by Jordan McKenzie

A/N: The Magnificent Seven, ATF AU.

Ezra shoved the front door open, stomped his way through it and slammed it shut with enough force to rattle the windows on either side. When it dared bounce on its hinges and creak open again, he promptly kicked it back into its frame and gave it a scowl. This time it capitulated and with a click of its lock offered no further resistance.


“I can’t believe it,” he growled as he gave it a last kick for good measure and threw his keys against the wall. “How the hell can this be happening? Five weeks. Five weeks I’ve been working on this case!”




He jumped and spun around. “What?” he barked. On the far side of the living room, near the doorway to the kitchen, stood the last person he expected to see. “Catherine? What are you doing here? I thought you had to work late.”


She watched him quickly change an instinctual reach for his shoulder holster to a pat over his chest. “Are you alright? And since when do you call me Catherine when we’re alone?”


He glanced between the door and the dented sheetrock before he hung his head.




He heard the worry in her voice and mumbled, “Damn.” This day had been a complete nightmare, this case a complete screw-up, and here he was perpetuating bad feelings through his own behavior. Still, he couldn’t help it. He was pissed. No, he was furious and he wasn’t going to let anyone, including Catherine McCallan, the sweetest, most tenderhearted person he’d ever known, talk him out of it. He’d paid for his right to be angry with the past five weeks of his life and there was no way he was going to be cheated out of it.


Then he looked up.


And his resolve fizzled. The sight of her standing in front of him in a form-fitting red and white apron, holding a set of tongs in one hand and a bottle of herbs in the other, with what appeared to be flour on her face, was all it took for his mutinous resolve to turn tail and run. Damn, he repeated mentally, she is just so beautiful. Then he answered her with a sigh. “I’m alright, Catie, I’m sorry.”


“Thank heavens, you scared me. I nearly dropped your dinner on the floor.”


He rubbed a hand over his face. “My dinner? You’re cooking for me?”


“Someone needed to. It has been drawn to my attention that you’re losing weight. As if anyone needed to draw my attention to it since I’ve seen more of you than anyone else these past few months.”


His eyebrow shot up.


She mimicked the act. “I meant I’ve been spending more time with you. Not that I’ve seen more,” she waved a hand at him, “of your body.”


“Well you have, you know. Seen more of my body than anyone else, in a very long time anyway.”


Catie smiled, raised both eyebrows and nodded. “I’d better.” Then imagined him without his clothes and decided if she wanted an answer she had better change the subject. “So what happened? Why are you so upset?”


“Wait a minute, back to the matter of my losing weight. Who thought it necessary to point out I had dropped a few pounds?”


“Mrs. Hobson.”


“Madeline? My housekeeper?”


“Yes, Madeline. She called me the other night and mentioned…”


“She called you?”


“Just to ask if I wanted her help to get ready for Senator O’Loughlin’s party this weekend. I had been telling her how busy I’ve been lately and she offered to help me with my dress and hair. We got to chatting about your tux and then one thing led to another and…”


“And she decided to remark on my weight?”


“Well yes, that and a few other things.”


He stood, astounded.


“She worries about you,” Catie added sweetly.


Feeling the heat rise beneath his collar, he removed his coat, loosened his tie and plopped himself on the couch.


“Don’t you dare get mad at her,” she said and moved to stand in front of him. “She’s an angel and you wouldn’t last a day without her. She simply mentioned to me you hadn’t been eating the meals she’s been preparing and thought you might like a change of pace. I told her I loved to cook and she told me your favorite dish. She also mentioned very few people even know what your favorite dish is. Why would you want to keep something like that secret?”


“I keep it a secret because very few people prepare it well.”


“I’ll have you know mine is incredible!”


Blowing a slow breath, he conceded, “Why does that not surprise me?” and took her in. She was absolutely stunning, even with flour smeared half across her face. Her deep chestnut-colored hair was long and curly and currently piled loosely atop her head. Her eyes were so blue a man could easily drown in them. And her skin, her skin was amazing... soft and creamy and irresistible. How he loved to touch her skin. How he loved to taste her skin. He could start at those flour-covered cheeks, licking and biting, and work his way all the way down to her… He shook himself and remembered he was in the middle of a conversation. Well, actually he was in the middle of avoiding a conversation.


“What is that supposed to mean?”


He gave her a half-hearted smile. “It means everything you do is incredible.”


“You’d better believe it,” she agreed. When he rested his head against the back of the sofa, she laid the tongs and herbs on the coffee table and knelt in front of him. “I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have come over without calling but I wanted to surprise you. And Madeline didn’t mean any harm; she just worries about you.”


