Actions

Work Header

One Last Fling

Chapter Text

It was never intended to be anything. It was only one of those things. One last fling.  

Abbie and Luke were getting married, at last. They had reunited after Abbie went and returned from Quantico. They got engaged when Abbie got hired as an FBI agent at the Westchester branch. Luke declared himself proud of her, despite, as he said and Abbie opposed, just being a lowly detective fiancé to a federal agent. Abbie’s laugh grew strained.  

Ichabod and Katrina were also getting married. Ichabod had finally moved to the US, it had taken his best friend Abraham and his fiancée Katrina a year to persuade him to leave Oxford. After three months on US soil, he was engaged to be married and felt sorely misplaced, despite a good position at a local collage. It was not Oxford. Then again, not even Oxford was Oxford.   

And then, the wedding planning began. Luke’s mother and his cousin Sophie (Abbie’s colleague on FBI) loved it all. Abbie just wanted to survive it all.   

Ichabod, on the other hand, actually wanted to play a part in the planning of his own wedding. Katrina took it as an insult.   

Months passed, and it was suddenly time to hold parties. Bachelor and bachelorette parties! (Or stag party, as Ichabod kept saying he didn’t want.) Nothing strange about that, right? What could possibly go wrong? Even if two total strangers, who both were getting married in June, happened to meet the very night of their last, big nights’ out as unmarried… it’s not like that would make any difference?   

Perhaps it was all down to something that someone in their lives happened to say the same day. Perhaps.   

Abbie was at work when her flirty colleague Danny teased her.   

“So when’s your bachelorette party?”  

“I dunno. Never, I hope!”   

“You mean your girls would pass on a chance to humiliate you with a night on the town? No way!”   

Abbie made a short laugh.   

“I know, right?”   

“So… when it happens… what will you do?”   

“Heh, no idea! Who knows what my friends might be planning?”   

“No, I mean… will you make the most of it?”   

“What?”   

“You know…” he nudged her elbow. “Maybe one last fling?”  

“One last what?”   

“Ah, come on!”   

Abbie just glared at him and smiled awkwardly, then she left Danny’s company as soon as she could. He was attractive, she wasn’t blind. And a fling… Well, it wasn’t what Abbie did, on or off a bachelorette party. Besides; Danny was a colleague and it would only lead to trouble. Also, she wasn’t on her bachelorette party. Although her girl gang kidnapped her the very same evening, after work.   

The same night, after having solved a historical escape room mystery much too quickly, Ichabod sat in a leather armchair with a whisky in his hand. Irving, Hawley and the other guys were in the bar, but Abraham joined him with his own whisky.

“Don’t pout, Crane!” he laughed. “But I am sorry that the mystery was too simple for you.”

“Really, Bram!” Ichabod laughed. “It was quite entertaining!”   

“You should probably give them a few pointers, old friend,” Abraham sighed and took a deep sip from his glass. “Never mind – we’re going to Mabie’s for more drinks!”   

“And karaoke?” Ichabod asked hopefully.   

“I knew you’d ask! Well, it’s your bachelor party! And you specifically demanded no strippers. So if a karaoke night is to be your ‘last fling’, so to speak –”  

“Last what?”   

“Ah, you know. American traditions, they call it. Having one’s fun with another partner, for the last time before you’re trapped in marriage.”   

Abraham’s tone was amused, but Ichabod suddenly shivered. Trapped.  

“Don’t look like you’ve seen a ghost, Ichabod!” Abraham laughed. “Finish your whisky, we’re moving on from here. One last karaoke before Katrina forbids it forever! ”   

Abbie, on her other hand, got her stripper and a bunch of dollar bills to stuff in his speedo. When he wanted to sit on her lap, Abbie held up her hands and pointed in her sister’s direction. Jenny raised to the occasion by remaining seated. Abbie joined the other girls in wolf whistling.  

“Should have grabbed your chance when you had it, sis!” Jenny teased when they were getting ready to go to Mabie’s. Abbie demanded more drinks, and karaoke.   

“Not you too! I’m not after a last fling!”   

“Yeah, well. Probably for the best. Sophie would flay you alive for doing that to her cousin! Still…”   

Abbie huffed.   

Jenny hugged her from behind. “I promise I won’t tell,” she whispered teasingly. Abbie knew she spoke the truth; Jenny never liked Luke that much.  

“Ah, damn!” they heard Cynthia say as she looked on her phone.  

“What?” Abbie asked.   

“Frank is on his way to Mabie’s as well. He’s at a bachelor party too, remember?”   

“Yeah, well… This is Sleepy Hollow,” Abbie mused. “Where else would we end up?”   

Crane sang first. A passionate old ballad in his best baritone, full of sexual innuendo. Abbie looked at him, gaping. Her girls were wolf whistling again, except for Cynthia who had trouble waving off her husband who came over, grinning and a bit drunk. Abraham followed and put his arm around Irving’s neck.  

What have we here – another victim celebrating her last day of freedom?” Bram grinned and playfully flicked the veil Abbie had been forced to wear. Ichabod, on the other hand, had been led unto stage blindfolded by his gang, and Bram had introduced him to the patrons with some saucy descriptions. Then, the groom-to-be had been freed from his blindfold and offered three songs to choose from. Bram had looked surprised when he chose the sexiest one.  

“Actually,” Jenny intervened laughingly, “Abbie is a fantastic singer! You can’t let your buddy hog the stage all night!”  

“Well, get her on stage, then!” Bram roared happily. “A duet!”  

Abbie clearly felt that her intoxication and small stature was used to her disadvantage, but she couldn’t help laughing as they pushed her up on stage. Also, she wanted to sing. With that man with the sexy, British baritone. So there she stood, in her veil, grinning up at a tall man with amazing, blue eyes.

“Look, Crane! We found you a bride-to-be!” Bram shouted. The pub was in uproar.

“Duet! Duet! Duet!” they heard the patrons chant.

Ichabod was gaping at his surprise singing partner. She was beaming in her veil, her doe eyes were shining. She was truly a pocket Venus.

Then, the first sultry tones of a classic Marvin Gaye song came out of the sound system. The pocket Venus grabbed her microphone and her voice sent goose bumps all over his body.

“I’ve been reaaaally tryyyyin’, baby
Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long
And if you feel like I feel, baby
Then, c’mon, oh, c’mon…”

Abbie sang her heart out, still grinning and slowly dancing closer to the man next to her that looked so baffled. He had pink lips that he nervously wetted and he just about found his voice in time to sing:

“Let’s get it onnnn…”

The continued cheer from the crowd faded away as the disco lights on the stage lit them up and placed them in their own bubble.

“Ahh, sugar…” Abbie sang and sneaked next to her new-found singing partner. He was quick to put his arm around her. She was small, on high heels, and yet the top of her head with her fragrant waves barely reached his shoulder. How did she fit so perfectly against him?

“Let’s get it onnn
Ah, baby, let’s get it on
Let’s love, baby…”

How did their voices match each other so seamlessly?

Taking turns to sing the different lyrics – lyrics that they both knew by heart – they pointed at one another, took turns, sang together and put a lot of feeling into the song. It was drunk, a bit awkward but with true emotion. The crowd loved it. The performers loved it too.

Abbie swayed and Ichabod followed. As the song and lyrics got increasingly more intimate, Abbie pranced a little and moved her booty in rhythm. Ichabod, drunk and feeling less inhibited by the minute, looked at her in open appreciation and nodded meaningfully to the audience, which roared in amusement.

Abbie pulled off the veil and dangled it around in attempt to be sexy. She handed it to Ichabod, who swung it over his head and then threw it out to the audience.

By the end of it, Crane took advantage of the lyrics and sneaked an arm around Abbie’s waist, pulling her close, as he sang.

If the spirit moves you
let me groove you – good
let your love come… down…”

Abbie leaned her head back and even rubbed her curvy bottom against him. She laughed and sang along as the song faded out.

The crowd erupted in wild cheers and the couple on stage hugged fiercely. Ichabod felt her stretching her arms up around his neck and he lifted her up to grant her access. She was pressed firmly against him and he didn’t want to let go of her, ever. He pulled her with him to the back exit off the stage, where it was almost dark, and away from prying eyes. He jumped down and lifted her off stage by the waist, and she simply landed in his arms again. But now, they were eye to eye. Nose to nose. 

You!” he breathed. “You are absolutely wonderful! A singing angel from heaven!”  

“Hey!” she giggled. “You’re totally amazing! I’ve never sung a better duet in my life!”   

Their heads just happened to tilt, and then they were lips on lips.   

Chapter Text

She fell into his arms. She melted against him. Literally melted against the tall stranger with a British accent, brown locks and blue eyes that somehow were so warm – like he was warm and somehow real, even if it was so easy to dismiss all this as totally unreal. Definitely not happening. Not at all part of reality. A fevered, horny dream made up by her drunken brain. If it wasn’t for his eager tongue, strong arms and large hands that scooped her up against him, completely setting her skin on fire.

Moaning into their hot kiss, she felt her feet touch ground again. Was this when she woke up? Nope. Still kissing this total stranger. Still groping his broad shoulders. Still hoping she wouldn’t be snatched away from him. Still pouring all her instant, incredible attraction to this man into their searing kiss.

Ichabod could hardly believe that this fallen angel, this living Venus, was basically moving and rubbing her petite, yet so curvy body against his, as her hands ran through his hair, along his neck and shoulders… His own hands were roving along those irresistible curves that he could already picture perfectly behind his closed eyelids. And her lips… Never had a tongue moved so enticingly around his. Never had his defences fallen so quickly and completely. Groaning, he rubbed her closer his unruly, throbbing erection.

Fling…? Was this what it was?

Some noise or other made them break the kiss, but still grabbing onto one another like they were drowning at sea. So it was real? Abbie stared up at him, his flushed face and tousled hair. He looked decidedly ready to be kissed again.

“Wow…” Abbie mumbled slowly.

She smiled at him; it was the softest of smiles and eyes that begged for more.

“Oh yes…” he rumbled back and covered her lips with his own.

“Abbie? Hey, Abbie!”

It was Jenny’s voice and close enough to make the couple jump apart.

“Jenny! I’ll – I’ll be there soon!” Abbie shouted back. “Order me another whisky, will ya!” she added in an attempt to deflect.

“OK! Good singing!” Jenny shouted back and her footstep faded.

“Abbie? Is –”

“I – what?”

They both talked at once. Ichabod’s hands were still heavy on her hips, her own hands grabbed his shirt.

“Your name is... Abbie?” he mumbled and leaned in again.

“Yeah...” She whispered and licked her lips. “And you...?”

“Ichabod –”

“CRANE!!” Abraham’s voice boomed nearby.

The couple jumped and grinned.

“We should –” Abbie began.

“Wait!” Ichabod begged, pulling her back. “Can we –”

Yes!” Abbie said, cupped his face and kissed him once more. He instantly reciprocated, heatedly.

“Damn, you’re a great kisser!” Abbie gasped as she broke free. “What’s your name again...?” was something she’d never expected to ask a man she’d just kissed for the first time, a few weeks before she was getting married to someone else.

“Ichabod...” he rumbled in her ear, sounding amused.

“How the hell do you make everything sound so sexy?” she moaned. She was rewarded with a great hand on her ass.

“CRANE!!” boomed again and they had to let go. Hastily, they exited the backroom and walking out together, they scanned the pub for their gangs, groggy by the sudden lights and new cheers from the patrons. Further away, Abbie could see her sister waving. Apparently, two tables had been put together, joining the two parties.

Ichabod saw Bram walking ahead, joining the waving woman who looked related to the woman he had just kissed. Bram grabbed the waving woman by the waist and sat down with her in his lap. She laughed.

“That’s my sister!” Abbie exclaimed.

“And my best friend!” Ichabod added.

Jenny saw them and started to wave them over. “That’s my sister!” she yelled.

“And my best friend!” Abraham added.

Abbie and Ichabod had to laugh at those echoes. They sat down side by side on a snug seat saved to them by their friends. It was quite a dark corner and everyone was busy drinking and laughing.

“To the adorable wedded-to-be!” Cynthia said and raised her glass.

“And their partners!” Sophie shouted.

“May they never meet!” Frank cheered and both parties laughed, including the wedded-to-be.

“Thanks, all. Thanks, boss!” Abbie said and raised her whisky to all and then her former Captain who she called ‘boss’ these days.

They drank and Ichabod mumbled in her ear, letting his hand stroke her thigh under the table.

“Are you with the police?”

“Yup,” she confirmed and let her hand boldly copy what he did, only higher up on his thigh.

“So I’m in the hands of the law?” he said and gasped as her delicate fingers happened to skim the outline of his tell-tale arousal.

“Oh yeah...” she hissed, determined to be wicked.

“I like it...” he growled.

“Am I to take temporary possession of this...?” she whispered with a naughty wink as her small palm felt his hard, impressive length.

Ichabod had trouble breathing and even greater problems with hiding how turned on he was.

“You can take anything you want, officer,” he managed to say in a low, strangled voice. “I’m at your mercy.”

“Looking very snug over there, Crane!” Abraham shouted, with Jenny still in his lap. She had her arm around Abraham’s neck and she grinned at Abbie. “Enjoying yourself with the future bride?”

“And you with the bride’s sister, I believe!” Ichabod shouted back, trying to deflect interest from him and Abbie. He raised his glass and had a sip of his own whisky.

Abbie gave his erection a grateful squeeze and Ichabod nearly lost it, starting to cough.

People laughed and Abbie’s hand started to massage soothingly along his back. She just couldn’t keep her hands off him. And speaking of hands... She wanted his on her body again. When his coughs died down, she took his hand closest to her and pulled it back to her lap.

Smirking at her, his fingers moved the hem of her skirt further up. Her legs were bare and the feeling of his digits sent flutters through her, targeting her nipples and sex. His hand skimmed her skin and she parted her legs, smiling saucily. Reaching her panties, his smile died slowly. Abbie made a small gasp. He could feel it. Feel how she had already wet through her tiny panties. His fingers slowly moved over the sodden cloth, down – then up – and down again. Adding deliberate pressure as he moved back and forth. Abbie felt herself growing hot all over. Her nipples became so taught that they showed through both bra and blouse. He noticed, and they both licked their lips.

Another cheer erupted and Abbie noticed that Jenny was kissing Ichabod’s friend. Sophie grinned but looked very drunk. Ichabod’s fingers found their way under her panties. Abbie made a sound, but it drowned in all other noise. She grinned and bit her lower lip, hard, as his fingers got soaked in her heat. His beautiful fingers knew what they were doing. Far too well. Abbie couldn’t deal with having an orgasm like this, at a table surrounded by friends; wild bachelorette party or not.

She fumbled after a napkin on the table and sneaked it down in her lap. Her hand grabbed his wrist. Ichabod saw in her face that she was close to breaking point and stilled his exploring fingers.

“Not here...” she moaned in a low voice.

Ichabod lifted an eyebrow and waited. He didn’t want to stop. But...

“Sneak away to the men’s room and wait for me?” she suggested. “If you want...”

His naughty smile was answer enough. He got up and just as he reached the corner of the restroom section, he turned and met her eyes. She saw him lift his fingers to his mouth and taste them; taste her. He grinned and she had to grin as well, silently praying no-one noticed. Though she really should be making very different prayers.

Abbie followed him, much too soon and shamelessly eager. He was on the look-out for her and quickly pulled her into a restroom that wasn’t too shabby. The door was promptly locked.

“Ichabod!” she moaned and said his name for the first time. He wasted no time but pressed her close, kissing her again. She almost climbed him and he pulled her skirt all the way up to her waist, grabbing her ass cheeks under her small panties.

Pulling apart a bit, they both started to unbutton his shirt.

“I have condoms, Abbie,” he moaned between kisses. “The boys stuffed my trousers...”

She put her hand in one of his pockets, and sure enough: there were plenty of condoms.

“One may even fit you, you big boy!” she gushed and dropped a handful on the extended vanity top.

His shirt was open and he grabbed her by the hips as she started to unbutton her blouse. Helping her, he sank down to kiss her skin. He sat on the loo for leverage and helped her pushing off the blouse and pulling down her strapless bra.

“Mmm, you’re so beautiful!” he groaned between the kisses. “I can’t resist you!”

His attention made her feel it, he was so fervent and deliberate, covering her with kisses, letting his tongue lick and flick every sensitive spot. He was sexy, adorable, dorky, manly – a confusing but winning combination. Sucking one nipple and circling it with his tongue made her groan and grab his shoulders. She wanted to sit on his lap but had other ideas as well. Pulling him up, she undid his trousers and let them fall to the floor. The tip of his long and thick cock already twitched readily over the waistband of his boxer shorts. She sank down and released him fully, then instantly started to lick and suck him with hungry moans.

“Christ, woman!” he growled and slowly let his fingers grip her shiny locks.

It wasn’t long before he had to beg her to stop and pulled her up on her feet, kissing her gratefully.

“God, Abbie!”

“What happened to ‘officer’?” she chuckled as his fingers found her clit. She leaned back against the vanity top as he pulled down her panties with hooked fingers, then found her heat and began to pleasure her. He bended down and let his mouth suck one nipple, then the other.

“I will show you all the respect you demand, officer. Just tell me where you want my hands and what positions you order.”

“Mmmm, ohhh... And you’re a smooth talker as well.”

“I know many languages, officer. Which one would you like me to speak when my lips are on your clit?”

“Aaaaaahhhh, fuck!” was all she could keen as he went from words to action.

 

Chapter Text

Lightly, sweetly – then hard and insistently – his lips and tongue searched her. Just as she wanted and needed. When she could focus, she looked down and saw that he did what he could to devour her, drown in her. Rubbing his face into her, his soft beard prickled and added to the strong sensation of his long, clever tongue and firm, sucking lips.

Coming up for air, he gazed up at her, looking blissful. Her legs quaked and he pulled one over his shoulder. His large hands held her hips firmly, making her steady.

“You fallen angel…” he rumbled. “Or are you the whole of Eden, a garden of lust placed into one divine body?”

“Are you a book of poetry, placed in a drop dead handsome man?” she giggled happily, holding on to the vanity with one hand and running her other hand into his hair.

“I am certainly inspired…” he smirked, while he slowly let a long digit enter her cunt.

“Oh – oh – fuck, yeah…”

“Mmmm…” he growled when his lips and tongue came back to her clit. Slowly entering a second finger into her, he began to move back and forth slowly for a long while, then bending them against her g-spot.

Abbie came hard, with a long, ecstatic cry. Ichabod looked up along her body, revelling at the sight of her head bending back, her naked breasts quivering and her beautiful voice singing out in praise.

He still held her hips as she shook, then felt her pull him up by his open, sagging shirt. He rose to his feet, but her surprisingly strong hands held down his head to her level. She dragged him close and kissed him firmly, tasting herself as he had tasted her.

Groaning into the burning kiss, he felt her small and capable hand close around his cock. He hadn’t even thought about touching himself as he satisfied her; her pleasure was all he could focus on. Now, he felt his own lust rising and crashing within him, all because of her.

Abbie placed one of the condoms in his hand and his shaking hands instantly started to open it. She steadied his hands while peppering his face with kisses.

“Please fuck me, Ichabod Crane,” she demanded salaciously and yet politely.

“I’m gratified to obey your every command, officer,” he managed to groan as she helped him roll down the condom. “How do you want me?” he added in a husky whisper.

Kissing him and looking into his lovely eyes that were so filled with desire for her nearly overwhelmed her for a moment. She wanted him so much that she hurt from it.

“Like this,” she moaned and turned around, deciding that she wanted him to take her from behind.

That’s when she saw herself and him - them - in the large mirror. Her blouse was open and he was exposing her shoulder to kiss it, while one of his hands grabbed and fondled her naked breast. Her strapless bra was pushed down, exposing her. Her skirt was bundled up around her waist. Her panties? Long gone. Her hair was wild, makeup smeared… Dishevelled was an understatement.

And he? No better. He was busy pulling up her knee on the vanity in order to enter her, while still kissing her neck and playing with her nipple, making her groan with want. His shirt was hanging open, exposing his slender but slightly ripped chest. She knew that his trousers were down around his feet. She saw him take his big dick in hand and nudging it close to her entrance.

Seeing it should perhaps sober her up. Seeing it only made her even more aroused. She could actually feel herself getting wetter and contract, as the tip of his dick touched her.

“Are you sure, Treasure?” he mumbled into her ear, lifting his eyes to see what she saw in the mirror.

“Yes, oh my God, yes, please…” she clamoured and groaned as she felt him begin to slide in slowly and steady. “Fuck, you’re big…” she keened but reached behind to grab his ass.

“Hhhnngg, but you’re so wet for me…” he grunted and enjoyed the feel of her nails digging into his butt. Moving deliberately slow, he felt her clench and drench him in welcome.

“Yeah, yeah… I am!” she panted and arched her back, taking him in to the hilt.

“I will fill you up like your gun fills your holster, beautiful officer.”

His corny sex talk only made her even hungrier for him. Their eyes met in the mirror, showing their helpless lust.

“Fill me… fuck me…” she begged. “And hard, baby…” she added as he slowly slid out. “Fuck me hard.”

“Fucking potty mouth!” he hissed and pushed his cock back into her, hard and quick.

Abbie howled and must have closed her eyes, drowning in the feeling. Ichabod took hold of her hips and began to thrust into her, grunting with every push. Abbie gaped, silent and breathless as he rubbed against her inner walls. A low wail came from her, turning into repeated string of ’ah’ in rhythm with his jerking hips and penetrating dick.

“Treasure, oh Treasure…” he groaned desperately. Abbie was coming again, and hooked her arm around his neck. She pulled him into a kiss in time for him to swallow her urgent scream, as her next orgasm peaked. She pulsated around his cock for a long while and he had to bite back his own scream. He wasn’t ready to follow her just yet.

Abbie felt like a rag in his strong arms. She was breathing quickly as he held her tenderly and soothingly kissed her shoulder. He was still inside her, hard as ever, and she was still clenching around him. In her post-orgasmic bliss, she already felt that she wanted to give more, have more, make him come in her.

“Oh, God… Oh, baby…” she managed to whisper.

“Mmmm,” he moaned. “You’re too lovely. No-one should be so lovely to fuck, especially not an officer of the law!” he huffed out in a chuckle.

Abbie giggled and pulled his arms closer around her. His hands grabbed on to her breasts, his beard lightly scratched her neck as his warm, moist lips kissed her there. She moaned and clenched around him again.

“Minx!” he growled.

Abbie laughed and that earned her a smack on her arse. Right after, Ichabod swung her around. She suddenly sat on the vanity top, but he lifted her up and her legs instinctively closed around his slim hips. Firmly gripping her cheeks, he lifted her up and leaned her against the opposite wall.

“Oh!” she exclaimed in surprise. He had pulled out of her, but was still as ready as before.

“I await your next order, officer,” Ichabod teased.

“What if I order you to be handcuffed to the water pipes?” Abbie retorted smirking and saw his eyes go round, then his pupils grew even larger. He licked his lips. Oh yeah, he’d like it. “Or if I order you to handcuff me?”

“If you had your arsenal with you, officer, I would be happy to comply with both requests,” he growled and pushed his erection against her clit.

Abbie groaned. “Sadly, I don’t. But I order you to fuck me again. To make me come again. And this time, I want you to come as well.”

Ichabod gasped with anticipation and kissed her.

“Like this?” he whispered as he started to slide into her again.

“Yes…” she hissed and grabbed his shoulders.

He was strong, holding her against the wall. He dared releasing his right hand and let his thumb find her clit, as he moved further into her.

Abbie mewled with need and kissed him. Wet tongues mingled as they started to move together. As their union grew more heated, Ichabod needed both hands to grab her bottom as he thrusted into her. Looking down, the sight of his pale cock moving inside her pink cave and dark folds while her brown thighs tightly hugged him, only heightened his lust. He wouldn’t last much longer, but he would make the most of every moment inside her.

Abbie looked down, seeing herself bouncing effortlessly up and down on his dick, moaning in rhythm with his movements and grunts. She cupped his face and met his gaze; his eyes were hazy with pleasure.

He drowned in her doe eyes just before she came again, screwing her eyes tightly shut and cramping around him.

“Ichabod, oh baby, oh yeah…” she moaned.

“God in heaven, you’re a vision when you come! Oh, fuck, oh – aaahhhh!

His orgasm came crashing through him as he felt her small, strong hands in his hair. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, nearly biting down on her shoulder, as a strangled cry tumbled out of him in unison with his pulsating ecstasy.

For minutes, she was hanging almost limp in her arms, arms still locked around his neck and fingers idly playing with his hair. Still completely overwhelmed himself, he still held her close to him.

“Mmmm, Treasure…” he rumbled and nuzzled her cheek.

Chapter Text

Letting reality return, but not fully back to their senses, he started to let her slide to her feet with a long, lingering kiss. The noise of loud music and loud people seeped in to their sanctuary. Luckily, there had been no banging on the door.

Luckily… Abbie thought. She was still in his arms, they were still more naked than dressed.

“We should… we should…”

“Uh, yes…” he mumbled and hastily started to button his wrinkled shirt. His hands were fidgety and shaking. She tried to help him, but they just ended up kissing again.

“Ichabod… we…”

“Will be missed…” he filled in and tried his best to smooth her skirt. She moaned, missing his hands under her clothes.

“Don’t… make that sound,” he moaned himself and put a hand over his eyes. Abbie took the opportunity to put her bra in place and started to button her blouse. Ichabod pulled up his boxer shorts and trousers, wincing a little. She understood him; she felt sore between her own legs. She spied her panties on the floor and took them up, but really wasn’t in the mood to put them on again. They’d been on the floor of a restroom, for one thing.

“Oh!” said her tall lover, and blushed deeply when he saw her lace panties in her hand. It was just so adorable. “Do you lack pockets? Should I…?” he asked and offered to take them. She merely stared mutely as he took them and put them in his pocket, along with the condoms scattered by the sink. Was he being a gentleman, nostalgic or just creepy?

Abbie turned around from him, looking in the mirror to see if her appearance could be acceptable before she left the restroom. Doing what she could with her hair, make up and washing her hands, she noticed Ichabod straightening his own clothes and hair. Deeming her appearance at least appropriate for a wild night out, she decided that it was time to go out and face the world.

“So, look…” she began, when his long arm sneaked around her waist from behind.

“Abbie…” he mumbled into her hair. She saw it in the mirror and felt him against her. It was a reminder of what she had seen earlier, when –

“We must –” she tried, putting her hands on his.

“Please listen,” he entreated. “I have a place some miles down the road. It’s… just mine. If you want to come with me.”

She felt herself going weak as his lips found her sensitive spots, kissing her softly.

“I… don’t know…”

“Just let me know, if… please,” he mumbled.

She wanted to. God help her, she wanted to. This man was a total stranger. She had already broken so many rules with him; social rules and her own rules. He wanted to take her home. She didn’t know the first thing about him. Was he a sex murderer who would dump her body in the woods? Not that there had been any of those around, she should know because…

“Ah… oh, don’t start!” she whimpered, as his hands started to wander over her curves again.

“Mmmm,” he moaned and squeezed her breasts, feeling her nipples harden against his fingers. “But you want to?”

“You need to ask, after what just happened here?” she whispered in a shaky voice, as she broke free and went for the door. “Wait for some minutes before you go out, OK?” she asked him. Opening the door, she carefully looked around to see if anyone was there. The coast was clear, and she sneaked out.

Lightheaded and on shaky legs, she slowly walked back to the table. She felt naked and exposed, still feeling him; his hands on her, her pussy still cramping slightly after having been plundered by his impressive dick. She should be satisfied, not wanting more. She should feel shame. She didn’t. She wanted more of it all.

Oh my God, I’m probably smelling of him… or he must smell of me. Ah damn, I hope he has the sense to wash up a bit before he leaves the restroom. His beard alone must be...

In a flash, a memory of how he had devoured her by licking her clit came over her. She had to stop and lean against the wall, around the corner from the restroom.

“Abbie!”

Abbie jumped; it was Jenny.

“Hey! Where have you been!?”

“I’m… not feeling so good,” Abbie said weakly and hid her face in her hands. “All that whisky, you know? And the tequila before that? Bad combo.”  

“What, you had to go and throw up?”

“Not quite, but –”

“Fuck, Abbie – you’re not pregnant, are you?”

She had to laugh in the middle of it.

“No, Jenny!”

“Uh-hu, good. Good. Listen, I –”

“Jenny!”

This time, it was Ichabod’s friend. He came forward and put his hand on Jenny’s waist. Oh, right – they had hooked up earlier. Abbie had forgotten. She smiled faintly.

“Bram! I found her. And Ichabod?”

“Haven’t the foggiest. Have you seen the groom-to-be, Miss Mills?”

“Uh, I don’t think…”

“I’m here,” the groom-to-be said in a low voice just then.

Abbie and the others jumped.

“Crane, there you are! Been looking for you!”

“I had to go outside. I wasn’t feeling well,” he said, throwing a glance at Abbie, who felt herself blush and look down.

“Another one who can’t hold his liquor,” Jenny smirked.

“Well, your friend Sophie was a lot worse,” Abraham said.

“Sophie? What happened to her?” Abbie asked, worried. She noticed that Ichabod had washed and got himself in a less tousled state. Still, she couldn’t help remember that –

“Frank and Cynthia took her home. They had to pay the babysitter before she left Macey,” Jenny explained.

“Yeah, of course,” Abbie nodded.

“Hey, did you see that jerk Hawley?” Jenny asked, looking angry.

“I did see him with your party!” Abbie exclaimed, remembering bits and pieces of the night that wasn’t all about Ichabod. “How do you know him!?” Abbie asked both Abraham and Ichabod.

“Who?” Ichabod said and looked decidedly confused.

“Oh, come on, Ichabod!” Bram huffed. “Nick Hawley!”

Ichabod nodded. Of course he remembered.

“We know him through some contacts,” Ichabod explained. “He’s not close to us. Is he not to be trusted, Miss…?” he asked Abbie seriously.

Abbie stared up at him.

“Mills,” she replied.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Miss Mills!”

“Ah, Miss Mills,” he said and bowed his head politely, but she could damn well spot the mischief in his eyes. She nodded her head and had to hold back a smile.

“No, he isn’t. He –”

“Actually!” Jenny interrupted. “I’ve called for a taxi. Here’s your jacket and purse, Abbie.”

“Oh, right. We’re going home,” Abbie said and took her things from Jenny.

“Uh, well…”

“I have… offered to escort Miss Jenny home,” Bram explained with a blush and a smirk.

“Oh, you’ve offered her ‘escort’, have you!” Abbie laughed. “Is that what you funny Brits call it?”

“Hey,” Jenny said and grabbed her sister’s arm. “Only if you’re OK. If you’re feeling sick –”

“Nonsense!” Abbie assured her. “I’ll be fine. And there’s usually some taxis waiting outside at this hour, I’ll be home in no time.”

“Sure, but you’re not on the clock, are you?” Jenny inquired. “No work tomorrow and man out of town?”

“Yeah…” Abbie admitted and noticed how closely Ichabod was paying attention.

“If I may, Miss Mills –”

“Please call me Abbie.”

“Abbie,” Ichabod said with that deep voice. “If I may, I will see to it that you reach your… destination safely.”

Cocky bastard. So sure I’ll come home with him? Well, he has a reason to be cocky. And stop it with that husky voice, damnit!

Abbie tried to frown at him, but her smile ruined it.

“Ichabod is a perfect gentleman, Abbie!” Abraham spoke up. “I can assure you of that.”

“I believe you,” Abbie said without giving any reason to why she would trust either of them, and she was glad that only Jenny noticed that she was blushing. Ichabod looked far too pleased. She tried to be stern with her sister and hook-up. “Now, GO!” she demanded, and they laughed.

*

The taxi ride wasn’t long and the taxi driver wasn’t someone she knew. Both things were lucky, because neither Abbie nor Ichabod could behave during the ride. Ride, indeed. A while longer and Abbie would have climbed his lap. And she still had no panties on. Not that the driver seemed to mind their behaviour and Ichabod made sure not to expose her, even when she took off her safety belt and nearly sat astride him. A side of Abbie minded very much. The usual side of Abbie cared very much for safety and decorum. This Abbie only cared about getting closer to Ichabod.

“Next time, we’ll do it naked,” he growled in her ear, not without amusement, as he fondled her. He wasn’t used to misbehaving either.

“So, did you get a lap dance tonight?” she asked teasingly and touched him way too intimately.

“N-no,” he stuttered. “I specifically said that – ohno – ah – strippers or - hnng!”

“No? Aaaaww. I said the same to my sister, but she didn’t listen. But I dodged the lap dance, and she got it in my place.”

“Oh, that’s-that’s – hmmm, careful!”

“Maybe there’s still a chance you’ll get a lap dance, mister – woah, oh! OH!”

He returned the favour and smirked.

Chapter Text

He couldn’t stop staring at her. How she moved, how she talked. Her quick smiles and frowns. Reaching his cabin, he saw that her face frowned in concentration. He paid the driver and took his place by her side, as she stood in the light flooding from the sensor lamp.  

“This is Corbin’s place!” she said with surprise in her voice as she looked up at him. 

“Yes!” he confirmed. “Did you know him?” 

“He was my mentor,” she replied with a sad smile. 

“Oh! Do you mind that I –” 

“No! It looks almost the same, and well looked after.” 

“Well… yes. It’s very much the same, you’ll find. I hope it will be…” He didn't quite know what he wanted to say and made a vague gesture towards the cabin with his restless hands. He could see from her expressive face that she was moved. A wave of sympathy rose in him. He wanted to hold her, but feared it would be misunderstood under the circumstances. If the night was over, it was over. He didn't want her to feel uneasy in any way.  

She went ahead of him, up the stairs to the porch, and seeing her walk in front of him was enough to cloud his mind. Under that skirt was a magnificent, naked bottom. Her hips swayed so temptingly. 

Focus, Crane… Focus. You’re no brute, even if she clearly brings out the animal in you.  

Abbie was moved, and surprised, to be back at the cabin. Of all places… It was like a greeting from the other side. And that made her remember what Corbin so often used to tell her: 

Go with your instincts, kid. You have brains and training enough for a whole police force. But there are times when you just stop thinking. You just act. It’s your instinct. Trust in that. That’s when the magic happens. 

Abbie gave a little laugh as she reached the door with the old doorknob looking like a grinning gargoyle. Abbie had got it for him years ago, saying it looked like him. They had laughed as she helped him nailing it to the door. 

“Corbin, you sly old devil…” 

“What was that?” 

“I gave him that.” 

“You did? It – oh! I liked it as soon as I saw it! I-uh –” 

Stop blabbering, you idiot. Don’t say a lot of things that will freak her out. 

“Welcome back,” he finished and opened the door for her.  

He lit a floor lamp at the door, it was one of the many things that came with the cabin when he bought it, and the room was still semi-dark with a warm, copper glow. It was like the glow Abbie felt from the inside. So much was the same in the cabin, and it was a joy to see the place again, mixed with a sudden twinge of sorrow and anxiety. She felt Ichabod’s eyes on her; analysing, waiting. Her good sense told her to run. Her instinct told her something else. He turned her on, and all the mixed emotions inside her pooled to the pit of her stomach, fuelling her desire. Boldly, she met his eyes.  

Ichabod had to find his voice, meeting her heated gaze. 

“He… meant a lot to you?” 

“Yeah,” she answered and walked – prowled – to him. 

Ichabod swallowed hard.  

“He always told me to trust my instincts,” she added. 

“And did you listen?” 

“I’m listening tonight.”   

She had reached him, and she reached for him. Her hands slowly started to move up his chest, sliding inside his partly unbuttoned shirt. She looked up, and he bent his head closer. Despite her high heels, he was still too tall to reach for a kiss. The low glow surrounding them illuminated the renewed hope in his eyes. The light in the restroom had been almost harsh. In this soft light, everything was smooth and easy. His embrace half-lifted her closer to his lips, even if it made her knees go weak. His lips were pink, kissable and close. 

Ichabod moved his lips over hers and felt her tongue slowly caress his lower lip before she let it swivel around his, into his welcoming mouth. It was a slow, exploring kiss, giving them time to familiar themselves closer with one another, and finding that the unbridled attraction was still as strong. His hands moved down her back and arse with great deliberation, pressing her against him. His hands greedily spanned her globes. They both shuddered with lust, but Abbie firmly put her hands on his. 

“Not so fast, Casanova,” she smiled teasingly. 

Making him release her a little, she slowly made him walk backwards to a vintage leather armchair that was new to the place, probably the new host’s favourite, Abbie guessed. It looked like something from the Mad Men, and both the seat and the armrests looked wide enough for her little idea. A light push was all that was needed to have him seated in front of her. His hands moved down her legs instead. She lightly smacked them. 

“No touching!” she demanded with a smirk. “Don’t touch me… and don’t touch yourself until I say so. Deal?” 

“Hmmm…” he smiled up at her expectantly with hands on said armrests; his beautiful, blue eyes turning darker. “I have a feeling it will be worth it. So – deal!” 

“Oh baby, it will. Trust me,” she winked.  

“I trust you, officer!” he replied, voice heavy with innuendo as he leaned back.  

Abbie went over to the old radio, a relic from the former owner. 

“Is this still stuck on that ‘oldies and goldies’ station?” she smiled, looking over her shoulder.  

He nodded.  

Abbie turned it on and the end of a song faded out as a soft sounding jingle told them it was ‘Hot Friday’, which basically meant sexy oldies. Well, Abbie was fine with that.  

A new song came on, and Abbie started to move to the tune. Slowly swaying her hips to the rhythm, she danced closer to where Ichabod sat. She knew she danced well, and started to move her hands over the fabric of the shirt, teasingly. She kept her eyes him, meeting his heated gaze with full attention. 

And she can dance…” he said in awe. 

His hands had grabbed the armrests so hard that the white of his knuckles were visible in the semi-darkness. 

Spinning a little, she purposely gave him a glimpse of her booty, the one he stared at as soon as he didn’t stare into her eyes. He gasped loudly and bit his bottom lip. Moving a bit closer to him, she pranced sensually from side to side and let her hands move up to her waist and breast, over her blouse. His eyes were round and his mouth slowly fell open in fascination. 

“Please take it off,” he asked hoarsely. 

“Take what off?” she asked saucily. 

“All of it – please!” 

“Tsk, greedy!” she grinned. The rhythm grew faster and she moved faster, flicking her hair and making sure that her assets were shaking sexily. His moan was full of appreciation.  

“You are… an almost incredible vision. So amazingly sexy, most beautiful officer!” 

Wasn’t it strange? The voice in her mind was as aroused as her body. That it could be so thrilling and liberating having a strange man watch her as something else than a future wife. Watch her as a woman. As the sexy policewoman. Taken by her beauty and her singing voice. She could see his dick tenting his trousers. She removed her blouse as tantalisingly as she could. He looked like he really appreciated her efforts. She left bra, skirt and shoes on, for now. It wasn’t like she had been wearing a lot to begin with. She moved her hands up to cup her breasts, pulling the fabric down to just about reveal her hard, dark nipples.  

“Yes!” he breathed. “Yes, oh yes! Touch – oh, please touch them!”  

So dorky, so polite, so British. Also: so sexy and so dirty. Dancing, she pushed her breast together for him to see them properly. Her breasts were by no means big, but she knew how put them to advantage. Swaggering a little, she made sure that his eyes were glued on her, as his fingers fidgeted, fists clenched and unclenched. She flicked her fingers over her nipples, turning herself on even further. 

“Yes, officer, yes…” he growled and shifted restlessly in his seat. 

I’m hot. She could feel it. She had never felt so wanted, and she wanted to show this stranger how much she wanted him back. He seemed to get it. Like… really get it. Instinct, Mills. No more analysing. 

She danced closer and closer to him, and saw how his hands jumped on the armrests, desperate to reach out for her, touch himself, or both. But he didn’t disobey her earlier command.  

The next oldie, an 80’s tune, had more heavy drum and base, and it inspired her to roll her hips and just twerk for some bars. His eyes were round as if he had seen something supernatural, staring as she moved close enough to push his legs together. He hissed, but stayed put. He was fully committed to enjoying the sight of her long, toned legs on either side of his.  

“You like it, baby?” she asked breathlessly, as she began to remove her bra.  

“Hnnngg, uh, yes!” 

“Put your hands up, behind your head,” she demanded.  

He obeyed and gasped as she put a knee on an armrest. She slowly climbed up, legs wide and resting on each side of the armrests. She rolled her hips slowly, sinking a bit closer to his groin, then moving there, just above him. It was a bit of a stretch, but she could handle it.  

Thank you, yoga. She was going to put that to good use. 

“Closer…” he begged. 

“Your pants will be ruined,” she warned and licked her lips suggestively. 

“Yes,” he nodded quickly. “Yes, yes, please!” 

“Aren’t my panties in your pocket enough?” she grinned while hastily putting her hand in his pocket and fishing them up while brushing his erection. He made a strangled groan. 

“Please…!” he whimpered. He stared at her naked breasts, flicking his tongue over his lips. 

His hands were still behind his head, altering between being clasped behind his neck, then unclasping to fidget in the air whenever she happened to touch him. Like now, when she began to unbutton his shirt and stroking the skin on his chest in the process. 

“Yes, God, yes,” he moaned and his head fell back. “Please, Treasure – I need your touch! I need – oomph!”  

Abbie silenced him with a kiss and sank down on his lap, squeezing her legs next to his hips on the seat. She was quickly losing her cool, wanting things to progress quickly, like always.  

Slow.  

He moaned with need into her mouth, and she ruthlessly broke the kiss. She rolled her hips and her naked, wet pussy against his erection. His face contorted and his hands were balled fists on the armrests, as he keened and sounded like he was in real pain. His hips jerked upwards, unable to control himself.  

“Tsk, naughty!” she chuckled and moaned, as his hardness hit her spot. 

“Forgive me, officer… forgive me!” he breathed. 

“Mmm, you’ve been really good and obedient, citizen Crane,” she purred. The pun wasn’t lost on him, and he snorted. She silenced him with a new kiss. He responded and moved closer. She pushed him back, but smiled indulgently. She was aflame and very pleased with him. “You’re really something else, Ichabod Crane,” she mumbled and kissed the tip of his prominent nose. He returned the favour on the tip of her small, dainty one.  

“Different can be very good, Treasure,” he mumbled back, and she thought he had no idea how right he was. But he did. 

Chapter Text

Ichabod Crane Esquire was liking America more and more. The dream and the promise was right in front of him, and his only hope was that he would be permitted full access soon. The beautiful representative of America, sitting on his lap, slowly continued to unbutton his shirt and told him to get it off. He struggled with that while she began to undo his belt.

Abbie Mills. Officer of the law with the voice of an angel and a body made for sin. Petite, strong, intelligent. Wonderfully dirty-minded. Possibly magical.

Like me, soon to be… Stop. Stop thinking. Instinct, she said. Yes, instinct.

He groaned when her small hands moved over his crotch to release him from his trousers that had become more constricting by the minute. Her touch shot sharp arrows of pleasure-pain through his groin and dulling out in waves through his body. In a flash, he remembered how she had screamed in pleasure earlier, when she had taken all of him in. Tight, but stretched out by him, and wet like a hot spring.

No memories. Only here and now.

He wanted more memories.

She glided down, off his knee, and he protested.

“Steady, Crane…” she assured him and stilled his dancing hands. When she was down on her knees and in front of his legs, she motioning for him to lift his ass so she could remove his trousers. His boxer shorts were still tented, and she grinned as she pulled off trousers, socks and shoes.

“This is decidedly unfair,” he claimed, smiling with a raised eyebrow, eyeing her skirt, down her legs to her footwear.

“What, you don’t like my shoes?” she teased, referring to her black plateaus with straps.

“The shoes can stay, but that skirt…”

“You got it in for my skirt!” she giggled and got up on her feet; hands on hips and shaking them a bit so the hem of the skirt moved, along with her naked breasts. He nearly sobbed at the sight.

“Evil temptress!”

Abbie laughed, enjoying the situation and their mutual desire with great enthusiasm, feeling in her bones that they were on the same page. Slowly, she opened and lowered the skirt down her hips.

“Please, Abbie Mills… before I turn into a puddle…”

Smiling and suggestively licking her lips, she let the item fall to the floor and she sank down on her knees again. His eyebrow lifted.

“You OK with this?” she asked.

“Uh, yes… Uhm, can I touch you, while…?”

Abbie looked at him, caressing the length of his thighs, skimming under the shorts.

“I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, Ichabod,” she whispered and took his hand. He grabbed it.

“And.. nor I you…” he said seriously.

Thinking back, he had seemed quite shocked in the restroom, when she had started to give him a blowjob there. In a good way, she thought. Maybe he would come too quick? There was a trick for that… Or not hold back? Yeah, she had a trick for that as well.

“Listen,” she whispered. “I can hold my own and will really let you know if you get too… much of a big boy,” she smiled and looked along his impressive length.

He exhaled and blushed, maybe she had exposed the problem.

“But I want you to enjoy it too, and relax,” she added warmly.

“Oh, God – I enjoy it! Only… relaxing? And honestly, you don’t have to…” he gestured to his crotch. He was freaky enough when they got down to business, could obviously talk a lot, but seemed shy when it came to general sex talk.

“Maybe… you should just let yourself enjoy it, because I really want to do it,” she purred encouragingly.

“You… really do?”

Oops, so that’s how it is.

“Baby, I do. And I think perhaps you should take the time to enjoy it too? Being the centre of attention?”

His eyes betrayed him, a small panic flitted by and he looked uneasy, opening and closing his mouth.

Quickly, she put her soft finger on his lips.

“You don’t have to explain, Ichabod,” she said softly.

And I don’t really want to know.

“If you prefer that I –” she began, but he interrupted her by allowing himself to cup her face.

“Please – go on with what you wanted to do,” he said and bent forward to kiss her deeply.

She felt panic subsiding from him in that kiss and she reached to caress his hair. Their lips slowly parted, and Abbie carefully pulled down his boxer shorts, releasing his aching erection. Yup, he was a big boy. She had not forgotten. His length stretched up over his stomach, his balls tight underneath.

“As long as you’re fine with it,” she smiled.

She lightly took him in hand, and he sighed deeply with pleasure and gratitude, actually relaxing, and burying his fingers in her locks.

“Lean back a little,” she advised him softly, enjoying how he came apart in her care. Moving up and down, she got properly acquainted with his dick and realised that foreskin wasn’t such a bad idea, perhaps. It covered his tip completely, then exposed it. From his reactions, she saw that he was quite sensitive and so receptive to her caresses.

“You like that?” she mumbled and heard how throaty her own voice was. Her mouth was beginning to water.

“Yes…” he gasped. “Oh yes, Treasure…” He was leaning back, hands in his own hair now. When her tongue lightly swirled around his exposed tip, his breath quickened and a moan escaped him. “Yes, yes… so good, Abbie, so good…”

She leaned forward and squeezed her breasts around his cock, just about embracing it, and moved teasingly up and down. His head snapped up, and his eyes glazed over when he stared at what she did. Leaning her head down, her lips glided over his head, taking him into her wet, cool mouth. He tensed and groaned from pleasure, squirming in the seat. His hands were gripping the armrests. She tasted his saltiness and liked it. She moved back and forth with lips and breasts, slowly taking in more and more of him into her mouth.

“Oh – oh – ooohh…” he shuddered and groaned, making both her mouth and pussy even wetter for him. He lifted his head again and met her eyes, looking almost undone. She moaned deeply, getting even more worked up by his pleasure.

“Oh fuck, you’re so amazing… so wonderful…” he managed to ground out.

She started to swallow even more of him, willing her jaw to relax. It took a bit of work, but his look of awe and the tremble going through him was worth it. Slow movements got her where she wanted, and her hand cupped his balls when her lips reached the root of his dick.

“Hhnnnggg, you’ll be the death of me… I swear! Ohhh…”

Oh, really?

Abbie was just warming up. Moving up and down slowly but steady made him writhe in the armchair, his face contorted as in agony. But his hips moved up to meet her wetness and swirling tongue. She fondled his balls and let a naughty finger press under them, stimulating his prostate gland. His heated grunts in response made her moan back.

“Ohhh yes… We can-we can be as loud as we like here… is that-is that – aaahh!”

She effectively stopped him from talking by sucking him faster.

If Ichabod could hold a whole thought in his mind, then it might be that his soul had left his body from all the sensory overload. Maybe she sucked it out of him? Maybe she was a succubus – oh, God, that word was the worst pun in the circumstances – and he was fine with it, fine with it, fine with it all, oh lord, oh lord, oh lord yes! At least that was what came out of his mouth. Also, his balls told him he had to get out of her mouth, before…

“Abbie! Oh, Abbie, please come up here and ride me!”

She let go of him with a hard pop, looking pleased with herself and too sexy to be handled. Well, it was all true. He reached for her and she draped her naked self over him. He kissed her lips hungrily, plundered her like she had plundered him. His hands couldn’t get their fill of her, moving and touching everywhere. His mouth roamed over all the skin within reach. Her skin on his palms, her skin on his lips, her body, her shapes, her hair, the sounds she made with her angelic chords – he was in a soft, warm Purgatory that could lead to the most perfect heaven. He knew this. He had already been there with her. He needed more of it, needed her. He needed to kiss her breasts again.

“Mmm, ohh… woah, tiger! You haven’t even had your lap dance yet,” she moaned, quickly getting her plateaus off her feet before lust completely clouded her mind.

“What do you call this?” he muttered while kissing and licking her nipples. “You are in my lap and how you move against me – aahh!” He lost his train of thought when she deliberately moved her wet sex on his hard length, grinding by lewdly rotating her hips.

She took advantage of the situation by bending her legs up and placing her feet on either side of his hips, getting leverage to move her ass. She placed her hands on his knees, hoping they wouldn’t buckle. His hands steadied her by holding her waist. His eyes were drunk on her, watching how she was on display for him; her flowing hair around her beautiful face, her naked upper body with round, bouncing breasts. The amber light giving her skin a warm, golden glow. The plane down her abdomen, down to her mound and the cleft that opened up as she spread her long legs, showing her pink folds. His twitching cock nested between their bodies, straining for her wet, tight depth.

“Oh… God. Have mercy, woman. Or are you some divine being?” he breathed. “And will you ever let me worship you as you deserve to be worshipped?”

She flashed him her dazzling smile, shaking her head in adorable disbelief, which made her curls dance and her most exquisite curves bounce invitingly.

“What, you gave me three orgasms before –”

“The first three of many!”

“ – can’t I be allowed to give you one in a lap dance?”

“Mmmm Treasure, what you did with your mouth nearly sent me straight to Paradise! I swear you made my soul leave my body!”

She laughed, head tilted back.

“You say the dorkiest things, but you say them so well!”

He lecherously rubbed his cock against her bud and she moaned.

“A dork with a most dirty mind at this moment. But can I trouble you for one of the condoms that are scattered next to the chair?”

Abbie moaned at the sensation.

“A dangerous combination, being a dirty dork,” she smiled and and quickly bent to snatch a condom off the floor. “How will I be able to resist that?” she asked and tore the wrapper.

Together, they quickly made sure to cover him, and Ichabod grabbed his cock by the root, lightly moving it over her mound.

“Don’t resist it, Treasure,” he suggested.

“Oh yes!” Abbie moaned. “Do that again!” she demanded, and he did so. “Mmm, slap me with it. Slap my clit with – ohhh!”

He caught the drift and lightly slapped her clit, and her body throbbed in response. Ichabod slapped a little harder and faster, making her groan out loud. Ichabod groaned back, the head of his cock felt the hot moist from her tempting entrance. Abbie gyrated her hips just so, and he was right at her opening. The folds of her sex already started to hug at his tip.

“Dear God…” he whispered. His hands moved back to her hips and she moved against him, taking him deeper inside of her.

“Ahh, fuck!” Abbie hissed and moved lightly back and forth with his aid.

“Yes, that too,” he ground out and grabbed her harder. “Definitely fuck – fuck – fuck!”

“Shut up, already!” she groaned and it made him chuckle. The slow movements continued, making her swoon. She rocked her hips closer, taking more of him in, unsettling him. He couldn’t resist cupping her curvy rear and pull. He drowned in her tight heat and she cried out in pleasure.

“Yes, yes,” he urged her, bucking back and forth, and moving his thumbs to her pink bundle of nerves.

“Oooohhh, my God!” Abbie called to high heaven as he filled her completely and adding friction to her clit. His girth was one thing, but his angle was hitting the right spot inside her, making her spine tingle.

They kept a steady pace and his fingers worked their magic by pure instinct, since Ichabod himself was lost in the bliss of watching her and being one with her. Abbie’s cries turned to groans as she took command by riding him hard and fast. Ichabod’s mind went blank with sensations, and when Abbie came, cursing and crying out his name, he finally exploded inside of her.

Both breathing heavily, she was once more draped over him and he embraced her sweaty body, feeling them both shivering.

“Thank you for the lap dance, officer,” he rumbled into her ringlets. “Perhaps, after some rest, I might have a face dance next?”

Chapter Text

Seven missed messages, four missed calls. At least all the calls were from Jenny. She had sent a message for every call. One message was from Cynthia, one from a very drunk Sophie. One from Luke, sometime last night:

|Hey babe, having fun?

She didn’t reply.

Sophie, though:

|I juts love u so muuuuchh abbie so gald u marry luke we always be togther

Abbie grinned, hoping Sophie had slept off the worst.

Cynthia thanked her for a fun evening and hoped she had got home safely. Abbie quickly wrote a reply.

Time to tackle Jenny’s messages.

|I’m at Bram’s place now, wow! U got home safely? Send me a text when u see this!

Two hours later:

|U OK? Sleeping?

30 minutes ago:

|WTH, sis? U not home?? Where u at?? Worried now! Do I have to send the police after the police??

Four minutes ago:

|Seriously, Abbie. Not funny anymore. Pick up, or I’ll whip up a storm!!

Abbie quickly texted her:

|I’m just fine, u home? Call you in 5!

Then she quickly but gingerly followed her trail of discarded clothes – hers as well as his – put them on with the speed of light, grabbed her jacket and sneaked out the front door, platform shoes in hand. She had trouble walking. She was aching at places. Damn that well-hung, sex-hungry Brit! She was going to be walking funny all week!

It was a beautiful dawn in the forest, only slightly chilly, so Abbie made sure to put on shoes and jacket as she hastily left the cabin. Her phone was set on silent, but the display lit up as she tried to escape her deed.

|Where u at?? Need me to pick u up?

Abbie gave it a quick thought. At this hour. Jenny. Stuff. She replied:

|Yeah. Road leading to Corbin’s old place.

At least Jenny would instantly know where she was. Abbie would wait for her up at the main road, hoping that the new cabin owner didn’t wake up, hitch a ride home with her nosy sister… and then take it from there.

*

It did take a while before Ichabod woke up, wondering why her small form wasn’t next to his lanky, she fit so perfectly against him. They had ended up in bed eventually. After some cuddling and kissing in his favourite armchair – he liked it even more now – they had felt invigorated, and she had challenged him by asking if he wanted that face dance. Did he ever! So the bendy little minx had turned around, placed her knees on either side on the armchairs, and readily offered her glorious backside for his thorough inspection.

Her taste was tang, almost savoury. The skin on her bouncy globes almost impossibly soft, his grip on her thighs was firmer as he pulled her closer and dived into her. She cried out, then shook with laughter. He growled as he tongued her labia, his voice vibrating into her.

“Ohhh, damn, you dirty dork!” she hissed and his muffled chuckle drowned in her folds. He went on feasting on her, rubbing his head into her while her moan turned to sobs. Before she had time to recollect herself and use her fantastic tongue to shatter his existence with yet another extraordinary blowjob, he decided to do something drastic. Coming up for air, he pulled her closer by the waist.

“Are you ready?” he rumbled.

“Wha-what for?” she panted.

“Hold on to my legs. And don’t worry – I got you.”

“What do you mean? Wha-woah, WOAH!”

Ichabod easily lifted her and stood up, holding her upside down by her waist. Her legs were in the air, kicking a bit, and he kissed her clit lightly.

“Are you OK?” he purred and felt the vibrations as she started to laugh. One hand held on to his leg, the other reached for the floor without success.

“Maaaan, you’re wild!” she shrieked with laughter.

“You bring out the primitive in me!” he growled and kissed her clit again in a way that wasn’t light at all. Her laughter turned to cries of delight.

“Ahhh, whaddya doing?” she yelled when he started to walk away with her.

“Just don’t suck me again, I might drop you!” he warned while heading for the sofa.

“What the HELL I’m I supposed to do, when your dick keeps slapping me in the face!?” Her laugh was sounding a bit hysterical.

“Oops, I do apologise!” he said and slowly lowered her on the sofa, and she crawled forward on it on her hands and knees, still weak from giggling and his stimulation. He was behind her and bent over her, soothingly kissing her back. “I’m truly sorry if I upset you,” he mumbled.

“Don’t be silly!” she chuckled, then moaned when he pushed her hair aside to kiss and lick her neck.

“Part of my British heritage, l’m afraid,” he muttered between the kisses.

“I’ll take it,” she replied and cupped the back of his head as his lips explored her shoulder. He in turn cupped her breasts, lightly pinching her nipples. Abbie had to fight against slumping on the somewhat fuzzy wool of the blanket laying on top of the old sofa, placing a hand on the armrest for balance. She turned her head and felt his beard on her cheek, feeling similar to the fuzzy blanket, before their tongues and lips bumped together in a series of wet kisses.

Crane grabbed her breasts harder and rolled her nipples between his nimble his fingertips. Abbie groaned and arched into his touch, her backside pointing up and rubbing his growing erection. Growling and breaking the kiss, his mouth moved over her skin, thoroughly kissing every inch of her back and further down, while his hands followed along her curves.

“Crane…” she whimpered.

“Mmmmm, can’t get enough of your soft skin… your scent, taste…” Ichabod moaned. “Please let me lick you again, Abbie?”

“Hmmm, I don’t know…” she answered with a teasing grin, while feeling her inner walls contracting by his words. “I mean, are you sure you can’t get enough?”

“Absolutely sure, officer, you’re so delectable that I could go on feasting on you all night,” he groaned while kissing her hips. “Please let me!”

“Well, you do a good job,” she sighed blissfully, because she was very pleased with his performance and could actually believe him, there and then. Her pussy certainly did.

“I beg you, Treasure…” he mumbled while sliding down on the floor and moving his face closer to her heated core. The light, yet soft, feeling of his beard was further soothed by his soft, wet lips and tongue.

“Mmmm, since you beg so nicely…”

His lips moved lower and lower, and she spread her legs some. He got the hint and damn, he was determined to worship her completely. Kiss and lick every inch of her.

She noticed and flinched, because that was not her pussy.

“You are dirty, aren’t you!” she giggled.

He squeezed and kissed her globes. “I’m sorry if I’m taking too much liberties, Abbie,” he mumbled. “I would never do anything you didn’t want to do. In fact, I have never done anything like that… with someone else,” he stuttered somewhat and was glad that he was behind her so she couldn’t see his intense blush. Even in the semi-dark, he felt himself glow all the way out to his earlobes.

“Mmm, well,” she moaned and pulled his hand back to her steaming core. “Not much of that in my experience either,” she confessed. “The only times I’ve liked it is when I did it… to myself.”

“Uh, yes… It was just –”

“So maybe try a finger next?” she interrupted and grinned to him. “Only, rinse that mouth first and get me something to drink as well. OK?”

He knew he was gaping, but he instantly heeded her command. He quickly ran to the kitchen and returned with two cold water bottles, he was drinking from one. Abbie thankfully took hers and drank greedily. Some droplets landed on her chest and Crane, quickly kneeling in front of her, licked them off her, proceeding to alternate his licks between her nipples. She moaned, still downing the cold water, and played with his hair.  

“You looked so cute when you ran to the kitchen naked,” she said mischievously when she had satiated her thirst for water.

“I’m sure I did,” he moaned and looked up at her adoringly.

“Naked feet on the floor, dick bobbing like that,” she giggled. “And you have a very nice booty as well, Ichabod!”

“Not as nice as yours,” he protested and squeezed hers.

“Well, that’s a different story,” she laughed. “But really – your butt looks sexy!” she said, and bent enough to give it a playful slap. He yelped and sucked her nipple harder, making her groan. “For such a lean man –”

“Lanky and scrawny,” he muttered, and hid his face between her breasts.

“Hey, I was just saying that you’re not scrawny at all!” She firmly cupped his head and made him look up at her again, then she kissed him warmly. He moaned gratefully into the kiss and let his arms encircle her.

“I’m only lucky that a woman as divinely beautiful as you wanted to sing with me tonight,” he mumbled, lips still touching hers.

“Yeah, a whole lot of ‘singing’ going on… and maybe I can play more with your butt later?”

He shuddered in anticipation. “You can do anything you want,” he gasped.

“Mmm, you’re so sweet,” she purred. “But right now, I believe you were about to play with mine.”

He stilled and looked at her in a way the was apparently amusing. He grinned back. In fact, he had never had so much fun during sex before.

“Just fingers?” he asked to make sure as his knees landed on the sofa next to her.

“Mmm yes, I think so…” she whispered. “And… start with my pussy…”

She didn’t have to ask her twice.

“God, you’re so wet!” he groaned.

“Hnnngg, yes. That’s-that’s good!” she panted. “You need… you need that… some lube…”

He kissed her mouth, hiding his mixture of confusion, embarrassment and desperately horny need to explore her. Slowly, he coated her just a little bit up, caressing her butthole.

“Just remember that your fingers there are like your dick to my pussy,” Abbie whispered and Crane moaned into her fragrant hair. He shifted his hand and let his forefinger push just lightly. Abbie moaned and moved slowly to meet his finger.

“I-I don’t want to hurt you,” he gasped.

“You’re not hurting me, baby,” she moaned and smiled sultry. “We’re just playing a little,” she added and kissed him. She moaned into his mouth and let her tongue encircle his as he pushed in a little, very, very slowly. His hard dick rubbed against her ass, some pre-cum shon against her dark skin. He wanted more, but he was so horny that he felt almost faint. Pulling out his finger a little, then lazily sliding in again made her groan and shiver, he felt her puckered skin against his aching loins as she rocked back and forth.

“Hhhnnng, Ichabod! Ohh, oh yeah!”

Ichabod grunted and pushed his cock over her hip. His other hand found her clit in the front and he flicked it lightly. She made a keening noise and couldn’t keep still. He pleasured her slowly in tandem, finding a rhythm, and sucked at the side of her neck so hard that it had to leave a mark. Yes, he wanted to mark her. She gasped for air and groaned again, reaching for his twitching cock on his hip.

“Easy!” he warned in a breathless voice.

“Then get a condom and fuck me again!” she moaned impatiently.

“Oh, really?” he asked teasingly in the haze of lust. “Can you ask nicely?”

Please, Crane, damnit!” she wailed and writhed, shuddering.

“Who’s begging now? Hmm? You want me, I can smell it…”

“Get. The. Condom!” she growled and while he was loathe to let go of her, he followed her command once more.

Coming back again, she was looking at him over her shoulder as he rolled the condom on. She was on her knees, her divine posterior arching into a tempting bow and all of her was shining again. That gold on her skin, the blueish silver of her sleek waves, the stars in her eyes and that slow, dazzling smile on top of it all. Wetting her lips made her lips glistening. And he knew another pair of lips that was glistening as well… because of him, of what they did.

“Christ…” he mumbled in awe.

“What?” she grinned but looked shy, noticing how he looked at her.

“You really are a Treasure,” he answered.

“Then come over here and plunder me, you sexy pirate!”

Grinning, naked and indecently happy, he slid behind her. Encircling her to caress her, she leaned back for more kisses. She bumped and arched that glorious ass and he was only too happy to oblige, just taking his time. Slowly, he began to enter her pussy, and they groaned in unison.

“A new duet?” he moaned and found her clit again. Abbie could only shudder and moan back. “It feels so amazingly good to be inside you, Abbie,” he panted, pumping into her slowly.

“Hhnnngg, you feel so damn good, Ichabod! So big… too big… and too good…!”

“Too much, Treasure?”

“No! No, no – not, don’t – stop!” she almost growled. Her small hand reached around them and he felt her sharp nails on his arse, making him grunt and slam into her quicker that he intended.

“Oh, fuck!” he groaned and grabbed her hips and tried to maintain a slower pace.

“Yes, fuck me… fuck me!” Her moan turned into a keen as she bucked back, taking all of him in and breaking out in a sweat. “Ohhh, my God, you feel so good inside me!”

“Hnngg, Abbie!” he nearly sobbed and began to fuck her in earnest, thrusting into her tight but welcoming cunt and burying his face into her hair, while growing sweaty himself.

She came with a long, shuddering cry, and Ichabod could hardly hold back from coming himself even if she had nearly pumped him dry.

*

“Abbie?”

“Hm?”

“Abbie!” Jenny repeated. “What the hell have you been up to tonight?”

“I don’t know where to start, honestly…” Abbie replied slowly, looking out of the car window without really seeing anything.

“You look…” Jenny began bewildered. “Is this… your walk of shame?”

“I’m riding in a car,” Abbie said with a frown.

“Hey –”

“And to hell with shame. I know what I did.”

Only the sound of the car was heard. Jenny gaped at her, and Abbie elbowed her to snap her back into focus before they drove off the road.

“Who are you and what have you done with my sister?” Jenny asked after several minutes.

It was a valid question. Jenny was the wild one. She was Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Except for some months after Mama’s death when she tried drugs and other stupid thing, catching Corbin’s attention and getting her into the right path, Abbie was always quite proper. Focused. Committed. Still was.

Now? Still Abbie. Just getting to know herself better than she’d even expected. And… opening her eyes for some truths that she had rather turned a blind eye to.

Chapter Text

 

“So… this dude bought Corbin’s cabin?” Jenny asked slowly.

“Yup,” Abbie confirmed, still looking out of the window after having divulged some important facts.

“And… you and him…?”

Sang all night.

“Got it on,” was Abbie’s curt reply.

“Huh. You’re serious!”

Still silent, Abbie nodded and glared out of the car window.

“Aaaaaaand??” Jenny demanded.

Abbie was dreamy and thoughtful when she finally replied:

“It was… so wonderful.”

*

It was so wonderful. His eidetic memory would allow him to replay it all, but that wasn’t the same as having her there. She had left, as he supposed she had to. Nevertheless, he had to ask himself: was it something he said?

He was so hungry and thirsty that he finally got out of bed naked in hunt for water – water!! – and something to eat. Breakfast! And maybe something for his muscles, he was aching in so many places. Ichabod stuffed himself with some hastily made sandwiches and drank almost a pint of water, while waiting for his tea water to boil.

His phone lit up. Message from Katrina. Reality. The trap.

That’s hardly fair, Ichabod.

*

“He seemed so formal…” Jenny remarked after a while.

“Yeah, well… he got over it really quick,” Abbie divulged and groaned inwardly.

“I bet! Also, when you two sang karaoke –”

“Stop it, Jenny!”

Jenny stopped, but tried another vein.

“So… uh… what about Luke?”

“What about him? You’re gonna snitch on me?”

“NO, Abbie!”

“I know you don’t like this wedding, Jenny.”

“I agreed to be a bridesmaid, didn’t I?”

“Sure. Not an enthusiastic one –”

“Hey! HEY! What happens now!? This isn’t… you.”

Another long silence, as they drove into the street where Abbie and Luke rented their flat. Abbie stared at the house.

“I guess we’ll see.”

“Look, Abbie… If anything happens… if there’s drama…”

Abbie snorted.

“Isn’t that your section?”

“Sure, I know we haven’t been the most supportive of sisters –”

“Wait, say that again!”

“OK – I am mostly to blame. But I mean it, Abbie. If anything happens – mí casa, su casa. Alright?”

“Alright. Now let me out.”

“No hug?”

“Eh heh, we both need showers.”

“Uh, yeah.”

*

While Crane opened the message from his fiancée, Abraham called. Crane replied, grateful for the distraction from Katrina’s text.

“Morning, Ichabod!” Abraham boomed in his usual manner from the other end of the phone. “You’ll never guess who had hot sex with a certain Miss Mills last night!”

Crane closed his eyes, as visions of his own night flooded his senses. It was an impulse when he replied his oldest friend:

“I did.”

*

Coming into her home, Abbie just stood there for a while. Luke wouldn’t be back from his fishing trip until tomorrow. She had the day to herself. She should take that shower. Get the smell of all-night, wild, cheating sex off her. That smell of him: his unique musk with hints of pine and and old books. Problem was, she didn’t want to part with it. She wanted to stand in the shower, feel the water wash over her and touch her as intimately as he had. Remind her, not remove the experience. She also wanted to keep the scent of him, of them, their deed.

You’re damned, Mills.

*

Crane heard a loud crash in Abraham’s end.

“Abraham? Are you there? Bram?”

It sounded like fumbling and it took some seconds before his friend was back on the line.

“I’m here, Ichabod! I’m here! I dropped the phone and my cup of coffee, at the same time!” he babbled.

“Oh! I’m sorry if I startled you.”

“Startled me? Startled me! You gave me a goddamn shock, Crane! You’ve been cheating on Katrina!”

Crane covered his eyes with his free hand. He wanted tea. He wanted to feel remorse. But most of all, he wanted tea.

“Look, Bram –”

“Now I know,” Abraham interrupted, “that there’s never a right time to discuss the past, but you know that I know that Katrina isn’t really… passionate…”

“Bram, for fuck’s sake!”

“Did you say ‘fuck’, Ichabod!? Something profound really did happen last night!”

“Abraham!” Crane roared and could nearly hear his old friend jump at the other end. “I don’t want to discuss your past with Katrina. I don’t want to discuss details of what I did last night. But yes – I have cheated on my fiancée. I can’t fully grasp if it’s because our relationship, the upcoming wedding or simply because I met… Abbie Mills…”

It would be tempting to say that she is the reason, but definitely not to blame.

“Or if it’s all three,” he continued. “And I didn’t even mean to tell you. But I’m…”

“Ichabod,” Abraham interrupted. “I was there last night. I saw you sing with her. And when I was busy with her sister, I saw you sitting together. And talk, before we left. Something happened between you two. I saw it, old friend. I saw it.”

Crane exhaled, not realising he had been holding his breath.

“Ichabod?”

He could hear Abraham’s voice through the phone, but he had to sit down somewhere. Sitting on his favourite leather chair when he was stark naked was much less fun now that Abbie had gone home.

“Ichabod? Are you alright?”

Am I alright? Yes, I am. No, I’m not.

“I’m coming over, Ichabod! I’ll buy doughnuts on the way!”

“I’m in the cabin,” Crane muttered.

“Figured as much. Put on some tea, will you?”

“The water is already boiling.”

