his breath warmed the exposed skin of her cleavage with tingling anticipation. She moaned, moving against him, exposing more of her neck to him.

He whispered in her ear. "If I were your husband, would you dare defy me?"

Turning to face him with eyes dreamy with desire, she whispered, "No, you know how I love you."

A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth before he gently kissed her cheek and pulled away, releasing her. Feeling weak, Laura's fingers gripped the wall afraid she would slide to the floor. She looked up, eyes filled with astonishment.

Stepping back, Tom folded his hands in front of him, keeping the robe smooth and in place. His eyes looked off, focusing on the distant night sky. "Do you really love me, Laura?" He pondered, his voice growing wistful. "Do you really love anyone? I can only hope."

Still leaning against the wall, Laura's hands trailed over her aroused body, weak with desire. "Why?" she asked simply.

"Because I could," he replied, his chin elevated, lips smiling. "And because you could all those years ago at your wedding. I warned you about crossing that line. I warned you I might not have the strength or desire to stop but I have done exactly that for all these years. I'm doing my time in purgatory, and I won't do it alone anymore. I want you to join me. I want you to live with the fact that there's no putting the genie back in the bottle."

Placing one foot before the other, Laura cautiously moved from the wall. One hand smoothed her suit, while the fingers of the other one trailed across her lips recalling his caress. "I'm sorry," she whispered, her eyes searching, trying to find the words to change things between them.

Tom sat down in a deck chair, throwing one leg over the other, trying to reduce his discomfort. "It's too late to be sorry." And now for the test, the question he would ask, one to which he already held the answer. "So what is it you came here to say?"

Like a small girl, Laura sat in the chair across from him, hands neatly folded on her lap, like a student in the principal's office. "I want to run for Congress. I'd like your approval."

Tom's fingers were propped against his chin in quiet contemplation. "You know how I feel about politics."

She nodded. "People in politics are like fleas. They change allegiances like a flea changes dogs. I remember."

Abruptly she sighed. Looking around in desperation, she slipped down and fell on her knees by his chair. Her hands rested on his arm as she looked longingly up at his face. "I need this in my life, Tom. Don't you see? If I can't have you, I need something? I need a new challenge, the stimulation of an election and serving in office. I want to take that chance and I need your support."

He coolly contemplated her dark eyes, gauging their sincerity. From the moment they met, he knew she wanted to fill his shoes some day. So why should it surprise him now that her sights were set even higher? Had he been blinded by her sexuality? Hardly, the fact she oozed sexuality was only the icing on the cake for him.

If she ran for office, all ties with the firm would be severed. Her clients would be delegated to other attorneys and he would personally handle the needs of her more important ones. Having connections in the legislature could be useful someday, he mused.

And what if she failed? Tom felt Laura's eyes eagerly searching his face trying to detect some sign of his decision. They were both Darwinian, survival of the fittest, like two cats that land on their feet. They would expect success and deal with failure when the time came.

His eyes bore into hers. Failure would keep her at his side. Success would take her away. Which would make his life easier? Which one did he desire?

"I'll support your bid this one time," he announced and felt her lips kissing the top of his hand.

"Thank you. I promise I'll do my best."

"I'd expect nothing less," he replied, rising from his chair. As he smoothed out his robe and tightened the sash, his eyes caught movement inside the house.

Margaret Robertson floated through the house depositing her purse, briefcase, and coat before entering the kitchen and its expanse of windows that looked out on the enclosed pool and mountain vista. She was striking woman, tall and willowy with thick wavy silver hair, large expressive blue eyes, and an air of old money sophistication. Standing at the kitchen counter, she casually thumbed through the day's mail, not hearing her husband's stealth approach on bare feet.

"How did it go?" Tom asked.

Startled, Margaret gasped. Turning to face her husband, she heaved a deep sigh and planted a quick kiss on his lips.