“No, I’m sorry. I’m glad you came over. In fact, I’d hate to see what I might have hit next if you hadn’t been here. I just hate for you to see me lose it.” He opened his eyes but didn’t raise his head. “As for Madeline, I’m not angry with her. I simply wish she hadn’t said anything. I’m fine.”


“No, you’re not. Now tell me what happened.”


His right fist clenched. Without a word, she placed a hand over it and waited. In seconds, the fist relaxed and his palm flattened against hers. “It’s the Moretti case. We were ordered today to make the bust.”




“And we did. Chris was forced to send the team in despite the fact two key players still haven’t been identified.”


“But those key players are suspected of being dirty cops, right? Why would the powers-that-be move before you were ready?”


“Because the powers-that-be are moronic imbeciles looking to better their careers. We weren’t getting results fast enough so in all their infinite wisdom they decided we might try to force Moretti to make a move.”


She laced her fingers into his and squeezed. “They could have gotten you killed!”


“They very nearly got Chris killed. Being my supplier, Moretti wanted to meet with him, wanted to test him to make sure he was legit. Chris is smart enough to know it was bound to happen, but he had no way of knowing he was going to do it today. He almost had Moretti convinced when those bastard higher-ups saw fit to storm the place. Moretti knew right away Chris was in the middle of a setup and turned his henchmen loose on him.”


“Oh my God, is he alright?”


“He’ll be ready to kick some political ass first thing in the morning. He took a bullet in the arm before I could get to him, but he’s so pissed off right now he’s feeling no pain.”


She listened to the uncharacteristic slang and realized just how afraid he had been for his friend. “But he’s alright,” she said clearly, more for his benefit than her own.




“There’s something else, isn’t there.”


“Moretti got away.”


“Oh no.”


“I actually think he was allowed to get away.”


“Those key players you mentioned.”


“I’m sure of it.”


“Well on the bright side, this might narrow your search a bit. If you can find out who participated in the raid it might make your search for the dirty cops a little easier.”


“Providing all the cops present were assigned. It’s possible the bad ‘uniforms’ came in alongside those who were supposed to be there, did what they were paid to do, and left the scene without anyone being the wiser.”


“Well damn.”


“Exactly. Now I have no idea how we’re going to find the men we’re after.”


“Maybe the CSIs can come up with something. I mean the investigators who’ll be assigned will be ATF.”




“And they’re the best.”




“Then trust them to do their job.”


“I’m afraid I have very little trust left to give.” Her head tilted to one side and he instantly regretted his words. “Except with you, Catie. You and my team are the only people I have any kind of faith in.”


Oh, he was in a bad way. Somehow she needed to find a way to distract him. “Try to have a little faith in science. It won’t lie and it won’t let you down.”


“Science may have its hands full this time. There must have been thirty people at that crime scene, more than half of those on our side.”


“But the rest weren’t. They were drug dealers, criminals with a specific goal. They’re different from the good guys and that difference is what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the signs the criminals left behind.”


He frowned but offered her a smile as well. She was working so hard to cheer him up and he was suddenly tired of being angry. Now that he’d told her what had happened he was ashamed he had dumped his bad day on her.


“Locard’s Exchange Principle,” she announced suddenly.




“The basis for forensic science.”


“Exchange Principle?”


“I know you know this.”


He stared at her blankly.


“Il est impossible au malfaiteur d'agir avec l'intensité que suppose l'action criminelle sans laisser des traces de son passage.”


His mouth fell open. “You do and you’ll clean it up.”


“And I know you speak French, you sneaky con man, so knock it off and translate,” she admonished with a slap to his chest.


“It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially considering the intensity of a crime, without leaving traces of this presence,” he replied obediently.


“Precisely,” she smiled. “With contact between two items, there will be an exchange. Somewhere in that warehouse you will find the evidence you need to trap those key players.”


“And she ‘wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth's own optimism,’” he quoted as he reached for her elbows, pulled her to his chest and kissed her softly on the mouth. His tongue sought entrance and she gave it to him willingly.


A full two minutes later, they both came up for air. Leaning back, she pressed her fingers to her lips and said, “I’m quoting Edmond Locard and you come back with ‘Anne of Green Gables?’”


He answered her with a pitiful pout.


“Alright, I see I need to make a believer out of you.”




Part 2


Catie disappeared into the kitchen before she made good on her threat, leaving Ezra to wonder what she was up to. Then he heard dishes clanking and the refrigerator door open and understood since dinner was being stowed away, her plan to make a believer out of him might take a while. She returned with two glasses of cabernet and knelt again between his knees. “Now then,” she said, offering him a glass and making herself comfortable. “I think we need to truly understand how this Exchange Principle works.”


