"Hey, pull over there," Carolyn McCall plucked her foster brother's sleeve and pointed to a "House for Sale" sign at the side of the road.
"Carol, we've seen half the empty houses in the city!" Peter complained, although he obediently parked by the side of the road.
"When my baby is born, I want to bring it home to our own house," Carolyn said stubbornly as she struggled out of her car seat and headed for the door.
"Better hurry," Peter muttered. "You're already in your seventh month."
A strong sense of deja vu washed over Peter as he took his first good look at the building. He was sure he'd been there before, but he couldn't quite get a grip on the memory. Carolyn was already inside, and he could hear her oh-ing and ah-ing as she explored.
The nagging feeling worsened as he stepped inside. The place had been stripped to the walls, making identification difficult, but even so, there was a subtle familiarity. Peter wandered through the echoing rooms, and finally stopped in one that he was sure had once been some sort of living room. Nothing was left but a few dust bunnies in the corners, but he could just barely remember... he had been here once and it had been crowded. Many men, friends of his from the precinct. A big bust? No... he remembered laughter and the taste of beer and pretzels. A poker game. That's right, one of the precinct poker games had been held here. Strenlich was supposed to be the host, but he'd had to cancel, and someone else had offered to take them in, "just this once."
Suddenly the memory snapped into sharp focus. "Are you sure you have enough room?" Strenlich had asked. "Don't go, he probably lives in a cave," Morgan joked. "Just me and the Morlocks," Kermit replied. "They're very good about washing my dishes."
"I know who lives here!" Peter yelped, whipping around.
"Yeah. Me," Carolyn replied as she came down the stairs. "I love this place. According to the flyers outside, it's just been on the market ten days. I'll talk to Todd and we'll put in a bid tonight."
"You can't do that!"
"Because Kermit lived here! And he's been missing for two weeks!"
Carolyn's mouth dropped. "Peter! Why didn't you tell me?!" Kermit and her father had been more than partners. Almost family.
"Because I didn't want to upset you... or Annie and Kelly." Peter nervously ran a hand through his hair and escorted his sister back to the car. "You know how he is. Dropping in and out. He left for a vacation and was scheduled back Monday. Never showed."
Carolyn's worry spread across her face as she touched her brother's hand. "Does Dad know?"
"I've got a call into him but no word yet." Trying to put her at ease, he offered, "But, Captain Simms called in a friend of hers to break into Kermit's computer. Might give us a lead."
Peter decided that now would be a good time to get Carolyn back home and let Annie know what was happening.
Two Weeks Earlier....
Kermit Griffin was actually feeling happy. Or, as happy as he ever was. The detective was about to venture into uncharted territory. The Land of the Vacation. No particular destination in mind. Just get in the car and drive. Get lost for a week like normal people do. No country to overthrow. No one to rescue. No bullets, grenades, or cops.
He had put his house up for sale a few days ago and a moving company would be picking up all of his personal belongings to move to his new condo while he was out of town. Changing addresses was an old habit to him. Never stay in one place to long. When he came back from vacation, he'd be starting all over again. New neighbors to confound with his strange hours and behavior. Unnerving the populous generally gave him quite a charge every time he relocated.
Tonight, he had another diversion planned. Checking his e-mail one more time to confirm the well thought out plan, a crooked grin spread across his face. Weeks spent flirting with the screen name "Daydream" had finally convinced him to take the plunge. Tiny sensuous questions. Witty replies. Bytes of innuendo had flown between them. Harmless fun to break up the monotony of the day. More fun to chat with her than dig through phone records and CIA files.
Daydream didn't present herself as some fantasy cyber-gal. Just an average woman with an entertaining turn of phrase. When he'd mentioned his vacation coming up, she suggested he begin it by meeting her IRL at a local restaurant. "I'll wear a corny yellow flower ......you, I'll be able to spot easily," she teased.
He closed up his office, put an "Enter and Die" sign on his computer screen, and left to meet Daydream. She'd selected a cozy restaurant downtown. Kermit was relieved to be in an out of the way eatery. Easier to avoid the scrutiny of his friends that way.
An hour passed as he sat in the booth, watching the door. It appeared that Daydream was a no show. He went ahead and ordered dinner. Oh, well. Must have chickened out. Probably for the best, he thought, more than a bit disappointed.
The waiter interrupted his thought processes. Sliding a beer onto the table, he explained, "Lady at the bar sent you this."