"I'm exhausted. What a day," she began. "I've been selected to chair another charity ball. I need you to be available the first weekend in November." Inspecting the last item of mail in her hand, she added, "I promised the committee you'd grease that squeaky wheel Bronson in the city commission; he's been giving us a lot of grief."

She looked up and raised a manicured eyebrow. "You will do that, won't you?"

His arms circled her waist, pulling her toward him. In a suggestive tone he negotiated, "I'll grease that wheel as long as….. you're not too tired tonight."

Margaret's full lips pulled to the side in a smile as her hand slipped beneath his robe and trailed across his chest.

Laura Robertson eased into the kitchen, watching them at a distance. How she envied Margaret Robertson and wished that it was Margaret who had died of cancer instead of Glen's first wife. How different her life would be if she were Mrs. Tom Robertson. A smile flickered across her lips at his actions only minutes before. Only Tom could make her forget Perry Mason.

Over the years she had watched the senior Robertsons interact with each other publically and privately. Like long-time dance partners, they easily moved through life in perfect synchrony. Their every move seemed precisely choreographed.

What were Tom's true feelings toward his wife, the mother of his son? Laura could see that love was still there, but was it only a love of obligation and desired harmony? Had the spark, the romance, the passion dwindled from the lack of time together and divergent interests or had it ever really been there to begin with? Had he ever wanted his wife the way he wanted her or was their marriage based on a combination of ambition, money, and rebellion?

Laura's lips pulled into a wicked smile. It was something she should investigate, maybe use to her advantage. She'd heard rumors that Margaret had married him to spite her strict and straight-laced parents. Tom, a suitor from the wrong side of the tracts, was a charming good-looking smooth operator who oozed mystery, danger and ruthlessness. Her parents had no doubt been horrified at their daughter's choice and then reluctant to acknowledge his accomplishments as she continued to thumb her nose at them by flaunting all the perks of being Mrs. Tom Robertson as he climbed his way to the top, building his corporate law empire. Now, years later, they had a marriage that oozed both social and professional power.

They were a beautiful well-educated couple who knew the value of image. If there was ever a discouraging word, it was done privately out of view of the public and family. The lack of shared time and common interests were the only criticisms he had openly confessed about his marriage or his wife.

Laura coughed and stepped normally. Her entrance startled Margaret Robertson, and her hand quickly disappeared from beneath her husband's robe.

"Oh….," Margaret observed. "Laura…..I didn't know you were here. Tom you should have invited Laura into the house. Where are your manners?"

"Laura is hardly a guest my dear; she's part of the family. She comes and goes as she pleases. You know that," he argued. Stepping aside, he slipped wine glasses from the cabinet and retrieved a bottle of Cabernet from the refrigerator. Pouring wine in the glasses, he offered one to his wife and daughter-in-law.

"Didn't you see her car in the driveway?"

His wife took a sip of the wine and waved her hand about, her voice taking on a tone of annoyance. "Bernard was driving and I was looking over my notes from the committee meeting. I didn't notice what cars were there."

Her eyes finally settled on her son's wife. "So exactly why are you here, Laura?"

Robertson stood between the two women and could feel the ever-present tension and chill between them. "She has some good news for us."

Surprisingly Margaret's face brightened and she cheerfully blurted, "Don't tell me you're pregnant?"

Tom's eyebrows arched upward in surprise as he fought the urge to laugh.

"What!" Laura snapped in shock.

Tom quickly interceded. "Maternal instinct that's what. My wife has such strong maternal instincts she can't let go of the idea of being a grandmother someday. I'm sure you've noticed how she still enjoys 'mothering' your husband."

Margaret's hands slipped to her hips as she glared at her husband while simultaneously Laura crossed her arms and glared at her mother-in-law.

Enjoying the female drama, Robertson winked at his wife and added, "Margaret, I'm afraid, loves mothering us all, don't you dear? And I suppose we would both love a grandchild someday."

A faint smile pulled at her lips. "I'm afraid it's a weakness."

Laura watched and marveled at how easily Tom placated his wife.

Sipping the wine, Margaret carefully observed her daughter-in-law's body language. "Tell me dear, what is your good news?"