“Catie, I think I can grasp the concept without…”


“No, no,” she replied placing a finger over his mouth, “just listen.”


Silenced, he leaned back on the sofa and took a long drink of his wine.


She drank as well, obviously enjoying the taste as she took her time before placing her glass on the coffee table. “Begging Mr. Locard’s pardon, we are going to make an in-depth study of exchange between two people,” she said with a naughty grin. “Mind you, you don’t have to be a willing participant for exchange to happen, but for tonight’s exercise I think it might be more productive in improving your mood if you took this seriously and gave it your utmost attention. Are you up to it?”


He decided it might be more fun to make her truly earn her ‘teaching degree’ and stalled by taking another drink.


She reached for his glass, moved herself deeper between his legs and pressed against his crotch. “Ezra? I asked you if you were up to it. Please respond.”


He did. The heat and pressure of her body against his definitely got his attention. He reached for her elbows again to draw her atop him, but she pushed his hands aside and pinned them to the sofa cushions.


Leaning forward, she added more pressure over his groin and gave him a delicate kiss on the cheek. “Now our first signs of transfer have appeared -- one obvious, my lipstick, the other not so much, a trace of the wine I just sipped,” she purred near his ear. Fully aware of her weight between his legs, she continued by gently brushing her cheek against his and blowing a warm breath across his shoulder. His head fell back with a groan, giving her full access to his neck and Catie, not one to pass up a good thing, nuzzled closer. She could smell him, his natural scent, and inhaled deeply before she pulled away just enough to speak to him eye to eye. “Ah, now you see I happen to know you never wear cologne while you’re undercover so any artificial scent that may pass between us will most likely come from me.” She loosened his tie, unbuttoned his shirt and wrapped a hand around his neck. “My perfume, which I most certainly am wearing since I had every intention of seducing you this evening, will transfer to your skin with a simple flick of my wrist.” Her hand slid across his shoulder, over his chest and down his belly.


He squirmed and reached for her. ‘Catie, I…”


“Now be still,” she instructed and lowered his hand to the cushion again.


He grunted and did as he was told, although it was possibly the most difficult thing he had done as of late. Well, except for that sorry ass attempt at a bust this afternoon. The anger he felt earlier was about to rear its ugly head again when her hand on his belt laid it to rest. He felt her fingers on the buckle and the gentle glide of leather as she slid it from his pants.


“Hmmm, now my fingerprints will be on that belt of yours. Here however,” she gently squeezed his cock through the fabric of his pants, “I’m fairly certain I’m safe from that possibility.”


His eyes popped open as his head came up. “Catie,” he growled as he pushed himself into her hand.


She pulled her fingers away and leaned forward so his awakened member was cradled against her stomach. Then with a sparkle in her eye, she noted flour on his face. “Oh my,” she hummed, “how careless of me. I didn’t realize I was serving you your dinner an ingredient at a time,” and licked at the white residue that spread from his cheek to his chin.


“Please,” he breathed, “feel free.”


She giggled and pulled her tongue down his neck and over his chest, stopping long enough to suck at each nipple. Once satisfied she had done them justice, she moved to his belly button and dipped her tongue inside.


Ezra nearly collapsed. “Catie, if you’re going where I think,” he swallowed, “you’re going…” One hand left the sofa to release the clip holding the hair atop her head so he could thread his fingers through it.


She looked up at him and winked. “Not yet, my darling. That comes later… but ‘cum’ it will.”


He nearly choked.


Seeing his hands reach out to her again, she climbed onto the couch and hooked her knees inside his elbows, effectively trapping him beneath her. “I want your full attention now as we examine the passing of cotton and synthetic fibers.” In one smooth motion, she lowered herself until the crotch of her jeans rested snugly across the fly of his very expensive black pants. She grinned when she felt him wriggle between her legs and whined sexily, “Aw, I think you’re losing focus.”


“Well you’re making it… a little difficult.”


“Am I?” She sank further onto his lap until she could actually feel the hard line of his cock through both his trousers and her jeans, and moved her hips from side to side just enough to illicit a yelp. “Now I think I have you’re attention.”


“Y-yes, but if our,” he struggled for the right word, “research is to yield the best results,” and paused when she changed the direction of her massage on his lap.


“Beg pardon?”


“You need to allow contact from me as well,” he complained.


