(This is the fourth story in our ongoing "To Serve and Protect" series. Following "Undercover Operations" I decided to go back a bit and tell the story of how Pat and Mike met and fell in love. The events here take place before any of the events of the other stories, except for the flashback in the original Serve and Protect.)
Pat Morrison kept her eyes determinedly fixed on the unfolding road in front of her. Piled all around her in her battered 85 Ford were all her worldly goods. She had left the interstate behind several hours ago and was now nearing the coast, which meant she was now on the other side of the state from where she had left that morning. The other side and her now former lover Joyce. Pat slowed for a moment and blinked tears back. Setting her jaw she pressed again on the accelerator and sped back up.
As her car came around a curve Pat noticed a marked cruiser on the side of the road pointed towards her. She looked down at the speedometer. Great, 70 in a 55. She looked in her rear view mirror and groaned when the unit pulled out after her and activated its blue lights. She pulled right to the side of the road, shut off the engine and waited. "Wonderful," she thought. The pinholes in her pocketbook where her badge used to be would probably not impress this guy at all. She fumbled her driver's license out.
The officer pulled behind her and got out. He approached the car carefully, as all police officers do who want to see the end of their shift. Pat rolled the window down and extended her hand with her license before the officer, a sheriff's deputy Pat noted, could ask for it.
"Thank you Miss," the deputy acknowledged politely. "May I see your proof of insurance also, please."
"Certainly," Pat answered. She leaned across the car and opened the glove compartment. She had just a moment to realize what a mistake she had made when her now former service weapon was exposed. She heard the rasp of the officer's weapon against the leather of his holster and froze even before his shouted command.
"DON'T MOVE," the deputy commanded. She heard him activate his shoulder mike, "9L Lincoln to Dispatch. Officer needs assistance. I have an armed subject at my location."
"9L Lincoln 10-4," the metallic voice of the dispatcher answered. "All units, Officer needs assistance. Highway 143 by mile marker 38 southbound."
Pat heard another voice, a deep baritone audible even over the radio, "Dispatch, 9L, this is 9C Charles. I am enroute and will be there in 5."
Pat could hear the distant wail of a siren as the officer behind her instructed her, "Miss, place your hands slowly behind your head. Do it NOW." After Pat complied, he told her "Straighten up, keeping your hand behind your head. Do it NOW." He kept her like that until the first backup unit arrived. In short order Pat had been removed from the car, searched and cuffed. She maintained her calm, mad only at herself for forgetting to tell the officer about her weapon before the whole thing started.
"Miss Morrison?" Pat was able to recognize the male voice she had heard over the radio. "I'm Sergeant Gibson of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department." She looked up and categorized the man in front of her. About 6' 2", 200 pounds, well built, with short black hair. His eyes were invisible behind his sunglasses. "Please turn around." Strangely that statement seemed to sound more like a request than a command. She did and felt him take the handcuffs off. Turning back she saw he had removed his sunglasses and that he had smiling brown eyes, although somehow; even in the turmoil, Pat caught a glimpse of something faraway and sad in them.
"Miss Morrison, or I suspect I'm more correct when I say Officer Morrison, would you please tell me why you didn't identify yourself to Deputy DuPree when he first stopped you? It would have saved a lot of trouble."
Pat gaped. "How did you know?" she asked in surprise.
Sergeant Gibson laughed. "Pretty easy actually. You have a Glock 9 mil in a highride holster, obviously an off duty rig. Bob DuPree told me you almost anticipated his orders during the stop. You've either been busted a lot or you've been making arrests yourself. Finally, the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) sticker that's on the bumper. Its not the one given to associate members, its the one given to real cops. So... ?" He left the open sentence hanging in the air.
Pat sighed. She explained her situation, without going into deep details, about breaking up and deciding to leave her job and where she had been living. She didn't exactly say so, but she left the impression the breakup had been with a boyfriend.
By the time she finished she and the Sergeant were leaning on the hood of his squad car. He had called the other units off and reported all under control at the scene. He became silent for a moment than waved the original Deputy over and spoke to him for a minute in private. Returning to Pat he handed her the keys to her car and smiled. "Well, 24 hours is close enough for professional courtesy. Please put the darn pistol in the trunk and drive carefully."
"Thank you," Pat managed to reply. She smiled for the first time since she had walked in the door and caught Joyce in bed with that red headed woman. "I appreciate it."
