Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

The New Partner

"What a wonderful feeling to wake up to," Erin thought as she opened her eyes. She shifted her body slightly away from the warm bulk of his body, slowly and carefully testing her back and leg muscles. Oh, yes, and just a little sore in those most intimate places. It had been so long since she had experienced such loving and exciting physical contact. And to think, it almost didnít happen. They both had come so close to not surviving that previous dayÖ

Day One

Ö"Do you really think I need you to keep watch over me," Robert McCall demanded. "Roczak and I have an agreement. Although I donít trust him, I know heís got enough invested in this deal to be sure I will be able deliver the information he needs. Itís not like Iím inexperienced in this type of endeavor, you know," he said sarcastically. "And why did you just show up here on your own?"

"Iím sorry, Robert," Erin replied, scanning the area carefully for any sign of movement. "This Roczak guy set off all sorts of alarms in my head when I saw him, like heís laying in wait for you to take a wrong step. Itís something in his eyes when he looks at you. I know heíd just as soon shoot you as look at you."

"Iíll be fine. If you want to help, stay here and keep your eyes open." McCall moved quickly away into the street from the alley in which they had parked. His dark clothing blended perfectly into the evening shadows. Erin shook her head slowly and wandered back to where McCall had parked his car. She knew he would pause at the corner of the building to survey the open lot before crossing toward the abandoned warehouse, as Roczak had instructed him. But why would Roczak have McCall make himself so vulnerable by walking out in the open? Couldnít Robert see it was a trap?

"I wonder what Robert would do if I just followed my own instincts," Erin mused as she leaned against the black Jag. "I canít just sit here and do nothing." Erin started moving to the right into the shadows that surrounded the open lot, walking as stealthily and silently as possible. She had her Walther in her right hand and its silencer in the left. As she crept along the building fronts, Erin thought back to how this had all started.

Control had assigned Erin to give McCall some assistance with a client that spoke only the Soochow dialect of Chinese. Having been brought up in Southeast Asia, Erin had extensive knowledge of Asian languages and had been assigned undercover in Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam for many years. Control hadnít really wanted to risk such a valuable and multi-talented agent on one of McCallís Equalizer escapades, but Control owed McCall for that mission in Pakistan. Control had shanghaied McCall into taking the mission last year, looking for a known terrorist. The terrorist had been found and duly eliminated, but McCall made sure Control knew he owed him. The grazing gunshot wound and concussion McCall had received were only the beginning. Control hadnít really wanted McCall to get too close to Erin, either, being the daughter of the retired Southern Control. Control was the only one who knew Richard Dyson was Erinís father. Her mother was Phan Li, another Company operative that Dyson employed on missions in Laos. Control was also the only one who knew Dyson had fallen in love with the beautiful agent. Erin grew up in various tiny villages, staying with Phan Liís relatives and friends. It was by following her mother on assignments through Southeast Asia that she picked up the smattering of Asian languages that were later perfected by Company training. Erin had undertaken her first Company mission at the age of ten, delivering a message to a local contact. Dyson used her for messages often after that, realizing that the child was mature beyond her physical age. Later she went to the Soviet Union, learning the language and the dark streets of Moscow quite well.

Erin shook her head again, clearing away the memories to concentrate on the present. She had made her way to the back entrance of the warehouse. Carefully tip-toeing up the creaky wooden stairs, she pushed the heavy metal door aside and carefully crept inside, looking in all directions for some indication of movement.

When Control informed Erin she was going to do some work for McCall, Erin was skeptical as to the credibility of this strange man who seemed to get himself involved in all sorts of other peopleís troubles. "But on the other hand," she thought as she chose a few Danish pastries to take along, "this could be a lot of fun." Control had said McCall had a weakness for cheese Danish. Ten minutes later Erin had trudged up the staircase to McCallís second floor apartment and pushed the doorbell. The door opened momentarily and a silver haired head poked through the narrow opening.

"Yes," the smooth cultured voice said, "What can I do for you?"

"I think itís what I can do for you," Erin said with a smile and extended the box of Danish. "Control sent me. My name is Erin Cain. Iím your interpreter. Uh, I think the cheese Danish are supposed to mean something."

"Oh, please do come in," McCall said with a smile. "I just happened to have made fresh tea." Erin stepped into the comfortable looking apartment and tentatively looked around.