Perking up, he asked, "Which particular lady would that be?" Scanning the bar for a flower.
"Little woman with dark hair. She just left." He returned to his work and left the confused detective with his drink.
Kermit simply shook his head in confusion. "Scaring women away right and left. Gotta work on my style." He finished his beer and retreated to the parking lot.
By the time he reached the Corvair, the world was spinning. Grabbing the car for support, the detective mentally kicked his brains out. Whatever drug was coursing through his brain plowed it's way to his knees. He hit the pavement with a thud. Fumbling for the butt of his gun in anticipation of the attack that was surely pending, he found a soft hand on his. A gentle voice in his ear.
"Oh dear... let me help you."
Someone was pulling him into the backseat of his car. Unable to speak or resist, Kermit fell back onto the cool upholstery. As he faded out, he caught one phrase from behind the wheel of his car. "OH GOODIE! I can't believe I'm actually driving it!"
The dry mouth was nothing new. He'd been through this before. Forcing his mind to order itself, Kermit pondered which drug he'd been on this time. And which enemy poured it into his beer. You fuckin' idiot! he cursed himself. Snuggling up to the computer screen and delivering himself into the hands of the enemy. You're screwed, Griffin. He DESERVED this headache simply for acting like some green rookie geek. Nobody would miss him for at least a week. He was on his own this time. Like old times.
Reality drizzled into his muddled brain. Running through a systems check he found the body in working order. Restrained, but working. Much to his surprise, Kermit found himself chained to, of all things, A RECLINER. A very comfortable recliner. Handcuffs were around his wrists. Screws on either side of his shoulders secured a chain circling his chest. Wiggling his feet, which were elevated at the perfect height, he found them manacled with a chain between his ankles. He'd be able to walk... if he could get the rest of the restraints off of him.
The room appeared to be a basement converted to a den. Fluffy pillows on floral upholstery. Dollies. A small television. A laptop computer on the coffee table. This was a room decorated by a woman for a woman. All this frill gave him the willies.
A key clicked in the lock and the door eased open to reveal a small, dark haired woman carrying a tray. About thirty-five. Plain but not homely. "Oh! You're finally awake." She rushed over to her prisoner and tentatively stroked his forehead. "I was sooooooo worried. Afraid I'd given you too much." As she examined him, the woman asked, "You aren't too uncomfortable, are you? I researched this little 'rig' of mine so that it would hold you but not hurt you. I'd NEVER want to do that."
This was weird. No thugs. No guns. Dryly, he answered, "No, ma'am. Nice job. I'm as relaxed as can be for a guy who's CHAINED TO A LAZYBOY!" The woman flinched as he shouted and rattled his restraints.
Her lip began to tremble at his tone. "Please don't be mad. I'm sorry it has to be this way. From your letters, your so good at this escaping stuff... I just had to be sure you'd stay."
Alarms began blaring in his head. "Daydream, I presume?" He watched the starry-eyed female as she appraised his condition. Mercenaries he could deal with. Being the object of fatal attraction was a new one.
"Yes. It's me." She was practically glowing with joy. With a suddenly mischievous expression, she stated, "Now, Kermit. Don't bother to look for one of your little 'tools' to help you escape. I've already searched you thoroughly." The glint in her eye made him nauseous.
"Mind telling me who you're working for?"
"Working for? Me?" Annoying giggling ensued. "I'm not working for anyone! I just need your help with some..... research."
"What kind?" If he could keep her talking, maybe he could figure out if she was dangerous or just nuts.
"About you, silly." Sitting a tray, complete with placemat and appetizing dinner, onto his lap, she continued. "I already know a great deal about you but I just need more." She emphasized the last word by leaning down to croon into his ear.
"Why go to all this trouble? All you had to do was ask. Now let me go and we'll talk."
The woman suddenly looked torn. Confused. "But... NO! You'd just leave. This way, you won't have any distractions."
This was the most unbearable predicament he'd ever experienced. Half of him prayed NOT to be rescued. The other half cringed at the thought of exactly what manner of research she had in mind. Peter Caine would laugh himself into oblivion at the prospect of Kermit Griffin held captive by a love-sick woman. "Just how much DO you know, Daydream?"
"He he he!" She giggled hysterically. "I know you like gummi bears. Green ones." Sliding her hip close to his cuffed hands, she invited, "Shed those handcuffs and you can pull them out of my pocket, honey." Reading the lack of amusement on his features, she relented. "Just kidding, sour puss. Here." She pulled the packet from her hip pocket and dropped it onto the tray.