"No problem," Gibson replied. "Where are you headed?"
Pat pondered that question for a moment. "I really don't know," she admitted.
"Well if you don't know, this is a pretty good place to be," he replied. "We're on the coast, its not so hot as it is inland and our department is hiring. I don't know you at all, but I can tell you don't get flustered in a bad situation and that's half of being a good cop."
"And the other half?" Pat raised an eyebrow at the Sergeant.
He walked to his car and opened the door. He smiled. "You already know it, I can tell." With that he climbed into his car and left, waving at her as he did.
Pat walked back to her car. She opened the trunk and placed her pistol inside. She looked after the departing cruiser and waved back. "Oh my," she thought. She hadn't been paying a lot of attention to guys anytime lately. Something about him though seemed to touch her. She looked around. "Wonder what it would be like to work here?" she thought.
Two weeks later Deputy Pat Morrison was sworn into the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and assigned to the Uniform Division at the Central Preceint. Since she was already a state certified peace officer she went immediately to work.
Inspector Robert Brett walked Pat down to the briefing room. "Pat, usually we start new officers on the afternoon or morning shifts. However, considering your experience and the recommendation I received I'm going to put you on nights. You'll be partnered with another officer to teach you this part of the county and where the trouble spots are. You have, of course, county wide jurisdiction but we provide all the law enforcement in an pretty big county so learn this precient first. "
Pat nodded but then asked, "Recommendation? Who made one, someone from my old department?"
"No, right here as a matter of fact," Inspector Brett replied as they entered the briefing room. "Lieutenant Donaldson," he called. "Over here."
Pat met her shift supervisor and was introduced to the other officers on her shift. She found them the usual group found in any law-enforcement community, young and older; black, white and Hispanic; male and female. Lieutenant Donaldson waved them to their chairs and looked at the door. He tapped his fingers and gave an exaggerated sigh. The other officers laughed.
Just then a man came rushing through the door. Pat recognized him as the Sergeant she had met at the traffic stop.
"Ah, Michael Gibson, how nice of you to join us," the Lieutenant said. "And two minutes early! We are honored."
"Stuff it Will," was Gibson's comeback.
"Mike, this is Deputy Pat Morrison," Donaldson introduced the two of them. "You'll be her FTO (Field Training Officer). Pat, I fear this disrespectful Sergeant is the best we can offer you at this time. If you have any problems with, punch him out and I'll write the paperwork to cover you. Now if we can get on with the briefing, please."
After roll call they went out to the line together to pick up their car. Pat looked at Mike. "You made that recommendation didn't you?"
"I did, Pat," he answered. He tossed her the keys with a grin. "You drive. Let's go learn the county."
Pat laughed. "Okay Mike." They got in the car and pulled away, already talking like old friends.
Pat and Mike made good partners. They quickly learned each others' quirks and were able to anticipate what the other was going to do in a given situation. After the three month probationary period finished they were assigned as permanent partners.
As close as they became they did not share off duty time together a lot. Occasionally they would go get a beer after changing clothes but by and large they parted at the end of their shift. They learned the basics about each other, homes and education and training. Pat learned Mike was a widower with two young girls and Mike knew Pat was single. Neither of them dated, Mike because he announced he had no time and Pat because she simply wanted to be by herself to recover from Joyce. There seemed to be no particular policy or opinion in the department or even in the county itself about same sex dating but Pat saw no one, male or female she was interested in. She did notice a very attractive dark haired narcotics officer talking to Mike on occasions but decided not to pursue anything with anyone for the time being.
After nearly a year on the job Pat found a notice in her box one day detailing the upcoming Department picnic. She thought about skipping it, until out of the blue Mike called her and asked if she would be there. To her surprise, she not only said yes, but found herself looking forward to it.
That day dawned clear and sunny. Pat was not the greatest cook but had managed to produce a bowl of potato salad she thought wouldn't kill anyone. She dressed in shorts and a loose top and sandals. She drove to the county recreation area by the pool. She had thrown her bathing suit in the car but didn't intend on swimming.