"The kitchen is this way," McCall said as he turned away and headed across the living room. "Why donít we enjoy this offering of Controlís and Iíll tell you how you may be of assistance to me." Erin followed the older man into the kitchen and took a seat, looking McCall over while he reached for cups and saucers to pour the tea. "You donít mind green tea, do you?" he queried, as he was about to fill one of the cups.

"Green tea is fine," Erin replied with a smile. "Whatís so special about cheese Danish?"

"It means a debt is being paid," McCall said with a far away look in his eyes. "Iíll tell you someday. But right now, I have a Chinese grocery store owner who is being threatened and harassed by the local Tong. Heís become Americanized to the point that he doesnít want to pay protection to the Tong. They are certain he will, under enough duress."

"If youíre successful, it could change history," Erin replied. "The Tongs have been an integral part of Chinese life for centuries."

"Well, Iím not out to change history; only to be sure this manís children arenít murdered in retribution for his acts of defiance."

As it turned out, McCall and the storeowner didnít change history, but found a storefront in another part of the city for the grocer to use. The Tong wasnít about to take "No" for an answer. But in the middle of everything, this Roczak character showed up, ostensibly wanting McCallís help. There were Russian citizens trying to get to America, he said, but they were being swindled out of their passage money and kept in labor camps in Siberia. Supposedly McCall had some contacts in the former Soviet Union that could be persuaded to look into the situation. As far as Erin knew, this very well could be the case, but there was something about Roczak that made every hair on the back of Erinís neck stand up. The man was danger and deceit himself. What surprised Erin was that McCall didnít seem to see it. Could it be that this tendency to crusade she had heard about was keeping him from seeing the duplicity of Roczak? Roczak insisted that he was being hunted and would not meet in public places. Meeting in an abandoned warehouse on the docks was the only way Roczak would speak to McCall person to person again.

Erin stopped and listened carefully for the sound of voices. Nothing. This floor appeared to be one large storage room. It was stacked in various places with packing crates and boxes. The occasional rat scurried through the mess. An iron stairway snaked along the far wall to the second floor. Erin advanced quickly to the stairway and carefully made her way to the second floor. As she had hoped, there were offices along one side. A light showed in one of them. Erin started to move toward the offices when she was hit from behind. Bright stars exploded in her head and she fell face first onto the floor.

 

Robert McCall was berating himself for the tenth time for letting himself be tricked so easily. This Roczak character he was supposed to meet turned out to be Alexei Romanov, a GRU agent Robert had foiled several times in his previous years with the Company. Romanov had vowed to kill McCall years before, one way or another, no matter how long it took. Maybe he would this time, McCall thought sourly. At the moment, the office was empty. Roczak and his accomplice had tied McCall securely to an office chair and placed duct tape across his mouth. The ropes were so tight McCall could feel his fingers going numb. The door crashed open behind him. Erin Cainís body was tossed on the floor in front of him, the back of her head matted with blood. Romanov stepped toward McCall and ripped the tape off his mouth.

"Look at your erstwhile rescuer, McCall," laughed Roczak/Romanov, enjoying the look of pain on McCallís face. "Somehow, I donít think the cavalry is going to get here on time."

"Is she dead?" McCall asked tersely.

"I donít know," said the other man, a heavyset brute in work clothes. "I do know sheís not going anywhere fast. I doubt sheíll come around before weíre out of here. I hit her plenty solid." He laughed with a dirty broken-toothed grin.

"Alright, you go set the timer and letís get out of here," smirked Roczak. The other man turned and left the room. "Well, McCall, itís been fun. I would like to see the look on your face as you contemplate your end, but Iíll have many other pleasures to enjoy now that youíre dead." McCall strained against his bindings, looking for any sign of looseness. Romanov laughed cynically and left the room. McCall looked desperately around the room for some means to loosen his bindings. His eyes fell on Cain, crumpled on the floor. She moved slightly, and then lifted her head to look at him.

"He didnít hit me as solidly as he thought, the bloody braggart. When I realized he was behind me, I took a dive," Erin announced while sitting up gingerly. "Iíve been playing possum for the last few minutes."

"Quickly, can you get me loose? I donít know where or what type of bomb theyíve planted, but weíve got to get out of here."