She leaned forward, brought her breasts close to his face and said, “That’s where the next possibility of transfer begins.” With one hand, she untied the apron from her neck and waist and tossed the garment aside. Ezra observed her hard nipples press against the fine silk of her blouse and saw she wasn’t wearing a bra. When she tossed the garment to the floor, the low light of the room revealed gooseflesh covering her beautiful breasts. He grinned with approval; she was getting as excited as he was and that turned him on even more.


Cupping her breasts in her hands, she brought them nearer his face and waited for him to make a move. “Saliva,” she said deliciously, “leaves DNA which can be traced directly to the donor.” He took the bait and raised enough to flick his tongue over her right nipple. When he closed his mouth over her breast, she moved forward, spread her fingers through his hair and encouraged his biting and sucking before she added, “And you, dearest, are the only person from whom I care to accept donations.”


That admission was all he needed to pull his elbows free, tighten her legs around him and force her onto her back. Without hesitation, he laid his mouth to hers and kissed her so hard he took her breath away. There was a serious battle of the tongues before she bucked beneath him, pushed them both off the couch and nailed his arms to the floor.


“What is it with you and those knees of yours?” he huffed.


“They’re registered as lethal weapons, so watch it, mister,” she answered, resting one arm over her breasts while propping the other to raise a finger to her chin. She tapped it lightly as she made a show of pondering an important thought. “Alright, I believe we’ve made some headway with this line of investigation.”


He laughed as best he could with a hundred and twenty-five pound woman on his chest. “I agree, but I think I’d like to delve further into the DNA aspect of our research.”


“You’re right, we need much more experimentation with saliva.”


“Among other bodily fluids,” he suggested hopefully.


“And I think we should consider relocating our testing, just to make sure it’s as random as possible.”


“What would you suggest?”


“Perhaps some place with a bit more room,” she replied excitedly. “And sheets!”




Part 3


Catie jumped to her feet, clad only in jeans and sandals, and ran to the bedroom door. When Ezra shucked his shirt and moved to follow her, she remarked approvingly, “Good, now you’re getting into the spirit of things.”


“Oh, I’m definitely in the spirit,” he replied hungrily.


She retraced her steps to him slowly, deliberately, eyeing him as if she were stalking prey. “I can see that,” she replied just before she gripped his waistband with one hand and palmed the growing bulge beneath it with the other. In one smooth, practiced move she unfastened his fly and leisurely slipped her fingers inside. When she pushed her way into the exquisite fabric of his boxers and wrapped her warm fingers around his length, he shuddered, gasped and moaned. “Now that’s what I like to hear,” she hummed against his neck. “Sweet, sweet surrender.” He gasped and moaned again when she pulled her fisted hand to the very tip of his cock and gently fingered its sensitive head. “It appears another form of DNA experimentation will be taking place very soon,” she sighed, looking up into his beautiful green eyes. “I’m certain I can detect just a hint of evidence,” her finger stroked his member’s weeping slit, delicately spreading the moisture. “Can you feel it?”


His leg jerked and he stumbled forward.


“I think we had best move along,” she giggled as she steadied his stagger. As quickly as she had entered his pants, she was gone, and in three steps was again standing at the entrance to his bedroom. With a come hither gleam in her eyes and a definite wiggle to her hips she disappeared into the darkness beyond the door, a call of, “Coming?” drifting in her wake.


Ezra gaped at her for only a moment before he turned to the coffee table, picked up the tongs and sauntered across the room. “I plan to, my girl,” he said slyly, “as will you.” Half a minute later, he was standing at the foot of his bed, watching her kneel on the mattress with her arms folded over her head, moving slowly to music heard only in her head. She was beautiful, he thought, her skin glowing in the low light of the candles on the bedside table. Her breasts, seemingly custom made for his hands, swayed slightly as she turned at the waist first one direction then another. And if her breasts were made for his hands then those exquisitely puckered nipples of hers were designed specifically for his mouth. He grabbed his lower lip with his teeth in anticipation and fought back the urge to pounce on her and take her on the spot. She was trying to distract him, to break his foul mood, and she was doing a damn good job. Who was he to spoil her hard work? He could play the game as well as she and fully intended to reward her for her efforts. “Miss McCallan,” he called in his sultry Southern voice, “I hate to interrupt but I think it’s time to continue our research. Would you be so kind as to lie down and make yourself comfortable on that pile of pillows at your back?”


She feigned a sigh of ‘Oh well, if I must’ as she leaned against the down pillows and sprawled her legs in front of her. “Miss McCallan, is it? Very well, Mr. Standish, I suppose we must remain professional, mustn’t we?”


He stifled a smile and raised the stainless tongs in front of him. “We must. Now relax as I introduce an additional avenue of testing.”