*

Abbie ate, ravenously, while waiting for her coffee. After having drunk most of it too hot, she went to the bedroom and undressed in front of the mirror. Ichabod’s big hands had left bruises on her hips, he had grabbed her that hard. There were suck marks on her neck and breasts. She picked up her flimsy skirt and blouse off the floor, noticing the faint scent of pine from it, among other less acceptable smells. Scents of them. She tucked the items away, for now. Stepping into the shower was a relief, after all. Warm, rejuvenating, and not really washing away what had happened. She couldn’t, and she didn’t want to.

“You’re so beautiful, Treasure…”

Damn. Was that something he did on regular basis? Picking up women in bars? He didn’t seem the type. No, she didn’t want to know. It wasn’t her business. And she should probably test herself, they had had unprotected oral sex. So much oral sex. Aaaall that oral sex.

Damn. Daaaamn.

Hot water and favourite soap was no help. Her own small hands couldn’t copy his, but her memory helpfully flooded her senses.

*

Crane gratefully ate the doughnuts Abraham had brought while gulping his tea. He had tidied up, showered and dressed in clean clothes. Katrina’s message was just some lines about when she was going to land tomorrow, ended with the expected ‘xxx’.

Abraham had his eyes fixated on him, but he tried to ignore it. He was beginning to feel like his normal self, and he sort of regretted having blurted out the truth to Bram over the phone. At least that was something he regretted. His aching muscles and lightheaded mood, though, those were not something he he had experienced in a long time. In fact, not since he had stopped going to fencing classes at Oxford.

“So,” Abraham said eventually, “I took Jenny to my place last night.”

Ichabod nodded and decided to try to focus on what his friend said. That, and the doughnuts, ought to help him from replaying last night in his head over and over.

“Quite a… lively young lady!” Bram tried to lift the mood. “Is the sister lively as well?”

Crane sighed. He had been a suffering listener to Bram for so many years. He was generally the first to know when Bram met someone. It was only when Bram was engaged to Katrina, and later was unfaithful to her, that Ichabod wasn’t privy to his sexual exploits. At least not at first. For one thing, Crane didn’t want to hear about him and Katrina, and Bram didn’t dare to tell him about being unfaithful for a long time. Later, Crane would hear Bram referring to some things that made him realise that Katrina at least hadn’t been more keen to have sex with Bram. Nor was she very keen with Crane, now that they were engaged. “Just not that interested,” Bram had said. She still wasn’t.

“Bram…” Ichabod began. “This makes me incredibly uncomfortable.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Bram replied with a hint of sarcasm. “I just don’t know what to make of everything.”

“If you want to admonish me for my actions, then just do it.”

“Me? Admonish you! It’s not like I have the right!”

“You have every right. You, me and Katrina have known one another our whole lives, more or less.”

“Don’t forget Mary,” Bram said pointedly.

“You know very well I haven’t forgotten Mary. I was engaged to her for almost a year, just like you and Katrina!”

“Perhaps we’re just all too closely inbred,” Bram snorted and sipped some more tea.

“We’re not that closely related!” Ichabod protested.

“You know the particulars far better than I.”

“Our fathers know them, not us.”

“Still, going to America and trying to not just be a name on a strange family tree hasn’t really worked out for us, now, has it?”

“It worked out very well for Mary; she’s happily married and has just had her first child.”

“I know, I know,” Abraham said impatiently. “My father emailed me three different versions of how the family tree should be updated! I’m so sick of it.”

“Imagine what it will look like if Katrina and I marry,” Crane said with some bitterness.

“What? What do you mean, ‘if’?”  

Crane put down the cup, wringing his restless hands.

“After what I’ve done…”

“You’ve been in love with Katrina since we were 12 years old.”

“And I’m not 12 anymore.”

“You carried a torch for her when she wouldn’t even look your way, while you had a long term relationship with Mary, and while I was engaged to her.”

“True. I am still wondering why you don’t hold any grudges against me.”

“Because nothing happened, you fool! And I was the one who hurt Katrina! You are the one who helped her fulfilling her dreams!”

“Am I?”

“Look, Ichabod… I still care for Katrina. You know that. I care for you too! I thought that you might be happy with her, if you were fine with… well.”

“Don’t!” Crane said and pointed a finger in the air.

“I will not discuss it, I swear! You are a lot more understanding than I am!”

Crane’s hand landed in his lap, while he shook his head.

“It shouldn’t be about that,” he mumbled.

“Ichabod – Katrina will never be… passionate. Alright? So if –”

“It’s not even about that!” Crane almost screamed.

“Then what!?”

“She… has either changed, or… is changing into someone I don’t even know. And after last night, I hardly feel like I know myself.”

*

The water poured over Abbie, ran down in rivulets and made rivers and lakes on the places where she had been given pleasure. Reminding her of all the rapture. Reminding her of how he had carried her from the sofa to the bedroom in the cabin, where she for the first time saw that he had done some changes. The new bed was definitely bigger, made up with plain, white bed linen of good quality, and with a mattress that you could gladly spend a whole week on, with him as company.

Only problem was that Abbie was actually feeling quite worn out at that point. No wonder, really. But ah, having a gorgeous man carrying you to his bed while kissing you wasn’t something she complained about. And so, when he carefully put her down on the bed, he laid down next to her, and invited her into his embrace. She gladly accepted, surprised at how they apparently felt the same way, and he kissed the top of her head, while his large, warm hand stroke the arm she had splayed over his chest. She slowly made circles on his flat, lightly hairy chest.

They were simply cuddling for a while in the almost dark room; light seeped in from the door to the main room, and there was a little bit of moonlight from the window. Abbie whisperingly excused herself and asked to borrow his bathroom. Limping in there, the light hit her too hard, in comparison, but she was grateful all the same. He had done a fair deal of work there as well, it was now a modern and much more comfortable bathroom. It was simple, but cosy, with clean towels and good soap. Still, seeing her face in the mirror was a stark reminder. Of another bathroom, earlier that night. Of other memories from this same cabin. Of who she actually was. But she washed off a bit, and shrugged at those thoughts. They were of no use to her tonight.

Silently, she opened his bathroom cabinet in hope of finding some neutral oil or something. She was definitely going to chafe at places in the morning. All she found was a beard oil, which explained the pine and wood scent that she liked so much. But even if it was all natural ingredients, it didn’t seem appropriate for her need. On the other hand, there were no drugs out of the ordinary. Abbie’s inner detective wasn’t resting. Stealthily, she closed the door again and decided to rejoin him. It wasn’t morning yet.

Coming out, he had lit a small lamp on the bedside table. He sat on the bed, still naked, next to a tray with drinks and some snacks. Abbie’s tummy made a happy jolt, and she couldn’t hold back a large smile.

“Why, you…” she chuckled and went over to him. He stood up smilingly and welcomed her into his arms.

“I figured that if I was hungry, so were you. Help yourself, I will use the bathroom as well.”

He kissed her hastily before he left her to inspect his offered nourishment. More water, definitely. She passed on the soda and small bottle of wine, but indulged in some rich chocolate, crackers with cheese, and grapes. There was a plate for her, and she noticed that his own was placed on the duvet, so he didn’t seem to worry about stains.

We’re practically having an orgy, it’s too late to worry about that.

She chuckled to herself, arranged some pillows against the headboard, and reclined to eat some while she waited for his return. She was munching grapes when he came out, feeling quite pleased with the situation.

“Enjoying yourself, Treasure?” he smiled.

“YOU can be a treasure, you sweet and sexy man! Come over here,” she waved.

He grinned, looking like an embarrassed rabbit for a moment, then made a leap forward and crawled over the bed to her side. They settled next to one another, and she fed him a grape. They ate and giggled together for a while, Abbie challenged Ichabod to catch a grape with his mouth. It took him three failures until he realised that Abbie missed intentionally, and he peppered her with grapes in return. Abbie yelped and started to crawl away, but Ichabod grabbed her, then instantly began to pepper her with kisses instead. Abbie rolled around with him, splitting her sides laughing. She heard the tray falling off the bed with a loud bang.

“Crane!” she screamed.

“Oh, to hell with that,” he growled and reached her right nipple with his tongue. Abbie shifted between giggles and moans, as his hands started to roam over her curves.

Still in the shower, Abbie’s memory bubble burst like bubbles must, as her work phone started to make noises outside of the bathroom. Abbie got out of the shower, swept a big towel around her, but still left a trail of water as she hurried out to answer. Work call, now? Was it Reynold’s shift? Abbie swore under her breath. Lifting up the phone, she realised that the number wasn’t work related.

“Why are you calling me on my work phone!?”

Chapter Text

 

“You wouldn’t answer on your private phone!” Jenny argued. “I’ve sent you a link to Mabie’s Facebook page.”

“Fuck it, Jenny!”

“ABBIE! You need to see it. It’s from last night.”

Abbie hobbled to her private phone and saw Jenny’s messages. She saw a still from the link. Mabie’s. The little scene. Coloured disco lights. A man and a woman on stage. Shocked, her thumb clicked the link, and there was noise from a crowd, the start of a well-known tune… and her own voice.

“Abbie?” she heard from her work phone.

“Fuck…” Abbie mumbled.

*

Abraham’s phone chirped. He fumbled it out of her jacket pocket as Crane looked on, feeling saved by the bell from a discussion he didn’t want. Abraham grinned widely.

“So soon?” he preened. “I never expected a message from Jenny already! Well…”

Crane rolled his eyes and stared into his teacup. He hadn’t even gotten Abbie’s number.

“What is this…?” Abraham said slowly, looking surprised.

Suddenly, some familiar notes sounded rather badly from Bram’s phone. But they hit Crane straight in Solar Plexus.

“I’ve been reeeeaaaally tryyyyyin’…”

Jumping up, Crane snatched the phone from Bram’s hand and stared on the screen. A movie clip. It was far away, shaky and rowdy. But it was unmistakable.

“Where did she get this?” Crane whispered, mesmerised by the sight of Abbie and himself on the scene.

“It’s from Mabie’s Facebook page. Already getting a lot of likes, it seems!”

Crane sank down in his chair, still staring at the clip – staring at himself and her. Abraham stood up from the sofa and came to look over his shoulder. Even if Crane remembered all of it, it was strange to see it from a whole other angle. Very strange. And still evoking the same feelings. How Abbie’s warm, angelic voice had a vibrato that made him quake inside. How she moved her body against his. How they smiled to one another. How they sounded and looked absolutely harmonic together.

“Wow…” Abraham mumbled next to him. “Look at the likes and comments. The shares! This is exploding!”

“Hardly!” Crane scoffed. “It’s probably just people around Sleepy Hollow who has nothing better to do on a Saturday morning!”

“Worried?” Bram teased, and placed a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Ouch!” Crane yelped involuntarily.

“Oh, sorry Ichabod! What is – your shoulder is bleeding!” Bram exclaimed as he saw red stains appearing on his friend’s striped shirt.

“Ah, excuse me!” Crane said while getting up quickly, handing Bram his phone and running to the bathroom. He had felt some kind of twinge on his shoulder when he showered, but had been so busy getting ready and tidying up the cabin from the most incriminating evidence.

That clip… It would spread. Some of his students had definitely been at Mabie’s last night. Abbie was with the police, what would that mean to her? Was there really any way of avoiding the talk this would lead to, and would he be able to stop blushing each time it would be brought up?

Crane didn’t know how to describe the tumult in his chest, so he kept silent and nursed the half-moon shaped wounds from Abbie’s nails on his shoulder instead, moaning slightly at the sting and remembering how she had moaned when she clawed him in the heat of passion.

*

Abbie closed down her Messenger app, unable to look at the clip right then. Something twisted in her chest, confusion, longing and agony had turned into a wild little animal.

So many things about the existence of that clip was bad, bad news. And yet, Abbie knew that once she had gotten rid of Jenny on the phone, she would watch the clip repeatedly.

“ABBIE!” screamed the sister that was like a sticky chewing gum on her soul.

“I’m here!” Abbie growled. “Don’t EVER call me on my work phone over a thing like this again! You hear me!?”

“Oookaaayy!” Jenny exaggerated in a way that was very Jenny. “Well, now you know!” she snapped and hung up on Abbie, without warning.

Fuming, Abbie threw her private phone on the sofa so hard that it bounced, and she said a quick, silent prayer that it wouldn’t land somewhere hard. Luckily, it landed on the mat under the coffee table. Abbie put it on charge, then went to fix her hair and take care of her sex-battled body. The love bite on her neck was probably the most obvious. Would Luke notice?

Abbie scoffed. When was the last time they had had sex? Oh, right. Valentine’s Day. And now it was June. When was the last time he had made a proper effort to really satisfy her? Ah, yes. When they got back together after she finally agreed to marry him, so nearly a year ago. Soon after her graduation from Quantico, soon after she had been stationed in Westchester County, to her big surprise. Her break up from Luke before Quantico had felt final, he didn’t support her going, he wanted her to support him transferring to NYPD instead. She did, but why would that mean she couldn’t go to Quantico?

And here she was again, back in the old route, wondering why she really thought it was going to be different now. Because Luke had said so. “This is the real deal, baby. It’s you and me now. Marriage, commitment. Children. You’re everything to me.” But it didn’t taken long until they were back in the same dull routines that she remembered from before Quantico. Only NOW, it was different! They were getting married! This was serious!

Abbie laughed bitterly, and shook her head as she untangled her hair. It was easy to blame work and wedding planning for their lack of sex. For their lack of honest communication. For their inability to break bad habits. Luke had his bad habits.

Abbie had her own bad habits. Safety. Familiarity. A feeling of belonging. The known over the unknown. Better the devil you know, right?

She had uprooted herself when she went to Quantico, fully prepared to make a life somewhere else in the states. A new beginning. She wanted that, in her heart of hearts she had always wanted adventure and to see new places. Even if losing familiar faces had broken her heart too many times and made her scared.

And then, she was placed in her old hometown! Coming back to her annoying sister, who she loved and so painfully had rebuilt a relationship with. To old workmates. To Mama’s and Corbin’s graves. To Luke. She could have asked to be transferred. But when Luke suddenly turned up on her doorstep, wooing her, taking her to dinner and baffling her with a proper proposal, diamond ring and all – Abbie had just been so overwhelmed. Mostly because she thought that Luke had finally understood what she needed: not the ring, but the support of a true partner.

“Yeah, right!” she muttered, while applying conditioner. She decided to devote time to her full hair routine. She had let it grow and flattened it regularly into large curls. She liked the hairdo, and so did Luke. And Luke’s mom. And Sophie. Abbie was tempted to go natural, as she had done while at Quantico, but Luke didn’t like that at all. Nor did his mom. Nor did Sophie.

“We’ll see about that after the wedding,” Abbie muttered.

The wedding.

Oh my God, the wedding!

She was going to marry Luke. That was the plan.

Abbie washed her hands thoroughly while she felt herself starting to hyperventilate. She closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe slower, trying to fight back the sudden panic attack.

Her phone buzzed.

“Jenny!” Abbie groaned but needed the distraction.

| Sorry I hung up on you like that.

| R U OK, sis?

| Don’t call Andy!

Andy… strange how the idea hadn’t entered into her mind. Andy, blissfully married to Jasmine and devoted to their baby son. Andy, her real port in the storm during her teenage years. Andy, truly her best friend and colleague in the police force. Andy, her first boyfriend and lover, though she was never in love with him. Andy, who took the news of her relationship with Luke really hard, then gradually removed himself from her already shrinking circle of trusted friends. Andy Brooks.

No, she wouldn’t call Andy. He’d just repeat his opinion about her and Luke, and she already knew that he was probably right. Nor did she feel ‘it should have been Andy’. That would have been so wrong for both of them, and seeing him happy with his little family truly mattered to her. It wasn’t that she didn’t love Andy, she loved him deeply. But she had never been in love with him.

She had fallen hard for Luke, however, after he had never given up on winning her. It took ten dates before she went to bed with him. Yes, ten. She knew there had been bets down at the police station as to when or if it would happen. Luke had been so happy and triumphant. He couldn’t wait to bring her home to his family, and from then on, she had a family too.

Not that she was ever good enough for Mrs. Morales, but at that time of her life, Abbie had never imagined being good enough for anyone. However, she ought to be good enough for her now, Abbie thought to herself. Well, maybe not NOW, when she had cheated on her son. But after having agreed to marry Luke? Becoming an F.B.I. agent? Coaching her niece Sophie into making it too? No, she still probably saw it as if they were trying to be better than her precious Luke. But since she more or less let Mrs. Morales arrange the whole wedding, everything paid by her and Luke, but letting hers and Sophie’s fantasies come true – shouldn’t that make her good enough for Mrs. Morales?

“Family…” Abbie muttered to herself.

Then the next thought invaded her: would her father ever R.S.V.P. to the wedding invitation she sent him? And what would she do, if he did? No one even knew that she’s sent one. If Jenny found out, she would flip tables. If Mrs. Morales found out, she’d yell over the seating arrangements. If Luke found out, he’d just reply something absent-minded.

If her father never replied, or R.S.V.P’d to decline?

“Dammit, Corbin, why did you have to die?” she muttered, as she went back to her hair routine, not replying to Jenny’s texts. Corbin was the only father she had ever needed, and still needed. At least Joe would be back on leave, and present for the wedding. She idly wondered if a visit to Corbin's old cabin might interest Joe? She slowly made up a daydream, where she and Joe drove there, and the new owner was out on the refurbished porch, coming to greet them with a goofy, surprised smile… and the sun was shining… and suddenly, Joe wasn’t in the daydream anymore.

*

“What will you do now?” Bram asked.

“Make lunch, I guess,” Crane sighed.

“No – I mean now, after all that has happened since last night?”

“I need to talk to Katrina, of course,” Crane replied gravely.

“Will you tell her all that happened?”

“I – don’t know what I ought to tell her, except that we have obviously hit a bump in the road leading to a successful marriage.”

“You don’t mean to call off the wedding!?” Bram exclaimed.

“I think it’s obvious that Katrina and I need to open our eyes to the fact that our relationship has serious problems, and that denying them will only make matters worse in the long run. How can we build a marriage on such a foundation, unless we try to work on some of those issues? None of us are without flaws. I… have always wanted to make Katrina my wife… But it can’t be a marriage of lies, can it?”

“Always the romantic, you are,” Bram said, rolling his eyes.

“Romantic? I would call that being a realist!” Crane protested, taking offence. “I may not know Katrina as well as I think, and I don’t seem to know myself either! I don’t mean to blame her, even if it sounds like that.”

“But you do blame her, Ichabod. You are the one who spent the night with someone else, and now you hint at her faults. Honestly, what is it that baffles you so much about Katrina?”

“Well…” Crane said chastised. “You would be the right person to talk to.”

“Then talk, old man.”

“It’s just… I always thought Katrina and I were on the same page.”

“What page would that be?”

“Well, any page! My work, her work. Living in both the US and the UK. How to run a business. And… politics,” he listed.

Abraham sighed, stared thoughtfully on something next to Crane for some long moment, lost in deep thought. Then he turned to look at his friend again, a conflicted expression on his face.

“I know the four of us, if we include Mary, more or less ‘grew up together’,” Abraham begun. “At least on school holidays. But you must consider that Katrina’s mother, despite being a descendant to an earl, was 100% American, first and foremost, and an established socialite in this funny little town. Katrina did take her mother’s last name, after all. She went to high school and college in the US. The van Tassels have a rich history here. The Crane’s who came, intermarried with them and settled. Being a van Tassel means something here, and it means a lot to her. Just as much as our fathers’ taking ridiculous pride in their own heritage.”

“Yes, but still –”

“The Katrina we know – or thought we knew – is who I think about as ‘the British Katrina’. She adapted back and forth to her different roles, traveling back and forth between the two countries. We often think that the differences aren’t great between the America we see on television back in the UK and how we live and think in Europe. But they are, Ichabod. They are. Just like today’s people don’t reason the way the American revolutionaries did 200 years ago.”

“I see what you mean,” Crane acknowledged. “But it’s more than that. Her… views on people sometimes. I guess I… just assumed that we had the same values.”

“Katrina can be tricky. She will smile and nod, but…” Bram had trouble finding the right words.

Crane sighed, feeling too uncomfortable.

“Oh well. I don’t know, Bram. Maybe it’s the upcoming EU referendum back home, the upcoming election here, the fact that people say such strange things…” Crane mused.

“Ha, all of that is just nonsense! People will see sense, you needn’t worry!” Bram said self-assuredly.

Crane shook his head, looking unsure.

“I want nothing more than being in agreement with you, but as a historian, I can’t help but wonder… about the signs of the times.

“O tempora, o mores!” Abraham quoted Cicero and laughed.

“Alas, indeed,” Crane muttered. “First the general election last year, and now an absolutely asinine referendum.”

“Hm, well,” Bram said diplomatically. “If you and Katrina can’t agree about that, then at least you can take comfort in living here in the US!”

Crane scoffed.

“Yes, I know, I know!” Bram said soothingly, and sighed. They had had these discussions before and he knew where it would lead.

“If nothing else, she could have been understanding when I didn’t get the position of Reader – or Associate Professor as they call it here – at Merton College, as I should have!” Crane ranted.

“She wanted you here, Ichabod! As did I! And instead of becoming Reader at Oxford, you became Associate Professor here, right where your research is all around you! And working side by side with her father!” Bram reminded him.

“I know, I know – still, there was something fishy about the whole thing!” Crane argued, visibly annoyed with his hands waving in his typical manner.

“When this research is finished, an academic book written and another, for the popular historical crowd, and the rights sold to Hollywood – then Merton will beg for you to be Professor there, and it might just be in time for you and Katrina to live in UK again, for some years!” Bram enthused.

“Bram, you know I appreciate your support and faith in me, but I tell you –”

“Ichabod!” Bram exploded, losing his patience. “As your friend, let me say this: let it go. Just – let it go. You have to move on, my friend! Plan ahead!”

Crane’s shoulders slumped, defeated.

*

“Ow!” Abbie yelped when Crane’s hand squeezed her breast and sucked.

Worriedly, he looked up at her and released his grip, which hadn't been hard.

“Forgive me, Treasure!” he mumbled contrite against her silky skin. “Have I handled you so roughly?”

“I have no complaints about anything!” Abbie chuckled and kissed the top of his head. “But aren’t you sore? It’s been a long and hard night,” she added.

“Indeed I am, and indeed it has…”

“Didn’t your man gang put some lube among those condoms?” Abbie whispered while kissing him slowly and tenderly.

“My man gang?” Crane chuckled while getting up to check.

It turned out that there were some packets of lube, and with soft and slow application, it turned out to be just as exhilarating as hard and fast. Their first sex in a bed ended up being in a classic missionary position. Light hands and soft, lingering kisses explored until they once more joined together in a slow, long and steady rhythm, bringing them both to climax as dawn began to break outside. When they snuggled together, spooning in a sated embrace, Abbie heard him say it, just before she slumbered.

“I want to see you again,” he whispered, and his words were a warm puff near her ear, making her shiver and cuddle closer to him with a satisfied ‘mmmm’, too tired and too high on oxytocin to even formulate a protest.

*

Alone, since Bram had went home, Crane went over the events in his head, trying to analyse it, but failing. When he awkwardly had tampered down an aching erection, just from the memories, he concluded that he had probably broken some international protocol for how to behave during a one night stand.

Perhaps it was wrong of me to say that.

Trying to console himself, he watched the clip of them singing instead. Again.

*

At home, Abbie’s hair was almost done, while her daydreams turned into recent memories, ending in her starting to look for her vibrator, despite knowing she should probably wrap some frozen peas in a towel and sit on instead, in order to get her worn out pussy back to normal. She did neither, but sank down in the sofa with her phone, looking at the clip of them singing more times than she cared to admit.

I want to see you again…

The memory of being spooned against his long, lanky body while he whispered those words gave very mixed signals to both her private places and her mind.

Why did he have to say that?

Chapter Text

When Abbie had watched the clip way too many times, she put her mobile in flight mode and got almost the whole day to herself. At 5:30 pm, Sophie was at her door with Chinese food and hungover anxiety. While eating, Sophie’s chatter was like a muffled background noise, helping Abbie to pretend everything was normal. At 6:30, Mrs. Morales barged in, being all smiles but worried why Abbie hadn’t answered her phone. She also came to show Abbie napkin rings to choose from, but it was clear that Mrs. Morales had already made the choice herself.

The chatter of Luke’s family and all the clippings in Mrs. Morales wedding binder, along with wedding accessories, were about to give Abbie a headache. Just then, Luke himself came through the door, carrying his fishing gear. One day early.

“Luke!” all three women said, almost at once.

“Oh, you’re all here?” he just said. He looked tired, but smiled. “Hey, babe,” he greeted Abbie while hanging up his jacket. “Didn’t you see any of my messages?” His tone was a bit annoyed and Abbie thought it was probably just fair.

“I put my private phone on flight mode, Jenny was texting me a lot,” she replied.

“Jenny!” he asked, startled. “Why?”

“Because she’s Jenny?” Abbie shrugged. “So why are you home early?”

“Ah, pfui,” Luke shrugged himself on the other side of the room.

“Luke, come and see the napkin rings!” his mother clamoured.

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Luke, you want some leftover Chinese?” Sophie put in.

“Where’s it from?”

“Luke, I washed and ironed your new shirts,” Mrs. Morales stated and looked pleased with herself.

“Not again,” Abbie growled under her breath and gave Luke the stinky eye.

“Uh, great, ma! You know you don’t have to do that!” he chuckled nervously.

Mrs. Morales just rolled her eyes in Abbie’s direction.

“I’ll come by and pick them up, ma,” Luke said.

“Luke – Luke – Luke!” This would go on for a while, in Abbie’s experience. So much for a calm weekend. Abbie let it all fade out for the moment, as she put away the dishes.

“Abbie!”

“What!?”

“We must decide a day for cake tasting!” Mrs. Morales demanded.

“Sure,” she agreed.

“You need to be there, and to get out of work in time for it!” she stressed.

“Yeah, sure,” Abbie repeated.

“I have some days and times to choose from, now look here…”

They decided on Monday next week and made sure Abbie had the address to the exclusive bakery. Mrs. Morales would set up the date. Abbie was grateful, and she knew Luke was too. It was just… She was the one getting married, and Sophie was more involved in the planning than her, or Luke for that matter.

Sophie and Mrs. Morales kept prattling about wedding cakes, as Luke made his way over to Abbie. She felt embarrassed, and somehow Luke must have noticed, because he seemed embarrassed as well.

“You OK, babe?” he asked and lightly kissed her temple.

“Sure!” she replied with false bravado. “You come home and everyone attack you at once! Have a seat, will ya? I’ll get you some of the leftovers,” Abbie replied and gestured for him to sit on a barstool by the kitchen counter, separating the kitchen and the living room. She didn’t have to ask twice; Luke rarely insisted on being of any help.

“You look great!” he observed, out of the blue.

“What?” she asked, baffled.

“You look… well, good!” he continued, adding up the compliment with one of his charming smiles.

“Uh, thanks?” Abbie said and glanced down on her old t-shirt and sweatpants.

“I know, right!” Sophie said. “I told her so! Day after her wild bachelorette party, and she has the nerve to look that radiant!”

“I only did my hair!” Abbie protested.

“No, my sweet!” Mrs. Morales filled in. “There is a glow about you today!”

“A glow?” Abbie protested, looking at them doubtfully.

“Ohh, yes! That makes a mother-in-law soooo hopeful!” Luke’s mother added with a meaningful wink.

It was Abbie’s turn to roll her eyes, and wave off their silliness.

“They’re right,” Luke smiled. “You shine.”

“Thanks,” Abbie said with a small smile, feeling herself blush. So much praise at once was confusing. Then she frowned. A glance towards the sofa told her that Sophie and her mother-in-law were busy looking at wedding cake photos.

“So, what cut your trip so short?” she asked Luke again. He silently munched and swallowed before he answered.

“No fish.”

“So you just left? Was the weather bad?”

“No… Devon’s girlfriend wanted to –” Luke had another bite, chewed and swallowed. “She wanted him to come home.”

“Devon’s new girlfriend? Chloe?”

“Zoey.”

“And you were OK with that?” Abbie asked, trying to make conversation.

“Hey, why’re you sounding so accusing?”

“Me? I just – you’ve been longing for this trip.”

“Eehh,” Luke shrugged dismissively.

“You’ve gone on about Chautauqua Lake for ages?”

“Too crowded, and still too early for bass,” he replied shortly.

“Did you bring any brochures about Niagara Falls, mijo?” Mrs. Morales asked, clearly overhearing.

“No, ma!” Luke said and wiped his mouth irritatedly. “You have all the brochures you need!”

“But you said –” she protested.

“And can you and Sophie go home soon?” he added rudely, back still turned to them. “Finally give me and Abbie some time alone?”

“Luke!” Abbie chided.

“Ohh, no matter, dear Abbie!” Mrs. Morales said cheerily while collecting her wedding planner, always forgiving her son. Abbie could just imagine what would have happened if she had said something similar.

“Still…” she mumbled.

Mrs. Morales came over to kiss her son and Sophie got up, flipping on her phone.

“Hey, Abbie! Have you seen the clip of you and that guy singing, by the way!?” Sophie exclaimed and made herself wince over how her head still hurt.

“Yeah, Jenny sent it this morning,” Abbie just said, wincing for a whole other reason. Hearing Sophie talking about ‘that guy’ was enough to put Abbie in a state of confusion.

If Sophie found out what I did, her heart would break.

Already, she was living in a lie.

“What guy?” Luke asked.

“Karaoke at Mabie’s last night,” Abbie said shortly, as Mrs Morales came forward to kiss her good-bye.

“Luke, you have to see this!” Sophie laughed and handed him her phone.

There was that song again. Abbie heard her own voice. Then Crane’s. Then theirs, joint in harmony. She could play that clip in her head without looking, but she could also relive her own experience of it on stage. Luke had his mother and cousin flanking him, looking over to see, while Abbie shuffled away.

“Tsh, Abbie! Such scandalous behaviour!” Luke’s mother scolded.

Luke’s eyebrows went higher and higher up on his forehead.

Sophie, who had been laughing, suddenly stopped and her eyes were like saucers.

“Oops, I don’t remember you gyrating like that against him! And him, holding you against him like that! Hey!”

Mrs. Morales gasped and put her hands over her mouth.

“Abbie…?” Luke chuckled, frowning now. “What the hell?”

“Yeaahh…” Abbie said and felt a bit of shame, finally. For being exposed. “Some bachelorette party.”

“And wasn’t that – oh, yeah!” Sophie exclaimed and snapped her fingers. “It was this guy’s bachelor party as well!”

“I wonder what’ll happen if Mrs. Irving sees this and shows it to the Captain,” Luke mused.

“He was there,” Abbie said.

“Irving was there?” Luke’s face snapped up.

“Yeah, he knows… that guy.”

“Abbie, you are a respected agent!” Mrs. Morales quarrelled. “This is something I’d expect from your sister, but never from you!”

“I bet Jenny thought it was the best thing you’d done in ages!” Luke said bitterly.

Abbie rolled her eyes, criticising Jenny was a common occurrence with Luke and his mom, and it always rubbed Abbie the wrong way.

“Nah, she was busy with his friend,” Abbie said calmly.

“What!” Luke asked.

“Yeah, well…”

“Ohh, that’s right!” Sophie remembered. “Did they hook up?”

Abbie smirked and winked at Sophie, who grinned and blushed. Luke looked annoyed.

“And she nearly got it on with –” Sophie blurted out, but stopped herself.

“Who?” Luke asked.

“Uh…” Sophie said and glanced at her aunt.

“Who!?” Luke demanded and turned to Abbie.

Abbie shrugged.

“There was a male stripper, OK.”

Mrs. Morales broke out in a long string of words, and Sophie looked like she wanted the earth to swallow her.

“And Jenny…?” Luke asked seriously.

“Didn’t do anything that wasn’t legal, calm the fuck down!” Abbie hissed.

“Don’t curse, my dear Abbie!” Luke’s mom wailed.

“I wasn’t interested in the lap dance, so I waved him over to Jenny. That was all. And, yeah. It never got that dirty.”

“But wasn’t that art dealer at Mabie’s as well, one of her exes…?” Sophie reminisced.

Abbie swore inwardly instead. Too bad Sophie couldn’t hold her tongue when she was hung over.

“Art dealer?” Luke stressed. “Hawley? That smuggling bastard?”

“Yeah,” Abbie nodded, equally concerned about Hawley’s presence in Sleepy Hollow.

“And he saw you behave like this!” Luke griped.

“Hey!” Abbie said. “It’s just a song. But if I’ve gone too far, then I apologise,” Abbie said, supposing that she really ought to start apologising for something.

“No, you’re not the one who should apologise!” Luke said and crossed his arms over his chest. “Whenever something happens to disrupt order, it’s because of –”

“JENNY!” Sophie exclaimed, because the very one just walked into the door.

“Wow,” Jenny said with a smirk. “Did you miss me?”

*

After having eaten some lunch, Crane cleaned up and reluctantly left the cabin to go home. Last night’s clothes were in a plastic bag, he supposed he should make sure to wash them. Mainly because Katrina shouldn’t have to be exposed to his dirty deeds.

Driving slowly through the lush forest and into town was like leaving one world and entering another. Truth be told, he generally felt like that. There was a strange feeling about Sleepy Hollow, almost a sort of magic. He supposed it was his own interest in its history, but such things didn’t generally make him ill at ease; quite the opposite. But the forest, the lake and the cabin – those he loved. They made him feel like he belonged.

Coming home, he remembered that he should probably unmute and charge his phone. Picking it up, he realised that someone had tagged his name under that clip on Mabie’s. A friend had also shared it directly on his Facebook timeline. It turned out to be an old friend in the UK in both cases, but Ichabod strongly suspected that Bram was involved. The comment with his name gathered likes and other reactions. Several from his students and even some colleague. Ichabod groaned in frustration. Then there were some more forward students who commented with various outbursts.

Ichabod rubbed his eyes and sighed. Then, on a whim but with conviction, he made a comment:

|No regrets.

And then his comment started to get likes!

“To hell with it!” he muttered.

The comment was already gathering more likes than his occasional observations or his shared articles on historical subjects! Well, not that he minded finally getting some social media fame for his karaoke skills. On the contrary. And with such an irresistible singing partner, for that matter! But that wasn’t why people were in uproar, was it?

His notes also showed that Katrina was tagged on some posts. Being the supportive fiancé that he was – or had endeavoured to be – Ichabod always made sure to like Katrina’s posts and everything she shared connected to her ‘modern witchery’ business. If he was being honest with himself, and he was being honest to himself on this strange Saturday, Katrina’s business was basically a hodgepodge of light alternative self help and, above all, light alternative Wicca. Only with an ‘original, European twist’. The last part made him ill at ease, for several reasons.

But the worst of all was Katrina’s business partner. Ichabod shuddered at the thought of her. The thrice divorced, conservative, old high school bestie, who Katrina had bonded with so closely when she moved back to the US. The friend who was practically deciding over their wedding, hers and Katrina’s business, who to be seen with, what to do – almost their whole lives! Naturally, it was this business partner who had tagged Katrina in a number of photos in San Diego, where they were attending an alternative medicine convention. Nevertheless, Ichabod clicked, determined to be interested.

He frowned at the first photos. Then he shuddered in repulsion, as it went on. In the final photo, Katrina and her business partner flanked a man behind a scene. The grinning, revolting man looked as orange as ever, and his hand was firmly placed on the lower part of Katrina’s hip. She smiled serenely, while her partner, looking absolutely ecstatic, actually pressed her side quite demonstratively to the man’s side. In the partner’s hand was a political pamphlet with the disgusting man’s name on it, along with the words ‘M*ke Am*rica Gr*at Ag*in’.

And it definitely yielded reactions. Ichabod had to remember to breathe, then he put a reaction on it himself: the angry one. The photos also turned up on Katrina’s own timeline, and everywhere, it said:

‘Standra Metzcove with Katrina van Tassel’.

Chapter Text

Due to the tension in the living room, Abbie brought Jenny into the bedroom. She had brought Abbie’s jacket, which she had left in Jenny’s car.

“Why’s Luke home already?” was Jenny’s first question, frowning. In Abbie and Luke’s bedroom, she scanned the surroundings, looking restless.

“No fish, and something about Devon’s new girlfriend,” Abbie said.

“What about his girlfriend?” Jenny asked sharply.

“She wanted him to come back home,” Abbie replied, looking surprised.

“And where was she?” Jenny continued.

“Uh, home, I presume.”

“Oh. Right,” Jenny muttered.

Abbie was beginning to feel mystified about Jenny’s behaviour. Sure, she and Luke didn’t get along very well, but behaved politely when they had to be in the same room. Jenny’s former brush with the law always downgraded her in the eyes of Luke and his mother, though Sophie was a lot more cordial towards her. Jenny’s suspiciousness towards policemen, including Abbie on and off, didn’t make it better. Only Corbin had met with her approval, and when Abbie joined the police force, she hadn’t been happy, even if her short time in jail was way behind her.

“Are you OK with Luke being home?” she asked.

“Question is rather: am I OK with having every Morales of Sleep Hollow in my home right now,” Abbie said sarcastically.

“Hm. So…”

“Look, Jenny –”

“You haven’t read my message, have you?” her sister interrupted.

“Which one?” Abbie sighed. “I put the phone in flight mode after a while. I needed rest.”

“Yeah, I get that,” Jenny nodded. “I just…”

“What?”

“Never mind. Really. It was just…” she shook her head, looking at a photo on the wall of her sister and Luke together.

“Jenny – I will talk to him,” Abbie assured her. “I must. This is…” It was Abbie’s turn to shake her head.

“Yeah… OK,” Jenny said carefully. “My offer still stands.”

“Su casa?”

“Yup!” she said, and suddenly hugged Abbie. Hard.

As she left, Abbie took up her phone and read her sister’s unread message:

|There’s something I should tell you. I’m coming over.

Frowning, Abbie put her phone down. Jenny could be so overdramatic. And yet…

*

“Katrina… when you come home, we have to talk. In the meantime, I am staying at the cabin. I’ll bring a few things. I am… uh. So, in any case. Call me. We must talk, Katrina. Really talk!”

It was easy to be brave on voicemail. Even so, he longed to talk to her eye to eye. Really talk to her, perhaps for the first time. But was it for the last time?

Katrina – stunning Katrina, who he had adored all his life. Who finally loved him back, of that he was sure, in her own reserved manner. Katrina, who he always imagined to be his soulmate. Had it just been imagination? Had they not shared everything? Had she not begged him to build a life with her, here in the US? She was the woman who, on a fine day at a garden party when he had arrived with Mary and Abraham had arrived with her, had told him that she was going to leave Bram.

“Ichabod, I know you know about Abraham’s unfaithfulness. And I don’t blame you for keeping silent. I know how conflicted you’ve been. You are loyalty itself. I know how you’ve stayed away from me because of it, and how absolutely devoted you are to Mary, despite…”

“Katrina…” he sighed. They were alone, by the river in the shade of a tree. She had put her hand on his arm, and he had felt slightly dizzy. She stepped closer, almost as tall as he, and whispered close to his ear.

“I see you, Ichabod. And I feel it too. I might have been satisfied with my situation, despite Bram’s indiscretions and as loyal to him as you are to all you hold dear, were it not for the fact that I have finally realised… that I love another.”

She kissed him then, and it had not been cool and distant. No matter what had happened later, that day had been a hot revelation. It has taken a mere week until they had broken it off with their partners, and met as lovers. He had been exuberant and she had been happy, of that he was sure. More shy than he had expected, whisperingly telling him that she had only ever been with Bram. He had assured her, he and Mary had also only been with one another. While Mary wasn’t as shy as Katrina in sexual matters, he was certain that his deep love for Katrina would overcome that, and her reserve. It hadn’t, because Katrina didn’t have anything to add to the subject.

And neither Mary nor Katrina had come anywhere close to making him feel like he had felt last night: lips to lips, skin to skin and moving steadily in and out of Abbie Mills’ tight, warm and welcoming body. Her passion, her glow, her ecstasy! Even if he never saw her again, left the Hudson Valley and flew back home – he would always know. There was more. Not just sex, but also sex. Passion. He had it, and he could entice it, at least once in a lifetime. There was an honesty in that, and a chance to be loyal to himself.

It did not, however, justify that he had broken his promises. First to Mary, and then to Katrina.

*

“Babe,” he whispered.

“I’m… really tired, Luke,” Abbie muttered, and sidestepped away from Luke’s embrace, not in any way in the mood for what Luke suggested.

“It’s been so long, babe…”

“Yeah, it has,” Abbie agreed. But no way in hell was she going to have sex with two men in such a short time span. No way in hell!

“C’mon, babe,” he urged. “I know it’s been much. Our jobs, the wedding… I know I haven’t treated you right. Come and sit with me?”

“Luke…”

“And cuddle? Let me hold you, babe?” he asked so tenderly that Abbie’s eyes got teary. How she had longed for tenderness! Apologies, assurances, compliments and tenderness! Yes, she was strong. Yes, she was self-sufficient, professional, demanding and needing a man who could match her. Not by giving her strength in return, but maturity. Tenderness. The things Luke had shown, but not lived up to. Could he?

“You work so hard and I am so proud of you,” he mumbled, sensing her beginning to capitulate. He led her to their sofa and they sat down together, his arm around her shoulder. It wasn’t rare that they sat together like this, falling asleep in front of the TV, when their schedules allowed it. There was no TV in the background now.

Abbie leaned against Luke’s broad, familiar chest. She tried to tilt her head into a comfortable position, but then he shifted a bit and her neck felt the strain. It always ended with her leaning her head on his shoulder in an awkward angle. But at least they cuddled. And now was the time to talk. Confess? She decided to start the conversation in a less confrontational manner.

“Luke –”

He kissed her, but she cut it short.

“Luke, I have to ask you –”

“Mmm,” he mumbled and went for her neck instead.

“No, Luke! We –”

He kissed her again, squeezing her breast that felt sore and decidedly indifferent to his advances.

Abbie pushed him away.

“Hey,” he chuckled, not taking her seriously.

“Luke! We were gonna cuddle!”

“Yeah?” he smirked, clearly telling her what he meant by ‘cuddling’.

“Can we just – mmphf!” She pushed him away again. “Stop kissing me!” At another time, she might have relented and just gone with it. This was not that time.

“Can’t we just have a night off without a lot of talk?” Luke complained.

“Can’t we for once be honest!?” Abbie burst out. “First you say you haven’t been treating me right, that it’s OK to cuddle! And then you show you didn’t mean any of it!?”

“Baaaabe,” he started again.

“And what about being proud of me?” she said with arms crossed. “Are you?”

“Of course, Abbie!” he exclaimed.

“So if I want to take the leadership program, and maybe fill in for Granger, my boss?” she challenged. “What do you think about that?”

Luke was silent and looked sullen.

“What about me?”

“What about you?”

“You know I want to transfer to NYPD.”

“And why would both be impossible?” Abbie felt the ire grow within her.

“Can’t you at least try to be supportive?” he accused.

“When have I not been supportive?” she asked hotly.

“It’s always about YOU!” he shouted.

“Why can’t it be about US!?” she shouted back. “Can I only be supportive if I fix your shirts??”

“You could DAMN WELL TRY!!” he shouted back.

“YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN, FUCKING SHIRTS, LUKE!!” she screamed.

Luke kicked the coffee table, hit a toe and swore, jumping on one leg. Abbie’s tense shoulders slumped, and she went to get some ice for his toe. When Luke sat with his foot up on the offending table, they had both calmed down.

“Abbie, all I’m saying is that when we have children, these schedules won’t work,” he said.

“No, they won’t,” she agreed seriously. “Unless we split the care of our children equally. As we said we would.”

“Abbie –”

“As we said!”

“Well, sure. Ma can always –”

“I’m not having children with your mother, Luke!!” Abbie yelled and got on her feet. “I don’t want to co-parent with her, I don’t want her to govern our lives, I’m not marrying her!”

“You better deal with my ma,” he shouted. “Because you are marrying me!”

Abbie didn’t reply and they stared daggers at one another for several beats.

“It’s not too late to call it off,” she said.

Luke’s face fell.

*

Being back in the cabin felt even better than Crane expected. So good, in fact, that after having settled in on Saturday, he spent Sunday relaxing. Still not a word from Katrina. Abraham and the rest of the world left him blissfully alone. He couldn’t help glancing around him and remembering the night he had had there with the gorgeous officer of the police. He should call the police station and have her arresting him, and the thought made him chuckle.

Stretching out on the sofa after breakfast, he fell into a light slumber and didn’t hear the car. Not until the door opened, when he jumped up and saw Katrina standing there, one hand on her hip and the other holding up her phone accusingly.

“Ichabod! What did we agree on when it comes to karaoke?!” she whisper-hissed.

*

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Jenny whispered. Abbie could scent coffee and opened her eyes to the sight of her sister next to the sofa bed in her living room.

“Morning, Jenny…” Abbie yawned and sat up. “Thank you,” she said for the coffee. “Thank you for everything,” she added.

“No problem, sis,” Jenny said. “So… what happens now?”

Chapter Text

“Katrina… I am surprised to see you here.”

“You leave me little choice but to drive out to this wretched place, Ichabod! And when are you putting up the cabin for sale!? We need the extra money after the wedding!”

Ichabod crossed his arms over his chest. Katrina was clearly upset, but so was he.

“I take it you heard the message I left on your voicemail?” he asked.

I take it that you heard what I said when I came in!” she kept hissing. “That I have to wake up to you being tagged in the most shameful display at Mabie’s! How could you even go to such a place after the nice mystery I helped Bram booking for your stag night? And karaoke! You know I cannot abide karaoke!

Katrina’s voice, that he’d always thought interesting, was sounding increasingly shrill as she got angrier.

“And what about you, Katrina?!” Ichabod shouted. “I had to see you and Standra side by side of that – that –”

“Oh, for God’s sake, do get over yourself, Ichabod!” she demanded impatiently. “We were at the same venue as the rally. Of course Standra wanted to go and hear it!”

“What on earth is ‘of course’ about attending such a horrible event!?” Ichabod retorted. “Can’t either of you see how toxic it all is?! Do I need to lecture you on history and make suitable comparisons? Shouldn’t you, as her friend, tell her how wrong it all is and, if not being able to persuade her, then make sure that you don’t want to be seen in such a situation and with those people!?” he ranted.

Katrina rolled her eyes and lifted her hands up in the air.

“You never warn about your lectures, Ichabod, you deliver them anyway! Always the greatest mind in the room, always knowing better than anyone else!”

Ichabod was gasping for breath.

“Those are facts, Katrina!”

“Maybe I’m sick of your facts, Ichabod!” she yelled. “Facts get us nowhere!”

“I cannot believe I’m hearing this!” he said, aghast.

“While I am out networking with people who actually matter, you spend your night making a fool of yourself with a strange woman in a bar!”

“I’ll have you know that me singing an excellent duet with a brilliant singer can be a good deal better networking than having my fiancée tagged on a photo with an, an, an absolute…”

“What?!” she asked furiously.

“COCKWOMBLE!” Ichabod roared.

“Ichabod!” Katrina admonished.

“Don’t ‘Ichabod’ me! I know what promises I’ve made. I know what promises I’ve broken. I –” He was suddenly at a loss of words, and looked confused as he shut his mouth and lifted his jaw.

“Then why are you staying here?” Katrina asked, teary-eyed.

Still, he couldn’t produce a reply.

“Why do you call me to say that you want to stay here, instead of our home?” she insisted, sobbing now.

“Katrina…” he said in a hushing tone and went over to console her. To his surprise, she threw herself at him; an unusual lack of sang-froid when it came to her.

“My love, if we have made mistakes, surely we can make amends?” she sobbed against his shirt.

Ichabod said nothing, just held her and felt her hair brushing his cheek. She was familiar, smelling of exclusive perfume he gave her on her birthday, and so tall. Almost as tall as him. Not like…

No, Ichabod. She is not the reason for this fight. No.

“I fear that it will be difficult, my love,” he replied automatically with the same endearment. This was the woman he was going to marry in less than a month. He cared for and loved her, of course he did, but did that mean that they were ready to be married?

“I have failed you,” she sobbed.

“No, indeed,” he mumbled, snatched a paper handkerchief from the container beside the sofa, and began to dab away her tears. “I can’t for the life of me understand why you went with Standra to that rally, and I know I promised to not sing karaoke after our wedding. The cabin is another matter.”

She kept silent, sniffing against his shoulder, but he sensed that it wouldn’t be the last of it.

“But there are other things, Katrina…”

“I have failed you,” she insisted in a small voice.

“No more than I have failed you!” he blurted out.

Her green, beautiful eyes suddenly shone from unshed tears. Her face was close to his.

“I promised you a happy life here, Ichabod. I know I haven’t lived up to the promise.”

“My love, it’s hardly in your power to –”

“No,” she insisted. “As soon as you came, it was too many plans. Your work, my work. The wedding. It was all too much at once,” she sobbed.

He wished he could still her tears, make her stop crying. Her tears affected him and clouded his judgement. He wanted a rational discussion. This sudden display of affection was the last thing he had expected. It was their first real fight. The first time he had actually stood up to her. He had been hesitant about the move to America, but in the end, he had agreed to it. The fact that both his fiancée and best friend moved before him made it easier, of course. How strange that he wanted rationality now, when he had hoped for passion for so long.

“It was a bit much, yes,” he confessed.

“But it will all be over soon,” she whispered persuasively.

“Will it?” he frowned.

When she kissed him, he had already anticipated it. Her lips were cool and almost smiling. This was what he had, and a sadness came over him. He broke the kiss and her arms were still around his neck, her body pressed against his. In a flash, it reminded him of the photo where a small, male hand with a strange tan rested firmly on her hip. In another flash, he saw his own hands, gripping both hips of a naked and naturally brown Abbie Mills. It was unfortunate that his eidetic mind could produce such clear memories, and not always helpful. The comparison was jarring.

He carefully started to end their embrace, but Katrina gripped him harder.

“You can have me, if you want to,” she whispered to him.

Those were her words, every time he was invited to have sex with her. ‘You can have me, if you want to.’ Have her, as if she gave up herself. Want to, as if her own want wasn’t on the table. A formal declaration that he was allowed to have sexual intercourse with her. It finally landed in him: no, he didn’t want to. No more than her. Not here, not now. Definitely not after what had happened the other night at the very place where they just stood.

“No, Katrina,” he mumbled with a strain in his voice.

She tensed in his arms. He realised that this, too, was a first. He hadn’t said no to her before; he always had to wait for her to make the invitation. Not that he had wanted it to be that way, but because he had accepted her conditions. He had thought he did it out of love. He could have been satisfied, if it had been out of love. But was it?

Pushing her back a bit and still being in their created orbit, he could still feel that he cared for her. Loved the Katrina he knew, despite their difference of opinions. The friend he had known since a child. But the woman and the enigma that he had fabricated in his mind – she was no longer there.

“Oh, Ichabod!” she said at length. “So you are fine with waiting until our wedding night?” She sounded almost happy.

“I… beg your pardon?”

*

“Abbie – hey, Abbie!”

She had went for a light run, needing to get her muscles back in order and to clear her mind. It wasn’t long until Luke turned up in his car.

“Abbie, wait! We must talk!”

She waited as he got out of the car. He came her way and she rolled her shoulders, stretching a bit. When he reached her, he also tried to reach for her.

“Woah, Luke! Let go of me!”

“Abbie – querida!”

So it was that serious, Abbie thought. He had only called her ‘querida’ when he proposed to her. He was agitated, eyes red from having cried.

“Don’t leave me!” he begged. “Please, Abbie! I love you, I need you!”

She stared at him, stunned.

“Abbie!” His hands landed on her shoulders. “What ever is wrong, we can work it out. We can! We are getting married. It means everything to me!”

Abbie shook her head, looking down.

“What are you proposing?”

“We must find a way, Abbie. We must.”

Abbie looked to the side, over the fields and the forest beyond. The road there lead to Mabie’s, and further on to the cabin. Not Corbin’s cabin any longer. It was just a memory now. What was her future?

“Abbie, don’t leave me alone!”

“Luke, you’re never alone!” she snorted.

“I am, if I’m without you. Believe me, I speak the truth!”

Alone. He felt alone?

“What about all our plans, Abbie? A house. Children! We wanted a family together! Are you giving up on all that?”

Abbie closed her eyes, battling the pain. Yes, she still wanted that. To build her own family, her own support, her own security. And never be left alone again. Somewhere in her heart she was jealous of Mrs. Morales; she had known Luke all his life. Luke had someone who had known him all his life. Abbie didn’t. Jenny came closest, but could disappear again. Their dad had left. Their mother was dead. Other relatives were too far away. Abbie wanted to be there for somebody, for the rest of her life.

“I don’t know if we can make it,” she mumbled, feeling her own tears threatening.

“We must, Abbie. Somehow. Stay with Jenny for now, stay until the wedding, if you like. I will see if we can get some help, someone we can talk to. If that’s what you want.”

Luke’s eyes were teary as well, she had never seen him like that. Not even when she broke it off for Quantico.

“You mean it!” she said, and it was a statement, not a question.

“I mean it, Abbie. Querida.”

She let him hold her, and they hugged for quite some time.

“Have you been in combat this week?” he mumbled, while his finger traced some marks on her neck.

“It’s from training,” she simply said and broke free of him.

*

“I only ever intended to give myself to one man, Ichabod,” Katrina explained tearfully. “I know – in this day and age? But I do feel that if we hold out now, until the wedding –”

“Katrina – wait! Do you really think that we should be married?”

“Of course!” she said, looking shocked. “That means everything to me! Our future together! That is why I trusted you with my heart, Ichabod: because of your loyalty and that you never break a promise!”

“But –”

“But what, Ichabod!?”

“I am having very serious doubts about this,” he explained, battling down his empathy and usual behaviour to give into Katrina’s wishes.

“No, Ichabod! I cannot accept that! Not now!”

“But –”

“Remember that you promised to marry me! Promised to make me happy!” Again, he was taken aback by her strong emotions, and again he was torn between being a gentleman and being selfish.

“Katrina, how can I keep my promise to you if I can’t make you happy!?” he yelled.

“By marrying me! That will make me happy!” she yelled back.

Ichabod was silent, just shaking his head in utter bafflement. She went forward and took his hands.

“It is only natural to feel nervous! So am I!” she urged. “And therefore, we can’t give into any rash notions!”

“But what if –”

“Please, Ichabod!” she begged. “I know a councelor we can go to. I’m sure she can help us!”

Ichabod said nothing, only stared at her.

“Stay here in the cabin, if that feels easier for you,” she said sweetly but gave the place a glance of disapproval. “We will not speak of this until we can get professional help. And get something for that strange redness on your shoulder,” she added, peaking inside his opened shirt.

She stepped forward and lightly kissed his cheek. Then she left him and he just stood there for quite a while, trying to fit the pieces of his mind together, his hand placed over where Abbie had left a treasured mark on him.

Chapter Text

When Abbie came to the bureau on Monday, she was met with Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On, playing on some computer. In general, people were just snickering, but Danny Reynolds complained about having missed the best night out. Sophie scolded him, reminding him that it had been a bachelorette party.

“Yeah,” he said and looked meaningfully at Abbie. “But Mabie’s that night was clearly the place to be.”

He would then glance at her neck, where she had covered up the hickie Luke had noticed and misunderstood. Abbie just smiled an embarrassed smile, resisting putting her hand over it, and then went to her office.

The current case was in a bit of a dead end; rare, stolen books had turned up in Westchester County, mainly in Sleepy Hollow, then found their way to other states.

Abbie pondered the fact that Jenny might have some ideas. She didn’t deal with old artefacts at the moment, but she did go on dates with Abraham van Brunt, the new owner of Sleepy Hollow’s oldest antiques business, placed in an old inn called The Headless Horseman. He was obviously acquainted with Nick Hawley, Jenny’s ex, who hadn’t been trading and smuggling books before. Now? Who knew.

Abbie was stalling, and she knew it. She was too involved, and she told herself that it was because of Jenny. There was always a danger in been involved with people. Should she tip off Danny or Sophie? Go directly to Granger and simply say that she had misgivings because van Brunt dated her sister? Neither option was tempting.

Meanwhile, she had a calm week in Jenny’s flat. Her sister spent most nights out – or rather, she spent them inside, with Abraham. She seemed pleased enough, but didn’t say much about it. Abbie wondered if van Brunt would ever mention his friend? Had Jenny revealed something? Had Abraham’s friend revealed anything to him? Did Jenny and Abraham talk about her and Ich- the friend?

Abbie tried her best to push the thoughts and memories away, until the lonely nights came. Nights when she didn’t miss Luke, her home or having Jenny around. Nights when the memories forced his name over her lips.

“Ichabod Crane.”

Tall, handsome glass of water. Considerate, tender, passionate, freaky, and dorky Ichabod Crane. Whispering her name in that sexy, British voice while he fucked her repeatedly. Her hands and toys only satisfied her so far.

Yes, Abbie. Most regrettable, and not helping with your current situation at all.

It seemed that Abbie swam around in private secrets right now. She had only said to Jenny that she and Luke were ‘talking about’ what to do with the wedding. Then she would excuse herself. She had had dinner with him at his mother’s home, and things were basically just… as usual. Mrs. Morales even approved that they were living apart before the wedding. Furthermore, she worried about Abbie having a skin condition (the hickie again) and questioned whether she should have any dessert, since she needed to fit into her wedding dress.

The word ‘facepalm’ entered into Abbie’s mind daily. For some moments, when she sat at Mrs. Morales’ table, she had been tempted to say: ‘This is just pretend. I can’t marry Luke, the wedding is off. Oh, and by the way: I had hot sex with another man all Friday night. That’s why I have marks on my neck. And you’ll shut the fuck up about what I eat, even when I eat your food!’ Maybe she should have said that.

Luke, on the other hand, spent most of the dinner complaining about colleagues teasing him about the karaoke movie clip from Mabie’s. Abbie smiled sourly, they were her old colleagues as well. She’d met some around town during the week, and it was all a good laugh.

On one hand she wanted to tell Luke what she had done, just to hurt him. Just to make sure he would set her free. On the other hand, she never wanted to share it with anyone. She wanted it for herself, unsullied by guilt and questions.

Did she want to be married, start a family and live with someone? Yes, yes she did. With Luke? How long would that last, honestly, if she kept needing changes? Could she settle for what she knew wasn’t what she wanted? And what about…

Passion.

Long, beautiful hands roaming over her skin. Lips like strawberry exploring her. Strong arms and –

Shaking her head and forcing the thoughts away, she supposed those memories would fade away soon enough. It was just a sort of peaking, or something. Sneaking in at the most unwelcome moments. Meanwhile, she made sure to get a quick STD test, showing nothing but that old Herpes thing that she didn’t suffer from. She’d taken the HPV vaccines some years ago, so that should be safe. Meanwhile, her body wasn’t all in shock anymore over the vigorous sex she had had. There were other STDs that could take longer to show up in her body, but honestly… her impression of him wasn’t that he –

You don’t know that, Mills. Schedule some more tests for next month.

It was easy to mask it as a general visit to the ob gyn, not that anyone but the gynaecologist asked her what had happened and just gave her some advice. Abbie wondered if he took the same precautions. Could his future wife avoid seeing that another woman’s nails had dug into his shoulder?

That night, she looked at the clip again, and noticed a top comment. It said ‘No regrets’ and was posted by… Ichabod Crane.

Heart beating wildly, she closed Facebook and put down her phone, resisting to click on his profile. Some hours later, she looked at the comment again, and gave it a simple ‘like’.

The morning after, she brought up her ideas about Hawley with her boss Granger. The gruff agent took her seriously, as was his way, and listened to her ideas with interest.

*

Ichabod noticed her ‘like’, simply because he checked that clip far too often. He also looked to see which one of his students had liked the clip and his comment. Crane had been teased quite mercilessly, but it was all in good fun. Semester was days from being over, everyone at college was more relaxed. There had been singing in the corridors as he walked by, an adorable caricature drawing hanging on his door; depicting him and his singing partner on stage, sweetly singing to one another, and with hearts instead of eyes. He loved that drawing and put it away for safe keeping. His colleagues had asked him if next semester’s curriculum included his course on ‘soul music and karaoke’. Professor Parrish’s smile was surly as ever. While he smiled and didn’t directly comment on it, Crane could feel the displeasure emanating from his superior.

Looking through the names of those who had ‘liked’ again, he suddenly saw a name that made him drop his phone. Picking it up, he confirmed that his eyes hadn’t deceived him. Abbie Mills. His hands were shaking, he had to catch his breath for some moments before he could click on her name.

Her profile was very restricted to outsiders. Not really surprising when it came to a police officer. Could he be sure that it was the same Abbie Mills, though? There was her profile photo, showing brown feet standing in shallow water on a beach. The toenails were painted in turquoise and gold. Yes, he did recognise her feet, and he couldn’t just put the blame on his eidetic memory. The background photo overlooked a beautiful view of a lake, and a tall, older man too far away to discern. But Crane recognised the late August Corbin and the view from the cabin that he was now the owner of.

Crane might have analysed the matter further, were it not for the fact that his phone began to ring, as he was holding it. No number showed up on the display.

“Ichabod Crane,” he answered promptly.

“Heeey, Professor!” a cheerful voice greeted in the other end. “It’s Nick Hawley!”

“Ah, Mr. Hawley!” Crane said, remembering what he had heard Abbie and her sister say about this man who he hardly even knew. “How did you get my number, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“From your friend, van Brunt,” Hawley explained.

“Ah!”

“I heard about your research, and I have some books that might interest you,” Hawley explained with a tone of mischief.

“Indeed?” Crane said curtly.

“Indeed, indeed,” Hawley laughed and told him.

He wasn’t lying – they were interesting. Extremely interesting. So interesting that it was too good to be true. While the antiques trader talked, wheels started to turn in Crane’s head.

“Yeah, and by the way: that was a great bachelor party you had!”

“Oh! Thank you. Or rather: thank Bram, he put it together… mostly.”

“Well, Mabie’s was a real hoot, don’t ya think?”

“Yes, quite,” he answered carefully.

“Great to see the Mills sisters again! Old friends of mine,” Hawley boasted.

“Hm-hm.”

“Yeah, ha ha, in very different capacities!”

“Good,” Crane said.

“What?” asked Hawley.

“What! Oh, I mean, really?” Crane tried to save the situation.

“Must say that I envy you, Professor,” Hawley teased. “Didn’t know you had it in you.”

“Uh, thank you,” he said automatically.

“Wouldn’t have minded to trade places with you there, just saying. Not easy to charm the elder Mills sister.”

Crane was getting uncomfortable, not sure about where Hawley wanted to take the conversation.

“Isn’t it?”

Hawley chuckled. “You’re joking? First the singing and then… the sneaking away?”

Crane was silent.

“Well, some of us pay attention, Crane. That’s all I’m saying.”

Alarmed, but hiding it, Crane made a non-committed chuckle and promised to get back on him about a meeting regarding those books. He finished the call with the odious man as soon as he could.

For a while, after the conversation had ended, he pondered several options. Then he scrolled through his contacts and found Frank Irving’s number. The Captain answered after just a few signals.

“Well, if it isn’t the famous singer!” Irving joked.

Crane made a self-conscious laugh.

“Oh, nonsense,” he said.

“Hey, no false modesty!” Irving insisted. “That clip has provided us with some hours of entertainment down here at the station this week.”

“Oh! I… can imagine,” Ichabod replied and felt butterflies fluttering within him. Had the lovely officer been teased like him? Or was the tone at a police station several degrees worse? Crane feared the latter.

“I am sorry if it has been disruptive, and put your officer on the spot, Captain Irving,” Crane said apologetically, still hoping to hear… something about that officer.

“Nah, no problem!” Irving assured him. “Some people just need to get over themselves. And call me Frank, Crane.”

“Well, Frank, thank you, you’re too generous,” Crane said politely but with warmth, even if Irving’s comment partly confused him. “The reason I call is not because of my performance with Miss Mills,” he said and the half-lie made his voice somewhat unsteady. “I call because I have been approached by a certain Mr. Nick Hawley.”

“Hawley, from you bachelor party?”

“The very same.”

“I thought he was a friend of yours?” Irving said, and the suddenly strained tone in the Captain’s voice made Ichabod certain that making the call had been the right decision.

“An acquaintance through Abraham, who met him soon after he acquired the antiques business,” Ichabod explained. “I had met him there on two different occasions, and while he was entertaining, with his privateer manners, it was only a superficial association. When Bram brought him to the stag night, I made no protests.”

Irving listened closely, and Ichabod realised that he was writing down what they were talking about.

“So what happened today?” Irving asked.

Ichabod retold the conversations faithfully, until Hawley had spoken about Abbie. He did, however, tell Irving that Hawley had referred to the Mills sisters, and that the Mills sisters had been suspicious about Hawley on his stag night and Abbie’s hen night.

“Hen night,” Irving said in his sarcastic manner.

“The American term is bachelorette party,” Crane explained.

“Yeah, I know,” Irving said. “And she sure was a bachelorette that night,” Irving chuckled. “More than I’ve ever seen her be.”

“Is… that so?”

“Crane, I don’t even know what magical powers your singing possesses, but it went straight to her soul,” Irving said fondly. “The whole of Mabie’s, and now the rest of the world, could see it too.”

“The duet,” Crane surmised, trying to control his voice.

“Man, the magic you two had on that stage!” Irving pointed out.

Ichabod laughed awkwardly and blushed, but his heart soared.

“Magic, you say?”

“Damn, you two had such chemistry! I could have sworn I saw sparks fly!”

Tell me all!

Ichabod was so greedy to hear this.

“But I guess that’s probably my drunk self, making things up,” Irving added and sounded more sober.

Ichabod exhaled, just then realising that he has held his breath, hoping for more details.

“But the thing with Hawley,” Irving continued seriously, “is that this happens to be a matter for the F.B.I.”

“Oh!” Crane said, disappointed. “Was I wrong in calling you?”

“Not at all, Crane!” Irving assured him. “But I need you to listen to me and do exactly as I say.”

Ichabod listened carefully to what the Captain said, then checked Katrina’s online calendar for appointments regarding the wedding where she demanded his presence, to make sure there wasn’t any unnecessary collisions. Then he called Hawley again.

*

“Mills!”

“Agent Granger!” Abbie replied as she heeded his summoning.

“Great news regarding your idea; a witness has come forward and a meeting has been set up rather suddenly, in coordination with the Sleepy Hollow precinct. Get ready for action, we have a meeting to bust!”

“Yes, sir!” Abbie replied, happy for the progress and the action. Along with Forster, Reynolds and a couple of people, they followed Granger to the local college, her own Alma Mater. On their way, they went over the basics; catch Hawley in action, protect the witness, keep people out of the way. While talking, Abbie made sure her Glock was ready in its holster and that the handcuffs were easy to access, hanging from her belt, hidden by her stylish jacket. Entering the main building through a side entrance, they were informed that Hawley was on his way to the meeting place from the other end and that everything was set up in a safe place with microphones. Luckily, the college was almost empty this summer afternoon.

Silently moving into an adjacent room of the meeting place, there were people with interception equipment, keeping track on what was going on inside the other room. Her former boss Irving was there, and they acknowledged one another with a curt nod and a glance of understanding. Since this was an F.B.I. case, the police stayed in the background.

They didn’t have to wait long for the signal. Abbie and the others got ready, guns in hands. Bursting in, Abbie registered the situation: Hawley, a table with books, and then their witness – she instantly locked her eyes with those well-known, amazing blue ones, staring at her from his taller vantage point.

Chapter Text

She swore it was like a lightning bolt went through her when she met those blue eyes. It was him. Ichabod Crane. Hands slightly elevated, looking just as baffled as she felt, and being as drop dead handsome as she remembered.

Next to her, she sensed Sophie and Danny hesitating. Abbie immediately refocused and pointed her gun at Nick Hawley, who stood there smirking. He lazily lifted his hands in the air.

“Good to see you again, Mills!” he smirked.

Danny, always eager to take command, stepped forward and handcuffed Hawley, while Sophie had a look at the books he had brought.

Abbie gingerly went over to Crane, who slowly lowered his hands, still staring at her. Abbie put back her Glock in her holster, and his eyes were glued at her hip. He nervously straightened the hem of his jacket and fidgeted with his shirt cuffs.

“You OK?” she asked him, looking him over and noticing his well tailored suit. He stood ramrod straight with his hands still moving at his sides. There was that scent of pine again.

Damn. Oh, damn!

“Uh, yes… Agent?” he asked, blue eyes getting darker, as he relaxed and bent his head closer to hers.

“Yeah. Professor?” she asked back and felt herself blush all over. His first spoken words were enough to make her skin tingle. She nervously licked her lips.

“Indeed,” he mumbled. They smiled, and he blushed as well.

She just nodded, staring up at him with a slightly open mouth. He revelled at the sight of her. Her arrival earlier, barging in with her gun drawn, had been like seeing an ancient goddess of victory appear in all her glory. Petite in her strength, she stood firmly in front of him in high-heeled boots, her cheeks and eyes glowing. She wore a formal jacket over a top, showing a little of her alluring cleavage. Tight fitted trousers encased her long, sensational legs. He wanted every thread of clothing gone from her body.

“So – you called Irving?” she suddenly said, shaking her head.

“I did. Was it not the right course of action?” he asked worriedly.

“Sure was!” she grinned. “I was just… guessing.”

“Since I know him… and…” Crane made an awkward hand gesture, straightening his jacket again and trying to hide the evidence that she was already arousing him with her scent, her closeness, her doe eyes. How could he say that it was the memory of her calling Frank Irving ‘boss’ that had compelled him to take action? How he had been disappointed when Irving told him he would alert the Westchester F.B.I.? That she still turned up, to his absolute delight, but as an agent and not a local police officer. Ichabod was simply amazed, and she saw it.

There was no time to delve deeper into details, because suddenly more people arrived; Captain Irving of the Sleepy Hollow Police Force himself, Abbie’s boss Special Agent Granger, and the head of the history department, Professor Parrish. Lots of talk, explanations, introductions.

Granger pulled her aside. “This looks good, Mills. And you know this Professor Crane?”

“Uh, yes… sir. A little,” she admitted.

“Good. Find out all you can from him, OK?”

“Um –”

“Problems?”

“No, sir,” Abbie replied professionally.

Sophie and Danny came over and reported to Granger.

“You OK, Abbie?” Sophie asked, frowning.

“Yeah. Absolutely! Yes,” she replied. Danny looked at her strangely.

“You look a bit –”

“I’m fine,” she cut Sophie off.

Abbie felt as if she was in some sort of bubble. She stole a glimpse of Ichabod, he was standing with Irving and Professor Parrish, and Granger joined them. Ichabod glanced her way, then blushed. Policemen took Hawley away, he grinned and winked at both Abbie and Crane as he sauntered along the police.

“Glad to see you both again!” they heard him say.

“Funny how your singing partner turned up, Abbie!” Sophie grinned conspiratorially and nudged her with her elbow.

“Yeah, huh… funny,” Abbie said with a strained smile.

“Man, I sure missed some party there,” Danny complained.

“Will you let that go, Danny!” Sophie snapped. “It was a bachelorette party!”

