Dearly Beloved: Kalifornia
Written by K
The plane skidded to a stop just as Mike Kellerman
unbuckled his seatbelt, stood up, and pulled out two
carryon bags from the overhead compartment. The
stewardess glared towards him for not waiting for
the "UNFASTEN YOUR SEATBELT" sign to flash
on, but Mike ignored the admonition. He stepped to
the side to let Julianna Cox into the narrow aisleway
in front of him, glancing straight ahead to the already
open door. By now others were making their way
slowly toward the exit in front of them, as Mike
pressed closely to Julianna, pushing gently and
teasing her in the process.
"Not a bad flight," she smiled, as she nudged up
close to him once they were out in the airport. Mike
returned the smile, and shifted the two bags he
carried off the plane with him.
"I'll take that," she said as she reached for her bag,
which was already slung up over Mike's shoulder.
"I got it," he replied, "You just figure out where
"You're the brawn, I'm the brains?" she smiled
comfortably at him.
"You got the brains.... that's why you're with me," he
nodded with a dimpled grin, as they pushed their
way forward through a crowd that seemed to
disperse into every direction.
Once out into the balmy Pacific air, they hailed a
cab, as Julianna rummaged through her shoulder bag
for the address of their destination. She handed the
cabbie the slip of paper and warned, "Take the
direct route, and for the record.... I hear it should run
around 10 bucks."
The cabbie grabbed the slip of paper and looked at
it, as he waited for the lighter to pop out to light his
cigarette. Easing out into traffic, he turned and
talked towards them over his shoulder while trying
to keep his eyes on the road, his smoldering cigarette
hanging out of his mouth. "LaPlaya Avenue... Ya
wanna direct, or ya wanna fast? I go direct, we gona
be stuck in traffic, maybe 45 minutes, I go fast, we
pull in say.... 20. But it gona cost ya."
Mike took a heavy breath, leaned forward over
the front seat, and looked directly at the cabbie, even
tho the driver kept his eyes focused on the road,
"Look bunk, just don't pull a fast one on
us...understand? Now... how bout a smoke?"
The cabbie shrugged and reached for his pack of
Winston's and handed it to Mike. He took one out of
the pack and tossed the pack on the front seat, then
sat back, reached into his shirt pocket and snapped
open his lighter, lighting the tip in one deep puff.
Rolling down the window he looked over the
landscape and then to Julianna. "I thought San
Francisco was spose to be cold and foggy."
"San Fran? This time of year? Nope, that's
London...besides you think I'd have said yes to this if
we were going to be miserable?" Julianna asked,
thankful to be that much closer to their destination.
Mike shrugged, "Guess we can't complain, a free
condo for a week..."
"Overlooking the ocean...and all we gotta do is feed
the cat." Julianna said.
Mike reached his arm up over the back of the seat
and smiled down at Julianna, as she snuggled up into
the crook of his arm, the cigarette still dangling from
his mouth. "A whole week, just you and me...no
police work, no dead flesh," he sighed, then took the
cigarette out and exhaled, " yeah...yeah... I think I
can handle that....and probably put up with a damn
cat...but I'm not so sure 'bout you,." Mike teased
"Thanks, Kellerman," Julianna looked up with a faux
pained look. "But I think we'll get along just fine and
you'll get along with Peaches, too..."
"Peaches?" he clarified.
"The cat," they both said together.
"Well, cats are cats. I mean, they don't come to you
when you call them...greet you at the door... beg ya
to take them for a walk...or even wanna play fetch,"
Mike recalled happy childhood memories with his
"Tell ya what. I may wanna play, but I'm not gona
beg..." Julianna leveled with him, changing
the subject slightly to tease him.
"Oh.... I'll get ya to beg," Mike interrupted
confidently, his brows raised in exclamation, his arm
extended out the window with the cigarette still
She continued, "Well....maybe I'll greet you at the
door...if you're nice to me," Julianna said in jest, a
twinkle in her eye. He chuckled then asked
"So, what....how'd you pull this off?...collegue of
yours owe ya one or something?" Mike continued,
taking slow drags on his cigarette and trying to get
into a relaxed state of mind.
