“Hey, Jo! Josie Beloit!” A voice from my past, fitting all too well with the setting: the Springfield train station, visible through foggy windows and blowing snow. I’d gone to college not far from here, and so had that voice’s owner.
“If it isn’t Miss Theresa,” I grunted, and kept on tugging at the sheepskin jacket caught behind a suitcase on the overhead rack.
“I never forget an ass,” Terry said pointedly, casing mine as I reached upward.
“Sure as hell wouldn’t have known yours.” My jacket finally yielded. I tossed it over the voluptuous décolletage of my seated companion. A few minutes earlier Yasmin had been whining about being cold. Now, of course, for a new audience, she shrugged off the covering with an enthusiasm that threatened to shrug off her low-cut silk blouse as well. Not that it had been doing much to veil her pouting nipples.
Terry, brushing snow off her shoulders and shaking it from her hair, rightly accepted my remark as a compliment. Fourteen years ago she’d been on the lumpy side; now she was buff, and all style. Sandy hair lightened, cropped, waxed just right; multiple piercings on the left ear and eyebrow, giving her face a rakish slant; studded black leather cut to make the best of the work she’d done on her body. I’d have felt mundane, with my straight black hair twisted up into a utilitarian knot and my brown uniform, not ironed all that well since Katzi had taken off—if I ever gave a damn about appearances. Which might have had something to do with why Katzi took off. Which had a whole lot to do with why I hadn’t gotten laid in two months and wasn’t finding it easy to resist Yasmin’s efforts.
“You just get on?” Terry asked. “Didn’t see you in the station. No way I could have overlooked your little friend.” Her eyes raked Yasmin, who practically squirmed with delight.
“Been on since White River Junction,” I said shortly. It was more than clear that Terry expected an introduction. “Yasmin, Terry O’Brian. We were in college together. Terry, Princess Yasmin, fourth wife of the Sultan of Isbani.” It was some satisfaction to see Terry’s jaw drop for an instant before her suave butch facade resurfaced.
“Ooh, Terry!” Yasmin warbled, jiggling provocatively. “I didn’t know Sergeant Jo had such nice friends!”
“The princess somehow…missed…leaving New Hampshire with her husband’s entourage,” I said.
“They’d been visiting her stepson at Dartmouth. I’m escorting her to D.C. to meet them.” As far as I could tell, it had been a combination of Yasmin’s laziness and the head wife’s hatred that had culminated in her missing the limo caravan, and her absence going unnoticed until too late. I was developing a good deal of sympathy for the head wife.
“The weather’s too risky for flying or driving,” I added, “but the train should make it through. Not supposed to be much snow south of Connecticut.”
“Well, now,” Terry said, sliding into the seat facing Yasmin. “I’ll be happy to share security duty as far as New York.”
“Don’t get too happy.” I sat down beside my charge. There were suddenly more limbs between the seats than would comfortably fit; I tried to let my long legs stretch into the aisle, but that tilted my ass too close to Yasmin, who wriggled appreciatively against my holster. I straightened up. “This is official business. The last thing I need is an international incident.”
I wondered why the hell I hadn’t told Terry to fuck off in the first place. Did I hope she’d distract Yasmin enough to take off some of the pressure? The tension had been building all morning. Even the rhythm of the train had been driving me toward the edge, with its subtle, insistent vibration. Or maybe it was just that the little bitch was too damned good at the game and too clearly driven by spite. I don’t have to like a tease to call her on it; if I hadn’t been on the job I’d have given Yasmin more than she knew she was asking for, and if it left my conscience a bit scuffed, what the hell—other parts of me would have earned a fine, lingering glow.
But I was on duty, and she was doubly untouchable, and knew it. Seven more hours of this was going to be a particularly interesting version of Hell.
“Keep it professional, Jo,” Lieutenant Willey had said. “This one’s a real handful.”
“I noticed,” I’d told her. Several handfuls, in fact, in all the right places, with all the right moves. “Don’t worry. I know better than to fuck the sheep I’m herding.” She should have slapped me down for that, but instead she rolled her eyes toward the door, and I saw, too late, that the troublesome sheep had just come in. No chance she hadn’t heard me. Anger sparked with interest sharpened her kittenish face, segueing into challenge as she looked me up and down.
“You’re off to a great start,” the lieutenant said dryly. “Just bear in mind that the Sultan wants her back ‘untouched,’ and I’d just as soon not have to argue the semantics of that with the State Department.” Something in her usually impassive expression made me wonder whether our charge had come on to her. If so, I was sure sorry I’d missed it.
By the time the train crossed from Vermont into Massachusetts, I realized Yasmin would come on to any available pair of trousers, with no discrimination as to what filled them. Even the professionally affable conductor got flustered when she rubbed up against him in passing, and she had a threesome of college boys so interested that I’d made the mistake of putting a proprietary arm around her shoulders and shooting them my best dyke-cop look as I yanked her back to our seats. The look worked fine, but it encouraged Yasmin to renew her attack on me.
“Ow!” she yelped when I tightened my grip on a hand that kept going where it had no business. “Why you are so mean to Yasmin?” Her coquettish pout left me cold, but a definite heat was building where her hand had trailed over my ass and nudged between my thighs. She knew I wasn’t impervious.
“Let’s just stick to the business of getting you back to your husband,” I said neutrally, aware of the continuing interest of the college kids three seats back. The less drama here the better.
“Why do you worry? He can’t order them to cut off your balls, the way they did to Haroun just for looking.”
“Right, and you can’t yank me around by them, either,” I muttered. The glitter of pleasurable recollection in her eyes was nauseating. What little I’d read about female genital mutilation flashed through my mind, and for a few minutes I really was impervious to her charms.
Terry’s company, whatever the complications, might be better than being alone with Yasmin—unless my competitive instincts reared up and made it all exponentially worse.
Terry could have been reading my mind. “Gee, Jo,” she said, “remember the last time you introduced me to one of your little friends?” Her grin was demonic.
“How could I forget? You healed up pretty well, though.” I stared pointedly at the scar running under her pierced eyebrow.
“Nothing like a dueling scar to intrigue the ladies,” Terry said cheerfully. “You seem to have found a good dentist.”
“You bet.” I flashed what Katzi used to call my alpha bitch grin.
Yasmin was practically frothing with excitement, jiggling her assets and leaning toward Terry to offer an in-depth view of her cleavage and a whiff of her sensuous perfume. When she balanced herself with a far-from-accidental hand high on my thigh, I realized that all I’d done was set her up to play us off against each other.
“So, Terry,” I said, firmly removing the fingers trying to make their way toward my treacherously responsive crotch, “What are you up to these days? Still living in the area?”