Abbie let them bicker and went over to the others, and Ichabod. He noticed.

“Ah, Agent Mills!” Irving addressed her. “Good thing we all know each other.”

“And well done, Professor Crane, for alerting the police!” said Special Agent Granger, making Crane nod and smile shyly.

“We do indeed know each other already,” Professor Parrish croaked humorously in his old man’s voice. He hadn’t changed much. “Imagine meeting you again under these circumstances, Grace Abigail Mills,” he continued and looked meaningfully at Abbie, who groaned inwardly.

“Did you know,” Parrish continued, and waved his withering hands, “that Agent Mills graduated summa cum laude in law and criminology at this college, and also took some classes in history at our institution, while attending on the prestigious Grace Dixon scholarship?”

Enough.

“Yeah,” Abbie cut in and shook Parrish hand. “That was long ago, all about federal investigation these days,” she said firmly.

“Not so far afield, then,” Parrish relished.

“It’s good to see you again, Professor!” Abbie said a bit louder, stopping the conversation from going even further. She turned to the still gaping Ichabod Crane. “Can we go somewhere and talk, Professor Crane?” she said firmly. “We need to hear all you know in this matter.”

“Of course! I – my office is –”

“He’s in Professor Adamson’s office!” Parrish said. “Miss Mills knows the way.”

“I can come with you, Abbie,” Danny said. Everybody turned and stared at him, especially Abbie.

“No, it’s better if I go,” Sophie said hastily.

“No,” Abbie said and actually wanted to hit them both. Was this about the movie clip again? It was bad enough that Abbie had a hard time staying professional, but this? People were staring.

“I have already assigned Agent Mills to handle all liaisons with Professor Crane,” Granger said sharply. As often before, Abbie was grateful for his no nonsense attitude.

“And I’m on it, sir!” Abbie reaffirmed. “Ready, Professor?” she asked Crane.

“Ready, Agent!” Crane said and looked smug. “Let’s liaise!”

*

They weren’t alone yet, some students roamed the corridors. They stared at her and Crane with great interest, and she could hear someone sing Marvin Gaye around the corner. Abbie and Ichabod avoided looking at one another, blushing and walking on. In all the emotional turmoil, she could still feel that bubble around them. The joint mood, a sense of awareness between them. Occasionally, he held up a door for her and let her walk by him, and she would feel his hand hovering over the small of her back. Their eyes didn’t meet, but it was as if they smiled in tandem. As people with secrets do.

“So… are these halls much changed since you were a student here yourself, Agent Mills?” His question was low and close to her, a silky mumble that didn’t do anything to break the mood.

“Not really,” she was all she could offer, but she smiled and felt flushed. It vexed her that he found out that about her. That they had suddenly found out a lot about one another.

“It seems I am destined to haunt several of your spots,” he added.

“Haunt my spots, eh?” she asked and looked up at him for the first time, eyebrow raised.

He met her eyes boldly and held them, and she saw longing there. Wasn’t it? Wasn’t that how he had looked at her when she stripped and danced before him? She had to look away, confused and stirred. When she walked up the stairs, he was some steps behind her and she felt his eyes burning on her. She noticed that she was swaying her hips more than she needed, strictly speaking.

They reached his door on the second floor, and he fumbled with the keys as he locked up. She tampered down the impulse to take his hands, like she had when –

No.

Questions. She would ask him questions. Hawley. Stolen books. F.B.I., she was an agent, she could do this, she could ignore how perfectly that charcoal suit fitted his long, lean frame and how it still gave balance to his round butt and broad shoulders.

Get a grip, Mills!

Opening the door, he let her enter first, and she walked into the sunlit office. The golden rays of the afternoon sun made her glow. She was half-turned away from him, light making her hair shine and showing her beautiful profile. Waiting for him to close the door, he saw her lick her lips. A jolt of desire went through him. Now they were alone again, in his office. Lord help him.

Abbie looked around, noticing that the big old 19th century desk was still there, along with the Art Deco steel and leather sofa next to the window. The built-in shelves were full of books, but some paintings on the panels were different. They were watercolours of various landscapes that looked British, possibly Scottish.

She turned around to him. He stood by the desk, fingertips resting on the shiny surface. They vibrated slightly. Abbie inhaled. Focused.

“I will need a full statement of your dealings with Nick Hawley, please,” she said.

“Am I under suspicion?” he frowned slightly.

Abbie was surprised.

“No, I can’t see how you would be. Unless you stood to gain something from coming forward about Hawley.”

“Gain? His offer was immensely tempting,” he replied. “But where are my manners! Please sit down, Aaa –” He nearly said Abbie, nearly changed it to Agent, then decided to drop it altogether, completely bewildered by the situation. “Would you like some tea or coffee? Can I get us some?” Politeness could be such a good way of finding one’s bearings.

“No thanks, Crane,” she said. The name made them both jump. But she looked at him warmly with a faint, embarrassed smile. It was confusing for her as well.

Still standing up, some yards apart, he told her about the talk he had with Hawley. She listened intently, took in his expressive hands, and noticed him falter when he came to where she and her sister came up in the conversation.

“What did he say?” she asked calmly.

“That he knew you both, but in different capacities,” he said carefully.

“I’d say so,” she snorted. “He hit on me while with Jenny.”

“That’s shameful.”

“Yes, but I got to arrest him later, and Jenny got out of the smuggling business.”

Crane looked surprised.

“You didn’t know she had a criminal past,” Abbie concluded.

“No,” he said.

“For the record, so have I. Almost. Corbin stepped in. He was there for both Jenny and me, but Jenny was a troubled kid…” Abbie stopped, wondering why she was explaining it to him. “Anyway, she met Hawley. That was no good.”

“I can imagine,” he said and wanted to say so much more. He had been surprised by what she told him, but not judging her. His curiosity just grew further.

Tell me all!

But she didn’t, and he had to respect it.

“Maybe you should tell your friend, Abraham. But I guess Jenny should tell him herself,” Abbie said.

“Abraham won’t be discouraged by such a detail, and why should he be,” Crane said, relishing in her surprised smile.

“Mr. Hawley also referred to the night at Mabie’s,” he blurted out.

“I can imagine,” Abbie said and lifted an eyebrow.

“It seems that he… kept track on people and what they were doing,” Crane said carefully.

“What people?” Abbie asked.

“Us,” he replied and blushed again. Daring to look at her, he saw that she looked amused. That was not what he had expected.

“What did he say?” she asked slyly, a mixture of challenge and hunger rising within her.

“His exact words were, and I quote: ‘first the singing and then the sneaking away’, along with: ‘some of us pay attention, Crane, that’s all I’m saying’.” Ichabod finished, and saw her smile that charming smile, making him sweat in his suit. Swallowing, while his hands were fidgeting, he added: “I did not, however, divulge that part of information to Captain Irving.”

A quick laughter slipped out of Abbie. She took a step closer to him.

“Did he produce any proof of what he said?” she asked, still smiling wryly.

“Mr. Hawley? No,” Crane answered, as his heartbeats increased.

“I shouldn’t worry, then, he has nothing on you,” Abbie said,

“Me? Oh, no – I was worried it would be troublesome for you!”

Abbie scrutinised him for a while, and he endured it by staring back into her deep, enthralling eyes.

“How can you say that those were his exact words?” she asked.

“They were.”

“You remember those exact words?”

“I remember everything,” he said seriously, and if it sounded like he was hinting about something else, that was probably true.

She exhaled and quickly licked her lips. He had to tamper down his restless hands from grabbing her, but she noticed the odd gesture. Inhaling sharply, she put her hand in her pocket, producing a business card. Something metallic flashed in the sunlight, and he realised that she had a pair of handcuffs on her belt. She handed him the card.

“If your memory is that good, then perhaps you don’t need my card. But here’s my work number,” she said in a vain attempt to sound professional. “Please inform me if anything else happens that can be useful in this investigation.”

Crane took it, willing his hands to behave and touch just the card. Looking at it solemnly, he nodded, deciding to ignore that the air was too charged.

“I will remember both your number and your instruction, Agent Mills,” he confirmed. Producing a pen, he scribbled his number on the back of her card and handed it back to her, pointedly saying: “And here is mine.”

She was surprised, bit her lip to stop a smile, then stretched out her hand to take it. She wasn’t as careful as him, and when her fingers touched his hands, they both gasped at the spark. The card fell to the floor, and both quickly kneeled to pick it up. Hands touched, eyes locked, and they were stunned and exposed. Then her eyes moved to his lips, betraying her wishes, and his willpower crumbled.

She saw him leaning forward, and she quickly met him halfway. The searing kiss included bumping lips and gripping hands, and made it very clear for them both how strong their attraction still was. Pretences and professionalism flew out the window, as she cupped his face and moaned desperately into his mouth. Eagerly, he grabbed her by the waist and nearly toppled them over, on the floor.

The raw need, radiating from both of them, spread fast as they groped and kissed with little to no finesse. Crane groaned as in pain when his tongue was granted access to Abbie’s mouth. She groaned back in defeat when his tongue circled hers.

Releasing his lips for a moment, she stared at him and saw that his eyes were so dark, nearly blocking out his blue irises. His breaths were short, as if he was running. Pulling her closer, she felt his tell-tale hardness, matching the growing dampness between her own legs.

“You really remember everything?” she moaned breathlessly.

“I do, Abbie! I do,” he insisted urgently. “Your enticing scent and taste. How you scream when I make you come. How your legs shake and tense around my waist,” he nearly growled desperately.

She shivered, and he tightened his hold of her. A noise close to a frantic sob escaped her as she kissed him hard. He responded in kind, his hands moving into her hair.

“I remember it too, Ichabod. Every single moment – ooh, God!” she mewled as his lips moved to her neck.

“I want more memories, Treasure!” His voice trembled on her pulse point and sent shocks of desire through her.

“Yes!” she hissed. “Oh, yes – yes!”

Chapter Text

He pulled her close, made her sit astride on his lap, and kissed her hungrily while his hand slipped in under her top to caress her back. She made a needy sound into his eager mouth and started to pull off his jacket. He wore a tie, but still had unbuttoned some buttons under it, and she knew it was because his skin was warm, and that the patches of hair on his chest were soft. Her small hand slipped in there, touching his skin as he was touching hers.

“Abbie!” he gasped against her lips.

“You look drop dead gorgeous in this suit, Crane,” she whispered. “And I want it off!”

“Lord, woman! You can have anything you want!” he growled into her neck as their jackets fell to the floor and he pulled her top off to reveal her black bra underneath. She felt his huffing breaths on her exposed skin, just before he unclasped the bra and set her breasts free. His greedy enthusiasm fuelled her want, making her skin and nipples pucker in response.

“Mmmm!” he moaned as he began to cover her in wet, hot kisses, enhanced by the soft whisk of his beard.

“Yes!” she hissed, cupping his head in her arms and pulling him close. “Yes, yes!” she sobbed, as his mouth found and sucked one nipple hard, easing it with his teasing tongue. His other hand massaged her neglected breast, and she pushed herself against him, rolling her hips impatiently. He responded with a throaty sound, lightly pinching her nipple in his hand, while nearly swallowing the one in his mouth. She made a helpless ‘ah’ and felt limp.

His ministrations made an electric route through her body, leading down to her groin. Through their pants, her clit rubbed against his hard dick. It just wasn’t enough.

They sank down further, she landed on the rug with him above her. Letting go of her nipple, he kissed her lips deeply, and her arms clutched around his neck, responding with hunger. Her legs tried to pull him closer, locking him body to body in a manner that couldn’t be misunderstood.

“You want this…” he said in wonder, hovering just above her with his hair hanging down over his forehead.

She responded by pulling up his shirt further from his pants. Fervently, he made sure to get both tie and shirt off, while she began to work with his belt.

“Off with this!” she growled. “Take your pants off!”

“Yes, Agent Mills!” he chuckled, only too happy to obey her commands. He pulled down his pants and boxers with shaky hands, exposing his erected cock that was throbbingly hard for her already.

She made a pleased noise when seeing him; naked to the knees, lean body and so rigid and ready to take her. She fidgeted with her own belt and zipper, and as soon as he saw the black lace of her panties, he helped her to pull everything down to her ankles. She lifted her hips, made sure the gun was out of the way, and yelped as she nearly bumped her ass on the handcuffs.

“Ohh,” he gushed. “You turn up here, being an absolute vision, a war goddess, the most beautiful amazon – and you have handcuffs!”

“What did you think I was gonna do with those? Arrest your ass?” she grinned.

“Can’t blame a man for hoping!” he grinned back.

“Later, you rogue! Right now, I need you to fuck me, Professor Crane!” she urged.

“Oh, it will be my absolute pleasure!” he assured her. “And I think we are both rather restrained at our feet. But that won’t stop me from doing this!”

He spread her legs by her bended knees and quickly dived down to kiss her exposed pussy.

Abbie let out a shocked cry, then gasped for breath as he groaned and buried his face in her, showing no mercy as he shook his head back and forth, nose and tongue thrusting on her clit and labia. She tensed and arched her back with another cry of ecstasy. He went on until she was shaking and writhing, orgasming on his face.

“Crane!” she wailed.

“God, how I’ve longed to do that,” he growled and panted for air. “Since you left. All week. Since you rushed into that room with your gun drawn. And you taste even better than I remember!”

“Unfair – unfair!” she gasped.

“What?” he mumbled, his tongue making its way up her body, giving attention to both her nipples and then nuzzling her neck.

“It’s unfair that you’re so good at doing that!” she accused and puckered her lips for a kiss.

“Doing what?” he grinned, feigning innocence and looking very pleased as he bowed close enough to kiss her.

“Eating me out like that! I object!” she mewled, wanting more. “I will arrest your ass, as soon as I’m free from my restraint!”

“This restraint?” he challenged and held her hands to the floor, while positioning himself above her.

“Yes!” she replied and entwined her fingers with his.

“I recall you ordered me to fuck you, Agent,” he rumbled, adjusting his hips in the embrace of her thighs.

“Not forgetting something, are you?” she teased and pushed dangerously close. He looked bewildered, then dismayed.

“No condom –”

“We’re good!” she interrupted and pulled him on top of her. “We’re healthy and I’m on birth control.”

“Oh!” was all he managed to say, brought to heel by the fact that their bodies were very close to being joined. “You’re certain?” she asked, trusting her but wanting to know if she was ready and willing.

“I’m certain. Now, fuck me, Professor!”

He kissed her, and her tongue thrusted into his mouth before he began to thrust into her. Her hand sneaked between their bodies, cleverly aligning them in position, and, ever so grateful but attentive, he began to enter her slowly. His tip between her lower lips, as she moaned into their kiss. Further in, met with hot wetness that made him moan back. He pulled back a little, then moved further into her, where her walls were tight and pulsating around his aching, hard flesh. Losing the battle over their minds, they let their bodies take control. Again and again, moving further into her, he felt her meeting him with soft hip movements. Groaning and moving within her pussy, as it squeezed and soaked his cock, he wildly covered her face and neck in kisses.

“Abbie!” he managed to ground out, “You feel so good, so good! Oh God, it’s so good to be inside you! So good, Treasure, oh heavens, so good!” he babbled as his word nearly turned to cries.

Her legs closed tight around him as she pulled him into her harder.

“Yes!” she moaned and kissed the marks on the top of his shoulder that she had given him the week before. “Yes, take me, Ichabod! Fuck me harder! Stay inside me!” she urged him, and he got up on his hands, setting a faster, steady pace. She came apart again, her muscles cramping around his long, thick cock that pinned her to the floor.

“Come, Abbie!” he begged, staring in trance down on her soft, ecstatic face. “Oh God, Abbie! Come, Treasure!” he groaned as she cried out, then exploded himself, nearly in unison with her.

“Mmmmm…” she sighed sweetly and embraced him as he collapsed on her. “Yeah, so good!”

They were laying on the floor for a while, regaining energy. Ichabod, taking care not to crush her, nuzzled her cheek with soft kisses and Abbie lazily caressed his back.

Abbie idly wondered if they would actually pull their pants completely off or back on next. It was somewhat awkward and charming to enjoy post-coital bliss on a floor in a professor’s office – with the professor – while still having one’s pants around the ankles. She heard some distant laughter, probably from the lawns outside. She had her own memories of sunny summer days at campus.

“Where did you graduate?” she asked out of the blue.

“Oxford,” he mumbled, his words a warm caress on her skin.

“Ohh, should have guessed,” she smiled. She tried to imagine him younger. It was easy, but he still had a beard as a fantasy teenager, which was probably arbitrary.

“Grace Abigail Mills,” he mumbled and cuddled her closer, slowly kissing her neck with increased fervour.

“That didn’t slip you by, did it?” she said wryly and felt his smiling kiss on her clavicle.

“No, Abigail,” he dared.

“Shut up,” she groused tenderly.

His chuckle vibrated into her chest.

“I think these pants need to be all off,” she sighed happily.

“What ever you demand, beautiful agent,” he murmured.

“Mmm…” she mumbled, then she felt Crane slipping out of her and remembered that they hadn’t used a condom. “Oh – I think we need, uh –”

“Oh! Just – wait,” he mumbled and looked around, then pulled off his pants and shoes completely, snatching the boxer briefs and turning back to her.

“May I?” he asked and hid his blushing face against her shoulder.

“You may,” she grinned. He wiped her carefully, then himself. “You’ll be going home commando today,” she whispered.

“Mmm,” he agreed, still blushing while he aimed and threw the boxers in a paper bin. She kissed him gratefully.

“Good throw!” she lauded.

He kissed her back, gently released her and moved to take off her boots and socks, following it up by pulling off her pants and lace panties. He stroke her lower leg in the process and bent down to kiss her thigh.

“Your skin is so soft,” he mumbled, dragging his lips down to her knee. It tickled a little and made her giggle. Smilingly, he extended his hands to her to help her up, and she accepted. They stood up and she embraced his long torso, leaning her head on his chest that she found so oddly sexy. His arms tightened around her and she felt his heart beating fast. His skin tasted a bit salty and she joyfully inhaled his unique scent. She kissed a trail around one nipple, giving it a light lap.

“Sweet and sexy man!” she whispered.

“Abbie…” he sighed into her hair.

“Ichabod,” she replied and stood on her toes to reach for a kiss. He met her initiative, bending forward to capture her lips. While kissing, he led her to the short end of his massive old oak desk, nudging her to sit on it. Abbie did, glad it had a leather inset, then pulled him closer between her separated legs, still kissing his chest. His hands roamed her upper arms and shoulders, she felt his fingers fidget. She turned her head up to his.

“Is it OK that I kiss you like this?” she asked.

“Oh my… yes!” he assured her and moaned as her naughty tongue found his other nipple to tease.

She stroke the long planes down his upper body, sides and slim hips. He shuddered, goosebumps made his chest hairs stand on end, and then he sighed blissfully. Her generous lips showered him with warm, sensuous kisses. She took immense pleasure from seeing and feeling him enjoy what she did to him, it was a satisfying mix of power, lust and tenderness.

His nipples hardened in her mouth, sensitive to her stimulation. His dick, that had rested somewhat calmly from his thatch of brown curls, was definitely enjoying her attention and slowly grew harder. Still sucking and kissing, her left hand sneaked down his hip while his hands moved to cup her head. His eyes were closed and his handsome face relaxed, looking close to faint. Lightly, her hand began to stroke his length and she felt it being alive under her fingertips. Up and down her fingertips travelled, the route getting longer and wider with each achieved length, his cock pointing up more and more. Still with the lightest of touches, her hand encased his tip and slowly pulled back his foreskin. A small, agonised sound escaped him.

“This OK, baby?” she asked and kissed his exposed neck, slowly moving the foreskin back.

“Yes!” was his quavering reply. “Yes, Treasure!” he added, and his knees buckled a bit as he buried his face in the crook of her neck. Her other hand came up to cup his head and she kissed his ear.

Delicately she moved up and down, making him almost used to it. His hands landed heavily on either side of where she sat, while his lips started to roam her neck.

“Please don’t stop!” he implored, his cock now nestled on her thigh, where he lightly rubbed it.

Her hand moved lower, letting her nails lightly rake over his tight balls. He made a keening noise, grabbing hold of her.

“Oh God, woman!” he gasped and kissed her again. Her hand was back on his dick, now gripping it firmly and moving up and down. He groaned into the kiss, losing control. He released her lips, staring at her, and she lifted her legs higher, to surround him, angling herself slightly backwards, all the while smiling that sultry smile. She drove him wild, absolutely wild. He couldn’t even reason about it, his mind had taken a holiday, leaving no address. Letting his lust decide for him, he bent her back further, until she was laying on his oversized old desk, exposed in front of him.

“Lord help me, but you’re so beautiful!” he praised, letting his eyes rove over her, from her hair flowing around her lovely face, her shapes and skin so aglow in the afternoon rays, down to where his cock rested eagerly on top of her mound.

She smiled and she was radiant as the sun itself. He had to inhale and shake his head. Her legs moved up his sides, and he wasn’t even ticklish. Just aroused, in every nerve and every cell of his body. The synapses were definitely working on overdrive as soon as she was in his presence.

He lifted her legs higher, letting them rest along his body with her feet beside his head. He knew they would soon fuck again, and in that moment he revelled in knowing this was like the eye of a storm. The next tempest could tear everything apart, and he welcomed it.

“Do you want me, Crane?” she smiled, already knowing the answer.

“I do, Abbie,” he confirmed shakily. “I want you so much.”

“Then have me,” she said and widened her legs.

But as ever, he surprised her and broke down her defences by it. He bended over her and kissed her from head to toe until she was almost crying from rapture. His fingers found her steaming centre and gently explored her folds and clit. Not until he felt her being close to the brink did he take his cock in hand and slowly move it between her lower, roseate lips. His hands found his bespoken home on her hips, as he careful entered her, rocking back and forth.

Abbie was moaning, grabbing hold of the edges of his desk, clenching and relaxing as his shallow thrusts got deeper, in an increasing pace. Her legs tensed against his chest and seeing her small toes curl made him grin through the fog of intense pleasure.

Her moans turned into short, rhythmic cries, as his girth moved over her g-spot and he felt her getting even wetter as he moved in her hot, tight heat. Soon, she cramped around him more and more, and he held her legs firmly against him as they began to shake. Her back made a graceful arch as she climaxed again, her upper body flush, as she cried out his name.

He looked at her in awe, groaning, but not following her over that edge. Not yet. Not when he finally had his chance to repeat this miracle.

Chapter Text

Doomtwinkie: "No Regrets"

Detail, observe the perfect heart eyes!


*

“Abbie…” Ichabod mumbled, pulling her up from the desk surface and into his embrace.

Abbie gratefully embraced him, still breathing quickly from her latest orgasm. They were both a little bit sweaty. She felt the hairs on his body stand on end against her skin.

“Baby,” she whispered and kissed his shoulder tenderly. “You didn’t come?”

“A technicality, I assure you,” he whispered back into her hair. “I came in every sense of the word but one.”

“You sure?” she mumbled and hid her face in the crook of his neck. “I’m just not… used to that.”

“Nor am I,” he replied and pulled her closer. “But it’s true.”

“I believe you,” she said and kissed his shoulder again.

“And I believe you,” he concurred, and she felt completely reassured in a manner that she had never expected. She was so perfectly satisfied, but she was also not at all averse in case he wanted to come in every sense of the word, any way he wanted it. That was new too. Well, not with him, but their wild night had been a whirl of sex, and she had been intoxicated in the beginning. She had stopped thinking, once she decided to go on instinct. It was so easy with this man. Easy to forget everything.

“Aren’t we supposed to be working?” she giggled teasingly, still tucked into his arms.

“Well, we’re working very hard, wouldn’t you agree?” was his husky reply. Combined with that British accent, it was enough to make her shiver and cuddle closer, her erect nipples rubbing against his chest. It drew a low growl from him and he bowed down to kiss her neck. Gasping, she instinctively grabbed on to his back, and he felt her nails. He grunted.

“Such a sweet kitten, and such sharp claws!” he growled.

“Ohh, damn! I’m sorry!” she apologised. “I shouldn’t mark you –”

“Schhh!” he interrupted and kissed her deeply. Barely releasing her lips, he whispered: “You can do anything you want. Anything, Treasure.”

She looked at him challengingly, then lightly raked her nails along his long back and down to his ass cheeks, not grabbing harder until she had them in her hands. But once there, she took delight in feeling his firm flesh under her nails. It was his turn to gasp and shiver.

“Hnngg yes, you minx!” he groaned and kissed her again, while she massaged him without nails.

Abbie let her tongue swirl around his teasingly, then slapped his ass cheeks. He responded with a growl and grabbed all he could of her ass cheeks that were sitting on his desk. She yelped in surprise as he nearly lifted her off the surface.

“Oohh, did I wake the beast?” she laughed.

“The beast is always alert when you’re near!” he growled and placed her on her feet. He turned her around and pushed her ass against his erection, then cupped her breasts. Abbie hands landed on the surface where she had been sitting, idly wondering if it benefitted from the polish she’d given it. Crane was nibbling and laving her neck, in tandem with lightly pinching her nipples, making her groan loud. His long dick moved up and down along her ass crack, clearly ready for more action. Her eager pussy spasmed in response, she felt it getting dripping wet again. She rubbed his dick and shook her ass a little, making sure he felt the effect.

Fuck!” he swore, and grabbed her breasts harder.

“Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talking about!” Abbie made provocative laugh, egging him on by shaking her ass a bit more and making sure he rubbed harder.

“Hnnnggg, oh God!” he called out and grabbed her hips instead. Pushing her a little bit further, his large hands could span over her globes, rub them and squeeze.

You!” he declared and grabbed hard for emphasis. “You have the most glorious, perfect arse in the whole world!”

“Mmm, thank you!” she moaned and shook her ass again.

“Yes!” he hissed and let go of her for a moment. “Yes, yes – do that again!” he begged and then moaned as she did so; she jiggled to make him absolutely wild. With a growl, he grabbed her hips again and rubbed his aching cock along the valley of her cheeks, even parted them them a little and let them squeeze him hard. He groaned and nearly fainted as her flesh closed around him.

Abbie felt a bit of pre-cum there and turned to look at Ichabod. His eyes were closed as he moved against her. She rested her left elbow on the desk and stretched her right hand back to spread his pre-cum, making the slide a bit more slick. He groaned again, clearly enjoying it. She let her hand rub his dick as well. Crane opened his eyes, they were glazed over as they met hers. Abbie noticed that her tongue was half-way out of her mouth, licking her upper lip, and she arched her back to keep him rubbing.

“We like to play dirty, don’t we?” she moaned.

His eyes got even darker, hands grabbed hard again, and for a moment, Abbie wondered if she was instigating more than she could handle. He bent over her and kissed the small of her back, cool lips on her heated skin, as she sank down on his desk and her breasts pressed against the leather surface. She hissed as his equally cool tongue traced down the end of her spine and when he lightly licked the sensitive skin around her butthole, she flinched.

“Oh!”

“Easy, easy…” he murmured and kissed her right globe soothingly. “Just playing,” he added.

“Yeah,” she sighed and relaxed. “I like that.”

She felt him smile against her curves as he kissed and licked up her spine again. When he reached her neck, she felt his dick nudge the entrance of her pussy again.

“May I fuck you, Agent Mills?” he asked politely.

“Affirmative, Professor Crane,” she replied.

He moved inside her slowly, and she met him with a moan, ready to take him in.

Damn, you’re so wet!” he hissed, then groaned as he entered her fully.

Abbie chuckled darkly, enjoying how he got progressively dirtier the longer they fucked. She moved her hips to accommodate him, and he pushed back and forth, making her groan in desperation. It was too much, and yet she needed more. One of her knees bent up on the desk, making her spread wider. He thrusted into her and the angle was new and good, and yet she pushed up on her hands, frustrated.

“Harder, Crane!” she whined.

He growled and complied, almost pushing her into the edge of his desk. She half climbed up a bit more. He followed, suddenly frustrated as well.

“Up!” he grunted and pushed her further.

“Hnnngg, NO! You have to stay inside me!” she moaned.

“Up, woman!” he demanded and slapped her arse.

Abbie yelped, and he got both her knees up. Her elevated high made it possible for him to lick her pussy again. She groaned, forehead and elbows on the desk.

“Yes, Crane, yes!” she begged.

“Is this what you need?” he grunted, coming up for air.

“Don’t stop!”

He thoroughly tasted her, then pushed her a bit forward in order to join her upon the oversized furniture. She laughed again, shoulders shaking, as he positioned himself behind her. He chuckled himself, quickly entering her again.

“We’re back on stage,” she said, smiling over her shoulder and moved to meet him.

“Always so eager to perform!” he grinned and rotated into her with a lewd motion.

As their chuckles turned to moans, they suddenly stopped –  both motion and sound. They were petrified on his desk, he was deep and still inside her. There were voices in the corridor, a group of young people were coming closer. Abbie turned her head, she and Ichabod stared into each others’ eyes. His arse was to the door.

“You locked the door, I hope?” she hissed.

“No!” he hissed back, alert to the sounds outside.

“Ohh shit…” she hissed.

“Schh,” he urged, caressing her hip, but still not moving.

The absurdity was too much for Abbie, who had to bend down her head and stifle giggles in her hand. It made her shake, which unsettled her lover somewhat.

“Oh, for the –”

There was a loud knock on the door. The lovers on the desk froze.

“Professor Crane?” asked a young man loudly. He wasn’t alone, a group of people talking could be heard like a mumble.

Ichabod didn’t reply, but Abbie felt his nervous left hand fidget on her hip. Her heart was beating loudly in her ears. There was a new knock.

“Professor?” the man, obviously a student, asked again.

“GO AWAY!” Crane roared, effectively killing the chatter in the corridor.

“Woah there, Captain Overkill,” Abbie whispered.

He stiffed, and was still stiff inside her as well. Her inner walls nervously contracted around him, making him shiver.

“Uh, you – are you OK in there, Professor Crane?” the student asked in a worried tone. Additional mumble could be heard.

“Yes! Yes – Mr. – Harris!” Ichabod replied, his voice pitching a bit in the beginning. He had troubles answering, on one hand desperately fighting the urge to move in and out of the silently giggling Abbie, and on the other hand fighting the urge to run over and lock the door. “Comebacktomorrow!” he added quickly.

Abbie’s whole body was shaking from stifled laughter. Ichabod was on the verge of losing control.

“Sir –”

“I SAID COME BACK TOMORROW!” Crane roared again, and screams of surprise were heard as the group of students scurried away from the corridor. It got silent again, until Abbie burst out laughing, nearly making him slip out of her. He was shaking with laughter as well.

“Schh, Treasure,” he gasped. “They might, they might…”

But he couldn’t continue, only kiss her spine and move forward to kiss her neck. Abbie bent her arm around his neck and turned her head enough to meet his lips.

Chapter Text

She moved her hips backwards, inviting him to continue, and he started to slide into her again in a languid rhythm. His hands landed on either side of her and he kept kissing her neck. She sighed in pleasure while using her own fingers to stimulate her clit. There they were, on his desk in his office, still at it like horny teenagers. Scene, indeed. Abbie knew he would make her come again soon. And yet…

“Baby?”

“Mmmm…” was all he could muster.

“Do you… mmmm… would you…” She had trouble formulating herself for several reasons.

“What, Abbie?” he mumbled, kissing her shoulder and still moving.

“Would you… play with me again? With your fingers?”

He stilled, and she felt herself blush in a mixture of shame and trepidation. It was different to ask for it in broad daylight, completely sober and in a workplace – no matter that they had been having sex for the last… how long, really? Thirty or forty minutes? She hid her face against her arm, but then he kissed her shoulder blade.

“Are you sure?” he mumbled hoarsely.

“Only if you want to,” she replied.

“So you like it?” he rumbled close to her ear.

“Yeah,” she whispered, feeling shy. “I like it when you do it.”

His hands and lips worshipped her before he stretched his back and her back suddenly felt colder without him over her. His dick was lodged inside her as if they were a one being. His hands once more massaged her globes as he slowly moved within her pussy. She turned her head to see him lick his fingers and once wet, they lightly encircled her hole. She made a sound, it felt cold on the sensitive skin there. His heated gaze met hers and she moaned in appreciation as he kept up the light circle motion. She mewled and clenched around his cock. He blinked several times as he once more wet his fingers and quickly returned them to stimulate her. This time, he ventured a light push with a fingertip and she gasped, then bit her lip. He stopped.

“Go on!” she gasped, eyes firmly closed.

He tried again, pushing in, and she keened between clenched teeth from the sudden pleasure-pain. He stilled, watching her reaction. He felt her cunt clenching as well, new wetness flooding in her. He grunted and pushed his cock inside just a little more. The joint movements made her groan.

“Hhnngg, more!” she uttered in a throaty voice. His finger left her, bereft her, but returned with assurances, probing deeper, slowly and lightly moving back and forth. She trembled from how the nerves inside her responded, making her writhe with lust, as the strange feeling turned to rippling pleasure.

“Rub your clit, Treasure,” he groaned as he saw the goose bumps on her back and how she shivered.

She did as he said, blindingly finding the sweet spot as he stimulated the other ones. She rubbed hard while Crane’s finger moved faster and his cock tried but fail to keep a slower pace. Abbie heard herself groaning, and when he added a second finger, it turned into a long growl. He responded in kind, jerking his hips and greatly enjoying the added pressure on his cock. Then she clenched so hard that he felt almost faint.

“God, Abbie!” he moaned and went on, feeling her trembling from the inside and out. Abbie shuddered from head to toe as the orgasm hit her like a crashing wave, and she cried out loud.

“Oooohhh, ooohhh fuuuuuuck!!

Abbie was once more in breathless, sweaty shambles. She slumped on her side, still shivering, and there was room enough for him to join her.

They were panting and huffing face to face for a while, grinning and blushing. He was still hard.

She tutted and stroke back his hair from his eyes in a tender gesture.

“Baby…?” she said and looked at his dick with a lifted eyebrow.

“No complaints!” Ichabod grinned and placed his hand on her waist. “And definitely no affront to the lady!” he added in a sultry tone. “I admit, if it hadn’t been for the knock on the door…”

They both started to laugh again, and he grabbed hold of her when she was too close to roll over the edge.

“You still haven’t locked that door, have you?” Abbie gave his chest a light slap.

“Nope!” His goofy smile disarmed her.

She shook with silent laughter, then scooted closer to kiss him softly.

“What am I to do with you?” she mumbled suggestively.

“I’m always open to your propositions, Agent Mills,” he replied with a roguish lift of one eyebrow.

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then winked.

“We need to change positions for that,” she told him.

Crane’s eyes widened, and he pulled her with him as he rose up from the desk. When they stood on the floor, he looked at her with anticipation, eyeing up and down her naked body. Abbie didn’t mind, she took the opportunity to ogle him herself.

“Forgot something?” she teased.

“Me? Never!” he blurted out.

Abbie pointed at the door and he turned. She took the opportunity to slap his round, naked butt, and it was a proper slap that echoed. He jumped, looking shocked.

“Lock that door, Ichabod!” she demanded. As he ran to do so like an eager puppy, she slowly sank down on her knees on the rug. He came back, looking down at her in surprise.

“Stay there,” she told him grinning when he looked like he was ready to join her. He did as she asked. When she began to kiss his erected cock from the root and up, he sighed blissfully and closed his eyes. That was the moment she had been waiting for.

A ‘CLICK’ was heard when the handcuff closed around his right wrist. His eyes and mouth quickly opened again, and if he had looked surprised before, it was nothing compared to his facial expression this time.

“Forgot something?” she repeated with smirk.

“I-I… yes, it seems so…” he stammered, but didn’t look dissatisfied with the situation, as she rose to her feet and moved against him while holding the other cuff in a firm grip. She slowly lifted it up for him to see, and his hand follow without protest. There was a small clattering sound as she did so; steel rubbing against steel.

“How do you feel about this, baby?” she asked gently, making sure they were on the same page. Hidden in her fist was the key, ready to set him free again.

“I feel…” he stared down at her and swallowed hard. “that my list of crimes is long…”

“Oh, yeah?”

“…and so should my punishment be, Agent Mills.”

She eyed him up and down, amused.

“Well, the strip search has been done,” she mused.

He swallowed again, looking worried.

“But I fear I’ve neglected a proper search and interrogation, Professor Crane,” she added sternly and yanked the cuffs.

He gasped and licked his lips.

“Yes, Agent!” was his husky agreement.

“What was that?” she demanded.

“Yes, Agent!” he said clearly, just as eager.

“Follow me!” Abbie snapped. Still holding the cuff in the air, she turned and advanced to the couch, Crane in tow.

The art deco couch in green leather had its short end against the window. It also had wrought steel pipes for armrests, which was pretty close to perfect. Abbie moved to the side, manoeuvring so Crane was ahead of her.

“Sit!” she said and pointed on the couch.

He instantly obeyed her, looking up her body in reverence. Again, the tip of his tongue slipped out to quickly wet his rosy lips. She liked the look on his face: an adorable mixture of anticipation and trepidation. This tall, lanky but surprisingly strong man was trusting her, ready to obey her command. That alone made her day, and it was a day that had already given her some wonderful surprises in the form and shape of Ichabod Crane.

Aforementioned Ichabod Crane leaned forward and kissed her stomach, just above her navel.

“Taking liberties, are we, Professor?” she purred.

“Oh! Agent, I –”

“I will punish you,” Abbie declared and pushed him backwards. He landed on his back, and she had to make sure the cuffs didn’t yank too hard. “But before that, we better make sure that this isn’t police misconduct.”

“How… so?” he asked, languishing on the couch.

“We need a safe word, I believe it’s called,” she smiled.

“Safe word?” he repeated.

“Yup. A word we agree on. When you say it, you want me to stop and I will stop. It’s serious.”

“What do you intend to do with me, Agent?” he asked seductively. “Will you be very rough?”

“Well,” she grinned. “That depends… So: we need a word that will release you.”

“I don’t want to be released,” he protested with a smile, laying back to show his submission.

“Hey, I said: we pick a safe word!” she commanded.

“Yes, Agent! I await your orders.”

“So, what makes feel free?”

“Free?”

“Yes, when or where do you feel free?”

“Now. With you,” he said plainly, and it was an admission more naked than his body. Abbie had to swallow herself and rearrange her surprised features. “Oh, wait!” he exclaimed, sounding desperate and clearly sensing the change, “The cabin!”

“The cabin?” she repeated.

“Yes! I feel free in the cabin!”

“Yeah, that… works,” she said, then bent down over him and cuffed his left wrist as well, around the steel pipe of the armrest. It was by no means constricting, his elbows rested relaxed on either side of his head with his hands fettered above him. A bout of anxiety hit her; he was so trusting. Too trusting? And what about herself?

Shake it off, Mills.

She bent closer and lightly kissed his lips. He lifted his head for more, but her firm hand on his chest told him to lay back on the leather. Lightly, she kissed him again and again, and when she moved back, he stretched to kiss her once more, but was restrained by the handcuffs. He huffed with frustration.

“Forgot something?” she laughed.

He grinned in defeat.

“You make me forget everything, including myself,” he confessed.

Someone wants to talk. OK then, make him talk.

Abbie made an assessment of the situation. The couch was long, but not long enough for his lanky body on the green, worn leather. It was more than wide enough, though. His legs were bent a bit, spread to accommodate him and his impressive erection. He was relaxed, but pulled lightly at the handcuffs just then, testing their restraint and making metal clatter against metal. Abbie suddenly wished she had something… something to tease him with. On a shelf, within reach, she saw a long scroll. She picked it up gently.

“Is this an antiquity?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No,” he replied and swallowed. “It’s a modern remake of a map over colonial America on cotton vellum. Quite… quite good, actually.”

“I bet,” she said, mulling on what he’d said. “I also bet that some of your ancestors were colonial bastards themselves.”

“That… is definitely true, sadly,” he said. “I have proof of it.”

Abbie lightly smacked the scroll against her palm, testing it out. It was light, but about three feet long and rolled tight. It stung a bit on her palm and could sting on him. He didn’t protest over how she handled it. When she quickly slapped it on his thigh, he flinched and the metal rattled again. The slap wasn’t too hard and barely left a mark.

“Seems like a fitting instrument then, don’t you think?”

“Yes… yes!” he nodded eagerly. “If that’s what you want, Agent.”

“Can you handle it?” she challenged.

He swallowed, his Adam’s apple visibly moving.

“I would forever be curious and full of regrets if I said no.”

“Remember the safe word,” she said and lightly brushed the end of the scroll where she had slapped him, intending to almost tickle him. She dragged it slowly up his body, just touching him lightly and avoiding his genitals completely. He shuddered.

“So…” she said and straddled his legs, putting her weigh on the knee next to the back pillow. “Time for some interrogation, Professor Crane.”

He looked up at her, nodding solemnly. She bent forward and quickly kissed the exposed tip of his erected cock, making him hiss and moan, as it was over before it started. She smiled slowly.

“Why did you comment ‘no regret’ under that movie clip of us?”

“Because it’s true,” he blurted out. She slapped his fingers with the scroll.

“Tsk, you naughty boy!” she smirked, as if she punished a pupil.

“Still no regrets!” he protested.

Again, lightening quick, she kissed his tip.

“More?” he moaned. She slapped his fingers again, and he looked contrite.

“How come you called the police on Hawley? Isn’t he your friend?” she continued, licking her lips but swinging the scroll next to her.

“He’s no friend of mine!” Crane assured.

“Your best friend’s buddy, then?” she asked sternly.

“From what you and your sister said the night we met, Hawley is no-one’s friend but his own. So when he contacted me in a business that I knew must be illegal, I called Irving.”

“You never thought about talking to van Brunt? Or Professor Parrish?”

“No.”

“Why?” she asked, dragging the scroll along his chest and letting her free hand cup his balls ever so gently. He squirmed under her, bucking up for more friction.

“I trusted what you said,” he panted.

“And so you called the police,” Abbie replied and suddenly squeezed harder then he expected.

“YES! Hnng, yes… and…”

“What?” she frowned, releasing him quickly.

“I thought you would be with them, with the police,” he confessed and pulled at the handcuffs.

“So?”

“No-one told me you were with the F.B.I. I had no idea.”

“Hm-hmm?” Abbie was doubtful and the scroll hit his exposed underarms hard.

“Ouch!” he yelped.

“Too much, baby?”

“No no… please continue, Agent,” he gasped and smiled. As a reward she gave his dick some strokes with her hand. “So then I… mmmm, yes – thought that I might get in contact with you.”

“Hang on – what?” she exclaimed, stopping abruptly and making him gasp from frustration.

“I did say that I wanted to see you again,” he reminded her.

“So that’s why you rattled on Hawley!?” Abbie was incredulous.

“Just partly… his business is illegal!”

“Oh, Crane…” she sighed and lightly licked his balls and up his shaft.

“It’s the truth!” he groaned.

“Yeah, I know. I believe you,” she mumbled and proved it by taking him into her mouth.

 

Chapter Text

Ichabod Crane had told the truth, as ordered. His body and soul were laid bare. His hands were shackled with steel around steel. His legs were shackled by legs; she was carefully perched on his thighs, letting him look her up and down in worship. Though small in frame, she towered over him like a radiant giantess, shining in the sun from the window and from her inner radiance. And then, he felt her hasty breaths on his exposed cock, just before her warm lips encircled it and took it into her cool, wet mouth. Truly, he was a man captured. Most sublimely arrested. And yet – so free in how he could tell her, show her, let her –

“Yes, Agent, yes!” he groaned, as her tongue whirled around his girth and her long hum warmed where she had earlier cooled his flesh. Goosebumps quickly spread all over his body, as the pleasure spread fiery jolts through his groin, and the chill changed to fever in a moment. He shivered so hard that the handcuffs rattled again.

“I didn’t forget this time,” he moaned helplessly, trying to force his mind to be rational, while squirming with eyes tightly shut and feeling her warm chuckle around his throbbing cock. “I was… ooohhhh!” Ichabod Crane failed. Ichabod Crane gave up trying, simply letting himself drift away in a strong current of ecstasy. So strong was the current, like a maelstrom, like chaos leading to freedom. Freedom. When he felt her small, capable fingers search and find his prostate gland just behind his balls, that’s when he knew he had to surrender completely.

“Oh God, Abbie! Yes, yes!” were the last intelligible sounds coming out of him, as her speed and depth with mouth and fingers got absolutely incredible, making sure his restraint came crashing down. His hips jerked up into her heat in a manner completely free and uninhibited.

He came with a long groan, a sound formed by a pleasure coming from a source within that was a whole new part of him. A new continent within him, forged by her craft.

The wave crashed and subsided slowly, letting him regain breath and senses enough to open his eyes and see her shine in his somewhat blurry vision. Words formed in his brain, words of splendour; so pompous and assuming that he had to grin.

“Baby?” he heard his goddess say in a deep, soft voice, and he was indeed a reborn in that moment.

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame…”* was his breathy chuckle.

“You’re a dork, sweet and sexy man,” his Lady Libertas said tenderly as she wiped the corner of her mouth with a sly smile.

He smiled back, but was suddenly filled with dread when he realised what she had wiped off. He once more pulled at the handcuffs, this time deliberately, and they clattered loudly.

“Release me, please!” he urged. “I mean – uh – CABIN! Please, Abbie!”

“Of course!” Abbie assured him, quite alarmed as she quickly fumbled with the key that she had placed on the coffee table.

Once his hands were free, he pulled her to him, making her land on top of him, and held her close, as the handcuff landed on the floor.

“Forgive me… forgive me for being so… coarse and inconsiderate,” he babbled awkwardly into her hair.

“Whaaat? Hey!” she interrupted as she was wobbling on top of him. Adjusting a bit, she leaned on her hands and stared down on him. He winced and looked away. “Baby – hey?” she asked again while softly putting her hand on his cheek and making him turn his head. He looked up at her sheepishly.

“I didn’t mean to… to…” he tried.

“Honey, it’s –”

“You shouldn’t have to… I was like a selfish brute, forgetting your comfort and –”

She kissed him to shut him up, fearing it was his sensibilities that were compromised, but he didn’t object in the least. Breaking the kiss, she caressed his face and leaned her forehead against his.

“You did nothing wrong, okay?” she mumbled. “I did what I did because I wanted to, but I am really sorry if I overstepped.”

“No, no!” he protested and cuddled her closer. He proceeded to cup her head and shower her face with eager kisses, then tucking her under his chin. His large hands ran down her arm and back. “You didn’t overstep – oh, God no! – but I shouldn’t have –” Suddenly shy, he shut his mouth mid-sentence.

Nuzzling close, she let her lips trace up his neck and along his jaw, while his beard tickled. She wasn’t going to let him off the hook.

“Don’t you like to come unless it’s… you know… in a vagina?” she tried to use a more formal word for once.

“It’s-it’s not, uh not,” he stuttered and she hugged him closer. “From what I understand, it shows a lack of respect and is greatly, greatly… off putting to a woman,” he babbled quickly. “But I assure you, I did not mean any offence at all!”

“None taken,” she replied. “I promise, Crane.”

She decided to wait for him to say more if he wanted, since the subject was touchy.

“I apologise,” he whispered.

“Nothing to apologise for,” she mumbled back. Her hand was slowly rubbing his chest. They were silent for a while, his breaths were a bit shallow under her cheek and he was slowly relaxing.

“So I take it that you…” he began after a while. “You didn’t mind?”

“No, not at all. I liked it,” she said in a low, calm voice.

“I see,” he said, but he didn’t sound convinced. His experiences said something else. Having sex was one thing, having open and sensitive talks about it with your partner was a whole other.

“I wanted to…” she hesitated for a moment, but decided it was better to tell the truth. “I wanted to make you come, especially now when I had you cuffed,” she explained. His nervous left hand tried to draw circles on her back. “I liked having that power. I know I’ve come in your mouth several times –”

“That’s different!” he snapped.

“Can’t quite agree with you there, baby,” she mumbled. “But if that’s how you feel about it, let me at least say… I wasn’t put off at all. I liked seeing you enjoying what I did, that is; if you did –”

“It was incredible!” he murmured. “I never expected to experience anything like it in my life!” He kissed her forehead and tilted her head up to kiss her eyelids. “You are absolutely amazing in all that you do… and your mouth and lips and hands… that snake of a tongue!” Both his voice and muscles shivered as he spoke, and she stretched up to capture his lips. Kissing him slowly, she let her wicked tongue encircle his. He made a needy sound and held her closer.

Oh yes, she had liked it. More than liked it!

“I’ll be honest and say that I wouldn’t like it all over my face –”

“I would never –”

“It’s OK, we’re not shooting a porno,” she grinned. “But apart from that, I… I mean, we can communicate, I think?”

“Yes, Treasure,” he said and hugged her. “I may be an inhibited Brit, but I’m always happy when you tell me what you want.”

This wasn’t the time when they told each other that they’d never had a better communication about their sexual needs with anyone, but they both thought it.

“You’re doing great,” she mumbled and kissed his neck again, tasting the saltiness of his skin. “And I thought that being restrained was perhaps… what you needed right now?”

“You’re right,” he agreed. “I… was afraid to let go, to… lose control. It was so good that you took control.”

Abbie shivered with pleasure from hearing him saying that.

“And you said you liked what I did a lot,” she whispered, while caressing the hairs on his chest.

“Abbie…” he sighed blissfully. “The word ‘like’ doesn’t even begin to describe it! I feel like… don’t laugh, but… I feel like I’ve been reborn.”

“Wow, you mean that?” she purred.

“I do. From the moment we got together, I’ve gotten a glimpse of… freedom,” he mused.

“Is that why you made that quote?” she asked, accepting his explanation and feeling a turmoil inside herself.

“Yes,” he admitted and felt awkward. “I am, as you say, a dork, and also a dry academic –”

“Ichabod, I’ve never gotten a finer compliment in all my life,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Oh! Oh, good, good,” he almost stuttered. “Compliment, praise, reverence… My adulation could become quite extensive and poetic, Grace Abigail Mills.”

Abbie felt exposed in more than body, as he exposed himself to her.

“Thank you,” was all she could utter, then: “I hope you understand that making me come like I have today – I’m not even sure how many times – is something completely unprecedented for me, unless we count the last time we met.”

“Everything about you is unprecedented for me as well, Treasure,” he murmured and kissed her forehead.

“And you taste really nice,” she blurted out. “Salty, like now, on your skin.”

“I do?” he asked and blushed furiously.

“Yeah,” she answered and blushed herself. “It’s like… a day by the ocean. When you have that salty feel as a memory.”

“You’re quite poetic yourself,” he mumbled.

She made a derisive snort.

“Definitely summa cum laude,”** he added teasingly.

“Ooohhh!” she laughed and lightly slapped his chest. “There was absolutely some summa CUM laude going on here today!”

He laughed so much that she started to wobble again.

“All those words are actually quite –” he began.

“Oh, I know Latin, you dork. The dirty double meanings are not lost on me!” she chuckled.

They laughed and cuddled for some minutes, relaxing together. Abbie actually felt as if she was floating on warm ocean waves, everything blurry and glittery. She blinked slowly like a happy cat, then her eyes drifted back to the old grandfather clock on the wall, which had always been on time when she was a student. She had heard it chime once, just after Crane came. She squinted, making her blurry vision sharp. Then she jumped.

“Holy shit! Is that the time!?”

*

Abbie ran for what she supposed was her life. It was fast, for sure. She cursed herself the whole way, so she might as well have been chased by the devil.

Car at work. Late. Wrinkled and smelling of another man. The hell are you doing, Mills??

She couldn’t deal with that now. She could only hope that running would provide her with an excuse to be sweaty and wrinkled. In any case, she was in trouble. Big trouble. The first time was bad enough – and good, so damn good – but this time, she had been on bureau business at the job of a key witness. Nearly putting them both in trouble. Fucking him. Over and over. The honest truth was that she would have been ready for another go soon, if she hadn’t been late for what was supposed to be her real life.

Abbie, I want to see you again.

The memory of how he had grabbed her and whispered hotly in her ear came back to her as she ran. In a panicked frenzy, they had gotten their clothes on and she had collected all of her stuff. His shirt was still unbuttoned as he hugged her from behind.

“Abbie,” he had pleaded. “I’m at the cabin. I’m… staying there now. Here,” he added and placed the nearly forgotten card in the pocket of her pants. His hand on her hip was enough to persuade her. “Come to me tonight. Please.”

She nearly stumbled on her high heeled boots, and refocused. She couldn’t think of that, of him, now. Luckily, the bureau office wasn’t that far away, but far enough right now. At least she had brought her keys, so when she sped into the parking lot, she unlocked her SUV from afar, then jumped in and drove. Her destination wasn’t far either. She could make it. Seven minutes to four!

Starting the car, revving out of the parking lot and putting her work phone in the docking station, she hastily called her boss, Agent Granger. He answered within seconds, his gruff voice sounding over the speaker system.

“Sir, I wanted to report back. I’m on my way to my four o’clock meeting that’s in my schedule. I can come in after –”

“No need, Agent Mills. I recalled your information on Hawley. We’ll keep him in custody, but wait to interrogate him till tomorrow afternoon. Let him sweat a little,” Granger explained.

“Alright, sir,” Abbie replied and relaxed.

“So what did the professor say?”

For a moment, Abbie was speechless.

“He… is open about what little he knows,” she blurted out.

Granger chuckled.

“Good thing he rattled,” he said. “Since he want to become a US citizen.”

“Yes, sir,” was all Abbie replied, frowning to herself. Was that one of the reasons? “It’s not impossible he might be able to find out more,” she added.

“Keep your eyes on him, Mills,” Granger said. “He seems naïve enough, but what’s to say he’s not connected to someone who knows more.”

“True, sir! Well, I –”

“Good work today, Mills,” Granger interrupted. “Take the morning off tomorrow, report in after lunch and we’ll put some pressure on that Hawley character.”

“Yes, sir!” she said surprised. “Thank you!”

“Get that wedding on the road,” he chuckled. “Also, thank you for the invitation! Me and the missus will attend.”

“That’s great, sir!” Abbie grinned. “And I’m about to,” she added, as she was lucky enough to get a parking almost outside of her destination.

The extravagant sign of the high class establishment her future mother-in-law had picked out really seemed to take things too far. It was just a cake. They needed a baker and a bakery. But this? Although, the name was a gem of its own. Adorned above the fine old door in one of the old historical houses of Sleepy Hollow, with a window displaying the awaiting cornucopia inside, squiggly letters of an antique-looking font spelled out the name:

Deliciously Whipped

Abbie checked her face in the mirror. 90 seconds to four o’clock. Her clothes were on. She tried to smell herself, but the running and her deodorant might have done the trick. Her hair was a bit tousled, but not a complete mess. New lipstick was applied.

She couldn’t hold back a smile. Deliciously whipped. Crane had rushed up from the sofa as well, late for a meeting of his own. It had been pure comedy when they dressed, if it weren’t for the panic. The memory of his ‘God damnit, I will have to go commando’ as he jumped into his suit pants made her giggle. Could she honestly allow what had happened today to happen again? A third time would be dangerously close to a habit. Could she resist it? The man was more scrumptious than any cake inside this establishment.

Get the show on the run.

Abbie tampered down a whole other panic as she entered. Inside, the not so itty bitty Morales committee awaited her; Luke, his mother and Sophie, lined up and surrounded by the opulent decoration, matching the cakes.

“Abbie!” Mrs. Morales hands was in the air.

“I’m on time,” Abbie snapped in response.

“Tsk, girl! Have you been running after a criminal!?”

“As a matter of fact –”

“Wrinkled, hair frizzy – and I can’t believe you’re wearing your gun holster!?”

“Lighten up, ma!” Luke requested, as he walked over and kissed her cheek. A confused frown passed over his face before he smiled to her, as if they were just as happy as was expected. Sophie, at least, looked ecstatic.

There were adjoining rooms, all connected, with various themes, and Abbie could see tables with cake models, displays of decorations, trays of samples to eat in every colour; solid, liquid, organic, artificial. It was like Alice’s fucking Wonderland.

A lady with two young, female helpers arrived, definitely the hostess of this strange event, because she bid them welcome. From an adjoining room, two women entered. They were apparently there for cake tasting and choosing themselves, but they looked curiously sour, considering all the sugar surrounding them. They were decidedly fancy enough to be there, however; definitely some upper class ladies, who frowned as they saw Abbie and the Morales family. Abbie’s old insecurities nearly reared, before she actually recognised one of the women – despite a good deal of plastic surgery and her hair being a long, blond Hollywood style these days. She still had that simpering, overbearing smile, though. Her companion was indisputably more beautiful than her, and quite striking with her long, red hair and impressive height. But she looked just as overbearing and possibly overbred.

“Abbie Mills! Well, imagine!” the blond woman giggled.

“Standra Campbell?” Abbie said surprised.

“Oh, heavens no!” she smiled sourly when Abbie called her by her first wedded name. “That was ages ago. It’s Standra Metzcove now!”

Abbie merely nodded. Was that Standra’s second or third marriage? Must be third. Was she here for the fourth?

“Congratulations!” Abbie said.

“Oh! No no no!” she said shocked. “I’m divorced and not getting married again!”

“Oh, sorry –”

“I’m here for my very dear friend –”

“The bride without her groom,” the red haired friend hissed irritably.

“Ohh, nonsense! He’ll be here any moment!” Standra assured her, fluttering around her disappointed companion.

“It’s past four!” The bride-to-be had a curious kind of whispering voice with a hint of British accent, making her sounding mysterious when lateness was rarely mysterious. “He’s doing this on purpose!”

“Abbie?” Sophie mumbled, as Luke and his mom were busy talking and the redhead bride was close to a tantrum with only Standra there to fuel the fire. “Something’s… odd with your top.” Sophie added and looked at the hem at her waist.

Abbie looked. Odd, alright. Her top was inside out.

“Oh! Uh, I had to… after the arrest, I had a… a coffee, and –”

She was interrupted as another person rushed into the fancy bakery.

“Here he is!” Standra shrieked.

“I am so sorry I’m late, Katrina! It was almost impossible to find parking, and I – oh, dear Lord!”

Abbie was still staring on her offending hem as Sophie burst out laughing. She couldn’t force her eyes from that hem, as she didn’t even have to lift her head to see who it was who just joined them.

Chapter Text

The redhead was obviously his fiancée. She instantly started fussing with him, with Standra’s help. Abbie didn’t look at it, but she heard. They surrounded him with their posh, beige outfits and heavy perfume.

Sophie was pulling at her sleeve like some impatient child.

“It’s him, again!” she whispered with sensation in her voice. “Surrounded by the real housewives of Sleepy Hollow! We gotta say something!”

“What the fuck, Soph, he’s a witness!” Abbie hissed back.

“Not about that!” Sophie retorted, still hushed. “Hey!” she called, and Abbie wanted to strangle her then and there. “You’re the guy Abbie sang with!”

Abbie looked up as much she could without actually lifting her head and staring at him. Crane smiled a taut smile and made a quick bow in their direction.

“What?” Luke said.

“What!” said the tall redhead.

Oh shit, here we go…

Before Abbie had time look for escape routes, the damned Brit used his long legs to take a determined step towards her.

“Agent Mills,” he said in a strangled voice, and Abbie wished the earth would swallow her. “If I’d known you were going this way, I would have offered you a ride in my car. Please forgive –”

“Agent!” Standra’s shrill voice interrupted. “What sort of agent are you, Abbie?”

“Why would you offer my fiancée a ride?” Luke demanded and moved over to stand by Abbie’s side in a possessive stance.

Ooohh, shit!

Abbie quickly looked up at Crane, and her desperation much have been visible in her eyes, because he looked contrite.

“Abbie is an agent of the F.B.I.” Sophie told Standra.

“Nonsense, Abbie’s just a policewoman!” Standra told Sophie dismissively.

Sophie gaped for a moment. “No, she’s –”

“So this,” the redhead hissed. “This is the karaoke… woman.”

“Where are your manners!?” Mrs. Morales broke in, addressing all of them and making sure she was the loudest of the group. “Don’t people make introductions these days?”

“Oh, by all means!” Standra matched her in an equally loud voice. “I’m Standra Metzcove, and I’ve known Abbie since we were children at school and she threatened to beat me up twice a day.”

Twice a day was far too little!

Abbie was suddenly aware that her nails were buried so deep in her palms that it really hurt. She hadn’t made fists that hard since she caught Jenny buying drugs in their early teens.

“And this,” Standra continued, “Is my dear friend Katrina van Tassel – you may have heard about her mother, she was a great lady in this town – and her future husband, Professor Ichabod Crane.”

Crane’s lips curled in disgust, Abbie noticed, and his fists were balled up like hers. The redhead had the same frosty expression as before, even more so when Abbie met her eyes.

Cold bitch.

Abbie felt neither ashamed nor cold, herself.

I am Lidia Morales!” Luke’s mother retorted. “And this is my son Luke, he’s just a policeman!” she added acerbically.

“Detective Inspector!” Luke protested.

“Because someone has to do the ungrateful work of protecting our community!” Mrs. Morales added with chin in the air.

“I’m Sophie Foster and both Abbie and I are with the F.B.I., Sophie clarified. “We graduated from the same class.”

“Ohh, so you went to Callico?” Standra said with a little snide little laugh.

“Quantico,” Sophie corrected.

“No, I don’t think so,” Standra said and looked at Sophie as if she made up stories.

Sophie frowned. “It’s Quantico.”

“Ah ha ha, you’re free to call it what you want, if you insist,” Standra scoffed and rolled her eyes as much as the botox would allow.

“Hey!” Sophie exclaimed and now her fists were balled as well.

“Leave it,” Abbie mumbled and put her hand on Sophie’s arm. “It’s no use.”

“So why did you need a ride from him, Abbie?” Luke asked and glared at Crane.

Why did I need a ride from Ichabod Crane…? Oh damn, Luke.

Crane somehow straightened his back even further as he disengaged himself from Katrina’s hold. Hands clasped behind his back, he acknowledged the question from the man, who somehow had made himself worthy of becoming the husband of a living goddess, with a curt nod.

“It so happens that our paths crossed today, I had the honour to meet both Agents Mills and Foster, in fact,” Crane explained. “Circumstances would’ve made it possible for me to offer Agent Mills a ride here, had I known her destination.”

“OK,” was all Luke said, distracted and confused by Crane’s verbose explanation.

“Thank you for –” Abbie started, trying to thank Crane.

“You have quite a singing voice!” the redhead interrupted, flicking her hair back as she took her place by Crane’s side, grabbing his arm again. Luke was quite bedazzled for some moments.

“Thank you,” Abbie said, thinking that it didn’t sound like a compliment at all, as she refrained from touching her own hair self-consciously.

“Why were you at the college today?” the redhead instantly asked Abbie in an interrogating manner. “Because I assume you were there this afternoon, Ichabod?” she then asked Crane pointedly.

The doorbell chimed as more people entered the shop.

“Well, well, well!” sounded Abraham van Brunt’s cheerful voice. “Don’t you all look terribly cosy together!”

They all looked around to see him and Jenny, hand and hand. Jenny took in the scene with badly disguised glee.

“Hiii, you guys!” she said, a malicious grin on her face.

Abbie wanted to hide her face in her hands, and she might have if Luke hadn’t almost crushed one of them.

“Hi, Jenny! Good of you to –”

A loud exhale was heard from Standra, as she pushed herself forward.

“Jenny Mills!” she exclaimed. “From bad to worse!”

Jenny stepped forward, eyebrows almost at the top of her forehead.

“Why, if it isn’t Standra Albert Campbell along-with-the-rest-of-the-names-from-former-husbands!” she grinned, looking as if Christmas had come early.

Standra scoffed.

“Some of us evolve, Jenny Mills!”

“Wow!” Jenny faked looking shocked. “I didn’t know you believed in the evolution!”

Standra looked visibly annoyed. She and her family had attended the same church as the Mills when they grew up, until the Alberts moved to a finer neighbourhood and deemed their old congregation not good enough. Not that the Mills sisters mourned the loss, they still had to see her at school, until the Alberts could afford to put Standra in a finer private school in Tarrytown and refine her snobbery even further.

Katrina cut in before things went further.

“Oh, Abraham!” she said loud and clear. “You dare bringing your latest dalliance to my wedding cake tasting?” She made it sound like a joke, but the biting tone couldn’t be missed.

“Yeah, he does,” Jenny smiled sweetly to Katrina. “From what I’ve heard, Bram is your former fiancé.”

This was news to Abbie, who filed that piece of information away.

“Besides,” Jenny continued, “I’m here for my sister’s wedding cake tasting,” and she put her arm around Abbie and sweetly leaned her cheek against her temple, almost pulling her away from Luke’s side. Abbie winced at her grip, but forced herself to smile.

“Oh, so you two are sisters!?” Katrina exclaimed.

“Yes!” Standra hissed. “The Mills sisters! I told you about them! Vicious, uncivilised… aggressive, ever since they were children!”

Aggressive, you say, Standra?” Abbie said sharply.

“Hmmm, sis, shall we tell these fine people what else Standra used to call us, back in the day?” Jenny said crisply.

Standra’s face turned scarlet, and Abbie could tell from the shock on Crane’s face that he put two and two together. He took a step forward, and it looked to Abbie as if he wanted to distance himself from his company. His left hand flexed in that tell-tale manner that she recognised by now.

“Ichabod, stop fidgeting!” Katrina hissed and grabbed his hand in a far from tender manner.

Anger rose within Abbie, who disengaged herself from Jenny and Luke. But as soon as she did, Mrs. Morales was there to add insult to injury.

“Abbie, why aren’t you wearing your ring? Look at Miss van Tassel’s ring!” Luke’s mother said pointedly. “On a day like this!” She pushed forward and took Abbie’s hand.

“I can’t wear it to work, I’ve told you –” Abbie began speaking between her teeth, starting to be quite annoyed with everyone grabbing hold of her.

“Well, I hope it still fits!” Mrs. Morales prattled on, “Perhaps you’d better eat as little cake as possible, Abbie, just in case.”

“Tía Lidia!” Sophie protested, while various gasps were heard, along with nervous laughter. If Abbie hadn’t closed her eyes and started counting to ten, she would have seen Crane’s face turning bright red in anger. But she distantly heard his fiancée berating him for his twitchy hands.

“That’s enough, Ma!” Luke placated. “Leave Abbie alone. But I’d love to see my ring on your finger today, babe,” he added, once more standing next to her and putting his arm around her, as if showing that he was the one telling her what to do.

Abbie was more than fed up with being interrupted and shuffled around, and shutting up about it just to keep the peace. Her jaws hurt from pressing her teeth together, her palms were legit sore from her nails, her neck was tense and her insides felt like she could make the whole place explode like a cream-filled grenade.

Exhaling, she opened her eyes and glanced around herself. The anger on Jenny’s face was only eclipsed by Crane’s, who looked like he was a teapot close to boiling point. The rest looked to be in various states of unease, not all of them for the right reasons.

Meeting Crane’s eyes, she saw his expression turning from anger to warmth, and it somehow fortified her. About half an hour ago, she had been lying naked on top of him; held by his warm embrace as he had been breathing slowly in contentment. Abbie shook off Luke’s constricting arm and stepped forward, straightening her back and commanding the situation.

“Right!” Abbie ordered severely. “If we’re done with introductions and this kind of politeness, then perhaps we can get on with what we came for.”

This time, Crane wouldn’t be held back.

“Indeed!” he agreed and stood once again in the centre, with her. “I couldn’t agree more, Agent Mills! I hope we can enjoy all these scrumptious pleasures together, and that you will sample everything to your heart’s delight!”

He was serious, he was enthusiastic, he was adamant, he was focused. Abbie just had to beam at him, feeling her whole mood change as she looked up at him. Looking back, she saw his irritation melt away and his eyes, that had been a cold pewter, turned into a warmer blue as he gazed at her.

“Hear, hear!” Abraham boomed.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!” Jenny cheered. “What a magic duo!”

“Together?!” the everlasting pain called Standra shot in. “We should go first!”

“Yes!” the redhead agreed. “We arrived here in time.”

Crane looked livid as he actually raised his index finger in a lecturing manner. Abbie was both amused and appalled.

“Not one more word from you two!” he snapped. “Not. One!”

The two upperclass friends looked like they’d swallowed one whole lemon each. Standra pulled Katrina aside, whispering with her, and the tall redhead nodded in agreement.

Crane looked apologetically on Abbie.

“I am profoundly sorry, Agent Mills,” he mumbled.

“No, no… Professor,” she assured him with smile of understanding. “It’s a lot more complicated than that.”

“I would really like to know the whole story,” he replied with the same honesty that she had learned to expect from him.

“Thank you…” she said once again, wishing she could say so much more. Her whole life had turned into some sort of innuendo circus where everything had double meanings and everyone had complicated history with one another, but at least with him, there could be honesty. Couldn’t there?

“It’s all my fault,” a contrite Sophie said next to them.

“No, no!” Abbie assured her.

“Agent Forster, you are in no way to blame!” Crane protested.

“When I mentioned the karaoke clip, all hell broke loose!” she mumbled unhappily. “And now Aunty Lidia is angry with me. But I can’t believe she said that, Abbie!”

As if it was the first time. Abbie thought and her face probably betrayed her disgust.

“Absolutely preposterous!” Crane agreed. “As if Agent Mills could look anything but absolutely ravishing, no matter her figure!”

Abbie groaned inwardly and glanced up at him, seeing how delighted he looked.

“I know, right!” Sophie agreed excitedly. “Isn’t Abbie just stunning! She’ll be a dream in white!”

“That she certainly will!” Crane gushed. “In a dress that will do her justice, I sincerely hope, if any dress can!”

Abbie had to grin and shake her head.

“Oh yeah!” Sophie laughed. “A dress that really shows off her amazing… behind, if you know what I mean, Professor!” Sophie winked.

Abbie stared at Sophie, holding back her embarrassed laughter.

“I do indeed!” Crane smirked, and he even looked, for emphasis. Abbie felt heat flush through her, making her cheeks – the upper ones – hot. “But no matter how… fetching, I won’t allow that her other assets remain unmentioned,” he added and looked her in the face again for a moment, before he looked her over with a barely hidden hunger. “Why, I do think that –”

“Hey, you two!” Abbie laughed and held up her hands. “Enough already! I’m not one of the cake samples!”

“Too bad!” Sophie pouted.

“We should be so lucky,” Crane added with that dangerous glimpse and that smirk, which put her in imminent danger of wanting to pull her clothes off. And his.

This is so inappropriate.

“Yeah… you would!” Abbie tried to frown, but ruining it with her smile. She wiggled her finger to them in mock scolding, actually copying what Crane had done before. He laughed and wiggled his own finger back, while Sophie burst out laughing as well.

“Ichabod!” was heard from the redhead, and Crane’s face turned annoyed as he rolled his eyes. With a deep sigh, he excused himself to the two agents, and with a small bow, her bid them farewell for the moment. Abbie noticed how slumped he looked as he rejoined his company, which Abraham had joined as well. Abraham cast a glance her way and winked.

Abbie realised that Abraham knew. Who had told him, Jenny or Crane?

