Chapter Twenty

Eames' POV

I had seen my fair share of horrors during my lifetime, if the truth were to be told, I'd seen more than my fair share, but nothing could come close to the gruesome sight that was making me sick to my stomach at that moment. She had been very pretty, beautiful even, but now she was just a shell of who she used to be. Her long, dark hair was fanned out beneath her head, her equally dark eyes were vacant, staring off into space and seeing nothing, and these things, combined with the fullness of her lips and her petite stature, brought another woman to mind, which, I knew, was what the bastard who'd butchered this poor woman had intended, just in case I was too dense to take note of the name that had been carved into the victim's belly.

Sophie Grace Evans

The evil son of a bitch had taken his time, each letter was neatly formed and had bled profusely, which meant that the woman had been alive when her murderer had etched my Sophie's name into her flesh, and I wondered what he'd done, what he'd threatened to do, to ensure that she would not move while he marked her. I did not know this dead woman, I had no tie to her whatsoever, that is, I hadn't, while she lived, but the one who'd taken her life had linked us with her death, and I felt tears gather in my eyes as I stared at her, and told her, in my mind, how very sorry I was that this had been done to her.

"My God…she could be her twin, couldn't she, Eames?" Arthur said, moving to stand beside me and lay his hand on my shoulder, actions which served to further enflame my temper, which he'd successfully stroked to life with his words. "She looks just like her….."

"Thank you, Arthur, for, once more, pointing out the obvious, just in case we missed seeing it for ourselves," I growled, jerking away from his touch, before it enraged me so much that I couldn't help but turn around to plant my fist into his face. "I would imagine that this poor woman was chosen because she bears a striking resemblance to Sophie, though I would be hesitant to say that she could be her twin, because there are noticeable differences between the two of them….."

It was not easy to silence myself, once I was on a roll, but I did so none the less, because I knew that I was saying too much, that I was revealing my feelings too freely, and that I had to stop now, while I still could, to some degree, retain the air of a man who had every right to be present at this crime scene. That being said, I was pretty sure that we had no business being present, given our lack of credentials as lawmen of any sort, but, surprisingly enough, Detective Raymond had acquiesced when Detective Hollis made the suggestion that we should be there, though I had a sinking suspicion that he had done so because he wanted the opportunity to watch my reaction to the monstrous spectacle that had been made of the poor young woman who was meant to represent my Sophie.

"This woman was lovely, but she was not as beautiful as Sophie is," I murmured, taking a deep breath, to steady myself as best as I could, before I hunkered down to place myself on a more even level with the victim, to see if there was any evidence that I might have overlooked, and, even more, to afford the woman the respect that I felt she deserved. "Her eyes are brown, but the shade is not as dark as Sophie's are, nor are her lips as full. She was chosen because of the resemblance between her and Sophie, that is undeniable, and it is obvious that he meant to unsettle those who know, and care about Miss Evans, with that likeness, and the cruelty of this woman's last moments, but don't make the mistake of thinking that Jude Bressler is responsible for this woman's death."

I'd aimed my words at Arthur, knowing full well that Detective Raymond, who was watching me like a hawk, would overhear them, just as I'd intended him to, and that his interest would be piqued, again, as I'd intended, and that he would not be able to resist the urge to question me, while he undoubtedly ridiculed me, for what I'd said, bringing to fruition the plan that I'd formed to allow me the opportunity to weigh his involvement where this murder was concerned. I only hoped that we might be able to keep our mutual hostilities to a minimum, because a second bout of fisticuffs with a police officer would likely find me incarcerated, and that was the last thing that I needed.

"And why would that be a mistake?" Raymond asked, pushing away from the wall, where he'd been lounging ever since we arrived. "It makes perfect sense to lay the blame for this mess at Bressler's door, given his actions in the past, or are you working under the impression that he's decided to give raping and murdering a pass, Pretty Boy?"

