Hostage of the Heart

By: Ambrosia
Disclaimers are in Part 1

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Part 4
"You know this guy?" asked Desiree.

Piper turned to face her surprised hostage. "Of course I do." She squeezed Taj's arm affectionately. "Taj and I go way back. He's my best friend," she added jovially.

"Oh, you know that's not true," the Jamaican man interrupted. "I'm your only friend." He chuckled, as Piper hit him lightly in the stomach.

Desiree watched this easy banter between the two old friends with growing jealousy. It was obvious that they truly were good friends, and the young woman berated herself for being upset by their relationship.

"So Pippy when did you two get here?"

Before Piper could answer, Desiree interrupted with, "Are you in on this?" she inquired of Taj.

He nodded. "Whose cabin do you think this is?" He raised both of his arms.

Desiree placed both hands on her hips. "Let me get this straight. You helped her to kidnap me by providing the usage of your cabin?"

Taj smiled and Desiree noticed his deep dimples. "That about sums it up."

"Do you know what this is about?" Desiree asked of him.

Taj looked at Piper, who was standing next to him. "Did you tell her?" he asked in a quieter voice.

"Not everything," Piper replied.

The man glanced at Desiree. "She doesn't seem to be afraid considering her situation."

Piper smirked. "She says I treat her like a queen."

"Huh. Does she know why she is here?"

A shrug from Piper. "She knows it has something to do with father, and that he served on my case in '90."

"Is that all?"

"Pretty much."

"Excuse me." Desiree said, drawing the attention of the other two. "I guess you two forgot "she" is in the room and "she" would like to know all about what is going on," she demanded furiously.

Piper peered at her smiling slightly. "You're beautiful when you're angry." Taj laughed at this, while Desiree gave Piper a dirty look, blushing.

"I have a right to know, Piper."

"You will soon, Desi," replied the blue-eyed woman mocking the younger woman's tone.

Desiree continued with, "When will soon be?"

"You'll know when it gets here." She flashed a cocky grin.

The strawberry-blonde threw up her hands in frustration, and huffed as she took a seat at the round table by the kitchen. Piper and Taj followed suit, with Piper sitting across from Desiree, and Taj to the right of the defeated young woman.

'Might as well change the subject,' Desiree thought. 'They're not about to tell me anything.' "So," she started glancing at both Piper and Taj "how long have you two known each other?"

"About thirteen years," Taj answered.

Desiree's blue-green eyes opened wide. "That long, huh?"

"Yep," Piper and Taj said in unison, causing both to start laughing. Desiree just rolled her eyes thinking that in her opinion it was not that funny.

Thirteen years ago Piper Redding had met and almost instantly liked Taj Potter on their first day as freshmen's in high school. Taj had just moved to California with his parents and two brothers from their previous home in Kingston, Jamaica a month before school started in September. He was just as nervous as Piper was about beginning high school.

Given her locker number, and after wandering down the halls for ten minutes, Piper finally located her locker. She spent the next few minutes desperately trying to open the locker, finally giving up and pounding it with her fist in anger. Even back then Piper's patience was thin.

"Can I help you with that?" said a light male coming from voice behind her.

 Piper turned around and said, "Be my guest."

The lanky youth went up to the locker, asked Piper for her combination and had it open within seconds. He turned his attention to her grinning.

"How did you do that?" The last thing she wanted was to be showed up by a boy opening her locker for her, when she could tackle most of the one's in her neighborhood to the ground successfully in a game of football. In her opinion they were not much competition.

"Guess I've got that magic touch," the boy replied still grinning.

Piper rolled her eyes. "Thanks. What's your name?"

"Taj Potter." He extended his hand and they shook hands. "I'm from Jamaica," he added.

"I know that," Piper uttered indignantly. "I could tell from your accent."

Taj shrugged. "No need to get defensive. I didn't realize you would know."

Piper replied, "Well I've got a brain."

The teenager looked her up and down slowly. "As well as a body."

Piper rolled her eyes again. The last thing she needed was another boy leering at her. At age fourteen, Piper was already well developed, which was part of the reason the most of the freshman class girls did not like her. The other reason was that Piper did not like them either. All they cared about was their hair, make-up and gossiping about whom liked whom. Piper could not have cared less about any of those things.

The next thing Taj knew it, he was being slammed against a locker and Piper had a hand grasping his neck tightly, with the other in a fist shaking menacingly in his face. To his credit, even though he was in this predicament, Taj remained calm and collected. Piper noted this, and so did a few other students as they stopped to view the scene. Both Piper and Taj ignored them.

"You don't look like you fear me." She had to look up at him since he was taller than she was.

Taj replied coolly, "That's because I don't."

"Because I'm a girl?" Her grip on his neck tightened.

"No. It's just because you don't frighten me, and even if you did I wouldn't give you the satisfaction of knowing it."

Piper narrowed her eyes, and then let go of him taking a step back. "You have the nerve to stand up to me," she exclaimed silently. Piper peered into his deep brown eyes. "I dig that!" She slapped him good-naturedly on the shoulder much to the other student's shock as they started to walk away.

"The name is Piper Redding."

"Nice to meet you, Piper." He moved his neck from right to left. The girl had a heck of a grip.

"I love your accent," she commented, placing her lunch in locker and then closing it.

"As I love everything about you." He looked her over once more grinning again.