“You know very well that it would be completely revolting, having to sample cake side by side with these people,” Standra hissed to her company, which both Abbie and Sophie overheard. They also overheard Crane and Abraham contradict her.

“She’s vile,” Sophie whispered to Abbie, who nodded. “But Professor Crane is really nice! He likes you a lot.”

Abbie didn’t reply.

“Was he hard to interrogate?” Sophie asked.

“God, no!” Abbie snorted. “Look, I need to use the restroom,” Abbie whispered back. “Will you… uh, keep the others busy?”

“Yeah, sure, Abbie!” Sophie whispered back.

Abbie left the scene, locating the restroom in one of the adjacent showroom, passing displays of sugary opulence. The restroom was in a similar fashion; porcelain and decorations with garlands everywhere. Abbie sat down on the toilet lid, face in hands, trying to chase away several new impressions. Crane and her in his office. Crane rushing into the cake shop. Crane next to that frosty redhead. Crane telling off Standra. Crane talking to her. But also: her own, so-called, family. Luke and his mom. Sophie. Jenny.

Abbie pinched her nose, breathing in, holding her breath, breathing out slowly, holding her breath again. Repeatedly. Counteracting the threatening panic. It was creeping up on her a bit too often these days.

Too much in one day. Definitely too much!

She was breathing in and holding it. Surprises, emotions, micro-aggressions; this day had everything.

“I want to see you again.”

She exhaled too fast, remembering his last words to her in his office. Yeah, he did want that. He knew she wanted it too. Before she had fled from his office, they had stolen a few seconds for one last, long, lingering kiss, proving to them that their business, or whatever to call it, was far from concluded. But now? Her own impressions… His impressions? She knew that she was in a strange situation, moving on with a wedding that was certain to lead to a failed marriage. Was he in similar straights? Or was this just a charade?

After a minute, she stood up, removed her jacket, took off her top, turned it inside out and put in on again. The heavy locks of her hair fell down around her shoulders. The mirror told her that she still looked wrinkled and mussed. But people had their own agenda. Their own selfish needs. Their own interests first at hand. Abbie knew this. Abbie had used it before. But the secret – hers and Crane’s – was by no means iron-clad. Abbie exited the bathroom and was relieved to see that there was no-one else in that particular showroom. But there were no doors between the adjacent rooms, and she could hear people chatter here and there.

Their groups had spread out, tired of waiting for some sort of order. Abbie could hear Standra again, speaking to the hostess.

“Are you the manager?” Standra asked.

“I am, ma’am,” the hostess/manager confirmed in a tired voice.

“Hmm. Have you ever catered to any, you know, unusual weddings?”

“Unusual, ma’am?”

“Yeah, you know…”

“Tell us what you mean, Standra,” Jenny said maliciously.

Abbie rolled her eyes, but had to grin. She could spy her sister’s face, stuffing herself with cake ingredients, while she only saw the back of Standra’s head, the hostess, and last of all the redhead in profile, standing there like a dummy.

“Oh well, these days, haha, it’s all sorts of…” Standra trailed off.

“All sorts of what, Standra?” Jenny pressed on.

“We have had several themed weddings, ma’am,” the hostess said.

“Rainbow themed?” Standra blurted out.

“I don’t think –” the hostess hesitated.

“Why, do you plan to make your next wedding ‘rainbow themed’, Standra?” Jenny cut in.

“Certainly not!” Standra said somewhat hysterically.

“So why do you care if others do, then?”

Standra just laughed nervously.

“These day, you don’t know what ideas people get! They may want to marry their dogs next! Or their children!”

“Are you fu- ” Jenny controlled herself and the mask of glee came back on. “Don’t you know, after four marriages, that it’s only allowed between two consenting adults who are humans?”

“Three marriages!” Standra protested.

“Two. Consenting. Adults.”

“Well! I read about a man who wanted to marry his car!”

“That’s more like your kind of people, Standra. The kind that only marries money.”

Even from the back, it was visible that Standra was shaking with rage.

“I want to speak to the manager!”

“I am the manager!” the hostess reminded her, baffled.

Standra stormed off, redhead in tow. Jenny was grinning, and Bram turned up next to her, tutting but grinning as well.

“Your sister is a formidable opponent,” a well-known voice murmured in a British accent, making Abbie jump.

 

Chapter Text

Crane had deliberately parked a bit away and ran, hoping it would give an excuse to his wrinkled, slightly sweaty appearance. Little did he know that he would break out in a new sweat as soon as he set foot in the lavish wedding cake establishment.

He had noticed Standra, of course, and made a point of addressing only Katrina as he walked in. He had noticed that there were other people in the shop, but it was the sight of the familiar appearance of the woman who had left his office just about dressed, and running like a fiend. Only to end up at his destination.

Ichabod could hear Standra say something in her slightly nasal sing-song voice, always sounding like she was addressing you like a small child. Her pungent perfume hung around them all. A young lady who he immediately recognised as Agent Foster was laughing and looking at him, rather shocked. There were also a dark, handsome man and a middle-aged, good looking woman in her company.

And then there was Agent Grace Abigail Mills, who was studying the hem of her top most intently.

“I, uh –” he began in general, trying to regain his senses. He needn’t have worry; both Katrina and Standra started chatting with him immediately, berating him for his lateness.

“Ichabod! Not even a tie! And what on earth!” Katrina said angrily and began to smooth his lapels. Standra’s strident voice assured Katrina that all would be well. What Katrina got out of by being treated like an overgrown baby, Ichabod would never understand.

She wouldn’t look at him. Why wouldn’t she look at him? Surely, they couldn’t pretend to be strangers. Agent Foster said something, and she replied. Then Agent Foster spoke out. Ah, yes. The video clip! He bowed to them, and noticed that Abbie looked at him behind a shining raven’s wing of hair. The man in Abbie’s company and Katrina spoke up. Crane acted before they could say another word. He spoke to her, and the next moments were a cacophony of comments, which filled his senses. Standra’s disgusting behaviour. How the dark, handsome man put his arm around Abbie in a manner that spoke of intimacy. The way Abbie’s eyes finally met his, open and vulnerable, and made him realise that he had put her in an awkward situation.

He took in what everyone said, every word, every nuance. He saw how everything hurt Abbie, how hard she balled her fists. He had meant to be polite, but had brought pandemonium. Now she was hurting, and everything he said made everything worse. Katrina spoke, and he knew that tone. He had, since they had started to be a couple, learnt that this tone was a prelude to feigned interest with a goal to take advantage of an opponent. Meanwhile, Standra prattled on, making him feel nauseous. And then, he saw Abbie’s warm eyes meet Katrina’s cold, like thunder on an icicle.

The middle-aged woman was Lidia Morales, mother of Luke Morales, Detective Inspector. Crane had actively pushed away any thought of this man’s existence. He had wanted but refrained from imagining him, who the man was. How he was so lucky. How he was such a prat for not keeping Abbie Mills happy. But now, not even the power of repression could help him, when his brain instantly put two and two together. This was Abbie’s future husband.

So why would he offer her a ride? As soon as the question was asked, Ichabod saw an expression on Abbie’s face, it was just a few seconds but he just knew: in that moment, her mind was back in his arms, naked and satisfied as she had been less than 15 minutes earlier.

God help us, this couldn’t possibly be worse!

How wrong he was. The bell chiming at the door did nothing to save them, instead it added Bram and Miss Jenny to an already treacherous brew, and while Miss Jenny looked like she was ready for melodrama, Standra was the one who ensured it started. The next minutes could have been entertaining, since Miss Jenny took pleasure in challenging every assertion made by both Standra and, he was ashamed to realise, Katrina, in a quick witted manner. That was until he realised how far Standra had gone, and how she still didn’t hesitate to make declarations that clearly showed where she stood. Declarations that Katrina seemed to take in a stride, despite knowing how despicable it was. Declarations and memories thereof that upset Abbie. Meanwhile, the family he supposed Abbie was marrying into seemed more set on belittling them even more, instead of standing up for Abbie and her sister. Her future mother-in-law made a comment that made him as furious as Standra’s remarks. Meanwhile, Katrina berated him for his nervous hand moves, even though she knew very well that he could do little to control them, and pulled at his arm on and off. Indeed, his future family were not in any way better than Abbie’s! He knew there would be hell to pay for ignoring Katrina, but he couldn’t turn his focus on her with Abbie right in front of him.

While trying to process it all, Abbie suddenly met his eyes again, and his anger turned to something completely different; as if the sun rose inside him by what she had brought forth with her own vilifying warmth. He wanted to convey it to her, and realised that they were staring at on another. The next moment, it was as if she had grown as tall as the goddess he had envisioned her to be not long ago. She commanded the room and all surrounding them. She was in charge when she demanded that things would proceed as planned.

He could no longer stand back. Others had taken up space, had their say, showing where they really stood. So would he. So he did, making sure to let her know that she should sample all the cake shop – and life itself – at her heart’s delight, without bothering with anyone’s opinion. At least that what he tried to convey, as he stood there in the middle of the group. She beamed at him, that dazzling smile, and he knew he was probably staring at her as if she was a mirage in a desert.

Bram and Miss Jenny cheered. Abbie’s intended and his family frowned. Standra and Katrina had the nerve to open their mouths, and he swung to them on his heel, finger already in the air, as he gave them a tongue-lashing. They faded away into the background and suddenly, he was more or less alone with Abbie again. People were avoiding them after her proclamation and his outburst, still surrounding them, but they were left alone.

Her reply to his sincere apology, ‘it’s a lot more complicated than that’, awoke the sort of hunger he’d normally feel when he found a new vein to follow in his research, along with something else; something similar to feeling so lightheaded that his mind could take flight. A sugar rush in a wedding cake shop.

As they carefully conversed, with every word laden with secret meanings, Agent Foster joined them, looking despondent. While he wished to speak with Abbie alone, he saw how her warm heart went out to her colleague and friend. Crane remembered that Agent Foster had addressed Mrs. Morales as her aunt, apparently Abbie’s future in-laws were her relatives, and the women were more than just colleagues.

Agent Foster berated herself, which was to her credit but not the whole truth; anger rose within him as he remembered the behaviour of Standra, Katrina, Mrs. Morales, to some extent Miss Jenny and Abraham… and indeed, himself! No, this was not Agent Foster’s fault! Some things Standra and Mrs. Morales had said still made him furious. When he saw Abbie’s facial expression, as she undoubtedly remembered how Mrs. Morales had hinted about her figure, something snapped within him, and he was suddenly taking a leap into an explanation of that Abbie was in every way a perfect woman, which Agent Foster eagerly agreed on. Suddenly, the two of them were waxing poetic about Abbie, while the object of their ardent admiration blushed deeply and grinned disbelievingly. But neither Agent Foster nor he would listen to any protests made by Abbie Mills. He wanted to congratulate Agent Foster on her good taste in appreciating Abbie’s so much. Just as the moment was as perfect as it could possibly be while he was still dressed while in Abbie’s company, he heard the voice of his fiancée and had to bite back a sound of frustration. But Abbie definitely saw him rolling his eyes.

With deep regret, he bowed to the two ladies, then turned to face his fiancée, feeling like he was in an Edith Wharton novel. Katrina dragged him away to another part of the establishment, where Abraham stood with Standra on one side and Miss Jenny on the other. Abraham’s smile was far too smug for Ichabod’s liking. He glanced at Miss Jenny – and saw a similar smile of understanding. Ah. Miss Jenny knew.

“So many interesting coincidences!” Abraham remarked, while plopping a strawberry into his mouth, because they were at a table with various cake samples.

Standra dragged Katrina aside as if she wanted a private word with her, but her words and voice were meant to be heard.

“You know very well that would be completely revolting, having to sample cake side by side with these people!” she hissed.

Crane’s temper flared up, and his finger was once again in the air.

“I meant what I said!” he almost growled. “One more word and I leave, with or without company! I will not tolerate this!” He had the satisfaction to see Katrina turn white, while Standra turned red.

“Really!” Abraham protested as well. “How can you speak like that about Jenny’s closest family!” he said and took her hand again.

“Nothing new,” Jenny remarked sardonically.

But Ichabod stole a glance in Abbie’s direction and saw how ill at ease she looked. His insides were in a knot of anxiety. While he was blinking a few times to regain his calm, Abbie was suddenly gone and only Agent Foster was seen, walking towards her aunt and cousin.

The cousin. Luke Morales, Detective Inspector. Soon to marry her; Grace Abigail Mills. Where had she gone? Why wasn’t she with her future husband? Why was she with her future husband, in the first place?

Crane scrutinised the man. Handsome, very handsome. Masculine, fit, charming, a self-assured mama’s boy. Something twisted within Ichabod once more, he had been a mama’s boy once too. At this very moment, Mrs. Morales smoothed the front of her son’s shirt while clearly telling him How Things Should Be. Crane wanted to yell at them both, he wanted to rant a list of how they didn’t deserve Abbie Mills in their lives at all. The groom-to-be nodded absent-mindedly at his mother’s words while looking around, no doubt for his lovely bride-to-be. Would he go and see how she fared? See if she needed anything, tempt her to try some sugary delicacy, while showering her with attention and see how she eyes shined while her sinful tongue tasted the offered sweetness, the tip touching her sumptuous lips? Moodily, Crane put his chin in the air and noticed how he was under scrutiny himself from Miss Jenny. He offered a small smile and a curt bow of his head, which earned him a lifted eyebrow, its archness good enough to match his own eyebrow game.

“After this, you come home with me, Ichabod,” Katrina ordered him. “There is a great deal of wedding planning we need to do.”

“So what do you need me for?” Crane answered before he took time to think.

Standra tittered, while Katrina looked affronted.

“Feeling left out?” Miss Jenny asked with a smirk.

“Why would he feel left out?” Standra protested. “He’s a devoted man, about to marry the love of his life!”

“Wow, what a fairy tale!” Jenny remarked and rolled her eyes.

“I’m generally glad to be left out, since my ideas are seldom welcome,” Crane said, tongue still dangerously loose.

“Ichabod!” Katrina protested and nearly stamped her foot on the floor.

“What. Is. That!?” Standra hissed and stared in a corner. There was a six feet tall wedding cake there in the colours of the rainbow.

“Wow, that’s beautiful!” Jenny exclaimed.

“Beautiful!” Standra made a small shriek. “It’s… it’s an abomination!”

“A rainbow?” Jenny laughed. “That’s not what the Bible says!”

“That… that…!” Standra sputtered.

“Calm yourself,” Katrina said and took her dear friend’s arm. “We will ask the manager about this.”

“Yes… yes…” Standra huffed, gasping for breath.

Ichabod regarded the two women; arm in arm and similar, tan outfits with expensive shoes and bags and some gaudy jewels around their necks. He specifically looked at his fiancée. Had he expected her to be Aletheia, when in fact she was Apate?*

The discussion about ‘themed weddings’ that followed with the good lady who guided them through the lavish establishment, and the comments from Miss Jenny, might have amused him. As it were, he only noticed it in the background, while he spied a certain pixie Venus appearing in the other room again. Wasn’t there an adjacent restroom? Yes, he could remember seeing a sign about that. It explained her absence, and how she actually looked less ruffled in her hair. And yes, she had adjusted her clothing; her top was no longer inside out. Knowing she had been alone and taking off the top in a restroom made him forcefully aware that he was going commando since their earlier liaison. Pictures took form in his mind: naked Abbie in a restroom. His trousers were quickly too tight and uncomfortable.

Behave.

He stealthily moved to her side.

“Your sister is a formidable opponent,” he mumbled.

He saw Abbie inhale slowly before she turned her head to him.

“She is,” she said. Her eyes were dark and deep, but her expression was hard to read.

“I am glad,” he said. “Prejudice should be contradicted.”

“She’d do little else than contradict prejudice, if she took every chance.”

“Ah, yes. I understand,” he nodded, checking his privilege.

“You don’t like Standra either?” Abbie asked.

“She is vile,” he replied promptly.

“Glad we see eye to eye,” she said and looked down at the display table in front of her.

“So am I,” he said. “But at the moment, I can’t get her bad influence to stop.”

Abbie regarded him thoughtfully, and he felt himself blush. His tongue was still loose, and he wanted it to be even looser. He wanted to say so much, explain so much, and ask so much. Did he have the right? Did she want to hear and to answer his questions?

“I am sorry,” he almost stuttered blushingly. “This is an exceedingly strange situation that I have never been in.”

“Embarrassed in a wedding cake shop?” she asked with a frown.

“Being alone with you while our… prior engagements surrounds us and reminds us what we’re supposed to do. And not do.”

Abbie lifted an eyebrow. While she found his loquaciousness charming, she would have liked him to speak plainly. Like he did after some rounds of fucking him. As to fucking him, she surmised that was what he referred to as ‘not do’. But they did do it. Had done it. Wanted to do it.

“Nor I,” she admitted. “It’s not something I’ve ever done to a partner or ever expected that I’d do. Definitely not in these circumstances. Or in a wedding cake shop,” she added truthfully.

He stared at her.

“And I assure you: I have never done anything like this either! I… While my former relationship was ending, it so happened that Katrina, who was leaving Abraham, approached me…” he blurted out. He looked contrite and couldn’t meet her eyes anymore. “But nothing serious happened until those relationships had ended. And I… I…” he stuttered and fiddled nervously with a plate and a dessert fork. “I have never been unfaithful, and definitely never this… I-I have never had any sort of encounter with anyone…”

His hands were shaking and the plate rattled dangerously. Abbie couldn’t hold herself back. His fidgeting was nothing that bothered her, and she knew very well what those hands were capable of. But this seemed painful to him. Quickly, she stretched out and stilled his hands. He visibly relaxed and put the plate down. They were eye to eye, and dangerously close to both the cornucopia on the table and one another. Abbie let go and took a step back.

“Thank you,” he said, grateful for her service as well as her retreat. They both took deep breaths. Abbie quickly looked around, making sure they were still alone.

“So, we’re both innocents,” Abbie said in a wry attempt of humour.

Crane exhaled on a silent chuckle.

“Or were innocents,” he replied. “In that respect.”

“In many respects, I’d say,” she hinted.

“You’re right,” he agreed.

“That being said, I don’t regret it,” Abbie stated.

“Nor I!” he agreed. “I... I even wrote it on Facebook,” he admitted embarrassedly, referring to his ‘no regrets’ comment.

“I saw that,” she said with an intense blush.

“Yes... I saw your ‘like’ on my comment,” he mumbled, blushing himself and feeling like the earth was swallowing him.

“Did you?”

“Of course.”

“Oh.”

“Mm.”

“Good!” she said, getting busy with a plate and some samples herself.

“Yes, I thought so too! I could only see your feet, but I recognised them. And the view from the cabin, of course,” he babbled.

“You recognised my feet?”

“I –”

“Remember everything,” she filled in. “Yeah, you said.”

“My memory is eidetic.”

“That’s handy!”

“Very!” he admitted.

“Speaking of handy, you’re good with those too,” she blurted out.

“They’re quite nervous, I’m afraid,” was his apologetic reply.

“No! I don’t mean – that’s OK, they’re... I mean, your hands are...” She shook her head in confusion.

He was silent and embarrassed.

“What I meant was... you’re both talk and action,” she managed. “And both are good.”

“That was the finest compliment I’ve ever received,” he replied seriously, reminding her that earlier that day, he had envisioned himself reborn and her as freedom itself. In his office. On the sofa. Naked. Body to body. Honest, satisfied and free.

They stared at one another for some quick heartbeats, while the rapid flow of blood roared in their ears.

“We shouldn’t talk about this here,” she said hoarsely.

“We shouldn’t,” he agreed. “But we do.” He straightened his shoulders and put his chin in the air.

Abbie had to smile at his attempts to be the proper gentleman he was brought up to be.

“What we should do, is stuff ourselves with sweets,” she added.

“An excellent idea,” was his reply and he started to laden his plate with various treats, keeping his hands controlled.

Abbie did the same, looking over the various items on display, sometimes frowning and attempting to focus on the task at hand. Wedding cake. Ingredients. Ripe, round berries full of juice. Tart, exotic fruit. Wholesome, local produce. Savoury chocolate of every nuance. Soft, airy cake in every colour of said rainbow. Fillings… creamy, creamy fillings; so deliciously whipped. Mouth-watering, sights that made you want to dip your fingers, get sticky. To slowly put your lips against it, slowly lick it off. She took a strawberry, stroked it in some soft cream cheese filling and tasted it slowly, savouring it.

Crane was breathing next to her, breathing fast. Sweating. 

Pine scent from him, and something else… another scent from him. Yes; him and me. Our scents mingled.

The room was unbearably hot. There were glasses of water on a sideboard, Abbie observed. Glancing back, her eyes passed Crane’s hip section, discerning a bulge.

Well, that’s… a waste, considering the circumstances. Do I really have that influence over him, here and now?

She knew the answer; her own soaked panties told her.

“Being commando doesn’t make it any easier,” he hissed, noticing her stare.

“I’m sorry,” she grinned and took another bite of the strawberry.

“No, you’re not,” he grumbled but with a hint of mischief in his voice.

Abbie’s grin widened. She noticed a tray with chocolate shaved in various shapes, intended to be outer decoration of cakes. There were cylinder formed ones in white chocolate, maybe three inches long and thin, looking like something naughty, depending on what one had in mind. Abbie had to giggle.

“Oh, my predicament amuses you, does it?” he smirked.

Her brown eyes were sparkling as she picked up one of the long, white chocolate cylinders. She held it in front of her, making sure that he looked at it by rolling it slowly like a cigar. Her fingertips melted the chocolate a little. He stared at her. Slowly, she dipped it in some whipped cream and, smiling saucily, she licked it up with her long, teasing tongue. A look of shock passed his face before he blushed.

“Mmmm,” she said. “So tasty.”

“You minx!” he growled.

Abbie dipped the cylinder in some more cream and put a hazelnut on top.

“This nut is peeled, hmmm,” she teased. “I’ve only just started to like it when it’s not,” she added and licked nut and cream off the top of the chocolate cylinder.

“Abbie…!” Crane whispered as he saw the nut and the cream disappearing into her mouth while her lips licked her generous lips.

“I bet I can bust this nut anyway,” she dared, as she split the hazelnut between her teeth in a satisfying crack.

Crane made a small sound of desperation, as Abbie grinned at his discomfort.

“Right!” he said crisply. “Two can play that game!” He quickly eyed the display and found a dark chocolate rose. He picked it up and showed it to her just as pointedly. Then he took a spoonful of shocking pink raspberry filling and carefully applied it on top of the delicate petals. He then proceeded to lick it off the rose slowly and purposefully, letting a moan of pleasure slip out of him.

“Mmmm, heavenly delights,” he said huskily. “Almost as delicious as… the original,” he said and let his eyes wander down along her body.

Abbie’s knees felt week. The raspberry cream looked perfect on his pink lips, as he sucked and licked it off the helpless, melting rose. She had to shift her position, while her pussy clenched in response to his demonstration. At the same time, she had to grin some more, because the bubbly happiness inside her wouldn’t subside. Licking raspberry cream off his lips, Crane smiled his wide, goofy smile. He had chocolate on his front teeth, and she was so in the mood to kiss it off.

“The hell are you two doing?” Jenny said, having sneaked up on them.

“Doing just fine until you showed up!” Abbie snapped.

“Oooh, sorry!” Jenny mocked. “Of course you expected to be alone right now.”

Abraham, strolling along, was smiling apologetically.

“Miss Mills,” he greeted with a polite nod, but Abbie saw that he was amused by the situation. “We would like nothing better than to leave you alone to… do whatever you wish,” he said suggestively. “And I’m quite sure a good deal of people would love to watch –”

Jenny burst out in a giggle, while Crane huffed in indignation. Abbie merely rolled her eyes.

“I bet they would,” she said to Abraham’s surprise. “But you two would have to pay the entrance fee, just like everyone else!”

“Oh snap!” Abraham said. “Not even a family discount?”

“No, indeed!” Crane filled in and took his place by Abbie’s side.

“Just so you know,” Jenny said. “It’s… quite obvious what you two are up to, if people pay attention.”

Abbie wanted to contradict Jenny, but she knew Jenny would be far too happy to explain what she meant. People might be watching, and listening.

“Thank you so much for your advice, Miss Manners,” Abbie said sarcastically.

“Hey, not my fault that you two are oozing chemistry!” Jenny protested in a hush tone.

Crane blushed again, and Abbie felt herself grow hot as well.

“Well, she’s right, you know!” Abraham agreed.

“OK, if even my sister points it out…” Abbie said with a grimace.

“Hey, I wouldn’t mind if you two did it here and now,” Jenny smirked. “But it would be so sticky in every way imaginable.”

“Touché!” Crane said, still embarrassed but determined to not stand there silent.

“Besides, there’s only so much we can do to keep Standra off your backs for much longer,” Abraham pointed out.

“Ah,” was all Crane said, but no more needed to be said.

“Or any of the others,” Jenny said. “And speaking of the devil… or angel.”

“Hi, guys!” Sophie said breathlessly, hasting over to them smilingly.

“Hey, Sophie,” Abbie smiled. “Having fun?”

Sophie came over to her like an eager puppy.

“Yeah! I’ve had champagne! Didn’t you get any in here?” she asked eagerly.

“Aaaww, sweet Sophie!” Jenny said and put her arms around her from behind, pressing herself close to her. Sophie laughed, more elated than embarrassed. Abbie frowned a little. Sophie drinking was a wildcard, Jenny being Jenny was always a wildcard.      

“Don’t you just love her?” Jenny smiled and pushed Sophie against Abbie’s side, who handled it by hugging Sophie as well. Sophie was now sandwiched between the two sisters, bumping against Abbie’s left hip.

“Sure I do!” Abbie said, playing along.

“I love you too, Abbie,” Sophie purred, putting her arms around Abbie’s neck and kissing her cheek in a way that wasn’t the usual friendly manner.

“What on earth do they put in their samples here?” Abraham joked, clearly enjoying what he saw. “And how much can I buy?”

“And here I thought Miss Jenny tried to avoid sticky situations,” Crane added with a lifted eyebrow. He was still next to Abbie, and suddenly Abraham put his arm around him, pushing him closer to Abbie.

“Hey!” Abbie protested with a lame laugh.

“Bram!” Crane was baffled.

“What? Weren’t we doing a group hug??” Abraham joked and Jenny laughed.

Crane had to put a protective arm around Abbie to find his bearings again.

“What is going on here?!” was heard from the other room. It was Katrina, coming forth and watching the shenanigans.

“Katrina!” Abraham exclaimed and extended a hand in her direction. “Join us!”

She just stared at him, then on Crane. Abbie noticed that Crane shifted, but didn’t try to move away from her. He could easily push away Abraham. Meanwhile, Sophie held her closer, almost grinding against her. 

“What are you doing?” Standra’s voice was heard before she turned up beside Katrina. “Oh! Doesn’t really look like a prayer circle, does it!”

Abraham’s arms lowered, while Jenny released Sophie, who in turn released the grip around Abbie’s neck. Crane shifted again, but his hand lingered on the small of her back for some long seconds.

“Ichabod! Are you coming?” Katrina demanded. Crane didn’t move away from Abbie.

Jenny, however, took some strides towards the snobby ladies. Abbie saw Luke in the background, sort of hovering. She saw a look pass between her sister and her fiancé, and as often before, it sobered her up. Better be prepared.

“Oh! There’s that horrible rainbow cake again!” Standra shrieked as she walked into the other room.

In the corner of her eye, Abbie noticed that Jenny took something from the samples on the table. Confused as the situation was, surrounded by people, she didn’t quite see what happened, but heard something rattle on the floor. It wasn’t easy to see, but it looked like hazelnuts rolling over the floor, in Standra’s direction.

It all happened very fast. The next moment, Standra went from shriek to scream, Katrina screamed as well, and Standra disappeared out of view – falling, but landing on something with a loud ‘FLUMP’, before her now muffled scream became high pitched. Abbie saw Jenny melting in laughter, while both Sophie and Abraham ran over to see what happened. Crane stayed by her side.

“I think she fell into the rainbow cake,” Crane said simply, but smirked.

“I believe you’re right,” Abbie said with a muffled laughter.

The commotion the next seconds was complete. But once again, Abbie and Ichabod took some moments to ignore the rest of the world. Casting a quick eye at the ado in the next room, and making sure everyone was busy, he gently took her hand and lead her to a secluded corner. Abbie simply followed.

“I meant what I said,” Crane said in a low voice, head bent over her and hand resting on the wall behind her. “I’ll be in the cabin tonight. Please come to me,” he pleaded.

Abbie looked up at him, into his shining eyes. There was still a speck of chocolate on his upper lip. She parted her lips and moved her head closer. He inhaled, watching her every move. There was a slight tilt in his head, closer to hers. Abbie’s hands landed on his waist, and she lightly pulled him closer. With a sigh, he gave in and covered her lips with his. The kiss was quick, wet and tasting of chocolate. Moments later, Abbie pulled herself free and hastily left, parting from him with a long gaze. 

Chapter Text

Standra Metzcove looked like melted crayon disaster, but Ichabod actually thought that the colour improved her blonde/beige/tan appearance. She had landed headlong into the six feet tall rainbow cake, it had been a stable construction but the cake soft enough to not hurt her, and apparently surprisingly colour-fast.

Well done, wedding cake shop!

Standra Metzcove would not have agreed with him. From head to toe, she had been covered in decorative gel. Red from the top and almost down to blue. Some purple had landed on her shoes. Screaming and wailing, the two assistants had put a large cloth around her and lead her to the bathroom behind the counter. Katrina had followed in a bit of a distance, making sure to avoid all colourful residue falling off her bosom friend.

As Abbie and her kin had gathered together, and Jenny and Abraham along with them, Crane had politely bid them all farewell, trying to maintain some dignity as they heard occasional wails from the inner regions of Deliciously Whipped. The manager and hostess, who had kept her calm so well, looked rather harassed by now, as she came out to say good-bye to the Mills-Morales company. She then locked the door and turned the sign from ‘open’ to ‘close’. All Crane could do was to wait patiently and stare wistfully after Abbie’s retreating figure. Seeing her in her company, disappearing out of sight, gave him an idea. He turned to the assistant who was still around and begged her to sell and wrap up some assorted cake samples.

It took quite a while before Katrina and Standra reappeared, and Crane had received his wrapped up samples. It was an interesting sight. The main hit had been on Standra’s right side, and while the cake had been removed, the colours still lingered on her. Everywhere. Crane suspected that her apparently dyed blonde hair had been a bit too porous. It was still odd to see a bright red nuance on the top of her hair, and orange further down and the ends of her hair bright yellow. Some red and orange was even seen on her face. Then her dress and legs were in the shades of yellow, green and blue, mainly on the left side, but soaked into the tan dress and panty hoses. From flaming to fluorescent! It still looked better than her earlier style, but it was also horribly clownish and amusing.

“Ah, Standra! You look –”

“Frightful!” she interrupted. “But you’re being a gentleman as ever!”

Crane just made a small nod to her and Katrina.

“Ichabod, we’ll use your car,” Katrina decided, and Crane just smirked. Katrina hated to soil herself or her possessions. “What’s that you’ve got there?” she asked about his parcels.

“Ah, just some –”

“Ohh, he bought samples for us!” Standra exclaimed.

They were not for Katrina and Standra, and Crane was tempted to ask whether Standra hadn’t sampled enough already. The mean streak in him wasn’t something he liked about himself. But Standra brought it out, and Standra was part of the deal with Katrina, it seemed.

This is unbearable.

Katrina took his arm, as the assistants wrapped Standra in a new cloth. It looked like a small tent, and it was probably something the shop used to deliver the wedding cakes.

“I do think I need to take Ichabod’s arm, Katrina dear!” Standra moaned pitifully. “And there’s quite a train on this horrible tent I’m in! I do believe you need to be my bride’s maid today, so I don’t trip and fall again!”

Katrina huffed, but did as Standra asked. Standra stepped forward and gripped Ichabod’s arm.

“You’ll have a new bride for the evening, Ichabod,” she purred.

Crane forced himself to smile despite feeling uneasy about the remark.

*

Once they were all in the car, there was no end of Standra’s string of insults on the wedding cake shop and how she planned on handling it. At the very least, she claimed, ‘it will give us a free wedding cake’.

Us?

“So you still recommend that we get the cake from them?” Katrina asked from the backseat, since Standra had claimed the front seat, next to Ichabod.

“Oh yes!” Standra said somewhat impatient. “They are the best in Sleepy Hollow! Besides, it’s too late to order a cake from one of the best bakeries in New York City. No: it has to be Deliciously Whipped! But on our terms.”

Our?

Another long string of complaints flooded from her mouth in her strident voice. Crane’s head was beginning to ache slightly.

“And aaahh, the Mills sisters!” she eventually said and Crane began to listen again.

So vulgar!” Katrina agreed, just as her phone rang.

Crane was ready to contradict her, but Katrina was busy taking the call.

“Hello? Yes, Zoe?” Katrina snapped.

“What is it now?” Standra sighed dramatically.

Zoe Corinth was in their ‘girl gang’ and she often asked Katrina and Standra for advice, even if they were ever so happy to gossip about Zoe’s bad choices in everything, mostly boyfriends. Crane could hear that Zoe sounded quite upset, and Katrina made short replies and then told Zoe to come over to her and Ichabod’s flat. Standra made a hushed protest, but it was settled.

“Now?” Standra griped. “But we made… other plans!”

“We can deal with that,” Katrina snapped, and Crane knew it was settled, even if Standra looked annoyed in at least three rainbow nuances.

“What is the name of that new boyfriend?” Katrina asked after a while. “Damon?”

“Devon,” Standra replied. “I know him.”

Standra and Katrina exchange glances in the mirror. Crane wasn’t too interested to hear, he would just remember a lot of details that they would forget. Then Katrina would ask him and be annoyed when he couldn’t back up how she remembered things, since she didn’t remember them right.

“So Devon… is he appropriate?” Katrina asked.

Standra inhaled. Ah, the ongoing discussion whether men were appropriate or not, and for what. Crane could understand and even sympathise, but it was just that Standra, and Katrina under her influence, took a rather bigoted view on the matter. Men were all bad, in practicality. So who was rich enough to marry?

“For Zoe?” Standra said. “Possibly, if he weren’t so… keen on women in general.”

“Oh, really?” Katrina asked.

Crane listened despite his better judgement.

“Well, there’s gossip. But you know how I hate gossip,” Standra said.

Crane held back a snort.

“Gossip can be quite useful,” Katrina observed mildly.

“Indeed, and it will be useful when we put the cake shop under pressure!” Standra switched the subject. “Have you posted the photos you took of me yet?”

“Uhm,” Katrina said. “Are you quite sure that you want them posted?”

“Ohh, yes!” Standra almost yelled.

“In that… state?”

“Definitely!”

“On… most social media?”

“Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!” Standra nodded eagerly.

“What photos?” Crane frowned and parked outside the block of flats where he lived, or rather shared address, with Katrina.

“Katrina took photos of me after my tragic fall! It must be spread to raise awareness!” Standra claimed.

“Photos… of you, after you fell onto the rainbow cake?” Crane asked incredulously.

“Yes, and when the worst was peeled off me! They need to see the abominations they make! And how the colours they use can’t be good! I mean, I’m sure there’s still a visible shade of the colours on me, no?”

“A… slight shade, yes,” Crane nodded and dived out the door, before he started to laugh. He opened the door for Katrina first, then went around to help Standra out.

“Posting the evidence on social media will help us to get them under our thumb!” Standra continued, grabbing on to his arm again, and wobbling next to him, trampling on the hem of the tent like cloth around her. Katrina had conveniently forgot her duties as a temporary bride’s maid.

“Oookay?” Crane said.

“And will also weed out what the Mills sisters were up to!” she hissed.

“The Mills sisters?” he startled.

“Standra…” Katrina warned.

“Those nuts did not roll by themselves!” Standra was close to hysterics. “And just because of that, Zoe and her boyfriend might be useful!”

“Standra!” Katrina hissed.

Crane couldn’t make heads or tail of what they meant. But was Standra accusing Abbie and Jenny of anything? No, surely… Abbie had been next to him, his arm had almost been around her. But Miss Jenny? He wasn’t sure.

“Despite Devon’s behaviour?” Katrina asked as they went up in the elevator.

“Less appropriate men can have their uses!” Standra sniffed.

“I wonder what category I fall into,” Crane couldn’t help musing.

“Oh, Ichabod!” Katrina protested.

“Dear Ichabod! The best, of course!” Standra assured him eagerly.

“And that’s why I’m marrying you!” Katrina said.

“And I… will be here for you,” Standra added smugly.

The elevator felt too claustrophobic all of a sudden. The doors opened just in time, and Crane tempered his feeling of being trapped while the ladies stepped out. In every light, the strange nuances of Standra’s hair, which could have been seen as a modern and daring feature, were striking.

“So just so we’re clear,” Crane asked again, while Katrina unlocked the door and dealt with the alarm. “You want Katrina to post the photos of you, covered in rainbow coloured cake gel, on all bigger social media platforms?”

“Oh, Ichabod,” Standra mumbled and patted his hand, as Katrina was busy with her back turned. “Don’t you worry. I will take care of this. And… everything, Ichabod. You can put your trust in me.”

She looked up at him with a serious kindness that became almost agonisingly hilarious, since the right side of her face and her nose were like a strange palette of red, orange and yellow, bleeding together. Well, her nose was all orange. Most of her cheek was orange. Almost like…

“Right,” he said shortly, biting his bottom lip to stop himself from laughing.

Once inside the flat, the ladies got busy with Standra’s appearance and went to the bedroom en suite, while Crane put the cake samples in the fridge. Crane needed a shower as well, but considered using the one in the guestroom. He looked around the elegant flat where he had lived with Katrina on and off for six months. When he had arrived to Sleepy Hollow US from Oxford UK, the cabin had been his refuge, while Katrina had decorated their ‘home until they bought a house reflecting their status’. And this was it. Spacious, lofty, a fine mix of old and new – clear signs of Abraham’s good taste with tacky accents that were a sign of Standra’s bad taste. Nothing here was picked out by Crane. Nothing here truly reflected Katrina.

“If we’re going to do this, Katrina, it has to be today,” he heard Standra say through the ajar door to his and Katrina’s bedroom.

“Yes, you’re right,” Katrina agreed. “I’m just worried now that Zoe is coming… Perhaps she would be a better option?”

“Zoe!? Oh, nonsense, Katrina! What does she know?”

“You’re right.”

“She has a boyfriend and who knows what STDs he’s got?! She can never be discreet about it, and besides – she’d be far too eager to do it! You know how she looks at your Ichabod. No, Katrina – it has to be me.”

Crane wondered what the hell they were up to plotting now. Then the word ‘STD’ distracted him and brought him back to a very hasty condom discussion with Abbie earlier that day. STDs… Yes, of course. He needed condoms. Just in case.

The doorbell broke his reverie, and he greeted and let Miss Zoe Corinth in. Her eyes were slightly puffy and red.

“Ichabod!”

“Miss Corinth.”

“Ohh, please call me Zoe already!” she said and flung her arms around him. He lightly patted her back, feeling embarrassed.

“Why aren’t all men like you, Ichabod?” she heard her whisper.

“Oh! Uh –”

“Zoe!” Katrina exclaimed, coming out of the bedroom. “Let go of my fiancé and help me in here with Standra!”

“OK, yes!” Zoe said and let go of Crane. “Did she, uh, really fall into a cake?”

Before the ladies disappeared once more, Crane asked Katrina for his bathrobe.

“Don’t use too much hot water,” she snapped while handing him the robe. “We need it for Standra!” she added and gave him a hard peck on the cheek. “Your beard smells strange,” concluded with a frown.

Crane blushed.

“Why on earth are you so dishevelled today?”

“I, uh…”

“Get yourself presentable. There is… something we must do later. When Standra is ready and Zoe has left.”

“Do what?”

“You’ll see, you’ll see!” she said and patted his chest. She looked suddenly worried, nearly frightened.

Crane lightly took her by the upper arms.

“Katrina! We need to –”

“No!” she interrupted. “We will make this work.”

“What?”

“This will be fine. Just fine.”

Crane just stared at her. What on earth was she talking about?

Katrina left him and Crane went into the guestroom. The bathrooms were wall to wall there, with Katrina’s walk-in-closet taking some space from the guest bathroom and also muffling the sounds somewhat.

Crane undressed and hissed a bit as he dropped his trousers. He was soon naked, standing on the cold tiles of the floor, and ready to use the shower cubicle. The en suite to the master bedroom had a bathtub, and he would have loved to use that, if the flat had been empty. But the splashes on the other side of the wall told him the bathtub was occupied, no doubt by Standra. As the noise of the water ended, he heard the three ladies talking. Were they all in the bathroom with Standra?

“But why did you agree to such a debauched idea?” he heard Katrina’s shocked voice.

“Debauched? Wow, you’re so British!” he heard Zoe say. “Lots of people do that!”

“It is rather shocking, coming from you, Zoe!” Standra replied.

“Ohh, I see! You thought I’m always such a miss-goody-two-shoes.”

“You are a miss-goody-two-shoes!” Katrina said. “Or as I call it: virtuous, upstanding, having a sense of morals!”

“Nothing that happened was without my consent!” Zoe protested.

“And yet, here you are – heartbroken because of what it lead to!” Standra said.

“That’s just because of that other guy…”

“You shouldn’t have seen him! You’re with Devon! And it never should have happened in the first place!” Katrina said firmly.

“That’s harsh…” Zoe sobbed.

“Harsh? You only have yourself to blame!” said Standra, making a splashy sound.

“It was Devon’s friend who brought it up!” Zoe tried.

“Which just goes to show what sort of man Devon is!” Standra shot in. “And the fact that his friend suggested it, and you and Devon agreed to it? Shocking!”

“It was you who introduced us!” Zoe wailed.

“You can’t expect anything serious from Devon, Zoe! Have your fun, if you must! But for the love of God, be careful! Think about your reputation; at work, in church, in our group,” Standra listed.

“We’re not living in the 18th century!” Zoe nearly laughed.

“No, nor in the 19th,” Katrina said gravely. “But if your morals come into question, do you really think people will want to look you in the eyes? Work with you? Marry you? You’d better keep silent about this. It can be tempting to be open-minded and ready to try everything, but you’ll only end up being used and discarded. You may claim that it’s what you want, and that you have that freedom, and yes, you do. But the consequences are also yours. People will applaud it one day, and look down on you the next.”

“Well said, Katrina!” Standra said.

“How strange! You have no problem reading magazines and talking about what other people did! Who they slept with, and how! But me, your own friend –”

“We’re only looking out for you, Zoe!” Katrina said.

“You’re just upholding double standards that suppress women!” Zoe yelled.

“Not so loud!” Katrina hissed.

“And spare us any kind of feminist ranting!” Standra said sharply. “I will not tolerate that nonsense! You have every chance of finding a good husband and making yourself a good life! That’s entirely up to you!”

“Yes, Ayn Rand!” Zoe said sarcastically.

“Ohh, I love Ayn Rand!” Standra cooed. “Well, not the atheism. But she was a Jew, so that hardly matters.”

“You haven’t even read her,” Katrina remarked mildly.

“I’ve read articles!” Standra protested.

“I might as well leave,” Zoe said with a sigh.

“Yes, you’d better have,” Katrina agreed and their voices died away.

Crane massaged his oversized forehead, feeling the headache throbbing in his frontal lobe. He felt sorry for Zoe and wondered if he could apologise to her, somehow.

He stepped into the shower, and his thoughts turned to his fiancée. But not in the manner a man, who was about to marry his fiancée might think about his future wife. There was no excitement, neither for anything sexual or the upcoming nuptials. Just confusion and something that felt close to depression. It was as if Katrina died before his eyes. Or rather: his idea of her. He had thought he knew her. He had only known his own idea of her. Never her. And now that he was really beginning to know her, he didn’t want to. He didn’t even like her. Yes, there was the love you have for a person who had been a fixed spot in your life. They were family, after all. The relationship was distant, but the common family history had always tied them together.

He washed off the weariness and, with some regret, the proof of his earlier meeting with Abbie. There was that. Was he trying to absolve his own infidelity? Possibly. Probably. He felt some shame about that, yes. But it proved his point: he was not the right man for Katrina. Even if Katrina didn’t agree.

Abbie…

The thought of her, and the water on his naked body, started to stimulate him. But then Standra started to sing in the bath on the other side of the wall, and he quickly lost the beginning of a new arousal. Standra’s singing voice was screechy to begin with, and the echo in the bathroom only made matters worse. Crane quickly washed his hair and beard, then went out to dry himself. There was a set of razors in the guest bathroom, so he took care of his beard while the noise in the other bathroom continued. He had to breathe slowly to keep his calm, risking to slip with the razor, as Standra’s dubious serenading continued while she got out of the tub.

“Now is a good time,” he heard Katrina’s voice.

“Yes, I agree!” he heard Standra say in a giggly voice.

Crane rolled his eyes in the mirror and put away the razors. He tied his bathrobe closer around his waist and left the bathroom, hoping that he had some useful items of clothing in the wardrobe there. While rummaging around, finding some old trousers and a shirt, the door to the guestroom opened.

It was Standra, in an apricot, silk dressing gown that he know was Katrina’s. There was still a slight orange hue to her cheek, and visible nuances of red and orange in her hair. It was an unfortunate match to the silk dressing gown. She smiled a strange smile, something between predatory and sweet.

“Do you need anything, Standra?” Crane asked with a frown.

“This is about your needs, Ichabod,” she said in a husky voice that seemed very out of place.

“My needs?” he asked, baffled.

“Katrina sent me. You can trust me. I will help you,” she said and opened the gown. Her breasts had had plastic operations in that manner that reminded of bulky balloons, and Crane was sort of disappointed that the green colour of the cake hadn’t gone through her dress and discoloured her breast as well. But that was hardly the issue here.

“What the devil are you doing!?”

Chapter Text

The Mills-Morales entourage ended up at a local, Italian restaurant. Mrs. Morales did her best to find a table for four, dragging along Luke and attempting to drag along Abbie and Sophie as well. But Abbie realised what she was up to.

“Jenny, Abraham,” Abbie asked, “Do you want to eat with us?”

“Sure!” said Jenny.

“With pleasure!” Abraham replied, arm around Jenny.

“No need to feel obliged,” Mrs. Morales said tightly.

“Ma,” Luke tried.

“Nah, we don’t mind,” Jenny said with an evil gleam in her eyes.

“No obligation, but a pleasure!” Abraham said jovially.

“No no, really!” Mrs. Morales insisted. “I’m sure you want to go on and spend your time elsewhere! And there are very few tables available for six people!”

“We’re practically here for the early bird special,” Abbie said sarcastically. “There are plenty of tables for six people.”

“Ah, but they’re –”

“If my sister and her boyfriend wants to join us for dinner, then I’m eating with them!” Abbie spat, losing patience fast.

“Yes, yes… of course, Abbie!” Luke intervened. “Here’s a table for us,” he mumbled and led her to a table that seated six with two sitting at either end of the table.

The seating arrangements lead to moments of confusion. It ended up with Jenny in one end, Mrs. Morales in the other, Abraham and Luke on one side, and Abbie and Sophie at the other.

“Oh, no no – this won’t do!” Mrs. Morales complained. “This is no way to be seated!”

“It doesn’t –” Sophie tried.

“This is even harder than the seating arrangement for your wedding!” Mrs. Morales prattled on. “The only men, seated side by side? And why is Jenny sitting at the end of the table?” Mrs. Morales said Jenny’s name as if she spoke of an infestation.

“Ma –”

“I can change place with Abraham,” Jenny said chirpily and Abraham was ready to give her his seat next to Luke.

“NO!” Mrs. Morales shrieked and heads turned in their direction. “Luke will naturally want to sit next to Abbie!!”

“Should couples sit together?” Sophie asked.

“Abbie and Luke are engaged, that’s perfectly alright!” her aunt explained.

“Wow, this is worse than the mayor’s dinner,” Jenny remarked, as Luke and Sophie changed places and they ordered their drinks.

“Or something out of an Austen novel,” Abbie mused.

“What do you know?” Luke said snidely to Jenny. “You’ve never been to the mayor’s yearly dinner!”

“Not yet!” Jenny replied triumphantly and expressively placed her hand on Abraham’s. “But this lovely fellow from the British Isles will change that, because I’m going as his date!”

“Oh!” was all Mrs. Morales said. Securing an invitation to that had been a goal for her many years. When she was younger, she and Luke’s father had been invited a few times. But that was many years ago now, and she still lived on her past success.

Luke just looked disappointed, but Sophie was elated.

“Ohh, that’s great! It’s just some days before the wedding, right?”

“It is!” Abraham said. “It was a pleasant surprise to be invited! I understand it’s the big thing in Sleepy Hollow every year?”

“Yeah, it’s a big deal here,” Abbie agreed. She had only just served drinks one year, meeting loads of guests arriving to the grand, historical manor the mayors lived in. It had been another mayor then, of course. But it had been an interesting night all the same, even if she had felt like Cinderella without a fairy godmother.

“Well, then! I will see if I can secure invitations for all of you!” Abraham exclaimed.

“Don’t trouble yourself!” Luke protested.

“Ohhh that would be wonderful!” Sophie squealed with starry eyes.

“Oh, my…!” said Mrs. Morales, clearly impressed. “But is that not quite impossible?”

“I will definitely see what I can do, Mrs. Morales! It would be my honour! And I have met the mayor a few times, we get on quite well!” Abraham boasted.

“Well, it would certainly be… very nice if you could get us invited,” Mrs. Morales said with badly disguised excitement.

“Don’t get your hopes up too high, Ma!” Luke warned and threw a dirty look towards Jenny and Abraham.

“But you ladies will all shine and bedazzle us!” Abraham complimented. “The likes of Standra Metzcove will fade into the background!”

“But will we outshine Katrina van Tassel?” Jenny asked playfully.

“I will never know,” Bram said with a charismatic smile. “The sight of you will make me blind to all other women!”

“Woah, what a charmer!” Abbie chuckled.

“The allure of British men, eh!” Jenny winked and nudged her sister.

“Hmm, I remember a rugby game in New York City,” Abbie said drily. “Not all British men are so alluring.”

“That is the truth, Miss Mills, you are correct!” Abraham agreed.

“You should really call me Abbie,” she said.

“Thank you – Abbie,” he said meaningfully, raised his glass to her and drank slowly while looking at her. Abbie just cocked an eyebrow at him.

Their drinks had just arrived and Abbie gratefully sipped her mineral water while they all ordered what they wanted for dinner.  

“I remember back in the day when Libby van Tassel shone on the mayor’s yearly party!” Mrs. Morales reminisced. “She practically was the unofficial mayor of our town for some years. Everything of importance included Libby van Tassel,” she said and looked nostalgic. “And she always wore the most outrageous and stunning dresses!” she added, in a mixture of envy and moral indignation.

“How do you know her daughter Katrina, Abraham?” Sophie asked.

Abraham made a short laugh.

“I’ve known her all my life!” he explained. “We are related – not closely, mind you, something like fourth cousins, once removed. If Ichabod were here, he could explain it.”

“Ohh, you are!” Mrs. Morales said, curiosity piqued. Abbie felt her own ears growing a bit larger as well.

“Indeed! And the thing is, we’re all descendants of the Wells family, a Scottish earldom that is now practically extinct.”

Mrs. Morales’ eyes grew round from curiosity.

“This is better than Downton Abbey!” Sophie laughed.

“Worse, I’d say!” Bram chuckled. “As you may know, Ichabod and I are first cousins.”

“Oh, really!” Abbie blurted out.

“Yeees, really,” Bram said with a wink.

“And you’ve both been engaged to Katrina!” Jenny said and rolled her eyes.

Been engaged?” Bram grinned. “As far as I know, Ichabod still is! Or do you know something I don’t?” he added and stole a glance in Abbie’s direction.

Abbie ignored his jibe and sipped her water.

“Nevertheless – ew!” Jenny said while wrinkling her nose and smiling at the same time.

“Well, that’s easy for us to say!” Mrs. Morales shot in. “We’re not nobility, and so we don’t know what obligations they have!”

“Ahh, we’re not nobility either!” Bram explained. “Just related to the very old and very childless old earl. But our fathers – Ichabod’s and mine – have devoted most of their lives to try to ensure that one of them should inherit the earldom.”

“Wow, can that be done?” Sophie asked.

“Mmm, takes a fair bit of… work. Plotting, scheming, and lobbying with The House of Lords, amongst others… There is an old Remainder law* that they try to prove is applicable in this case. Anyway, they say that they have given up on claims for their own sake, and now do it in order to make either me or Ichabod the heir!”

“What?” Jenny said, staring at him.

Abbie made a mental note of looking up the law Abraham mentioned.

“Rather a lost cause, I’d say,” Bram continued. “We may be males, but we’re all born of the female line. Katrina and Mary, on the other hand –”

“Who’s Mary?” Jenny asked.

“Mary Wells, in terms of inheritance she’s first in line and on the male line. She has the right name. She’s Katrina’s first cousin, and she used to be engaged to Ichabod while I was engaged to Katrina.”

Abbie made the glass and porcelain clatter when she almost tipped over her glass.

Used to be engaged to? To another cousin-or-whatever-relative!? And so it was her he was in a relationship with, when he ended up with Katrina…?

Abbie quickly swallowed some water, while Luke asked if she was OK.

“Whaaaat!” Jenny said and looked at Abbie with lifted eyebrows. “The hell, did you two switch cousins with one another!?”

“Ha, ha – no!” Bram said firmly but laughed. “That’s just how it happened. Circumstances,” he shrugged but looked a bit uneasy.

“So technically,” Abbie summarised, “Mary Wells is the one who are closest in line to the inheritance?”

“She ought to be. We have no idea, really, what the will says or… indeed, if it’s possible to keep Maidenwell Manor.”

They just stared at Bram, waiting.

“That’s the manor to the earldom,” he said, and the others nodded.

“There’s a manor?” Jenny asked.

“And what about the actual earldom?” Abbie asked.

“It will be extinct, once our great-uncle dies,” Abraham went on, “Unless my father and uncle manage to swing something…”

“I imagine that marrying Mary Wells would have been a way to make the claims stronger in The House of Lords?” Abbie mused.

“Your reasoning is quite like my uncle Jeremy’s,” Bram smiled. “But if not Mary Wells, Katrina van Tassel might do just as well!”

“Oooohhh!!” Jenny said with sensation in her voice.

“Thing is – Ichabod isn’t all that interested. He has inherited his father’s passion for history, but not his passion for the earldom. Being a history professor and dig up all there is to dig up on the revolution era of the late 18th century, that’s what he’s passionate about! Preferably sitting in a room full of dusty books in Oxford, but he’s lucky to be in America now, where he can really dig into things.”

“And what about Katrina? And yourself?” Abbie asked shrewdly. “Have you inherited the passion for the earldom?”

Abraham just smirked at her again and raised his glass one more time.

“Quite a tale you spin there, van Brunt!” Luke spoke up, and it was the first time that day that Abbie had noticed that he had something to say. He also put his arm around the back of her chair quite demonstratively and leaned a bit towards her. Abbie felt herself freeze up a bit, but forced herself to relax.

“Lucky for me then that I have means to back it up,” Bram smiled smugly.

“Don’t be rude, Luke!” Mrs. Morales admonished. “Can’t you tell what gentlemen Abraham and his cousin Mr. Crane are?”

“Professor!” Abbie shot in.

“What was that?”

“Professor Crane,” Abbie clarified.

“Ah yes, Professor Crane!” Mrs. Morales said. “Is that how you and Sophie met him earlier today, before the wedding cake shop, in the line of duty?” she asked and looked between Abbie and Sophie.

Abbie felt herself grow hot as she saw Jenny and Abraham exchange a slow, wide-eyed glance. Why hadn’t she kept her mouth shut? And Sophie was sipping wine – fuck – which meant that her tongue might soon be loose.

“Oh yeah!” Sophie said and sipped some more wine.

“Should you be drinking, Sophie?” Abbie asked. “Aren’t you driving?”

“I picked her up and will drive her home,” Luke said.

“Oh!”

“And Abbie can drive me home,” Mrs. Morales said.

“What?”

“You don’t mind, do you, dear?”

“No, eh –”

“We need to discuss your bridal shower and wedding dress,” Mrs. Morales said sternly.

“Did you meet Ichabod even earlier on today?” Abraham laughed.

Abbie glanced at him and Jenny, who clearly were in the mood for something sensational.

“The same Ichabod that you sang with on your amazing bachelorette party!” Jenny added.

“Was Professor Crane the man you sang with on that scandalous Facebook post!?” Mrs. Morales exclaimed. “I thought he looked familiar! And here I thought he was a gentleman!”

“Oh, believe me – if anyone is a gentleman in this world, it’s Ichabod!” Abraham said in defence of his friend. “If such a thing as a gentleman ever really existed,” he mumbled in a lower voice that only Jenny and Abbie overheard. Jenny smiled, Abbie didn’t.

“And he’s marrying Libby van Tassel’s daughter… but sings in a bar with my son’s fiancée in an outrageous manner,” Mrs. Morales ranted on. “But I must admit; you sang very well together,” she added in an afterthought.

Jenny burst out laughing.

“Think this is funny, do you?” Luke said bitterly.

“Oh, more than you know,” Jenny answered.

Abbie closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead.

“So, Agent Abbie Mills!” Abraham spoke up. “Ichabod is my cousin, my best friend and the only brother I’ve ever had. So tell me: if you met Ichabod in the line of duty today, did you handle him very roughly?”

“Yeah! That’s something I want to know as well!” Sophie spoke up. “You two sneaked away!”

“I was ordered to question him!” Abbie protested. “Anyway – we can’t discuss that. We’re in an ongoing investigation!”

Sophie shut her mouth quickly and Luke said a few admonishing words. Abbie let him do it, knowing he felt the need to take command since he felt inferior about not being an agent like Sophie and her. Besides, it wasn’t just classified, it involved both Abraham’s cousin and Nick Hawley, a detail she wanted hidden from Jenny as long as possible. As things were, she might have to question Abraham as well quite soon, there might be something involving his antique business.

“I do hope, in any case, that Ichabod was a gentleman. Throughout?” Abraham asked teasingly.

“Perfectly so,” Abbie replied shortly.

“And I suppose, since it’s an ongoing investigation, you may have to meet him again?”

Abbie just looked at him with a quirked eyebrow.

“Uh-oh!” Jenny said when she saw that look.

“I suppose that’s classified information,” Abraham said.

“It is!” Abbie said sharply. “And since he is a gentleman, I trust he’s being discreet in the matter.”

“Ah, definitely,” was all Abraham said to that.

Abbie nodded decisively.

“That good, eh?” Jenny whispered conspiratorially for Abbie’s ears alone.

“All women want a gentleman!” Mrs. Morales said, not understanding what was going on, but knowing from experience when it was time to steer discussion away from police matters.

“At least the women who want men,” Sophie remarked.

“What on earth do you mean by that, mija?” Mrs. Morales asked her niece, looking bewildered. “You will want to marry one day, I’m sure!”

“Uh, maybe,” Sophie said with a blush and took a large sip of wine.

“No, but it’s true!” Mrs. Morales continued. “And so much of a man’s gentlemanly and proper behaviour is dependent on a good woman!”

“Yeah!” Jenny said. “It’s really weird, in this day and age, how much blame is put on women when men behave badly! I mean, grown people, as well as men, are responsible for what they do!”

Mrs. Morales looked annoyed, and Abbie knew from experience that Jenny said the opposite of what Luke’s mother meant, partly on purpose and partly because she meant it.

“Here, here!” said Abbie and raised her glass of water, as did Sophie and Abraham.

“Luke?” Jenny asked challenging. “Isn’t your faults your own, or do you blame them on the women in your life?”

“I think that’s too silly to even discuss!” Luke sniffed.

Just then, waiters arrived with their meals and everyone was busy eating without talking. After a while, Luke’s work phone rang and he had to excuse himself. The others took the opportunity to check their own phones.

Abraham gasped and laughingly showed Jenny something on his phone.

“OH MY GOD!” Jenny shrieked and howled with laugher.

“Jenny Mills!” scolded Luke’s mother.

“Abbie, look at this! Sophie, come over here!” Jenny urged.

Abbie had one look on the screen and had to laugh herself, which Sophie did also.

It was a Facebook post with a photo of Standra Metzcove, covered from head to toe in a rainbow of cake gel and cream.

“That poor cake!” Sophie cried between bursts of laughter. “I still feel sorry for it!”

Abbie gave Jenny a pointed look, and her sister winked to her.

Chapter Text

”Ichabod, don’t be coy with me…” Standra said with a smile and came closer.

“What!? Put that robe back on!” Crane demanded.

“But –”

“But what!?” he exploded. “And what do you mean, ‘Katrina sent me’??”

“She did… we…” she said slowly and closed the dressing gown.

“Do you want me to be here, Ichabod?” Katrina said and entered the room. The look on her face was calm and determined. “While you and Standra have sexual intercourse? Will that help?”

“Be… here?”

“Ichabod, I have confided in Standra. She knows about our sexual issues.”

“What?”

“We are agreed that you, as a man, is probably quite frustrated,” Standra explained, but wasn’t looking so self-assured anymore.

“What?”

“Sexually,” Katrina said briskly.

“What??”

“Stop repeating yourself, Ichabod!”

“WHAT!?”

“Please let us explain,” Standra said and tying the dressing gown. “You are a man, Katrina completely understands that. You’re going to be married, but things are a bit… rough at the moment.”

Crane just stared, while Katrina nodded next to her friend.

“Katrina laments that she’s… not ready to be the woman you need.”

“Every day,” Katrina said calmly.

“And you are… a man. With needs.”

“All men are,” Katrina filled in.

“And it wouldn’t be… good if your desires lead you astray.”

“Like they did with Abraham.”

“But I’m experienced. And discreet.”

“I trust Standra in this.”

“So the only rational solution is…”

“Standra will see to your needs, for the time being.”

“Uh-hu. I’m here for you both,” Standra said with a self-satisfied leer.

“You should be grateful that we do this for you,” Katrina concluded.

There was several moments of silence.

“This,” Crane said and pointed his finger in the air, “is absolute poppycock.”

“Ichabod!”

Complete-and-utter-codswallop!

“Please…”

“Last time I offered you sex, you declined!” Katrina yelled accusingly. “You’ve never declined before!”

Watch me!” Crane roared.

“If you just –” Standra tried.

“The time before that, you lost your erection!” Katrina blurted out.

“Can you blame me!?” Crane asked incredulously. “You don’t want to have sex, but you offer yourself up like a lamb to slaughter! What is that about? Hm?”

“What do you mean?” Katrina asked and turned white as a ghost.

“Who is really having undressed – unaddressed issues here? And then, you offer me to your friend!?”

“I do-do not –” Katrina stuttered.

“You both claim to be moral paragons.” Crane thundered and pointed at both women. “But you can’t give proper support to a friend, you can’t keep your relationships together, you use double standards to fix problems in the worst way possible, you use your influence to hurt people, you are bigoted, expect me to be a piece of meat and accept what is practically sexual harassment, and then you expect people to be GRATEFUL!?” Crane ranted so fiercely that Standra got spit in her eye.

“I DO NOT HAVE UNADDRESSED ISSUES!” Katrina shrieked.

Both Standra and Crane stared at her.

“And I will not have sex with either of you!” Crane snarled.

“But… we are going to start a family!” Katrina protested. “Standra said –”

“Standra is using you,” Crane said in a dangerous tone, pointing an accusing finger in the direction of the so-called friend. “She wants something out of this, of me and you, and we didn’t deliver it.”

“How can you even think –” Katrina yelled.

“It’s OK, Katrina, don’t worry!” Standra said and patted Katrina’s arm with a disappointed sigh. “Ichabod is clearly a one woman man.”

Crane stretched his back and glared down on them.

“I am. Some other woman’s!”

“Ichabod! You do not dare! Here we offer you the perfect solution and you –”

“I have NO need for your help, Katrina!” Crane bellowed. “I’ll have you know –”

Then he silenced.

“What?” Katrina spat.

He looked at the two women. Was he suddenly in a twisted version of Handmaiden’s Tale? And if he confessed, told them all, here and now… about Abbie. Or enough so they could figure out?

The gossip they would start. Heaven and hell, the gossip… The intrigue.

He could not do that to Abbie. To risk her situation, no matter what it was, her privacy and her reputation as an agent. Because as soon as the tongues in Standra’s circles started to waggle, there was no end to the drama. It could potentially hurt Abbie badly. Besides, Standra already disliked both her and Miss Jenny.

“I’ll have you know that what I do with my body is NONE of your business!” he said with suppressed anger. “Now get OUT!” he then thundered, making them jump and run out.

Crane hastily put on trousers and shirt, packed his wrinkled suit and some more stuff in a bag that he needed anyway while heard the hushed tones from the ladies in the master bedroom.

The gall. The absolute gall! To even think

He tempered down the nausea and left the guest room. He made a beeline for the refrigerator where he took a bottle of mineral water whilst he took out the samples from the cake shop. There was some mail to him on the kitchen counter, and he stuffed it into the bag as well. Next to the coffee machine stood an antique teapot that came from his childhood home and that Katrina had received as a gift from him years ago, just because she expressed that she liked it. It was pearlware, late 18th century and had the Wells family crest emblazoned on it. It was worth a lot more now than when he gave it to her. Katrina did like it, she brought it with her on every move and boasted about it. His mother had loved that teapot. Crane drank his water to make the bitter taste in his mouth disappear. It only helped a little. When he heard the tell-tale clatter of Katrina’s shoes on the exclusive tile floors, he groaned inwardly.

“Ichabod –”

“No.”

“I haven’t even –”

“The answer is no, no – NO!” he yelled, spinning around to face her. “I’m no saint, I’m not perfect – but that was unacceptable!”

Behind Katrina, Standra came tiptoeing. How could she even think about joining them now?

“You’re being unreasonable!” Katrina accused.

“YOU should be apologising!” Crane demanded.

“Ichabod, you have PROMISED to marry me!!” she suddenly shrieked.

Something exploded inside of him, and he turned and grabbed the teapot. Still, in his rage, he knew in that moment he would gladly have destroyed everything in their home.

ICHABOD, NO!!

In mere seconds, he held the teapot above his head and smashed it on the stone floor, seeing it smashed into smithereens.

“MY EYE!!” Standra yelled and doubled over, clutching her eye.

Katrina paid her no heed, but squatted on the floor, yelling unintelligibly.

“I got a bit in my eye, I’m hurt!!” Standra screeched.

“No no no, how could you, how could you!” Katrina sobbed next to the remains of the teapot.

Crane just stood there, still fuming with rage.

The door to the flat flew open, and Zoe was back.

“I forgot my scarf – what on earth is going on??” she yelled.

“I hope you can be a better friend to them than they are to you!” Crane spat. “Not that they deserve it!” he said, gathered his things and left the flat, still hearing the caterwauling.

*

The photos of Standra’s cake disaster still amused everyone except Mrs. Morales. Abbie noticed that the post was made by Katrina and the text pointed out Deliciously Whipped as if they were guilty of a crime. Abbie decided to remember that, and try to look it up further.

Luke returned, looking harassed.

“Oh mijo, I know that look!” Mrs. Morales exclaimed.

“What happened?” Abbie asked, knowing as well as Luke’s mother that it was a police matter.

“Some… strange domestic thing? Devon called me for reinforcement,” he explained. “Listen!” he said to Abbie and pulled her to the side, turning them away from the group. “Abbie, will you come around later?”

She just looked at him.

“Home, I mean? Mm?” he slowly caressed her arms.

“Tonight?” she asked slowly.

“Yeah. Come on…”

“Uh…”

“Abbie,” he said in a husky voice, leaning in for a kiss. Abbie turned her head, making his lips land on her cheek and feeling embarrassed. Luke slowly let his arms encircle her, but it just felt wrong. “I miss you,” he concluded.

“Tonight isn’t a good night,” Abbie said and withdrew from him. “Don’t you have to go and help Devon?”

“Yeah, yeah… sure,” he said and still look at her pleadingly, even tenderly. Abbie felt ill at ease, both by the fact that she had already been intimate with one man today and that the little endearment from Luke was one of those she used to live on, before… before Crane.

Luke turned around and bid his mother and cousin farewell with kisses on cheeks, a glare and a nod for Jenny and Abraham, then left. Abbie joined the group again.

“Shall we order dessert?” Sophie asked.

“Some cake, perhaps?” Abraham chuckled.

Abbie had to smile. “Nah, I’m good,” she said.

“So am I,” Luke’s mother said. “Abbie, will you drive me home?”

“Hey, can I go with you?” Sophie asked. “Luke was my ride.”

Sofia, dearest, I need to go through some things with Abbie alone,” Mrs. Morales said and left for the ladies’ room.

“Sofia, dearest!” Jenny repeated and once more hugged the young agent from behind. “Come along with Abraham and me!”

“Whaaat?” she asked with a smile.

“I live just down the road,” Abraham explained. “You’re most welcome to spend your evening with us.”

“Really, you guys?” Sophie giggled in Jenny’s arms. “Wouldn’t I be the third wheel?”

“Oh, we really hope so!” Jenny mumbled and moved her hips against Sophie’s ass.

“Ihh, oh!” Sophie yelped, but didn’t break free.

“We happen to think that third wheels are… delightful,” Abraham said with a smirk, as he lightly stroked Sophie’s hair back from her flushed face.

Abbie couldn’t believe her eyes, and it probably showed, because Sophie started to look uneasy. She wriggled, and Jenny released her.

“Hey, I don’t know…”

“Have fun, Sophie!” Abbie said and lifted her hands in mock defeat. “As long as you’re not too drunk to know what you’re doing!” she added with a laugh.

“Aww, Abbie!” Sophie said and flung her arms around Abbie’s neck. “Maybe you can come by too, after you’ve left Tía Lidia?” she said breathlessly, pressing herself against Abbie.

Abbie was quite shocked, but grinned. Who was she to judge?

“Thanks for the offer, but –”

“But Agent Mills will probably be engaged elsewhere tonight,” Bram filled in knowingly.

“Ohh, Luke will be so happy!” Sophie said and released Abbie.

Abbie just rolled her eyes and pointed at Jenny.

“You. Behave. Or do your best. OK?”

“Yes, Agent Mills,” Jenny said saucily. “And you do your best to misbehave.”

Abbie made a grimace and pointed at Abraham.

“And you – be good to my girls!”

“I will be on my best, British and gentlemanly behaviour and make sure to make everyone satisfied,” Abraham said teasingly, but Abbie realised that he meant it and it reminded her of another British gentleman.

Jenny let out an ‘ooooh!’ and Sophie just gasped, slightly shocked. Jenny dragged her away.

“Don’t judge us too hard, Abbie,” Abraham then murmured.

“Me! Who am I to judge you!?” Abbie said baffled. “Only… don’t let Sophie know what… you and Jenny know, alright?” Abbie mumbled and looked at her shoes, feeling confused. “It would break her heart!”