She raised her arms over her head again and parted her ankles just enough for him to crawl between them onto the bed. “And just what do you intend to introduce with those?” she asked of the tongs in his hand.


He clamped the instrument over the button of her jeans and yanked hard enough to break the stitches holding it to the denim. “Tool marks,” he replied, “traceable to the item which caused them and,” he tossed the button to the floor, “physical evidence linked exclusively to your clothing.”


“Exclusively? Why that button could belong to anyone’s jeans.”


“I have no doubt the thread attached to that button will match exactly the thread in those jeans. And those jeans,” he added as he pulled her zipper down with the tongs, “are going to contain a generous sample of your DNA.” He crawled up the bed, kissed her hard on the mouth and shoved his hand into her pants. His fingers snaked under the delicate lace of her panties and curved until he had not one, but two delving the wet folds between her legs.


Her hips came up, welcoming him, and with the next thrust of his tongue came a finger down and inside her. She echoed his moan from before and requested, “More.”


He happily obliged, pushing another finger into her and massaging her from the inside.


She ground herself on those magnificent fingers and began tugging the jeans from her hips. “There’s e-enough,” she complained breathlessly, “evidence… on my jeans. Need more… on you.”


Laughing, he pressed his thumb against the hardened nub centering her sex and answered, “Oh no, my girl, not yet.”


“Yes,” she heaved.


“No,” he insisted and pulled his hand away.


The loss of those gifted fingers nearly sent her into shock, but she managed to wriggle from her jeans and panties despite him. “You are so going to pay for that, Mister Standish,” she warned with a grin and kicked her clothing to the wayside. Scooting around him, she came up, yanked at his expensive black slacks until they were in a puddle on the floor, and parted his ankles to sit between them. “Off the top of my head,” she murmured, “and possibly yours,” she added looking at his groin, “I can think of two more excellent examples of exchange. First there’s hair. The hair here,” she explained as she stretched herself atop him and reached a hand up to stroke the top of his head. “And the hair… down… here.” Working her other hand between them, she took his swelling shaft and gently traced it with her fingertips from its sensitive crown to its thick, heated base.


He jerked when she circled him with her thumb and index finger and began stroking. “You keep… that up,” he said rhythmically with every pull, “we’ll soon have… that second… example… of exchange.”


“I’m counting on it. Semen is my next case in point,” she replied as she drew her hand down his length one last time. “But since you brought it up, I think I would like to revisit one of your previous suggestions.”


“W-what?” he whimpered, praying the next thing to touch his cock would be those lovely pink lips of hers.


“Tool marks.”


“What?” he asked again, looking longingly between her mouth and his groin.


She saw the look and knew immediately what he wanted, what he needed, and she would happily see to it but only after she had turned up the heat. Rising over him on her hands and knees, she trailed hard, wet kisses across his chest and neck and lightly bit him on the shoulder. Then she took his earlobe between her teeth and sucked it before she breathed into his ear, “This is how it will be when I take you in my mouth, my lips and tongue sucking you. And you’ll have to hold very, very still or else there might be visible teeth marks.” She licked his cheek. “And when I have that gloriously hard ‘tool’ of yours inside me, I’m going to take you so deep, my heat will burn a ‘mark’ into it impossible to miss.”


Even if Ezra had been a deaf man, his cock would have gotten the message. Her body was intoxicating, her movement exhilarating and her words so damn erotic the only thing he could focus on was being inside her. He had to have her. He had to feel her around his flesh, squeezing him, pumping him. His thoughts were so centered on where he wanted to be, he nearly cried out when he felt first her hands then her mouth on him. Barely able to raise his head from the pillow, he saw her at the foot of his bed, bending over him. His shaft was being massaged by her gently twisting hands and its head carefully licked with a slow, lingering swipe of her tongue. When she drew back to blow a breath over the area she had just wet, he shuddered so hard the mattress bounced.


“Easy now,” she offered as she rubbed a single fingertip on the underside of his member where the shaft met its crown.


The sensation of that pressure coupled with the slow massage of her other hand drew a strangled plea. “Please, Catie.” Then he caught a glimpse of the crown of his cock disappearing into her mouth. The sight alone sent a shot into his groin that nearly doubled him over but when he felt her squeeze him as she took him deeper, he ground out “Oh, God,” and arced his head into the pillow. She hadn’t been kidding; she was actually sucking him as she pushed her lips further up his length and lightly grazing him with her teeth as she pulled away. She could have easily marked him, possibly for life, but she was so incredibly tender, moving slowly, smoothly, sexily. Sparks fired again and again into his groin and belly, drawing such a pleasured moan from him she smiled.