It was becoming all too clear that his warden was not involved in espionage. Charm might be his saving grace. "Well, Daydream. Take this off and you can find out anything else your little heart desires."
"No." She plopped down into an easy chair and began to cut up the meat on his plate. "Not yet. You've got to understand first. Then... maybe."
Time to take another track with this woman. "What's your name? Can't keep calling you Daydream."
Beaming at his personal interest, the woman answered, "Well what do you think my name is, Kermit?"
Careful, Kermit. Think. She obviously wants to be adored. "Hmmm... well, let's see. Something bright and cheerful, like you. Cute. Maybe, Mary. No! Mary Sue!"
Leaping from her chair, the woman began to rant and rave to the ceiling. "NOT THAT!!!! DON'T CALL ME THAT!!!! NOT EVER!!!!" She frantically paced around his chair. Muttering and swearing.
Kermit wasn't exactly certain why his choice had enraged her but he'd better recover quickly. Maybe something more exotic. "Wait! Hey... that's not it. Something more continental... Rachel... Olivia... No! I've got it... Juliet. That's it, right?"
Anger melted into rapture. "Ohhh... much better. You really think that suits me?"
The newly crowned Juliet wrapped her arms around his restraints and crooned, "I just knewwwwww you'd be this way in real life. I just knew it."
He made a supreme effort to relax. To lean his head onto her arms and feign affection. Evidently, somehow, he'd found a way to this confused woman's heart. Now, he had to find a way out.
Juliet straightened and left the room. Over her shoulder, she trailed, "Oh, Kermit. This is going to be simply magical. I just know it."
"Oh shit," he groaned as she practically floated from the room. Blood and death and evil, he could handle. Feminine obsession would require a few skills he'd not practiced in some time.
Juliet had evidently seasoned Kermit's dinner with more of her secret potion. He slept through the night and awoke to find her intently examining his condition.
"Morning, dear," she chimed, full of relief.
"Promise you won't drug me again," he demanded, shaking his head. "You don't seem to have the formula down pat." He had slept through the night and well into the next afternoon.
"Sorry. But you look sooooo rested. You work too hard." She brought him a plate and again rested it in his lap.
I have some personal business to take care of, if you get my drift." He rattled his chains and inclined his head toward the bathroom in the corner.
"Oh, of course." Juliet release the chain around his chest. His hands were still cuffed and legs manacled. Kermit noticed that she had backed away and kept a discreet distance from him now that he was loose. Then he noticed the tethering chain attached to his feet. "Bravo," he congratulated his captor.
"Thank you." She curtseyed and winked at his compliment. "You can reach the bathroom and even sit on the sofa if you'd like."
"Can't shower like this."
Shamelessly, she grinned. "Took care of that while you were asleep." To answer his shocked expression in response to the "sponge bath" revelation, she offered, "Don't worry... I closed my eyes."
"I'll bet." He strolled into the bathroom and exited after a few minutes. Nothing inside to help him leave this hellish female prison.
Juliet was sitting on the sofa typing away on a laptop computer. She smiled at him as if he were a husband coming home for dinner. "Have a seat."
Kermit sat down on the chair across from her. She was out of reach. The chain had been measured to perfection. Juliet didn't need a weapon to hold him. Had to admire the woman's planning. As long as she stayed in the well defined areas of the room, he had no way to lay a hand on her. Not that he really wanted to do any harm to this poor disturbed creature. Simply wanted to GO! Go and send back someone to help her. It was obvious she needed it. If he didn't get away from her puppy dog stares and fawning, Kermit might need some psychiatric help himself.
"What are you working on?" Keeping her talking might give him an opening to her motivations.
"A story. I write lots of stories." She glanced up briefly and back down to the screen.
He didn't have a reply for that one. This was bigger than he thought. He stared at her intently. Juliet was familiar somehow but the memory was out of reach. Plowing forward, he asked, "Me? Why would anyone write a story about me? A boring middle aged computer geek."
Gasping, she focused her full attention on the ex-mercenary. "Oh, Kermit. You're the most interesting, brave, gallant man I've ever met! A hero, through and through. I know all about you."
"Like?" Her affection for him was at once touching and pathetic. The only information that had traveled between them on the computer screen was superficial male/female sparing.