“I’m sure it would,” Abraham agreed with a tone of absolute understanding. “And like Jenny and me, she’ll seek the company she can get, when she can’t have the company she wants.”

“I don’t understand,” Abbie said with a confused frown.

“No, I imagine you don’t, Abbie,” Abraham said. “Probably because like my best friend, you don’t compromise about who you want to be… with,” he continued and took her hand. “And I applaud that, even if I can’t live up to those standards myself,” he added and lifted her hand to his lips.

Abbie just started in wide-eyed surprise. Abraham van Brunt then bowed to her in a formal manner, and joined Jenny and Sophie.

Chapter Text

Back in his car, Crane took several deep breaths. His hands were shaking, so he didn’t start the car, but bent his head over the wheel, breathing in and out. It wasn’t the sight of a half-naked Standra that upset him. Not even Standra herself; she had only proven herself as vile and manipulative as he suspected. No, it was Katrina… why had she done it? Why had she confided in Standra, when she wouldn’t even discussed their sex life with him, who she was dead set on marrying? Why had she fallen into Standra’s trap, and agreed to such a horrible idea?

Oh, he wasn’t blind. Standra had showed her interest in not so subtle ways before. Women often did, since he turned 18 and grew into his long limbs and nose. They generally lost interest when he started long-winded, nervous talks about history, or Crane had simply excused himself, feeling utterly embarrassed. Mary had been the only one who was persistent enough, and he had eventually given in out of curiosity. But women had tried. Even Katrina’s own mother, years and years ago.

But the idea that sex with Standra would somehow ‘solve a problem’?

Crane took some more deep breaths, feeling both guilty and relieved about having left the whole issue to Miss Corinth. It was not how he would normally react, he knew he ought to have stayed in their home, dealing with the mess. But in these circumstances…

Then his telephone ran, showing his father’s face on the display.

He laughed, short and bitterly, before accepting the call.

“Ichabod?” his father’s voice was heard over the sound system in the car.

“Hello, father,” Crane said as calmly as he could.

“Ichabod, what is this I hear?” his father queried. “I have Katrina’s father on the other line, and he says Katrina called him in hysterics! Did you really throw your mother’s teapot on her friend?”

“No!” Crane answered in a short laugh.

Ohh, the lies are already spreading…

“Then what on earth is going on?!”

“Katrina is… we…” Crane struggled with the words, knowing his father would twist and turn everything around.

“Ichabod, you know how important all of this is!”

“What’s important, father, is that Katrina and I are… not at all a good match.”

“Pardon? That’s preposterous!”

“Father! Can you just… be my father? Just… that?” Crane mumbled, hiding his face in his hands.

“Ichabod,” his father said in a warmer, cajoling voice. Crane knew it was for show. His father took on that role occasionally, it wasn’t quite real or the deep affection that he craved, but at the moment it was something that he needed.

“It’s… been a strange day, father.”

“I understand, Ichabod. But you need to be in command of this. Take your time, then go back and make things right again,” his father said kindly, but Crane knew that tone.

“You don’t understand, father. It’s a lot more complicated than that…”

“Most things are, and that’s when we need to focus on the bigger question, the greater goal.”

Oh no, here we go again…

“Ichabod, your marriage to Katrina is more crucial than ever.”

“Father… just –”

“Haven’t you heard the news?”

“What news?”

“Of Mary and… that jockey.”

“The winner of Grand National? No, what?”

“Mary is pregnant.”

“That’s wonderful news!” Crane exclaimed, truly glad.

“Wonderful news? Don’t you realise that it jeopardises our whole plan!?”

Your plan, father! And Uncle Anthony’s!”

“Ichabod, Katrina should also be pregnant by now! Granted, it would have been even better if you had married Mary, but with Katrina by your side and some more, good campaigning, you have a real chance of being the next Earl of Maidenwell!”

“Father, give it a rest!”

“It could have been Abraham, if he’d played his cards right with Katrina. But with Mary, the eldest heir on the male line, pregnant and possibly carrying a son, we face the risk of –”

“The earldom will never be restored!”

“How can you say that!? Do you even realise how tirelessly your uncle and I work for this?”

“Do you realise that I spent my whole childhood seeing you neglecting mother for that hopeless idea!?”

“Your mother coddled you too much! I should never have let you stay at home with her! I should have sent you to Eton, as intended!”

“She… she was ill, father! And we weren’t really home! We were stuck together at Maidenwell Manor!”

“The Wells ancestral home! How could that not be your home?”

“The whole problem is that we all have been locked inside an old idea, forced to be marionettes!”

“Ichabod!”

“We were always thrown together; Katrina, Mary, Abraham and me, because we are related to each other and to an old past that has no importance today!”

“No importance! I did everything for you and your mother! For our family!”

“While you devoted all your time to Merton College and the ludicrous idea that an almost extinct earldom, extinct due to the fact that there were no male heirs on the male line of the family, could be restored to our family!”

“But we are the male heirs on the female side, and your great-uncle is still alive!”

“The man is 96 years old and has Alzheimer’s! When will you leave the poor soul alone!?”

“You have always been so naïve, Ichabod! It’s all your mother’s fault!”

“I’m quite pleased with being naïve then, thank you very much!”

“I spoke with Professor Bulston-Smythe yesterday!”

“Oh?” Crane said, mouth round in surprise.

“Yes, ‘oh’. While you insist on wasting your time on that revolutionary research nonsense in America, things are moving in our direction, Ichabod. The professorship that went you by at Merton is being seriously questioned. You must be prepared, son!”

Crane was silent. 

“And you know whose influence is most important in the matter, outside of my own!”

Professor Henry Parrish, Head of the History Department at Sleepy Hollow College. Also, as it happened, the father of Katrina van Tassel.

“Ichabod, my son… You mean everything to me.”

Crane knew it was true. He was the embodiment of his father’s own lost hope of becoming Earl of Maidenwell and also wanted to see his son succeed in academia. It was a sort of love.

*

“You wanted to talk to me,” Abbie said a matter-of-factly to her future mother-in-law as she began to drive her home. She had her suspicions. She had yanked the leach a bit too hard and now it was time to hear Luke’s complaints through his mother’s mouth.

“Abbie…” she said, surprisingly meekly. “My uncle, Tío Jorge, you know?”

“Yeah…?” Abbie said slowly, not expecting this conversation.

“He’s ill, quite ill.”

“I’m sorry, Lidia,” Abbie said sincerely.

“Thank you, I know you mean it,” Mrs. Morales said. “I know what family means to you, Abbie,” she added carefully, patting Abbie’s arm. “And so does it for Tío Jorge. So often has he begged us to move back to Mexico, come and take over his printing business… But it wasn’t for us.”

Abbie rolled her shoulders. She knew. Tío Jorge sat there with his business and a fortune. Lidia was pausing, looking worried, then began talking again.

“He wants to buy you and Luke a house, Abbie.”

Abbie gasped and frowned.

“Now, now!” Lidia said. “Don’t get upset! He knows you would protest! But really – you’d do him a favour in accepting, and getting a house as a gift would be an amazing start of your marriage! Don’t you agree?”

“Lidia! It’s far too much!”

“When Tío Jorge dies, there will be even more money. You know that, Abbie. If you get a house now, it can be in both your and Luke’s name. If… anything should happen, the house can very well end up being yours.”

“What?” Abbie said and looked at Luke’s mother sharply.

“We can have it drawn up by the lawyers, if you want,” Lidia said, with a slight blush on her cheeks.

Abbie had to stare at the road again, trying to process the information.

“Why do you want me to marry Luke, Lidia?” Abbie asked at length. It was a question she had often wanted to make to Mrs. Morales, but she had always held her tongue, fearing the answer. Now she didn’t, she just had to know.

Mrs. Morales drew a deep breath.

“He needs you, Abbie. You, specifically. You’re his guiding light,” she said.

Abbie drove on, baffled.

“When the two of you broke up and you left for Quantico, I scolded him for a month. When I heard you were coming back, I had a very serious talk with him. I knew he wanted you back. And I told him plainly that it would take a great deal for me to accept another daughter-in-law than you, and that it would take many years for him to find anyone even coming close, to find anyone who could give him the life and the family he needed.” Mrs. Morales said firmly. “I told him to do all that was in his power to get you back, and I don’t regret it for a second! The day I heard the news of your engagement was one of the happiest of my life!” Mrs. Morales said, voice trembling a bit with emotion.

Abbie was dumbfounded by hearing this.

“I know he wants to build a family with you, live a good life and be a good man. He needs you for that, Abbie. It might not be something a modern woman like you want to hear. But it’s true. You are… the best woman he could even hope to be with. I can’t imagine a woman I’d trust more to make my son happy.”

“Uh… OK…” Abbie managed to say, swallowing back some tears.

“It won’t be easy, Abbie, I know that,” Mrs. Morales said warmly. “You live hectic, dangerous lives. And you are modern, young people. That can be wonderful, but also confusing. And in these confused days, don’t we all need a safe haven? Someone and something we know will be a part of our lives forever? Come good or bad, there will be a foundation to fall back on, children, love… family?”

There was a bit of mist before Abbie’s eyes. Luke’s mother knew what to say, Abbie wasn’t more naïve than that. But she also knew that she meant it. The fact that she saw Abbie as such a fundamental part of this formula for happiness and contentment, that really took her by surprise. It sneaked into her heart.

“I may seem strict and obsessed with protocol, Abbie. But I just want things to be right. Luke was born in this country. I wasn’t. It’s not so easy, as you know. I want you both to have careers, and I support it. You both deserve it, and you have the chance to make a great change, for so many.”

Abbie nodded solemnly. They were on the same page there. Mrs. Morales might be having her eyes too much on the prize to appreciate the road leading there, and that it wasn’t all about career and money. But in essentials, they were in agreement.

They reached Mrs. Morales house where she had lived with her late husband, where Luke had grown up and where Sophie had spent a good deal of her childhood as well. Mrs. Morales embraced her warmly.

“I love you so much, Abbie,” she whispered, and Abbie instinctively clung to her. “I know I’m not your mother, and you had wanted her to be at your side at this time.”

“Yeah,” Abbie whispered, fighting back the tears. “But she’s not and she can’t be.”

“I know, I know,” Mrs. Morales mumbled and patted her back. “But I am here, in any way I can. Maybe not always the ways you’d wish, but I’ll try to listen more. Yes?”

“OK,” was all Abbie could manage.

Mrs. Morales released her from the embrace and held on to her shoulders, lightly cupping her cheek and seeing that she was moved.

“Come and visit me later this week, querida. We’ll look at wedding dresses. Just you and I, hm?” 

“Yes, OK,” Abbie nodded.

Chapter Text

Slowly lifting his forehead from the wheel after the call had ended, Crane saw Miss Corinth come running out from the entrance to the house where he lived with Katrina. She looked stressed and waved frantically when she saw a car roll in on the parking lot. A young, blond man left the car, and he had a belt with a badge similar to the one he had seen on Luke Morales.

A policeman…?

But the policeman didn’t seem to be there on official business, because Miss Corinth cupped his head and greeted him with a warm kiss. She then proceeded to tell him something in a quite hysterical manner, and the young man seemed to be trying to calm her down. Crane surmised that he must be the boyfriend who they had discussed earlier. The policeman took out his mobile phone and made a call. Crane decided to let them know he was there, and hopefully explain what had happened.

“Ichabod!” Zoe yelled when she saw him. “Oh, my God, Ichabod!”

“Miss Corinth, I’m sorry if –”

“Is this him?” the blond policeman interrupted.

“Yeah! But it wasn’t –”

“Ichabod Crane, at your service!” Crane was quick to introduce himself. “And you must be Detective Inspector…?”

“Jones!” the policeman answered and showed his badge, looking impressed that Crane knew his title. “How did you know…? Look, I’m not here in any official capacity, Mr Crane.”

“He’s a professor, Devon!”

“OK, professor. Zoe is my girlfriend and I came because she asked me to. It seems like her friends are a bit hysterical, and one of them has… a bit of history with calling the police about a lot of unnecessary things,” Devon explained. “I’ve called a colleague of mine, he’s on his way as well. But unofficially, between us here… what happened?”

“It’s…” Ichabod swallowed. He did in no way wish to repeat the sordid details of the afternoon. “My fiancée Katrina and I have a… great disagreement at the moment and her friend Standra –”

“Yeah, Standra Metzcove!” Devon said and looked exasperated.

“Mm, indeed – Standra Metzcove – she… interfered in a manner that was quite unacceptable. I admit I got quite angry and lost my temper, which rarely happens… In an overly dramatic gesture, I broke a teapot. Or rather: I smashed it on the floor. It was a family heirloom, and Katrina was upset. Apparently, some of it hit Mrs. Metzcove in the eye, which is most unfortunate.” Crane explained.

“No, it didn’t!” Zoe chimed in.

“I take full responsibility,” Crane insisted.

“She got nothing in the eye!” Zoe protested. “There is a small mark on her temple, but it’s not as if something hit her in the eye!”

“A lucky coincidence, then,” Crane said gravely. “I am relieved for her sake.”

“Oh, nonsense!” Zoe said. “Standra is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, as usual.”

Crane said nothing, but his hands twitched nervously.

Another car came into the parking lot, and out of it stepped none other than Luke Morales. Surprise were written on both Ichabod’s and Luke’s faces.

“Oh, hi Luke!” said Devon. “This is –”

“Professor Crane…” Luke said slowly, before Zoe and Devon had time to say anything else.

“Detective Inspector Morales,” Crane said with outmost respect and formality, as the man walked over to him.

“So we meet again and it’s once more under dramatic circumstances,” Luke remarked. “It seems that drama follows you wherever you go, Professor Crane.”

“I regret that we have met under such circumstances, and twice in one day, no less,” Crane said carefully, while feelings jumbled inside of him.

“And you sang with my fiancée,” Luke added, eyes narrowing.

“And I sang with your fiancée,” Crane admitted, because that part was definitely no secret.

“Hey – that was you!?” Devon laughed.

“It was Luke’s fiancée you sang with?!” Zoe shrieked at the same time.

“Indeed,” Crane mumbled and gave no further explanation.

“That was an amazing duet!” Zoe gushed.

“Yeah, you guys sang great together!” Devon agreed. “I’ve heard Abbie sing before, and sometimes in duets, but that was really something!”

“Thank you!” Crane said with a slight bow to his head. He felt himself blushing and couldn’t help smiling at the praise and the memory. “It was… special circumstances. She was at her bachelorette party, and I was at my bachelor party.”

“And Captain Irving was a guest at your party, right?” Luke suddenly remembered.

“He was, yes. It so happens that –”

“You’re a friend of the Captain’s?” Devon interrupted.

“I am, yes,” Crane confirmed and felt that his luck was about to change. “Mrs. Irving attended Agent Mills’ bachelorette party, I believe that the two parties met and united through them.

“Oh, yeah?” Luke nodded thoughtfully.

“That’s the weekend we were at Chautauqua Lake,” Zoe said.

“What! Hey!” Luke said startled.

“Sure,” Devon just said with a slight frown and shake of the head.

“Sor –” Zoe said and put her hand over her mouth.

“So – Professor Crane,” Devon talked over her and demanded Crane’s attention. “We’ll go up and see if things have settled down. Do you want to come along?”

“I… No, I think at the moment that it’s better if I –”

“Sure, we understand!” Luke said and suddenly stood beside him, hand on his shoulder. Crane looked at him, surprised. He was a good deal taller than Abbie’s fiancé, he once again noticed, but the man had a good grip. “You’re not American, are you?” Luke added.

“Uh, no. Not yet. Katrina has double citizenships, British and American.”

“And you’re going to get married, just like me and Abbie.”

“That… we…”

“I know how it is, Professor,” Luke said, suddenly all friendly. “I was born here, but both my parents came from Mexico. It’s always better to watch out.”

“I… guess it is.”

“And getting married sure isn’t easy!” Luke said and made a laugh that sounded a bit false to Crane. “All that planning! Women getting hysterical and envious like angry cats –”

“Pardon?” Crane said.

“Hey!” Zoe protested.

“Hey, I’m just saying – I know how it is!” Luke said, holding up his hands in a gesture of defence. “My own wedding plans aren’t exactly running smoothly at the moment.”

Crane could hardly believe the situation he was in, that he was actually standing on a parking lot and having this discussion Luke Morales, the man whose fiancée he had some sort of illicit affair with. He made an uneasy smile and a shrug, and they all laughed a bit, releasing the tension.

“We’ll go up there, Crane – mind if I call you Crane?”

“Uh –”

“Good. What you tell Captain Irving – if you tell him – is up to you. But –”

“I see no reason to tell the Captain –”

“Yeah, no, I agree!” Luke said and Devon agreed with eager nods. Zoe was nervously biting the nail of her thumb.

Crane frowned, but then smiled and bid them farewell. He made sure Zoe knew how to reach him, if needed, then he went back to his car and called Abraham.

*

Abbie was driving over to hers and Luke’s flat, since she decided she needed to pick up some more things and Luke had been called away. A perfect opportunity to be there alone, she decided. Jenny rang and she took it.

“Hey, aren’t you busy?” she answered with a sarcastic note in her voice.

“I was, sis – we all were, very busy,” Jenny added gravely. “And we’re getting back to it,” she added, and Abbie could swear she heard something going on in the background that was indeed… action.

Holy shit.

“But then Ichabod Crane called Bram,” Jenny continued, while Sophie moaned in the background. Abbie had heard her moaning in a similar way when they wrestled during training, and she suddenly felt hot and bothered. Strictly speaking, it was more than she wanted to know. Not strictly speaking, she felt quite curious.

“Damn, Jenny!” Abbie muttered.

“Well, sorry! I just want you to know that something happened over at his and the-fiancée-who-looks-like-a-muppet’s place, okay? Something that made Devon’s girlfriend call him, she’s a friend of theirs, and then Devon called Luke. That’s why Luke left the restaurant.”

Abbie frowned with concentration, driving and listening to every detail Jenny said.

“What had happened?”

“Some argument and hysterics, and Standra tried to blow it out of proportions, of course. It wasn’t official police business, they just came because Zoe asked Devon, and Devon can’t even take off his pants without Luke’s help,” Jenny said in a bored voice. “Only, I thought you ought to know, since… well, your case and Luke… and you and the professor –”

“Yeah, OK,” Abbie said hastily. “Thank you for telling me. Now go back to your orgy!”

“You’re such an innocent, Abbie, so far,” Jenny giggled. “Pure little cinnamon roll!”

“Bye!” Abbie said sternly and hung up. She immediately called Luke, if nothing else it was better to know if he was at their flat or not. Luke didn’t answer. She called three times and came to voicemail. She then switched to his job number and he answered on the sixth signal, sounding out of breath.

“Yeah!?” he panted.

“Hey there, this is Abbie Mills. Remember me?” she asked, still in a sarcastic mood.

“Sure, sure! I was just… I…”

“I called you on your private phone, but there was no reply, so…” she grew silent, because there were interesting noises in his background as well. “Are you at home?” She could hear a door closing and Luke’s voice in a smaller space. “Nah, I’m at Devon’s.”

“What are you doing, watching a dirty movie!?” she joked.

“Don’t be silly – hey, have you changed your mind? Are you coming home tonight?”

“No,” she sort of lied. “But Jenny called me.”

The line was dead silent.

“Hello?” she said.

“Hello?” said Luke.

“Yeah, can you hear me?”

“Hello?” Luke said again.

“I’m here!” Abbie said louder. 

“Oh! OK,” he said.

“Yeah, word gets around.”

“Abbie… whatever she said –”

“What happened at Crane’s place?” she asked.

“Oh, that! Well, it was nothing, really!”

“No?”

“Nah,” Luke said and gave her a short explanation about hysterical bridezillas and their envious friends, nutty professors, weird Brits and their passion for teapots.

“OK, can you tone down the hyperbole?” she said.

“I will if they will,” he said.

“So it wasn’t really something serious?” Abbie asked. “Nothing that seemed out of the way?”

“Just Standra Metzcove,” Luke said. “But the whole town knows that she’s suing anyone she can and wastes police time.

“Yeah,” Abbie mused. “Well, I just wanted to check.”

“Sure. Any time, Agent Mills,” he replied and she could hear the flirty tone of his voice.

“Talk to you later, OK?”

“Love you!” he managed to say before she had time to hang up.

Abbie rolled her shoulders, trying to relieve the tension and lingering unease. Something was odd. Her detective senses where tingling, but as soon as she felt that something was within grasp, her mind went completely dirty, remembering the handsome Brit who barged into her life this day, over and over and over and… she wouldn’t mind if he did, over and over and –

Get a grip, Mills. Shouldn’t you at least try to think about Luke, that his mom seems to be reasonable and even loving, that he wants you after all?

She had arrived, and went into her home. As soon as she stepped in, the tiny hope whispering inside her turned dead silent. The flat was a mess. Dishes, clothes, garbage, leftovers, laundry, papers, fishing gear, beds not only unmade but looking like a freaking inferno! She sat down and put her face in her hands. It was nothing new. It was all up to her to keep things running smoothly. If she complained, the flat would be spotless when she came home, care of Lidia Morales. Sure, she could get him to do stuff when needed. But that was the thing: get him to do stuff.

Within some seconds, she started to sort out the mess on the coffee table. Suddenly she realised what she was doing and got furious. She simply dropped the stuff she had collected back on the table with an angry growl. Then she stormed into the bedroom to get the things she needed. The room needed airing so badly, but she decided to ignore it.

“You fucking old mama’s boy,” she muttered to herself. Sure, she could be messy as well. She had times when too much work or too much grief had made it hard for her to make things run smoothly at home. But she knew this wasn’t the case with Luke. He did it because he would get away with it.

There was a new, bigger TV in the bedroom. Abbie cursed and muttered, then seeing that he had used her camera recorder and not packed it back into its case. Luke knew very well how she hated that, because she wanted the camera to be taken care of. She’d inherited it from Corbin and while it was almost considered an old-fashioned item, it was small and handy, and it represented so many good memories that Corbin had filmed and she had saved. She packed it up and decided to bring it with her. She idly wondered if Luke had filmed or watched something.

She also took some more clothes and shoes, some stuff from the bathroom and her favourite, red leather jacket that she hadn’t used since before Quantico. Packing it into a suitcase and zipping it, she realised that she didn’t take steps to move back at all. So what the hell was she doing?

Chapter Text

Abbie bit her lower lip, staring at her small overnight bag. It was on Jenny’s futon in her living room where Abbie currently was sleeping at night. Preparation was half the work, right? Only…

What the hell are you doing now, Mills?

Spontaneity was all fun and games, potentially staying the night and waking up with hair in disarray, no toothbrush and no clean underwear was all awkward and uncomfortable. But was that the right way to, like, have a one night stand?

“Or second night stand? Third time tryst?”

Abbie was simply clueless to the regular protocol. But wasn’t Crane as well? What he’d said and showed pointed towards it. Also, she had a car. She could leave the bag there, until she knew. Wasn’t it a bit forward of her, expecting to stay the night? She had so many thoughts. It wasn’t even the strangest situation she had been in this day.

This day…

She had to sit down for a bit on the same sofa. If she stayed home, she could brood over today’s many strange situations over and over again. If she went to Crane, there wouldn’t be much thinking at all. Had today’s events left him unfazed? The arrest, how they had fucked on nearly every surface in his office, the shock in the wedding cake shop, the disturbance that had happened later in his home?

Every surface in his office.

If she stayed where she was, she could bring out her sex toys and also use some of the toys Jenny had showed her the other night, when she wasn’t with Abraham for once, and persuaded Abbie to share three bottles of wine with her. Yes, Jenny had quite a hoard of useful stuff, if she was feeling frustrated. Not that she needed it tonight, probably. Abbie suddenly had a hard time sitting still, remembering what Jenny and Abraham were doing with an apparently very willing Sophie.

Wine. Sex toys.

Yes, Abbie could have a lot of fun on her own. Restlessly, she stood up and decided to change her outfit again. She took out a wrap mini dress from last summer. It had a floral pattern and the wrap was kind of loose and sexy, showing off a great deal of cleavage, unless she took care. And legs, of course. No bra, she decided, but packed one in her bag. Zipping the bag, she wondered if she ought to announce her arrival. With all that had happened him today, who knew if the offer was still standing? Hastily, she went rummaging her pockets and found her card where he had written his number and later slipped it into the pocket of her pants. She had given him her work number, and therefor decided to call him from that. This time.

‘I will remember both your number and your instruction, Agent Mills,’ he had said, so cockily.

“Well, my memory ain’t that bad either, Professor Crane,” Abbie mumbled to herself with a wry smile, clearly remembering that she’d done a good job making him forget himself in that office.

Her hands were shaking a little as she dialled his number, but she bit her lip again and tampered down her nervousness as she waited for him to pick up her call.

*

‘I meant what I said, about tonight.’

Crane thought about what he had told her, and how her eyes shone when he said it. He had also meant the emotions he poured into the daring, quick kiss they shared in the cake shop, before they parted.

She has to come. She has to.

He was figuratively the princess in the tower, waiting for the prince.

Suddenly, his phone buzzed, making him jump. He already recognised the number, and his palms were sweaty as he fumbled to answer. It was hard to answer with a normal voice when his heart was beating so fast.

“Ichabod Crane.”

“Hey…” was her only reply. Nervous? Careful? Both?

“Good evening… Agent Mills,” he tried, sounding more serious than he intended. He heard her chuckle and felt some relief.

“And a good evening to you, Professor Crane,” she said. “How… are you?”

“Me, I’m… having a whisky and I’ve lit a fire, since it’s a rainy evening. And what about you… Abbie?”

“A fire, hm? Sounds great. I’m OK. Just…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I’m… restless.”

“Oh, restless?”

“Yeah…”

“Well… that can be a bit… unsettling. To be restless.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“To be honest, I feel quite restless myself.”

“Do you, Crane?”

“Yes… definitely restless.”

“What, with the fire and the whisky and all?”

“What can I say? They are just trying to substitute what I would… prefer.”

“And what’s that?”

“To be restless… with you.”

“Yeah… I think that would be just the thing.”

“You do?”

“Mm, if the offer still stands?”

“Oh, it stands, Agent Mills.”

“You’re so nasty sometimes, Professor!”

“If you hurry, there’ll be more.”

“I’m already out the door.”

Hanging up, Crane exhaled quickly, then laughed and spun around, almost dancing on the spot. He then hastened around, trying to see if anything was missing, if anything could be prepared, and he had to actively calm himself down. He wasn’t inviting her for a meal or anything. It wasn’t about that – sadly, he would have liked that, to take it slow and make it a long evening of seduction this time, only… Well, he had drinks. Cake samples. Some snacks, if they needed it. He hoped they would need it.

Crane shook his head. He had gotten some take out on his way to the cabin, hungry and confused. Then he had done what he could to settle down, waiting for Abbie to turn up, call him, anything… He remembered her phone number, but he would not use it. No. At least not yet.

He also checked on his purchase from the gas station: the black packet of condoms with golden letters held ten, had a name referring to wooden equine structures – too large and too hard for comfort; a fake, intruding horse structure was not a good name to remember during a sexual adventure. But the text on the box spoke of nothing but comfort. He recognised the brand from his bachelor party, when Abraham had stuffed his pockets with ‘condoms for a big boy’. The lady behind the counter of the gas station had been a middle-aged woman of colour, and she had noticed his embarrassment. Eyeing him up and down, then lifting her eyebrows when landing on his groin made him blush even harder and feel like he was fourteen again.

“You’ll better get the one with lube,” she had said with a warm smile, and he quickly heeded her advice.

He kept himself busy to avoid brooding over the other events that had taken place that day. His phone was full of missed calls and messages from Katrina, he had only shortly replied to one, and then they had stopped about an hour ago. That generally meant that she had gone home to her father to be pampered by the housekeeper.

Crane shook it off himself best he could and checked on his porch. He’d spent his free time the last week getting it in order, placing some green plants in large pots on the planed timber floor, wicker chairs and put up a porch swing in chains at the end, all by himself. Not too much, he wanted the rustic feel preserved and the impression of a rugged, timbered cabin as it was. But the ivy climbing along the railing, the sempervivum succulents and the linen cushions made him feel at home.

Looking out over the lake, he saw the clouds gathering. It had already rained a little once, and it had chilled down the air a bit. But it was still a fine summer’s eve with sunlight occasionally hitting the lake’s surface. It wouldn’t last, though, more rain was coming.

He slipped back in, checked the small fire, knowing the rain could bring some damp that he wanted to prevent. He went to the old radio in the corner and fiddle on its settings. Still stuck on the golden oldies channel. Crane didn’t mind. Slowly inhaling and closing his eyes, he could easily conjure up the memory of Abbie dancing and stripping close to the spot where he stood. He went to his favourite chair and sat down, feeling the memory even stronger. He sipped his whisky from his almost forlorn glass, wondering if he should lit some candles but decided against it. He was trying too hard to invite her to seduction, but he didn’t had to flaunt it so obviously. Besides, she was the one who had practically seduced him in this very chair. His erection was straining against his trousers and he was sorely tempted to satisfy himself there and then, but decided against it. Soon enough… soon.

*

The town was behind Abbie, the cabin was ahead. Houses gone, lush greenery was outside her car window, swooshing by like the thoughts rolling around in her head.

She was deliberately going to see Ichabod Crane. Not on impulse, but deliberately. If the fact that their upcoming weddings or common sense couldn’t persuade her against it, shouldn’t professionalism stop her? The fact that he was a witness in an important investigation?

Abbie moved restlessly in her seat, gripping the wheel and sweating slightly in her red leather jacket. The weather was sticky, like the dress material on her back, and clouds were forming. It was going rain before this long day was over. Her foot was less heavy on the accelerator and the greenery became less of a blur. Her feet were hot as well in the black, shiny go-go boots that she had borrowed from Jenny. So not her usual style, but she liked it with the short, floral dress. What was she trying to prove? She wasn’t Jenny or anyone else but herself, didn’t want to be. She just… wanted to go to Crane. Be with him. Send a clear signal. Was she ready to send that signal? If nothing else, it was time to signal to the left, down on the lane leading to the cabin.

The car slowly moved over the bumpy old road, forcing her to focus despite knowing the road to the cabin so well. She had arrived, and in daylight she could properly see that Crane had fixed up the place a little. Not in an exaggerated way, but the porch alone was spruced up and looking inviting. And Crane was on it, getting up from a chair and slowly moving down the stairs… looking mightily inviting himself.

Abbie stopped the car, but didn’t get out of it. He looked relaxed and drop dead gorgeous in casual slacks and a loose shirt that was almost half open. Wind and sun rays played with his wavy, brown hair and his eyes were already locked on hers, as she still sat in her car and gripped her wheel. Slowly, she opened the door and went out. As taken as she was by the look of him, she was also taken by a great sense of uncertainty. He could see it on her and looked worried himself. He stood rooted on the spot as she hesitantly walked towards him, eyes still locked with his. Crane put his twitching hands behind his back as she moved to stand in front of him. The sight of her in the evening light, with dark clouds making all colours deeper, was like seeing a vision. An alluring dress was under a red form-fitting leather jacket and the boots on her long legs were so sexy that he would have licked them if she asked him to. But her eyes were enormous and vulnerable.

“Hey,” she said somewhat hoarsely.

“Hello, Abbie,” he greeted her carefully.

Abbie quickly lowered her eyes, willing her heart to not beat so fast. Mere moments felt like forever, as neither spoke.

“Will you have a seat on the porch?” he asked her softly. “I have… fixed some things.”

“I saw,” she nodded and flashed a small smile. “It looks really nice!”

“Thank you!” he lit up. “Didn’t want to overdo it and… well…”

“Yeah, it works with the rustic style,” she filled in.

“Uh, good,” he said and motioned for her to go before him.

“I really like the porch swing!” Abbie couldn’t hide her delight.

“You do? I’m glad! I put it up just the other day,” he smiled.

“You did?” She sounded surprised as she looked up at him.

“I’m quite a handy man, you know!” he chuckled.

“Yeah,” she said and looked away with a blush.

“Please… try it,” he said, feeling embarrassed himself.

Abbie walked over to it tentatively, noticing that he had been sitting in a wicker chair next to a small table, where his whisky glass stood. She sat down slowly, adjusting herself to the small movement of the swing. Looking back up on him standing there, she suddenly felt smaller than usual.

“It’s really nice! Comfortable cushions,” she conversed. “Corbin always talked about getting a swing, but something always got in the way.”

“Mmm,” he nodded. “What can I get you something to drink?” he asked.

Nothing. Wine. I’m not staying. Water. Just… nothing. I can’t stay long.

“Wi – water!” she said quickly.

“Mineral or plain?” he asked formally.

“Just… plain,” she mumbled, swinging slowly and looking at her feet.

He went inside and she released her breath for a moment. She could hear music coming from the old radio, another golden oldie.

I should run back to the car and drive back as quickly as I can.

She didn’t, but she let the swing move slightly as the first raindrops hit the roof of the porch. It wasn’t long before there was thunder in the distance, somewhere on the other side of the lake. Abbie suddenly shivered and the chains of the swing rattled a little. The pitter-patter of the rain was part cosy, and part feeling like it hit her skin, making her jumpy. It was hot and chilly at once, goosebumps fought against her feeling too hot. Thunder and rain from within her.

Crane returned, glass in hand, and Abbie nearly jumped. Her large doe eyes blinked, then looked at him, round and defenceless. He hesitated, walked over to her slowly, and held the glass in front of him. She stretched out her hand and took it, her fingers lightly grazing his. He held his breath and took a step backwards, giving her space.

“Thank you,” she said and it was little more than a whisper. She gulped down some water.

Crane gingerly sat down in the wicker chair and took his whisky glass, just as Abbie put her glass down on the same, small side table.

“So it’s raining again,” Crane remarked, feeling stupidly British.

“Again?” she asked.

“We had some earlier as well.”

“Oh. It didn’t rain in town.”

“Oh.”

He took another fortifying sip of his drink.

“But I saw on the way over here that it would definitely rain later,” she added.

He nodded, feeling somewhat numb.

Abbie suddenly inhaled sharply, remembering something.

“Crane, are you alright?” she asked.

He looked at her dumbly.

“I-I heard what happened. At your flat,” she said quickly.

“Ah,” he said and emptied his glass.

“I’m sorry,” she said and looked at her hands. “I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No, I imagine you’d rather not know,” a bitter tone in his voice. “But I surmise that your D.I. Morales informed you,” he added and placed his empty glass next to hers.

Abbie’s eyes narrowed.

“No,” she said and there was a sharp tone in her voice that made him look directly at her. “Jenny was eager to inform me, after you had called your friend Abraham.”

“She… did?” Crane said blushingly, remembering how Abraham during their call had given him a detailed explanation of what he was doing with Miss Jenny and Agent Foster, and how he was interrupting. “She took time for that, despite being… occupied?”

Abbie snorted.

“Oh, she was pausing, at least!” Abbie said sarcastically. “From being occupied with your cousin and my colleague!”

“So she deemed that important enough to tell you right away,” he mumbled.

“Believe me, I’ve been informed about various things today!” Abbie almost spat.

“How so?” he asked worriedly.

“How? About you being engaged to your cousins, your family’s obsession with a lost earldom…”

“All truths, I hear,” he said gravely. “But I was never engaged to Abraham.”

Abbie made a sound of derision.

“Not yet! Perhaps that would be the perfect solution!” she bickered.

“I fear I have never been the adventurous kind,” Crane muttered and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. “Until I met you.”

Abbie was silent.

“I talked to Luke after that, to be fair,” she said. “He told me some things he’d heard from you and his colleague.”

“I talked to them,” Crane confirmed, nodding.

Abbie was feeling guilty.

“Look, you don’t have to –”

“I can tell you that if you were repulsed by Standra’s and Katrina’s behaviour in the cake shop, I can assure you their behaviour took a whole new level in… our home,” Crane said in clipped tones.

Abbie stared at him. He looked repulsed by the memory, and wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“I haven’t thanked you…” she began.

“What for?” he frowned and finally looked at her.

“For telling them off in the cake shop,” she muttered.

Crane inhaled.

“Abbie… I… never expected this from Katrina, I swear. I thought I knew her!”

“OK…”

“No, it’s not OK! Not at all!” he stood up suddenly. He was unsettled and started to pace on the porch. “I am shocked by her behaviour and how she is influenced by Standra Metzcove.”

Abbie could only watch him, trying to detach herself while questions still formed.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Standra has always been a piece of work. That’s not your fault, Crane.”

“Nor is it yours, Abbie,” Crane replied. “From what I understand, she is a downright menace to the police.”

“To the whole community,” Abbie added wryly. “I’m sorry you’ve had to suffer from it.”

“Suffer! Ha, yes,” Crane spat.

Abbie frowned at the outburst, but Crane waved his hands.

“You do not want to know,” he said.

Abbie suspected that she did want to know, but just nodded.

“In any case… you’re not like them, Crane. I can tell the difference.”

Crane nodded as well, relieved.

“Thank you, Abbie. I was raised to be a gentleman and I endeavour to be one.”

“Yeah, you are… but it’s more than that,” she mused. She scrutinised him as he stood there on the porch, hands twitching and looking forlorn. “I’ll say that you’re… a good person. Through and through. And you’ve probably raised yourself to be that.”

He visibly exhaled and looked moved.

“Thank you,” he mumbled. He slowly took his seat in the chair again, weaving his long fingers together. “And honestly, I think the same of you.” Blushing again, he looked to the side. “It… quite upset me how you were put on the spot. By Mrs. Morales as well.”

“I know,” she just said. His emotion was palpable, as it had been then. “Thank you for your support.”

Breathing in and out, slowly by force, Crane lifted his head and looked at her.

“We have both made promises,” he said at length.

Abbie closed her eyes, nodding slowly.

“Yes,” she whispered.

For some moment, nothing was said. Then Abbie spoke again.

“I keep my promises.”

“I expect nothing less of you, Agent Mills,” Crane said solemnly. “I live by that credo myself.”

All that was heard was the rain, the thunder and some sad tunes from the radio through an open window, as they sat silent for some minutes in a mutual understanding that gave them no joy.

“We’re very different,” Abbie sighed heavily.

Crane looked up, surprised.

“I guess that’s true,” he acknowledging their obvious differences. “But I take pleasure in knowing that you have a degree in history, Agent Mills… summa cum laude,” he said, once more with a mischievous glimpse in his eyes. Abbie felt herself blush and grin. “Furthermore, your analytic mind is quite fascinating to see at work,” he added, and she glanced at him, seeing that his eyes looked bluer, deeper and darker. They were shining as they looked at her, reflecting the storm surrounding them. Abbie felt their warmth radiating through her. There was, despite their differences, an easy compatibility between them, a feeling of immediate understanding. It was a great relief, but it also scared Abbie a great deal.

“I think I’d better go,” Abbie said solemnly.

“That… would be wise, I fear,” he voiced his contradicting feelings.

Abbie had to smile, despite her heavy heart.

“Wait here, I will escort you to your car,” he said and got up.

“What…?” she asked when he disappeared behind the front door. Coming back, he held a large umbrella in his hand. Abbie had to chuckle.

Crane puffed his chest and lifted his chin defiantly.

“Once a gentleman, Agent Mills!” he said and opened the black, nondescript and very British umbrella. He then went down one step and held out his hand to her. “These steps can be quite slippery when it rains. Allow me,” he said formally.

She saw the formality that desperately tried to hide his warmth and disappointment. He was indeed a gentleman, and a good man. Damned attractive, dorky, sexy and terribly, terribly sweet. Trying to be formal herself, she placed her hand in his, feeling like a lady. The moment she did, he closed his eyes and looked like he was in actual pain.

It was instinct that took over when she placed her free hand on his cheek, cupping it and caressing his beard, and surrender when his lips brushed the skin below her thumb. Standing under the umbrella, half under the roof and half outside, they spent seconds in limbo, before their lips finally met. The shock of the rain on their bodies was merely an added sensation, as Crane dropped the umbrella and flung his arms around her, pressing her close.

“Wait!” he gasped and broke free. “I must retrieve it!”

“Crane!” she yelled as another flash nearly drowned her cry.

“It can smash into your car!” he yelled back and ran down to get the umbrella that the wind was already playing with.

“You damn gentleman!” she shouted as the increasing rain started to wet through her dress. Seeing him run and fetch the umbrella as the weather was ready to make him a male, modern Mary Poppins, she just had to laugh and run after him. He saw her as he closed the umbrella, his shirt was almost soaked and exposed him, and he gaped at the sight of her running towards him.

“Dorky man!” she shouted as she threw her arms around his neck and nearly climbed him, kissing him desperately. This time, Crane simply let go of the umbrella and let it land on the ground in order to hoist her up and carry her back to the cabin, lifting her legs to surround his waist.

Chapter Text

He carried her like she was light as a feather, but a feather of a very precious bird, with one hand lodged firmly on her ass and the other around her waist. Abbie’s hands gripped his wide shoulders tightly, fisting the material of his wet shirt as she kissed him fiercely. The grass was already getting slippery, but he walked firmly and got them up the stairs safely as well, as she kissed the rain off his face. They didn’t make it any further than that, as he pinned her against the wall next to the wicker chair, kissing her deeply and hungrily. She returned the ardour, feeling his hand glide down her thigh and caress her damp skin under her short dress, while she was tasting the whisky on his tongue. His roving hand then progressed down to the high boots she had on.

“Did you come here to give me a heart attack from your sexiness?” he growled and nibbled on her bottom lip.

Abbie writhed and angled her knees higher, making sure that she was grinding against his tell-tale hardness, and he grabbed on to her even harder as she did so.

“Not a heart attack, please!” she mumbled and peppered his ear and neck with kisses. “I need you very much alive and well!”

“Mmmm, I think you know my state all too well, Agent Provocateur!”

“To be fair, that dick should probably be illegal!” she moaned and made another lewd, grinding motion.

“Minx!” he groaned. “Abbie… please…!”

“Put me down,” she whispered. “Sit in the chair again,” she ordered.

He obeyed, not letting go of her. When he sat down, she still stood up between his spread legs, challengingly and smiling down on him seductively. His hands made a trail up from the border of the boots, just below her knees, then up and under the skirt of her dress. His motion was slow, alternating between being light and somewhat firmer. Light fingertips almost tickled her. Firm, grabbing hands enticed her. Inflamed her skin.

“Slow?” he asked her in husky voice.

“Slow,” Abbie agreed, feeling her knees almost buckle at the prospect. She let her red leather jacket slide off her, and it fell down on the porch heavily, as an armour falling off a warrior after battle.

“I really like that jacket!” Crane said and looked at it crumpled on the floor boards, fondling her thigh.

“M-hm, so do I,” Abbie said and placed her booted foot on his chair. “My favourite, in fact, wore it all the time when I was a police lieutenant.”

“Oh, a police leftenant!” Crane said joyfully and began to kiss her inner thigh that had been so willingly exposed to him.

“That’s not how it’s pronounced!” Abbie laughed and combed back his hair with her fingers. His beard tickled, but his lips did amazing things that sent jolts up along her leg and straight into her sex.

“Once upon a time, Leftenant –” he chuckled and alternated kisses with nibbles.

“Hnngg, yes! Like that!”

“So we’re agreed, it’s pronounced Leftenant,” he mumbled and did as she asked.

“You dork!” she sighed blissfully as his hands cupped the round globes of her butt, letting his enthusiastic squeeze assure her of his great appreciation. She pulled his hair ever so lightly, making him lift his head and meet her lips with his for a warm, soft kiss. Moaning into her, he pulled her down in his lap.

“Are you sure, Abbie…” he whispered. “Is this what you want?”

“Yes,” she said and kissed him firmly. “If you want this?” she asked in turn.

“Oh, I do!” he answered between ardent kisses. “I want you, Abbie!”

“And I want only you!” she nearly sobbed back.

He groaned into the kiss, cradling her close and shivering from her touch.

“Also…” he mumbled while kissing her neck. “I got… condoms…”

He felt her chuckle between her breathless moans.

“Earlier today… I was not prepared,” he began to excuse himself.

“Baby, none of us were,” Abbie whispered tenderly.

“You said… we were both clean?” he reminded her. “How did you know?” he asked, still kissing her softly but fervently.

“You do have an eidetic memory, don’t you?” she gushed, surprised by his question and quite titillated.

“I… do, in fact, I’m sorry if –”

“Shh, baby, I believed you from the start. Just a bit impressed, okay?” she giggled, nibbling his ear. “Don’t get smug!”

“I don’t, it just makes me even more impossibly horny!” he growled, feeling very pleased and moved so she could feel his erection.

“Impossibly, huh!” He felt her vibrating chuckle as she licked his outer ear, making him shudder. “Mmm, you like? Well, anyway… I did go and get myself tested after our first time…”

“Clever girl…”

“Not that I… got the impression that you’re the kind of guy that… you know.”

“Sleep around? I’m not.”

“Despite having the dick, the looks and a British accent that could make panties drop for miles around you,” she giggled.

“Oh, balderdash!” he blurted out and her bubbly laugh made him blush and grin. While she still laughed, he kissed her mouth and teased her tongue, turning her mirth to desire.

“Balderdash? See!” she giggled.

“Who are you to talk,” he growled. “You walk on this earth despite that you’re clearly a goddess, with the voice of an angel! And yet –”

“And yet, I’m totally clean, because I haven’t had sex in months,” slipped out of her.

They were both still for some seconds, almost petrified, and only the sound of rain was heard. Then it was his turn to confess:

“Nor have I. Not… this whole year, in practicality,” he explained but gave no details, his face hidden in her hair and noticing how firmly she fisted his shirt. When she heard his words, her hands slowly relaxed and her soft lips covered him with kissed from his neck and up his temple and eyes. Lips met again and they clung to one another, dizzy from honesty and closeness.

“And…” he ventured as he kissed her cheek and moved his lips close to her ear. “I haven’t been with anyone since you.”

He felt her shiver and grab him closer again.

“Nor have I,” she replied, and a knot inside him loosened up. It was as if they already knew one another enough to know this, but it was still so, so good to hear it.

“I’m… glad to be here,” he heard her say in a low, shy voice. “With you.”

He had to catch his breath and hug her close from the sudden onslaught of emotion.

“As am I, Abbie,” he managed to say in a deeper baritone, burying his face in her neck. “I want you here.”

“Here?” she mumbled as her hand ventured lower along his chest. “And now?”

“Yes, now,” he confirmed, letting his eager hand in under her skirt again.

She quickly got on her feet again, bended over him, and her loose wrap dress did little to hide her assets.

“Ah, dear God,” he groaned. “This is what I had glimpses of when you sat in the swing and primly drank your glass of water!”

“What?” she grinned, tilting her head so he could lick the hollow of her throat.

“You sat there,” his hand waved at the swing. “And drank that,” he waved at the glass on the small table. “And you looked like you wanted to run for your life!”

“What I did want was to ask for wine!” she protested, kissed his nose and progressed to unbutton his shirt.

“Oh, you want wine?”

“Staaaay where you are!” she forcibly stopped him from getting up and going all gentleman on their moment. “Not now. But I’d love some later, between… rounds,” she winked and smirked.

“Oh, yes – yes!” he nodded eagerly. “So, then… you’ll stay a while?” he beamed, not elaborating on how long a while might be.

“Yeah…” she said slowly, feeling shy again whilst exposing his flat and oddly alluring chest. “If I may?”

“You may do whatever you want, Abbie!” he assured her and kissed her with ardour, cupping her sweet face. “Especially that!”

She pulled him up a bit, cleverly pushing the shirt off his shoulders, then bent over and covered his pale skin with slow, hot kisses and light licks on his nipples. It made him lose his breath and slump back in the chair. He wrestled to get the shirt off completely.

“I won’t have you tie me up again, you minx!” he growled. “At least not yet!”

“That’s all good, baby, you just tell me what you want!” she moaned as his roving lips made a trail along the valley between her breasts, still not exposing her. However…

“I want to take this dress off, Abbie,” he mumbled and looked up at her.

She was almost astride one of his legs, but stood up straight in front of him, her dress falling back in place along her curves in some semblance of order. Her tie on the belt had loosened, showing even more of her chest. His hand landed on her waist, carefully touching the floral texture of her dress, then almost lazily moving up and into the deep cleavage. A long sigh escaped her as his warm palms came in contact with her bare skin. They moved further up, almost achingly slow, letting his fingertips tease the underside of her breasts. Taking his time, he cupped and squeezed them, lightly flicking her nipples.

Abbie’s head was bent back and the sound of stifled moans slipped between her lips.

“Kiss me there,” she begged. “Please, please…”

Crane tugged her closer and began to kiss her skin, his lips and beard left soft touches. Abbie grabbed his naked shoulders hard, getting almost desperate from their leisured seduction. The tip of his tongue added moist to his trail and slowly made circles on her right breast, nearer and nearer to her nipple, while his hand imitated his actions on her left breast. Just as she thought that he was finally going to lick her nipple, he moved his mouth to her other breast, starting over, and she mewled with lust and frustration.

She kneaded his shoulders, then let her fingers move up his neck and into his soft locks, while he pushed her dress aside, exposing her fully. He tried to resist the urge to bury his whole face in her soft curves, but lost the battle. Groaning, he rubbed his face between her breasts, gasping and kissing. Her chuckle vibrated through her chest.

“So you wanna motorboat me?”

“Motorboat…?”

She giggled.

“What you just did, with your head between my boobs.”

Hearing her use the word ‘boobs’ made him blush for a moment, but not lose track.

“I want to motorboat every part of you, Treasure. Your boobs, your arse, your clit!” he challenged and pulled her close by grabbing said arse.

“Woah, cowboy!” she guffawed. “Slooooow…” she teased.

“This slow?” he teased back and finally licked one of her nipples, his eyes turned upwards to see her reaction. She made a helpless noise and almost melted against him, pushing her whole nipple into his mouth. He sucked it greedily, while gradually pinching the other harder. She was slumped over him, her arms around his neck and one knee seeking support next to him. His arms were full of Abbie, and everything was right in his world.

For a moment, he threw caution overboard and indulged in squeezing both her breasts at once, pressing them together, quickly alternating between sucking and licking both her nipples.

Abbie was momentarily lost to the world, dimly glimpsing the lake to the left when her eyes weren’t shut in order to handle how much he turned her on, how the responsiveness from her sensitive nipples brought rippling pleasure all the way through her, throbbing specifically in her sex but also making it hard for her to keep standing on her two feet.

Oh God, his mouth, his tongue, oh God…

“Oh God, Crane, yes!” she almost yelled and he hummed back in satisfaction.

Gently, he slowed down his frenzy and she groaned. It was part relief and part more frustration. Cupping his face, she kissed him deeply and gratefully, and his hands took the opportunity to grab her ass again. His right hand moved along her thigh and lifted her leg, noticing how malleable she was. Her foot was placed next to his hip and he caressed the boot shaft encased calf. The boots were shiny and tight on her impossibly long lower leg. He admired the sight for a while, before he looked up at her.

“Those were an unexpected success,” she smiled.

“For me as well, sexy agent undercover,” he purred.

She laughed, throwing her head back, and then she let the top of the dress fall down from her shoulders. She quickly untied the belt and the dress slid down over her hips, exposing a pair of sheer, black lace panties.

Gaping, then swallowing, she heard him mutter ‘better and better’, then he proceeded to lick her knee and the rim of the boot. That, however, turned out to be less enjoyable, since he stuck out his tongue and made a face.

“Ooops!” she chuckled and stretched for her glass that still had some water in it. He took it gratefully and emptied it.

“Ahh, sorry about that!” he apologised.

“Now we know that these boots aren’t edible,” she chuckled.

“No matter, I know what is edible and most delicious,” he hinted and grabbed her hips.

“So do I!” she parried and bent down to open his slacks. “And you look far too uncomfortable in these pants.”

“Well, no matter how alluring those knickers are – or panties, as you would say – I fear that they keep your succulent fanny far too ensconced!”

“Fanny!” she shrieked with laughter.

“Do you wish me to use some other synonym, perhaps?” he jested as he pulled them down to her ankles, allowing her to step out of them and the dress.

“But fanny is basically the bum here in America!” she protested, trying but failing to get his panties off.

“Ah, but surely your delectable bum is released of its prison as well!” he grinned and squeezed it hungrily. He didn’t stop there, but ran his fingers down and in between the apex of her thighs, just lightly touching the outer rim of her sex and noticing the moist of her curls there.

“Feel that, Treasure?” he whispered, and she closed her eyes and moaned. “You’re practically soaked. About time you got out of those knickers.” And then he allowed one of his fingers to probe just a little.

Abbie had to hold on to him again, while his other hand leisurely moved to the front of her mound, letting his thumb circle her clit.

“Ahh, fuck!” she cried out.

“Soon, my beautiful agent,” he mumbled and flicked over the wet, sensitive tip of her bundle of nerves. She mewled and writhed desperately, so he pulled her close without further ado and started to lightly lick her there instead. “Will this soothe you?” he hummed.

“No, you dick! You know it won’t!”

His chuckle added vibration to her clit and she groaned. Grabbing on to her breasts, she started to stimulate them, and felt close to faint when he inserted a finger deep into her pussy.

“Aaaahh!” was all Abbie could utter as he moved his long digit inside of her. She went almost limp as she cradled his head to her bosom, grateful for his supporting arms. Another finger inside of her, his thumb yet again finding her clit… she knew she couldn’t hold back the orgasm much longer.

Making it easier for her, he pulled her down on his lap again, making sure he had ample access to pleasure her. She crawled into his embrace, riding his hand and hardness poking through his boxers.

“Crane, ohh my God…” she nearly wept, helpless against the onslaught of sensations rushing through her body.

“Sweet Treasure,” he mumbled and kissed her, catching her moans, and it actually soothed her, relaxed her, left her unaware of the final wave that came crashing within her, toppling her defences, and making her cramp on his hand until she was boneless, sobbing in his arms.

He held her, cradled her almost limp body and felt her short breaths on his skin, while staring on her glowing, relaxed face leaning on his shoulder.

“So beautiful…” he whispered. “So incredibly beautiful,” he repeated in awe.

Chapter Text

She was tucked close to him, rolling up like a kitten. She even opened her eyes with slow blinks, just like a contented cat.

“Hi,” she mumbled.

“Hello, Abbie,” he greeted her once again.

“That was amazing.”

“It… looked like it was amazing. I’m glad,” he grinned goofily.

“You should be, you…” Shivering, she kissed him.

“Are you cold?” he asked and embraced her closer. The rain and thunder was subsiding, but the air was also cooler.

“No, but cuddle me,” she answered, crawling closer and claiming his lips anew. It wasn’t a kiss of conclusiveness, it was a kiss of promise, and request for further activities. It was cuddling turning into renewed vigour, as her kisses turned hotter, turning him hotter and almost desperate.

“Abbie… Treasure…”

Her hand wasted no time in finding his hardness again, and he hissed from the sweet torture.

“Please!” he begged.

“Yes, yes,” she agreed and was on her feet again, and this time they got off his slacks with joint effort. His boxer briefs and leather strap sandals went the same way. His cock was free, standing proud to greet her most eagerly. “Hnngg,” slipped out of her. “Shit, I want you inside of me so bad!” she gasped.

He clasped the root of his cock, breathing heavily in anticipation, as she climbed in position to ride him, possibly into the sunset that was breaking through the scattering clouds over the lake. She surrounded him, arms and upper body, silken dark skin, sleek hair being slightly frizzy from the rain, scent and heat and breath and breasts and nipples and lips… and she slowly descended, her fingers angling the wet tip of his head to the right place, that place, her warm cave adding its own moist to his.

She paused, staring into his eyes, and he stared back riveted. They kissed, moaning into one another, as she lowered herself on him, taking more of him in, engulfing him tightly. She undulated just so, rocking her hips and rocking his world.

“Ohhh, Lord!” slipped out of him, head falling back to expose his throat. The lips of her sex reached his hand that still gripped his long girth. She had taken a good deal of him inside of her, and she moved up so slowly. “Oooh, fuck!” he swore. He squeezed himself hard, his free hand gripping her naked hip.

“Aaahhh,” she moaned back, sinking down on him just as she was about to let him slip out completely. “Yes, Crane, yes!” she sobbed as she raised again, as if she was riding a wave.

“Yes indeed!” he growled. “I guess I’ll keep those condoms as a memento instead.”

“Will you shut uuuup!” she uttered, half giggling and half moaning, sinking down to his hand, and she felt her quivering around him in that astounding way. His hand and cock got increasingly damp from her pussy, and as she rose, he ventured to remove his hand and placed both on her hips, helping her find a rhythm, as he lightly jerked back.

“Oohh, God, yeah!” she cried, moving more back and forth, taking more of him in and increasing the pace just a bit. She stared at him again, stared as he fought to handle the pleasure with tightly shut eyes, and she squeezed even tighter, rotated enough to make him groan loudly. “Yeah, baby…” she whispered. “Feel it…”

“Minx!” he gasped, thrusting up and filling her to the hilt.

“Fuck!” she cried and arched her back, and the next moment, there was no more mercy. She fell forward, cupping his face and ravaging his mouth, bouncing up and down on his rigid dick. And he welcomed her, poured all his passion into the kiss and let himself thrust into her over and over, faster and faster, in an all-consuming, frenzied pace, making the chair squeak alarmingly, mingling with their groans.

He glared at her bouncing boobs just in front of him, seeing the sweat forming between them, but it did nothing to distract him. Tightness rose within him, threatening to take over.

“Abbie!” he begged, making her slow down and look at him. “Please, I…”

“Say it, baby,” she moaned.

“Please stand up, I want to…” he hesitated, so she kissed him and gingerly stood up. He wasted no time but turned her around and placed her hands on the porch railing.

Abbie made a low laugh, enjoying how he was bending over her and kissing her behind the ear, while his hand tried to motion for her to widen her legs.

“Say it, baby!” she demanded teasingly and refused to spread them.

“Abbie…” he mumbled hotly against her back.

“Saaaay it,” she sing-sang.

“I want to fuck you from behind,” he growled with frustration, and when he next coaxed her to spread her legs, she obliged.

“Mmm, do it,” she purred. “Slow at first… then hard.”

It was a good thing her legs were so long and that the boots had high heels. He still had to spread his legs more than her to get the angle right, but it was a most rewarding effort, as he leisurely began to slide into her and watched her perfect globes wiggle in response.

That glorious arse of hers… If she was a goddess, then the curves of her exquisite bottom was surely one of the miracles of her cult. Spanning them with his large hands, he moved his palms along her hips, then up her back. Reverently, he bent over her, craving to taste her dark, shimmering skin. His lips caressed her spine and up, gently moving her hair to the side to kiss her neck and shoulders. He felt her shiver as she arched her back in response.

“Mmmmm… baby, you treat me so good,” she moaned.

“If I do, I am a happy man, because I want to worship you for the goddess you are,” he mumbled and cupped her small hands with his own large ones that grabbed the railing, completely covering her as he moved in her achingly slow.

“Damn, you’re just so sweet, aren’t you? Mmmmm!” she groaned and clenched around him. “My my, I think someone wants to hold me down and fuck my brains out,” she dared. His hands grabbed hers harder as he tensed, all senses and nerve ends inflamed by her words. His next thrust was quite rough. “Oh!” she cried out.

“Too… hard?” he grunted, barely able to hold back.

“Aaahh! No, no…” she panted. “Fuck me like that, baby, fuck me!” she begged as he moved his big dick into her wet, tight depth, filling her up, touching her walls and every sensitive spot therein.

He groaned and heeded her words. He thrusted mindlessly into her welcoming, trembling heat, then straightened his back, holding on to her hips as he continued to fuck her with all his might, seeing his cock entering her repeatedly and slamming into her so hard that the noise and their cries echoed over the yard. He could feel her coming, clenching, drenching him. His whole system responded, making his spine tingle and his balls contract.

Easy, easy… wait for her.

Yet again, he stole the chance to see and feel her climax from what he did to her, he stared hungrily as her head bent back with a scream when she reached the top. He held her up as her legs shook enough to make her fall into a heap, embracing her and making sure she was safe as she shivered with his arms around her.

He carefully led them both back to the chair, and he sat down with her on his lap. With a sigh, she leaned against him, stretched out and rubbed herself against him like a contented cat, pecking his lips softly. She moved to straddle him like a reverse cowgirl and leaned against his chest, grabbing his big hands and placing them on her breasts.

“More…” she sighed blissfully, definitely not done with him yet. Her tongue stuck out and he met it with his, tongues and lips caressing and playing.

“Are you truly that insatiable?” he mumbled between kisses. “I am the luckiest man alive,” he added while fondling her breasts with renewed interest.

“Mmmmm, me, insatiable? This from a man who refuses to come!” she challenged, wriggling into position and enjoying how he tweaked her hardening nipples. “Or are you going to deny that you were really close just now?” she mumbled as her hand found his dick, still moist from having been inside her, and moved her hand up and down along his hard shaft.

“Ohhh, I was close then, as I was close to taking matters in my own hands while waiting for you to arrive earlier. But I prefer being in your hands, Treasure…” he moaned as she let her thumb caress the head of his cock and spread his own pre-cum over it. “There’s nothing like denied gratification, and one of my greatest gratifications is watching you orgasm…”

“You voyeur, you!” she chuckled and carefully angled his cock near to her entrance.

“You little minx of an exhibitionist, you!” he replied huskily, lightly steadying her by the waist as she lifted her hips to slowly take him inside of her again. “As if this porch wasn’t our stage just now, mmmm yes!”

“Aaahh, right there! Would people stand on the yard and watch, you think?” she joked, gyrating her pelvis.

“Oh, ohhh, I am sure they would. And if… given the opportunity, I am sure some would be eager to help me satisfy you.”

“Only me!” she giggled, while slowly riding him with short movements, still languidly resting against him.

“Well, mmm…” he tried but was distracted by how her pussy took him in so slowly, admitting him little by little into that place where he found such, hot and overwhelming pleasure. “I’d only be interested in seeing you be pleased…” he grinned, moving up a little to surprise her.

“Ohhh! Why… why just me and not you?” she said, not really connecting what they talked about.

“Ahh, but it was my… mmm, impression that…” his hand glided down her abdomen to find her clitoris again, and it was eager to meet his fingertips. “I was in fact surprised that Agent Foster chose to join your sister and my cousin,” he muttered teasingly. “I’m sure she’d be much more eager to join us, because of you…”

Abbie grinned by the turn of focus in their dirty talk.

“Sophie?” she chuckled. “Here, with us?”

“For your pleasure,” he mumbled, his tip of his tongue licking her jaw.

“Only mine, mmm?” she moaned and writhed from the mounting tension inside her. “I swear to God I never realised she wanted that, and neither has the idea ever entered my mind…”

“I feel only slightly sorry for Miss Sophie, since I get to have the great satisfaction of fucking you, while she doesn’t –”

“Until…”

“Oh, really!”

“Well, when I talked to Jenny, I did hear what was going on in the background!” she defended herself laughingly, using the armrests to help her move up and down in a steady pace and suddenly stimulated by the ideas Crane put in her head.

“Aaand…ah!”

“It was… strangely… stimulating…” she gasped, bouncing on his dick.

“Mmmm!” Crane moaned and helped her by cupping her magnificent backside that fitted so well into his grip. “So you will perhaps understand that I sympathise with her, if she would want to cup your breasts like I do, suck and nibble your nipples while I can’t…”

“You kinky dork!” she cried, riding him harder.

“Aahh, not so fast, oh Lord…”

She slowed down, and that didn’t make it easier for him, as her sultry chuckle and sensuous hips took their own, sweet time with him. Bending back, she kissed and bit his lower lip.

“So you would take the lower area and expect her to be satisfied with the upper?” she teased, indulging in the fantasy, pulling forth a memory of the Sophie’s body in the shower after having wrestled her, her groans and sweat as she had struggled to get out of Abbie’s firm grip. The thought was entirely new and exhilarating in this situation. The idea of her colleague kneeling in front of her and Crane, eager to partake and please…

“I would be willing to trade places, if that’s would be your wish!” Crane gasped. “Her head between your thighs, your cries of passion as I touch you the way you want… anything for your satisfaction!” he nearly growled as he felt her starting to clench around him again. “Aaahh, you do like this fantasy!”

“Crane – Crane!” she begged, screwing her eyes shut as the next orgasm came closer. “Please let me ride you faster! I need, I need – oh, fuck!” she yelled as he urged her to go faster again, bouncing on him so fast that the chair creaked loudly and beads of sweat formed on her silken skin. He grabbed her wrists, holding them hard behind her back as she bent forward a little, taking him in, making his balls wet as he jerked back as best he could. And his best was pretty damn good.

“So damn good!” he groaned. “Aaah, Treasure, so good!!”

Her mane of hair swung down along her back as her head was turned up, screaming as she came yet again, and that was all he needed to follow his cowgirl into the sunset, because all went dark as he closed his eyes and saw bursts of stars, while he burst into her heat.

She collapsed against him and he was happy to be her comfort, embracing her tenderly. He felt her heart beating fast, throbbing against his own chest. They were both panting, short of breath after the exertion. At length, letting out a deep breath, she said:

“I never thought that kind of dirty talk could be a turn on!”

“Fantasies can be very stirring,” he mumbled, kissing her cheek.

“Yeah, tell me about it! I mean… I’m already indulging in several of them, just being here!”

“You and me both!” he chuckled.

“And much as I liked it, I don’t think I’d be ready –”

“Ah, no – didn’t mean it like that, Abbie, I –”

“It’s OK, it’s OK… seriously so surprised at myself… and you,” she assured him, feeling as embarrassed as he sounded.

“We should probably get used to the surprises, Treasure,” he said with a tone of seriousness.

“Yeah…” she said slowly, and smiled with great satisfaction. “And there are a lot of fantasies that I do want to indulge in, baby!”

Chapter Text

They came to, moved around a little, and he insisted on carrying her inside. She gratefully put her arms around his neck and pressed her legs together, realising she needed to tidy herself up a bit.

“Uh, do you mind…” she hesitated and hid her blushing face in his shoulder.

“What, Abbie?” he mumbled into her hair.

“Bathroom?” she forced herself to say.

“Of course!” he said and carried her through the bedroom and into the newly remodelled bathroom, where he put her down gingerly.

“Maybe you need...?”

“Me? Oh no!” he assured her, feeling the cold tiles under his naked feet and shivering a little. “If you need assistance with those boots, I’ll be happy to be of service,” he offered with a slightly embarrassed smile.

“I… as much as I’d like it, my feet got sooo sweaty in them,” she replied with a smile and rolled her eyes. It was odd how things suddenly turned embarrassed.

“Please use the shower, if you like!” he offered and gestured to it.

“You OK with that?”

“Of course!” he said and instantly took out some large, luxurious towels for her.

“I… Um, I have a bag in my car,” she dared to say, because she really needed it now. “Some stuff…”

“Ohh, good!” he nodded, making his locks dance around his face, before he stroke it back with his nervous hand. “Let me get it for you!”

“The key is in my jacket. My jacket is…”

“Oh, I know! Yes, yes!” he babbled and patted her shoulders reassuringly, before he jolted out of the bathroom.

Abbie finally relaxed and closed the door before she sank to the toilet, her hands covering her blushing face.

She heard him rummaging around the cabin, and when he came with her bag, she was ready to open the door and receive it. He handed it over very correctly, dressed in boxers and sandals again.

“Perhaps it’s time for a snack?” he offered politely.

“I like the sound of that,” she beamed, then got courageous. Grabbing his upper arms, she pulled him down for a kiss. “And I hope you’re willing to be one of the snacks!”

He blinked in surprise by her attack and nodded eagerly, goofy smile coming forth. Then he grabbed her by the waist and kissed her back soundly.

“You will find me most willing to cooperate, Agent Mills,” he assured her. “Now, take your time,” he ordered before he left her, dazed and wanting more.

It was a bit of relief to be alone for a while and get those boots off. Her calves and legs were practically swimming in them by now, so the first cold drops of water on her legs were a blessing. Hair in shower cap, and then she sighed with contentment as the temperate water washed over her. Using a mild soap, she felt how she had once again exercised some new muscle groups and that her labia and nipples were quite swollen. Well, it had been a very thorough round two. Round three wasn’t far away, it seemed. She blessed the oils she had brought and carefully applied them when she had let his giant, thick towels swallow up every drop on her skin. Hair was back in some sort of order. Make up was gone, and she didn’t even care. Her hands hastily roamed her naked body as she glanced in the large mirror. Abbie had never felt more real, more alive.

Looking into the bag, she located the set of lingerie she had brought: champagne tulle bra that looked just slightly gilded and was almost transparent, and a matching pair of g-string. Both bra and string had double straps with gold threads, giving an extra feature and temptation. She slid the panties up slowly, savouring it and felt the cloth just covering her groomed triangle, even if it did nothing to hide it. The lace on the bra was just about running over her sensitive, dark nipples. The lingerie would probably not be on for very long, but she had a feeling that it would be appreciated all the same.

Tip-toeing on bare feet out of the bathroom, she saw her dress, leather jacket and panties hanging orderly on a valet stand by the wardrobe. Slowly shaking her head and smiling, she went over to check her phones. Work phone, no messages. Private phone, nothing important. No news was good news. She sneaked forward, seeing Crane busy by the fire, where he had placed a large, soft blanket, a champagne cooler with a bottle for chilling, glasses, cake, fruit, whipped cream, mousses, chocolate sauce… a whole, elaborate pick-nick indoors! The lights were low, with flames from the large hearth and a number of flickering candle lights.

“Oh!” she only just exhaled, but it was enough to make Crane jump around to look at her.

“Ah!” he replied, then: “Oh!” himself, eyeing her up and down in awe. He was still in his boxer briefs, and shadows from the candlelight did great things with the surprisingly defined pecs on his upper chest.

“I hope I’m not overdressed,” Abbie said lightly, pleased with his reaction.

“Gold comes natural to you,” he said. “You enhance it beautifully.”

Her dazzling grin beguiled him even more.

“You’ve been busy!” she gushed and gestured to the blanket and food.

“You like it?” he asked with a blush spreading further than his face. “You asked if you were overdressed – ‘not yet’ is another suitable reply to that, by the way – and now it’s my turn to ask if I overestimated the arrangement for a promised snack?”

Is he trying too hard? Yes. Overthinking everything? Yes. Do I like it? Yes.

“This… is amazing,” she replied grinning. “You are amazing!” she concluded and ran into his arms.

He received her with enthusiasm and met her lips. Pressed against him with one hand in his hair, she realised that he had showered as well. She broke free of the kiss, looking at him bewildered while her hands ran over his shoulders and arms.

“How…?” she asked.

“I’ve installed an outdoor shower,” he explained, desperately angling to kiss her again. She acquiesced for some moments, then looked at him again.

“A what?”

“Well, it’s possible to shower outdoors. After a swim in the lake, for instance. And it can be heated up with wood… and can collect rainwater. Quite clever, really!”

She burst out in giggles, shaking her head.

“Are you a prepper, out here in the woods?”