Piper sighed. If they were going to be friends, she was going to have to nip this in the bud. "Look, Taj you're cute and all but you're not my type."

Taj replied in a low voice, "The color of our skin won't matter when we are between the sheets."

Piper's blue eyes widened in shock. This must have been the youngest smooth talker she had ever encountered. "I'm not talking about your race, Taj. Frankly, that doesn't matter to me." She paused. "And where did you pick up that lame line?" She smiled broadly, and Taj fell in love with that smile.

"My older brother said it to some girl on the phone last week."

"Did it work?" Piper inquired.

Taj nodded. "Must have, because he went out that night and didn't come back home until the early morning smelling like Chanel #5 and wearing a big smile."

Piper shook her head, chuckling. "Your brother?" She thought about something. "Is his name Dion?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"

She began to walk to her first class with Taj following next to her. "He made a pass at me a couple days ago in an arcade. I asked you if he was your brother because I had never seen him before, and he had a Jamaican accent." She paused a moment. "Come to think of it you look like him a little."

"Who do you think is cuter though?"

"Why you of course." She linked her arm with his, both of them smiling.

"You're just saying that because it's true."

That was beginning of a great friendship, and since then they had been there for each other whenever they were needed. When Piper had called Taj about needing help with her current situation he had been there. Even when she told him that she planned on kidnapping one of Judge Love's daughters, he had been on her side, instantly offering his cabin secluded in the woods for them to hide in until Piper achieved what she wanted.

"How do you know you can trust him?"

"He's the only person on this earth that I know would never betray me."

Piper missed the look of hurt that appeared on Desiree's face at the statement. The young woman could have kicked herself for feeling put out. 'Geez," she thought. 'You haven't even known her for whole three days. How do you expect her to say that she trusts you?'

Piper and Desiree were currently sitting at the eating table, playing checkers. Taj had went to the store almost an hour ago after convincing Piper that she should stay at the cabin with Desiree, saying that someone might recognize her if she were to go out in public at broad daylight. She had agreed that he was correct, and after he had left had challenged Desiree to checkers. Now Piper wished she had never done that because the young woman was beating her to the point where it was absolutely embarrassing. Piper's temper was starting to take a hold on her, and she had to control herself from throwing the checkerboard on the floor and having a hissy fit.

"Are you cheating?" she asked suspiciously.

Desiree looked up at her after having just stole another one of her pieces. She had not been surprised in the least when the blue-eyed woman had chosen to play with the black pieces. She made a mental note to question Piper and Taj about their fetish with black and white. In her opinion the colors of the living room were depressing and cold.

"How could I be cheating."

"I don't know, but we've played four games now, and you've one all of them. What gives, Desi?" Piper sat back in her chair, crossing her arms.

"Maybe I'm just good." Desiree smirked, and then bit her lip. She had a feeling that the other woman was about to mess with her words.

Piper stared at her with a blank expression for a few seconds silently. Desiree started to squirm, despite her efforts to stay still. Piper leaned forward and finally replied huskily, "I bet you are."

'I knew it,' Desiree thought. 'She just can't help herself.' Before she knew what she was doing, the strawberry-blonde sent a red checker flying at the other woman's forehead. It did not make it to its destination, because Piper caught it. She looked at Desiree, who was gaping and raised an eyebrow at her.

"Now its war, little girl." Piper threw a black checker at Desiree, and then noticed that was her last one. She had not managed to get any of Desiree's red checkers.

The shorter woman noticed her dilemma. "Tsk tsk. Now how can you have a war without ammunition Piper?" she teased.

"You wouldn't dare," Piper said confidently.

"That's obviously one thing you don't know about me."

"What is?"

Desiree stood up. "Never dare Desiree Love," she replied in a serious tone.

"Oooh. I'm scared of you shrimp." Piper grinned.

Desiree smirked. "That's it. You've done it now." She picked up a couple of checkers from the table.

Piper grabbed the checkerboard for a shield, as a checker thumped her on the nose. The next thing she knew it, black and red checkers were flying at her. Piper managed to deflect most of the throws with her 'shield'. Finally, she got tired of just sitting there, so Piper arose from her chair and started to throw the checkers back. She realized that this was the most fun she had had in ages. The two were laughing as they pelted one another with the checkers.

This was what Taj entered in on a few minutes later, with two full grocery bags in hand. He put the bags down and just stood there slightly grinning, waiting for the giggling women to recognize that they were not alone. Finally, Desiree glanced over to see him standing with his arms crossed.

"Hey, Taj," she said, tossing the checkers in her hand on the table.

Piper glanced over. "Welcome back, Potter," she grinned at her attempt at a joke, as the other two groaned. "Hey it wasn't that bad. I thought it was kind of funny," she added defensively. She had got the joke from the title of a show from the seventies "Welcome back, Kotter" starring John Travolta.

"You have your opinion, we have our own," Taj replied, grinning.

Piper threw a checker at him, but he ducked it. Straightening up he said, "Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me."

Piper raised an eyebrow and sauntered over to a smiling Taj, while Desiree still standing next to the table frowned, wondering if Piper was really going to kiss the man. She did. Piper went right up to Taj and placed a quick but sweet kiss on his lips. She then turned towards Desiree, happily noticing that the young woman looked as if she could have shot Taj at the moment if she had a gun. 'Are we jealous, Desi?' Piper thought.