She drew him into her mouth two more times before she stopped, laid a cheek on his thigh and pointed out, “You handled that without a single nick. I’m impressed.” She marveled at the rise of his erection as she lovingly fondled the heavy sacs beneath it. He was beautiful, every inch of him absolute perfection, and here she lay curled around his manhood, touching him, holding him, giving him pleasure. “I am impressed,” she repeated.


He felt the warmth of her cheek on his leg and the heat of her hand beneath his cock. “You are like food to starving man, my girl,” he said amidst ragged breaths.

His girl. She had always found that endearment so sweet and satisfying. She wasn’t sure she would feel the same had anyone other than Ezra called her that, but when he said it, it was charming, even melodic with his soothing Southern accent. “Food, hunh?” She rose, a playful smile gracing her face. “Well if you’re hungry, your dinner is in the fridge. Probably just as you like it, nice and cold,” she replied as she scurried away from him on all fours.


He came up laughing. For the first time in five weeks he actually laughed. And after all the aggravation, frustration and irritation, it felt wonderful. Just as she was about to reach the edge of the bed, he came to his knees, caught her by the hips and pulled her across the sheets. “Oh no you don’t,” he hummed around a chuckle. “You know damn well that’s not the kind of hunger I’m talking about, and what I want right now is anything but cold.” He ran a hand over the damp mound between her legs for emphasis before he pulled her upright against him. “You promised to burn a mark. I think the heat I’m feeling could do just that. Do it, Catie; brand me.”


She teetered sideways when the mattress dipped but recovered when his hands encircled her. She leaned back, pressing her shoulders against his chest, straddling her knees around his and spreading her thighs so his eager shaft could nuzzle the wet folds of her sex. Dear God, he was a hard as she’d ever felt him… hard, thick and heavy. And she was trembling. Curving her spine to reach over her head, she pulled him close and whispered, “You need to be deep inside me, Ezra, all of you, deeper than ever before. And when you think you’re there, touching the fire, I want you to push deeper still.”


He swallowed, hard, and palmed her puckered nipples before she leaned forward onto her hands and knees. Skin as pale as moonlight invited him to touch. He ran his hands smoothly up her spine and over her shoulders before he pulled them down her sides and into the curves of her waist, only stopping long enough to graze both breasts with his fingertips. He felt her shudder and smiled as he caressed the rise of her hips and stroked the back of her thighs. He groaned at the sight of those beautiful thighs delicately framing her moist entrance, and she was unashamedly offering herself to him, exposing herself with the parting of her legs and the tilting of her hips.


Catie glanced over her shoulder to see Ezra’s throbbing erection pulsate with excitement and weep with anticipation as his hand took hold and guided it towards her. Her heart pounded so hard she thought it might crush her lungs but when she felt the crown of his cock touch her flesh and breech her entrance, a sharp breath proved her wrong.


He paused when he felt the beginning of his penetration and stared, mesmerized, likening the vision before him to moments before when she took him into her mouth. He pushed into her another inch and delighted at how tight she was around him, how she clenched him with her muscles and tried to pull him further into her heat.


Catie sighed at the pressure from his engorged flesh and twisted her fingers into the bedspread. “Ezra,” she murmured, the raspy sound of her voice so seductive he nearly lost control. “Do it, Ezra, please. I need you, all of you, now.”


He was only halfway there, lingering despite her lure, thrilling at the impossible massage of his member and taking his time. “God, Catie, you feel so good.”


“Give me more,” she complained sweetly, “and I’ll show you good.” Shifting her weight, she moved to bear down on him.


The shift sent fire the length of his erection, through his groin and into his back. He nearly collapsed, the sensation was so electrifying, but he held on, grabbed her by the hips and thrust himself fully inside her. She was fitted so snugly to him he couldn’t tell where he ended and she began. Never before had he known such a feeling, such an awareness of not only eroticism and excitement, but sensuality, tenderness and… healing. She completed him; filled that large, cavernous chasm in his chest he jokingly referred to as a heart and made him whole. The realization sent him reeling then the deliciously tight squeeze around his cock drew him back. Catie was rocking on her hands and knees, pulling herself to the crown of his shaft and then pushing herself on his slick flesh until she had taken him to the hilt.


Again and again, she rocked.


Again and again, he watched her heat literally consume him.


“Ezra,” she called. “Harder… please.”


No encouragement was necessary. He wrapped one arm around her waist and pumped her as hard and as fast as his body would allow. With the other hand, he reached to sift the soft curls between her thighs and fingered the swollen nub beneath. The gentle pressure of his fingertips sent a shiver down her spine and drew a cry from her lips. She was close; he could feel it.