Erin dug into her pocket and pulled out a well-used folding knife, thanking her lucky stars she had thought to grab it before leaving her apartment that morning. She made quick work of cutting McCallís bonds and looked carefully out the doorway while McCall stood and rubbed feeling back into his hands.

"Whatís the quickest way out, do you suppose?" she asked.

"Iím not sure," McCall answered. "They blindfolded me before bringing me to this office, probably for just this reason. All we can do is run."

They left the office and ran to the closest stairway. Once reaching the first floor, they searched frantically for some indication of a doorway.

"Look, over there. Some light is shining through a window or something." McCall shouted. Weaving through old packing cartons and boxes, they made their way toward the light. It was a door, partly ajar. McCall wrenched it open and they bolted through onto the dock.

"Too late, McCall," Romanov shouted from a boat in the harbor as the bomb erupted behind them. McCall and Cain flew across the dock and into the deep waters of the harbor. McCall started back toward the surface immediately, but was pulled back by Cain. Erin pointed toward the surface. Pieces of wood, metal, and garbage were pelting down from the sky and into the water. She pulled McCall sideways into the current and they swam for what seemed to be eternity before breaking the surface.

"My God," McCall sputtered. "If the bomb didnít kill us, that rain of debris would have. You saved my life."

"Anytime," Erin grated out with her teeth chattering. "Now, letís get the hell out of this freezing water."

They swam quickly to the shore, glancing back to see if Romanov or his assistant had spotted them. The boat had turned and was quickly making its way upriver. Both breathed a sigh of relief and crawled out onto the riverbank. Sirens started to wail in the distance as emergency services responded to the bomb blast. Shivering and clutching their soaked clothing to their bodies, McCall and Cain climbed up the riverbank and towards the oncoming police cars and fire department trucks. Within minutes, they were both huddled in wool blankets in the back of a police cruiser and on the way to the station. The officer taking the report reluctantly took their story at face value and let them go after a paramedic looked at the wound on Cainís head.

"You had better get that looked at as soon as possible," he said, applying a bandage. "It looks like it need some stitches. The cut is only about an inch and a half long. Scalp wounds just bleed a lot."

"Donít worry, I will as soon as I can find some dry clothing." Erin mumbled through tightly clenched teeth. McCall appeared at the doorway.

"I called a cab. It should be here momentarily," he said.

"Wonderful," Erin said, "and any references to my resemblance to a drowned rat will earn you a thump on the head to match mine."

As McCall laughed, a cabbie stepped into the room and asked if anyone had called.

"Here," McCall signaled with an upraised hand. The cabbie looked at them, wet, bedraggled, and dirty.

"Arenít you two the pair," he said grinning.

"Just get us home as quickly as possible, please, and weíll try to not to drip all over your back seat." McCall responded. He gave the cab driver the address and they crawled tiredly into the back of the vehicle.

"I took the liberty of calling the company medical facility and having a paramedic sent over. Heíll meet us at my apartment to put the stitches in your head." McCall told Erin.

Erin nodded her head and then looked at McCall.

"Maybe next time youíll take me seriously when I tell you I have a bad feeling about someone?" she said. McCall shook his head wearily and then looked up to smile at her.

"Yes, I certainly should have," he said. "I was so certain about this whole situation. Maybe my desire to help those Russian people blinded me to Romanovís real intentions. I know what he was saying actually happens. Itís outrageous. I wanted so badly to be a part of stopping it, I didnít see what was obvious to you."

McCall put his hand on the back of Erinís head and pulled her forward slightly to place a kiss on her forehead.

"Thank you," he said, "and thank you for saving my life." He pulled her closer into a hug.

"My pleasure." Erin said as she snuggled into his soggy embrace.

The cab pulled put to the curb in front of McCallís brownstone apartment building. They bundled out and hurried up the steps to his apartment.

"Why donít you clean up first and Iíll wait for the medic to show up," McCall said as they entered the living room. "Iíll see if my son, Scott, left any clothing here you might fit." Erin shuffled towards the hallway bathroom and started peeling off the wet clothing. A knock sounded at the door. Erin cracked the door open and McCall shoved in a gray sweatshirt top and bottoms with one hand.

"They might be a little long, but Scottís pretty slender. This will come as close to fitting as anything I can find," he said.