"Do you want a kiss too?" she asked of Desiree.

The young woman replied, "I rather kiss a toad." She thought, 'Is the pope catholic?'

Piper chuckled and glanced at Taj. "Well what do you think he is?" She pointed at the Jamaican man.

"Hey!" Taj wrapped his strong muscular arms around Piper and pulled her towards him until her back was pressed against his chest. "Say you are sorry."

"You are sorry," Piper chuckled again.

"You're in trouble now, Pippy." Taj began to tickle her, bringing the tall woman to her knees on the floor. Protesting against the attack, yet laughing the whole time.

Desiree rolled her eyes, deciding that she could not take anymore of this. She told Piper and Taj that she would be retiring to her room to take a nap with her cat. Piper told her that she would let her know when lunch was ready and the young woman nodded.

Piper and Taj busied themselves with putting the groceries away. The blue-eyed woman noticed that Taj had bought twenty cans of cat food. She figured it out in her head that twenty cans meant ten days, since Tobias ate two cans a day. She hoped that this would all be over by that time, but could not help but to wonder what would happen where Desiree was concerned. Yes, she liked the young woman and if all worked out correctly she wanted to keep in contact with her. Piper smiled to herself, wondering what the young woman's reaction would be if she were to ask her out on a date. 'She'd probably blush.'

Judge Richard Love once again tried to call his daughter to no avail. The answering machine picked up again causing him to slam the phone down harshly in frustration. Something must have been wrong, because he knew that Desiree would never be that careless not to let her family or anyone else for that matter know where she was going if she were to leave on a vacation. Judge Love had managed to get a hold of Alec Drake, and had found out that he and Desiree had split up on Monday, and the young man exclaimed that he had not heard or spoken to Desiree since. He promised the judge that he would call him if he found out anything. All of the other friends of Desiree's that her father had spoken to didn't know anything either, and stated they would call if they obtained any information on her whereabouts.

Sitting behind the large oak desk in his office at home, Judge Love decided that he would take a trip to Los Angeles. He started up his computer to make airline reservations via the Internet, when his cordless phone rang.  He hurriedly pulled up the antennae and pushed the talk button saying hello. The other end remained silent so he said the greeting a little bit louder. Still no answer, so he nearly shouted the next time.

"Talk! I can hear you breathing," Judge Love said impatiently, picking up a pencil to tap on the desk nervously.

"My, Judge. Aren't we demanding," the person said almost cheerfully.

The pencil snapped in two from the pressure the judge put on it. "You," he said menacingly. "Where is my daughter?"

The female voice chuckled. "What makes you think I have her?"

"You tried to kill my son, and now you've kidnapped my daughter. You will pay for this."

"No. I think that you have that backwards." The woman now sounded deadly serious. "Your son almost died because he has an idiot for a father, and as for your daughter? Yeah I have her. Now listen to me judge." She sneered the title. "If you ever want to see Desiree again, you will find a way to get those ludicrous charges off of me. Do you understand?"

"How am I supposed to do that?" he asked in an exasperated voice.

"I'm sure you can find a way. You are so smart," she stated sarcastically.

"You're guilty," the judge argued.

"That's what you think," she paused. "Oh. By the way it would be in your best interest to keep the police out of this. There is no need for them to know that your precious daughter is missing. I'll be in touch."

The phone clicked and Judge Love knew that she was gone. He put the phone down and ran a hand through his thinning hair. There was absolutely no doubt in his mind, as well as others that she was guilty, so he knew that it would be virtually impossible to get the charges against her dropped. She had called him an idiot. Thing back, he considered she might be correct.

"Oh, Taj that feels so good," Piper moaned, reclining on her back on the couch.

"You like that, huh?"

She replied, "You know I do."

A few minutes later, Taj said, "Give me the other one."

The blue-eyed woman obediently put her right foot on Taj's lap. He sent his strong warm hands to work their magic on them, eliciting a few more moans from Piper. A few more minutes passed by before she spoke.

"If I were straight, I'd marry you," stated Piper, with her eyes closed.

Taj replied, "That is if I said yes."

The woman sat up and waved her fist in his face threateningly. "Oh, you'd say yes."

"Tsk, tsk," sounded Taj. "Once a bully, always a bully. Huh, Pippy?" He smiled broadly at her.

She smiled back. "Always." She removed her foot from his lap and crossed her legs Indian style. "Hey! Maybe I'll marry you anyway. You're smart, you cook, clean, you're handsome, funny," she paused thinking. "give good massages and you're my best friend." She shrugged. "I could overlook what's in your pants."

The Jamaican man chuckled. "You are a naughty girl, but who knows? Once you try out what's in my pants you may become ad-dict-ed."

Piper laughed loudly. "And you're calling me naughty? Listen to you."

Taj chuckled again. "I've missed you, Pippy."

"Right back atcha." She squeezed his arm affectionately. "I see you have continued to hit the gym."

"Have to stay buff for the ladies." He glanced at Desiree's door. "What's up with your little hostage? Is she ever going to come out of there?"

Piper sighed. "I really don't know what's wrong with her. Maybe she's homesick." She felt instant guilt at the fact that she was keeping the young woman away from her family and friends. Desiree had for the most part been very easy to get along with and that made Piper feel even worse. She knew that the young woman did not deserve this, but she played an important role in Piper's plan. The blue-eyed woman needed Desiree in order to survive.