“I’ll have you know,” he laughed and peppered her jaw with kisses, “that growing up with substandard plumbing in old, derelict houses made me quite aware of the need for emergency solutions!”

“You could have just asked to join me,” she moaned by his searching lips and light tickle of his beard, feeling herself get wetter in another, more secluded place.

Her words stopped his kiss attack and he released a deep sigh, looking at her with longing as he contemplated what it would be like to shower with her.

“I was busy, as you can see. Maybe later… another shower?” he said huskily, “If I have my way.” His hands gliding down along her curves confirmed his intentions.

“And what exactly is your way?” she replied and stretched up to peck his lips, making each peck last a little longer before adding some tongue.

“Mmm… Well, my hope is that you’re as hungry as I am,” he mumbled and started to give in to her playful tongue.

“Oh, I am,” she replied. “I’m very hungry for you.”

“Oh, good! I – oh! Oohh…” His intended words were lost as that tongue of hers decided to explore him. Lips and tongue were suddenly trailing down his long neck and collarbone, following the tempting lines of his muscles and teasingly encircling, then licking, his nipples. All the while, he could offer no protest and no resistance. His head went blissfully blank, a relief that he had never truly experienced before he met her, as sensations rushed through his system, desire blasting down to his groin, while emotion shot higher up, just for that place to the left in his chest where her lips just now were busy evoking ecstasy.

Abbie was fully enjoying his reactions; his eyelids had fluttered close, and as he gasped for breath he quickly had to wet his pink lips before they went too dry. Seeing him tremble, his hands unknowingly grabbed her hips, and his jaw went lax as she continued her ministrations. A moan escaped him whenever the tip of her tongue worried one of his nipples. She moved lower, lightly kissing his flat, lightly hairy, stomach. He made a sharp intake of breath and grabbed her shoulders.

“What will you do to me?”

“Anything you’ll let me,” she replied with a warm but also teasing smile.

She saw a multitude of reactions cross his face, could practically see his mind going to work, thinking about possibilities, and she liked it. But he was worried.

“Why?” he whispered, and she knew they weren’t done with reassurances. She found that she didn’t mind; telling him why made it just more enticing.

“I like how you taste and how you react, baby,” she replied slowly, keeping her hands still.

“So I’m not… too much, in your, uh, estimation?” he stuttered.

“Oh honey, you’re always too much, in every way,” she smiled wryly. “And honestly? That’s one of your biggest charms. Always giving it too good, always making me… want to… stretch things a little extra. Always extra!” she giggled, full of joy and without malice. “Just tell me how you like it,” she added.

He cupped her cheeks, well really most of her head, with his large hands and stared at her with wonder in his eyes. The moment called for it, she told herself. She could feel herself glowing in response. His kiss was warm and full of reverence, and Abbie gave as much as she got, but determinedly moved her lips south, letting her generous lips delineate every tempting muscle on his upper chest, feeling him tremble and make no protest. Slowly sinking down on her knees made it easier to kiss his flat stomach and hike her fingers on the waistband of his boxers. She felt his palm on her head and his fingers slowly feeling her locks; feeling but not grabbing. His dick was only semi-hard, for once, still making a prominent bulge. Abbie was pleased. She knew she was the reason for his impressive erections, but this time, she wanted to cause it with her with her tongue.

Abbie kissed the length of his cock slowly and softly with barely licked lips. Her acquaintance with the relaxed version length, with a scent of musk and soap, was short lived. It expanded by every touch and she took hold of it, marvelling at the change. Crane took short, quick breaths with closed eyes, and his dick throbbed harder in her hand by every passing second. She moved her hand lightly, back and forth, until the head was exposed, but still dry. She felt his fingers take a tighter grip of her hair. Lightly, she blew a circle on him, and he made a sound as if it was almost painful.


“Mercy!” he gasped and she smiled, looking up along his tall frame and meeting his gaze. He looked back pleadingly, so she extended her long, provocing tongue to the side of her mouth in a deliberately teasing manner. His eyes widened as she made a circling movement close – but not on – his eager dick that was now almost fully erect. He expected her to tease him further, but she surprised him instead. With a deep, lusty moan, she wet her lips and took him into her mouth.

“Aaah, God Almighty!” he called out.

“Mmmm,” was all she replied, adding vibration and that swirling tongue to his salty hardness. This time, she felt him pull her closer, then stopping. She relaxed her jaw and pulled him closer, and she could feel his legs shake, as if his knees were about to buckle. She slowly released him from her warm mouth.

“Lay down on the blanket, baby,” she whispered and cupped one of the cheeks of his arse.

He did as she told him, shivering a little but finding a comfortable position on his back with pillows propped up behind his back.

“Help me take off my bra?” she asked him sweetly and he fumbled to help her, mostly taking the chance to kiss her lips and then eagerly her exposed nipples.

“Such fine lingerie, it almost did you justice…” he murmured between kisses and licks.

“Stop…!” she ordered weakly, before she gave in.

Spreading his leg a bit, she crawled closer. Next to them was a trey with tasty temptations. A small bowl contained what was undoubtedly a rich chocolate sauce, and Abbie looked at Crane questioningly. He lit up and smiled, and she slowly let a small string of it adorn him from tip to just above the root. Then she added a spoonful of cream on the tip, making them both giggle.

“Gotta give a girl a goal!” she laughed, then proceeded to lick him clean. She took it easy with him, enjoying him writhing in pleasure, both wanting her to be gentle and wanting her to suck him fully and harder.

“Ohhh, Abbie! Yes! Ooohhh…” was all he was capable of saying between unintelligible moans, and she simply hummed back.

When he was licked clean, and both of them somewhat sticky, she decided to stop being gentle.

“I’m still hungry,” she pouted.

“Oh, Treasure! I can –” he tried, but she stopped him.

“Tsk, stay where you are!” she ordered with her hands on his chest. She then took his large hands and placed them on her shoulders.

“Hold back my hair, will ya?” she smiled.

He did as she asked, then groaned as she fully took him in her mouth again. He tensed and held his breath as he felt her swallowing around his tip; once, then again… and again.

“Abbie!” he moaned as his hands flexed hard into her long, shining hair.

“Do it, baby,” she begged, coming up for air. “Fuck my mouth, Crane. Do it, baby, I want it!” she added and dived back in.

“Ohh, fuck!” he cried and screw his eyes shut. She moved back and forth, taking him in, and his grip was hard, pulling at her, needing her to go faster. She did, and it was even better, it was fucking amazing, and he cried out, hands begging her to stop.

She released his still hard cock with a pop and a sharp intake of breath, smiling brightly.

“You sure?” she teased again with her tongue.

“Fucking hell, woman!” he groaned in defeat. “D’you mean to kill me tonight?” he chuckled weakly.

“Mmmm, I just love how you talk dirtier the longer we fuck!” she laughed and proceeded to enclose his dick between her breasts, moving up and down.

“Now, you stop! You infernal minx!” he growled and grabbed her. “You and you amazing blow job techniques will not make me come just yet, madam!”

“But I like it!” she protested, until he silenced her with a fevered round of kissing. Rolling her over and letting his hand roam made her a lot more understanding to his point of view.

“I like it too, Abbie,” he mumbled in her ear. “All too much! You are truly gifted!”

“Mmmm, I’m glad to hear that!” she purred, both from his kisses and his praise. It was his turn to pour chocolate on her; decorating her nipple and mound, then greatly enjoying licking it off, despite getting sticky in his beard, before making sure her other breast received the same tasty attention. He then proceeded to take a bite of a large strawberry and offer her the rest. Abbie let him, surprised by herself. He would take a bite from the ripe berry, let it drip on her, then lightly lick it off her. The further down he got, the more obvious it was that her g-string had to go. He pulled them off her legs, then kissed his way back up along on of her legs.

“So good!” she sighed in ecstasy, as he licked strawberry juice off her, letting droplets from his fruit land on her mound.

“We need champagne with this,” he remembered.

“Ohh, yes please!” she agreed as he got up.

Crane’s hand cupped the cork, making sure it wouldn’t fly away and cause damage, and eased it out of the bottle. There was a small pop and a cold mist was all that escaped.

“Well done,” Abbie smirked, leaning back on her elbow while extending her hand holding the crystal glass. He obliged her and filled up her glass until it foamed over. “Oohh!” she laughed and had to lick the bubbles off her wrist. “What’s that in it…?” She asked curiously, looking at something glinting as the flames reflected on her.

“Gold flakes,” he smiled smugly.

“What, they put big glitter in booze now!” Abbie chuckled.

“They do. But it pales to your brilliance.”

“Oh, does it?” she flashed him a smile. “Aren’t you going to pour yourself some?”

“Yes,” he replied slowly and sunk down to his knees. He revelled at the sight of her naked, reclining body, stretched out in front of him and glowing in the low firelight. “But I would rather drink it off you.”

“Yeah?” she giggled. “How? From my navel, or…?” she asked.

“From… all of you,” he said with sudden intensity. “If I shake the bottle…”

“Aaah, I like how you think, baby!” she grinned. “Bring it on!”

“May I?” he blushed and began to angle the bottle.

“Aim for my boobs and avoid my hair,” she challenged and laid back, resting on her elbows.

 

 

Chapter Text

Champagne erupted from the bottle and showered Abbie with with an icy sensation from both fizzy droplets and tiny, glittery flakes. It was a moment of shock to her overheated system that excited her, and after gasping, she saw rivulets of fizzy wine making streams down her body.

“Oh, my God!” Crane mumbled at the sight, as tiny grains of gold and lively bubbles sparkled on her naked curves. He fell to his knees and licked a trail from her hipbone to her navel, marvelling at the taste of the chilled wine off her warm skin. Her heat came from within herself and from the embers in the large fireplace. Crane’s tongue tickled, adding to the cool feeling and sending flashes of lust through her. Eagerly, he lapped champagne off her, from both hollows and planes. Lifting his head to meet her lips, she saw gold decorating his beard and moustache.

“Crane, you golden boy!” she giggled.

He grinned and she lightly caressed his bottom lip.

“The strawberry juice is the same colour as your lips,” she whispered.

His smile faded into surprise.

“Are they?”

“Yeah,” she said and beckoned him further into a kiss. The sudden scratchiness from his tongue and not just his beard made her laugh and break the kiss.

He smirked and stretched out his tongue, which had flakes as well.

“How does that come off?” she asked.

“Like this!” he said, took a large sip from her glass and swallowed.

“Woah, is that safe to drink?”

“Minimum quantities, pure 24 carat gold,” he smiled, hovering over her.

“Wait – it’s real gold?” she laughed.

“Of course!”

“Holy shit!” she laughed and enjoyed his trail of hisses up to her neck. “Iiiihh!” she squeaked next, as he poured some more champagne from the glass on her right breast, watching it roll down and trying to catch it with his tongue. Lower and lower he went, letting her have a sip from the glass, then pouring a little on her. Gold flakes landed on her groomed triangle, while the wine landed on his lips, just below.

“Mmmm,” he moaned and dove in, licking wine off her sensitive labia.

Abbie gasped; the chilled wine got temperate quickly but still thrilled her sensitive areas. Adding to that Crane’s cooling breath and wet, slow tongue, and Abbie was soon close to heaven again. Light, soft and patient strokes made her sigh and moan. Relaxing against the pillows, she simply allowed herself to drift away on waves of pleasure. She writhed slightly, gripping her breast and smiling at how sticky they were, then stimulated her nipples and slowly bucked her hips to meet his searching tongue.

“Eager…” he murmured.

Her pleading moan was reply enough.

“The gold on you…” he murmured. “It only enhances your brilliance…” he observed, revelling at how the glow from the embers in the fireplace shone on her dark skin and curves, while the flakes from the champagne occasionally dazzled him. She was softness and strength, molten gold and relentless steel. “Treasure…” he sighed and let his tongue sink into her folds once again, seeing her sensitive areas positively shivering at his touch.

“Crane!” she mewled and nearly bumped him off herself when her hips snapped up. “Oohh, sorry!”

“I’m fine!” he laughed.

“It’s just… I feel so oversensitive… This, the wine… I…” she shook her head and hid her face behind hr hands.

“Do you want us to stop?” he asked carefully.

“No!” she said adamantly, still hiding her face.

“Not even a short break?”

She shook her head.

“Tell me what you need, Treasure,” he mumbled tenderly.

“I mean, I really like how sweet you are with me,” she began and took another large sip of champagne to fortify herself. “I do. And I also like it when… you’re a bit rough with me.”

“Rough, Agent Mills?” he enquired with a purr and poured the last of the champagne into her glass.

Abbie giggled, embarrassed but delighted. She offered him a hearty sip from the glass.

“I thought it was you who wanted to be rough, handcuffs and all?” he continued and kissed her nose. He was seated between her widened legs.

Still grinning, she leaned her forehead against his cheek, feeling him kissing her head.

“Yeah,” she admitted. “And giving you a bit of spank seemed to be in order. Now I wonder…”

“Yes?”

“Would you like it if the roles were reversed?” she asked and kissed him soundly to hide that she almost lost her nerve.

“Would I like it?” he mused aloud. “Hmmm,” he hummed slowly, making her sweat. “Would I like that you’re being such a tease and in need of correction…”

Abbie heart was fluttering in her chest.

“Well…” he said thoughtfully. “I guess there’s only… ONE WAY TO FIND OUT!” he shouted and flipped her around with ease.

Abbie yelped and stiffened, instinct telling her to fight back. But she instantly relaxed, realising this was one of the times with him where she didn’t had to follow that particular instinct. Instead, she realise that she was on all four, Crane above her and holding her down firmly but not painfully.

“Well, Grace Abigail Mills?” he said in a tone that was bordering on lecherous.

Abbie should be annoyed with him for using her full name, for even knowing it. She should be annoyed by how he juggled her around. She should be annoyed by his silly role play. Should, if it wasn’t for her pussy, which apparently approved in every way. She should feel powerless, but a strong feeling of the opposite shot through her; a feeling the grew in her chest and moving further down, mingling with her strong desire. She was docile on her own terms alone.

“What is your safe word?” he growled, then nibbling and kissing her shoulder.

“Can I use ‘cabin’ – no, wait! ‘Porch swing’?”

He chuckled close to her ear.

“We haven’t had sex there.”

“Yet,” she said impishly.

“Porch swing it is,” he confirmed in a dark mumble, then slapped her ass quite hard.

Abbie yelled in surprise and it almost drowned the cracking sound of his hit. When she was panting from the sudden change, his large hand rubbed her soothingly at the same spot.

“You see, Grace Abigail Mills – it’s time to let the Professor correct you,” Crane growled. Before she could answer, he quickly pulled her hands behind her back, holding both locked with his left hand while tenderly rubbing her right cheek again.

Abbie gasped, not trusting him to stay tender, and not wanting him to either. A quick reassessment reminded her of how to deal with this if it had been real – which it wasn’t, and she knew that, but her mind was enticed and her body oddly weak. A weak moan was all she could produce.

WHACK! There was the slap again.

“AH!”

“What was that, Miss Mills? Hm?”

“What rules did I break, Professor?” she asked weakly, playing along. Her back was arched, making her breast poke out forward and her ass behind her, bumping against his thigh.

“Tsk… Playing innocent, are we?” he said with an amused tone. Then he slapped her again.

“Ah! No, professor!” she protested, hoping for more.

“No…? Remember the safe word, Treasure,” he reminded her with a hint of concern in the low mumble next to her ear.

“Hhnnng, I’m fine,” she groaned. “Don’t stop, baby!”

“Mmm, such a temptress…” he whispered, and there was his large, warm hand again; cupping her breast and slowly moving down, down, steering off the route to her clit, which made her whimper with disappointment as her pussy clenched hopefully. His hand spanned her round hip instead, rubbing soothingly. Again and again… frustrating her to no end. She writhed lightly in his grip.

“Easy,” he warned and tightened his grip.

“I did nothing wrong, Professor!” she protested.

“Then why am I so tempted by you? Hm?” he murmured. “How did you step in and took command over everything, like you did today? Especially in my office; my sacred realm? Explain yourself!”

Abbie breathed as if she had been running, and his hand grabbed her cheek, hard, and and shook it as much as its firmness allowed. Abbie mewled, it was a firm grip and did her good, but it wasn’t enough.

“I only did what had to be done!” she protested.

WHACK!

“Aaahhh, yes yes!” she cried.

“How are you able to rule everything around you?” he asked. “Even now? Hmm?”

“I only rule what I’m meant to rule!” she nearly sobbed.

“Ohh, is that what it is?” he exclaimed and bent her forward. Quickly, he changed hands on his grip and used his free hand to slap her left cheek this time.

Abbie made an outcry of relief. The next second, his hand made their soothing circles, and the effect of the slap and the caresses spread inwards, making her impossibly wet in anticipation.

“You enter into my office…” he growled. “Make me befuddled and looking stupid with my permanent hard on… Your trousers are virtually painted on your long legs and irresistible derrière…”

WHACK!

Another satisfying slap, and now she merely mewled, as her pussy started clenching and unclenching almost by itself.

“You seduce me effortlessly,” he went on, soothing where the slap had struck, bending her down even more and releasing her hands. “Put your hands on the blanket!” he ordered. Abbie obeyed with a moan of relief. Both his hands were now caressing her cheeks, and she had to bite her lip from moaning too loudly. “You strut around –”

You strut!” she protested.

WHACK! WHACK!

“Ooohh, shit!” she mewled. Both this time. Then the tender treatment, feeling how warm and red her skin was.

“Do you like it?” he mumbled in that low tone and that accent that made everything sound dirty. “Hmmm?”

The way she arched her bum didn’t lie, but she could twist the truth if it gave her what she wanted.

“I did nothing wrong, Professor!” she protested, but with a hint of laughter.

“No?” he grunted and spread her cheeks, then bent down and licked her thoroughly from her glistening pussy and up to her puckered hole.

“Oh FUCK!” she screamed, and then his thumbs entered one hole each, slowly and deliberately. “Aahh, Crane!” she whined as she shivered.

“Safe word?” he grunted with some difficulty, desperately trying to hold his own desire in check as he focused on her. He beautiful cunt had opened like a flower to him a while ago, pink folds within dark, and it took all he had to hold back his urge to stop letting his hard cock entering her.

“Never never never!” she babbled. “Go on, oh fuck, go ON!” she begged.

“So naughty,” he growled and licked her to add more wetness, then probing with confidence, back and forth in a slow rhythm. Her grip on both his thumbs was amazing, but he changed to two fingers in her wet pussy. She groaned and backed up closer to him, almost bent in the middle, and wiggling to meet his hands. He dared moving a bit faster in both holes, making her shiver and sob. “Oh dear,” he mumbled and kissed the slapped cheeks tenderly, one by one. “What are we to do with you, Grace Abigail Mills?”

Abbie heard him in a fog of lust. The slaps on her cheeks had made her even more sensitive to his intimate play. It was both a numbness and intense pleasure that spread both up her spine and down her legs, giving her goosebumps all over.

“How on earth shall I get you to understand my point, hm?” he continued.

“Fuck me…” she moaned.

“What was that?” he chuckled.

“Fuck me, Professor!” she gritted out. “That’s the only way!”

“Is it, now?” he teased and moved deeper than before.

“Aaaahhh, please!!”

“Yes, that’s good.”

“Please fuck me!” she cried.

Very good.”

“Please, Professor?” she implored, looking back at him with a face twisted from rapture.

“Third time’s a charm, they say… Why can’t I resist you, Treasure?” he murmured as he bent forward to kiss her. As he did, he angled himself in position and took hold of her hips. It took one, fluid motion for his cock to find its home, sliding inside her wet heat and making them both groan in unison.

His hips slapped against her now, he filled her completely and stayed there for a while, realising that she was more open to him than ever.

“Aaaarrgh, fuck!” he swore.

“You feel that?” she groaned. “Feel how ready I am for you?”

“God, yes! Oh, beautiful, irresistible –”

Move, goddamnit!” she ordered harshly, and he followed it; snapping back and slamming into her again, making her howl. “Yes, YES! Do it, Crane!”

And he did. Hard grip on her hips, slamming into her over and over, until he felt his legs shake and sweat pour down his whole body. He moved mindlessly, the heat and pleasure was almost overwhelming, and he marvelled in it until she cried out louder than before; a keening noise as he felt her orgasm so hard that it was like a small earthquake. She shook and slumped down on her stomach, so he gently released her and flopped down by her side.

They were both gasping for breath for quite a while, side by side.

“How about some cake, then?” he asked after a while, making her burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

Abbie felt like a wet rag. A thoroughly satisfied wet rag. She lay flat on her stomach, one leg a little bent, breasts mercifully pressed into a large pillow and with a skin so sticky that it felt like she’d been playing naked in a candy store.

Well, I have… sort of.

Never had she been so utterly weak and overpowered from sex, she would have remembered that.

Beaten.

She had to giggle at the pun. Next to her, laying on his back with arms over his head and breathing fast as if he’d been running a marathon, was her lanky, pale lover. Not so pale, she noticed, but rather red all over his body. How strange it was that this was so easy with him.

Easy? Natural? And it’s called sex, Abbie. No need to play the blushing maiden now.

It was still strange. So unlike her usual self, and yet it was so very, very much her, she had never felt so in tune with herself.

“Are you… alright?” he mumbled and turned his head to her.

“Yeah,” she whispered and cupped his cheek.

“Not… sore?”

“Nothing I can’t handle,” she said.

At least so far.

“No, really!” he said, startled. “We must eat something!”

“I will, baby,” she grinned. “You go ahead, I need to get feeling back in my limbs first.”

“What? Oh –” he said, just as he had stuffed a generous slice of carrot cake into his mouth.

“I’m fine,” she assured him and patter his chest. “Chew that cake!”

“Mmmffm,” he mumbled and did so, handing her the plate. She took pieces of both red velvet and chocolate cake, placing them next to her and moving to the side, facing him.

“And a proper shower after this,” she added, which made him nod in agreement, managing a smile as he stuffed himself with more cake.

“Water?” he asked after he swallowed.

“Oh, God yes!” she said and he instantly got up like an eager rabbit, running to the kitchen. He was apparently still up for more action. Damn! But OK, the cake and some more fruit invigorated her, and when Crane returned with the water, they both drank as if they’d been through a desert.

“It’s nicer like this,” he observed, as he laid down on the blanket next to her, sampling the cakes.

“Nicer? Than in the shop?” she guessed, enjoying some mango dipped in chocolate mousse.

“Yes…” he said thoughtfully.

“Oh, definitely. That was… a disaster, really.”

“It was!” he said and seemed relieved.

“I… can’t believe Standra posted those photos of herself covered in rainbow gel!?” Abbie exclaimed, suddenly remembering.

“Oh, she made sure of it,” Crane replied and a shadow was over his face.

“Yeah, she is such a piece of work! I mean, I’m sorry… I know the circumstances –”

“Please, don’t hesitate to say it, Abbie!” Crane snapped, and she could tell that his irritation wasn’t towards her. “And I’m sorry I mentioned anything. I don’t want to ruin the mood.”

“You’re not, Crane,” she said soothingly, hand on his bearded cheek again. They were both sticky and had gold flakes in the oddest places, but she had sort of gotten used to it, for now. “I know that… earlier, when I arrived, and I asked if you were alright, do you remember? Yeah, yeah, of course you do!” she said and put her hand over his mouth before he could once more claim to remember everything. “But anyway,” she continued quickly. “I did hear some things, but nothing first hand. Something strange about a teapot?”

Crane chuckled bitterly and covered his eyes with his hand, then moved it to cup hers on his cheek.

“It was very embarrassing,” he finally said.

“Okay…” she said slowly. She decided to take another route. “From what I understand, you met Devon who works with… works as a police officer.”

Crane flinched, knowing that she referred to Luke.

“And his current girlfriend Zoe is a friend of –”

“Yes,” he interrupted sharply. “She was there as well. She spoke of Chautauqua Lake,” he remembered. “I believe it’s a lake in this state?”

“Yeah,” Abbie said, letting him talk and hoping it would lead back to the subject. “They went fishing there that weekend,” she explained “Sort of a stag night while I had my, uh, hen night? In British English.”

“Yes,” he replied. “But I was surprised to hear that Miss Corinth enjoys fishing.”

“She what?” Abbie asked. “Oh, no!” she laughed. “She doesn’t! It’s this man thing Devon and Lu- they have, every now and then,” she continued nervously.

“Really?” Crane frowned, suddenly distracted.

“Yeah,” she cut in, deciding to get him back to topic. “But what about that teapot?”

“I did throw that teapot,” he began, suddenly awkward again. “But not on Standra, I smashed it on that silly tile floor. It had been my mother’s.”

“The tile floor had been your mother’s?” she asked, feeling confused.

“Oh! No… the teapot!” he laughed. “A family heirloom that I gave to Katrina, but…”

Bringing up his fiancée’s name didn’t feel right. Nor was the name Standra welcome into the intimate sphere they had created. He definitely didn’t like that Abbie brought Luke into the conversation. But the day had been strange, beyond strange, with meeting and parting and exposing and revealing… so many things.

“Well, it’s smashed now. And good riddance!” he raised his voice. “Apparently, Standra got a chip of it on her; in her eye, she claimed. That was unfortunate. But that is all she will get from me!” he ranted.

Abbie raised her eyebrows, while Crane determinedly avoided to look at her.

“A chip, huh?” she said. “Maybe it was on her shoulder? Or on yours?”

She saw him roll his eyes, then screw them shut. He scooted closer to her, burrowing his head on her arm.

“Hey,” she said softly. “You’re not really okay right now, are you?” as she embraced his head and pulled him closed to her bosom.

“I guess not,” he mumbled. “She’s indeed a chip on the shoulder. And today… I…”

“What happened?” Abbie frowned, suddenly picking up a vibe. “What did she do?”

“She… well, in fact she and Katrina… It’s… Apparently she wanted Standra to proposition me,” his mumble got lower and she had to strain her ears to hear.

“What sort of – oh! Oh!” she blurted out one more time.

“I am sorry if I revolt you, I –” he started to draw back.

“Hang on!” Abbie soothed. “You don’t revolt me! Standra, however… But how…? Tell me if you want, in your own time.”

He settled back in her arms with a sigh, still not looking at her.

“I cannot fathom how they came up with that preposterous idea, but… essentially, Standra ‘made a move on me’, and when I got angry, Katrina came in and… said that she was onboard with the idea.”

“Wow…” was all Abbie could say and think of many bad things that ought to happen those two ladies. “Does… Katrina know… about us?”

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Oh no no! I nearly told her – them – there and then. I just didn’t want to expose you!” he finally looked at her again, wildly. “I was prepared to confess, after… the stag night,” he stammered, his hand fluttering nervously on her hip. “But she, well, stopped me from talking. She realised that I had doubts… uh, she didn’t want to have that conversation. And then… this,” he swallowed, making a gesture in general that could include all manner of things.

“Uh-huh,” Abbie said. Despite being naked, newly fucked and sticky, her detective brain had gone to work. Crane had intended to confess about his infidelity after that night, she surmised. That was interesting. But he had made sure not to drag her into it. She wondered for a moment about the word doubts – if he, like her, had considered breaking off his engagement, but she tampered that thought down. Speculation wasn’t facts. Facts was what he had told her, so far. But she was only human.

“Luke doesn’t know either,” she said hastily and nervous licked her lips. “I nearly told him but… it… like you said, the conversation didn’t really… work. It got… kind of sidetracked and promises were brought up and… stuff.”

“Emotional blackmail?” Crane muttered.

“Yes!” she exhaled. That was just it! “Yup, a lot of that! You too?”

“Yes,” he answered darkly.

With a sigh, she cuddled closer to him, and his arm encircled her.

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled into his hair.

“I am sorry too, Abbie. I hope you believe that I never wanted any of that, which was… offered to me, earlier today,” he muttered.

“I believe you, Crane. Every bit of it,” she said and meant it. She felt him relax and she knew how much it could matter to be believed after such a thing. There was a name for what those women had done to him, and a number of strong feelings bubbled inside her at that thought. Meanwhile, their talk had been short but frank, and as naked as their own current state. She could only imagine how he must feel because it. They were at an impasse right now. Dig deeper or leave it where it was?

Crane reached up and lightly caressed her lips with his. She responded, adding the tip of her tongue. Soon, they were kissing with more and more desire.

“Mmmm, time for that shower?” she moaned suggestively.

“It will be my pleasure, Agent Mills!”

“You sure?” she asked. “No spoiled mood?”

Definitely not!” he replied and rubbed his hardness against her.

“And no regrets?”

He stilled, then looked at her seriously. With a tender smile, he cupped her cheek again.

“No regrets,” he said conclusively, then kissed her.

He scrambled on his feet and extended his hands to help her up.

“OK, hang on,” Abbie said and started to pull herself together. “I – ouch!” One butt cheek touched the floor and yes, she was sore!

“Here, let me!” he hurried and scooped her up.

“And you’re carrying me again!” she laughed, defeated.

“How can I resist?” he smirked, effortlessly carrying her through the bedroom and into the bathroom.

Getting the shower ready, they kept exchanging sweet kisses while Abbie put on her shower cap again and got a small jar from her toilet bag.

“What’s that?” he asked, curiosity piqued.

“Oh, just some oil…” she explained, while joining him in the tub. “Good stuff,” she added as she kissed him. “We’ll chafe a bit less tomorrow.”

He sniffed it, enjoying the scent.

“Aah!” he lit up. “Clever!”

“Nah, basic really,” she grinned and enjoyed how the warm water rinsed her of all stickiness. “Much as I like your beard oil, it won’t do as good as this.”

“You know about my beard oil?” he smiled and got some buttery oil from the jar.

“I know things…” she smiled back and stretched up to kiss him.

Abbie slowly started to apply some oil on him and invited Crane to do the same on her. He gladly followed suit, marvelling at rivulets of water following her curves, mildly scented oils filling his nostrils and making her skin gleam in a most enticing way. Slowly, they meted out one another, desire still as ever-present but without urgency. Her round hips became slick and luminous under his hands.

Her small hands travelled a similar journey over his hairy chest; gently so she didn’t accidentally pull and hurt him. The difference between hairy and bare felt stimulating on her palms. She moved her way down slowly as he moved up to cup and care for her breasts. With firm, methodical hands, she massaged his hardening cock, and he failed to hold back short moans of ecstasy. She took her sweet time with him, while he still had enough sense to pay back by adding more oil on her nipples and applying it onto them with wicked flicks of his thumbs.

“Aah!” she moaned and squeezed him tighter. He groaned into her next kiss and carefully released her hold of him. Then he sank down on his knees, making sure her legs got properly oiled in; down her thighs and knees, over her calves and up, up, as he felt her shiver and giggle a bit as his fingertips touched ticklish areas. He was soft and gentle as he reached her posterior again, careful so he didn’t add more pain where he had slapped so boldly before. Gauging her reaction, he looked up to see her sigh and smile with eyes closed and looking positively angelic.

“No pain?” he asked with a raspy voice.

“Just sensitive… in the best way,” she gasped and smiled down to him.

“You angel…” he mumbled. In front of him were wet, tight curls that still gleamed with hidden gold flakes, barely hiding the gem. “Treasure!” he moaned and kissed those curls, gently rubbing large circles on both her perfect globes.

“You sweet talking dork,” she sighed blissfully and pulled his head closer.

Just like their first time they were together, he placed one of her legs over his shoulder. Just like then, she liked the resoluteness of his movement, as if he instinctively knew how they would best fit together in that position. In any position, despite their total differences of stature. But a mere movement of his made all that irrelevant. He knew exactly what it took for them to fit one another for maximum pleasure, despite all his fears of hurting her and occasional lack of confidence. She liked his resoluteness as well as his hesitation; it all added up in his personality, it all focused on giving her rapture and it all succeeded in fulfilling their needs.

“You are sprinkled with gold,” he told her, as he paused from licking her. “Gold is surrounding the finest jewel in the perfect setting…” he added and dove into her again.

“Aaaah… you-gotta-be-kidding-meeeeee…”

“I would gladly shower you with this champagne every day,” he murmured, then licked her clit. “Then gather all the gold,” he said in the pause before the next. “Gathering it all,” he growled as she writhed from his pause and attack. “And make the finest piece of jewellery for you out of it…” he finished and sucked on her pearl.

“Hhhhnnnggg aaaaah!” she cried, head resting against the cold wall.

“And there’s no oil or wine sweeter than your own brimming well, sweet Treasure,” he groaned and slowly let one finger move into her quivering cave.

“Ohh, ooohhh…” was all she could moan, once more reduced to a complete mess, only wanting him to continue. His oily finger did her pussy good in more ways than one, though the practical idea of reducing chafing was all forgotten.

“Mmmm,” he groaned and licked her again, while slowly moving in and out of her.

“Yes, yes!” she panted. “More…”

“More?” he hummed.

“Yes… and more oil,” she begged.

He pulled out of her and got more, quickly returning to her cunt and feeling the small, buttery lump instantly melt in her heat. It ran so generously over his fingertips and down his hands as his index finger once more entered into her. Her next moan was equal amounts of relief and bliss. He licked her with a greater fervour and burrowed his face into her.

“Ha ha… motorboat…” she laughed weakly, then mewled and grabbed his shoulders as she felt a second finger lightly probe her second hole. His index finger teased the entrance of her cunt as his long finger teased her butthole. Oiled enough, the tip of his finger came through the tight muscle.

“Guh, hhngg!” she grunted, as it gave her an initial pain that only added to the thrill from his insistent tongue on her clit. Soon, both fingers slowly moved in tandem into her; slowly, so slowly. The sound of her blood roared in her ear as the most of it rushed down to that place where his fingers and tongue ruled. Slowly, slowly in… the just as torturously slow out, almost all out and slowly pushing in again. She wailed and moved to meet him. He lapped her and panted like an eager animal, feeling her shiver and clench. Steadily, he moved his fingers, making a firm rhythm.

“Ooh God, oh God!” she called to the heavens. “Ooooohhh!”

His steady pace increased, pushing a bit faster.

“Aah, baby, keep giving it like that, just like that!” she panted, and he did as she asked, only harder.

“Fuck, YES!” she screamed, almost startling him. He sucked her clit hard and moved inside her faster, feeling her legs shaking.

“Aaah, Crane, yes, YES! FUCK YES!!” she screamed and hardly knew she did, as he filled both her holes and licked her clit into another crashing orgasm.

She clenched so hard that he couldn’t feel his fingers for some seconds, but he was relentlessly making sure to drive her over the top, making sure that she came with a long, deep cry that was almost a growl, before turning into sobs. His index finger got even more wet than before, and it was just in time for him to catch her as her knees buckled. Landing in a heap in his welcoming arms, she burrowed her face into his neck, shaking and sobbing for a while as he kissed and stroke her soothingly.

“Good?” he murmured after a while.

She responded with a shaky laugh and a nod. Cupping his head, she kissed him hard and her wicked tongue played with his. He returned it with ardour, groaning into it, as she eagerly encircled his neck. His hard cock strained against her stomach, and she rubbed herself on it, felt how impossibly hard it was.

“Abbie,” he warned.

“You thought I was done?” she teased. “Well, you thought wrong!” she said and moved against his hardness.

Crane wasted no time, got them both on their feet and grabbed hold of her. She quickly caught on and climbed him, legs around his slim hips. The cold wall was now against her back, but he was warm against her, moving her up and angling her so that he could enter her. They stared at each other as he did so, open mouths breathing hard in anticipation. As his girth once more penetrated her all too welcoming pussy, she made a low moan, feeling him moving in and feeling herself opening up to him, squeezing him as her hands had just before.

“Mmmmm, oh God!” he grunted. “Are you already coming for me?”

“Shut up!” she snapped, digging her heels into him and grabbing his buttocks hard.

“Aah, fucking hell!” he snarled and nearly slammed her into the wall. “Sorry!”

“Fuck me, Crane!” she demanded, eyes shut tight and body focused on reaching orgasm.

“As my lady demands,” he growled and gave it to her repeatedly and hard until his own legs threatened to give up.

“Bed!” he panted, still moving in and out of her, fleetingly hoping the wall could take the pounding as good as she. “Can we… bed?”

“Damn, I was so close!” she pouted. “But sure, about time we tried that!” she added, then grinned and stuck out her long, wicked tongue to the side.

He made a low growl and kissed her. Together, they haphazardly dried off, removed her shower cap and then he grabbed her again, carrying her out to the bedroom while they laughed and collapsed on the bed. Wet stains spread on the white sheets as they rolled around kissing, until Abbie landed on top of him and took the chance to straddle him.

Grabbing her waist, he got them both to the middle of the bed and coaxed her to put his hard cock inside her again and ride him vigorously. She did, hands on his chest, while he pulled her hips back and forth, making her shriek in rhythm with his thrusts. His breathy groans joined her in an orgiastic duet. One finger found her clit, making her shudder and sob.

She slumped forward, almost bumping foreheads with him, but he cupped her head gently.

“Crane!” she whined.

“I… I… can’t… stop!” he panted, almost desperate. “I… came… so… hard… before…” he uttered, moving in and out of her. “And… earlier… today… I… hnnngghh!” he swallowed the rest and slammed his head into the pillow, still not coming but almost faint from pleasure.

“Wait… baby… wait…” she panted as his near-climax subsided. Cuddling him, she let him slide out of her. His arms was instantly around her, immediately making her feel as treasured as he assured that she was. “We don’t… you don’t… have to if…” she mumbled while kissing him.

“It’s… mmm… kiss me… again…” he answered between the soft attacks of her lips. “I… don’t know if… mmm…”

“That’s fine…” she whispered and they kissed and cuddled for a while, slowly relaxing into that intimacy. While kissing, their eyes remained slightly open, tenderly and deliberately gazing into each other’s eyes. Abbie shivered and he pulled her closer.

“Are you cold, my sweetest Treasure?” he muttered with his lips on hers.

“No…” she whispered. “Just so… very… very…” she tried.

“So very, very?” he asked teasingly, pecking the tip of her nose.

“Mmmmm…” she moaned and snuggled closer.

“I just want you to know,” he began after having snuggled for a while. “That even if I didn’t come this time…”

“Mmm?” she encouraged.

“It’s… I still climax, sort of,” he explained.

“Yeah, I see that you do, baby,” she said and lightly caressed his chest. “You feel OK with that?”

“Never better,” he mumbled into her hair that had turned frizzier.

“I mean… you’re not, like… taking anything?” she asked carefully.

“Taking? How do you mean? Oh, like Viagra!” he realised. “Ha ha, no no!” he chuckled. “No need for any of that with you! I’ve never tried anything of the sort. And I don’t do drugs, officer, no need to worry.”

Abbie chuckled as well. She hadn’t really suspected anything, but felt the need to ask, since he brought it up.

“Well, I’m flattered,” she grinned, kissing him. “Not feeling ‘up’ to it isn’t really that rare –”

“Oh, believe me, I know!” he interrupted hastily and kissed her properly. It was enough to distract her somewhat, but she still catalogued what he said.

His kisses made her body respond, but suddenly there was a sharp twinge of pain, instead of the expected rise of libido.

“Aaahhh!” she cried out in a very different way from her earlier cries of ecstasy. She winced, instinctively pulling her legs up and hands covering her abdomen.

“Abbie!” Crane exclaimed. “Treasure? Are you hurt?” he asked worriedly, putting his large hand over hers.

“Ow,” she let out, but the pain was subsiding. “Sorry,” she giggled. “That sounded a lot more dramatic than it was.”

“Dramatic? You’re in pain!” His worry was written all over his face.

“Just a sudden – OW!”

“Abbie!”

“I’m OK!” she assured him, but scrambled out of his arm and out of bed. “Just need to –”

“Let me –” he jumped out of bed. But she slipped past him, quick as lightning, and locked herself into the bathroom.

“I’ll be fine!” she shouted through the door, while starting to rummaging through her overnight bag.

“Are you sure?” she heard him asked, muffled through the door but clearly concerned. “I’ll… I’ll be here, if you don’t mind.”

She had to smile, despite feeling some pain again, and bite her lower lip. If this had been… at home, with Luke, she’d ask Luke to piss off or something.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Luke wouldn’t be worried like that. Partly because they were used to bruises and partly because he was the one whining, not her. It was nice and confusing to be so in focus. It was also unsettling, intrusive and putting her on edge from time to time. But… there was honesty in him, between them. That and him being… him… disarmed her, convinced her.

Abbie pushed all of those thoughts away and took care of what she had already guessed was going on. She was right.

“Damn it, period?” she muttered at the sight of the telltale blood. Or was it just some random bleeding that could happen, despite her birth control? In any case, she was bleeding now, and she had cramps from it. Thankfully, she was prepared; there were some pads in a side pocket of her toiletry bag, along with pain killers. She decided against using a tampon, she really was sore! Not just sensitive, as she had claimed earlier. Tomorrow, she’d be bruised inside and out, period added to that. All because of a day and evening of fun.

Abbie snorted. “Fun…” she chuckled and saw herself in the mirror, then rolled her eyes.

“Are you alright?” she heard from the other side of the door. She jumped, realising that he must have been waiting the whole time.

“I’m fine, Crane,” she assured him, holding back the laughter. “I’ll be out soon.”

Abbie had put on sensible cotton panties and crowned the ensemble with a comfortable, large t-shirt. It was a far cry from the glamorous lingerie she had shown off in earlier. She suddenly shuddered, feeling chilled and tired. What next? A taxi back to Jenny’s place? She wasn’t sure if she was safe behind the wheel yet.

She started to unlock the door and heard Crane moving, apparently getting up from the floor. Had he been sitting right outside? Well, now he had taken a leap away from it and stood by the bed, nervously pulling back his hair. He had put on boxer shorts again. Abbie crossed her arms by putting her hands in her armpits. She suddenly felt small and exposed, more naked that when she was actually naked.

Crane stared at her, taking in her appearance with her almost drowning in that large t-shirt and her long, brown legs below. She looked vulnerable and his heart went out to her.

“Are you OK?” he asked again, cautiously getting closer to her.

She looked up at him with round eyes, fully noticing his tall frame as he hovered over her but nearing her carefully. His hands slowly and lightly touched her upper arms. It was strange how he bended his long neck to get closer to her and maintain eye contact.

“Yeah!” she said with a taut smile, slowly rising her shoulders in a slow shrug. “It’s just my period. Out of nowhere.”

“Oh!” he said, inching closer and not jumping back, as she’d expected. “How do you feel? Are the cramps bad?”

She grinned, taken by surprise.

“I had what I needed, including painkillers, and –”

“You’re cold! Shivering, even!” he interrupted and pulled her into his warm embrace again.

“Mmpf!” was all she could say as she huddled closer to get more of his body heat. Her arms rested on his chest.

“Sorry if I’m behaving like a mother hen, Abbie,” he mumbled. “I was worried for you, feared I might have hurt you.”

“No, no, you didn’t,” she mumbled back at her chest. “I’m sorry I scared you and that our night ended like this. Quite a mood killer.”

“What! Not at all!” he protested. “Why do you apologise, it’s perfectly natural!”

“Well, strictly speaking, my birth control generally prevents this,” she explained. She enjoyed their hug, but also felt awkward and surprised.

“It’s really working, then,” he mumbled while sort of rocking her a little.

“What is?” she asked, feeling drowsy.

“The birth control. If you have your period,” he answered.

“Oh! Ha, yeah. That’s one way of seeing it,” she replied. She leaned back, looking up at him. “I can call a taxi.”

“Why, what do you need?” he asked.

“Uh, nothing. I just thought… shouldn’t I go home?”

“Home? I thought you were going to spend the night here?” he sounded a bit hurt. “Unless you’d rather be at home, of course!” he added hastily, always meaning to be polite.

“No, I, uh – I mean…”

“Stay?” he pleaded, pulling her closer again. “I’ll make sure you’re comfortable. I can sleep on the couch if you’d rather have the bed to yourself.”

“No, I can do that!” she protested.

“Out of the question!” he smiled.

“But, uh, your bed and sheets, uh…” Abbie stuttered, having noticed his fine bed linen and feeling insecure.

“Will a big towel make you feel relaxed?”

“But what if the towel – ”

“I have some black towels and I have a good washing machine, Agent Mills,” he assured her. “Now, if you’re ready for bed –”

“Not quite.”

“Then do get ready, and I’ll see to everything. Alright?”

She nodded and he gave her a reassuring kiss before she returned to the bathroom. Brushing her teeth, she once more had to deal with how he surprised her. He was incredibly considerate, but he was also an upperclass gentleman and a dude. Nothing she did seemed to faze him, only fascinate. Looking around, she also realised that the bathroom had more of his stuff in it. He had settled in some more, just like on the porch. In fact, the whole cabin had a distinct lived-in feeling to it. Did he stay here more now?

Stop speculating, Abbie.

Finally, she wrapped her hair in a colourful silk scarf and joined him again. He looked up, and for the first time looked a bit surprised by something when he saw her scarf.

“It’s good for my hair,” she explained and pointed to her head.

“You look beautiful in it,” he smiled and she saw that he meant it, the silly dork.

He was making sure the towels lay smoothly across the large sheet covering the mattress, then inviting her to lay down. She took the invitation and he tucked her in tenderly.

“Wait! Won’t you…” she started, then suddenly felt shy and looked away.

“Do you want me to sleep next to you?” he whispered.

“Yeah, I’d like that, unless you’d rather prefer…”

“I’d like that too,” he said and caressed her cheek.

“Only sleep, though, cause… you know,” she mumbled.

“Of course,” she heard him say, voice full of warmth. “I’ll be a gentleman. And I’ll just go and brush my teeth first.”

She gave him an embarrassed smile, then pulled the warm duvet closer around her. Would he actually want to have sex with her when she was on her period? The thought was completely foreign to Abbie. Was that a European thing? Or British? Somehow, she doubted that. For now, she was just so relieved that she could stay and sleep in his bed. It wasn’t the first time, though she had just basically been fucked to sleep that time and then woken up at first daylight to sneak away.

Meanwhile, Crane made himself ready for bed as well, and realised that parts of him were positively raw from too much friction. He spotted some of the oils Abbie had brought and that they had used with great success, so he cautiously used a little, feeling a bit of relief but also aching quite a bit. He feared it was worse for Abbie, and felt a twinge of guilt in his chest. Add to that her sudden period. She had looked so small and vulnerable when she had come out of the bathroom. He was so glad she had decided to stay, and he hoped he could make her as comfortable as possible. A sudden memory crossed his mind, and it was as clear as the day it happened, as his memories always were. Another vulnerable woman tucked into bed; long, long ago. He pushed the memory away and went out to rejoin Abbie.

His hands started fidgeting nervously as soon as he saw Abbie tucked into his bed with the duvet pulled up to her chin. She was so strong and glorious in his arms, and now so fragile with large eyes. He was about to go and get a t-shirt to sleep in, but she gasped and extended her hand. He instantly stepped forward and took it.

“Are you still cold, Treasure?”

Abbie nodded.

“Just a moment,” he said, quickly rounded the bed and slipped under the duvet. Abbie scooted back to meet him as his arms encircled her, spooning her completely. She let out a long sigh, burrowing into his warmth. “Better?” he mumbled, feeling the silk of her scarf and the tickle of a stray strand of hair.

“Yeah,” she sigh. “This feels… good. You OK with it?”

“Oh, yes,” he assured her. She fit against him like a piece of puzzle. Her head was resting on his left arm, the crown of her head just at his cheek, and her legs matched his in length – both their bodies were in harmony. “It’s very comfortable.”

“Mmhmm…” she agreed, noticing the same thing but not saying anything else. The fact that she hadn’t packed up and left, because he wanted her here and she wanted to stay, was enough to contemplate. She wasn’t fully relaxed; this behaviour was so alien to her. Normally, she’d retreat and suffer alone. Not just during her period, for that matter. There were other things that could hurt and make her retreat. She was so used to having to deal with issues alone. All issues. Shuffling a bit, she felt how he gave her space but also how the slight tug of his arm invited her closer. On a whim, she grabbed his right large hand and pulled it down to her abdomen, making it cover the area where there still was some lingering pain from her earlier cramps. Soothing heat radiated from his palm.

“Good?” he smiled as he nuzzled behind her ear.

“So good,” she sighed blissfully. “You’re so… relaxed with all this,” she sort of blurted out, in that kind of honesty that came with being tired and having a pillow talk.

“As long as you’re comfortable, all is well,” he muttered and cuddled her. She could have sworn that he shivered involuntarily. “Also, I… knew about these things since I was a kid. I mean… more than most. My mother… she suffered from an illness…” he grew silent and very still.

Illness? What sort of illness?

“Was it bad?” she whispered, threading carefully.

“Yes,” he replied tersely.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled and placed her hand over his. He cuddled her; she could feel him nuzzling closer for comfort.

“As long as you’ll be alright –”

“I am,” she soothed him. “You take such good care of me, in every way.”

She felt him relax.

“Good, I’m… happy to do it.”

“Thank you…”

“No, not at all.”

“I’m usually not OK with being… taken care of,” she confessed.

There was a long moment of silence.

“It’s an honour to be of service,” he finally said, warmly but almost formally.

“Mmm,” she nodded and squeezed his hand.

“I’m glad you’re staying here tonight,” he said next.

“So am I,” she mumbled. “And a taxi back to Jenny’s place didn’t tempt at all.”

There was a short silence before he asked:

“Jenny’s place?”

“Yeah…” she hesitated. “I’m… staying there now.”

“Oh. Really? Oh…” he stuttered.

“Mhmm…”

“Is… is it…”

“I’ve been staying there since the bachelorette party,” she added, wondering what he was trying to ask. “Or the day after, to be specific.”

“Ah. Hm. I’ve been staying here since then as well. I was only in the flat today because we drove Standra,” he explained in a low voice.

“Yeah, I guessed you lived here,” she mumbled. “There’s more stuff here than before.”

“Always the observant policewoman,” he chuckled nervously.

“I guess,” she replied.

They spoke no more of it, since it was a topic to discuss at length or not at all. In all probability, they were just too tired and too surprised by the information.

Abbie fell into a light, tense slumber and just as sleep was about to claim her, she had one of those dreamlike feelings of falling, which made her flinch and gasp. Instantly, a drowsy Ichabod cuddled her closer, soothing her with his warm hand.

“It’s alright, you’re here with me,” he mumbled, half asleep. “We’re alright.”

Finally, she relaxed completely and moments later, they were both asleep.

Chapter Text

When dawn broke, it peaked into the blinds and tickled Abbie’s eyelids. Stirring a little, she was instantly hit by the ache in almost every muscle in her body, not to mention feeling swollen twice the size in her private parts. At least it took precedence over any potential period cramps, but just swallowing made her grunt in pain.

Her movements, however tiny, disturbed her lover. He was still deeply asleep, but a low groan of pain was heard from him.

Abbie needed the restroom and was forced to lift Crane’s heavy arm that was so comfortably draped around her. She tried to do it without disturbing him further, but every move made her joints protest. Rolling over on her back, whining a little as she felt the pain of her slapped butt cheeks, she turned her head to look at him. He looked utterly relaxed, mouth just a little open and hardly no drool. She chuckled to herself. He shuddered, trying to pull her closer again. If he was hard and horny again, she would have to cry uncle. With great regret. He looked so tousled and sweet, fast asleep.

Memories of what they had done the night – and day – before came flooding. Lots of things. Things that made her blush. No matter how handsome, sexy, dorky, sweet and intelligent he was; how was it possible that she had stumbled over a man who was obviously her sexual soul mate? And why now? The fact that she couldn’t stay away. The fact that she had done things to him and he had done things to her that she thought she would never experience. That so many sexual fantasies came true, just by having sex with him on… strictly speaking three occasions. The fact that she had spent the night, and still was lying next to him.

She would have liked to shake her head in disbelief, if it hadn’t hurt. Still no regrets. The memory alone of how her butt cheeks got sore. How he had flipped her on her knees, slapped her with those big, beautiful hands, soothed her, made her beg… then his fingers and tongue, everywhere. Nearly his dick too. She had nearly asked him to. But he had fucked her pussy until she nearly fainted, and she had no complaints. Maybe next time…

God damn it.

Abbie rolled her eyes, then stared at the ceiling, as the thoughts couldn’t be kept at bay. If she had to marry Luke, she would. And then what? If Crane married Katrina, she really couldn’t hold it against him. And then what?

Abbie frowned, as a sort of anger rose inside her chest. Gathering what strength she had left, the anger helped her roll out off bed.

“Ow, fuuuck…” she hissed, unbalanced from the pain in various places.

“Abbie…” she heard Crane moan, and she saw him stretch out his hand for her, sighing and grabbing her pillow instead. He rolled over on his stomach, exposing his own round, fine butt.

I should show that butt more appreciation… or punish him for it.

It was quite tempting to wake him up with a proper slap on his cheeks. But she couldn’t muster the consequences right now; he’d either be pissed off or ready to have sex again. What Abbie needed was another shower, this time alone. Hot for her aching joints, cool for her swollen parts. Gingerly, she left the bedside.

There was a high dresser next to the bathroom door and a stack of some books on it. The top one caught her eye; the cover had an old painting from the American Revolution and the author’s name was... Ichabod Crane! The Secret Road to Revolution, the title read. Yup, she had heard about it. The title stood out and books on history always interested Abbie, but she hadn’t had time to dwell on it, what with her new job and planning a wedding. The book listed less know places of interest during the American Revolution, its people and boasted to present new facts.

She slowly opened the book, then immediately stilled as she saw an elaborate seal on the title page, apparently placed there with great care after the book was printed. She was staring at a curious creation, looking something like a coat of arms, but with an unusual motif. It was the picture of a woman, just her face and hair, with eyes and mouth open as if she was in shock. Her long, wavy hair floated out around her. The picture was simply drawn in a Medieval style, but had an unsettling effect. In a way, it resembled a beheaded Medusa, but nothing about the floating hair looked like snakes. Underneath this strange image was embossed, capital letters, spelling ‘Ex libris: Fontis Innupta’. Abbie’s brain went to work on that, but the seal… the woman’s face…

“I’ve seen you before…” she whispered as her fingertip followed the lines of the woman’s hair. She mulled over the Latin. From the library of what? ‘Fontis… innupta?’ Fontis, fons? A spring? Innupta? Was it related to nuptials, innupta meaning not married? Ending with an a, was it an unmarried woman? And a spring? Spring of the unmarried girl? Spring of the… ‘Maidenwell,” Abbie whispered, putting two and two together.

Frowning, she read the names of the chapters. When a familiar name of a place turned up, her heart started to beat faster. Turning to the page, she was disappointed to see that it was only two pages long, and half of one page was a painting of the place. Skimming through the pages, it only took a moment to state some well known facts and, quote: ‘although the place was surrounded with lore, there was no textual evidence’.

Abbie huffed. She browsed some other pages, many seemed interesting enough to read. But the tone that she happened to pick up in one chapter immediately disappointed her. She didn’t mind the academic tone, nor some archaic language. The writing seemed interesting and engaging in many parts. It fitted the subject and the writer, although a whole book of it might be a bit rich. But there was that tone of condescension that couldn’t be ignored. This from a white, male, British historian, who was in that particular chapter writing about the struggle facing black revolutionaries. Perhaps it was just that chapter, but it gave her mixed feelings. He was a good writer, but not as enlightened as he thought. Also, what was up with that deep admiration for George Washington? Crane was British, after all.

Abbie had a look at his bio on the inner page. A fine portrait where the author himself looked both mysterious and mischievous, a play with light and shade that by no means missed his handsomeness. The lines below listed his achievements; youngest this-and-that at Oxford, and in the circles of academic history, winner of prizes and scholarships, writer of publications, doctorate, fellow, son of a illustrious man, noble lineage and a great expert on the American Revolution, a subject of endless fascination to him, despite being British.

There it was. Abbie put the book down, feeling as if she had stumbled over his unexpected Tinder profile and decided to swipe left, because he was such a snobbish bastard. Impressive, of course, but a snobbish bastard all the same. But was he…? Well, stumbling over something in people’s lives that didn’t add up was her job, after all. She wasn’t a good profiler for nothing. Though this time, she was definitely too hands on.

Maybe even up over my head. For now.

Abbie put down the book and went into the bathroom, and while she had plotted to get back on top of things, she’d forgotten to watch her back. Ichabod Crane was not asleep. He had awoken when she left the bed, but been too groggy to fully register what was going on. As he came to, he noticed and kept one eye open, watching what Abbie was doing, and feeling both guilty and excited about it.

Why? Because I should let her know that I’m awake and not take the opportunity to see what she does… and I should stop lusting after her irresistible derrière… But I swear: there was never a more beautiful and perfect arse in the history of mankind.

Still on his stomach, he could stare at her legs and up, enjoy the sight of the white cotton panties and their contrast to her skin, how the t-shirt had bundled up around her tiny waist, how stray, curly hair peaked out of her silk scarf, and how she hummed thoughtfully as she perused his book.

Sun rays caressed her naked legs, giving her brown skin that divine, golden glow. He could stare on that phenomenon forever, and still not get enough. He would love to try. It was imprinted in his brain, but he still wanted endless time to see her skin glow like that. He would also have wished that they had have strength and opportunity to wake up together, that he’d have time to walk first and marvel at her sleeping in his arms. It was such a comfortable experience so far that it didn’t even wake him, despite feeling like he’d been hung, drawn and quartered. At least a little bit. It had sounded like Abbie had fell out of bed and he’d seen her limping as she walked. Had they saved some of their strength, they could have woken up together, cuddled, perhaps had another go…

Crane had to hold back a laughter. Them, save some strength? Their night had ended with an abrupt stop to their endless fucking; not strictly speaking from exhaustion, climax or her period. Just because it never ended. Had it ended, after this night? Not for him. Had he been able, and not actually having genitals there were in pain, then he’d gladly continue. He was a man reborn, all thanks to her.

He looked at her, let his eyes feast on her curves and they landed again on that glorious arse. She changed foot and showed off herself in profile instead. Memories flooded his brain and he had to bite back a hiss of pain, because his cock stirred, wanting more of that. How she had asked him so sweetly to spank her, begged him to to take her, how she had groaned in abandoned as his fingers explored both her perfect holes… how close he had been to ask her if she wanted more than his fingers in her bum. He sort of suspected that she did. He could hardly believe it of himself, that something so forbidden was something he yearned so hotly to do. Did she want it too, or did he project his own wishes on her? Well, she was certainly asking him to pleasure her there quite often. Every time, from the start. She really liked it with his fingers. She liked it when he did it, she had said so. Would they try it with his cock? Could they, actually, do it and both have pleasure from it, given their difference in size? When she’d been bent over on all four, begging him to take her, he had been so close to ask her if she wanted to. But no; she would be the one asking for it. Yes.

He heard her huff and put the book back on the dresser with a small slam, then she disappeared into the bedroom. What was that reaction about! Did he not pass muster? A small indignation turned to worry, which in turn led to shame. She had a degree in history herself, among other things. She was an American, unlike him. Furthermore, she was a detective and had a way of getting truths out, he knew that quite well by now. And there were some things in that book… The heated disagreement with his father, and his subsequent betrayal still smarted. Crane’s fist hit the sheet. It was better to get up and make breakfast. He could ask her later, their time together wasn’t over yet. He hastily checked his phone on the nightstand, but nothing demanded his immediate attention. It was still early.

Those places in his body that didn’t ache were completely numb. Fixing the bed took its time. Everything was spotless, except for their watermarks after their joint shower. Her worry had been in vain. He was so glad she had stayed, the memory of her falling asleep in his arms made him smile between the bit back moans of pain. His legs were wobbly, his head felt two sizes too small, but his cock was a throbbing mess. He had Advil in the drawer and gratefully glugged a pill down with the whole bottle of water he had put on the floor the night before. Getting up, he pulled a clean, striped shirt out of the wardrobe and put it on, just buttoning a few buttons in the middle.

Carefully, he gathered the duvet and decided to carry it out for airing. It was a fine morning, a bit cooler than the day before, but the sky was clear and the sun was already high in the sky. The floor boards on the porch felt cool under his naked feet. Going back in, he sighed at the sight of the mess in front of the fireplace. It was a mess that was dear to his heart, but it needed to be cleaned up; slowly, because his knees demanded that. After that, his body definitely craved breakfast and more liquids. He looked through his small but stocked fridge. Full English breakfast? Would she like that? Well, chopping up some tomatoes and mushrooms was always a start. A bit of fumbling wasn’t the end of the world, as long as he avoided cutting himself. He was feeling less numb and some pain was receding.

The sound of the water pump had stopped, so Abbie had finished her shower. He heard her shuffle around, that was comforting. He wondered if she drank coffee or tea? She was a former police woman, so he decided to make a pot of coffee. He could use some himself, but was craving his tea. Should he go into the bedroom? Ask if she was alright? No, the skillets were hot. Time to crack some eggs. Better leave her alone for a bit longer and focus on bacon and toast. And just as he had whipped the eggs and was busy putting bacon on one skillet, he was surprised by her melodic voice.

“Hey.”

“Abbie!” he said, startled. “Good morning! How are you? Did you sleep well?” He wanted to shut everything down and focus on her instead, but it was bad timing. “Oh!”

“Let me help you with that,” she said and was suddenly next to him, spatula making sure that the tomatoes and mushrooms didn’t burn. “Scrambled eggs?” she asked and pointed at the third skillet.

“Yes! You want? And bacon?”

“Oh yeah, starving!”

“Good! Coffee with that?”

“Oh my God, yes!”

He grinned, happy to be right about the coffee. He also had to sternly tell himself not to stare at her, despite looking fresh in halter-neck top, white shorts and shiny hair, barefoot like him, and with her fresh, lovely scent surrounding them both.

They worked side by side, concentrating on getting the breakfast done, not able to look at each other but elbows bumping now and then.

“Please?” he asked and handed her two pieces of bread that she put in the toaster.

He had some tense moments with the scrambled eggs, and she held forward two plates just as he was ready. He divided it between them, then added bacon and vegetables according to their wishes.

“Do you want to eat on the porch?” he asked, washing his hands and placing the toast on the trey he had prepared. There was an empty mug on it, and he poured coffee in it or her. She also spied other utensils along with juice, yogurt, fruit, milk, tea…

“Sure!” she said, standing there with one plate in either hand.

“Lead the way, Agent Mills,” he smiled and followed her with the trey, enjoying the sight of her walking out in the sun.

Abbie waited to put down the plates until he had placed the trey on the outdoor table, then she sat down on the swing, legs up and leaving space for him. Finally meeting his eyes properly, she lightly patted the pillow beside her.

“Join me?”

Blushing, he did so with an eagerness that made the swing rock a bit much.

“Woah!” she yelped, almost unbalanced. He held on to her and stopped the swing from moving with a firm foot on the floor.

“Sorry!” he exclaimed. Abbie just laughed.

“Let’s eat!” she smiled and quickly pecked his lips. His surprise was comical, but then he smiled goofily.

They tucked in, not talking except for Abbie moaning in appreciation of his coffee and then telling him that the food was fantastic. Crane nodded gratefully while still stuffing himself, feeling quite pleased.

They finished their hot food and moved on to yogurt and fruit, devouring that as well. Abbie had drank her coffee and wanted more.

“You need more tea, Crane? I’m going to get more coffee.”

“Oh, let me –”

“Stay, and keep eating!” she ordered with a grin, took their cups and tried to sashay into the cabin, flashing him a grin over her shoulder. “Oww!” slipped out of her and she made a face.

“Are you alright!?” he asked, half rising from his seat.

“No – don’t get up! Everything aches, how about you?”

“Uh, yes…”

“Thought so,” she smiled and went inside.

While pouring their beverages, Abbie exhaled and decided she had no reason to be anxious. It was still so easy with him. She noticed that he had cleaned up their little picnic romp from the night before. Corbin would have liked how Crane took care of the cabin. Abbie liked it too.

Back on the porch, Crane had finished his breakfast, so she cuddled up closer to him in the swing. Nursing their respective beverages, they simply enjoyed the cool and calm morning, slowly moving back and forth, manoeuvred by Crane’s foot.

“So, did you sleep well?” he asked again, wanting to hear that she had.

“Slept like a baby!” she answered happily. “I hope I didn’t make a mess?”

“No a single spot,” he assured her, feeling assured as well. It hadn’t just been his impression, or his one-sided feeling. “Are you in much pain?”

“It’s manageable,” she chuckled. “Not sure it’s period pain or if the whole pelvic area is begging for mercy after a long battle.”

He chuckled as well. “I… am sorry if it got a bit… too much.”

“Nah, you’re no more guilty than me,” she soothed him, stroking his arm around her. “No regrets.”

“None?” he mumbled in her hair.

“Nope,” she said almost truthfully, wishing she hadn’t picked up his book.

“Nor have I,” Crane smiled. “And I slept so good.”

“But aching?”

“Dear Lord, yes!”

Abbie grinned. “Is it OK if I lean on you like this?”

“Absolutely! But it might be some days until…”
“Yeah?”

“Until I heal,” he mumbled. “Especially my private parts.”

Abbie chuckled again. “No better here, I’m afraid.”

He carefully hugged her closer.

“I think I saw you looking in a book…” he began. “Before you went into the shower.”

“You thought you saw me?” she smiled. “Weren’t you asleep?”

“I was just waking up?” he tried.

“Just then?” she teased, hearing that he lied. “And you didn’t say anything?”

“I… no?”

“Alright,” she said, waiting for his next attempt.

“So, uh, I wrote that book.”

“Yeah, I saw,” Abbie said, shifting a bit.

Crane was silent, nervous.

“What did you think, then? I know it was just a quick look but you seemed… uh.”

“Honestly?”

“Yes, please, honestly!”

“I thought it was a load of crap.” 

Chapter Text

Abbie could literally feel Crane’s chin drop. He tensed, then slumped.

Way to kill the mood, Mills.

It was too late to play politely uninterested now.

“Oh,” was all he finally said.

“I didn’t know you’d written so much about the American Revolution,” Abbie said, partly to fill the silence.

“Oh yes! Revolutions were always something that piqued my curiosity, and eventually my interest focused on the War of Independence, and the spy networks at the time,” he babbled, feeling numb by her critique.

“Your thesis?” she asked, staring into her coffee mug.

“Yes.”

Abbie was still leaning against his chest, but it was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

“A lot about Washington, was it?” she asked.

“Oh, yes! Fascinating man!” Crane yelped, making polite conversation.

“Mmm,” was her only reply, feeling a bit provoked.

“You sound less enthused, Agent Mills,” he ventured.

“Well, it’s fascinating that a British Oxford dude is into the American Revolution. But I guess you would have fitted right into that gang of men who started it all,” she blurted out. Then her heart sank, but it was replaced with anger. Not necessarily towards Crane, but towards the old views he seemed to support.

Crane was once again silent.

“White men of privilege,” he finally said.

Abbie didn’t respond but felt herself tense, get prepared. She leaned forward and put her mug on the table, easing away a bit from him.

“I suppose that’s only fair,” he mumbled.

Suppose?

Abbie decided to let that pass as a part of his British vocabulary. He did own up to it. Abbie shifted and sat up properly, then turned to look at his face that still looked crestfallen.

“Can you see the problem I have with this?” she asked. “I was only perusing the chapter on James Armistead, and you go on and on about the Marquis de Lafayette. Even focusing more on praising him for making sure Armistead ‘got the freedom he had worked so hard to deserve’, when he shouldn’t –” Abbie’s voice broke, a mixture of wrath and grief almost overtook her.

“He shouldn’t have been a slave in the first place,” Crane filled in, looking ashamed.

“Didn’t you realise how wrong that line was until now?” she reproached.

Crane lowered his head, too ashamed to meet her eyes.

“I confess I… Lafayette…”

“Yeah, yeah, Lafayette. Young, French nobleman, such a hero! You just HAD to go all fanboy, didn’t you?”

“I’M NOT A –!” Crane started, then snapped his mouth shut and lifted his chin with some defiance. “HMPF! Very well, I tend to become a bit… single-minded when it comes to Lafayette. And Washington. Perhaps partly for Jefferson.”

Abbie sneered. “You’ve heard that before,” she said, not even guessing and wanted to make gagging noises at the mention of both Jefferson and Washington.

“In any case,” he said and looked humbled. “It is, as you point out, very bad if it affects how I write things that are more important than my admiration.”

“If it affects how you write?” she said pointedly. “Do you want me to go and get the da- the book?”

“No – no!” he protested, noticing what she almost said. “I know it word by word.”

“Of course you do,” was her openly sarcastic reply.

“And it says, just as you quote: I wrote that Armistead deserved his freedom. When of course he shouldn’t ever have been enslaved at all,” he confessed.

“See, I’m sure you knew that already,” Abbie mused. “But the way we use words, then write them, write something that other people read – it matters!”

“Yes, yes… of course… I…” he put his face in his palm.

“Isn’t that why you write a book on history in the first place?”

“Indeed it is. It was a horrible way to write it,” he admitted.

“It was, really,” she agreed.

“I mean… the layers of it all,” he mused. “Being enslaved. Being a spy. Then, after the Independence, nothing really changed for him or any black people. But Lafayette, he…”

“What?” Abbie frowned.

“The act of charity was… well, at least it set James Armistead free. Lafayette worked hard against slavery, but...”

“You made Lafayette the hero in Armistead’s chapter,” Abbie mumbled.

“I did, didn’t I,” he muttered. “I know it’s unforgivable. I do,” he said and was truly contrite. “I can only say this: I wanted another editor than those I had. I wanted an African-American historian to look it over. But it…”

“What?” she asked, not happy about his defensiveness, but curious about what he had to say.

“The editors were my father and my uncle Anthony – Bram’s father. They’re both historians, but…”

“Let me guess: definitely both white and probably at least sixty years old,” Abbie said.

“Hm, yes.”

“Now, don’t get me wrong, Crane. The man you bought this cabin from was a white man who died in his sixties. He loved history and justice. He passed that on to me. He was the father I needed. And even he would have been a better editor!” she spat.

Crane sighed deeply and closed his eyes.

“Meanwhile, Armistead wasn’t the only black spy,” Abbie said carefully. “But you wrote nothing about that.”

“That’s something I want to write about, Abbie!” he exclaimed, eyes open again and staring at her almost wildly.

“Oh really!” Abbie argued. “Despite there being ‘no textual evidence’ and just a ‘place surrounded with lore’!”

“You quote that word by word!” a baffled Crane cried. “Do you have an eidetic memory yourself?!”

“Never you mind about my memory,” Abbie bit off, not in the mood to boast about her observation skills that never ever, to her knowledge, failed her.

“You know about Grace Dixon and Frederick’s Manor, of course,” he said, admonished. “Being a local of this town, a history student and, above all, one of the few recipients of her legendary scholarship,” he iterated.

“My mother was another,” Abbie muttered and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Oh? Well… The whole legacy of that scholarship is –”

“A 200 year mystery, yes. Of course I know that. Every student at our college knows that,” she interrupted, feeling irritated.

“Indeed a most impressive woman, like the tales of her,” Crane dared. “Grace Dixon, her history, Frederick’s Manor’s importance are things I want to write about more than anything.”