"Welllllll, I know you were in Viet Nam. You were a mercenary. You've been to fantastically romantic places. Probably saved hundreds, no, thousands of lives. You're every woman's dream, Kermit. I bet I'm not the only woman who writes about you."
That comment was nearly enough to send him into hysterical laughter. At least on the inside.
There were the beginnings of tears in her eyes. Uncomfortable beyond measure and sad at the same time, he commented, "Juliet, you don't even know me. You have to let me out of here."
"Look, you haven't hurt me or anything, yet. We can forget the whole thing." Actually, Kermit desperately wanted to cover up the entire incident. Get this chick to a ward somewhere and NEVER have the precinct find out about this forced stroll down lover's lane. "We'll get someone to help you. Okay?"
She leaped from her chair. "I'm not crazy! You think I'm crazy, don't you?!" Stalking over to the door, laptop under her arm, she concluded, "All I want is some research. Just for you to talk to me so that I can write some more. Is that too much to ask?!!!!" SLAM!!! She was gone.
The only contact Juliet had with Kermit over the next few days was to bring him meals, then leave. She wouldn't answer his questions or make eye contact. Finally, after days of silence, she answered one of his questions.
After he finished eating, Kermit asked, "Juliet... have we ever met? In real life, I mean."
She smiled slightly. "Yes, but you don't remember."
"Refresh my memory."
"It doesn't matter. Finished?"
He nodded and she removed his plate. "You said you wanted to do 'research.' What kind of research?" She was finally talking. Maybe he could work his way back into her mind. Damn. Wish I'd paid more attention during those psych seminars.
Juliet sat down on the sofa and began to loosen up. Smiling more openly. "Well, I need some more material for your stories. If you'd tell me more about some of the things you've done. Places you've been. How you felt about things. I'll be able to write more interesting stories." Batting her eyes like some lovesick teenager, she praised her victim, "You're sooooooo wonderful...."
"And if I do that... what then?" Time to deal. Find out her true intentions.
"Just stay for a few days... then I'll let you go." She looked at him, full of longing.
"Okay. Far be it from me to impede literary genius. What do you want to know?"
"REALLY!!!??? You'll do it?" She was breathless with the prospect of his cooperation.
"Sure. Why not. I don't seem to be going anywhere. Fire away."
For hours, Juliet questioned. Kermit talked as she typed notes into her computer. Day after day the revelations continued. The ex-mercenary filled her mind with stories of faraway places and people. Some genuine. Some pure fantasy. Fantasies created filled up gaps of his privacy.
Juiliet hung on his every word. Mesmerized and fawning praise for every real or imagined heroic deed. Fantasies being fed to overflowing.
After days of this information blitz, she gleefully informed her subject that she was ready to begin the creative process. She would spin a gothic tale of his adventures in Afghanistan. Resplendent with desert caravans, battles, and "other things" that she refused to name as she blushed joyfully.
Behind his dark glasses, Kermit Griffin's eyes did a 180 degree roll inside his head. He'd gone over that room, or every inch within reach, and found no way out. Juliet must have had a carpenter drill that bolt and chain into the floor. He couldn't believe it. This man who'd found his way out of every trap and prison over his illustrious career. This man whose talents were sought out by governments and professionals had been corralled by one mousy, hundred pound woman. In her basement den. If he lived through her insanity, he'd no doubt die of embarrassment.
By now, the precinct was looking for him. He was due back three days ago. What was in question was the lack of any trail to him.
"Oh!" Juliet shouted. "I almost forgot!" She left the room and quickly returned with a change of clothes for him. She's already done this days before. Being quite clever, she agreed to let him change if he'd let her chain him back into the chair before releasing the cuffs on his ankles. Giggling all the while, she'd politely turned her back as he put his pants back on.
As he changed, Kermit decided to get personal. "Did you buy these for me?"
"No," she answered. "They were my husband's. He left some things here."
Now, he was finally getting somewhere. Leaning back and fully dressed, he said, "All done. Where is he now?"
"Jack left a couple of years ago. He decided to marry his twenty-year-old secretary instead." Her voice broke with the confession. "But it's okay, I got the house and I have a job that leaves me enough time to write and play on the computer, so I'm fine."
"I can see that." The picture was taking shape. "Date much?"
"No. I work in the basement, filing mostly, so I don't meet many people at work." She looked away. Uncomfortable at revealing her lack of a personal life. "Besides, I'm not exactly exciting date material. Who'd want to go out with me?"
