Title: AWOL

Author: Elliott Silver (elliottsilver@hotmail.com)

Feedback: Yes, Please.

Summary: An assignation and an unexpected turn of events.

Warning: Rated PG-13 for some sexual content


She shifted lazily, the sinfully warm water of the tub sloshing and swirling around her submerged body.

This could be heaven, she thought.

Maybe she had been right to take a few days off. She’d face the usual fireworks when she returned. But that was nothing compared to this.

The summery breeze pilfered the sheer curtains, stirring the creamy mounds of bubbles around the water’s surface. Bath beads were certainly an invention of the gods. Sometimes it was just so nice to be – just to be – to be a woman, to be feminine, after forcing survival by playing a professional hard-ass.

She rested her head back against the spa pillow, her hair upswept out of her face, and sighed in content. So this was what peace and harmony were all about, was it? Well, she liked it.

The ice in the bucket rattled as it melted in the balmy temperatures. A half-filled glass of champagne – Cristal no less – stood at attention just within her reach.

This really could be heaven.

She stretched out full-length, wiggling her now slightly visible toes in simple delight.

This was perfect. No one knew where she was, or how to reach her. She was, in all effects –

The shrill ring of the cell phone cut her off abruptly. She opened her half-closed eyes in annoyance and debated the merits of not answering. Yet, something made her reach for the object.


"Enjoying yourself?"

"Jarod." She should have known. "How did you get this number?"

"Aww, you don’t think you could elude me simply by switching phones now, do you?" She could hear the mockery in his tone. "I’m quite familiar with RadioShack too."

"You can’t blame a girl for trying." Damnit, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

"Don’t you consider it rather dangerous to use an electrical object while submerged in water?" he asked, far too innocently. He had the kind of voice women dreamed about, she admitted. Deep, dreamy, and warm with mysteries yearning to be solved. A voice that rumbled and –

"Why, Jarod, what were you planning?" Two could play this game. She let her voice sink into that familiar seductive tone, drawing out each word with a breath.

For a split second, she could feel that she had disarmed him. That she had thrown him. Maybe she still had a little spunk left in her after all.

"I’m just concerned with your safety, Miss Parker."

"I wasn’t aware I had hired a bodyguard." Oh yes, the tables had definitely turned in her favor.

There was another lapse of silence from him, and a prick of guilt assuaged her.

"What do you want, Jarod?"


His voice was rough and sweet at the same time. And right behind her.

She twisted abruptly, rotating onto her stomach and sending half her bathwater and suds over the edge of the tub in a perfect miniature typhoon.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

She was in trouble now.

He just stood there, absolutely still, casually leaning against the molded framework of the door. The phone was still pressed to his ear, his other arm resting naturally on his black-clad hip.

He looked for all the world like a big guard dog. One you couldn’t decide whether he was going to bite you or just lick you to death, and – oh Jesus – suddenly that chain doesn’t look too strong…

The breeze had dropped twenty degrees, and the sky outside was now overcast, premeditating rain. And in the half-filled tub, the stratus layers of lather had evaporated into a thin, thin froth. Like that on the inside of a finished cappuccino cup.

Oh Jesus.

"What do you want?" she repeated.

He clicked the power button on the phone and flipped it closed, tossing it onto the fluffy robe she’d been eyeing. And then he turned to her.

Oh Jesus – if that chain broke…

She was in trouble. Big trouble.

"I told you what I want," he whispered, stalking towards her, his eyes gleaming dangerously. Outside, dark was falling quickly, as quickly as she was.

He braced his hands on the rolled edges of the tub, his long fingers curling on the wet metal. She thrust herself backward into the recesses of the meager quite immodest water as he squatted down beside her. Their faces were so close, so so close.

"I. Want. You."

He brushed a speck of foam from the crest of her cheek and let his fingers rest against her skin, slide along the outlines of her jaw.

She didn’t bother waiting that long. She simply wrapped one wet arm around his neck and propelled him right where she wanted him. Then she kissed him.

"You know what they say about being on your knees," Jarod quipped as he struggled for sanity while her lips inched across his just slightly stubbled cheek. She tasted so damn good. Cool and burning, tingling and smooth. Cristal on its own was one thing, but Cristal and her together? He wasn’t even going to pretend to be remotely sane.

She nipped at his ear, just enough to let him know the time for talking was over and it was damn well time for him to start getting serious. Foreplay was incredible, but he couldn’t agree more. It had been too long.

He reached through the hazy water and slid down the intoxicating length of her thigh. She shivered just ever enough under his touch. Smiling wickedly, he knotted his arms around her and extracted her from her wet haven. Only between the combination of a wet woman and a wet floor, he didn’t stand a chance at balance and the two fell in a tangle of arms and limbs. Parker, naturally, was on top.

"God, I want you," he whispered, before she silenced him.

The rain had just tapered into a steady drizzle when she woke. Jarod’s long decidedly male body was melded deliciously to her own. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she equated the soft music of rain and the natural warmth of his skin against her. Tubs were nice, but they just couldn’t compare to this. His fingers combed through her dark tresses, soothing the tangles they had made.