Pat was surprised and pleased by how many people stopped to her to say hello and introduce her to their families. She had met officers from the other precients on a random basis as well as the members of the Detective Unit assigned to Central. She worked her way through the crowd till she saw Mike. He waved and then turned to say something to the woman beside him. Pat recognized the woman as the narcotics officer she had seen before. The female officer kissed Mike on the cheek and left. Pat slowed for a moment. She shook her head. For one silly moment she had almost felt like she was jealous. "Nonsense," she thought.
For the rest of her life Pat told everyone that her complete downfall into domesticity started when she reached that picnic table. Before she even sat down she had fallen in love. Specifically with two preteenagers, Carol and Stephanie, Mike's two daughters. Carol was 12, serious and looked like her father. Stephanie was 10, bubbly and obviously took after her late mother. They smothered their father's partner with attention and demands for attention. Pat took them swimming, helped them eat too much junk food, played games and participated in various races and contests with them. By the end of the day she was exhausted. She helped Mike load everything in his pickup, including two very sleepy girls.
"Pat?" yawned Carol. "Would you come home with us and finish the story you were telling?"
"Story?" Mike raised an eyebrow.
Pat smiled. "I don't know how we got started on it, but I was telling them an old Rudyard Kipling story, "Puck of Pook's Hill". Tell you what Carol, if your dad doesn't mind I'll finish telling you the first adventure tonight, but the rest will have to wait."
Reaching Mike's home all four of them piled onto the couch together. Both girls snuggled beside Pat as she continued her story. Sometime near the end of it she fell asleep.
Pat rolled over the next morning and blinked her eyes. Where exactly was she? Then she heard a pair of giggles and she opened her eyes just as the girls launched themselves at her. A wild tickle match ensured with all three surrendering at the end. Finally Mike's head poked around the doorway.
"Hey, if its safe now, breakfast is on. Come and get it."
That was the first night Pat spent in the spare bedroom at Mike's house. It would prove to be anything but the last. Over the next few months she became a fixture at the Gibson home. As partners they had the same work schedule so they began to fall into a routine of when the four of them went out to eat, what night was movie night and when they simply all sprawled around the house together. Pat became the older sister the girls had always dreamed of, the person they could share the hopes and fears of the young women they were becoming. She adored them and they loved her.
At the same time she was growing closer to Mike. She didn't talk much about her past. Mike talked a great deal about most things, except for the details of the loss of his wife. Pat knew she had died a few years back from cancer and he had been raising the girls alone for some time. Neither of them pushed things, letting them develop on their own.
Their first kiss was practically an accident. A late video night saw the next morning arrive with both of them asleep on the couch. Mike was slumped against the arm of the couch and Pat was snuggled on his shoulder. They were under a blanket, apparently provided by the girls. They stretched as they awoke and Mike simply leaned down and kissed her.
"Good morning sleepyhead."
"Me?" Pat replied. She kissed him back. "Look who's talking."
They went and had breakfast, neither of them actually realizing the line they had crossed. Four merry young eyes had seen it though and thoroughly approved.
One night the shift was shorthanded. Pat and Mike took separate cars. Around 4 AM as Pat checked the businesses on her beat she noticed the side door to the Senior Citizen's Center was ajar. She sighed and pulled up. Mrs. Robertson, the center's director, was a darling but was always forgetting to lock up. Noticing the battery was running low on her walkie-talkie she put it in the charger. She briefly called in as she got out of the car and walked up and into the center.
Pat's instincts screamed at her as she entered the building. Dropping one hand to her holster she was unable to draw it as two shadowy figures pinned her against the wall. One managed to get her sidearm away from her as a third figure demanded frantically to know what was going on. Pat realized she had interrupted a burglary in progress. She knew she was in a very bad situation: no radio, no backup and with three men who were not thinking very clearly. Two were arguing they should "use her" and the third was in favor of simply shooting her right now. Pat didn't like either scenario and tensed herself to try for her backup weapon concealed in an ankle holster. A five shot 38 snub nose wasn't much but it was all she thought she had.
Suddenly a beam of light illuminated the three men, followed by the unmistakable "Cha-Chink, Cha-Chunk" of a pump shotgun being chambered. Mike's voice sounded from the darkness, "Billy Toliver, put that weapon down or I'll blow your goddamn head off your shoulders."
"NO SIR! Please!" the man with Pat's weapon all but begged in reply. He laid Pat's Glock on the floor and raised his hands over his head.