An hour after Desiree had gone to take her nap, Piper went to tell her that lunch was ready, but she had declined announcing that she was not hungry. Later on, Piper told her that they were about to eat dinner, but she forfeited on that too. Piper was about to sit down at the table, when Taj informed her that the "little one" had to eat in order to keep up her strength. He insisted that Desiree eat, so he brought her a tray of the food and placed it on the nightstand next to her bed. She had said a quiet thank you. An hour later when Taj came to pick up the tray he was happy to note that the young woman had eaten all of her dinner.

Her eyes were closed, but he got the impression that she was playing possum. The only times that Desiree had come out of her bedroom was to make a trip to the bathroom once, and to feed Tobias.

Taj sighed. "I don't think she likes me," he stated.

"Ah, Taj she just doesn't know you that well is all."

"Was she this quiet with you at first?" he asked.

"No. But she'll turn around. You'll see."

"Hmm." Taj glanced at his Rolex watch. "I should be getting to bed."

Piper looked at the clock on the wall. "Already? It's not even 9:00 yet."

Taj stood up and stretched. "Yes, but I'm tired." He turned around and looked at Piper. "So get off my bed."

She raised her eyebrows suggestively. "What makes you think that you have to sleep on the couch?"

The Jamaican man grinned. "Don't even tease me like that, Pippy."

She lauged, rising from the couch. Goodnight Taj."

"Nite Pippy."

She took a couple of steps towards him and they hugged tightly.

"Everything is gonna be all right. Isn't it Taj?" Piper asked, still hugging him.

He smiled warmly. "Of course it will Pippy." He released her and took a step back. "You'll be a free woman in no time."
Desiree awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of her cat mewling. She switched on the light and looked down at Tobias who was sitting on the floor crying his heart out. She glanced at the clock, noticing that it was past midnight.

"What is it boy?" she asked, her voice thick with sleep. Desiree shook her head. 'As if he is going to answer me.'

She looked at the bedroom door, noticing that it was closed. She instantly deduced that the feline wanted to get out. At home she never slept with the door closed all of the way, but she could stand to hear Piper and Taj laughing and talking with each other as if they were the only two in the world that mattered. She knew that she was acting foolish, but Desiree could not help herself. She had admitted to herself that she was indeed jealous and the young woman did not enjoy the feeling one bit. She wondered how she could be jealous of a man who obviously held affections for a woman who had kidnapped her. Desiree figured that she must have been losing her mind, because she had never in all her twenty-three years felt these sorts of feelings for another female. She knew her parents would have a fit if they were to ever find out that while their daughter was being held against her will, she discovered that she as Desiree put it earlier played for that team.

The strawberry-blonde arose from the bed and proceeded to walk to the bedroom door, with Tobias following right on her heels. She opened the door quietly to peer outside, and found that it was pitch black in the living room. She switched on a light and noticed that there were covers on the couch as if someone had been sleeping there, but other than the covers it was empty. Tobias raced past her to get to the kitchen, and she followed him to see that the cat had wanted a drink of water.

Desiree turned around to head back to her bedroom when she heard a noise coming from behind Piper's bedroom. Her curiosity and concern got the best of her leading Desiree to the other woman's bedroom, as she had went last night when she heard Piper repeating something, to find that the woman was having a horrible dream. The woman refused to talk about it, but Desiree knew without a doubt that it had something to do with her father. From what she heard, the young woman came to the conclusion that the man must have been abusive. Last night when she had heard Piper screaming in her dream at her father, a horrendous wave of rage had overtaken Desiree at the man for hurting this woman that she hardly knew and her mother.

Reaching the door, Desiree hesitated momentarily before opening it as quietly as she could manage. It was dark inside, but the light from the living room allowed her to see more clearly. What she saw broke her heart in two, and she recognized that she was on the verge of tears. Taj and Piper were in her bed together with the sheets pulled up high around them, but the young woman could tell that Taj's upper body was bare. She figured that if the rest of him were clothed, then it would not remain that way for much longer. Half of Taj was lying on top of Piper, and Desiree saw that the woman had her arms wound tightly around his neck. She could not see her face and only the back of Taj's head, which was a relief. The last thing she needed was to see the passion that would surely be on their faces. It would surely be her undoing.

The hurt young woman closed the door silently and went back to her room to collapse on the bed bursting into tears. About twenty minutes later, Desiree sat up on the bed, swiping at her tears angrily. 'How could she play with my emotions?' she thought furiously. She figured that Piper had been playing some twisted game with her all along, and wondered how she could not see that the woman was indeed cruel. Desiree thought that she had seen evidence of goodness in the woman, but evidently she was wrong. All of the enticing statements, lustful looks and touches had been apart of her perverted game, and the young woman had half a mind to leave right there and then, but quickly decided against it. It was dark outside and she did not have a clue as to where she was even though she had driven here. So she was trapped here with two jerks that got their kicks messing with people's minds. 'She makes Alec look like a prince.'

The next morning Desiree was stirred from her sleep by the smell of bacon cooking. She abruptly remembered what she witnessed last night and thought she would be sick. 'Damn you Piper for making me want you,' she thought on the verge of either crying again or pounding the wall with her fist.