"Truth?" Julianna eyed him.
"Nothing but, and don't forget, I can tell when people
lie, I'm a cop," Mike nodded with a cock-eyed smile,
as he took one last drag and flicked the butt out the
Julianna chuckled silently, then admitted, "Off
Mike sighed with a distant look in his eye, "I'm never
He gave a concilitory shrug, as she continued,
"Yeah, well try? OK...So the truth? well... yeah,
she said she was going away, but I sorta
offered......me.....us," she eyed him for his reaction,
then continued. "I just thought it'd be great to get
away for while. And this didn't sound like such a bad
idea....I mean, I thought we could find something to
Mike interrupted her remark, by pulling her close to
him and kissing her warmly, his hands searching
warmly for her under her shirt.
She reciprocated as she felt his warm breath against
her, realized where they were and pulled away,
pressing her lips together, savoring the tender
sweetness. She smiled at him, as they settled
comfortably into silence as the cab made it's way
through the rolling hills of San Francisco towards the
"The view is great," Julianna said as she patted dry
her thick dark hair, gazing out the 4th floor balcony
doors towards the ocean. Her skin was still damp
under the soft terrycloth robe that was tied loosely
around her waist.
Mike eyed her up and down appreciatively, warm
thoughts lingering at the memory of the smoothness
of her skin. "Yeah.... that's just what I was thinking."
Getting up, he encircled her with his arms, finding
more of her soft exposed flesh and pressing her close
to his bare chest.
"The ocean," she nodded towards the Bay.
"You," he whispered in her ear, squeezing her tighter
still. "You...you are great...."
"Oh no you don't," Julianna stretched away, though
still caught in his grasp.
"What?" Mike asked innocently, his expression
matching the intention.
" I know what you're thinking..... you think if you
can wrap me around your finger we'll wind up doing
everything you want to do," she eyed him
"Get out of here....." he answered sheepishly, as his
hands played with her damp dark hair.
"I think you know what I mean?" she sighed with her
brows raised, as she began to push him away
"Yeah? Well.....I just want you to feel....appreciated,"
he looked at her cockily, as if to try to
explain, pulling her back to him.
"Yeah....well....forget it....this is my vacation,
too...it's not gona be that easy, appreciated or not,"
Cox eyed him straightaway.
"OK, OK, you're right....of course, we'll do what you
want to do....as long as we do what I want to do...
first," Mike chuckled as he continued the sensual
teasing, releasing his embrace one arm at a time, and
sliding his hands beneath her robe, pulling her closer
with his hands resting on her bare hips.
Julianna conceded, "Well, you are the one really
needing a break.......ya know, finally beating the
arson charges and all...you've been through a lot
these last few months," Julianna said empathetically.
"Let's not talk about the arson charges, ok?" Mike
whispered into her ear, as he swayed her tightly
against him as he began to get lost in the moment.
"Sure...we can act like it never happened," Julianna
looked at him seriously.
Mike's tone changed quickly as he recalled the
grueling battle against the feds, the brass, and his
disappointment in the brotherhood of blue. "Fuck
the arson charges," he replied, as he released his
embrace and took on a harsh posture, and an angry
expression emblazoned his deep blue eyes, as he
moved away from her.
"Hey, take it easy...I'm on your side here," Juliana
paused with exasperation, realizing again how easy
he was to set him off.
"Take it easy?" Mike asked as he ran his hands
through his hair, obviously feeling the pain of the
circumstance again. " On my side...," he snickered,
"That's what I mean, no matter where I go, it's gona
always be the same....me against them...even tho I've
been cleared, people are always gona wonder ...."
He turned away from her and continued
passionately, "You....you're on my side?.... that's the
point, isnt it....I was cleared... I'm innocent...but
people still are gona think I'm dirty...or..or if
not...that they have to take sides for me. If I'm so
innocent, why...why does anyone have to do that?"
Julianna wrapped her arms around him, the robe
gaping open allowing her warm skin to contact his
bare chest. "Mike, you...you gotta let go of it...forget it...