Laura smiled back weakly. "I'm running for Congress. I'm completing the required paperwork."

"Oh," the older woman replied coolly. "Well, congratulations. What does Glen think of your campaign?"

"My husband," Laura emphasized, "is quite happy and supportive of my campaign and will be at my side throughout the whole process."

Margaret smiled at the references to her son as Tom added, "Glen is a good man and a devoted husband. I'm sure Laura will listen to his words of wisdom; won't you, Laura?"

Her eyes meet his and she replied simply, "Yes."

Tom slipped his arm around Margaret's shoulders and gave her a swift kiss on the cheek. "See I told you it was good news."

Nervously, Laura finished the wine and set the glass on the counter. "It's been a long day and Glen will be worrying about me. I need to head home."

She led the way to the front entrance with Tom and Margaret walking behind. Pausing at the doorway, her mother-in-law's tone became formal and courteous. "Congratulations on your news, Laura. Thank you for stopping by to share it with us."

"Good night," Laura replied.

"Good night, Laura." Margaret stated, picking up her purse and briefcase before walking down the hallway.

"I'll walk you to your car." Tom invited, slipping on a pair of slippers stowed in the front hallway closet.

Laura watched as he pulled the robe a little tighter against the evening chill. "Won't you be chilled?"

"I've waded in cold mountain streams and slept under the stars. I can handle a little chill."

The evening air was crisp, their breath appearing like tiny clouds at a distance. The sky overhead was dotted with thousands of tiny stars, the outside light only illuminating small patches of the driveway. Her heels tapped across the pavement to her car. She slipped her keys from her jacket pocket and began to open the door when Tom abruptly shut it.

Laura looked up in surprise at his face bathed from the decorative streetlight near her car. The expression was frightening, his eyes dark and menacing.

"Tom?" She whispered, her voice unsure. Moving away from him, she bumped into the car door, trapped by his body now blocking her way.

Slowly his face lowered to hers, his voice barely above a whisper. "Did you really think you could get away with defying and deceiving me?"

Laura's eyes widened, her throat tightening barely able to form words. "No, that's why I came here tonight."

Suddenly his fist pounded the top of her car near her head. "Don't lie to me!" His face inches from hers. "I had to hear of your political ambitions from a third party today who enjoyed rubbing the fact in my face. 'You do know that, don't you?' He smugly had the nerve to ask. A political ambition that affects my firm and I don't know about it. And you were going to announce it in tomorrow's meeting!"

"Well, I…." she stammered.

"You have your nerve!" He slammed his fist again on the top of her car causing her to jump. "I trusted you. I take up for you and watch your back. How dare you try to deceive me!"

"I should…have…" her voice cracked and wavered.

Tom whispered in her ear. "I made you and I can take you apart! If you ever try something like this again, by the time I'm finished with you, you'll be lucky any firm will have you as their law clerk."

Her eyes widened in fright.

"You heard me," he bit out. "No one crosses me, Laura, not even you. Don't ever think of trying this again."

"Please, I…..I should have come to you sooner." Tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. "But we don't talk anymore, not like we used to."

Slowly Tom stood, looking down into eyes gleaming with tears, fingers frantically trying to wipe them away.

"I was angry. I just …want it to be like before. I need to talk to you. You're the only one who understands."

Slowly her fingers reached out and touched the soft fibers of the terry robe. "I'm sorry I hurt you. Truly I am."

Tenderly his fingers slipped around hers and brought them to his lips and kissed them.

"I promise I'll never defy or deceive you again. I hate the thought of you being disappointed or angry with me."

Gently he circled her shoulders and drew her to him. He knew this would not be the end; he would always be battling her consuming ambition.

Sniffing, her voice small and meek, she asked, "Can't I be your little firecracker again?"

Robertson's arms held her. His fingers lovingly caressed her back as his face stared off and gazed at some distant star. He heaved a weary sigh. "I'm afraid, my dear, that time has come and gone."