"Right," Erin said, closing the door. "Anything now would feel glorious." She started the shower and slipped inside. The warm water felt delicious as the river water and grime washed away. Erin carefully washed her hair, avoiding the cut on her head. Moments later she was out of the shower and dressed in Scottís sweat suit. She looked at her reflection in the mirror.

"Definitely not making a fashion statement, but warm at last," she said to herself.

Stepping out into the hallway, Cain saw that the medic had arrived.

"Why donít you sit here at the counter while I take a look at your head," the medic said. He looked up at McCall. "Iíll be about twenty minutes if you want to go get cleaned up, sir."

"Yes, I think that would be best," McCall replied. "Erin, I will be right back."

Approximately fifteen minutes later, a much cleaner and refreshed Robert McCall came back to the living room. The medic was just finishing tying off the last stitch in the wound in Erinís scalp.

"All finished," he said. "Youíll have to keep this dry for about ten days and have someone look at it before taking out the stitches. And next time, folks, please call me at a more reasonable hour of the day. Itís four oíclock in the morning!"

"Thank you for your patience," McCall temporized as he led the medic to the door. "Well," he said as he turned back to face Erin, "we should probably think about getting some sleep. Iíll see if I can find you something less bulky to sleep in." McCall disappeared into the master bedroom and returned with the top of a pair of black silk pajamas. "Try this," he said, handing it to her.

"Cool," Erin said, already on her feet, and headed to the bathroom. McCall stood there a moment, nonplussed. He had intended to suggest she sleep in Scottís room, but Erin disappeared before he could get the words out. A moment later, she returned dressed in McCallís pajama top. McCall couldnít help but stare. The bottom edge of the pajama top hit her about mid-thigh, and the fall of the soft cloth gave hints of a strong supple body underneath. McCall suddenly felt his mouth turn dry and a stirring in his groin.

"Youíre beautiful in that," he said, "I didnít know menís pajamas could do so much for a woman."

Erin moved forward into his embrace.

"I think Iíll take that as a compliment," she said looking up at him. Robert cupped her face in his left hand and leaned down for a kiss. Erin responded eagerly, leaning against him and moving her hands in long strokes up and down his back. They broke, searched each otherís eyes for a moment, and then entwined themselves into another embrace. Robert ran his hands down Erinís back in a long smooth stroke, feeling there were no bumps or seams of underclothing. As his hands reached the bottom of the pajama top, he lifted it to encounter Erinís warm smooth skin. Robert ran his hand upward from the cheek of her butt to the middle of her back. Erin stood on tip-toe to place both arms tightly around his neck. Robert dropped his other hand to her butt cheek and gently squeezed it before stroking upward to lightly grasp Erinís waist with both hands. She was so slender and delicate. If he squeezed hard, he could make his thumbs and fingers meet as he circled her waist. Robert broke their kiss and looked deeply into her eyes.

"Are you sure you want to continue this?" he asked, waiting desperately for her affirmation. Robert remembered that first day when she had arrived at this apartment, bearing Controlís gesture of repayment. He had hardly been able to breathe, looking at her sensitive, almost elfin face. There was something about her that made him want to pull her to him and hold her tight, guarding her against all of the evil in the world. He had never felt the need to be so possessive of someone in his life, especially at first sight.

"Oh, yes," Erin gasped as she pulled him into another kiss. Robert moved his hands upward to grasp her ribcage lightly just under her small breasts and ran his thumbs lightly over her nipples. Erin moaned and arched her back to give him more room to caress her breasts. Her pelvis ground against his groin and she could feel his hard cock arching up towards his belt. Robert quickly removed his hands from underneath the pajama top and unbuttoned it. He cupped both breasts in his hands and kissed Erinís neck down to the small cleavage. His mouth moved sideways to capture a nipple in his mouth and gently sucked. His hands stroked down to her butt cheeks again and his fingers traveled along the crease to the warm moist tissues of her vagina. He dipped a finger inside and Erin moaned and twisted with intense passion.