"Try to forget it when no body else can? How am I
going to do that? ...tell me, Julianna....how am I
gona do that when you...and Lewis...and...and....even
my family....can't," he stuttered, then snickered to
himself, "....just relax....that's a good one.... ." Mike
pulled away and walked out onto the balcony, the
warm salt air bathing his frayed emotions. He
looked distantly off to the boundless horizon before
him, feeling as lost as the a small boat must feel way
out on the bay.
Julianna gave him a moment of solitude then joined
him, leaning on her elbows over the railing, her
damp hair mussed around her face. "You wanna talk
about this, Mike?" she asked.
He turned towards her and shrugged. "Let's just
forget it, ok?"
"Well, yeah....why waste a perfectly great night...."
Julianna reckoned, as she gazed westward towards
the dimming light.
Mike gathered her in his arms and drew her close.
"Ya know, you're right. I do need to
relax.....and...you're great..you've *been* great
through all of this...and... I...I shoulda said thanks....
thanks for asking me here, for trying to help out...."
he sighed, as his warm mouth met hers, searching for
Julianna clearly felt his intentions. "You are
impossible," she answered him softly, pulling him
back into the condo.
"What can I say? You make me crazy," he quietly
whispered as conscious reason gave way to their
Mike and Julianna crossed over to the sandy beach,
as the blazing sun was making its slow arc towards
the shimmering water, changing colors before them
as it slipped easily from view. Cooling foamy waves
pounded the shore quietly. As they walked arm and
arm, they kicked at the waves now and again, and
continued the long slow jaunt along the beach.
Occassionally, Mike would stop and pick up a
pebble, rubbing it smooth before he threw it
sideways in to skip along the water.
"This was a great idea, Julianna," Mike said, as they
slowly made their way down the shoreline.
"The best," Julianna nodded assuredly. "I'm the brains."
Mike chuckled. "The farthest west I ever was before was St
to visit my sister, and well...lets face it, whats there
to do in St Louis!" Mike shrugged nonchalantly.
Julianna thought outloud, "The Mississippi, the
Cardinals, the Arch..."
Mike nodded, "Whatever....but you gotta admit, the
Mississippi isn't the Pacific." He paused as he looked
out at the lapping waves, then continued,
"Oh....yeah...I almost forgot....I went to that wedding
in Idaho...was there three nights.... felt like a
month....dead of winter. No wonder I wanted to
"Yeah, well, I took a road trip to Kalifornia once. I
was pretty young, but ya know, it all sounded
exciting....and it was....with the wind whipping
through my hair as we sped along the
interstate....things were going great, till we picked up
some hitchhikers," she looked pensively out towards
Mike looked with concern. "You should never pick
up hitchhikers.....it's like swimming with
sharks....you could have gotten killed..."
Julianna smiled, "Yeah, well.... that was a long time
ago. Don't tell me you never did anything
"Hey, I'm here aren't I?" Mike teased as he pulled
Julianna down onto the sand where they sat and
watched the sun make its final descent. The muted
hues of fading daylight cast shadows against them.
Silence fell upon them for moments as the beauty of
the sunset faded into darkness. "You ever think
about moving?" Julianna asked thoughtfully, as the
seabreezes brushed her hair back. "Ya know, maybe
out here? California ....land of opportunity."
"California? No," Mike shook his head and
answered in a breathy tone. "I mean, why would I
want to leave Baltimore? My life is *there*,
everything that really matters to me is there." He
squeezed Julianna as he ended the remark.
"Yeah, but say...for instance, things changed...for
some reason you weren't a cop anymore...than
what?" Julianna asked matter of factly, recalling how
close that had almost come.
"That's not gona happen....ok?" Mike answered
emphatically. "I'm a cop, that's what I do...that's who
I am...there's nothing else for me..."
"Yeah, well, I think about how it would be to pack
up....maybe settle in somewhere along the coast
here, maybe down by LA...I mean you could *be* a
cop anywhere, Mike, or maybe even run a charter
service," Julianna continued the speculation.
"Why....why leave Baltimore?" he pressed.
"Oh, I don't know...for the change....and well, ya
know what they say, California dreaming and all.....it
is kind of catchy," Julianna replied.