Abbie lifted a suspicious eyebrow at him.

“It is the truth!” Crane pleaded. “It was one of the things that persuaded me to move to the States!”

“To do research about Grace Dixon!” Abbie cried.

“Yes! Well, no…”

Abbie snorted.

“Please, it was one of many veins. But the more I have heard, and the more it has turned out to be a mystery… Well, my interest is truly piqued.”

“Piqued, eh?” Abbie groused. “A black woman whose history can change what we know about the War of Independence and a whole lot to black people in the United States today – that has a white, male, British historian’s interest piqued!?”

“I’m sorry, I –”

“You assume it’s just for you to step in and get these answers, and write this story?”

“No, Abbie… I –”

“Is it, Crane?! Is this your story to write in the first place!?”

“No, it’s not. I see what you mean. It’s not.”

Abbie was angrier than she had first realised. Her pulse had risen and her cheeks were hot. The anger whirled inside of her, but she swallowed and squared her shoulders. She had progressively moved away from Crane as she told him off, and was now sitting at the other end of the swing, glaring at him. He, in his end, looked at her with apprehension and contrition.

“Abbie… I am really –”

“Just think, OK. THINK.

“Yes. I will do better,” he nodded over and over.

“Not for my sake. Not because we –”

“No – Abbie, please! I… what would it be worth if I couldn’t take new knowledge into my head, listen to someone who really knows, and see the bigger picture?” he said passionately. “I… Well, this is the critique I deserve. I see that now. Writing new books of history is useless unless it brings something new. The way we do see and understand the whole picture. Not just that of white, male historians. I swear –!” he went on, restless hands fidgeting. Suddenly, he rose from the swing and took some long, slightly limping steps on the porch; march-like, stopping abruptly, turning around to her again and looking agitated. He took some deep breaths, dancing hands sinking to his sides.

“I won’t deny,” he said when he had calmed down, “your words hit a nerve. They do. But it’s a nerve that needs to be hit. Believe me when I say that I am – or will – be grateful for this. It isn’t your wisdom and knowledge that stings, I swear. It’s my own blindness… my foolish admiration that tends to take over…” he grumbled and stared over her head, looking peeved.

Abbie let him talk. Strangely enough, his rant amused her a bit. She needed to point out that his education wasn’t her work, not her responsibility. But he would notice that soon enough. She could tell that he was as honest as her; that he was the sort of person that she had deduced since they first met. A good man. They did exist. She made a mental shrug.

“Crane, of course I understand your admiration of these men. Yes, their work and their writing meant everything, not just to this country,” she began. “But as you say: the bigger picture. Washington listened to Lafayette when it came to slavery. He even agreed that slavery was wrong. But then, what did he do?”

Crane’s chin sunk to his chest while he was nodding sadly.

“He never released any slaves, as you know. Lafayette’s work meant a lot for France, yeah. Jefferson… yeah, I know what he wrote. Of course I know! But again, the bigger picture. Do I have to say more about it?”

“Definitely not, Abbie,” Crane said sadly.

“Some actions sure were easier than other for the founding fathers,” Abbie griped. “Not releasing them, mind you. Are those the sort of men you look up to?”

Crane looked ashamed. “Absolutely not – not that part!” he said.

Abbie frowned.

“What's wrong is wrong, and what’s right is right,” he said, hoping she would agree.

“Do you need to explain that to a policewoman?” she questioned.

“No, I –”

“It’s true that there’s good and bad in all of us,” she shot in. “But it’s not that easy. Good politicians can be awful in private. That doesn’t make them good people. I’ve met murderers who were wonderful parents. Still murderers, though.”

Crane’s shoulders slumped, defeated by her logic.

Abbie was shifting on the swing again. Imagine that swings and porches were supposed to be places of peace and quiet. There had been none of that while they’d been on this porch!

“Look,” she said, “We should probably change the subject. You asked for my honest opinion. I gave some. I will add this: it seems to be an interesting, engaging book! I only browsed. I’d gladly buy it if I saw it, since the subject really interests me too –”

Crane bolted from the porch and disappeared into the house, muttering a curse from pain. Abbie jumped at his quick retreat, wondering what she’d done now. He reappeared just as quickly with the discussed book in his hand. He hastily walked over to her and handed it to her.

“Please!” he said. “Take it?”

“I… isn’t this your own copy?”

“One of them. I have another where I’ve made a lot of underlined text and side comments,” he said and held the book forward until she took it. “Perhaps you’d like that instead? Hm?” he asked. Abbie could tell that she was still peeved, even if he wanted to make some sort of amends.

“OK, thank you,” she agreed and received the book. “This copy will be fine. And I will read it. Properly.”

“Good!” he said with some bravado. “And then we can talk about it some more!”

Abbie rolled her eyes and laughed.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she muttered.

The sexy book club? Reading with benefits?

She chuckled to herself.

“Clearly, something’s on your mind,” Crane said and lifted a meaningful brow.

“Yeah…” she smiled fondly, a bittersweet emotion filling her chest. “But now is not the time. I’m afraid it’s time to pack and go home,” she said while carefully rising from the swing and walking over to him.

“Oh! So soon?” he blurted out, unable to hide his disappointment.

“Time flies,” she sighed and opened the book again, looking at the seal. “Maidenwell,” she reminded herself and let her finger trace the waving hair strands of the woman depicted.

“You do know your Latin, Agent Mills, just as you said,” he smiled, enjoying how she watched his family seal.

“A bit,” she acknowledged. “Maidenwell Manor, right?”

“Yes! Do you know about it?” he asked, pleasantly surprised.

“Abraham told us at dinner yesterday. It must have a big library?” she asked and looked up at him, doe eyes shining with interest.

Crane nearly tripped over his own feet, hands fidgeting at his sides again. How much did she really know about Maidenwell Manor?

“It does indeed!” he almost stammered, both from looking into her gorgeous, brown eyes and from wondering what – if – she knew. Could he tell her? No… no. No? It was a well-guarded secret, after all. True, she was with the FBI. She would understand. And her eyes might shine even more with interest if he told her. That was worth a whole lot. A whole family secret?

“Larger than… you might expect,” he concluded, possibilities swimming in his brain.

Just moments ago, she had given him the critique that stung. Stung, because it was something he had needed to hear all his life. Stung, because in his pride over being who he was, he had been blind for so many things, he had fallen into traps made by ancestors with old, harmful views. Then came she, saying what he needed to hear, be reminded of and probably fully understand for the first time: writing history had to matter. Not just being something to be admired for in the right circles. Live as you learned. Effortlessly, she walked straight into the secret corners of his mind, making them shine bright for the first time ever.

Abbie smiled and frowned, wondering what went through his mind. Her hand stretched up and cupped his bearded cheek before she realised what she was doing. Crane sighed and closed his eyes; a blissful sigh this time.

“I didn’t mean to be harsh, you know that right?” she said, stuttering a little.

“Everything you said was true, Abbie,” he told her seriously. “Things that sting generally mean something important,” he said and his hand ran up along her arm, shoulder and neck under her hair.

“Mm, good…” she mumbled. “I’m glad…” she said, standing on her toes as he leaned down to kiss her ever so slowly and sweetly. She made sure the book landed safely on a pillow in the swing before her hands stretched up to grab his shoulders. As his arms closed around her and pressed her tight against him, the kiss quickly stopped being sweet.

“Whew!” she panted, pushing back a little before her feelings – their feelings – got the better of them. “Crane, I…”

“I wish you could stay,” he whispered, kissing a trail along her cheek and ear.

“Ohh… I… stop! I wish I could! Damn, you’re dangerous…”

He did stop kissing her, as she asked, but laughed darkly against her warm, fragrant skin.

“As if you’re the most helpless and innocent kitty cat that just happen to be irresistible to snuggle,” he chuckled.

“I wouldn’t dare to say that,” Abbie smiled and shuddered as he stole another kiss from her lips.

“Will I see you soon?” he mumbled against her lips.

“You can’t avoid it, I’m afraid,” she replied in a low voice. “I will have to take you in for further questioning.”

“Mmmm, more questioning? I like it!”

“Yeah, you might not,” she said seriously and he sobered up enough from his amorous attack to listen.

“What is troubling you, Treasure?”

Her hands were on his chest, rubbing lightly and trying to resist the allure of the skin exposed by the many unbuttoned buttons.

“I will need to follow up this thing with Nick Hawley. And Abraham knows him.”

Crane nodded sagely. “That makes sense.”

“If he asks you anything, you must be silent, Crane. I know he knows about us, but he mustn’t know what I ask you regarding the investigation,” she stressed.

“Oh, Bram would never ask!” Crane assured her.

“You sure? I mean, he might be curious. Please be careful. Please?”

“Of course! But Bram will tell you everything he knows. Which most of the time is very little!” Crane laughed, still holding Abbie in his arms.

“Yeah… Question is how it has escaped him that Hawley is the biggest smuggler of antiques and artefacts in this part of USA… and more. Probably much more,” Abbie mused.

“Are you suggesting that Bram knowingly has made deals with a criminal?” Crane scoffed.

“Haven’t you wondered that yourself?” Abbie asked, surprised.

“No! No, indeed!” Crane protested, letting go of Abbie and taking a step back.

“Hmm, OK,” Abbie said.

“What do you mean by that?” Crane demanded.

“I mean, please don’t ask him about it either.”

“You don’t have to say please so many times, Agent Mills. I’m not stupid!” he said somewhat bitterly.

Abbie could tell that he wanted to quarrel. It was probably both about Bram and her critique earlier. Possibly because of the whole situation they were in. Regretfully, she decided it was time to be Agent Mills, which he was already calling her. Professionalism. Diplomacy.

“I would be the stupid one if I called you that,” she tried with a wry smile. “I’m sorry we’re in this situation, Crane. You did a great thing when you called Captain Irving yesterday.”

“Did I? It seems I might have put the man who is as close to me as a brother in a difficult situation because of this… situation!” he made a vague gesture towards her and himself.

“Nah, we just have to make sure. You see that, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course I do! But I do not see how you can believe such a thing about Bram! He’s your sister’s boyfriend!”

“Is he? Has he said that?” Abbie blurted out.

“Oh, for God’s sake! They have sex, go out in public, had dinner with you and your…” he made another, less vague gesture when he didn’t mention Luke and his family by name.

“Yeeeaaah, well… until I hear Jenny refer to herself as Bram’s girlfriend, I wouldn’t count so much on the usual signs. If there are any usual signs these day. Also, they invited Sophie into it all yesterday,” she added with a shrug.

“Oh, Bram has always been promiscuous!” Crane exclaimed. “Both in and outside of relationships. Even when he was engaged,” he said, but didn’t say Katrina’s name.

“So has Jenny, for what it’s worth,” Abbie said.

“They should fit one another like a hand in glove, then!” Crane decided.

“Or several hands… and gloves,” she mused and laughed a little. “Well, in any case…”

“Hm?”

Abbie thoughtfully tapped a finger on her bottom lip, regarding him. He stood ramrod straight, glaring at her. He was still in a querulous mood, she guessed. She didn’t really mind, but they did have this delicate… situation. She would have liked to talk with him more; endlessly. Quarrel, even. But now was not the time. Would the time ever present itself?

“I need to go,” she said firmly. “I’ve had a wonderful time, as I’m sure you know. If not, your eidetic memory won’t lie,” she smirked.

“Thank you,” he said, looking defeated again. “I had a wonderful time as well, Abbie…”

“I’m just gonna get my stuff –”

“Let me help you?” he asked hopefully and followed her inside when she smiled indulgently. He brought her dress and red leather jacket while she made sure that she had packed all her other things. The dress went in the bag, the jacket was put on.

“I really like that jacket, Leftenant,” he admired, looking her over and wanting to remind her of the evening before.

She beamed at him, remembering. “It was more or less my armour when I was with the police!”

“When you were a Leftenant,” he smiled.

“It’s not pronounced like that, you dork!” she laughed and let him carry her bag to the door.

“Whatever you say, Leftenant,” he teased and put down the bag.

“Crane,” she laughed again.

“Kiss me,” he pleaded and sneaked an arm around her.

“Come here, you dork.”

Chapter Text

“Hey! It’s my sister: the runaway bride!” Jenny yelled as Abbie walked into the one-bedroom apartment.

“Still not a runaway bride,” Abbie replied to her sister’s daily claim since she had left her and Luke’s home.

“Tell that to Luke, he texted Sophie so often last night that we learnt to sing her text message signal while we fucked,” Jenny grinned, as Abbie groaned with frustration as she put down her bag and took off her leather jacket. “I know, right?” Jenny kept saying, while eating cereals. “At least her Shakira signal is better than yours!”

“Nothing wrong with Gnarls Barkley,” Abbie muttered.

“You’ve had ‘Crazy’ as your ringtone for 10 years!” Jenny complained.

“How would you know, you’ve only been around for the last five?” Abbie shook her head.

“Every visit in prison, when they called you from work, that song started playing from the visitors’ locker! The other inmates hated it!” Jenny pointed at her with her spoon. “I was beaten up because of it once.”

“Yeah, well, as soon as you grew taller than me, you beat me up every day,” Abbie said grumpily, starting to unpack her bag on the sofa-bed where she slept.

“Hey, it got you into training hand-to-hand combat!” Jenny laughed. “Gotta thank your three years younger and three inch taller sister for that! What fun we had!”

“That’s not how I remember it,” Abbie mumbled, remembering a vicious, ten-year-old Jenny, who had felt just as lost as Abbie herself, after their dad left and with their mama developing a personality disorder that turned out to be a brain tumour. Abbie was 13 and afraid of everything, because everything posed a threat. The self-defence class right after school had been her salvation in many ways. She had no plans of becoming a cop back then, but she’d put her new-found knowledge to use soon after and it had been useful ever since. Stopping Jenny and occasionally putting her in her place had been more relief than satisfaction.

“Ah, excuse me for being a stepping stone on your career path!” Jenny griped.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, all your choices turned out to be the right choices. Didn’t they?”

“Do you really want to bring this up again, Jenny? Was it me who broke off all contact and left town? Oh, let me see – no, that was you.”

“Abbie…”

“And then, was it you who reached out when you landed yourself in prison? Hang on – no, that was me.”

“Hey!”

“And when you got yourself in trouble again, in this town and while under my watch, who was it that vouched for you, went many extra miles for you?”

“Also you.”

“Mm. That was not a career path. That was me being you sister.”

“Sure. I’m very grateful,” Jenny grumbled.

“When have I ever demanded your gratitude?!” Abbie exclaimed.

“Wow, someone’s in a bad mood today!”

“I was in a great mood before I came back here! As I’ve said, I can go to a motel, if I’m in your way.”

“Oh, don’t be silly!”

“Well, then stop saying silly things!” Abbie said, holding up her hands defensively. They’d had this discussion so many times, sometimes quarrels and outright fights, but things generally blew over quickly these days. Abbie liked to think that they had landed in their lives and as sisters, despite many years where they were far apart in every sense of the word.

Jenny made a dramatic shrug. “There’s more coffee,” she said. “Sounds like you need it. Although, considering how you can hardly walk normally –”

“I’ve already had two large mugs.”

“Ooohh, stayed for breakfast, did you!” Jenny teased, sensation in her voice.

“Yeah,” Abbie replied and couldn’t hold back a smile.

“Now that’s the smile I expected after a night with your ‘fling’!” Jenny grinned.

“Mmm,” Abbie tried to deflect, but revealed herself by smiling even more.

“Aaaww, come on! Tell me, tell me!” Jenny begged and plopped down next to Abbie in the folded sofa-bed.

“Shut up,” Abbie blushed.

“Come on, spill! Tell me, sister! How many times, how many inches, what positions – what’s that in your hair?”

“What?”

“Hang on…” Jenny said and carefully lifted some tresses. “Glitter?” she said and showed the flake on her finger tip.

“Oh my God… that’s a gold flake,” Abbie said and stared at it. “I thought I got everything out… from everywhere.”

“Whaaat the fuuuck!?” Jenny screamed. “You played around with this last night – hang on. Haaang on…” Jenny said and looked closer. “Is this… real gold?”

“Yeah, seems so…” Abbie confessed.

“How the hell…?”

“It was in a bottle of champagne,” Abbie said defensively. “And I told him to avoid my hair!”

“Did he spray you with it!?”

“Uh, yes…”

“Sister, as I live and breathe,” Jenny said solemnly and placed the small gold flake just on the top of Abbie’s cleavage, making her snort. “Champagne with gold flakes… that’s ridiculously expensive for a body shot!”

“Hm, maybe.”

“Maybe? Hey, did you get wine in your pussy?”

“Jenny!!”

“Just saying! The right kind can be good, like vinegar, but some –”

“Really, Jenny –”

“Oh, don’t be such a prude!”

“I’m not!”

“We’re sisters! Why can’t we ever share these things?”

Abbie sighed. “Alright,” she said. “I’m really sore, everywhere. Yes, there as well. So is he. But I’m dealing with it and left some oils for him, I hope he has the sense to use it.”

Jenny grinned, waiting for more.

“On the other hand, I got my period out of nowhere –”

“Oh my God!!” Jenny exclaimed. “While you were fucking!?”

“No!”

“Damn, that happened to me once, so embarrassing!”

“It wasn’t! No, I noticed it after. Though technically, I guess… And no, it wasn’t embarrassing! He’s such a gentleman.”

“You got it this morning?”

“No, late last night.”

“And you stayed?”

“Yes.”

Jenny’s eyebrows were almost hitting her hairline in surprise. She looked at the stuff Abbie unpacked.

“You brought all of this with you for a one night stand?”

Abbie made no reply.

“Didn’t you want to go home?”

“I… sort of? But he… wanted me to stay, so we slept. And then he made breakfast in the morning.”

Jenny looked sceptical. “Was it nice?” she asked sweetly.

“Mm, yeah, really… really… nice,” Abbie said dreamily.

“Woah, that sounded a lot more than nice!”

 Abbie hid her face in her hands. “What the hell are we doing?”

“We? Oh, you mean you and Ichabod Crane!”

“I mean, it’s not like I can let this go on.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’m getting married, he’s getting married – that’s for real. This is… I don’t know what the hell this is.”

“What you refer to as ‘this’? That’s you packing an overnight bag, complete with two sets of underwear and period pads, despite being on the pill. ‘This’ is you staying the night when you should have gone home.”

“Hey, I just like being prepared! That’s just… training.”

“So you were in combat last night?”

“I just… it was a matter of being comfortable!”

“Is it comfortable to be getting on with this charade?”

“What charade?”

“Seriously? I would actually like to see my sister in a happy marriage.”

“Is this about Luke again?”

“No, this is about you, Abbie. Why are you so dead set on going through with this wedding?”

“I made a promise.”

“It’s not like the whole damn apocalypse will start just because you break a promise, you know.”

“Don’t be too sure.”

“You’re grossly overestimating your importance, Abbie.”

“Listen, Jenny… I’ve given my word. Very solemnly. It means something to me. When… dad left, I told myself I’d never let someone down like that. Then mama, then…”

“Me,” Jenny filled in.

“I said yes. We’re planning this wedding, so much is already set. People are counting on me. Luke is counting on me. We have plans: a house, a family. I… I really want a family, Jenny.”

“I know you do,” Jenny said in a low voice.

“I’m happy about us being close again, Jenny, but I want… I need to move on with my life, to make it work… have… have…”

“Say it.”

“Children,” Abbie finally said. “I want children.”

Anxiety had been rising within Abbie as they spoke, but she needed to keep talking, once she had begun.

“You’ll have children, Abbie!” Jenny said and put her arm around her elder sister’s shoulders. “You will!”

“I just…”

“You won’t turn into mama, Abbie.”

“I didn’t –” she started, but stopped, clearly agitated.

“Isn’t that what worries you?” Jenny asked.

Abbie made a shrug of defeat, but said nothing.

“The… only thing that worries me…” Jenny began.

“Is Luke the man who should father those children,” Abbie filled in.

“Well, you said it.”

“Luke and I work, I can work with what we got.”

“Work with it? Do you hear yourself?”

“I’m not like you, Jenny.”

“Do you even love Luke?” Jenny’s moaned in frustration.

“Of course I… love him!” Abbie claimed, staring straight ahead, but not really seeing the room or Jenny next to her.

“What was that pause about?”

“It’s just… I mean, I was in love once. Then he was so determined when he wooed me and proposed. In between, we tend to… just make it work.”

“Shit, Abbie.”

“It’s something to build on!”

“If you’re that eager to get married, grab that Brit and run off to Vegas!”

“Why the hell would I do that!?”

“Well, you seem to get along a whole lot better with him!”

“We’re having sex, Jenny.”

“Exactly!”

“Hold on – this isn’t about us… him and me… I mean…”

“What, Abbie? How is this not about you and him? You’ve never done anything like this, I’m willing to swear in court that you’ve never even entertained the idea!”

“Jenny.”

“And according to Abraham, his cousin has been a boring nerd who only dated one girl, was over the moon over his then-girlfriend, a. k. a. the red-haired muppet, and spent 75% of his time staring into ancient books.”

“Jenny.”

“Like you and your studying and F.B.I. dream!”

“JENNY!”

“WHAT!?”

“He’s getting married too!”

“Is he, though?”

“We talked about it! And just like me… he honours his promises. He said so.”

“What the hell does that even matter?”

“He loves her, the red-haired muppet. He was over the moon for her, remember?”

“That was then.”

“He loves her, just like I love Luke.”

“Exactly!” Jenny yelled.

“Well, duh!”

“Well DUH! It’s just an idea you have! A bad one.”

“What the hell are you going on about,” Abbie laughed, finally giving up being serious.

“Why are you seeing this guy? Packing, staying overnight?”

Abbie was silent.

“Do you want to say it yourself or hear my theory?” Jenny asked.

“Yeah, hang on, I’ll say it myself,” Abbie said. “That Brit and I – Crane – we’re having the best sex I’ve ever had. And it seems he feels the same. And when I’m saying best sex, I mean… amazing sex.”

Jenny whooped. “How amazing??”

Abbie chuckled helplessly. “Totally, fucking amazing, Jenny.”

Her sister screamed and flailed.

“I mean,” Abbie continued. “It’s like a whole other level. The attraction is wild, been since the moment we met, and being with him… I just let loose. We both do. But we show respect, we say what we want, make sure there’s consent, take care of one another…”

Jenny nodded eagerly, listening attentively.

“And I do things with him that I’ve only just fantasised about before…” Abbie shook her head.

“Wait a minute! You’re using a condom, right?” Jenny demanded.

“What?”

“Since you got your period, duhh! Unless you really to get pregnant NOW,” Jenny rolled her eyes. “And loads and loads of lube if you’re doing anal, because that guy is BIG and he’s not afraid to flaunt it!”

“JENNY!” Abbie screamed, scandalised.

“OK, so you haven’t done that,” Jenny surmised.

Abbie just gaped, then closed her mouth, looking somewhat confused.

“Not yet, at least?”

“Well, not… technically… uh –”

“You haven’t done it before, have you?” Jenny guessed.

“Um, only with myself. And just some, uh, play with Crane.”

“Good, warm it up, take your time,” Jenny laughed and elbowed her. “No, seriously!” she added and stopped smiling. “Take your time with it, OK?”

“Yeah, sure,” Abbie agreed, blushing furiously.

“And only do it if you want to!”

Abbie nodded mutely, feeling like she had the talk she should have had with her mama, but never actually had.

“Also, I’ve been thinking about something,” Jenny chuckled. “Where did you first have sex? Because thinking back, I sort of wonder if something happened at Mabie’s…”

Abbie hid her face in her hands again.

“It did!?” Jenny squealed. “You fooled around at Mabie’s!?”

Abbie nodded.

“In the restroom??”

Abbie nodded again.

“You we’re only making out, though?”

Abbie shook her head.

“You were… having sex there?”

Another nod.

“Ohh my God! I mean, not just a blow job?”

Another shake.

“My sister really hit it off with a stranger at Mabie’s…” Jenny said solemnly. “You’re right, the apocalypse is probably coming.”

*

The metallic scent of the mask assaulted Ichabod’s nostrils for a moment when he placed it over his face. His thick cotton uniform had felt dusty and dingy, but a good shake in the clean air helped some. The outfit was still white, if not crisp. All items were now snugly fitted on his lanky body; jacket with croissard between his legs, breeches with high socks (which he secretly liked most of all, since he felt like he dressed up to be from the 18th century), protective glove, shoes, and the rounded mask to protect his face. The sabre felt heavy in his hand, despite its springiness. At least his weapon was in good shape.

Ichabod was generally the one to defend, while Abraham would attack. Ichabod would even it out with his quick, cat-like manoeuvres along with his superior parry and riposte. Today was different. Ichabod was the one who attacked and plunged, having the upper hand – or rather: the upper sabre.

“Ooh, aggressive today?” Bram teased, though his words came out muffled from his mask. Bram had called Ichabod, telling him he’d found a place where they at last could practice their fencing. Ichabod had dug out his fencing things and went, despite being sore, to the old gymnastic hall in Tarrytown. Crane needed this, feeling incredibly restless.

The pain of his screaming muscles just fuelled it, making adrenaline flow through him. His next attack was even more vicious, forcing Abraham to retreat backwards, almost as far as was allowed. Crane got a hit on Bram’s arm before that.

They stopped, went back for the next bout, greeted one another by touching sabre handles, and went to stand behind their lines.

En-garde?” Abraham asked, since they were without a judge.

En-garde,” Ichabod replied.

Together, they chanted: “Pret – allez!

In quick succession, Ichabod scored five hits while Abraham scored none. They were usually more even, and while Ichabod couldn’t see Abraham’s face, his manner of walking told him that Bram was a bit worried. Always the burlier one, Bram wasn’t necessarily the stronger one of them. Or as Ichabod used to say: he wasn’t playing all his strength, in favour of brute force.

“You know that good sex is supposed to make you unwind, right?” Bram tried, in an attempt to make Ichabod unfocused. “Seems to do the opposite to you,” he went on, almost breathless since Crane was once more attacking hard. “Or wasn’t it good?”

Ichabod got his sixth hit, just on Abraham’s neck.

“Your attempts to make me unbalanced only serves to unbalance yourself, cousin,” Ichabod said. “We don’t break for a pause until I have scored eight hits.”

“Oh, you score eight hits?” Bram exclaimed. “Don’t be so cocky, Icky!”

“How can I not be?” Crane shrugged and went back in position, determined to ignore Bram’s jibes.

“Well, something’s gotten into you!” Bram laughed, trying a different tactic. “You don’t usually play this aggressively.”

“I need to, because if I stop and think about it, I’ll be feeling too much of the soreness from last night,” Crane replied smugly.

 “I knew it!” Bram barked with laughter. “So something got into her!”

“A gentleman has already said too much,” Crane replied.

“Ha, you stopped being a gentleman the moment you started having sex with someone else than your intended wife!”

That did hit home, Ichabod had to admit. One hit for Bram, at least to Ichabod’s pride.

En-garde!” Crane demanded.

En-garde!” Abraham agreed.

Pret, allez!” they chanted, though Ichabod said it at a quicker pace and attacked quickly.

This time, Abraham parried properly and tried his best to riposte, but Ichabod kept their blades busy with a number of circle parries, and their blades danced as if they were foil blades; the springier kind.

“Woah, woah, Ichabod!!” Bram shouted.

Crane wouldn’t stop, instead he lunged, forcing them nearly mask to mask, blades crossed against their chests, and then Crane pushed a surprised Bram backwards, lunging again.

“Steady, Ichabod!” Bram cried. “This isn’t a real duel!”

Ichabod attacked again, and the parry from Bram was so forceful that his blade broke.

“Dammit!” Bram boomed.

“Fuck!” Crane hissed and removed his mask.

Chapter Text

“I will compensate you for a new sabre, Bram, just order it and send me the bill,” Crane sighed and tried to stretch an aching muscle in his back. He was sitting on a wooden bench in the gymnasium dressing room, while Bram stood next to it, examining his broken sabre.

“Sure, sure…” Bram mumbled. “I just don’t see how this happened.”

“Well, it did,” Crane said and took a swig of water from his bottle.

“Did you and Abbie Mills have sex before you came to the cake tasting yesterday?” Bram inquired out of nowhere.

Water sprayed out of Crane’s mouth and he coughed.

“Ab-ra-ham!!” he managed.

“Well, did you? I have a bet with Jenny. Her bet is that you had sex at Mabie’s. My bet is that you had sex just before you came to the cake shop,” Bram laughed.

“It’s a draw, then,” Crane blushed.

“Beg your pardon?”

“It’s a draw.”

“We’re both wrong?”

“No, you’re both right.”

Bram laughed so loud that it made an echo, making some basket players further away in the gymnasium stop and look.

“Where?” he asked when he had calmed down. “At college? In a car?”

“At – at college. In my room there,” Crane stuttered.

Abraham laughed again. “So you kept it official!” he chuckled. “I couldn’t dream that the time would come when I’d be pumping you for details about a one night stand!”

“A what?” Crane frowned. “It wasn’t night. And it was more than once!”

“Ohhh, I bet, ha ha ha! But did you two stand, though? Except for you, I mean?”

“Shut up, Bram!” Crane blushed.

“Really, cousin! You seem positively possessed!” Bram protested. “Is this the new Ichabod Crane, who goes out to seduce women in bars, and has his way with them in professional environments?”

“Absolutely not!” Crane protested.

“So you will be a faithful and ever-loving husband, as soon as you marry Katrina?”

A flicker of panic flitted over Crane’s face.

“That is the plan,” he said correctly. “This… behaviour… is only limited to, and with, Agent Mills.”

Abraham laughed and sat down next to him on the bench.

“The plan. The behaviour. The agent,” he iterated teasingly.

Crane rolled his eyes. “This is NOT my usual behaviour, as you know!” he said crankily.

“So what is this behaviour that you only indulge in when you’re in the company of Agent Mills?” Bram asked, still teasingly but also with genuine interest.

Crane made a frustrated sigh and stared up at the roof.

“Bram, in your far too vast experience of sexual relations, has there ever been one particular partner where you felt like… you’d found someone who not only turns you on and where there’s incredible chemistry, but it’s also veritable fireworks while having sex, nothing’s wrong or forbidden, because you can talk and explore and it all works out perfectly… It’s just intrinsic,” he concluded and threw his hands in the air.

“Loads of times!” Bram boasted.

“Bram…”

“Very well, maybe not as perfect as you claim it is with Abbie,” Bram mused. “I haven’t had that, no. Not that I recall.”

“You wouldn’t forget it if you had!” Crane protested.

“We don’t all have your eidetic memory, Ichabod.”

“You would have remembered, Bram,” his cousin said firmly.

“I remember other things…” Bram said evasively, without wishing to elaborate. “So what you’re saying is that what you have with Abbie Mills is a grand passion? But what about Katrina, then?”

Crane hid his face in his hands and rocked back and forth.

“Ichabod?”

“How can I talk with you about Katrina’s lack of… carnal interest with me?” Crane said at length.

“With you? What do you mean, she never had any with me either.”

“What?” Crane said and turned to stare at Bram.

“She was never into it,” Bram shrugged. “I was disappointed, of course. After a while, I wasn’t faithful, as you know.”

Crane made a face of slight disgust; this was a time in their lives that he hadn’t liked at all.

“But then, when she found out, she wasn’t upset the way I thought she’d be,” Bram continued.

“She found out?!”

“Of course she did!” Bram laughed, as if it was no big deal what so ever. It was a big deal to Crane; Katrina had never told him any of this. “She will find out about you too, mark my words!” Bram continued.

“What happened?” Crane asked with staring eyes and gaping mouth.

“Oh, she rolled her eyes and said she expected no less of any man!”

What!

“Yes! And then…” Bram hesitated.

“Then what?”

“Well… do you remember Betsy?”

Crane scoffed. Betsy Ross was one of their many friends and was often in company with Katrina and Mary. She had thrown herself at Crane on several occasions, while he was with Mary, or when he single, and finally when engaged to Katrina. He couldn’t stand her.

“Yes, her,” Bram confirmed, knowing about these details. “Well, Katrina didn’t like that I went out with a lot of strange women. So she said she preferred if I had a stable, sexual relationship with Betsy instead,” Bram said, looking a partly uneasy and partly smug.

“What… did you say…?” Crane asked slowly, the memory of Standra offering to have sex with him suddenly strong in his mind once more.  

“She invited Betsy over, having secured her cooperation beforehand, and told me she preferred that I had sex with someone… suitable, I think her word was. Not running around with just anyone.”

Crane was silent.

“When I expressed my surprise, she said she could be… in the room when I had sex with her.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Crane groaned and shook his head.

“No, I was quite glad!”

Glad?!

“Why, yes! I hoped she’d be… interested in joining us. Fulfilling a fantasy. Not just being sure on how to do it, you know?”

“You must be joking!”

“No! It was a fantasy of mine, at least! And Katrina was so surprisingly… not innocent, as such. Practically innocent, perhaps. She hadn’t had intercourse when we met, she said, and I never asked her to define it. But she was definitely… informed? But not, uh, enthusiastic.”

“Well put,” Crane said irritably.

“Should I have kept silent about this, Ichabod? I’d been battling with myself...”

“I hardly know…” Crane felt quite confused. “So what happened, then? Did-did –”

“Oh, Katrina didn’t partake! She sat on a chair in the bedroom, looking through a ladies magazine and generally behaved as one would in a doctor’s waiting room.”

“Ah! So… you and Betsy never…?”

“We had sex,” Bram said matter-of-factly.

“With… Katrina in the room?” Crane grew pale.

“Yes. I suppose it shocks you, but it was sort of a turn on.”

“Uh, it was?”

“I would have preferred that Katrina joined us, or at least watched us with some interest. Betsy was quite enthusiastic! I did my best to keep it hot and dirty, trying to get some sort of reaction out of Katrina, but…” Bram shrugged at the memory.

Crane did not.

“Katrina tried the same with me yesterday,” he blurted out.

“Did she?” Bram was surprised.

“She wanted to pair me up with Standra!” Crane spat.

“Oh, you poor devil! Well, she doesn’t look bad, but –”

“Her hair was still discoloured from the rainbow cake gel!”

Bram burst out laughing.

“Sorry… sorry…!” he gasped.

“And Katrina offered to stay in the room. I, however, left our home as soon as I could!”

“So… that’s what was the fight was about, the one that lead you to call me?”

“Yes,” Crane mumbled. “Katrina and I are still at odds about it. I refused her calls after I left. I will also refuse to set foot in our flat.”

“So what happens now? Will you marry, then live apart?” Bram inquired.

Crane leaned his head against the locker behind him, not answering Bram’s question.

“Why did Katrina do that, propose that… idea?” he mumbled.

“Why do anyone do anything? You still haven’t produced a proper answer to what’s going on between Abbie Mills and yourself, Ichabod. Perhaps you can propose Abbie as a ‘solution’, instead of Standra. But will you let Katrina watch?” he chuckled.

“You’re so vulgar, Bram!” Crane scoffed, blushing and feeling uneasy at the thought.

“Well, I thought since you’re in the business of trying a bit of relationship anarchy!” Bram protested. “But I have a better idea: add Sophie Foster to the mix, like Jenny and I did last night! Amazing girl! So bendy – and what a tongue!”

“Bram!” Crane blushed even deeper, now remembering some of the dirty talk he and Abbie had had, how he had practically proposed the same thing. Only as a stimulating fantasy, though, but still vivid enough to make him embarrassed.

“Yes, you’d love it!” Bram grinned. “Sophie is clearly into Abbie, and you’d get some extra attention as well!”

“No, no –”

“No?” Bram said, wicked gleam in his eyes. “Perhaps an extra man instead, then? I’ll gladly volunteer!”

“What the hell are you saying?!” Crane barked.

“Oops, didn’t expect you to be so territorial!” Bram said, hands in air. “We already have Katrina in common. And I’ve always wanted to do sisters!”

“Shut up, Bram!” Crane yelled. “Just shut up about the Mills sisters!”

“Oh, Jenny wouldn’t mind! I probably wouldn’t have them both at once, but it would still be quite a –”

“One more word and my fist will make sure that you’ll have trouble talking for a week!” Crane bellowed.

*

“Which drawer did you say I could borrow?” Abbie asked her sister, as she moved some things around that she had brought yesterday.

“The left one,” Jenny pointed at the dresser just outside her small bedroom. “Avoid the right one, unless you want to be embarrassed,” she added, winking and smiling.

“I’ll remember that!” Abbie laughed, ready to believe her sister. Among her tops that she used for work, she put down some various items that mattered to her. She made sure Corbin’s video camera was properly zipped into its case, and next to it some old camcorder tapes. She made a mental note to check the tape when she had time, there was probably some equipment at work. Hopefully, there were some fine memories of August there that she could transfer to some USB flash drives, then send one to Joe. One cassette case was empty, she noticed, but there was a tape in the camera. Had Luke used it for something particular? It could be police work, but that seemed odd. She also made a mental note to ask him.

In another case made out of leather, also carefully zipped, was an old notebook. Lovingly, she caressed the case and slowly unzipped and opened, watching the faded, black front of it. Grace Dixon’s diary, passed down through generations and given to her by their Mama. Some few lines had been written by all the women that had inherited the book. But the many pages of original writing was a whole other matter.

Abbie cautiously opened the book, knowing it almost by heart, and turned the pages at the very beginning. Among the written text, describing the purchase of Frederick’s Manor and a layout of its design, was another, hand drawn illustration that Mama had never been able to explain. It was a woman with her long hair flowing around her face, and her eyes and face open, eyes staring up at Abbie and mouth open as if she was silently screaming. Abbie had seen it many, many times.

Abbie took up Crane’s book and opened the title page. It wasn’t a perfect copy, but it was definitely the same seal depicted in Grace Dixon’s diary, and it was drawn into it 250 years ago. A strong sense of premonition rose within Abbie. It had been surprise when she saw it in the cabin, now it felt almost foreboding.

“How the hell…?” Abbie whispered.

“Is that Grace Dixon’s diary?” Jenny asked, coming out of her bedroom.

“Yeah…” Abbie mumbled.

“Should really make an effort and learn more about what’s in it!” Jenny said. “You know the most of it, right? Grace was some sort of spy?”

“She was.”

“That’s so cool! Hey – what book is that?” she asked, seeing Crane’s book lying open next to the diary on top of Abbie’s folded clothes in the opened drawer. “And is that the same woman as in the diary?”

“I don’t know,” Abbie said. “But this is Crane’s book, he gave it to me.”

“Ohhh, exchanging gifts, are you?” Jenny teased. “What’s it about?”

“The American Revolution. He wrote it.”

“He wrote a book! And he gave it to you?” Jenny laughed. “Way to impress!”

“It wasn’t quite like that,” Abbie frowned. She took up Crane’s book and found the chapter about Armistead, then handed the book to Jenny, pointing out the paragraph.”

“Wow,” Jenny frowned, after having read it. “So he’s an asshole under all that polished exterior. Well, that’s usually the case.”

“What? No, not really an asshole…” Abbie paused, realising she was defending the same man that she had told off just an hour ago. “Thoughtless, idolising some of the founding fathers… but I gave him a piece of my mind and he agreed with me.”

“Agreed, or nodded along to keep the peace?”

“What? It was a… good talk!”

“Ah, so you to have started talking, have you? Always a big mistake.” Jenny lifted an eyebrow and smiled wryly. “Nevertheless, do you really think he gets it? Or are you making excuses for him?”

“You weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand,” Abbie grumbled and took the book back.

“Okaaay,” Jenny replied, hands in the air.

Abbie rolled her eyes, and Jenny rolled hers even more, just to be dramatic.

“Oh, look at that cool layout of Frederick’s Manor!” Jenny suddenly said and pointed on the diary page. “Is the manor still closed down, by the way?”

“I think so, yes,” Abbie said. “It would have been interesting to go over there and see if the layout’s still the same.”

“Sounds like something right up your alley,” Jenny smirked. “Bring the professor and make it a date.”

“Not likely,” Abbie snorted. “Besides, I have other house dates. Lídia…”

“What about her?” Jenny said, suddenly tense as Luke’s mother was mentioned.

“Apparently, her uncle wants to give Luke and me a house as a wedding present,” Abbie mumbled.

“What?! Oh my fucking God!” Jenny exclaimed.

“Yeah… only…”

Jenny waited to hear what Abbie had to say, arms crossed over her chest.

“Apparently, he wants to make sure the house will be mine alone, if… anything should happen,” Abbie said at length.

“So… Uncle Jorge gives you a house?”

“So it seems…”

“Holy shit,” Jenny said bitterly.

“It feels a bit like… I don’t know.”

“Well, he’s a loaded old man, so he can afford it!”

“How do you know that?” Abbie inquired.

“Sophie told me,” Jenny said shortly and frowned. “They really, really want you to marry Luke. Congratulations! I’m going for a run!” she snapped and turned around.

Chapter Text

“Jenny, wait!” Abbie called after her sister. Limping quickly after her, swearing at her aching muscles, she reached Jenny who firmly kept her back turned. “Please! I know you’re really not a fan of this wedding.”

Jenny scoffed and Abbie couldn’t see her face.

“I’m sorry, I… don’t know what to say.”

“Do as you please!” her sister shrugged. “It’s not like you listen to me anyway!”

“That’s not true, Jenny! I know we’re different, but –”

“Are we? Are we, Abbie?” Jenny interrupted and spun around, facing Abbie. “I see what this is: you want to get married, have the house, have the kids – I get it! You may think I want nothing more than being able to pack up and go around the world at the earliest convenience. Well maybe I do! And maybe I want what you want as well!”

“Jenny –”

“And don’t give me some crap about ‘you can’t do both’, because it seems to me that you’re not doing too grand on one thing!”

“OK, OK – time out!” Abbie begged. “I am thinking about this. All the time. Back and forth. I tried to talk to Luke… I just –”

Abbie’s work phone rang, and Jenny made a face, fully knowing their conversation was over for now. As Abbie picked up her phone, Jenny threw her dirty looks.

“Sir,” she answered correctly, knowing it was Agent Granger that called.

“Morning, Mills! Didn’t mean to call so early, we said after lunch, right?”

“It’s no trouble, sir,” Abbie said, while Jenny made a face. Abbie lowered the volume on the phone, making sure Jenny wouldn’t catch anything her boss said.

“Good, good! Well, Agents Reynolds and Dawson did some interrogation of that Hawley fellow yesterday afternoon. Hawley says he’ll only talk to you.”

“Uh-huh, I see, sir.”

“Demanding, isn’t he?” Granger said meaningfully.

“It sure seems so. I’ll be in as soon as I can.”

“That’s great, Mills, see you soon.”

Hanging up, Abbie groaned at the sight of another call coming in, obviously from the Sleepy Hollow police station.

“Agent Mills,” she answered correctly.

“Abbie!”

“Luke…”

*

“Cool down, Ichabod!” Bram laughed uneasily. “I was only joking! I’m just enjoying being able to be a bit more frank with you about these things. I can’t help that you take everything so seriously.”

“Which is exactly why we haven’t been talking about them!” Crane spat. “I am not like you in those matters. We are family, we have many things in common, but you use women for your own pleasure alone and hurt people along the way!”

“And you don’t, Ichabod?” Bram retorted. “With all your fine manners and principles, you still made Mary unhappy, you’re on a path to make Katrina unhappy, your father is still not pleased with you, the world of academics –”

“Enough!” Crane yelled. “I am doing all in my power to… set things right.”

“Really?”

“Yesterday, my father had some news regarding Oxford. And only today I… received some of the most honest critique about my writing in a long time.”

“You, critique? The always fawned over Dr. Ichabod Crane?”

“The very same,” Crane acknowledged, hands fidgeting at his sides. “But if I’m going to do the War of Independence justice, the bit about American history that I want to write about right, the whole perspective about whose voices got to be heard – especially the people of colour that got so horribly abused, when they were working just as hard for the American freedom, which should have been extended to them – then I can’t go on peddling the same old drivel as my father, uncle and all other old, white men. If I –”

“Excuse me!” Bram exploded in laughter.

“What?!”

“Two sex marathons with an African-American woman, and you sound like you’ve joined Black Lives Matter!”

“Bram, you’re disgusting for making such an analogue! Was I ever not for Black Lives Matter? Aren’t you?” Crane reproached Bram, who had the good sense to look ashamed.

“I was only joking,” Bram muttered.

“And I was only writing that a black spy did everything to deserve his freedom from slavery by being a spy for Washington, when in fact he shouldn’t have been a slave to begin with! And believe me, I was rightfully scolded.”

Bram nodded. “That’s only fair. I’m sorry, it was a disgusting thing to say.”

“THINK, as I was sternly told to do earlier today,” Crane said, knowing that Bram knew better.

“I am in the US,” Crane continued. “Writing US history, trying to find out more, and yet I’ve been overwhelmed by the men of that time that I found it easy to relate to. I am an outsider. Perhaps I can’t fully grasp the immense toil that so many of the less privileged of that time had to deal with. But it’s something I can deal with, if I cooperate with the right historians, look for new people to work with, use the privilege I have to lift up and promote others... Instead of trying to satisfy an old world of academics that doesn’t move our understanding of history forward…”

Crane had been walking back and forth in front of Bram, finally able to verbalise what had been nagging in his mind. He stopped and looked at his cousin, who was still sitting on the bench, looking baffled.

“Well, isn’t that so?” Crane asked impatiently.

“All this because of some honest critique?” Bram asked.

“Yes!” Crane snapped. “It’s been mulling in my mind for a long time, make no mistake. I have been working, researching… and trying to appease an old school of thought, while feeling myself moving on to it. But I have held back, to please my father. Now I know that... it’s not leading anyone forward.”

“Who was this amazing critic, if I may ask?”

“Why, Abbie, of course!”

“Of course!” Bram said knowingly.

“What she said was true and heartfelt! It stung, I won’t deny it, but it was a good exchange.”

“Did you tell her about Maidenwell?” Abraham asked sharply.

“No! I have no idea what you're talking about!” Crane replied sharply.

“Oh, come on!” Bram snorted. “Just because I don’t have clearance doesn’t mean that I don’t know.”  

“I did not tell her, end of story! And I’ll have you know she was summa cum laude in history at university!” Crane said proudly. “Henry Parrish himself was praising her to the skies yesterday!”

“Remind me again; what is your connection to Henry Parrish, except that he secured your position at his department at the little University of Sleepy Hollow, just as you shamefully lost out on taking over your father’s position at Merton College?” Bram insinuated.

“It wasn’t shameful,” Crane protested, but feeling the sting. “It was surprising, unexpected… but I should have predicted it,” he reproached himself.

“I don’t mind what you call it,” Bram shrugged. “It made it easier to persuade you to come to the US, to move us both over here and stretch our wings. It definitely secured you Katrina.”

“What?”

“And her father made sure you owed him a great debt of gratitude, making sure you had a place at his department. You really landed very softly on your two feet, coming to America. Future wife is both British and American. Future father-in-law got you a job. No trouble at all, coming to the States to live the dream, unlike how it is for so many. So please explain again how you will use your privilege?” Bram taunted.     

Crane’s shoulders slumped. In his gloomy moments, his mind had strayed in a similar vein, putting it all together. He had told himself he was just being ungrateful, since it was all a matter of working things out, the natural advancement of his career, his future with Katrina, being able to still have his best friend in close proximity – it had just all worked out so well that it must had been fate. Had it not? It seemed that Bram had no problem seeing it all as a ploy to manipulate people and positions in the right directions, as if they were pawns on a chess board.

“Didn’t it benefit you as well,” Crane asked bitterly, “That Katrina’s father introduced you in the right circles so you could expand your antique’s business, even though you were her former fiancé?”

“Of course!” Bram grinned like the Cheshire cat. “This is where the money is! And speaking of money…” he frowned and pulled out his phone from his bag, starting to flip through it.

Crane slumped down next to him, and just happen to throw a glance. Bram was looking through his messages from Hawley; it said so on the screen. A sense of anxiety but also excitement came over him. Bram didn’t know! Bram…

“Problems?” Crane asked lightly.

“Hmm. I’ve been expecting a call since last night. A delivery,” Bram muttered.

“Oh?” Crane said innocently.

“Not a word! He’s suddenly not returning calls or answering texts!”

“Sounds like you when you dump women,” Crane observed and lifted an eyebrow.

“Ha ha, very funny! This is important business!”

“I bet,” Crane shrugged.

“He was boasting about this delivery, wanting money in advance!” Bram ranted. “When I said I demanded to see what he had, he got cocky! Bastard. Threatened to sell the goods somewhere else!”

“Really,” Crane said, pretending to be completely in the dark. What was really going on?

*

“Where were you last night, Abbie?” Luke whined. “I called and texted, called Sophie – I don’t even want to think about what she was up to – I even went by Jenny’s place. Where were you?”

“I –”

“Is it really too much to ask that you return my calls? We’re getting married!” he complained.

“I –”

“Haven’t you played this game enough, Abbie? It’s time that you move home!”

“No.”

“No!? Don’t you think I noticed that you had packed more stuff? Did you bring them to Jenny’s place? Or somewhere else?” Luke went on, voice getting more nagging and angry.

“I –”

“You know, it’s really strange how you behave, after all I’ve done for you!” he snapped.

You have?” Abbie was baffled.

“I’m marrying you, making sure we get a good start, I’ve brought you into my family, making sacrifices so we can start our own together –”

“Sacrifices? What sacrifices?”

“Abbie! Stop interrogating me! No policeman behaviour in our relationship, remember?”

“Doesn’t that rule go both ways?” she sighed and just wanted to hang up.

“If you’re not coming home, I’m booking that appointment with the counsellor!” he threatened.

“What counsellor?”

“The one who helps couples!” he snarled. “She comes highly recommended, according to ma!”

“Sure she does.”

“Right! I’m calling ma now, so she can make the appointment! Good-bye, Abbie!” he snapped and hung up.

Abbie just stared at the phone, shaking her head.

“Isn’t wedding planning romantic?” Jenny said sarcastically.

“Sure is,” Abbie agreed sourly. “What the hell was that about? Has Lídia been on his back again?”

“Hasn’t she always?” Jenny laughed, having her own phone in her hand. “Meanwhile, look at this!”

Abbie took Jenny’s phone that she offered, while Jenny hollered with laughter. It was a photo of Standra, just as she had looked yesterday after having a close encounter with the rainbow cake. In an open Facebook post, she shared her misery, pointing out Deliciously Whipped cake shop as the main offenders, but also hinted that someone else was involved and that this someone ‘had it coming’. Sympathies along with jeering was pouring in.

“I saw you take those hazelnuts, Jenny.” Abbie recalled what happened in the cake show, and how Standra had probably tripped on some hazelnuts rolling her way.

“The hell you did,” Jenny smirked.

“I saw you take something from the table, and I had just taken a hazelnut from a bowl on that side of the table,” Abbie recalled. “The next moment, I heard something land and roll over the floor. Standra tripped on them before she fell into the cake!”

“Wasn’t me!” Jenny denied. “If that’s what’s happened, maybe it was you? Or someone bumped into the table, making them spill on the floor!” she smiled and blinked in mock innocence.

“I’m not going to rattle,” Abbie said sternly. “But Standra is a pain in the ass on the police precinct. She calls them about everything, especially involving black people. Someone will go through hell because of this.”

“Not me,” Jenny smirked. “I leave that to your future husband, Detective Inspector Morales.”

Jenny’s phone, still in Abbie’s hand, started to ring. The caller was named ‘Lover’.

“Abraham?” Abbie said with a sigh and handed over the phone.

Jenny just grabbed it and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. Abbie heard her having a hissed conversation.

“What? No! How could you be so stupid?? Wait, maybe I know…”

Abbie shook her head, not wishing to eavesdrop. She had to change and go to work. Only, her own work phone rang as well, third time in almost as many minutes.

Her heart leapt when she saw the number.

*

Crane debated with himself. Bram had went to the showers after having sent some text and made some quick calls in a low voice that he couldn’t in all consciousness overhear. Then he left Crane mulling over so many things, trying to sort out so many thoughts. Bram had spoken with some contempt about his principles. Crane was not ashamed of them, quite the contrary. Hawley hadn’t call Bram back simply because he was detained, a consequence of Ichabod’s own actions the day before. He also remembered how Abbie had urged him to be careful and how he had practically sneered at her. But she was right.

Of course she was right, she’s always bloody right.

He had to chuckle, the mere thought of her made him ache. He knew what he had to do. Taking up his own phone, he went outdoors and called Abbie up.

“Agent Mills?” he asked formally as silence at the other end greeted him.

Chapter Text

There was no answer, only an intake of breath.

“Abbie?” he whispered.

“Speaking!” was the crisp reply in the other end.

“I apologise if my call is interrupting your work,” he muttered, feeling silly. But she had told him to contact her.  

“That’s fine, I’m not there yet,” she said with a strain in her voice.

“Then I apologise for bringing up a work related subject.”

“No – no, that’s fine!” Abbie said hastily, telling her heart to calm down and wishing her palms weren’t so sweaty all of a sudden. “What’s going on?”

It was Crane’s turn to take a deep breath, before he spoke.

“I’ve seen Abraham today – nothing regarding the investigation was said!” he assured her.

“Don’t worry, I trust you.” Her tone was correct and professional, focusing on the subject, but it still warmed him to hear it. Perhaps even more because it was in a professional capacity.

“That – thank you. I saw his phone. He has tried to contact Mr. Hawley several times and is a bit put out with him for not replying.”

“Are you sure?” Abbie spoke in a low voice, trying to hear if Jenny was still on the phone as well.

“I happened to see Bram’s phone. He was looking through messages from a person called Hawley.”

“Seems valid… And he asked no questions? Didn’t seem to know that Hawley was in custody?”

“Not at all. He was annoyed with Hawley since he apparently had been boasting about a delivery so much that he wanted money in advance.”  

“Is payment in advance out of the ordinary?”

“I… have no idea, I’m afraid. But Bram spoke of it as if it was.”

“I see. Did he mention what the delivery consisted of?”

“No, Bram had demanded to see the goods first, but then Hawley said he would sell it to someone else.”

“Could that be the delivery he offered you yesterday?”

“That… is possible, I suppose,” Crane said, surprised by the probability and that it hadn’t crossed his mind.

“Alright,” Abbie said. “That’s good to know, thank you for telling me.”

“So you will look through Hawley’s phone, I suppose?” Crane speculated eagerly. “See what other contacts he has, see where it leads?”

Abbie was silent, but a smile threatened to break through.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Ah – of course!” Crane laughed. “Sorry, sorry! Uh, well, I…”

“Look, Crane – I’m really sorry for what I said earlier,” Abbie interjected.

“No! No, absolutely not!” Crane protested. “You should not apologise for that!”

“Yeah, but I was in your home, you made breakfast, just wanted an opinion of what I’d seen in a book you wrote –”

“An honest opinion!”

“Yeah, but I bet you weren’t expecting that.”

“I wasn’t. I got so much more than I could hope for.”

“Look, you don’t have to –”

“You don’t understand,” he interrupted urgently. “I’ve been thinking about it since you left. Granted, that wasn’t long ago, but… What you said broke down some sort of resistance, like a wall in my mind. I mean it.”

“You do?”

“I do, Abbie. I have a lot to think about, but… I think I will see things in a better light now. Address the subject differently.” Crane’s heart was beating fast, as fast as it did when he knew he was about to discover something important, see a pattern, and understand what something truly meant. That was generally how he only felt about history, but now it felt as if his heart was beating for something entirely new, perhaps for what had sprung inside him yesterday, when she had made him see a new world inside him, and her as the goddess herself, pointing the way to freedom.

“Really?” she asked, getting more and more surprised as the conversation went on.

“Yes, really. I just need to find the right facts to examine, then… go forward with my research in a new manner. See what I can find, and have the sense to understand it.”

Abbie was silent for a while, thoughts whirling. The right facts. He sounded almost like a detective, looking for clues. She knew he didn’t have the clues he needed, but she was one of few – maybe the only one – who knew where to look.

“Maybe I know where you should go looking,” she said slowly, hardly believing herself.

“You do? What do you mean, Abbie?” he asked, and she could hear his excitement.

“I can’t tell you right now, I need to go to work,” she replied. “But I’m… really surprised about this. I don’t know what I expected, but this is… so surprising.”

“In what way?” he asked, his tone of voice dropping an octave.

“In the way you took it,” she tried to explain, also trying to ignore the effect his voice had on her through the phone. “I mean, it would be easy to think that you were just being polite, or sweet or… something.”

“Not wanting to ruin my chance of having sex with you again?” he flirted.

“Yeah, that,” she grinned, starting to feel the heat rise in her and that it actually hurt in most places.

“It’s my distinct impression that dishonesty would be a sure way to ruin my chances of that, and that’s the very last thing I would want,” he said with warmth and humour. “Believe you me; I have never been more honest with anyone than I have with you.”

“You sure?” she asked breathlessly.

“Absolutely sure,” he murmured, his voice even deeper and sneaking its way under her skin, into her veins and kindling something feeling like a small fever in her. “What you say – and do – means something. You mean something.”

Crane had to close his eyes, momentarily shaken, and quickly praying he hadn’t said too much, hadn’t scared her off, and that he in fact hadn’t scared himself out of his senses. Seconds felt like eons, her intake of breath was like a roaring thunder, as he waited for what could be his last judgement.

“You mean something too, Crane.”

“Thank you.”

Abbie heard him mumble tenderly, and she was both relieved and upset that she couldn’t see what he looked like, saying that. A mix of dread and joy filled her.

Fuck. This is so not the time.

“Alright,” she said, and had to clear her voice. “I really need to get ready for work.”

“Yes, yes – good bye!”

“Bye,” she grinned. “We’ll talk later.”

“We will! Be safe,” he urged.

“I will. You too. And have a good day,” she talked on.

“And you! Bye for now!”

“Bye.”

There was a pause.

“Will you hang up?” she asked.

“I thought you –”

“Yeah, I will. Bye.”

“Bye, Abbie.”

Pause.

“You didn’t hang up.”

“This is ridiculous,” she chuckled, and sort of wanted to hide away and blush for a week.

“Well, you said –” he laughed in the other end.

“OK, OK – for real!” she giggled.

“Ichabod?” Bram said, suddenly next to him.

“Oh! Uh –”

She quickly hung up, suddenly feeling exposed.

“Did I interrupt?” Bram smirked.

“No no,” Crane lied. “Shall we leave? I need to go to my office, some students want to see me.”

*

Abbie arrived to work, hoping her latest cup of coffee did the trick to keep her in a fully professional mode. And yet, her work was anything but free from her personal and private life, it never was with Sophie around, Luke at her former work that they often cooperated with, and them all knowing of hers and Jenny’s past. Only now, life was a puzzle with the bits scattered everywhere, fitting in one end but not in the other; suddenly not being a puzzle at all but some new game that she’d never played.

And while thinking about puzzles: how the hell had it been so perfect to sleep in Crane’s arms at night? Definitely fitting like two pieces, just the right fit. Not just the right fit while sleeping, for that matter. She wouldn’t be able to walk normally for days, and was practically limping into Westchester County’s Federal Bureau of Investigations’ office. Limping in a way that was noticed.

“Hey Abs! You’re injured?” Danny greeted her next to the coffee maker.

“I overdid it at some work out last night,” she replied, nodding a greeting.

“Must have been some hard work out!” he insinuated and Abbie had to refrain from rolling her eyes.

“Is Granger around?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Danny replied.

“Have either of you spoken to the suspect we took yesterday?” she asked, grabbing a mug and pouring herself some new coffee.

“We tried, but he said he’d only talk to you.”

“Yeah, Granger told me. Anything on his phone?”

“There was no phone,” Danny said with a frown.

“No phone?”

“We asked, but he just sneered.”

“Okay…” Abbie said thoughtfully, and sipped on her coffee.

“Yeah,” Danny said. “We need to find that phone. See what you can do.”

“Mmm,” she mumbled.

“So, why you?”

“Jenny,” was all Abbie said, and Danny lit up with understanding.

“They worked together?”

“They did everything together, once upon a time.”

Abbie turned her back at him, hoping the questions would stop.

Hi, Abbie!”

Sophie came sauntering, smiling uneasily. She looked her usual self, but coming closer, Abbie noticed some interesting marks on her neck. Abbie had had one of those herself the week before.

“Hey there, Soph,” Abbie greeted, grinning a little.

“Look, uh, about yesterday…”

“M-hm?” was all Abbie replied, wondering what Sophie really wanted to say about the day before. She didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or feeling like she ought to apologise. Then again, Abbie could admit to being curious and preferring an account of the night before from Sophie over an account from her sister.

“Can I talk to you alone?” Sophie asked meaningfully.

“Sure,” Abbie said and they went to her room, leaving a somewhat sulking Danny.

“You OK, Abbie?” Sophie asked. “You’re walking funny.”

“It’s nothing, just a small sprain,” Abbie chuckled.

I should be walking funny,” Sophie lamented.

“Hey, what’s the matter?”

“Listen, Abbie: this thing with Jenny and Abraham… it wasn’t planned!”

“I know,” Abbie smiled kindly.

“I never meant to do that with your sister! Or her boyfriend,” she wailed.

“Was it that bad?!” Abbie asked, baffled.

“No, no – it was great! I’ve never had a threesome before! Have you?”

“Me!?” Abbie shrieked and laughed.

“No, sure, but I didn’t want to assume…”

“Well, that’s sweet. And I’m glad you had a good time.”

“Mmm. You don’t hate me?”

“Hate you? Why would I?”

“Well, I mean… I know you and Jenny are really different when it comes to, well, sex…”

“Yeah, I guess…”

“And if I’m going to be really honest – which I promised myself I’d be – then the fact is that… Jenny wouldn’t be my first choice between you and her,” Sophie said quickly, blushing furiously.

“Okay,” Abbie was blushing as well. “Just so you know: I had no idea.”

“No… idea?” Sophie looked uneasy but determined to ask.

“Maybe I’m being a bit blind to the people around me, but… I never made any assumptions about your sexuality… or who you’d might be interested in…”

“Oh! No, I guess, uh…”

“And I honestly had no idea that my sister was into women as well!”

“Ooohh, she is! Oh yeah! Not sure if she’s bisexual, like me, but she’d definitely not, uh, backing off from… it.”

“OK!” Abbie said, holding up her hands. “That’s enough details!”

Sophie made an embarrassed laugh.

“So you never guessed that I, um, was bi? And sort of… liking you?”

Abbie couldn’t look at Sophie right then.

“Not until yesterday…”

“What?! When?”

“At the cake shop, when, uh, you and Crane – Professor Crane – started to…” Abbie made a hand gesture.

“Oh yeah!” Sophie laughed. “Things were going wild there! We really couldn’t stop drooling over you! All those cake samples, but all we wanted was you!”

“Hey!” Abbie protested, but had to laugh.

“Hey, how can you blame us? He likes you too!” Sophie suddenly frowned. “I really does, considering how he spoke…”

“Yeah, enough!” Abbie said hastily. “Neither of you have the right to tempt me into things that are just too late to explore.”

“Oh, I know, Abbie! You wouldn’t do that to Luke!”

Suddenly, as a flash, Abbie felt her first real stab of guilt. Luke. Sophie’s trust in her. Luke’s trust in her.

“Sophie,” Abbie said slowly and took a step forward to her. “I’m – I’m no saint, OK?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve given my promise to your cousin… you know that’s a serious thing for both him and me…”

“I do, Abbie! Oh my God, you don’t have to tell me!” Sophie assured her. “I know what things like that mean to you, your principles…”

“Yeah, yeah – exactly. But… you were honest to me now, Sophie, and it wouldn’t be honest of me if I didn’t tell you: I’m in no way perfect. OK? I’d never want to hurt your cousin, Sophie, I know he’s like a brother to you, but…”

“But what?” Sophie frowned as Abbie grew silent.

“The thing is…” Abbie began hesitantly, feeling a lump in her throat.

A short knock, and then the door opened. Their boss, Agent Granger, was in Abbie’s office. Both women jumped slightly.

“Mills, Foster,” Granger greeted, eyes narrowing. “Am I interrupting?”

“No, sir!” Abbie said. “We were just holding a small briefing before I was going to talk to Nick Hawley.”

“Fine,” he nodded. “Care to debrief me as well?”

“Of course, sir!”

“Good, go get Reynolds, Foster, and then meet us in my office!” he ordered Sophie, who looked relieved to leave the room.

Walking to Granger’s office, her boss was the third person to notice her slight limp.

“All OK, Mills?” he asked somewhat gruffly.

“Nothing I can’t handle, sir.”

“Good. You’d better be in shape now when things are moving along in this case.”

“Absolutely, sir.”

“What else is going on, Mills? Speak up, I can tell that there’s something.”

“Yes, sir…” Abbie cleared her throat. “This case, the witness, his family… and mine…”

“Go on.”

“Things seems to be a bit entangled.”

“Hmm, care to elaborate?”

Abbie felt distinctly uncomfortable.

“Might as well wait until Foster and Reynolds are here,” she said, wondering how things could be told delicately.

“Mills, you’re from this town,” Granger said thoughtfully.

Abbie nodded.

“You know everybody, they know you, the town and area isn’t that big,” he said. “You’re marrying a former colleague. Your sister is well-known.”

Abbie nodded once more.

“It has never been a liability, on the contrary. Sometimes, we need to work around issues, take a different approach. You know that. You’re always resourceful.”

“Thank you, sir!”

“I mean it. We will look at the situation from all angles, OK Mills?”

“OK, sir.”

“Unless you’d prefer to hand the whole thing over to Agent Reynolds?” Granger asked seriously.

Abbie lifted her chin defiantly and stared into her boss’ eyes.

“Didn’t think so,” he chuckled.

 

Chapter Text

“Right,” Granger said, as he sat down behind his desk and look at the trio of agents sitting on the opposite side. “Where are we on this case?”

Sophie and Danny both looked at Abbie, who straightened her back.

“For quite a while,” she began, “there have been an ongoing trade of artefacts and antiquities on route through New York State, especially here in Sleepy Hollow. We know the majority end up in New York City, and are then sold to various places all over the country. A good deal, but not all, are stolen or copied. But who is financing the whole thing and why? Who makes the profit? There is definitely a great deal of money laundering going on, but to what purpose? That, and the routes these antiquities take, is what we need to get a grip on.”

Granger nodded. “What do we know so far?”

“Hawley has been in this business for a decade, showing up in Sleepy Hollow on and off, dealing both legally and illegally. He served a sentence and came out four months ago,” Abbie continued, and sharing information she had just found out. “He hasn’t been seen around here until lately.”

“I understand that you’ve had to deal with him before, Agent Mills?” Granger asked.

“Yes, sir,” she replied briskly. “He and my sister. Quite a tour. Both in jail.”

“Bonnie and Clyde,” Danny dared.

“No murdering!” Abbie snapped.

“No, of course! Sorry!” Danny apologised.

“You’ve never seen him violent, Agent Mills?” Granger asked.

“No,” Abbie replied. “Deceitful to the extent that it hurt other people, including both me and my sister – yes. Outright violent? No.”

“And now he wants to talk to you,” Granger remarked.

Abbie made no reply.

“This is a complicated situation,” their boss continued. “We’re currently understaffed, Agent Mills will marry soon and be on her honeymoon, you three have worked hard on the antiquities trade and done a great job, and now there are several personal connections.”

Abbie was numb, but in the corner of her eye, she noticed Sophie squirming. It was strange how she was so good undercover, despite having trouble hiding her feelings. But Abbie had saw how her honest reactions made people trust her, and how she had used that to her advantage. Would it work in this case?

“Sir,” Danny said. “If there’s any problem –”

“No, Agent Reynolds,” Granger said calmly and not elaborating what he said no to. “Can we look over the connections here?” It wasn’t a request.

Again, Agent Granger’s eyes turned to Abbie. She braced herself and began to speak.

“Jenny had an ongoing relationship with Nick Hawley for several years, though it was stormy and they broke up a lot. She met him some months before she turned 18, and I made very sure she couldn’t just run off with him before that.”

“I believe August Corbin was of great help to you both?” Granger said kindly.

“Both then, before and after,” Abbie agreed in a low voice. “After Jenny’s and Hawley’s arrests and her release from prison, we didn’t see him until ten days ago… on my bachelorette party on Mabie’s.

“And, apart from a fantastic karaoke performance with the man who is now our witness,” Granger said with some humour in his voice, “what happened that night?”

Abbie grinned and shook her head. What could she really say? She decided to report it as she remembered it… up to a point.

“We ran into a bachelor party. My friend Cynthia Irving is married to my former boss, Captain Frank Irving,” Abbie explained, starting to think back on what happened that evening. “Professor Crane was on stage, singing karaoke –”

“A Tom Jones song, wasn’t it!” Sophie said suddenly.

“Um, yeah,” Abbie answered. “You remember it?”

“Yeah!” she laughed. “He had his own style, so… serious about it. Like, he really meant it when he sang ‘you’re a sex bomb’. Sexy!” she giggled, while Danny glared at her.

Abbie felt herself disassociating, getting a flashback to how she had stared and listened raptly to his baritone. Then, as now, it had been as if she saw him in a tunnel vision, feeling beckoned. She shuddered.

“Sure,” she said with a quick laugh, which made Danny turn his glare upon her instead. Granger just smirked slowly. “Anyway, his party started to talk to my party, and his friend and cousin Abraham van Brunt made a thing of me being a ‘bride to be’. Jenny started to shout about me liking to sing karaoke as well, and van Brunt instantly wanted me on stage. I was in the mood for it, so I let them lead me to the stage.”

“Lead you? They almost carried you!” Sophie said.

Abbie shrugged and grinned.

 “I understand that this was quite a night,” Granger chuckled, but Abbie knew that he analysed what she and Sophie said. “Would the two of you mind telling me how inebriated you were?”

Sophie exhaled at the same time as Abbie inhaled.

“Well, it, I –” Sophie started, but Abbie cut in:

“Before Mabie’s, we’d been treated to a private strip show, my sister insisted,” she explained. “Nothing too scandalous, just one male stripper dressed up as a policeman.”

Both Agents Granger and Reynolds looked a bit scandalised now, Granger still amused and Danny not.

“A male stripper?!” Danny griped.

“Jenny’s idea,” Abbie shrugged, not wanting to go into a discussion about it. “And I passed the included lap dance on to her. Nothing went too far, I set up the boundaries very clearly. I would say that I was slightly intoxicated when arriving to Mabie’s, but not drunk. I drank some more that night, but… I was well aware of what I was doing,” Abbie continued to answer Granger’s question, while some very vivid memories of a Brit and a restroom played in her mind.

“Your singing was definitely great!” Granger said and showed one of his lopsided smiles. “My wife loves that clip of you and the witness singing. She loves it so much that she had our daughter downloading it from Facebook into her smartphone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she watches it at least once a day!”

“Oh – thank you!” Abbie blushed.

“Yeah, big romantic, my missus,” Granger laughed, seemingly relaxed and friendly. “She even wanted me to ask if you could sing on our silver anniversary! Well, to be honest, she wanted you both to sing! I told her that it might be a bit too complicated.”