"Weíve got to move this to the bedroom," Robert whispered hungrily into Erinís ear. He leaned down and hooked one arm behind her knees to lift her and carry her into the bedroom. Robert lay Erin gently down on the pillows and started kissing her breasts once again. He worked his way down her stomach and to her hip. Robert shifted his position on the bed to kneel between her legs, kissing down the outside of her thigh to her knee as he moved. He sucked and licked his way back to the junction of her legs, licked along the border of the pubic hair along her stomach and down to the outer thigh of her other leg. Erinís muscles quivered in delight. Once again he kissed down the length of her thigh to the knee and alternately sucked and licked back up her inner thigh until he reached her wet cunt. Erin caught her breath as she felt his warm lips, and felt tingles as his tongue began exploring her pussy. She felt his tongue part her labia and thrust into her vaginal opening. Moaning with pleasure she slightly shifted her hips to accommodate him. Her hands caressed his head and hair between her legs. Robert ran his tongue upwards to her clitoris and darted back and forth across the sensitive tip. His hands reached under her butt to lift her slightly. Erin moaned again and tensed her buttocks and thighs to tilt her pelvis toward him. The quick movement of his tongue on her clit and the occasional thrust into her vagina moved her quickly to intense excitement. She felt the feeling gathering and plunged into an overwhelming climax. Robert continued to lick and suck her clitoris as she climaxed again and again. Suddenly she could no longer stand the intensity and reached down to still his movement.

"If you keep going, youíll have me climbing the walls! I donít think your neighbors will be too appreciative of the noise." Erin gasped.

"I think I would like to see that," Robert chuckled as he kissed her inner thighs again and wiped his moist face on her stomach. Erin dropped one knee so he could stretch out alongside her. She belatedly realized Robert was still fully clothed and immediately started on unbuttoning his shirt. Dropping kisses along his chest and stomach as she freed his shirt from his waistband, Erin unfastened his pants to reveal his tented crotch. Robert quickly thrust his hands down his sides and shucked off the pants to reveal his completely erect member. Erin delightedly ran her tongue up the length of his shaft to circle the top and down again to his scrotum. There she alternately took each testicle into her mouth and gently sucked. Robert moaned and shifted in ecstasy. Releasing his scrotum she licked again up the length of his penis and took the head into her mouth, flicking her tongue across the glans. Taking him as far into her mouth as she could, Erin moved her head up and down, dragging her teeth lightly along the shaft of his cock.

"Oh, Erin, thatís wonderful," Robert moaned. He placed his hands on her head and guided the speed of her movements. After a moment, he pulled her head from his cock and reached to grasp her waist.

"I want to be able to finish where itís best for both of us," he said hoarsely. Erin spread her legs as he pulled her on top of him and felt his long hard cock slide into her cunt. She arched her back to let him penetrate as deeply as possible. Then, slowly, she started tightening her pelvis and lower abdomen to grasp his cock inside her vagina.

"Yes, darling, yes." Robert closed his eyes and let the pleasure run through his entire body. Erinís movements became quicker and stronger. Robert opened his eyes and watched her small lovely breasts bob to her movements. Reaching up, he pulled her upper body towards him and captured one breast in his mouth. Grasping her waist with his other hand, Robert rolled them both over. He positioned her legs on his shoulders and thrust deeply into Erin, rewarded with a passionate moan for each thrust. His excitement was overwhelming. Before he could stop himself, he exploded into a devastating climax, cumming like he had never before.

"Oh, Erin, you are absolutely the most beautiful and giving lover I have ever had," Robert murmured into her ear. "I hope you think this is substantial thanks for saving my life."

"And then some," Erin chuckled. She stroked the sweat-dampened hair from his brow. "If this is your means of payment, Iíll have to look after you a whole lot more." Robert dropped his head on her chest, nuzzling against one breast with Erinís legs still wrapped his waist.

"Anytime you would like," Robert breathed against her skin. "But, I am going to have to move from this delightful position, or I will have a backache to contend with soon." He shifted off her body to stretch out on the bed. Erin snuggled against Robertís chest, her head in the hollow of his arm and shoulder. Robert shifted toward her.

"Goodnight, my sweetheart," he whispered, kissing her gently. Erin pulled him against her.

"Goodnight, Robert." She kissed his chest. "I love you," she said to him in her own mind. "I hope someday I can tell you." They drifted off to sleep.

Day Two

Erin awoke to that lovely feeling of contentment one finds themselves in after a good nightís sleep, preceded by a session of wonderful lovemaking. She snuggled closer to Robertís back and drifted off to sleep again. Robert, slowly aroused by her movements in the bed against him, also opened his eyes and reflected on the night before. He hadnít really expected Erin to be so willing and giving, but then he hadnít expected to be in debt to her for his life, either.