"Yeah....well ....let's leave the dreaming to everyone
here in California. Right now, my dreams
suck......maybe one of these days, they'll stop being
haunting ones," Mike answered sullenly, as he stood
up and extended his arm down to help Julianna up to
her feet, trying to find the respite from the
unrelenting agony he still tried to forget.
Mike Kellerman awoke to the sound of seagulls out
in the bay. Although he was used to the sound of the
winds coming in off the open waters, San Francisco
had more seagulls than Baltimore's inner harbor.
Mike rolled over and eyed Julianna who laid
sleeping quietly beside him. These were the
moments that you live for, he thought. The moments
that really mattered.
He laid silently beside her and watched the gentle
beauty of the rythym of her breathing. How well
aware he was of how quickly life could change. In
just a matter of moments. He'd seen it. Felt it.
Watched it change, right in front of his eyes.
Working homicide had taught him that. But, this is
what you promise to hold on to, and not to let go of,
these are the moments that really matter. The ones
you lose when the promise is forsaken, and the ones
you remember when you look back.
Mike rolled over and faced Julianna, as he blew a
wisp of her dark hair away from her sleeping face.
She flitched slightly, as he chuckled quietly to
himself. Doing it again, Julianna opened one eye,
and squinted towards him.
"Come on Mike, we can sleep in, we're on vacation,"
she looked over to him sleepily.
She started to roll over away from him, but with his
strong arm, he pulled her back. Rolling over on top
of her, he quietly whispered in her ear.
"Exactly....and I thought you were gona help me
She reached up around his broad shoulders and
pulled him down on top of her. "C'mon, Mike," she
said, "go back to sleep, we can can relax....later."
"Now," he said with a persistent grin, "and later," he
nudged into her ear, and Julianna knew she had no
choice but to give in.
"OK, what kind of car do you want?" Mike asked as
he held the phone in the crook of his shoulder and
Julianna eyed him. "You choose. Just make it
fast....and a convertable."
"Did you get that?" Mike asked to the rental agency
on the other end. "Great, we'll be ready."
"So, they bring it right to the door?" Julianna asked.
Mike nodded, as he began gathering a few things for
the day. "Now all we have to do is decide where
"That shouldn't be too hard, there's miles of coastline
to cover. I'm thinking," Julianna pointed out on the
map that she held in her hand, "heading south, down
towards Half Moon Bay."
"Yeah, well, I'm in charge of how we relax...you're in
charge of dinner," Mike said, looking over her
shoulder at the map. "And as long as we stay on the
Pacific Coast Highway, it'll be great. But tomorrow,
you promised, we head to Alcatraz," he added
Julianna got up and kissed Mike warmly, as he
pulled her hard into him, urging her for more.
Pushing him away, she stopped him firmly with her
hand. "You really do have a one track mind, don't
"C'mon, Julianna...we've got time," Mike eyes still lit with the
pleasure from her kiss, grabbing for her as she made
her way towards the bedroom to gather her things.
"I'm talking about you being a cop....you just can't
leave it behind, can you?" Julianna eyed him before
slipping out of site into the bedroom, leaving Mike
holding the map, a deep dimple pressed into his face.
The white Sebrine convertable squealed to a stop
into the parking space near the entrance of the little
bayside grille. Outdoor seating with wrought iron
tables and umbrellas were randomly scattered
around the patio. Enjoying the salt air, Mike and
Julianna nodded to the waitstaff to seat them there,
rather than inside.
Sitting across from eachother, they felt both
comfortable and content. Kellerman ordered a
longneck Corunna which the server brought with a
lime wedge on top. He squeezed the lime into it,
popped it into the bottle and took several big gulps,
swallowing the amber brew with great enjoyment.