He was close as well. Hell, he’d been close since she came out of the kitchen in that sexy little apron of hers, but he wanted to watch her seduction and experience all that was so wonderfully Catie. Only she could make him forget his troubles with the practical application of theory… or principle… or whatever the hell it was. And who was it she had been quoting? Lo… Oh God, she shifted again and this time he knew he had reached the furnace inside her. Lightning traveled his body, from his newly branded cock to the melted soup of his brain. She had done it, claimed him as her own, marked him for life, and he found the idea not only satisfying but also extremely desirable.


With several breathtaking shudders, the woman in his arms tightened around his shaft and rode the wave of her orgasm until she could feel no more. He wondered if she had even been aware when the strain of his load became too much to bear and he exploded deep inside her. But when he felt her nuzzle her hips against his spent cock after he had literally poured all that he was inside her, he knew she was not only aware but more than happy to have him there.


“You are,” he said when he could take a breath, “definitely a woman of your word.” Slick with her, he regrettably pulled himself from her depths.


Exhausted, she dropped to her stomach on the bed and sighed. “Yes?”


He lay beside her, reached for her hand and placed it on his member. “I have been irrevocably and gloriously marked.”


Her fingers carefully caressed the silken shaft as her eyes sought his. “And don’t you forget it. Although, an occasional re-tooling may be necessary from time to time… just to keep it legible.” She rolled to her side, threw a leg over his hip and kissed him.




Part 4


Ezra pulled Catie on top of him and delighted in the feel of her as she laced her legs with his and pressed her breasts to his belly. Her hair slid from her back when she rested her cheek to his chest and her hands settled warmly at his sides. Yes, she fit him perfectly.


Neither moved as each savored contact with the other. She listened to his heartbeat; he listened to her breathing. That is until she began to hum, then he listened to the sweet sounds of Beethoven from the only person he knew who could actually hum classical music, in key, with perfect rhythm. He brushed his hands over her back and asked softly, “Seventh Symphony?” When he felt her nod, he added, “Second movement.” She nodded again and he relaxed with the soft vibration over his heart and the delicate rise and fall of her shoulders as she breathed her music. When she finished, the room fell silent and he fell into the most tranquil reverie he had ever known. The desires of his flesh had been sated and the needs of his soul had been, for what felt like the first time in his life, both exposed and fulfilled. How had that happened? When had it happened? He embraced her, and decided with more conviction than he had ever known, that he would never let her go.


Catie paid close attention to the beat beneath her ear and smiled when she heard the frantic pounding of before slow to match the cadence of the master’s Symphony. Her eyelids drifted shut as she drifted in his warmth. She might have actually fallen asleep had she not heard a telephone ring close by. Regrettably she raised her head from his chest and leaned over the side of the bed. “That’s not mine.”


Ezra groaned. “No, it’s mine. It’s in my pants pocket.”


Swinging an arm over the side of the mattress, she scooped his trousers from the floor, removed the phone and passed it to him. He glanced at it, grumbled something about Vin choosing the most inopportune moments to call and motioned for her to lie back down. She briefly considered it but knew if Vin was calling, he needed to focus on his work. “I’ll just go get you something to eat.”


“Catie, I…”


“It’s alright, I understand,” she replied patiently and smiled as she slid off the bed.


He raised the phone to speak but nearly swallowed his tongue when she bent over to gather bits of their clothing from the floor. Damn, but she had the prettiest little ass he’d ever seen and the most deliciously enticing area between her... She tossed the clothes onto a chair on her way out of the room and he suddenly remembered Vin. By the time he had sucked in several calming breaths, he was able to speak.






She was wearing his shirt when he entered the kitchen, held closed by a single button at her navel. “Disturbing evidence, are we?” he asked, waggling a finger at her attire. “What would forensics say?”


“I’m only disturbing the scene,” she answered as she took a platter from the refrigerator and laid it on the counter, “if I’ve finished using it.”


He raised an eyebrow.


“I plan to add to it as soon as we’ve eaten.”


A look of regret worried his face.


Then she noticed he was dressed. “Oh don’t tell me.”


“I’m sorry. Chris has called a meeting at the office.”


“How long?”


“In an hour.”


“But I thought Chris had been hurt. Shouldn’t he be resting?”


“He should, but you know Chris.”


“Yes, I know. Oh well, at least that’ll give you enough time to eat,” she said with a pout and began filling the coffee maker.


He came around the bar and pulled her close. “There’s always later, after the meeting. Vin informed me our illustrious leader is running on empty despite his bluster. Like me, he wants to know who’s behind tonight’s fiasco, but the truth is we won’t be learning anything new until tomorrow, so I should be back before too late. Be here when I get back?”