"How long have you been up?" she mumbled, sleep still blurring her voice.

He kissed the exposed outline of her shoulder. "Not long enough." The waking Parker was one of the seven wonders of the world.

"I’ve missed you," she informed him, as she twined her fingers with his and rumpled her body beneath the sheets.

"I thought I was going to go insane this time. I didn’t think you’d ever get away."

"It’s the Centre, Jarod. I can’t exactly run off whenever I feel the urge."

She felt him stiffen behind her and immediately regretted her choice of words. This was only the fourth time they’d met like this. It wasn’t as if they’d had everything worked out. Hell, Y2K still wasn’t worked out. What made her think this, between them, would be?

"Listen. I’ve been thinking –"

She cut him off. "I want to go with you."

There was a pure second of shocked silence and then a soft "What?"

She rolled over and faced him. And repeated what she’d just said, even though she’d surprised the hell out of herself by actually coming out and saying it. She hadn’t been sure she had it in herself. "I want to go with you."

"No, you don’t," he countered immediately, for lack of a better comeback. What she was suggesting - what she was planning - this was all too sudden for him to contemplate.

"Yes," she reaffirmed, far more forcefully than he was prepared for. "I do."

"I haven’t asked that question yet."

"Then maybe you should."

"Parker, listen to me." He tucked his thumb under her chin and shifted her gaze from the rain to him. "Listen to me. That life out there, that life I’m living, it’s – it’s dangerous."

"And you don’t think the Centre is?" She catapulted away from him and swung out of the bed. She yanked his French blue dress shirt off the floor and flung her arms through it. He had to give her that, she sure knew how to win arguments. Dressed like that, how could anyone resist her?

"Parker." He sat up on the bed. He had to try. If nothing else, he had to try. "Parker, come here."

She glared at him.


Unwillingly, and against all her better instincts, she did.

"That life is not easy. Of all people, you should know that." He found her hand amidst the ripples of the sheet and warmed it in his. "And I just don’t want that kind of life for you."

She lifted her head and stunned him yet again with those cornflower eyes. Between that shirt and her eyes … Yeah, it was safe to say she went straight to his head. Just like bubbles in champagne.

"I can’t protect you out there," he said. "Least of all, from the Centre. And you know they just won’t stop."

"I don’t need your protection, Jarod. I am quite capable of taking care of myself."

"I know. Of all people, I know." He squeezed her hand lightly. "But you deserve more. So much more."

"You’re right," she answered, taking her hand away and rising from the bed. "I deserve you."

"But is that really what you want?"

"Why is that so hard to believe?" she demanded, her voice and temper boiling. "I don’t care if you move fifty times a year. I don’t care that you have to run from sweepers. I don’t care that it isn’t easy. Life isn’t supposed to be, Jarod. I don’t know what an easy life is. Maybe there is no such thing. I don’t care where you go or what you do. I just want to be with you." She flung her hands out, gesticulating madly. "It’s getting worse and worse every time we meet like this. Leaving last time was – " she didn’t even bother going into specifics and Jarod knew she didn’t have to. Leaving was hell on earth. It was by far the hardest thing he had ever done, and it had taken every ounce of his being not to take her with him. He looked up at her again and realized she was still litigating. "… because when you love someone, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re with them."

"Say that again," he asked.

"What?" she asked him quizzically, her face still flushed with the first stains of anger, patriotic against the latent color of his shirt.

"That last part."

"That I want to be with you?"

"No, the part before that."

"I said, when you love someone –" The impact of her words hit her full force. Her ultramarine eyes flared. Truly, she gave new meaning to the term ‘eyes wide shut’. She was absolutely speechless. She was unparalleled splendor.

"Jarod – I didn’t – you don’t – "

"I love you too."

She stared at him the way he’d always wanted to see again. The beautiful incorruptible innocence he had seen in her when she was young. If he could give that back to her … And it certainly wasn’t that he didn’t want her with him. God, that had been his dream ever since … practically since he’d escaped in the first place. He’d just had to make sure. To know, perhaps, that she wanted him as much as he needed her.

"There’s only one thing I want to know," he said. "How long have you been building this case, counselor?"

She smiled lushly. "Does this mean –"

He nodded and she leaned over to kiss him, her mouth soft and young and playful on his.

Oh yes, now this was what heaven was all about. Heaven wasn’t something beyond the clouds. It was something for you to find right here.

Some things you just couldn’t pretend. Some things you just couldn’t live without.

"Hey – were you serious about that marriage thing?"



Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here.


Me and you and you and me

No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be.

The only one for me is you and you for me.

So happy together…




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Disclaimer: The characters of "The Pretender" are not mine; they rightfully belong to NBC, MTM, and Pretender Productions, as well as the actors and actresses who give paper and ink a life and a voice. I am making no profit from these writings; imitation is the highest form of flattery.