I'd expected him to resort to that hated moniker, I'd known that it was beyond his abilities to resist the urge to address me that way, and I'd done my best to prepare myself for what was inevitable, so why in hell was I allowing it to needle me the way that it was? Perhaps it was the lingering arousal that insisted on plaguing me, in spite of my surroundings. It might have been the fact that my nerves were frayed, due to the horrific sight of a murdered woman who bore more than a passing resemblance to the one woman who meant so much to me. Of course, there was always the possibility that I might simply be fed up with the slovenly detective's attitude, and his persistence in doing and saying anything and everything that he could to enrage me every time we were in each other's presence…or it might have been a combination of all of these things…but I was determined that I wouldn't allow my temper to rage out of control. I would keep a firm grip on my anger, no matter what…even if it practically killed me to do so.

"Jude Bressler would not kill any other woman, not while Sophie lives, because she was to be his first, she was the one that he'd been given, by McGill, to act as his initiation, of sorts, into the ranks of serial killers, and he would never be comfortable taking the life of another, not until he'd done what was expected of him, would he?"

Arthur and Dom agreed with me, the shared look that was on their faces told me that, and the way that they were nodding their heads conveyed their opinion to everyone else. Detective Hollis wasn't as easy to read, because I didn't know him the way that I knew my friends, but he wasn't showing any clear signs of disagreement, so I decided that he wasn't writing me off as an idiot, an ignorant civilian who was making an ass of himself by playacting as a knowledgeable detective…though it was obvious that Detective Raymond would not share the opinion that I assumed his partner had, if the look that was on his face was any indication.

"I think you're giving that big dummy too much credit," he said, moving to stand beside me, over me. "He's a sick fuck who got his jollies watching an equally sick fuck rape and carve up a hell of a lot of women. It's in his blood, Pretty Boy. It's the one thing that gets his fat ass outta bed every day. It's what he thinks about while he eats his Wheaties, while he burns cats alive or drowns puppies in bleach, or whatever he does in his free time. He goes to sleep and dreams about it, he wakes up to blood and screaming, and it's what he pictures when he jacks off, so there is no way that he would pass on the opportunity to carve up some bitch who looks like his prize, would he, Eames?"

Well, it was nice that he'd called me by my name, but the fact that he was doing so while he was needling me lessened the joy of that momentous occasion. "You're forgetting that Mr. Bressler all but worshipped Garret McGill, Detective, and as such, he would be loath to do anything that would sully the memories that he shares with his idol. Granted, it's easy to imagine that he would obsess on thoughts of rape and murder as he goes through each and every day, and it's more likely than not that he achieves sexual pleasure while envisioning the brutalization of women, but he would never, ever allow himself to give in to the urge to make those dreams a reality, not until he's done what he must to make himself worthy in the eyes of Garret McGill…."

"What a load of bullshit," Raymond interrupted, kicking his foot against the pavement, to send some of the rain that had fallen on the sidewalk, along with any filth that had been resting on said pavement, spattering onto my pants. "Let's get one thing straight, Pretty Boy, you ain't a cop, and you ain't a shrink, and you clearly don't know how to do anything but spout bullshit….."

"That's three things, Detective Raymond," I interrupted, slowly rising to my feet, feeling my jaw tighten, and my hands curling into fists at my sides. "Perhaps that is why you're having so much difficulty seeing this case from an intelligent point of view, because how could you possibly add up the clues, when it is obvious that you can't even count?"

He was going to hit me, I could see that intention in his bloodshot eyes, and I readied myself to receive the blow, while also vowing that I would not deliver one of my own, but thankfully, for both of us, Detective Hollis saw what his partner meant to do, and moved to place himself between us before Raymond began to pummel me. Dom and Arthur, bless them, were also moving toward us, to intervene, and, surprisingly enough, they looked like they might be willing to back me up, should I decide to fight, and it warmed my soul, to know that they, as the saying went, had my back, should I need their help.

"He's right, Morris," Detective Hollis said, in a voice that was equal parts authoritative and propitiative in tone, with a manner that said that he had done this countless times before. "Bressler wants the Evans woman, he wouldn't touch any others until he'd finished her off, so there's no way that he is to blame for this mess. I know that you've got a hard-on for Eames and beating his ass might make you feel better, but it isn't going to change the fact that he's right, is it?"

I wasn't fond of the fact that Detective Raymond insisted on calling me Pretty Boy, and I hadn't been looking forward to him, as Detective Hollis said, beating my ass, but both of those things combined were preferable to him having a hard-on, in any way, shape or form, for me…wouldn't you agree?