There was a knock on the door, but Desiree chose to ignore it. Let them think that she was still asleep. The knocking grew louder and more insistent so she marched over and opened it harshly. She frowned at the person standing there.

"Morning, Sunshine," Taj said wearing a big smile.

She wanted to slug him but miraculously managed to keep her hands to herself. Instead she replied, "Shut up!" Desiree slammed the door in his face, and then went to the closet to get something to wear, when there was another knock at the door. She let out a ragged breath and opened it again.

"Is there a problem?" she inquired testily, holding her clothes in one hand.

"I was intending to ask you the same thing," retorted Piper, wearing a questioning look.

"No. Everything is just freaking peachy," replied Desiree between clenched teeth.

Piper put her hands on her hips. "What is your problem?"

"You." The young woman brushed past her and hurried into the bathroom, leaving a confused Piper and Taj behind her.

"I told you she didn't like me," Taj stated as he placed three glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice on the kitchen table. He had demanded on cooking breakfast so Piper gave the kitchen over to him, but refused to let him use her "Kiss the Cook" apron. Her argument was that she had brought it with her, and no one wore it but her. Taj pouted but she would not give in.

Piper turned to him. "I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for her behavior."

Taj shrugged. "Yes there is. She doesn't like me."

"That's not reasonable," Piper argued.

The Jamaican man decided to drop the subject. "You should tell her breakfast is ready."

Piper hesitated before knocking softly on the door.

"What?" Desiree snapped from the other side.

Piper took a deep calming breath. She was started to lose her own patience. "Breakfast is ready."

"Can't you see that I'm in the bathroom?" the young woman called.

The blue-eyed woman squeezed the bridge of her nose. "Well when you get done, please come eat," she said as pleasantly as she could.

"Oh, I bet you're hungry. Aren't you?"

Piper frowned, but did not even try to ask what the young woman meant by that comment. Desiree was not in a cordial mood, and soon the same was going to be for Piper.

Taj and Piper decided to wait for Desiree to finish whatever it was she was doing in the bathroom to join them for breakfast before eating. Taj had tried to keep the food as warm as possible. Finally, when both were on their second cup of coffee, the bathroom door opened releasing a gush of steam and a clothed Desiree. The young woman had chosen to wear a pair of white jean shorts that were accompanied by a striped red and white cotton short-sleeved shirt. She was wearing red sandals too.

"You look cute," Piper commented, taking another sip from her coffee.

Desiree looked at her with an annoyed expression and took her place at the table. Taj arose from his chair and retrieved the plates of food, telling Piper to stay seated when she tried to help him. Desiree glanced at the plate placed in front of her, and could not help but to admire the good-smelling and delicious looking food. She had been intending to protest eating, but changed her mind. She chastised her hunger for being a traitor.

Taj folded his hands to say grace and the other two women joined, with Piper a little reluctantly until Taj kicked her lightly in the leg. She glanced at him noticing that the man was wearing a slight mischievous grin. He said grace and Desiree grudgingly acknowledged to herself that it was well spoken. Desiree picked up her fork and sliced off a piece of a buttermilk pancake on her plate and put the piece in her mouth. This man could give the International House of Pancakes competition. 'They made be jerks,' the young woman thought, 'but they can both cook.'

"How is it?" asked Taj looking at Desiree.

"Fine," she retorted tersely.

A couple minutes later Piper said, "I fed your cat."

Without looking up from her plate Desiree replied, "You want a medal?"

Piper bit her tongue in an effort not to say anything. Something was definitely bothering Desiree and she had a feeling it had nothing to do with being homesick. She grudgingly admitted that it must have something to do with her friend, but could not understand what it could be.

They resumed eating and halfway through the meal Taj inquired if anyone wanted some more juice.

"Oh, I bet you were thirsty last night," exclaimed Desiree, unable to stop herself. "Weren't you Taj?" she sneered.

Piper dropped her fork on her plate with a loud clang. She glared at the other woman asking, "What the hell is your problem?"

Taj quietly called her name in warning, but Piper ignored him.

Desiree put her own fork down. "I already told you."

"Yeah. Me. What did I do?"

The strawberry-blonde laughed humorlessly. "You know exactly what you did."

"Actually I don't, Desiree."

"Oh, come now." The young woman paused. "Wait. You did that last night didn't you?" She leaned towards a confused Piper. "Tell me how many times." She felt the tears beginning to sting her eyes and could have kicked herself.

"What are you babbling about?" asked Piper.

Desiree sighed. 'Not gonna make this easy for me, are you?" she thought bitterly. "You and Taj."

"What about me and Taj?"

The tears started to run down her cheeks. Piper reached out to her noticing the tears, but Desiree got up from the table and took a quick step back. "Don't you touch me!" she yelled. "Don't you ever put your hands on me again." She started to cry, with Taj and Piper glancing at each other wearing confused expressions.

Piper sat on the edge of her seat. "Desiree, please tell me what's wrong," she stated calmly.

The disturbed young woman did not answer right away. She wiped a few tears with the back of hand, ignoring the napkin that Taj held out to her. "I saw you two."

"What do you mean you saw us?"

Desiree shook her head. "You know what? I don't know why I'm tripping because it's none of my business anyway what you do and who you do it with. It's not like I own you."

"Just spit it out."