Julianna sipped more slowly on her Wild Turkey on the rocks that
had been placed on a cocktail napkin in front of
Mike stretched out his long legs under the table, his
well worn jeans snug against the cooling
temperatures. Darkness was beginning to set in, and
he was glad he had opted for the t-shirt and v-necked
sweater. He casually fingered for his lighter out of
his jeans pocket and lit the candle that sat at the
center of the table, then pulled a cigarette out of the
pack in his pocket and lit it slowly. Julianna relaxed
in the seat across from him, propping her right leg on
top of his thigh. They were in no hurry to order
dinner, and preferred quiet conversation to the
pounding decadence of the rock band inside.
Julianna ran her foot up and down his leg, as she
leaned casually back in the chair, then reached for
her second Wild Turkey. Putting her foot back down
on the patio, Mike eyed her. "Don't stop," he
pleaded with a smile.
She smiled at him, and moved her chair closer
around the table where the view of the bay was
"This has been great," Mike whispered quietly
towards Julianna, placing his arm around her
shoulders. "Getting away....with you.......you were
right, it was just what I needed to relax," Mike
sighed at his good fortune of having Julianna look
out for him.
Julianna eyed him, "Relaxed is good for you, Mike.
And good for everyone else, too... good for us."
"What's that suppose to mean?" he asked
This time she shrugged. "When you're relaxed...it
"It shows?" he repeated, his tone asking for
clarification, as he took a swig from the clear long
neck Corunna, his brows raised quizzicably.
"Yeah..." Julianna answered, pausing to take another
sip of Wild Turkey. She thought a minute longer
than asked, twisting her glass in front of her.
"Where do you see us in a couple of
"Us?" he asked, then added without hesitation,
"together." His eyes remained lit with anticipation,
"Ah...I...I don't know..." she answered. "I mean....ya
never know, where you end up....things can
change....sometimes there are good reasons to...say
"Sometimes there's even better reasons to stay, "
Mike replied warmly in her ear, as he cradled her
closer against the ocean breeze, wrapping both arms
snuggly around her. The candle flickered in the
breeze as the stars began to peek through the
Julianna Cox poured herself a cup of freshly brewed
coffee and sat down next to Mike on the balcony of
the condo. He had been up for hours watching the
world come to life on the street and bay below and
had just made the second pot of coffee. A steady
flow of traffic was now making it's way northward
into San Francisco and the morning light was bright,
the fog now lifting leaving a just a smoky screen
across the ocean, although a few fishing boats could
be seen out in the distance.
" 'Bout time you got up," Mike eyed her
affectionately, pressing over towards her to give her
a morning kiss.
"Yeah...." Cox coaxed, "I was waiting for you to
come wake me up...."
Mike chuckled. "Now... you tell me," he sighed.
Adding smuggly, "And I'm the one with the one track
Julianna got up and straddled Mike in the chair,
sitting with her knees flexed beneath her. Pressing
into him, she kissed him warmly, as he searched the
warm flesh beneath her t-shirt. With a sigh, she
smiled and got up, picked up her coffee and leaned
back onto the rail, eyeing him. "You had you're
chance, Kellerman," she teased, "you blew it....."
"Now why is it...I feel I'm gona get a second
chance," Mike teased her back, as he stood up and
wrapped his arms around her. After a long
passionate kiss, he looked at his watch then sighed,
"But not right now...," he said. "We've got to get
going or we'll be late."
Julianna looked perplexed. "Late.....for what? We
can't be late for anything, we're on vacation..."
"Yeah...well, while you were still sleeping, I made
reservations...we've got to get to Pier 41 by 10," he
smiled at her.
"Pier 41?" Julianna asked.
"Yeah....we have a ferry to catch," he answered, his
face dimpled. "Alcatraz.... remember?"
Julianna sighed. "I was hoping you wouldn't," she
"Get outta here," he mused. "It'll be great.....you'll
see," he said enthusiastically.
Mike parked the car, then enthusiastically pulled
Julianna along with him hand in hand. The ferry
was clearly in view, but Mike glanced at his watch,
"We're going to miss it, Julianna."
"There'll be another," Julianna sighed, as she kept
pace with him, boarding the ferry with the last of
It was a short windy ride over to the island, about
ten minutes, but Mike loved the feel of the ocean
waters beneath him. They stood at the rail, rather
than taking shelter inside the cabin. Mike cradled
Julianna from behind, shielding her from the harsh
gusts, blanketing her as he supported himself on the
railing. He had thought about renting a cruiser
during their visit, but found their time more limited
than he liked. And, truthfully, he did want Julianna
to have some say over what they planned. She had
her sites on some of the coastal villages with their
quaint shops and restaurants.