Sophie's POV

I'd emptied the tub, once the water had cleared of bubbles and had grown ice-cold. I blew out all of the candles, and put them away, once they'd cooled, and returned the magnum of champagne to the fridge, though there had been a part of me that had been tempted to open it and share the bottle with Ariadne. The thing that stopped me was the fact that she knew what was going on, she knew why Arthur had called Eames, and she wouldn't tell me. She kept saying that it wasn't her place to do so, and there was another part of me that had wanted to resent her for keeping the secret that she'd been sworn to, but in the end I hadn't been able to do so, and had made do with denying her champagne instead.

I had to be honest and admit that my night hadn't been horrible. It certainly wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be, but it turned out that a girl's night in, that is, a two girls and one furry little boy named Archie's night in, was a lot of fun. We'd popped popcorn and watched Pretty in Pink, with Archie cuddled between us, and then we'd moved on to The Breakfast Club, with Archie snoring between us, and had made it halfway through when Eames got back home. I'd waited for him to come inside and hug me, but he'd stayed outside with Ariadne instead, and had spoken to her by her car for fifteen minutes, then waited until she drove away, before he walked through the front door.

I wanted to be angry with him, or at least irritated, and there was a little twinge of jealousy that insisted on coursing through me, because he had hugged Ariadne, but I couldn't feel that way, because there was so much weariness in him as he leaned against the front door, palms resting against its surface, before he slowly locked it, then turned to face me. He looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, he looked like someone had put him through the wringer, and my first instinct was to rush over to him and take him into my arms, so that was exactly what I did…or, that is, it's what I meant to do, what I would have done, if he hadn't stopped me from doing so.

He reached out and took hold of me by my shoulders before I could embrace him, holding me at arm's length, an action which initially hurt my feelings, until I saw the way that he was looking at me. Eames was always so smooth, and flirtatious, so, needless to say, I'd never seen his eyes filled with vulnerability and uncertainty, but that was what was looking back at me at that moment, along with a healthy amount of fear and something that could only be described as a haunted expression, and his hands went to my face, to cup my cheeks in his palms, running his thumbs over my cheekbones, then he slowly moved toward me, to rest his forehead against mine.

"I'll tell you everything in the morning, sweet one, after we've slept….."

"But, I….."

"Please, Sophie, don't make me….," he began, his voice trailing away as he took a deep, shuddering breath. "I can't think about it anymore, love, not tonight. I need to forget it for a while, I need to hold you and remember everything that's good. I need to feel your hands on me, and your lips, I need to lose myself in your warmth and your softness…I need you to feel your arms around me…and your legs…and that perfect silken bliss that rests between your….."

I suppose that I ought to have been scandalized by his words, there were some who might even say that I ought to be offended, but I was aroused instead, bolstered by the zinging thrill that coursed through me and settled itself in my "perfect silken bliss". I raised onto my tiptoes and pressed my mouth against his, kissing him with everything that I had, while I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed my body as close to his as I could. That proved to be all that it took to sever his self-control, and I gasped as he parted my lips with his tongue, plunging inside and tasting me like a man who was starving, while he lifted me into his arms and practically sprinted down the hall to his bedroom.

Archie barked once as we passed the living room, but I was barely aware of him. I hadn't noticed the fact that my body had held on to the remnants of my earlier need, it was something that I'd pushed out of my mind, but there was no denying it any longer, now that Eames had reignited it so thoroughly. I wrapped my legs around him, rubbing my throbbing nipples against his chest, and my aching center against the part of him that tented the crotch of his trousers, and the resulting sensations had me whimpering with every step that he took.

"God, Sophie," he growled, uncharacteristically flustered as he opened the door with one hand, while the other kept a tight hold on my bottom. "You've got to stop that or I'm going to have no choice but to respond in a manner that will embarrass me, and disappoint both of us, my sweet one."

His words would have made me blush in the past, so imagine my surprise when I found that I wasn't the least bit uncomfortable as I pictured him coming in his pants, though I would have preferred that he hold off on that moment until we were joined, that is, until we'd been joined for five minutes or so, at the very least…dear God, when had I become such a wanton woman?