"I did. Maybe we could go somewhere tonight? What d'ya say?" He knew it was a mistake once the words were hanging in the air.
Juliet got quickly up from her chair. "Don't worry. I'll be finished soon and you'll be free to leave. My vacation's almost up, anyway." She left, closing the door behind her.
Filing... filing... Now I remember! Kermit Griffin placed the identity of his ardent admirer. She was a file clerk in the personnel records department. What's her name? Cindy... Cindy... Yeager! He'd met her months ago when he had to get a copy of an old insurance claim form he'd filed the previous year. She must have been able to get a peek at the one remaining copy of his personnel file. No wonder she knew so much about me. They had exchanged just a few words. He couldn't remember what he'd said to her or how he could have made such an indelible impression.
Kermit made a mental note to recon the filing department upon his return and refile that copy to the shredder.
Peter returned to the precinct after dropping Carolyn off at his mother's. He had to promise them all to keep the whole family up to date of the investigation into Kermit's disappearance.
A crowd had gathered in Detective Griffin's office. Peter contemplated the fury that would ensue once the ex-mercenary found out the way they'd all plundered through his personals. Karen Simms had been bold enough to contact a computer expert friend of hers at the Bureau to bust into Kermit's e-mail records. The detective had added so many loops and locks to his system after the last time Peter broke into his e-mail, that it took the man five hours, three packages of software, and a book full of swear words to get in to the archived messages.
What printed out was more than a tad embarrassing. For the readers and for the missing detective. Piles of messages. Full of flirting and "Griffin-esc" sly remarks between the ex-mercenary and a recipient calling herself "Daydream."
Mary Margaret had doubled over in laughter after reading just one day's worth of messages. "Oh... my mercenary boyfriend is SOOOOOOOOO dreamy!"
"Put a lid on it, Skalany!" shouted the Captain. "Peter... look at this one." Peter read a message dated the day before Kermit's vacation began. The two had planned to meet at a restaurant downtown. "And what the hell are these?!!" Running across the screen were several explicit romantic fantasies. All centering around the absent detective. The beginnings of romance novels, from the looks of them. The stories were sent on the day after Kermit disappeared for his vacation. They were preceded with the message, "Now you'll see how you've inspired me." There was a definitely unhealthy feel to this situation.
"She's concealed her name on the system. Can we find her?" Peter addressed his question to the FBI expert, still plugging away on the keyboard.
"Here we go. The city's internet server has her listed as 'Cindy Yeager.' Employed in the Personnel Records Department." Mission accomplished, the man sat back and stretched his weary fingers.
"That's here in the basement." Karen Simms was already on the phone, talking to the supervisor. After she hung up, the Captain shared her information. "Cindy's been on vacation... for two weeks." She jotted down the address the supervisor had given her and shoved it into Peter's hand.
"On my way!" Peter motioned for Skelany to follow him and they went in search of the object of Daydream's desire.
"I'M DONE!!!!" The alias Juliet bounced up from her chair in jubilation. She'd been banging away at that laptop for two days. No sleep. Barely eating. She would happily provide her prisoner with his meals then plow back into her work.
Kermit had tried to talk to her but she was far too obsessed with this creation of hers. Obsession was a dangerous thing. So was sleep deprivation. He had to take care that her enthusiasm and happiness remained intact. "Great!" he announced. "Can I see?"
Suddenly embarrassed, she hesitated. "I... well...I don't know."
"Please? I'm sure it's terrific. I'd really like to read your interpretation of a dull computer geek like me."
Cautiously, she slid the laptop across the table and into his reach. Chewing on a nail, Juliet leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes as he read.
What greeted the ex-mercenary's view required every dramatic skill he possessed. Control, Griffin. Control. He read this desperately romantic version of himself and felt that he would surely die laughing were it not for his years of training and the pitiful sadness that drove this woman to kidnap and idolize a complete stranger. The passages loomed before him.....
"Yes, my only love?"
"Would you like to tear my clothes off and make mad passionate love to me?"
"Yes, yes, yes! But first," breathlessly, she moaned, "Oh, my Sultan of the Desert Eagle..."
"Yes...." he answered, gently nibbling his way down her neck.
"Pleeeeeeese remove my offending clothing... release me to be your servant."
Deftly, he obliged the lusty desert maiden. "Let me make you the center of my universe." Slowly, he teased the delirious woman. Driving his...