The ferry pulled into the dock and Mike and
Julianna exited and started the steep long walk up
to the prison. The view of the San Francisco
skyline was remarkable, and didn't go unnoticed, as
Mike scanned the landscape all while keeping his
arm wrapped around Julianna. The wide expanse of
the Golden Gate Bridge stretched across the bay,
the busy storefronts were visible along Fisherman's
Wharf, and the taller buildings of downtown cast
shadows on the shoreline in front of it.
Mike and Julianna joined the others in a tour, then
took a self pacing audio tour themselves. The cold
dark walls of the prison and the steel iron cellblocks
with bunks with narrow foam mattresses left
Julianna feeling cold. Mike on the other hand,
loved the sense of history, the seeming presence of
the incarcerated ghosts that still haunted the
confines. He envisioned the inmates during the 30 or
so years it was a federal penitentary, going about
their day to day routine. They even had a chance to
enter into a cell, and feel the sense of isolation
when the steel bars were closed behind them.
Locked down with a pause between passing tourists,
Mike backed Julianna into a corner and whispered,
"God, I've missed you," he teased, "it's been weeks,"
letting on like a secluded inmate finally getting a
conjugal visit. Ravenishly, he moved in to kiss her,
as if it had really been weeks.
Julianna matched the passion, until they could hear
a group of tourists approaching, interrupting their
play. Mike sighed, "You just don't get any privacy
in this hellhole," he whinced, as released his
embrace, and headed towards the cell door. As he
opened it, he imagined how it felt as a real inmate
with the cell locked shut, at the mercy of the guards.
Julianna followed behind and closed the heavy steel
iron wall behind her, "Things are looking up,
Kellerman, you just got paroled on good behavior."
They spent a good part of the day on the island,
having lunch in the small cafeteria. By the time
they got back to the condo, it was late and they
decided to order pizza and spend a quiet evening in.
The weather had cooperated with Mike and
Julianna's plans, as the summer sky remained clear
and the breezes warm for most of their visit. They
took adavantage of their free time, enjoying the
restaurants, shops, and culture of the city and
surrounding area. Arising early on their 6th day, a
pounding rain greeted them and they opted to wait
it out in the condo. Unfortunately, the rain lasted
longer than the morning showers that had
predicted, and Mike had to put his cruising idea on
hold. Julianna answered the phone on the 3rd ring.
"That was Laura," she announced, as she clicked off
the phone. Mike was sacked out on the sofa,
stretched out with his finger clearly stuck on the
Mike looked up from the television, his finger still
pressing the channel forward button, as the screen
flipped from one horizontal screen to another.
"Laura?" he asked.
"The home owner," Julianna answered, lifting up
his feet and sliding underneath them, then placing
them back comfortably on her lap. "She's coming
home early.... tonight."
"Great, we're not leaving til tomorrow...now what,"
he asked feeling disappointed that they may have to
check into a hotel.
"She said sit tight, there's plenty of room, and she'll
fix us dinner," Julianna said, as she ran her hand
through her dark hair.
"Dinner? Get outta here. We've been sleeping in her
bed all week, using her condo, and she's going to fix
*us* dinner? We'll take her out...." Mike said
Julianna shook her head. "You don't know Laura. If
she wants to fix us dinner, she'll fix us dinner. Says
we've probably been eating out all
week....besides...she's a great cook," Julianna
offered her assessment.
Wisely Kellerman conceded, "She's already made
up her mind, huh?"
"Yep," Cox asserted.
"And.... she is a great cook," Mike nodded for
Cox smiled, "Stopping at the market on the way
home. Her plane lands around 2, she'll be home
before 4 and we'll be dining by 7," she laid out the
Mike shifted his position, as he sat upright, faced
her and leaned in close, his weight balanced on one
knee, his other foot flat on the floor. "In that case,"
he nudged up and whispered close to her ear, "we
better have an early appetizer."