"Last night I saw you two in bed together. I thought you might be having another bad dream and I opened the door to see you and Taj…you know."

Desiree could have slapped Piper for what the woman did next. Piper started laughing so hard that she fell to her knees on the floor. Desiree glanced at Taj to notice that the man was chuckling. Her attention went back to Piper and she saw tears streaming down the woman's face.

"I don't see what's so funny about it," Desiree said indignantly, causing the other woman to laugh even louder.

After a few more moments, Piper finally got herself together and took a seat back in her chair. She motioned for Desiree to sit down too, but the young woman chose to remain standing.

"Desi," Piper chuckled. "No offense to you to Taj," she glanced at the man, "but I wouldn't sleep with him if he were the last person on earth. You want to know why?"

"Why?" Desiree asked still angry.

"Because he's a man. Males aren't my forte, and I thought I had made this abundantly clear to you already."

"I thought you had too, but when I saw you with Taj, I figured you were just messing with my mind." 'Could it be that I was wrong?" she thought hopefully.

Piper shook her head. "No, I wasn't. Let's get this straight." She paused. "No pun intended. I'm gay." She pointed to herself. "Always was, always will be. I don't play on both teams and I never will. I don't even want to."

"But he was on top of you."

"I was trying to hold her down," Taj interjected. "I was on the couch asleep when I heard her in her room. I hurried in to find her thrashing around on the bed, so I held her down so I could wake her up. I didn't want her to hit me in the process or hurt herself. Finally, she woke up and put her arms around my neck and started…" He looked at Piper apologetically. "Sorry but I should tell her." He turned back to Desiree. "She started to cry, and I held her until she fell asleep again."

"You didn't have a shirt on."

"A lot of men don't sleep with a shirt on. I haven't since I was twelve."

Desiree thought for a second and then closed her eyes momentarily. "Well I feel like an idiot," she said.

"It happens to the best of us," retorted Piper. She wanted to jump up and down and shout it from the rooftops. Obviously the young woman liked her more than in a friendly way, and the blue-eyed woman could not remember ever being as happy as she was at that moment.

The rest of the day pretty much past in a getting-to-know-you sort of way. Desiree learned that Taj had two brothers, one older and one younger who also still resided in California. His parents were retired and now lived in Bakersfield, California. His oldest brother, Dion was married to a wonderful woman and they had two young daughters who Taj claimed said that they adored their Uncle Taj. His youngest brother was currently attending a college in San Francisco into his second year and on the dean's list. Taj spoke of his family in a proud manner, and Desiree could tell that they were all very close.

She thought about the way she had been treating the man since his arrival, and felt guilty. Desiree discovered that after talking with him awhile that she enjoyed the man's company, although to be honest she could not wait to have Piper all to herself again. She was both anxious and nervous to be with the woman alone, and gathered that Piper felt the same way.

When she had asked him if he was seeing anyone, Taj had said that he wasn't but he would be heading back tomorrow morning because he had a hot date on Saturday night. He asked them both to wish him luck, because this would be his third date with this woman and he felt it could be going somewhere soon.

Early in the evening, Taj challenged Desiree to checkers, after hearing from Piper that the woman was indeed a master of the game. He proved her right when after four games; Desiree had won the majority of them. Piper had laughed at Taj and he retorted that at least he was able to win one game. She chose not to comment again on the subject.

Taj exclaimed that he would make dinner since it would be his last night with the lovely ladies. They reclined on the couch watching a video that Taj claimed he had already seen, while he cooked soon filling the cabin with mouth-watering aromas.

When the trio took their seat the table, Desiree smiled at her plate in happiness. Taj had prepared fried chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, and a loaf of freshly baked bread. For dessert there was chocolate cheesecake, which was one of Desiree's favorite desserts of all time.

"You guys are going to make me fat," she exclaimed joyfully.

"Only more of you to love, darlin'," replied Piper, causing the young woman to blush.

The rest of dinner past in friendly conversation between the three. The two women relentlessly told Taj how delicious the food was and he smiled, basking in their praise of his cooking. Desiree asked him where he learned to cook, and he stated that his parents had taught him how. If there was one thing in this world that Taj Potter got along with it would be the stove. He loved to cook and he loved to see people eating his cooking.

"It was good to see you, Taj." She hugged him tightly.

"It was good to see you too, Pippy. You take care okay?"

She nodded.

He turned his attention to Desiree. "I will miss you, little one. You watch out for her okay?" He pointed at Piper. "She's my best friend."

Desiree nodded, smiling. "I will. You take care, Taj." She put her hand out in front of her.

He looked at her hand. "What is that? I don't do handshakes when a hug is more appropriate." Before Desiree knew what was happening, she was being lifted off of her feet and was wrapped in a big bear hug. She hugged Taj back, laughing as he swung her around. He put Desiree down on her feet and chucked her under the chin.

He smiled at them both as he grabbed his suitcase and went around to the back of the cabin, which is where he had parked his jaguar.

"I'm actually going to miss him," Desiree said.

"Yeah. Me too."

"So what do you wanna do today?" Piper asked sitting on the front porch with Desiree. They both had their own chair to sit it.

"I don't know. What do you wanna do?"

Piper thought for a moment. It was a beautiful Friday morning. Why not? "You wanna go fishing?" she asked admiring Desiree dressed in tan shorts and a white tank top, that showed off the feminine looking muscles in her arms. She herself had opted to wear short blue jean cut-offs and a red T-shirt. She had her hair in a ponytail, while the younger woman chose to wear hers in a french braid.

