As sleep loses its grip on me I become aware of her body behind me, her arm loosely wrapped around my waist. I slowly roll over so that I am facing her. Feeling the movement she grumbles before tightening her grip, pulling my body against her. The sensation of the full body contact steals a moan from me. Even in her sleep she can turn me on.
Watching her sleep has become one of my favourite pastimes. She is so unguarded, open, a contrast to what she is normally. At work anyway. That is one of the things that fascinates me the most. At work she always has her guard up, so removed from everything, distant. That is just who she is, or so I thought.
If you are lucky enough for her to let you in, to let you through the walls she has built around herself you quickly learn who the real Sara is.
Her cool appearance is just a facade. The mask she wears to protect herself from the outside world, or rather, the people in it.
The habit she has of keeping everyone at arms length a skill learnt during her childhood. I guess if the people who are supposed to love you can hurt you so much, best to keep everyone away.
When I think about all that has happened to get us here I know that the one thing that was to blame for the friction between us was my inability to figure her out. People, well the guys at the lab anyway, will tell you that I am able to get through to just about everyone. Slip through their defences and get to the heart of what makes them tick, using it to my advantage when I need to.
Then along came Sara Sidle, one hell of a looker with legs that go on forever. One damn hard nut to crack. I tried everything to get under her skin. When I found that hostility did the job I would bait her until I got a reaction. Once that happened it would usually escalate until before I even realised what I was doing I was shooting my mouth off. Willows – 1. Sidle – 0.
And then what I call the Ecklie incident happened. When she had been suspended I had felt a weird sense of victory. A feeling that lasted through until Ecklie walked out of his own office, leaving Gil and I staring at each other.
The scowl I had been wearing since the argument with Sara vanished instantly when Gil leaned forward slightly and almost whispered. "I'm going to be there for Sara, just like I've always been there for you." With that he turned and walked away.
I instantly knew that with those few words Gil was telling me something important. Gil had always been there for me, during my problems with Eddie and then the initial struggles I had with being a single mum. In his own way and without betraying any kind of confidence he was telling me that there was much more to Sara than I had ever bothered to look for.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that Sara's issues with cases involving domestic violence stemmed from the fact that they hit a nerve with her. Experience told me that when something like that hits a nerve it is more than likely due to personal experiences of similar incidents.
Like a light bulb going off in my head all the dots connected and the image that was revealed wasn't a pretty one.
As I stood up my eyes landed on a filing cabinet in the corner of Ecklie's office. It was labelled Personnel Records and before I knew it I had opened the draw that I knew would contain Sara's file.
It didn't take me long at all to find what I was looking for. Skimming through the pages I found nothing but work related information until I flicked through to the back page. Attached was a piece of paper with detailed notes all written in the unmistakable hand writing of Ecklie.
The page contained personal information about Sara that could only have been obtained by someone doing a lot of research. The bastard had done by the looks of it a very thorough check on Sara's personal life.
I briefly pondered if he had done the same for all of us. The surety of the answer sent a shiver down my spine.
With the contents of the final page etched into my brain I quickly put the file back where I found it, gathered up my reports and high tailed it back to my office. I sat in my chair staring off into space for hours, the details of Sara's past making everything clearer.
Knowledge is a powerful thing. This new knowledge that I had about Sara made me realise one thing. I, Catherine Willows had been an A grade jerk. All those times I felt victorious after baiting the younger woman now felt hollow as guilt invaded me and made itself at home.
I didn't last two days before I found myself on Sara's doorstep, coffee and pastries in hand. The shock of seeing me at her door was obvious, which probably helped me gain entry into her apartment.
A truce was called that day, with both of us taking baby steps towards a less combative relationship. The thing that surprised the both of us the most was that we actually had a lot in common outside of work. Over the next few months we edged towards becoming close friends.
Then one night about six months ago it happened. Lindsay was away on a school camp and I had been miserable without my little girl around. Sara had turned up at my place and dragged me out to dinner. Having consumed a little too much alcohol during our meal we hit a couple of clubs.
As the evening progressed our bodies got closer and closer as we danced and before we knew it we were grinding against one another. Without even thinking about it I leant forward and kissed her.
That one kiss ended our club hopping as we caught a cab back to her place, giving the cab driver a nice private show of his own as we conducted some pretty heavy petting in the back seat. There was no awkwardness the next morning, it felt kind of right. We have been together ever since.
While everyone at work knows we are together, we are discreet when it comes to showing affection, we are professional at all times. Well maybe except when we are in my office with the door locked, or that one time in the locker room when the sight of her in just her bra and panties was just too much to ignore.
I am pulled from my pondering of the past by the sound of Sara slowly joining me in the land of reality. As she opens her eyes and sees me she breaks out that huge toothy grin that I love. Before I get a chance to do or say anything she captures my lips in a kiss that steals my breath away.
Who would have thought that waking up could be such fun?