The door to the condo swung open and Laura
Murphy entered carrying a brown paper sack stuffed
to the top with fresh meat and produce. Following
close behind her was a neighborhood boy, who was
dragging her two big suitcases. She should have
been exhausted, given the week long activities at
the conference she had attended in Boston. She
wasn't. Instead she was excited to have visitors. And
she hadn't seen Julianna Cox in ages. They were
childhood friends and had aspired to their chosen
professions at the same college.
Laura kept the San Francisco Police Department
running. As the Executive Secretary to the Chief of
Police, she found herself involved in the day to day
affairs of the department, running the Community
Education Project, and Public Relations. She
enjoyed her job, took it seriously enough, and was
easily one of the nicest persons you'd ever want to
Mike picked up the remote and flicked off the tv as
he immediately came to his feet to assist her. "Need
some help?" he asked.
"I got it," she said scanning the room. Her eyes lit
up when Peaches scooted across the floor in front of
her. Placing her bag on the countertop, she squatted
down and rubbed the cat affectionately. After a
lingering hello, she again focused on the two guests.
"Julianna," she greeted her enthusiastically, as she
reached out and gave her a warm hug. "Great to see
you. And this must be.... Mike Kellerman."
He nodded with a cocky smile and half-hearted
shrug. "The one and only."
Laura smiled back at him, her face showing no
fatique from her cross country flight. "I bet you
He passed his eyes up and down her, then
back up to Laura's face, and she noticed. "I'd have
taken you as a cop, right off the bat....I mean
without even knowing."
He met her gaze. "Oh....yeah....Why?" he asked
inquisitively, his mouth pressed into a smile and a
dimple deep in his cheek.
"For one thing, a cop generally will give you the
once over when they meet you," she explained,
calling Mike on it. "Always sizing things up.....even
when they're off duty."
Mike shrugged. "Well, it's not like I cased the
joint...checked out what's in the cupboards, drawers,
looked in the medicine cabinet or anything....But if
I did," he pointed his finger politely at her, " I'd
probably already know alot about you and .....and
I'd have to say.... I like you already."
Laura looked to Julianna and uttered quietly with a
shake of her head, "Charming."
Mike ignored the comment and looked at the two,
asking seriously as if it were his home, "So, make
yourself comfortable....can I get you a drink or
Just as Julianna had suspected, Laura was
showered, unpacked and had dinner prepared and
ready to serve by 7 pm. Mike had taken off to scout
around the city one last time before their early
morning departure, as Julianna stayed back to help
with dinner. Laura enjoyed filling her in on all the
antics of the San Francisco Police Department, and
Julianna had plenty of her own personal
experiences to match the banter.
Turning down the flame on the stove, Laura bent
down to watch the flame dim to just the right
temperature under the grill pan.
"So, Mike seems like a lot of fun," Laura said,
changing the subject from career issues to those of
Julianna agreed, "Oh, yeah, Mike's fun alright."
"Hey, you deserve fun, Julianna. Much better than
the mopes you usually hang out with," Laura took a
knife and started slicing red and green peppers.
Julianna shrugged, not feeling like getting into that
discussion again. Yeah, she knew her track record
wasn't that great, but who the hell had time to spend
on a relationship while getting through the grueling
forensic residency program and advancing in a field
dominated by men. She liked Kellerman. Alot. And
he certainly seemed to reciprocate.
"So, how serious are you and Mike?" Laura asked,
with a raised brow, her auburn hair picking up
highlights from the sun streaming in as it made its
"How serious am I or how serious is Mike?" Cox
asked matter of factly, taking a stack of plates out
of the cupboard.
Laura stopped and eyed Cox directly. "How serious
Cox paused and smiled. "We get along," she said.
"And that's it?" Laura pressed. "You've been going
out for what.... 3 months, invite him for a week
vacation, and you just get along..."
Julianna wasn't sure she wanted to think this out to
clearly. After a pause, she added... "You know, you
really do hang around with too many cops....all the
questions....but ...OK.....well, so maybe we get
along.....great...most of the time."