Kermit paused and smiled encouragingly at Juliet as she sat, devouring her nails. Poor kid. Not only a disturbed writer. A very BAD one to boot. Taking a breath, he returned to the tale......
Screaming in ecstasy, she was transported to the oasis found only in the pleasures of the flesh. Finally finding the satisfaction she'd longed for night after lonely night alone in the caravan. A young, nubile woman with surprisingly little clothing, surrounded by elderly, tired men. Completely filled with the glow of his powerful lovemaking, Khazira gasped. "Now, my lord, may I serve you?"
In a sexy, rasping tone, he replied, "Oh yeah...."
"Yes, my lord?" Khazira sleepily replied, replete with the fruits of her passion, her pink flushed body draped over the bronzed flesh of her lover. His strong but tender hands moved sensuously over her zaftig curves, eliciting moans and gasps from her sweet lips.
"Thrill me, my love!" her mysterious green-glassed lover demanded mercilessly.
"Yes, my lord, yes! Tell me how!" she begged.
"Could you....would you..."
"Yes, anything!" she replied deliriously.
"......make me some dinner? I'm starved!"
The desirable American rogue waited for his willing servant's return. After a long and tense period of time, the taunting desert flower beckoned him to part the curtains and enjoy a tempting refreshment.
His eyes drank in the sight of his awaiting feast of fantasy. The naked maiden reclined before him, drenched in honey. Grapes scattered across the inviting ocean of her body. Wantonly, she stretched before him, offering her flesh as his nourishment.
"Well...... some dinner party you throw, sweet cakes." He leered hotly at her undulating navel.
"Oh, my lord. Satisfy ALL your hungers from my newly awakened talents. Make me feel your need. Use me for your pleasure." She licked her ruby red lips and spread her wares before his impressive manhood.
Once again, he thrust himself into her welcoming softness as he leaned forward to retrieve a "snack" from her glistening mounds of womanhood.
Impressive manhood, huh? Great choice of words there, Juliet. He discreetly paged down to the conclusion of the epic........
After dispatching the evil, frigid Sultan with a swift slice of his blade, the merciless mercenary mounted a fine Arabian steed. The rippling muscles of his arms glistened as he pulled his lover into the saddle behind him.
The tender maiden pressed her quivering bosom into the hardness of his back as they galloped into the desert. Behind them, the caravan burst into flames as Griffin casually tossed grenades in their wake.
Reaching the safety of the dunes, he dismounted and caught the supple body of the young woman as she swooned into his eager embrace. Resting her enticing womanhood onto the warm sands, he quickly removed her brief but confining chiffon blouse to ease her gasping and panting breaths.
Fluttering her eyelids open, she was greeted with the hot perfume of his breath on her lips, her neck, her......
Kermit read a vivid explanation of his trip down Khazira's body. Juliet evidently had time to fantasize as well as file.....
"Oh, my lord. You have rescued me from a life of pain and deprivation. I would have been doomed to spend my days with old men who have no passion. My tingling sex and transparent clothing would have been useless. And still... still... "
Tasting the honey of her flesh, he prodded her to continue, "Yes, my love?" With a firm but sensuous touch, he kneaded the mounds of her breasts as she tensed in the moonlight.
"Still, after you have battled and borne blood and injury for me, you take time to give me pleasure.... ummmmmm..."
"Nothing, sweet cakes... but nothing... makes me hotter than blowing the crap out of something." The desert flower screamed and writhed with insane pleasure as his vibrating shaft of love filled her velvet womanhood.
The powerful lust surged through his loins as he delivered a new lesson of the flesh to his willing pupil. The first of many.
Finishing the litany of Juliet's fantasy, Kermit offered a smile to his captor. She had left no gothic convention untouched. Right down to the heaving bosom and throbbing manhood remarks. It reeked of so much sap that his feet were sticky.
"Well!?" Juliet asked, impatiently. "Did you like it?" She sat on the edge of her seat. Bursting for his opinion. Quite literally dying for his approval. She reached for the remote control to switch off the television set in the corner. Then held on to it in her lap. She wanted to hang on his every word.
"I... well, I... don't have words to describe it." He did have words, but he'd better keep them to himself. He should feel anger and fury at being held against his will for nearly two weeks in some pathetic woman's basement. What he actually felt was pity.
Her eyes brimmed with tears. "You HATE IT!!! I know you do." She buried her face in the cushions of the sofa and sobbed.
"NO! I don't hate it, honey. You just made me a bit... well... larger than life. I'm not really all that spectacular."