"Life has some strange twists," he thought to himself. Robert turned to his other side and gazed at his newest lover. Her hair was in comic disarray, being so short and fine. Robert smoothed some of the tufts down with his hand and continued to stroke her cheek with his fingers. Erin opened her eyes and smiled at him.

"Good morning, love," Robert whispered into her ear, kissing the delicate edges, and then playfully blowing down her neck and under her chin.

"Donít tickle," Erin warned with a laugh. "I get violent when tickled. And I really wouldnít want to get violent after such a wonderful night."

"Yes, it was, wasnít it? Howís your head?"

"Itís a little sore, sort of like a hangover type of feeling," Erin answered.

"What can I do to make you feel better?" Robert whispered against her forehead as he started caressing her body.

"Youíre doing well just like this," Erin murmured against his chest as she began kissing towards his chin and jaw. Suddenly she stopped her kisses and rolled to her other side, snuggling her bottom against Robertís partially erect cock.

"Ummm, that is very nice, darling, yes, yes, keep moving like that," Robert whispered into her hair. Erin felt his erection getting harder and larger. Robertís hand caressed her hip and slowly made itís way between her legs. Her cunt was still a little wet from the night before and he could feel the fresh warm juices beginning as he carefully stroked from her clitoris to the vaginal opening and back again.

"Mmm, you do that well," Erin moaned, "I think youíve already got me figured out." She writhed with pleasure and ground her ass harder against his cock. "Donít you think you would like to put that someplace warm?" she laughed as she reached back to grasp his erection. She lifted her leg so Robertís cock was now between her thighs and rubbing against her wet cunt.

"My pleasure, dear," Robert said against her hair once again. Erinís hand guided him into her vagina as he grasped both her hips with his hands, pulling her against him and his cock plunging deeper into her. He thrust slowly and deeply into her several times and then lifted and rolled his hips to lie on top of her. Erin also rolled onto her stomach as Robert continued to take her from behind. He pushed his arm under her hips and lifted her to her knees as he straightened himself to a kneeling stance behind her. His thrusts became quicker and harder.

"What a magnificent body you have, love," he said as he pounded his hips against her and his cock into her cunt. "Are you adventurous enough to let me make love to you here, too?" running his thumb around the rosebud of her anus.

"I think we should save that adventure for later," Erin gasped. Robert bent forward and started rubbing her clitoris in time with his thrusts. "I donít want this to stop. Yes, keep on doing that. Iím so close!"

"Cum for me, sweetheart. Letís cum together." Robert panted, rubbing three fingertips along the vertical crease of her pussy, from where his cock filled her vagina to her clit.

"Now, now, now!" Erin gasped, giving herself up to the ecstasy of her climax. Robert felt her vagina pulsing, threatening to pull him across, into the brink of mindless abandonment. He made sure Erin was well into her orgasm and then let himself go, gasping and grunting with pleasure. They collapsed together on the bed, Erin crushed between Robert and the mattress. Robert lifted his chest and shoulders, leaning down to kiss Erinís damp head and hair.

"You are so wonderful, my dear. I canít get over it. Why am I so lucky all of a sudden?" he whispered.

"Maybe Iím the one thatís lucky," Erin replied in a breathy voice. She looked at him with a mischievous smile. "Do you always squash the women you make love to?" Erin twisted her shoulders underneath him and freed her hands to start tickling him.

"Oh, you ornery little snipe!" Robert grated as he quickly moved off of Erin and pinioned her arms to her sides in a bear hug. Once she realized she couldnít get away and could no longer tickle him, Erin fell motionless.

"You know, youíre becoming quite important to me," Robert murmured into her ear. "You wonít mind if I get a little possessive, will you?"

"No, I wonít mind at all," Erin said, quickly sending up a prayer of thanks. "I have to admit that Iíve gotten quite attached to you. Would you mind if I got possessive?"

"Well, if it becomes a problem for either of us, Iím sure we can work something out," Robert said, relaxing his grip on her and stretching out beside her to look deeply into her dark brown eyes. "Now that Iíve got you, I would not want to lose you too quickly."