Straightening his tie, she tilted her head before looking him in the eye. “I’ll be here. Just you be careful. We still don’t know who’s dirty in this and who isn’t.”


“What about this Locard’s Exchange Principle we’ve been discuss… umm, practicing all afternoon?”


“Oh I firmly believe forensics will help us learn the bad guys’ identities, but they haven’t been caught yet. So you just watch your back; promise me.”


“I promise. Now how about that dinner? You really made my favorite dish?”


“I did. Fortunately, you like it the same way I do, so it was a cinch.”


He leaned over her shoulder to eye the platter behind her. “I don’t believe it,” he muttered and reached for a large, crispy piece of fried chicken. When he bit into it he added, “It’s perfect, absolutely perfect! I remember my aunt used to make it for me like this when I was a kid. At least I think she was my aunt; I could never get a straight answer from Mother.”


Catie grinned. The chicken must have tasted good; he had never been one to share glimpses of his childhood before. “It’s simple enough to make.”


“Yes, but you see the trick is in removing the skin before you marinate, season, coat and fry. Chicken skin, disgusting stuff,” he replied, pulling a face before he took another bite. “Ah, Catie, you’re a woman after my own heart.”


She waved a piece of chicken at him. “Nah, I’m just after your body.”


He stopped mid-bite, swallowed and laughed. “Your candor is as delicious as this chicken. You do know that.”


Her response came slowly, as she put her dinner aside, meandered sexily towards him and licked his bottom lip. “When you come home tonight, I promise we’ll discuss my candor, thoroughly.”


“I do hope it’s something which requires exhaustive exploration and research,” he told her, unfastening the single button between his palm and her belly. “I rather enjoyed our previous investigation.”


“Oh yes, no doubt it will require,” she moaned when his fingers touched her, “in-depth testing for most of the night.”


Pressing his mouth to hers, he tasted the well-seasoned crumbs of his dinner on her lips. She waited for him to lick them away then sent her tongue after his. His jaw widened as he welcomed her inside. She had a way of making love with her mouth which never failed to entice him, beguile him and make him harder than stone. A gift she possessed which would undoubtedly make him very late for his meeting if he weren’t careful.


Aw hell, careful be damned, he had to have her… again. He lifted her by the waist and walked her backwards to the refrigerator door. He thought he would cry when he felt her fingers fumble with his belt at the exact moment his phone decided to ring. “Damn,” he shouted, “why couldn’t this sorry piece of crap have taken a bullet today?”


She shuddered, feeling reality snap back in an instant. “G-go, Ezra. They need you.”


Glancing at the phone, he read, “The meeting’s been moved up. I’m sorry, Catie.”


“Don’t be.”


Kissing her lightly, he separated himself from her and leaned his forehead to hers. “I am sorry.”


She smiled. “Go. I’ll be here when you get back.”


Clearly frustrated, he grabbed his coat from the sofa and hurried to the door. Just as he was about to leave, he turned back and said, “You know, not doubting your Mr. Locard’s intelligence or skill as a theorist for one moment, I can’t help wondering if there’s a transfer between two people he might have overlooked.”




“Something he couldn’t possibly have anticipated since he didn’t know you.”


Suddenly aware he was being serious, she rounded the counter and waited for him to explain.


“In my opinion, at this moment, his theory, however scientifically correct with respect to the transfer of physical evidence, isn’t nearly as important as what my heart exchanged with yours this afternoon.”


Dumbfounded, she stood silent, feeling the sting of tears in her eyes as she realized what he was saying. Then she heard the sound of his phone ringing on the other side of the door.


“I’ll be back for you later,” he said before he winked and closed the door.


“I’ll be here,” she mumbled, pulling his shirt closer and tiptoeing through the debris of their lovemaking to take a seat. How amazing was that? A simple lesson in forensics had not only diffused an angry temper but had revealed feelings of… love?


Remembering his voice, his scent and his touch, Catie curled up on the sofa and replayed the afternoon’s ‘investigation’ in her mind. She had known for some time how she felt about Ezra, but how he felt for her had been somewhat of a mystery. He was an undercover agent, for heaven’s sake, what could she expect? Keeping his feelings to himself was his way of life, but he was always gentle, compassionate and warm towards her. Did he really care?


Appears so, Catie, my girl, she sighed happily as she closed her eyes and settled into the cushions. And to think, that little peek into his heart came courtesy of a man born in another century, nearly half a world away. Grateful, she raised her chin and whispered to the ages, “Merci, Monsieur Locard. Merci.”



The End





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