"I've never been fishing before. I always wanted to though."

"Then let's do it." Piper got up front the chair and started to go down the stairs.

"Do it?" Desiree said. 'Give her a taste of her own medicine. Although she'd probably like it.' "I thought we were gonna fish?" she asked, smiling.

Piper turned around to face her wearing a surprised expression. She started to chuckle and said, "I see you've picked up a bad habit of mine. This chick once told me that I turned something she said into something lurid with my perverted mind." She paused. "Now you're doing it."

Desiree walked slowly up to her, stood on her tiptoes and whispered in Piper's ear, "You'll know when I'm doing it." She then started to walk in front of the other woman, then not knowing where she was going, turned around and asked, "You coming?"

Piper chuckled and said under her breath, "I hope so later."

"What?" asked Desiree, not hearing what the woman had said, but pretty sure it would cause her to blush.

"Oh nothing," Piper replied innocently.

An hour later they were standing by the lake after having gathered all the equipment they would need for fishing. Desiree had made sandwiches for them while Piper made sure everything else was ready for the eight-minute walk to the crystal blue lake. Both had applied suntan lotion to themselves so that they would not receive sunburns. Piper had put on a red baseball cap that Desiree considered she looked cute in. She didn't tell the woman that, but she thought it.

After they got to the lake Piper exclaimed that she would be back soon, and disappeared for a few minutes. When she returned she was holding an old coffee can.

"What's that for?" Desiree inquired.

Piper smiled, her perfect teeth gleaming in the light. "Bait."

"Bait?" Desiree repeated. "Are there worms in there?" She took a step back even though the other woman was about fifteen feet away from her.

"Yep," Piper replied cheerfully.

She set the can down on the ground and motioned for Desiree to come over. The young woman hesitated before realizing that she was being foolish. They were just worms. She walked towards Piper, and the woman handed her a fishing pole. She did not know the first thing to do with it. Piper picked up one for herself.

"Today you're gonna learn how to fish," she said.

Desiree nodded. "Is this what's for dinner?"

Piper shrugged. "Maybe. We'll see." She turned her attention to the pole in her hand. "Now these fishing poles are identical. Do you know what they're called?"

A shake of the head from the other woman.

"They are spinning reels." She continued to tell Desiree all about spinning reels and how you fish with them, eventually making the strawberry-blonde wonder if there was going to be a test on this later. She had the feeling that she was back in school and Piper looked as if she was in full teacher mode.

Finally, Piper seemed to be done with her lecture. She bent down to pick up the coffee can, with Desiree standing next to her trying to resist the urge to slap or pinch her on the behind. Piper straightened up and put the pole on the ground and took the lid off of the can.

"We are going to use these little fellas as bait." She turned the can in Desiree's direction so that the woman could see that there were seven or eight lives worms in it. She resisted the urge to start squirming around. Desiree hated creepy crawlers.

"Get one."


"I said get one. I'll show you how to put it on."

Desiree suddenly laughed thinking back to health class and when they showed videos on how to put on a condom. Piper sounded just like the people on the television.

The blue-eyed stared at Desiree strangely. "What's so funny?"

The young woman blushed. "Nothing." She cleared her throat. "Proceed."

Piper continued to stare at her for a moment and then continued, "Pick a worm. Any worm at all." She held the can out to Desiree.

"I don't want to."

The tall woman sighed. "I though you wanted to fish."

"I do. But can't I used one of the artificial baits?"

"The proper name is lures."

Desiree rolled her blue-green eyes, which Piper noticed seem to sparkle when the sun hit them. "Thank you for correcting me Professor Redding," Desiree said sarcastically sweet.

Piper smirked. "Try to teach somebody something and they don't wanna listen," she said to herself more than to the other woman.

"Okay. I'll cooperate."

"You will?"

Desiree nodded.

"Then get a worm."

The young woman reached into the can and picked up a worm between her thumb and middle finger. Piper proceeded to show her how to put the bait on the hook of the fishing pole.

After a few more minutes of lecturing on how to cast the fishing pole into the lake they were ready to begin. After a few try's, Desiree finally got it right and gave her "teacher" a huge smile. Piper smiled back.

"How about we make a bet?" Piper asked.

Desiree looked over at her. "I'm game if you are."

Piper nodded. "How about this. If I catch the biggest fish then you owe me a full-body massage. If you catch the biggest fish then I owe you a full-body massage. How 'bout it?" The tall woman was quite sure that she could win this bet.

"Sounds good to me." 'Oh. Geez, I'm gonna lose."

After a few more minutes past, Piper broke the silence again. "I've got a proposition for ya."

"What would that be?" 'Come on fishy, fishy,' she thought.

"How about you no longer be my hostage?"

"You mean, you're going to take me back?"

"No. Not that."

"Oh," Desiree said in a way that made it sound as if she was relieved, which she was. She realized that was not ready to go back. She wanted to stay a little while longer in this secluded little paradise with the blue-eyed woman.

"I need you here to accomplish what I want to accomplish."

"And what is that?"

Piper sighed. "Let's not get into that just yet. How about this. We'll be in this as equals. You stay here with me a few more days, until I get this mess all straightened out. Just think of it as a little vacation. If everything works out according to plan then I'll be do-whatever for six months."