"Me either," Erin smiled and kissed Robert softly on his eyelids and brow. Robert pulled Erin close and breathed a sigh of contentment.

"Weíll have to do something about these tickling sessions, though." He lightly ran his fingertips across her breasts and stomach, watching the goose bumps rise. He caressed the edges of her pubic hair and the cleft where her thighs met. "They can only be one-sided."

"Sadist," Erin gasped as she writhed in pleasure. "Thatís not fair!"

"How about a shower and breakfast?" Robert laughed.

"Youíre on," Erin said as she bounded off the bed. "But can we stop by my apartment for some better fitting clothes?"

"What kind of gentleman do you think I am?" Robert teased as he watched her walk across the room toward the bathroom. "Sheís so slender and finely made, almost fragile," he thought to himself, "so beautiful and giving. Thank you, Lord, for bringing her into my life."

Robert lay back on the pillows and looked contentedly at the ceiling. Life was definitely looking up. Robert chuckled as he thought about how Mickey would take the news of a new lover in Robertís life. "Control will not be pleased, though," he thought. "He thinks Iíve subverted to many of his people to my cause. Iím going to get a hard time from both sides for a while, I suppose," he thought smiling, closing his eyes. "But itís going to be wonderful." Robert drifted gently off to sleep.

 

Some time later, Robert awakened suddenly, feeling somewhat disoriented.

"Erin," he called, "where are you?"

"In the kitchen," Erin called, "making coffee. You donít mind, do you, unless you would rather have tea?" Erin bounded onto the bed, once again dressed in Scottís oversized sweat suit and kissed him soundly. "Hey, what about your car? Do you think it is OK? Donít we need to go get it?" Robert laughed to himself over her exuberance. Erin had been quite reserved before, but their newfound intimacy seemed to have opened the door to a much more outgoing personality.

"Relax, darling, relax," Robert laughed. "And donít tickle me, I warn you!"

"I didnít even touch you, dear. It was the mere suggestion that got you going!"

"Fiend!" Robert rolled out of bed and assumed a dignified posture, although still totally naked. "If you wonít be good, I wonít tell you what happened to the car. Youíll be stuck in those ugly sweats for the rest of your life!"

"OK, OK, I give up," Erin giggled. She made no pretense about looking her lover over from top to bottomÖ bare bottom. Robert reddened slightly under her scrutiny, not being used to such attention, and decided to make a dignified exit to the bathroom.

"I telephoned Jimmy, an associate of mine, to bring the car home while we were still at the police station," Robert called from the bathroom before he shut the door.

"I should have known," Erin said as she started straightening up the bed. "You wouldnít have risked leaving a car like that in such a lousy area."

When Robert emerged from the bedroom, Erin was curled up in the window seat, sipping on a cup of coffee while looking out over the street.

"Do you realize what time it is?" she said, "Itís almost four in the afternoon. Weíve been terribly lazy."

"We deserve it," Robert replied as he stroked the hair from her eyes and forehead. "Letís go get you some decent clothing and find a place to eat. Iím starving!"

"Me, too," Erin smiled up at him. "Ugh, Iím not looking forward to putting on those wet shoes, though." She unwound from the window seat and gazed at Robert happily. "I wish I could tell you how much I love you," she thought to herself, "but I donít want to rush things, or make you feel youíre under pressure to return the feeling. Iíll be patient. Just being with you will have to be enough."

 

Once at her apartment, Erin quickly changed into some comfortable casual clothing and stuffed a few things into an overnight bag. She lingered a moment at her lingerie drawer, looking at some of the skimpier items. Robert surprised her by coming up from behind and placing his hands on her waist.

"Donít worry about those type of things just now," he said, "Iím looking forward to you in the raw for a while, yet."

Erin giggled and leaned back against him. Robert caressed her breasts and kissed her gently on the side of her neck.

"Eat or play?" she asked, putting her arms around his neck as she turned to face him.

"Eat! How much endurance do you think I have?" Robert laughed.

 

Pete had watched the couple laugh and tease over their menus before Jeremy took their order. Now they were sitting quietly, contented smiles on their faces, chatting about inconsequential things. Jeremy sidled up to Pete and asked, "Who is that love-struck high school kid over there in McCallís body?"