I don't know how he managed to strip me naked, he moved so quickly that I missed most of it…well, that and the fact that I was a little busy tearing his clothes off of his body, but I was magically, and gloriously, bare as he laid me back on the bed, and he was amazingly, and beautifully, in the same state as he moved to rest between my legs, which opened to allow him in like it was second nature for me to do so.

He kissed me, long, stirring touches of his lips, and his tongue, and, oh, sweet God, his teeth, until I was writhing beneath him and surging my hips off of the bed, and then he ran his mouth down my neck, tantalizing my sensitive flesh, until he reached the nipple on my left breast. He licked the hardened tip, swirling and suckling it, drawing it into his mouth, to bite it very gently, while his fingertips found, and teased, my other nipple. I was calling his name by that time, and lifting my body, to caress his erection with the warm slickness of my arousal, until he was the one who was moaning my name.

"I need you, Sophie," he said, caressing me, anointing himself with the proof of my desire for him, finding, and tormenting, that tiny bundle of nerves that responded very eagerly to his touch. "May I have you, love?"

I sensed the urgency in him, and there was a part of me that was surprised that he still had enough discipline to seek my permission before he took me, though I suppose that I shouldn't have been, given the nature of the man. Eames was a naughty boy in so many ways, but in his heart, and, even more importantly, in his soul, he was a gentleman, a man with principles, and as such, he would never take anything that hadn't been offered to him…and that was a fact that definitely appealed to the romantic in me, and made me sorry for all of those who didn't have a man like mine.

"Of course," I whispered, moving my thighs, to clasp his hips, and biting on my bottom lip, hard, as he swiftly, but gently, moved to fill me, fully expecting a twinge of pain, at the very least, and reveling in the fact that there was nothing but pleasure to be found. "Anytime that you want, anywhere that you want, I am, and always will be, yours, my love."

His eyes darkened as he took a deep breath, one that he released unsteadily as he smiled at me, and I wondered what I might have said to make him react that way, until it dawned on me that I'd called him my love. He frequently referred to me as his Sophie, and his sweet, but when he said love it was simply that, love, with no possessive placed before it, and I started to worry, just a little, that I might have revealed too much, that is, I did until he placed his hands on my face, holding me while he kissed me, very softly, almost reverently, while he moved in a steady, and slowly building rhythm, that made me arch my body against his, and tighten my hands on his shoulders, whimpering eagerly with each ebb and flow.

"I don't deserve you," he whispered, between kisses, growling and biting my bottom lip, not quite gentle, but not in a way that would hurt me either, when I gasped and grasped him tighter down below when he stroked me just right. "I know that I don't, but I'm too selfish to give you back, Sophie, I can't imagine a life without you…my love."

I was on the brink, so close that I could almost taste it, and I knew that the moment was near when I would momentarily lose my ability to speak, so I held his eyes with mine, refusing to close them, even when pleasure dictated that I do so, and wrapped my legs around his waist, and my arms around his back, holding him as closely as I could, to ensure that we were joined in each and every way.

"We deserve one another," I told him, biting back a whimper as things within me began to reach critical mass. "And you don't have to imagine a life without me, Eames, because that is something that will never happen….."

My words died away with a cry born of pure ecstasy as the first explosion took hold of me, and I lost consciousness of everything that wasn't wrapped up in him, and in me, and in the blissful magic that had taken hold of me. I surged beneath him, crying out again and again, as the tremors continued to seize me, wave after wave, strong enough to bring tears to my eyes, then softer and softer, until his own moment arrived, a sight, sound, and sensation that sent me sprawling over the edge all over again, and just when I thought it was as good as it could be, just when I was sure that I couldn't stand anymore, he whispered something in my ear, four little words, I love you, Sophie, that showed me that I'd been mistaken, and I couldn't remember another time when I'd been so happy to be proven wrong.

A/N: This chapter is for the one who faithfully reviews, frequently banters, occasionally threatens my life, and offers adorable puppy dog eyes in the hope of swaying me. Calgary Cowgirl…I hope that this chapter met with your approval, and, if not, please don't hurt me.