"My do-whatever?" Desiree frowned. What the heck was that?

"Yeah. I'll do whatever you want me to do for six months. Pick up your dry cleaning, cook for you, wash your car…whatever." She shrugged. "All for free, because I'll owe you. I'll owe you big time."

Desiree thought about it. Her do-whatever. That could have some interesting benefits. "You have a deal." She reached over and they shook hands on it.

"I still say you cheated."

"I did not. Why are you always accusing me of cheating? Tell me how I can cheat at fishing?" Desiree placed the empty lunch pail on the kitchen sink and turned towards Piper, who was standing a couple feet behind her.

"I don't know how, but you did. Either that or you lied. You have fished before."

"Piper, it was just beginner's luck."

"Yeah right," replied Piper incredulously.

"I'm not going to stand here and argue with you." She brushed past Piper, only to have the woman grab a hold of her arm and pull her back to face her.

"What do you want for dinner?" she asked, between clenched teeth. She realized to herself that she was definitely a sore loser. Desiree had caught the bigger fish, and that's all there was to it, yet here she was making a big deal out of something so trivial.

"What makes you think I'm hungry for food," Desiree retorted brazenly, before trying to walk away again, only this time succeeding.

Piper watched her walk away in shock. "She's been hanging around me way too much," she said out loud.

Later on that night after eating dinner's in separate rooms, Piper figured it was time for them to kiss and make up. Well she wasn't sure about the kissing part, but definitely time to make up, because this fight was ridiculous. She knocked on Desiree's door with a towel and a bottle baby oil in one hand. She heard a muffled 'come in' and walked into the room, seeing Desiree sitting on the edge of the bed.

"May I help you?" the young woman asked coolly.

"I'm sorry," Piper mumbled.

"Excuse me? I didn't hear that."

The blue-eyed woman took a deep breath. "I said I'm sorry," she repeated more clearly.

The blue-green eyed woman stared at her for a moment. "I forgive you," she simply said.

Piper shrugged. "Is that it?"

"Yep. What's that stuff for?" She pointed at the towel and baby oil in Piper's hand.

"For you. They are for your full-body massage, since you won fair and square." She paused. "So get nekkid."

Desiree's eyes opened wide.

Piper chuckled, "And put this on." She threw the towel to her, and Desiree caught it leaving the room, saying that she would be back shortly.

Piper sat on the bed, wondering how she had gotten herself into this mess. 'Oh yeah. The bet was your idea, stupid.' She was nervous, not knowing how she was going to be able to do this without keeping herself from doing something unprofessional. She was about to have her hands all over Desiree's body, and the idea both excited and terrified her. Piper half did not trust herself to behave.

Desiree walked back into the room wearing nothing but the towel, and Piper could have sworn that that towel was shorter. 'I should have picked the blue one.' She got up from the bed and instructed the young woman to lay on her stomach in the center of the bed. Desiree silently did what she was told, folding her arms and laying her head on them. Piper took a deep breath and then straddled the young woman's strong smooth legs.  She pushed the towel up her thighs a little and flipped the cap back on the bottle of baby oil. She went to work, sending a silent prayer that she would not do something stupid.

She poured some oil in the palm of one hand and rubbed it with the other. Piper then applied gentle pressure to Desiree's thighs, when she heard the young woman gasp. She glanced up to see that Desiree's eyes were closed.

Before long Piper was working down to Desiree's legs and then she began to massage her delicate feet. She had started to tickle the arch of the young woman's foot but did not want to ruin the mood. Soon she was on her way up again and almost at Desiree's derriere. This brought back fond memories of that first night. When she was almost at those firm yet soft cheeks she heard Desiree say something.

"Repeat that please."

"I said don't go there," the young woman mumbled, with her eyes still closed.

"But Taj said they were purty," she said with a southern drawl, smiling.

Desiree opened her eyes and raised her head. "He told you?"

Piper chuckled. "Yep. He saw you squatting in the bush."

The young woman lowered her head in embarrassment and closed her eyes once more. "Remind me to kill him, if we ever cross paths again."

Piper chuckled again. "Will do."

She decided to skip the derriere then, and lowered the towel until the edge was just at the beginning of Desiree's buttocks. Piper applied some more oil to her hands and massaged the young woman's smooth back, eliciting a few moans from the woman beneath her. Piper smiled beginning to enjoy herself thoroughly. She worked for a few more minutes in silence before deciding to speak.

"You know what, Desi?" she said quietly. "You are the sexiest woman I have ever seen in my life. You're absolutely gorgeous." She waited for the young woman to reply, but after a few minutes of silently massaging her again Piper stopped and bent down to discover that Desiree was actually sleeping. She sat back on her heels.

"Well what do you know. I put her to sleep." Piper smiled to herself. "I'm good."

She got up off of the bed and left to soon return again with a blanket that was in her closet. She placed over Desiree, assuming that the young woman would not like it if Piper were to dress her in her nightclothes. If she did not want Piper to see her nude, then the blue-eyed woman would respect that. Before leaving the young woman's room Piper looked back at her and said even though the woman was sleep, "I still owe you the front."

She went to the bathroom and began to take a long shower. A long, long cold shower.


Taiko's Scrolls Of The Xenaverse