With that the door opened and Mike walked in with
a bunch of flowers in warm shades of yellow and
violet, wrapped in florist tissue in one hand, a bottle
of Chardoney in the other. A smile emerged from
behind the ruddy glow of his face, as he asked
enthusiastically. "Dinner ready? I'm starved."
Laura had prepared a wonderful dinner of Herb
Rubbed Grilled Pork Chops, Garlic Mashed
Potatoes, and Dry-fried String Beans with Peppers.
She fancied herself a bit of a gourmet cook and
enjoyed having someone besides herself to cook for.
Mike eagerly took his seat at the table, reaching to
the center to light the candle first. Casual
conversation wafted through the room as easily as
the smoldering smoke from the flickering flame.
Kellerman filled his plate, finished it off, and took a
second helping, while Julianna and Laura continued
to catch up on their news. "This is great," he
interrupted, nodding towards Laura as he hungrily
took another bite. "I can't believe you're not
Cox interjected. "Contrary to popular belief, Mike,
the way to a man's heart is not always through his
stomach. As an Anatomy major, I feel safe in saying
Laura took a sip of wine and leveled with him. "I've
had offers. Cops mostly. Let's just say, the fantasy is
usually better than the reality."
The remark passed over Kellerman without much
thought. "Whatever," he shrugged, as he shoved
another bite into his mouth. "But I'm telling ya, this
is great stuff."
Dinner was finished and the kitchen was cleaned up
in no time. A cool breeze blew in through the
balcony doors that were left open just for that
purpose. Feeling a need for the Pacific air, Laura
got up and suggested, "How bout we sit out on the
Mike and Julianna followed the lead. After
arranging the patio chairs to their liking, they
settled in and watched the waves glisten in the
moonlight. The view was great. But from here, it
was truly to be enjoyed by all the senses. If you
closed your eyes, the ocean would seem to swallow
you up in one fell swoop, as the sound of the waves
pounding mercilessly on the shore echoed in the
distance. Taking a deep whiff of the salt air was
welcome for any seafaring man. And whether it was
imagination or not, you could almost feel the spray
on your face from the beating waves and taste the
salt residue left in its wake.
Laughter and light hearted conversation filtered into
the night, as the threesome truly enjoyed eachothers
"Ok," Mike said, "tell me again, this is beer
imported from China.....Chinese beer?"
"Yep, there's nothing like an Asian brew," Laura
sighed, taking a sip.
"Ok...OK....I get that..." Mike shrugged. "But I gotta
tell ya, in Baltimore, imported is anything brought
in west of the Mississippi."
They laughed as they finished a second bottle, then
headed to bed just hours before their flight was to
depart from San Francisco International Airport.
Mike wandered into the squadroom, punched in and
gathered his messages as he made his way spiritedly
to his desk. It wasn't until he eyed the board, with
the overwhelming contrast of names in red and
black that the reality of his day set in. Still, he was
feeling too good to focus on that just yet.
Lieutenent Giardello passed by with barely a nod,
mumbling as he made his way to his office, "You're
back. Kay needs to see you."
Mike sifted through his pink memo slips and
shrugged. "Yeah, I had a great time, Gee," he
mumbled under his breath.
"Hey...hey...hey," Lewis eyed Kellerman, as he
firmly patted him across the shoulder. 'You'll be
happy to know we still be in business, Partner."
"You missed me, didn't you?" Mike asked.
"Well, it ain't like I'm gona send ya flowers or
anything, but yeah, welcome back," Meldrick said.
Mike looked around and the busy hustling attested
to the fact that there had been no pause in
homicides during his westerly trip.
Kay walked quickly into the squadroom, stopping at
Mike's desk. "Kellerman, you're back. How's
Mike smiled and nodded, "Great...yeah..things are
great. Hey... Kay," he asked quietly, "did you know
you can go a whole week without a donut or seeing
any dead bodies and not miss a beat?"
"Yeah?" Kay responded. "Well, that's great, hmm,
cos you know that Winters case..... just got called to
trial. They need you in court this afternoon." Kay
handed him the file, as the phone bleated in the