"Yes you are, Kermit!!! You've been so sweet. Even though I dragged you here. You'd never hurt a woman... or leave her... just for some trophy girl." She focused all her unbalance and pain on him as he sat there, watching her disintegrate before him.
Kermit watched her dismemberment. Some asshole had done this to her. Probably a sweet, wonderful woman once, annihilated by a midlife crisis and a set of silicon tits. Instead of wanting to punish her, he wanted to hold her. Help her get back some of the reality that jerk had taken from her.
And... delete her tales of his sexual prowess in the desert before Mary Margaret Skalany had a peek.
Out of the corner of his eye, Kermit's attention was attracted to the basement window. In one fleeting second, he caught Peter Caine's face. Peering in on the scene of him chained to the floor. Before Kermit could signal him, Caine was gone.
Kermit knew what was coming. Caine would come blasting through that door. Thinking some organized crime figure or mercenary sect held him captive. Juliet was harmless. Kermit hadn't even seen her with a weapon. The planner in her had worked things out so that she didn't have to threaten him. Probably would have let him go tomorrow anyway. He wouldn't see her get hurt. Any more hurt than she was already.
"Juliet... Cindy... would you please come over here next to me? I promise... I just want to talk to you for a while, okay?" He needed to get her as close to him as possible. If Peter came through that door in his usual manner, he'd never fire if she was near Kermit's body.
"No. You're just being nice. Why would someone like you want to be with me?!!! It's women like the ones in my stories that men want. Not me!" She looked at him with a face streaked by tears. "That's why I write these stories. So that I can... I can be..."
"That's not true. I prefer a real woman any day of the week. Come on, Cindy. Sit down by me." Kermit could hear the footsteps coming down the basement stairs. She didn't. So wrapped up in her own breakdown.
Peter had seen the situation through the basement door. Kermit in handcuffs. Chained to the floor. He could only see the woman from behind. She was holding something black in her hand. Probably a gun. Now that he had a bearing on the room and the situation, Peter and Skelany eased their way into the house and down the basement stairs.
In front of the basement door, Peter could hear a raised voice. It sounded like a man's voice. Kermit. Maybe challenging his captor. He nodded to Mary Margaret to drop low and he'd go high. On the count of three, they burst through the door.
Kermit was already on his feet at the sound of the first foot on the door. Following the natural instinct, Cindy stood up at the abrupt sound of the cracking door. She was too stunned and surprised to react. Frozen. Still clutching the remote.
"NO!! PETER!!! DON'T SHOOT!!!!" Kermit was yelling as he tried in vain to reach the disturbed woman.
Peter Caine fell into the room. Expecting to meet gunfire. "FREEZE!!! POLICE!!!!" Kermit was screaming back at his command and standing directly in his line of fire. The woman had the implement he'd seen through the window still clutched in her hand. She didn't move. Frozen in shock at his entrance. In a miraculous instant, Peter realized she was holding a remote control.
Cindy had moved closer to Kermit than she had intended. His still cuffed arms shot out to grab her. Pulling her close to him. Protecting her from any stray fire that might erupt.
For a few tense seconds, everyone froze in their positions. The only sound that remained was Cindy's uncontrollable sobbing. "Peter... it's okay... I'm okay." Kermit informed his friend as he held the trembling woman in his lap.
Mary Margaret paused briefly. "Kermit... she's the perp, right?"
Cindy had broken into pieces in his lap. "Yes. I think she needs some help."
No one broke the silence. Cindy lay with her head in Kermit's lap until the ambulance from the psych hospital arrived. The orderlies walked casually into the basement to collect their patient. Reassured by her victim, Cindy went with them willingly. All resistance had drained from her in the climax of her actions with Kermit.
As the orderlies gently lead her toward the basement stairs, Cindy cast a tortured glance back to the object of her obsession. Meekly, she asked, "Kermit... would you call me... you know... that thing you say... just once? Please?"
Grinning sadly, the detective offered her the only gift he had to give at the moment. "Sweet Cakes. Take care of yourself. Let them help you feel better. I'll see you soon."
Cindy smiled briefly back at her victim and disappeared up the basement stairs.
As Cindy was escorted into the ambulance, Peter released Kermit from his restraints. "Mind telling me what was going on here? What did she want with you?"
"Literary research, my illiterate friend," Kermit answered as he rubbed his wrists and funneled his sympathy behind another lost soul of the universe.
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