"And get over there Lucas Pendleton and you too, James Beck. On your knees all three of you. I haven't shot anyone in a while and I'm worried I might forget how unless I stay in practice." Mike delivered his words without a hint of sarcasm and only an effort kept Pat from joining the three burglars. "Damn. he's scary when he needs to be," she thought.
In short order the other officers Mike had summoned arrived. They carted the suspects away, the three men still looking over their shoulders as though they expected Mike to start shooting any minute. From the look on his face Pat wasn't sure they were wrong. She had never seen him so angry. He turned to her and his expression changed to deep concern.
"Are you all right, Pat?" He deftly unloaded the live round from the shotgun's chamber and switched off the light attached under the barrel.
"Now I am," she swallowed. She holstered her weapon when another officer passed it to her. Mike noted her fingers still shook. He spoke quickly to Lieutenant Donaldson and then took Pat's elbow.
"Come on. We're going to the station. Someone will bring your cruiser."
Once they arrived Mike told her to change clothes, they were off shift early. Pat went to the female locker room, showered and changed into civilian clothes. Mike was waiting for her in the hallway. He had also changed. He took her arm again.
"You can pick up your car later Pat. We're taking my truck right now."
"Where we going?" Pat mumbled as the adrenaline drain began to catch up with her.
"Home. I need a drink and you do too."
Pat took a deep breath as she collapsed on Mike's couch. She was still shaking from her close call and was thankful her friend had insisted she come home with him. She was vaguely glad it was just the two of them since the girls were spending their school break at their grandparents' farm. She reached up and took the drink Mike handed her. Tossing it down in one fluid movement she choked, then relaxed as the whiskey burned through her.
"Feeling better?" Mike asked her, his voice soothing.
"Yes, much," she answered. She set the glass on the side table and took his hand in hers. "Thanks."
"Good. Then I can ask one question, okay?" Mike said.
"Of course, Mike," she replied.
"What in the HELL did you think you were doing?" Mike erupted. "You went in there without calling for backup, without describing the situation to dispatch, without planning at all. GOOD GOD woman! Don't you realize you could have been killed? Don't you realize what that would have done to the girls? Don't you realize what that would have done to ME?"
Pat stared in amazement at her partner. She couldn't understand why he was so angry with her. Then she looked again. Mike was not trembling with anger. He was trembling with... with what? Fear? Anxiety? And then she realized what was going on. Her heart filled and she again took his hand and knelt beside him as he sat on the couch.
"Mike," she whispered. "Look at me." He raised his head and looked into her eyes. She touched his face with her free hand and smiled. "I love you too Mike."
His response was to pull her up into his arms and kiss her. Then he held her and rocked on the couch. They kissed again. This time the kiss deepened. Her mouth opened to his questing tongue. She moaned. It had been a very long time since she had been kissed, especially by someone who loved her. She returned his kiss fiercely, exploring his mouth too. Then the fire ignited in both of them.
Pat's pulse was pounding in her temples. She used her strong legs to push Mike down on the couch and all but threw her petite body on top of him. She kissed him again and again. Recklessly she pulled her jacket off and threw it away. She had not worn a bra and her hard nipples bored through her thin t-shirt and into his chest.
Mike pulled her close to him, his strong arms tightly around her. One hand dropped to her tight jeans and clamped on her firm round ass. She responded by slipping one small hand between them and sliding it down between them and then between his legs. She felt his erection trying to burst through his jeans. Her fingers fumbled at his zipper, trying to free him. He pulled her shirt over her head and fastened his mouth to one of her breasts... She ripped opened his belt and finally managed to free his cock. Her head came back as she felt Mike's warm mouth engulf her breast, sucking it deeply in as his tongue caressed her nipple.
Pat managed to unbutton and tug Mike's shirt off. His hands were at her waist, unzipping her jeans and pushing them down over her hips. She felt her panties follow and wiggled to help them along. Mike's cock pressed against the inside of her thigh and she froze for a moment. She hadn't been with a man in over four years now. Celibate for a year and a half and previous to that exclusively with her now ex-girlfriend. She had always been bi, rather than gay, but was she ready for this again?
As brief as her hesitation was, Mike picked right up on it and stopped, releasing her breast and moving his hands to a less intimate location. He took a deep breath. ""What is it, Pat?" He somehow managed to sound concerned rather than wildly frustrated, although he seemed to be just that.