"I know," Pete replied, shaking her head. "I donít think Iíve ever seen him act so giddy. She must really be something. Itís about time, though. Robertís been through a lot. He deserves to find someone to finally make him happy. Oh, no, itís Control!" She watched as Control made his way over to the oblivious couple.

"Hello, old son. It looks like youíre having a good old time with one of my operatives," Control said snidely. "I havenít been able to reach either of you for the last forty-eight hours. Erin, I need you now for a mission." He watched both Erinís and Robertís faces fall into unhappy grimaces. "What? Whatís going on?"

"Nothing, Control," Erin answered dejectedly. "Itís just that my last mission was only three weeks ago. Iíve barely gotten healthy again. Iím not looking forward to moldy rice and rotting fish again." Robert looked at her with dismay.

"Itís important, Cain, as you well know. I canít give you the details now, but you need to be ready to leave in twenty-four hours, standard set-up. I will fill you in on the plane."

"Youíre going?" Robert asked suspiciously. "You accompany her to the deployment point?"

"Iím a special, Robert," Erin explained, glaring at the new arrival. "Control is my handler. He doesnít want to take a chance that anything will come between the two of us in relating the intelligence I gather or the missions I carry out."

"You are obviously more than just the interpreter you pretended to be," Robert whispered. "When were you going to tell me?"

"Should I have told you? Robert, youíve been in this world. Tell me what you would have done."

"Whatís going on here?" Control demanded. "Are you two having some sort of relationship? Ah yes, I can see it for myself. Erin, donít you know how dangerous this is? You canít function efficiently when your mind is back in the states, mooning over time lost with Robert. You have to be one hundred percent in the moment and completely committed to the mission. Youíre flirting with disaster."

"Control, the one thing you canít control is my mind," Erin sneered. "I have never failed in a mission. Donít start second-guessing my ability."

"Fine," Control retorted. "You had just better be there when the plane leaves, one hundred percent committed to the mission, or Robert will never see you again. Youíll be splattered all over the floor of the jungle." Control got to his feet and strode through the door to the street.

Erin looked at McCall, who still had somewhat of a shocked look on his face.

"Are you disappointed in me, Robert?" she whispered. Robert jerked his head toward her suddenly, as if he had to bring his attention back to the present.

"No, love," Robert answered slowly. He tried to phrase his next words carefully. "Even though I knew you work for the Company, I had hoped I wouldnít have to worry about you on missions, risking your life, and so forth. I had hoped you werenít in such a dangerous position. I know itís silly. Look at what I do for a living. Maybe I was being selfish. Maybe I wanted you to be able to be here for me when I needed you. Is that wrong?"

"NoÖ, no I donít think so. Itís just that it seems people like us have to learn to be happy in the moment and try not to think about tomorrow. But I see that I have disappointed you. Can we just make the most of the next twenty-four hours and then see where we can start again when I return?" Erin searched his face, hoping for a positive answer.

"No, there is no starting over," Robert said with force. "Weíll have to pick up where we left off. Iím not going to let you go" Robert smiled wistfully at Erin. "You have brought so much happiness into my life in these last two days. Good Lord, is it possible to fall in love in two days, and itís only two weeks since we met? I was ready to kill you three days ago. Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean."

"Yes, I know. Can I tell you a secret?" Erin smiled. "I fell in love with you the day we met, as I was standing there handing you that stupid box of Danish. Youíve gotten under my defenses like no one else could have." Erinís voice wavered. "Donít worry, Robert. I know thatís silly to say, considering what I do, but I have no intention of being as foolish or inept as Control intimates. Iím very good at what I do and I have every intention of coming back alive."

"Yes, yes, letís enjoy ourselves for the time we have." Robertís voice had been hoarse for a second. "Jeremy! A bottle of champagne! My dear, weíre going to have a wonderful time together before you leave and I will not contemplate that you will do anything but return to me. Look, here comes our dinner."

Erin smiled, feeling the start of tears in her eyes.

"I love you, Robert."

"I love you, Erin."

 

Robert turned abruptly away from Control when he saw him walking in the general direction of Robertís car and the aircraft. Erin was already at the stairs, throwing her gear bag into the cabin and looking to wave goodbye. NobodyÖ, nobody was going to see him with tears in his eyes. Nobody, except Erin, perhaps, when the tears of joy for her return would be too much to hold back. Yes, probably Erin. Lord, let it happen.

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