They all laughed, easing the tension in the room.

“That’s really nice of her,” Abbie said, not being able to sort out the conflicting emotions inside of her while discussing that night.

“Man, that clip is still viral,” Danny said. “Over a million views!”

“One and half,” Sophie added.

“Had you already noticed Nick Hawley’s presence at that time, Agent Mills?” Granger suddenly said seriously, a surprise move that she had seen him use on others.

“He must have been in the group, possibly following me to the stage as they pulled me over there to sing with Professor Crane,” Abbie said crisply. “But no, I didn’t register his presence until both party groups sat down at a big table. Even then I noticed that he kept a bit in the shadows.”

“What was your sister’s reaction?”

“She said later that she had noticed, but she was by then fully occupied with Abraham van Brunt.”

“Oh, was she?”

“Yes. When Professor Crane and I arrived to the table from the stage, she was already sitting in his lap.”

“Did you know that the witness was a Professor at university at that time?”

“No.”

“Did he know that you are an agent?”

“No. He surmised that I was with the police, though, since my interaction with Captain Irving gave that away.”

“Ah, yes! He’s a friend of Captain Irving’s, right?”

“So it seems.”

“And it was Captain Irving he called, when Hawley contacted him, right?”

“Correct.”

“How come he didn’t take Hawley’s offer?”

“He got suspicious about the whole thing, and he was present at Mabie’s when Jenny and I said something about Hawley.”  

Abbie knew that Granger had all these facts already, and that this discussion wasn’t far from an interrogation.

“He likes you,” Granger said, seemingly out of the blue. Abbie knew better than to fall for that ruse, but still lifted an eyebrow. “Professor Crane,” Granger clarified. “There is a viral clip that shows it, and I saw him talking to you yesterday, when we arrested Hawley.”

“Yes, sir,” Abbie said strictly, determined to reply professionally and seemingly detached.

“Would you say that you gained his trust that evening?” Granger pressed on; ever relaxed and collegial, but still expecting answers to questions that were becoming increasingly personal to Abbie.

Abbie was silent for some beats, seemingly thinking about it.

“I think that’s a fair assessment,” she answered.

“Did you establish any deeper connection?”

“I’m not sure –”

“Phone numbers, adding on Facebook, e-mail addresses or similar?”

“Uh, no sir,” she said firmly, glad that the clarification didn’t make her a liar. “I gave him my card when I talked with him after the arrest.”

“Of course, that’s common procedure. But nothing before that?”

“Sir, it was an… intimate situation at the bar, we were all out partying –”

“Sir, we were all amusing ourselves, but Abbie always holds it together!” Sophie interrupted, sounding shocked.

“Agent Foster –”

“The one not doing that was me,” she went on. “I was the one who got drunk! But they all made sure I got home properly!”

“Agent Foster, we will discuss your drinking habits at some other occasion,” Granger said sharply.

“Yes, sir,” she said, clearly embarrassed. The silence following was quite uncomfortable.

“Sir, if I may say something?” Danny said carefully. He took Granger’s glare as encouragement. “Perhaps there are too many alliances here? Getting too personal? It might perhaps be better if they were… not an active part of this investigation?”

Abbie groaned inwardly. Danny was ambitious, that she knew. He might be flirty and actually mean something with it, but at the end of the day, his ambitions came first.

“Are you saying you want to take over Agent Mills’ leading role in the investigation?” Granger asked sharply.

“This isn’t about what I want, it’s what’s good for the investigation,” Danny tried.

“And where does it say that these connections necessarily are bad for the investigation?” Granger challenged.

“If I understand things right, Jenny Mills is still dating Abraham van Brunt? Agent Foster have met all these people after that night, is that right?”

Sophie looked even more embarrassed. Abbie’s heart went out to her.

“Sophie has known Jenny for some years. The meeting in the cake shop was a coincidence for all of us,” Abbie said.

“What cake shop?” Granger asked, and Danny looked confused too.

Abbie shortly related to the attempt at cake tasting the day before and who they had met. How everyone had met, leaving out all juicy details.

“Was this the cake shop that I saw mentioned in another Facebook post today?” Danny asked. “The one with a woman who fell into a cake?”

Abbie put her face in her hands. Sophie giggled nervously.

“What?” Granger asked with a frown.

Danny took up his phone and flipped through it, then handed it to Granger, who laughed out loud.

“Who is that?” their boss asked.

“Her name is Standra Metzcove and she’s best friends with Katrina van Tassel, Professor Crane’s fiancée,” Abbie sighed, rubbing her forehead.

“Standra Metzcove?” Granger frowned. “But…” He took a folder and looked through some documents. “She reported theft of some antiquities recently…”

Abbie lifted her head, rapt attention to Granger.

“Theft?” she asked.

“Yes… possibly sold in this smuggling trade…” Granger mused. “Someone will have to dig deeper into that…” He suddenly closed the folder. “So what else happened yesterday?”

Oh no, isn’t this over yet?

“We went for dinner. Abraham van Brunt joined us. Both Sophie and I were there. So was Jenny, Luke and his mother,” Abbie said. “Van Brunt told us a fair bit about his family, which includes both his cousin, Professor Crane, and their distant cousin, Katrina van Tassel.”

“I know about that: old earldom and mansion, but put it all in a memo for us, Agent Mills. Also, there’s an update on some facts regarding their family, you should all read up on it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is that all?”

Abbie battled with herself, but before she came to any conclusion, Sophie spoke up again:

“No, sir, there’s more.”

“What is it, Agent Foster?”

“After the dinner, I spent the evening with Jenny Mills and Abraham van Brunt,” she said hastily, eyes down.

“Doing what?” Granger asked.

Sophie looked intensely embarrassed, but Granger did not.

“Soph?!” Danny exclaimed. Sophie was merely blushing, not answering.

“I see,” Granger said. “Well, that makes things a lot clearer.”

“I should say so!” Danny grumbled. “We can’t have Sophie on this case now! And Abbie is too deep into it all as well!”

“Says who?” asked Granger sharply.

“I mean…” Danny tried.

“I’d say Agents Foster and Mills have, unknowingly, laid a perfect foundation for us to really move forward in this case!”

“But sir –”

“Problem, Agent Reynolds?”

“No, sir.”

“Then let’s look at the facts,” Granger said and glanced at the paper where he had written down things of importance. “Crane, van Brunt and Ms van Tassel move to the States. They have no problem establishing themselves and all have deep connections to historical matters. Hawley turn up in Sleepy Hollow, establishing contact with van Brunt and his antiquities business. Hawley wants more than van Brunt is ready to pay him. Hawley contacts Crane. Crane reacts. He could have taken the offer, he could have talked to Professor Parrish, he could have talked to his closest friend Abraham, but instead he chose to call Captain Irving. Thanks to that, we could walk straight in and arrest Hawley as he attempted to sell stolen books.”

“Where are the books from?” Abbie asked.

“We’re looking into that, but they seem to be stolen from valuable collections,” Granger said and went on. “So: Crane helped us, but is he completely free of suspicion? Agent Mills?”

“Yes,” Abbie said before she had time to think.

“No hesitation there,” Granger observed. “What about van Brunt?”

“Crane thinks so, I’m not so sure,” Abbie said firmly.

“Agent Foster?” Granger turned to Sophie, who pulled herself together.

“We were at his place. Expensive habits, old furniture, fine art. Likes to party and pick up women. So fancy.”

“Good, very good! Try to find out more: who he does business with and so on,” Granger said and wrote it down, and Sophie hid a smug smile while Danny frowned. “Parrish and the university: nothing, as far as we know. Parrish is still married to Libby van Tassel and father of Crane’s fiancée. Libby van Tassel, former socialite and then involved in everything in this town, left the US over ten years ago after having swindled a great sum of money. Might be worth looking into. Reports says she resides in Latin America, possibly Panama…” Granger shuffled with some papers from another folder.

Abbie, who had been on tenterhooks because of everything connected to Crane, started to feel her instinct tingle. Why, she couldn’t yet say. It would come to her.

“Katrina van Tassel was engaged to Abraham van Brunt, but broke it up and instantly got engaged with Ichabod Crane,” Granger read aloud.

Instantly?

“She’s best friends with Standra Metzcove, known to be a thorn in the side to the local police department, because she calls them about a great deal of nonsense. So far, she has escaped with warnings, hmmm…” Granger droned on, then put the paper down and looked at Abbie. “Then there’s Jenny Mills.”

Abbie lifted her chin and stared her boss square in the eye.

“Former partner of Nick Hawley, tried and convicted for stealing and smuggling artefacts, after her release reunited with her elder sister who has kept a close eye on her since. She’s currently working on a rescue boat on Hudson River, stationed here in Sleepy Hollow.”

Abbie gave a nod of acknowledgement. Granger looked at her for some beats, but said no more. Then he spoke with resolution:

“What we need to do now is this: Agent Mills, keep Professor Crane happy. He likes you, you connect. Use that.”

Abbie blinked rapidly.

“Sir!” Danny protested. “Are you saying that Agent Mills are going to set up a honey trap?!”

“Danny –” Abbie protested.

“Who said anything about honey traps?” Granger said in a dangerously smooth voice.

“You expect Agent Foster to keep something going with van Brunt and possibly Jenny Mills? Will that be expected of Agent Mills as well!?”

Danny!” Abbie shouted, effectively shutting him up.

“Agent Reynolds, I am tempted to take you off this case!” Granger claimed.

“Sir! I just…”

“You clearly questioned my leadership just now!”

“I’m sorry, sir. It won’t be repeated.”

“It better not.”

The two men looked each other directly in the eyes.

“I want you to visit Katrina van Tassel and Standra Metzcove as soon as possible, Agent Reynolds,” Granger said.

“Alright, sir,” Danny said, looking uncomfortable.

“Not telling you to be a honey trap, mind you.”

“No, sir.”

“Let’s play at our strengths here,” Granger emphasised. “In those cases where there’s a strong… familiarity… use it. Find things out. I think you all agree with me that there must be a pattern here, no?”

The three agents opposite the man in charge exchanged glances, then nodded. There were just too many coincidences.

“If that’s all… Agent Foster, you stay here!” Granger said as they all rose.

“OK, sir,” she mumbled, as Danny left the room. Abbie hesitated at the doorstep.

“Agent Mills?” Granger inquired.

“Actually… could I have a word with you first, sir?” she asked. “Alone.”

Granger frowned, then asked Sophie to leave the room and come back later.

*

Ichabod fumbled with the keys to his office door, and some students timidly came closer.

“Ah, Mr. Harris! Miss Mayer, Miss Johnson… and Mr. Carter! Come right in,” he greeted. Mr. Harris was the man he had talked to through the door the day before. The others were probably with him at that time.

“Are you sure, Professor?” Mr. Harris asked seriously.

“Of course I’m sure!” Ichabod laughed nervously. “That’s why I’m here, to talk to you all!”

“Right, uh, so we’re not disturbing… today?” Miss Johnson asked a bit pointedly.

Ichabod was determined to ignore any kind of insinuation, regardless of what his students had heard or guessed about what Abbie and he had been doing in his office the day before.

“Nonsense, Miss Johnson!” he said briskly. “In you go! Who’s first?”

Just as the students started to go inside – and if they were giggling a bit, Ichabod staunchly ignored it – Professor Parrish came around the corner. With Katrina.

“Bollocks,” Ichabod mumbled under his breath.

“Why Ichabod, Tuesdays aren’t when you have your office hours,” Parrish said, eyes narrowing. Katrina held her father’s arm, looking every inch the perfect Katrina.

“Katrina, Henry,” Ichabod greeted correctly, noticing his students trying to eavesdrop. “I had to cancel yesterday, due to unforeseen events, as you may remember.”

“My love,” Katrina said smilingly in her whispery voice, gliding towards him and seemingly being ready to fulfil dreams that he had left behind. Her cool hand landed on his arm as her perfume attacked his nostrils. He took it all in, saw none of the warmth that he had formally imagined, and battled down the impulse to move backwards, away from her advances.

I still care for you, of course I do. But…

“Yes, ahem,” he mumbled and frowned. “I will meet up with you later. Right now, I have work to do,” he concluded, and gave them a dismissive nod before he closed the door to his office.    

Chapter Text

“Attention, all of you!” Crane barked. “Sit down!” he gestured at his slightly shocked students, while scooping up some new mail and a small package from the letter tray, shoving it into his briefcase. His eyes quickly scurried the room, making sure nothing obvious gave away what had happened in his office the day before. A stab of longing had to be tampered down. Also, apart from his discharged boxers in the trash bin, there was nothing to give him away. He quickly covered them with some documents. He blessed that he had left a window slightly opened overnight.

Ichabod dealt with his students firmly that day, ignoring odd questions and raising his eyebrow at any attempts at insinuations. Mr. Harris’ essay wasn’t up to par, and it sent Ichabod into a rant. It wasn’t his usual behaviour towards his students, but he was in quite a mood and determined to make it clear that their usually kind and popular professor wasn’t to be trifled with.

Seeing the students rebuked, while he was still in a bit of a temper, strengthened him and his resolve to talk things over with Katrina. Properly. As soon as he had shooed the students out, he went over to Professor Parrish’s office. He knocked and walked right in, making them both Katrina and Parrish jump.

“Katrina,” Ichabod said before they had a chance to say anything. “Follow me to my office, please.” It was a demand, and he held the door open for her, wanting her to comply. She did, and he hid his surprise, having expected protests. He met her father’s gaze; it was analysing and patronising as always. Ichabod looked back at him coolly, then closed the door. He marched Katrina back to his own office, his hand on her elbow, and she followed him submissively. Once in his office, he let her go and put several feet of distance between them. While he had pushed thoughts of Abbie away during the visit from his students, seeing Katrina standing there unsettled him. It felt disrespectful to the memory of what he and Abbie had done in the same room. He should be feeling guilty, it should be the other way around, he knew that, but Katrina had tried to push him into the arms of another woman, a vile woman. It didn’t exonerate what he had done, but it confused him.

“Ichabod,” Katrina half-whispered sweetly. “I have good news!”

“News?”

“Yes! Standra secured us a free wedding cake; the Facebook post did the trick!” she said with some controlled excitement. “And today, before she left for the Cayman Islands, we went to look at the perfect house!”

“The… what?”

“Cayman Islands! She’s meeting up with a new business contact for our enterprise! Some leader of a new church. He wants to hear about our natural instinctive spirituality.”

“No, the –”

“Yes, she is!” Katrina prattled on, and Ichabod could tell that she was nervous and wouldn’t let him ask his questions. “It’s someone from Central America flying over to meet her –”

“No, you mentioned a house. What house? Why?”

“Ichabod! You know full well we need to get the right house! Not only that: the broker offered to sell the cabin too! Trade it in and –”

“No!” he protested hotly.

“We talked about this, Ichabod!”

“Get a house with Standra then, for all I care!”

“What on earth do you mean?” Katrina sighed. “Your temper is irrational! I admit, I’m still upset that you left yesterday, that you smashed the priceless teapot –”

You are upset!?” Ichabod blurted out.

“Why, of course!” Katrina said with a blithe smile. “But I am happy… happy and proud that you said no.”

“Pardon?”

“Now I know that we will be the couple I hoped for. That you are the man I hope you’d be; the man I can respect, rely on, build the perfect life with,” she clarified.

“I… don’t understand?”

“You didn’t fall for the temptation!” she continued. “You said no to Standra! Now I know that we can be truly happy!”

“No, no – why did you do that, Katrina?” he suddenly exploded. “What on earth possessed you?”

“If you had done it, I would still have been a good wife to you, but I’d always known that –” she went on, unperturbed by his temper.

“What the HELL do you mean?! What sort of test was that? Hm? What kind of twisted idea made you –”

“Why do you think I have so little trust in men!?” Katrina yelled suddenly, whispery voice all gone. “Why wouldn’t I be wondering what’s been going on, since you’ve so clearly lost all interest in me?!”

“And YOU never had any interest in ME!” he roared. “But how the hell would me having sex with Standra Metzcove remedy the situation?!”

Katrina sniffed and lifted her chin defiantly.

“I can be broadminded!” she snapped.

“Broadmi… ha ha. No, no. You can’t,” he laughed from her absurd explanation.

“Since men are so rarely faithful, I decided to make the best of the situation!” she disputed.

“I believed that you were sexually frustrated, and Standra was sure of the same. Instead of having you running around town after some floozy, we decided that this was the only rational solution.”

“Like you did with Abraham!” Ichabod spat, having listened to her explanation with fresh anger rising within him.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, then pressed her lips together. “He told you.”

Ichabod snorted.

“And I suppose he did so because you told him about Standra’s proposition.”

“Standra’s, yours… She certainly made good use of your blessing!”

“So did Betsy, but she was always a tart!”

“Oh, really,” Ichabod quarrelled. “That’s the whole explanation? Betsy was a tart, Bram was unfaithful, while you were never interested in sex –”

“I will NOT discuss it!” Katrina shrieked and stomped her foot.

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE DOING!” Ichabod roared, then closed his eyes. “Forgive me,” he muttered. “I am angry, but let’s not yell at each other.”

“No!” Katrina said and looked pale. “I don’t want you to wreck your office, like you smashed a beautiful heirloom yesterday!”

Ichabod rolled his eyes.

“All I’m saying... I need an explanation as to why you made such a suggestion,” he said.

“I gave you one! Also, how disloyal of Abraham to divulge such private information!”

“Disloyal to whom?”

“To all of us!” Katrina argued. “He and I are a thing of the past, but it is our past. You and I are the future, Ichabod.”

“I rather think that there are things in the past and present that should have been shared before we agreed to take such a big step as marriage,” was Ichabod’s serious reply.

“You can’t seriously accuse me of having lied to you?”

“I do think you’ve been very secretive about several matters,” he continued. “I can try to be understanding, but at the same time... they’re matters that add to my already great doubt whether we’ll have a successful marriage.”

“Not this again!” Katrina sighed dramatically, crossing her arms.

“You need to take what I say seriously, Katrina!” Ichabod demanded. “You refuse to discuss any sexual matters, but then try to solve it in an outrageous manner behind my back!”

Katrina just looked to the side, scowling.

“You have this... strange business venture with Standra, a woman that I abhor. You plan everything with her, including a wedding that I no longer want to be a part of!”

“Nonsense!” she shrieked.

“And then you and her show support to a vile character that has gone from failed business man to reality show star, and is now trying to become the president!?”

“He is not a failed business man!”

“And that is what you take from what I say!” Ichabod snarled. “Nothing about how despicable he is, the racist policies he stands for, the downright evil forces he’s likely to unleash – you react when I call this creep the failed businessman he is!”

Will you behave yourself Ichabod!?

WHY!?” he roared.

YOU ARE SO INSENSITIVE AND UNGRATEFUL!” Katrina screamed.

A strange calm came over him.

“You may be right about that,” he agreed harshly. “I can’t find anything redeeming about these things. Not one. It goes against everything I believe in.”

Katrina snorted.

“You said just moments ago that you believed me to be the man you’d hoped I could be,” he said, fingers stretching and furling by his side. “One you could respect, rely on, build the perfect future with –”

“Will you stop repeating what I say?!” Katrina griped. “We all know you remember everything. And stop that nonsense with your hands! Keep them behind your back, if you can’t control it!”

Instead of feeling embarrassed and being eager to follow her wishes – or rather demands – he decided to resist the way he had been raised. He did not heed her words. Instead, he took a step forward, staring at her.

“I am not that man,” he continued in clipped tones. “On the contrary.”

He paused, then decided it was time to tell the truth.

“I did not resist the temptation yesterday.”

He slowly exhaled, relieved and anxious at once. If chaos was coming, then he would meet it.

Katrina lifted an eyebrow. Then she grimaced, and looked him up and down as if he was something the cat dragged in.

“You mean to say that you did… that? What was suggested?”

Ichabod’s heart thundered.

“I did. I have been unfaithful.”

“I see,” Katrina snapped, her mouth a thin line and her eyes shooting daggers. “It appears I can’t trust anybody.”

He took a deep breath, feeling how her words chilled him to the bone.

“I – the situation was –”

“Not-one-WORD!” she hissed, then slapped his cheek so hard that he thought his skull spun a full circle on his neck.

“I deserved that,” he mumbled, feeling his cheek while his ear was ringing.

“And I deserve better!” Katrina chided. “I am disappointed! I didn’t want to believe that you are that kind of man!”

“I never thought I was either.”

“But you just told me that you are!”

Rubbing his aching cheek, Ichabod lowered his eyes. He wasn’t in a position to argue on that.

Angrily, Katrina crossed her arms.

“Well!” she snapped. “When Standra said it was a possibility, I didn’t want to believe it! But I remembered Abraham’s behaviour all too well!”

“It’s not –”

“NO!” she shrieked, putting her hands up to stop him again. “What’s done is done. The plans are set. If this goes on before our wedding, so be it. But not after! You hear me!”

“What?!”

“Do you hear me?”

“I-uh, not fully,” he admitted, her blow had affected his hearing a little. “Your slap actually – what do you mean, after our wedding?”

“There are limits to my patience! Do you hear THAT?” she yelled.

“Katri –”

“You owe me that much, surely!”

“Katrina, you can’t possibly think that we can –”

“I have to go!” she decided and headed for the door.

“KATRINA!”

“Shut UP, Ichabod!!” Katrina screamed.

There was a loud knock on the door.

“Katrina? Ichabod?” It was Professor Parrish.

“I have a wedding dress try out!” Katrina declared. “What you choose to do with your time until the wedding – well, the less I know, the better!”

The door opened and Parrish stepped in.

“Your voices carry all the way down the hall,” Katrina’s father griped.

“Don’t worry, father,” Katrina said firmly. “Our conversation is over.”


“No, it's not,” Ichabod interjected. “We can’t –”

“Come on, father!” Katrina interrupted and took her father’s arm. Parrish smiled his sour smile.

“OH, PISS OFF, BOTH OF YOU!!” Crane roared, almost shoved them out like his students earlier, and then slammed the door so hard that it echoed throughout the building.

*

“What is it you want to talk about, Agent Mills?” Agent Granger asked.

Abbie swallowed down her anxiety and stepped closer to her boss’ desk.

“Sir, unlike Agent Reynolds, I have no intention to question your method or idea.”

“Oh, come on, Mills!”

“Yeah, given the circumstances… it might not be ideal, but we’re understaffed,” she admitted with a shrug.

“And?” her boss asked, knowingly.

“And while I stand by my words about Professor Crane’s innocence, I can’t be sure where the limits go to his loyalty. It is a family affair, after all. That makes me think about… my own loyalties.”

Abbie paused, looking directly at her boss. He pondered what she’d said for some moment, and Abbie watched for his reactions.

“To Morales? Or the bureau?” he asked.

“Both.”

Granger nodded thoughtfully.

“I meant what I said about honey traps, Mills,” he said at length.

“I know that, sir.”

“So if you’re… worrying about something, that’s something coming from you alone.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied, stopping herself from rolling her eyes. Granger really watched his back.

Granger still made a small smile.

“You needn’t question your own loyalty, I’m sure. I know how dedicated you are.”

“Thank you, sir, but I’m only human.”

“Really, Mills?” Granger chuckled.

“Sir, you may laugh, but…” Abbie hesitated, nervously stretching her fingers.

“Listen, Agent Mills…” Granger said seriously and got up from his chair. He walked over to Abbie and stood some feet away from her; relaxed with his hands in his pockets. His gesture sort of reminded her of August Corbin. Only a little bit, her dynamics with Corbin had been of a different kind. Father and daughter, almost, or at least what she believed to be a father and daughter dynamic.

“I know how resourceful you are. I know you were resourceful as a police as well. I know Sheriff Corbin was a great mentor,” Granger continued, as if he tapped into her thoughts. “You’re always strict about rules when it comes to yourself. Moral ambiguity makes you uncomfortable. That’s quite alright, it works for you and I’ve never seen you judge anyone. You know how to set boundaries.”

The older agent paused again, smiling and frowning at the same time, as if memories of various experiences flitted through his mind.

“I’m not that different,” he mused. “And I’ve had to push my own boundaries quite… a lot… on several occasions. Even turned my back on my own morals.”

Abbie stared at him. Granger rarely said too much and wasn’t the type who would go into personal details. Her surprise was clearly showing.

“Yes, me,” he chuckled. “As you say: we’re only human. Things happen out on the field. Just remember to keep your head cool, alright? And try not to make too much of a mess. Personal… affairs are not a crime, if they should happen. But it’s easy to lose one’s head.”

Abbie had to take some moments to collect herself, closing her gaping mouth and exhale through her nose.

“You alright, Agent Mills?”

“Yes, sir. Yes. I mean… As long as the bureau…”

“You leave the bureau to me. Keep me informed, OK?”

“Thank you, sir. I will.”

“So, what’s next? Talk to Hawley?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You have my permission to tackle it the way you think proper. You know him best and he asked for this talk,” Granger established. “We’ve read him his rights, and there was a short interrogation last night where he said nothing we didn’t already know. Do what works.”

“We really need to find his phone,” Abbie weighed in. “I can’t wait to hear why he wants to talk to me, but I guess there’s not much left that can surprise me this morning,” she shrugged.

She was wrong, of course.

Chapter Text

Nick Hawley greeted her with a familiar leer, setting off the smarmy charm just as she remembered him. He was standing up, arms crossed, behind the table in the interrogation room.

“Abbie Mills. My favourite sister. You look radiant!”

“Nick Hawley. Arrested once again,” she replied calmly. “You asked to see me.”

“See you? Yeah, it’s always nice to see you! If this is a social call, then I’m really honoured.”

Abbie merely lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

“Nah, you’re right,” Hawley grinned. “I better not flatter myself.”

“You’d better not.”

Hawley shook his head, eyeing her up and down.

“You’ve moved up in the world,” he remarked, observing the designer jeans and jacket. “No engagement ring?”

“I have questions. Why have you returned to Sleepy Hollow?”

“I heard about your upcoming wedding. Didn’t receive an invitation, though,” he persisted.

“Answer the question.”

“That is my answer!” he claimed laughingly. “Hoping to reconnect with old friends!”

“You don’t have friends and you don’t connect with anyone. You have business partners and look for opportunities,” Abbie pointed out.

“Ahh, you know me too well.”

“Why did you ask for me specifically?” she pressed on, sharper tone now. “You know you have nothing to expect from me. It’s in the past.” She avoided mentioning Jenny’s name.

“Let’s sit down and talk about the past, shall we?”

“Let’s sit down and have a proper interrogation, where I ask the questions and you provide the answers.”

“Oh, yeah? You sure that’s wise? Cameras, taping, another agent present, hearing everything, knowing what I know? Hearing me say all I’ve seen and heard?” he leered, apparently hinting to recent things, not history.

“Suit yourself,” Abbie shrugged and turned to the door.

“Wait!” he protested.

Abbie stopped. He really did need to talk to her. Something was up, but what? She simply stood still, waiting for some beats before turning around.

“Ab- Agent Mills! Come on, have a seat! I’ll reply!”

She turned around slowly and regarded him critically, seemingly thinking it over.

“Come on?” he pleaded.

 Ah, that important, is it?

Abbie still acted doubtful.

“Hey, I will answer. I asked you to come, didn’t I?”

“Just to be clear: I will tape what we say, but what I do with the information is my business. It’s no use that you try to deny or claim its existence.”

“Is that bureau procedure?” Hawley questioned, sounding like he joked but there was a hint of worry.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Abbie replied, not quite liking her methods at the moment.

“Your boss must really trust you.”

“Yeah, he’s clever like that. Sit down.”

“After you.”

“Sit.”

He sat.

Abbie sat down as well, taking her time. Slowly crossing her legs and leaning back in the chair, she was pleased to see Hawley squirm a little.

“Why are you back in Sleepy Hollow?” she repeated.

“I’m on an assignment from a new client,” he started to explain, putting on a professional air. “One that wanted me to use my knowledge of Sleepy Hollow.”

“Go on.”

“He visited me in prison towards the end of my sentence. Asked me a ton of questions, made me an offer and provided me with goods and instructions on how to sell it.”

“Sounds like it was the perfect ending for you,” Abbie said sarcastically.

“Pretty much, yeah! Good payment as well! Only…”

“Yeah, there’s generally a catch.”

“Well, I know it’s not up to me to have opinions of clients, their reasons or their ultimate goals. Money is money. But this one...”

“Yes?” she prompted, but he only looked uneasy, despite his smile.

“So, you got a sweet deal right out of prison,” she continued, “and now you’re trying to cut a new deal with the FBI because you were found out? Or did you intend to be found out?”

“There’s no fooling a Mills sister.”

“The client must be really creepy, huh?”

“Guess he must be.”

Abbie pondered what Hawley said and what he didn’t say. Why was he secretive about his client? Was it some hot shot? Did he hope to get more from the bureau by holding back?

“Do you fear for your life?” she asked, which made him burst out laughing.

“No more than usual!” he chuckled. “But... no, not immediately. I just think he’ll be really difficult to deal with, if this goes on.”

“Difficult enough to get caught on purpose?”

“Difficult enough to... try a different approach,” he said mysteriously.

Abbie was losing patience, but hid it.

“So, where’s that goods? Is it all sold?”

Hawley just smirked.

“And what about your phone?” she continued.

Still no answer.

“OK, then,” she growled and got up from the chair.

“Wait!!” he said, grabbing her wrist. She reacted immediately, wrung his arm around and pushed him back forcefully with a few moves. Despite the table between them, it was still enough to make him fall back in the chair. “Woah!” he exclaimed, landing in a heap.

“Don’t ever touch me again,” she said calmly, immediately collecting herself as she straightened up.

“OK, OK, sorry!” he said, hands in the air.

Abbie wondered if it was a mistake to allow this. Perhaps she should call it off and let her colleagues do a proper interrogation instead. He knew she wanted to hear what he had to say, privately, and that already gave him an upper hand.

“You either talk, or the conversation is over,” she said, crossing her arms and looking bored.

“Sure, I want to talk about you and Ichabod Crane.”

Abbie rolled her eyes at him this time.

“Not interested,” she said.

“Hey, quid pro quo!”

“Nope.”

“Have you had sex with him again since the bachelorette party?” he asked with a cheeky grin.

“None of your business. Now tell me something I don’t know.” She didn’t bother denying what he already knew.

“Do you know that the two of you sounded really hot together from the outside?” he tried again.

“Sure I do, I was there,” she replied cockily. “That’s not something I don’t know.”

“Do remember a guy named Abel Moloch at all?” he shot in. “He’s my client.”

Abbie felt like a bucket of ice had been emptied over her head. She grabbed the back of her chair to stop herself from reeling.

“Ab-abel Moloch...” she managed to utter.

“Thought that would surprise you, Mills,” Hawley gloated. “What has it been, 15 years since he lured you and Jenny into the forest? Just kids, the three of you. Jenny would wake up screaming when we were together. What about you, are you over it? Perhaps you understand why I’m here?”

Abbie didn’t understand anything of what he said; she felt faint.

*

She was driving too fast. She revved some more. Just outside of city limits, she slowed down and found a small pocket where she could park. Leaning back against the seat, she fought back the panic by forcing herself taking slow, deep breaths. She held her breath, then slowly breathed out. She was starting to feel her menstrual pain again. She needed to eat lunch and take pain killers. She needed to get her focus back and not be so damned involved. What the hell was she thinking, trying to get any sense of this whole mess?

What now? Where do I even start?

She thought back to her talk with Hawley, even listened a bit to the end of the recording.

“…so that’s why I got in contact with Abraham van Brunt?” Hawley said on the recording on her phone.

“Because Abel Moloch told you?” Abbie’s own voice said.

“Yes.”

“For family reasons?”

“Yes.”

“What family reasons?”

“He wouldn’t say.”

Abbie stopped the recording.

Family.

The ruin of her own family, bit by bit. Her own attempts to build up it again, and build a new. It wasn’t going very well.

Her determination to put the pain and the memories behind her. Some memories in particular. When mama’s illness accelerated. When she started to leave the house in confusion. When it was up to Abbie to look after both her and Jenny, because dad was keeping away more and more. When an odd boy, one year older than her, started to say he could help her and Jenny. When they followed him into the forest, winding paths in the dusk leading to a cave, and held them prisoners there for more than a day and a night. How he’d been trying to manipulate them into sexual favours, especially Jenny, but Abbie had kept him at bay by arguing and fighting back, for Jenny’s sake.

How he had spent most of the time talking and talking about their dad and his stepmom, about his half-sister, about his own dad, hours and hours on end. Abbie couldn’t even recall the particulars, since she had fought so hard to forget it. How she and Jenny had been able to get away when he fell asleep and how the police had found them, hours later, when they were huddled together; tired, cold, hungry and scared.

August Corbin had been the first to reach them. That was something she never forgot.

Family.

She touched the screen to play the clip.

“So van Brunt is family to him?”

“He said something like that, yeah. ‘I am one of them. I was put last, but I will demand my rightful place as the first’. In a… you know… intense sort of way.”

“In relations to van Brunt?”

“Yeah, and Crane.”

“Crane?”

“Yeah… I told him about you and Crane after that night at Mabie’s. He was very interested in that.”

“In what manner?”

“Well, he was… really weird about it. But considering that he’s some sort of religious leader for some cult in Panama, it’s probably not so strange.”

Abbie closed the app, heart beating wildly. She had to get some answers.

*

Frank Irving had looked pleased and surprised to see her, but was even more surprised by her query.

“Abel who?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

“It’s an old case,” Abbie explained.

She had showed up at her old work after having eaten some fast food and filled up her coffee quota. She’d been greeted by old colleagues, smiled at the bittersweet feeling of seeing August’s portrait still hanging on the wall just outside his former office and been greeted by her former boss, who promptly whisked her into his office. Luke or his partner Devon weren’t around, and Irving told her they’d been just called out on a tip. She just nodded, relieved.

“The archives are yours. Most things are probably in the cellar now,” Irving said, watching her with a familiar scrutiny. “So, you and Crane, huh?”

Abbie just frowned in genuine confusion, but feeling herself blush.

“Uh, what?”

“He’s your witness, right?” the Captain gave her his trademark ‘serious Captain’ expression.

“Yeah.”

“Can we hope for more duets?” he said, suddenly breaking out in a grin.

Abbie snorted.

“Boss, you’re the worst!”

“Not your boss, strictly speaking,” he chuckled. “Crane’s a good man.”

Abbie didn’t answer. She wanted to ask more, but also keep her professionalism.

“That’s my impression as well,” she said after some beats. “And he contacted you as soon as he got wind of suspicious activity, so there’s every reason to hope he’s honest.”

Irving nodded.  

“How do you know him?” Abbie ventured to ask.

“Met him at the reception desk here, when he had to report for some passport issue,” Irving told her. “We happened to talk and introduced ourselves. As he told me a bit of his plans for settling in Sleepy Hollow, we came to talk about the Freemasons. He asked if I was a member, then made sure to recommend me…” Irving shrugged but smiled. “I hadn’t expected that. I was totally new to it, and it’s hard to become a member here. Corbin was a member, as you probably know. He recommended me, but the lodge already had filled their quota of police officers, they said. Crane was very supportive, and the membership has really been helpful.”

Abbie was surprised. “Oh!” was all she said. “That’s great!” She was glad for his sake, yet hesitant to the phenomena, for several reasons.

“Yeah, in a smaller town like this, where the lodge is 99% white men –”

“And no women,” Abbie shot in.

“No,” he admitted. “Crane and van Brunt were members from the UK, so they had no problem joining.”

“I see. So perhaps there’s some good rejuvenation going on. It was great that you could join,” she agreed. “I imagine that it opens a lot of doors.”

“It sure does.”

“Well, I’d better go and have a look in the archives,” she said abruptly, stopping herself from asking more about Irving’s friendship with Crane. Her former Captain generally didn’t waste time praising people.

“Drop by some day,” he said. “We’re planning a barbecue soon. Please come, if it’s not too close to the wedding and interferes with the planning.”

“I’ll be there!” she beamed.

“Bring Morales!” Irving added humorously. “Or not, if you prefer. I’ll invite Crane as well, and get the karaoke going!”

“Ha ha,” she swerved.

“I mean it! He’ll probably come alone as well, that fiancée –” He stopped talking and shrugged.

Abbie regarded Irving, feeling uneasy.

“I’ve met her,” she said. “She’s… something else.”

“Mmm. All I can say is that he’s always visited us alone. She’s always too busy to come along.”

Abbie scowled, exchanging a look of understanding with him.

“Speaking of that,” Abbie suddenly remembered. “She’s a close friend of Standra Metzcove!”

Irving rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know,” he sighed.

“Apparently, Mrs. Metzcove reported some things stolen a while ago? Historical artefacts?”

“She did. No break in or anything. Someone had stolen them during a party, she claimed.”

“Claimed?”

“The woman is an ongoing pain in the ass to us, I’m sure you know that already. It was Jones and your own Morales who looked into it. Nothing to go on but her word and some photos of the stuff. A book, some old pistols and other stuff from the War of Independence.”

“Huh,” was all Abbie uttered, not knowing what to make of it all.

“And then, some days ago, she was here talking to Jones about wanting to take it all back!” Irving continued, clearly exasperated. “Jones asked if she had gotten her things back or something, but she said no, wasted his time, and then left without taking it back. Oh, and she reported her neighbour’s gardener for looking at her house and parking his car on the neighbour’s driveway.”

They shook their heads, exchanging more looks of sympathy.

“Give my love to the family!” Abbie finally said, getting ready to leave.

“Will do,” he assured her.

Walking through the precinct towards the cellar door, she pondered how her acquaintance with the Irvings had changed and was still developing. She had always liked working with him when he was her Captain, despite occasional disagreements. She had always liked Cynthia as well, who had been quick to make sure that they kept in touch, once she left for Quantico. Since she wasn’t working for Captain Irving anymore, it was obvious that they were becoming her friends, as much as they could be, since Luke was still working under the Captain. If Luke would transfer to New York, as he wanted, it might develop into a closer friendship. Abbie would like that, even if it was hard to actually imagine things playing out like that.

Abbie passed the door to the office space where several officers, including Luke, had their offices. She could see his desk over there, and that his computer was on. The place was empty, except for an old colleague who was busy over the phone. On a whim, Abbie stepped over to Luke’s desk and realised what had intrigued her. There was a VCR machine connected to his computer, perhaps he was looking through some old surveillance material?

Touching the mouse, his screen lit up with password protection. Abbie saw no reason trying to guess it, it was none of her business. But also connected to the computer was his own digital camera, she recognised that. Was he digitalising surveillance material, then putting it on his own camera? Or adding more material from his camera to the computer? It seemed odd.

She took up the camera and looked at what was on it, flipping through. It seemed to be a memory card in it with pictures that she hadn’t seen. Scenery from Mexico? The dates on the photos were from last year, when she had been at Quantico. Had he visited family then? It was hard to discern on the small screen. Abbie clicked to see the next picture, but it was a jumpy movie clip that was badly lit; she only heard some strange mumbling from what seemed to be some sort of hotel room. She stopped it and moved on. The next photo was of a woman in a flowing, white summer dress. It was Jenny.

Chapter Text

Ichabod let out a frustrated growl and threw a book on the floor of his office. He instantly regretted it, the book deserved better. His cheek was hurting, but his hearing was back. He was furious. Still, having confessed was a great relief. Luckily, Katrina hadn’t asked who he was unfaithful with and the thought of Abbie being left out of it calmed him down and even brought a wry smile to his lips.

You are a cheating bastard, Ichabod Crane.

He sank down in his chair, contemplating the situation. Had he wanted to cheat on Katrina? No. Their problems was something that had surprised and worried him, but he had been ready to wait Katrina out. He thought he knew her and that they wanted the same thing. He had been spectacularly blind and foolish in that regard. But he had never even considered being unfaithful.

He had met Grace Abigail Mills. That was what it was all about. She was not to blame in any way. Their attraction was out of this world, he could find no other word for it. Meeting her had made all the difference. They had also grown closer, she had opened his eyes and they had so much to talk about. Yes… Meeting Abbie had meant so much. She meant so much, he wouldn’t deny it. No matter how he examined his guilty conscious, he just couldn’t muster an ounce of regret about Abbie.

Hurting Katrina? Yes, he regretted that. With a sigh, he got up and cleaned up his office, trying to ignore his aching cheek. After being finished, he went to his small bathroom to see how it looked.

“Oh no…”

He gingerly touched it.

“Ouch!” he yelped. Katrina liked having rings on both hands, and a mark from one band had made a perfect hit on his cheekbone. He dabbed it with cold water, hoping it wouldn’t swollen up or get redder than it already was. Keeping a wet cloth on his left cheek, he went back to his desk to check the mail he had thrown into his bag earlier. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the letters, but the small, flat package was strange. It had his name on it, but no hints about who sent it. He turned it over a few times, looking for clues. In one corner, some initials were scribbled: NH.

“NH? Nick Hawley…?”

That was all the connection he could make at present. But why had the arrested Nick Hawley made sure to post him a package? Could it be something dangerous? Whatever it was, it gave him another good reason to contact Abbie, which was entirely pleasing. But what if he was wrong? What if it wasn’t from Hawley, just some nonsense? What would she think of him?

Ichabod made a frustrated sigh and put the package back into his bag. He needed lunch.

*

Abbie slowly put down the digital camera. She didn’t know what to make of it. Jenny, on a photo in Luke’s camera? First Hawley, then Moloch and now this?

“What the hell is going on?” she angrily muttered to herself.

Was Jenny once again involved in criminal activities? Was Luke hiding it from her? There would be questions to ask, and answers to demand. Later. Right now, fury energised her and she almost ran down to the cellar, in search of the police report regarding the kidnapping almost fifteen years ago.

Anger was good. Anger got shit done. Anger helped her suppress old fears, current pain, and all confusion and feelings. She ran past the old cells down there with proper iron bars. She rummaged around the old file cabinets, flipping through dusty old folders, only pausing when she saw August Corbin’s name here and there. She was getting closer.

When she finally found the folder she had been looking for, her hands were shaking slightly. She had never looked for this before now. Corbin had asked if she wanted to, but she had declined, adamantly, claiming she wasn’t interested. It was partly true. She had no interest in revisiting the past or the pain. Until now, when she had to.

She looked through the report, seeing Corbin’s name and his scribbles made it easier for her, like having a friend in need, as he had been so often. It wasn’t the first time she wished he was by her side again.

Abbie read every line. The boy’s name and age, that he was just too young to be charged, that he seemed to have a twisted view of reality, that his mother was no longer in the picture, that he had disappeared along with his father and step-mother when they brought him out of the country, that the case had to be closed, that there were very little facts, except – the name of his father: Henry Parrish.

“Fuck!!”

Abbie wanted to throw the whole file into the wall. She slammed it on the table instead, then ran up to get a large coffee. Sipping it, out of the way of old colleagues, she sneaked down to the cellar again. Looking around, she noticed that there were no cameras around anymore. The old cells were out of use and few cared about the old archives. Abbie decided to borrow the file and read it in peace. Furthermore, she needed to look Abel Moloch up in the FBI computer; going by what Hawley said, there ought to be something on him.

*

Sophie sat at her desk, looking dejected. Abbie guessed that her talk with Granger had been tough, but probably a necessary lesson. Pointing out Sophie’s drinking habits now was better than potentially having to deal with Sophie being an alcoholic later.

“Hey,” Abbie said kindly, making her friend jump.

“Oh, hey Abbie!” she exclaimed. “Didn’t see you, sorry! Uh, what’ve you been up to?”

“Following some leads, talked to Hawley…” she replied slowly.

“He still won’t talk to anyone but you. Granger and Reynolds tried to, he’s still silent,” Sophie explained. “We can’t hold him forever.”

“He allowed me to tape some things…”

“He did?”

“Yeah, and he gave me some leads. Would you like to help me look some things up? Also, I’ve got to go and question van Brunt later.”

“Oh?”

“Mmm. I’d really appreciate if you came along.”

“Sure! And you need to do some research now? Let’s do it!”

Abbie was grateful. Sophie seemed genuinely glad to still work with her, and Abbie needed someone else to look up the Moloch dude. Abbie would look up current money laundry connections in Panama.

They worked together in Abbie’s office, laptops and air condition whirring being the only sound while they collected information, until Sophie made a small shout.

“Oh my God, Abbie! This guy you asked me to look up…”

Abbie braced herself.

“He was the one who…”

“You knew about the kidnapping already, didn’t you?” she said with forced calm.

“Yeah… yeah, I did,” she mumbled. “You and Jenny were just kids. And so was he, back then. Not anymore… And now… he’s involved in all this?”

“What else have you found out, Sophie?”

Sophie slowly shook her head.

“Do you know he and his father moved here from the UK quite suddenly, then left again…?”

“Go on.”

“And his father? That old professor?”

“Yeah, I found out today.”

“You’ve been his student, haven’t you? All that time, not knowing! But he probably did!”

“True…”

“Fuck, that’s…” Sophie couldn’t find the words. “Did you know the reason they left the UK so suddenly was that Abel Moloch was expelled from school, because he tricked and molested some younger pupils?”

“No… I didn’t know that,” Abbie said and couldn’t really take it in.

“The family seemed to have been established both here, and in the UK as well,” she went on, reading from what she saw on the screen. “Parrish’s wife lived her, Parrish worked in the UK, Abel’s mother was dead… his younger half-sister was in a boarding school.”

“Katrina…” Abbie whispered slowly, realising who the half-sister was. Her instincts were tingling again.

“Yes, Katrina van Tassel,” Sophie said rapidly, quickly stating more facts. “And her mother, Libby van Tassel, swindled some of the finer families of money, claiming they were for a charity project in Latin America! She ran off just a month before Abel lured you and Jenny into the forest!”

“A month…” Abbie pondered.

“This was in spring of 2001,” Sophie clarified.

“Yeah, I remember,” Abbie replied, staring into space.

“Wow, Libby van Tassel was really someone in this town back then,” Sophie read on. “Her father was from the oldest family in Sleepy Hollow, she was involved in everything, best friends with the mayor, head of a number of committees, spending a lot of time in New York, often seen with Ivana –”

“Yeah, I get it, go on,” Abbie urged. “So, the fraud she set up?”

“Clearly, she was just doing it for money. She was using her position to ‘finally getting something back’, according to what she said in an interrogation.”

“She didn’t even deny it?”

“No. But someone bailed her out, and she was gone the next day.”

“And the money was already placed abroad, so she’s probably living a good life,” Abbie mused.

“She’s been sighted in Panama on and off,” Sophie added.

Abbie closed her eyes. “Of course…”

“But she’s probably living under a new name and has means to bribe the authorities, so there are no plans for extradition at this point.”

“Does it say what name she lives under?”

“No.”

Abbie balled her fists, not really surprised by the last bit. Panama. Again.

“Are you OK?” Sophie sounded worried.

“Sure,” Abbie replied, rubbing her stiff neck for a moment, pretending to herself that it didn’t feel like she was kid running in a scary maze with monsters lurking around every corner.

“Did you find something, Abbie?”

“Some names that we need to look into, connected to a cult in Panama.”

“Panama, again? A cult?”

“Yeah… It connects with some things Hawley told me. Also, there’s a lot going on with money laundering, just like we already know. No surprises there. But the artefacts angle… there’s something strange there.”

“What is it?”

“The artefacts…” Abbie said thoughtfully. “Very good stuff. Extremely hard to come by, some of them priceless, generally from private collections and apparently earning someone a lot of money. But who earns them and for what?”

“And how,” Sophie added.

“How, indeed,” Abbie agreed, but was starting to have an idea. “When can we pay a visit to Mr. Abraham van Brunt?”

*

They drove Sophie’s car to The Headless Horseman, Abraham’s antiques shop. It was an old inn, built in the early 18th century, but had been changed into an antiques’ business decades ago. While driving there, Abbie filled in the gaps of what she’d found out from Hawley.

“Is it OK if you go in first?” Abbie asked. “I’d like to check out the premises.”

“Sure,” Sophie said.

“No qualms using your ‘friendship’ with him?” Abbie asked teasingly.

Sophie just laughed.

“We’re not friends, we spent an evening having three-way sex,” she said, never taking her eyes off the road. Abbie had to blush, while Sophie didn’t. “And I have no qualms using that, if it gives us an advantage.”

“Good, good,” Abbie stuttered.

“I’m sorry if I embarrass you,” Sophie said, sneaking a look at her colleague.

“No, no!” Abbie assured.

“I mean, your sister and all –”

“It’s fine,” Abbie laughed. “You’re out there, having fun. Why shouldn’t you?”

“Mmm. It was fun. And really good.”

“Great!”

“Abbie, are you having second thoughts about marrying Luke?” Sophie asked out of the blue, making Abbie startle.

“What! What do you mean!?”

“Are you?” she asked again, cool as a cucumber.

“I gave him my word! I know how much that means to your family, and you know how much that means to me!”

“Yeah, that’s true… but are you having second thoughts?”

“I just told you –”

“YES or NO, Abbie,” Sophie demanded.

“Jeez, third degree interrogation,” Abbie exhaled.

“I take that as a yes,” Sophie nodded, eyes firmly on the road.

“Sophie… I stand by my word.”

“But will that be a good foundation for a happy marriage?”

Abbie had no answer to give her friend. Not that there was any time for it; they had arrived to the antiques shop. The parking lot in the yard was empty, except for one car.

“Hey, drive to the side!” Abbie suddenly ordered, and Sophie hastily geared to the side, standing at the roadside where the forest began. The Headless Horseman was in the outskirts of town.

“Do you know if that’s Bram’s car?” Abbie asked.

“Yep, that’s his,” Sophie confirmed.

“The shop isn’t open yet. How about you go in, talk to him and… I’ll see if I can sneak around?” Abbie suggested.

“OK…” Sophie said slowly, thinking it over. “What about his security cameras?”

“With a bit of luck, I can get pass them. Or else I’ll come up with an excuse,” Abbie winked.

“Ah, you basically want me to distract him from looking at his cameras,” Sophie sounded sarcastic. “Now, who’s the honey pot again?”

“What, no! Not like that!” Abbie protested.

“Don’t worry!” Sophie grinned. “But if you walk in and find us busy in some way, suit yourself.”

“Sophie…!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Go on, get out of my car!” Sophie laughed and gave Abbie a friendly push.

Abbie grinning back, opening the door. She immediately hesitated.

“Soph...” she began and turned to her friend.

“Mmm?”

“We’re... good? I mean...”

Sophie reminded her of a sphinx at that moment.

“I mean, with us, and Luke, and Jenny... and all,” she continued.

“Of course, Abbie,” she replied warmly. “I’m sorry if I dumped some things on you that you’d rather not know –”

“You didn’t!” Abbie protested and squeezed Sophie’s arm affectionately.

“You sure? First my feelings, then Bram and Jenny, my party habits –”

“We’re friends, Sophie! Right?”

“Always,” she smiled, and Abbie stretched to give her a quick hug before she jumped out of the car.

Chapter Text

Abbie disappeared among the trees while Sophie parked. Walking along the edge of the forest, she felt both worried and relieved by what Sophie had said. The tension had eased some, she knew Sophie meant what she said, and Abbie didn’t want to lose their friendship. But what would happen if Sophie found out that really went on between Crane and herself?

“Stop it!” Abbie hissed to herself while watching Sophie going into the old and sprawling Tudor style building.

A few years back, when Abbie was in the police force, the former owners had been under police surveillance. That was when Abbie found out through Andy that most shop owners in Sleepy Hollow used the same company for security cameras, but few took the time and money to let a technician make sure that the default password was changed. Due to this, a good number of networks had username: admin and password: admin, which made them far too easy to manipulate. With a bit of luck, Abbie could do the same and sneak into Bram’s business for some snooping, while Sophie kept him occupied... hopefully in a manner that didn’t violate more rules that Abbie’s own actions already did.

The cameras were still the same, and through an app provided by the company, Abbie was able to log in to Bram’s system when she was close enough to his network. A quick tap in the menu, and all cameras were paused. She only had to make sure to put them on again when she left. If Bram noticed later, it could usually be glossed over. Furthermore, Abbie’s phone couldn’t be traced, which was in itself the most suspicious thing for those who took the trouble to dig deeper. But ordinary shop keepers rarely made the effort.

Abbie quickly moved to an old back door. It was locked, but easy to pick. The difficulty was keeping it from squeaking. She slowly walked inside, making sure to be careful and avoid creaking floorboards. There was a thick carpet muffling her steps, leading to a small, dimly lit corridor where an opened door and light inside showed what looked like the back office. Blood pumped in her veins, making her feel alive. A bit of risk and rule breaking put her in her element, despite being such an organised, seemingly strict, person.

Bram’s office was in style with the rest of the place; it looked every bit like an old office from a novel by Dickens or Poe. An old desk was lit up by an Emeralite lamp, its green case gave a cosy light. But the Macbook Air was all 21st century. He seemed to have left the office in a hurry – that was perfect. Abbie could hear voices in a distance, and could discern Sophie’s laughter sounding unusually coquettish. A quick glance around told Abbie that there were no additional cameras except from the one expected.

“You really ought to look into better security, Bram van Brunt,” Abbie mumbled under her breath. Putting on gloves, she quickly looked through the computer and used her phone to take photos of some emails and documents. Next to the Macbook was a broken sabre – the modern kind – and a bunch of papers… bills. The large amounts and the fact that they were passed due date told Abbie that they needed to take a close look on Bram’s affairs. Then there was an IOU. It could have been amusing if the circumstances had been different.

“I, Abraham van Brunt, hereby declare that this is the very last time I borrow money from Ichabod Crane that I have no intention of paying back in a foreseeable future. This time, the amount is $30,000, since we do business in dollars now. The loan takes place on January 1, 2016 and Abraham promises to pay back no later than December 31, 2016. And this time it will be paid back. Or else.”

Both had signed, Ichabod with a neat flourish, Bram with a quick scrawl.

It was amusing, it was worrying. $30,000 for what? When had they moved to the US, wasn’t it six months ago? When had Bram taken over the antiques’ business? Also: Bram’s financial status wasn’t the only one that needed to be investigated! Could Crane really lend Bram that sum of money and make such a joke about it? How often had that happened? How much was her lover good for, exactly?

“Focus, Mills!” she sternly told herself.

The joint laughter in the shop told Abbie that Sophie and Bram were busy flirting, and that she could safely keep snooping. A looked drawer was also easy to pick. It contained Bram’s passport, an envelope with almost $1,000 and a black velvet ring box. Opening it, it lit up and clearly contained an engagement ring. A mighty fine engagement ring, with a perfect looking diamond that was definitely close to four carat.

“Wow,” Abbie whispered, took it up and checked the setting and mount, which was first class. A quick, hot breath on the diamond fogged it for a second, before it dissipated. Yup, it was the real thing. Who was Bram van Brunt planning on proposing marriage to? Was Jenny up for an amazing surprise? Then she saw the small engraving inside it:

Katrina and Abraham, now and forever.

“Oh, really…”

Abbie managed to get a photo of that as well. So Bram had gotten his engagement ring back and kept it? A ring that could easily have paid a loan to his cousin, along with a large bunch of bills. Carefully, Abbie put the ring back in the box and the box in the drawer.

In the back of the same drawer was a plastic pocket containing a thin, old book, looking almost like a pamphlet. She took it out and read the title: Tamerlane and Other Poems by ‘A Bostonian’. She cautiously looked it over, since it seemed a bit brittle. Opening the title page, she once again saw a seal that she had seen twice that day; a woman gaping as if she was screaming and her hair floating around her face. Ex libris: Fontis Innupta’.

“What the hell are you trying to tell me, screaming lady? Huh?” she whispered as she took another photo.

“NO, BRAM! Come back here!” Sophie scream-laughed, to which Bram replied with a deep laugh of his own, followed by Sophie’s yelp. Quick as lightening, Abbie put the book back as she found it, closed and locked the drawer, pulled off her gloves and sneaked out of the room. The shop area was large with many shelves and interesting objects, bordering to curiosity shop in one end and interior decoration with antique furniture in the other end. Sophie and Bram were conveniently busy on a loveseat – and still dressed, to Abbie’s relief.

She decided to make a surprise entrance, so when she was next to the door, she logged into the app again and started the cameras. She was even able to delete a file that had info about the latest camera report. Pleased with her actions and ready for the next move, she suddenly spied someone coming through a window overlooking the yard and parking lot in front of the old inn. It was Crane.

*

After a hearty lunch, Ichabod was in a better mood, despite the row with Katrina and the doubts regarding the package in his bag. He decided to buy doughnuts and bring them to Bram’s shop, something he usually did. Tea and a sugar rush often helped to lift the mood. With any luck, he and Bram could have a light chat after the morning’s sparring. No more talk about family, women, business… Just two childhood friends having a snack.

There was a car next to Bram’s, despite the shop not being open yet. Was it Miss Jenny’s? Ichabod decided to visit all the same, preparing himself for possible surprises. Coming closer to the door, he thought he heard a woman laugh. He hesitated, but went on. The door was unlocked, so after a quick knock, he opened it, making the old brass shop doorbell chime.

“Bram? Oh!”

He only took a few steps inside, then stopped and blushed. It wasn’t Miss Jenny, it was Agent Foster. He could see that even if there was a bit of a distance to the loveseat where they were busy.

“Ichabod!” Bram said, sitting up with Agent Foster astride him. “Have you come to join us?”

“Bram!” the young agent protested laughingly. “You’re scandalous!”

“Um, no,” Ichabod said. “I just came by with some doughnuts, but –”

“Ooh, nice! We could do with a snack, couldn’t we Sophie?” Bram said, cheerful as ever.

“Or I could just –”

“And look, you brought company!” Bram went on, actually getting up from the loveseat and looking past his cousin.

“What? No, I – oh!”

Abbie was suddenly by his side. She shot him a small, embarrassed smile, before she stepped forward. She recognised the box from her own favourite doughnut place, and she teared her eyes away from Crane.

“I came to look for Sophie,” she said. “Hello, Mr. van Brunt… Professor Crane,” she greeted formally.

“Always the correct one, eh? Hello yourself, Agent Mills!” he greeted, as he shamelessly straightened his clothes and went over to kiss her hand in a flourish. “And look!” he gestured at the box Ichabod was carrying. “Doughnuts for everyone!”

Crane was quite speechless and mainly just stared at Abbie, who shot him some furtive glances. She suddenly noticed his cheek.

“What happened to you?” she asked in a worried tone.

“What? Oh, it’s… nothing,” he said, hand moving up to hide his bruise.

“What on earth, Ichabod!” Bram exclaimed. “Have you been in a fight?”

“No, it’s…”

“Uh, hi Abbie! Hi, Professor Crane,” Sophie mumbled.

“Been looking for you everywhere, Sophie,” Abbie said sternly, putting on an act. “We’re here to ask some questions. To both of you,” she said and lifted an eyebrow while meeting Crane’s eyes again.

“Ahh, don’t be too strict now, Agent Mills! How about a good cup of tea?” Bram insisted.

“Very well,” Abbie relented. “Tea, doughnuts, a band-aid for Professor Crane, and some questions for you to answer, Mr. van Brunt.”

“There’s no need to –” Crane tried.

“Will you please call me Abraham already?” Bram begged Abbie.

“No. I’m Agent Mills to you when I’m here on official business.”

Bram looked crestfallen and Crane had to laugh.

“Serves you right, Bram,” Crane teased.

“My, aren’t you cocky these days! Attacking me during training, getting beaten up…” Bram replied as he took the box of doughnuts. “Have a seat, will you? I’ll go and make tea!”

Crane made sure to move an adequate table and two Regency armchairs among the variety of antique furniture around them. He then invited the ladies to sit down on the loveseat, but Abbie shook her head and made sure her and Sophie sat on the chairs instead. Crane sat on the loveseat, making sure there was room for Abraham when he returned.

Abbie crossed her legs, while Sophie twirled a lock of her hair. Meanwhile, Crane felt somewhat worried, almost scared. Abbie was clearly meaning business, and her presence always had such strength. He was sure she knew and often made the most of it. Was it necessary now? And how come he hadn’t noticed that she was also arriving to the antiques’ shop? The car wasn’t hers. Where had she been?

“I am sorry that I interrupted you and Bram,” he said to Sophie.

Sophie just shrugged and smiled.

While Crane fidgeted a bit and clearly tried to relax, Abbie watched him. He was wearing yet another fine, striped shirt that was almost half-opened. She liked it, and actually wondered if he owned any other kind of shirt except for striped ones. She also wanted to be the one on the loveseat with him, and climb him like Sophie had been all over Bram some moments ago.

Crane suddenly looked her straight in the eye and she felt a warm wave going through her. If at least she could have hugged him as a greeting! While Sophie and Bram could fool around shamelessly, they had to push so many impulses aside. It was so unfair. They both licked their lips and Crane cleared his throat while Abbie had to change position on the chair. Sophie giggled, having watched them.

“You really need a band-aid,” Abbie blurted out.

“I do?”

Abbie got up, having spied a first aid kit box on the wall. She came back with one that was small and clear.

“Have you washed the bruise?” she asked as she sat down next to him.

“Yes,” he replied, feeling himself grow hot by her sudden closeness.

“Does it hurt?”

“Not much, no.”

“Please lean forward,” she ordered, but her way of touching him was gentle. In a quick move, she had placed the band-aid right on the spot, and quickly caressed his bearded cheek as he hissed in pain. “Do you want to report this?”

“Thank you,” he said. “Report what?”

“You’ve been hit by someone just recently,” she said seriously.

“Um, yes. No, no need for a report,” he assured her, while drowning in her eyes. The way she had touched him and cared hadn’t gone unnoticed by him.

“You sure?”

“I’m sure,” he said, wanting to tell her everything and more, forcibly stopping himself from reaching out to her. How soon could he be alone with her? How soon could he hold her again?

Abbie nodded, still feeling high on adrenaline. Who had hit him? She was ready to take that person down. She wanted to hit that person back as much as she wanted to hug him.

“Are you alright?” he suddenly asked.

“Uh, yes. Yes, I’m OK,” she said, but her warm, hazel eyes, lit by the sun through the window, suddenly grew darker and vulnerable. Something was wrong, he just knew it.

Bram returned with a tray laden with a teapot, teacups and a small mountain of colourful doughnuts.

“Ah, that looks cosy!” he remarked, seeing Abbie and Crane on the loveseat. “Thank you for patching him up, Agent Mills!”

Abbie quickly moved back to the armchair, determined to make the situation less cosy again. They were there in search for answers. This cosy tea party with a mix of British and American felt like they were playing a game. In a way, they all were. Just not any childish games.

“What do you think about this tea set?” Bram conversed. “Meissen, mid-18th century, 18 carat gold! This is still for sale, perfect as a wedding gift, don’t you think? I recently sold another Meissen set, red dragon pattern. Very sought after! Hitler had a similar set at the Eagle’s Nest, so there’s always collectors ready to pay for that.”

Abbie’s eyes narrowed and Sophie visibly hesitated to take the cup offered to her.

“Here I thought we were going to enjoy a good cup of tea with two lovely ladies, and you have the bad taste to bring up business and Hitler!” Crane protested.

“Oh, hush! Enjoy the last leaves of this Darjeeling first flush! And these scrumptious, over-the-top creations with all sort of flavours, courtesy of American culture!”

Abbie and Crane exchanged a glance of exasperation, but took the proffered tea and picked out baked goods. The British gentlemen munched with gusto. Abbie smiled, looking at Crane indulging, and had to admit that both the tea and the lemon blueberry doughnut she had were excellent.

“This is really good,” she flattered. “Is this something you two do often?”

“Guilty as charged,” Crane smiled warmly to her.

“Quite right!” Bram nodded, mouth full.

They started to talk about food, memories and exchange jokes that showed they went way back. It was time to use the situation to her advantage.

“So; family!” she said determinedly. “I’ve got some names that you two ought to know.”

“Is this the start of the official interrogation?” Bram asked cheerfully. “Please, go ahead!”

“What makes you think you’re under interrogation, Mr. van Brunt?” Abbie asked. “We just have some questions. An interrogation would take place at the FBI headquarters.”

“Aaah, good to know!” he winked. “So why are you here asking questions, then?”

“It’s regarding a trade of smuggled artefacts and some names connected to both you and Professor Crane that has turned up,” Abbie explained.

“Intriguing!”

“So you won’t mind me taping this, then,” Abbie said and put her phone on the table. “What do you know about Libby van Tassel?”

“Ah, Katrina’s scandalous mother, the dazzling Liberty van Tassel Parrish!” Bram aggrandised.

“Quite,” Crane quipped, his cup rattled against his saucer as he put it down.

“She insisted on keeping her last name, saying that its historical importance was far greater than her mother’s indiscretions.”

“Indiscretions?” Sophie asked with a frown.

“Yes, her involvement with some charity fund here in Sleepy Hollow.”

“Go on,” Abbie said calmly, wanting to hear what version they had heard. Like her, they must have been in their teens when it happened.

“Well, there was some fraud going on and she got accused, it was a great mess and she left the country,” Bram explained.

“OK,” Abbie said, exchanging a quick glance with Sophie. “How did you find out about this?”

“Through our fathers,” Ichabod said gravely.

“They’re brothers, right?”

“Half-brothers,” Ichabod clarified.

“Same mother?”

Both men nodded.

“Lady Millicent Wells, cousin of the current and last Earl of Maidenwell,” Ichabod said.

Abbie and Sophie raised their eyebrows at the information.

“Last earl,” Abbie reminisced from the dinner the day before, “unless the Remainder Law can be put into effect.”

It was Ichabod’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “You know about the Remainder Law?”

“A property law about future interest,” Abbie said. “Mr. van Brunt told us about it at dinner yesterday. I looked closer into it.” Which basically meant that she had googled it, but she didn’t say that.

“Oh,” was all Ichabod said. They had touched on some subjects when they were together in the cabin the night before, though the most touching had been on each other’s bodies. But the legal labyrinth regarding their ancestral home that his father and uncle took such interest in hadn’t even been mentioned.

“Libby van Tassel, however, is the current earl’s brother’s granddaughter,” Bram shot in.

“Which could mean that her side of the family has a greater claim to the title?” Abbie asked.

“Could be, yes. You need to consult with our fathers for details on that.”

“So, apart from all this about this, what else do you know about her?” Abbie persisted, not a bit interested in the whole earldom thing.

“She ran off to South America,” Ichabod said, a look of disgust flitting over his face.

“And none of you have seen her since?”

“No,” Ichabod said firmly.

“Not even her daughter Katrina?”

“Definitely not!” Bram said. “She has never forgiven her mother for her decision to seduce me and Ichabod when we were mere lads of 14!” Bram laughed, clearly eager to shock them.

Chapter Text

Sophie nearly spit out her tea. Abraham van Brunt definitely knew how to baffle an audience.

“If this is a sensitive topic –” Abbie said.

“Oh no!” Bram exclaimed. “It’s a nice trip down memory lane!”

Somehow, Abbie doubted it. Asking questions like these, things brought up from the past could potentially be traumas.

“But she only attempted it!” Crane protested, looking pale and angry. “That was bad enough, but nothing came out of it!”

“Well…” Bram said with a smirk.

“Well, what!?” Ichabod demanded.

Bram shrugged but couldn’t look his cousin in the eyes.

“Bram?!”

“She was a good-looking woman, as I’m sure you remember!” Bram protested. “I was 14 and curious!”

“Fourteen!” Sophie exclaimed in shock.

“Americans,” Bram said, rolling his eyes.

“I’m sure the age of consent in UK was 16 back then as well,” Abbie said sharply. “Furthermore, if your family wants to be like the Lannisters or something, then I suggest you remember that the laws are different from state to state here. In New York State, it’s rape if a person that young has sex with someone who’s four years older or more.”

“So if two kids do it –” Bram started.

“Don’t go there, Bram!” Ichabod snapped. “I can’t believe you’ve lied about this for me, for so many years! Does Katrina know this?”

“Yes,” Bram shrugged.

“Her mother used you!”

“Nonsense, it was mutual!”

“OK,” Abbie interrupted firmly, realising that discussion was a dead end. She knew enough about Libby van Tassel for now. It was bad that Abraham didn’t realise that what she had done to him was wrong. It wasn’t Abbie’s place to judge his morals, but it was her job to see what he did with those morals, if they broke the law. “Next question.”

Ichabod was glaring at Abraham in a way that said all needed to know about his opinion of the matter, who merely looked at them all with mirth.

“I didn’t think you’d be like Abe!” Ichabod spat suddenly. “You’re not to blame for what happened, you were just a kid like me, but the way you talk –”

“I’m not like Abe!” Bram protested. “Besides, we haven’t seen Abe since we saw Libby!”

“Abe?” Sophie asked with a frown, looking at Bram.

“Oh, he’s not Abe!” Crane explained. “He was always Bram! Abe is short for –”

“Abel,” Bram filled in. “As in Abel Mo-”

“Abel Moloch,” Abbie interrupted.

Crane’s head turned quickly to look at her, hearing the shift in her voice.

“Do you know of him?” he asked.

“What do you know about his whereabouts these days?” Sophie asked sharply.

“Nothing what so ever,” Bram said, and Crane mumbled in agreement.

“Libby moved with him to the States quite hastily,” Crane said. “There were some incident at his school, we never knew what it was. But it must have been quite serious, since Libby took both him and Katrina, and moved back to Henry, her husband. He was already an assistant Professor here then. Libby often went back and forth between the US and UK, but she lived separated from Henry Parrish… most of the time.”

“Katrina as well,” Abbie mumbled. Crane looked uneasy.

“Yes, she went to another boarding school and was transferred,” he explained. “But then, something happened here in Sleepy Hollow – did you ever meet him? He must have gone to school here in town back then?” He was suddenly seeing a pattern and wanted to know more. Abbie just stared at him with her beautiful doe eyes, and he could feel that her hard exterior was cracking. Abel had kidnapped some girls. He had never learnt the details. Abbie knew more, he was certain of it. Why was it important now?

“I remember very little about that,” Bram said. “You remember everything, as usual,” he turned to Crane, then noticed how he looked at Abbie.

“I knew who he was,” Abbie said slowly, but didn’t elaborate further. “His name has turned up, that’s all we can say.”

“What on earth has that got to do with us?” Bram snorted and took the teapot. “Here, I’ll be mother,” he offered and stretched out his hand to a confused Sophie, wanting her teacup. “Just because his biological mother was a sister of Elizabeth Crane, it doesn’t follow that we have any interest in his whereabouts these day.”

“What!?” Abbie and Sophie exclaimed simultaneously.

“It’s true,” Crane confirmed. “Mother’s maiden name was Malcolm. Her father moved to the US and changed it to Moloch. He was the father of Lilith Moloch, Abel’s mother.”

Abbie resisted an impulse to rub her temples.

“OK. So the name has no connection with child sacrifices, then?” she asked sarcastically, referring to the historical meaning of Moloch.

“I hope not…!” Crane answered looking shocked. “But the incident at the school in the UK, then here in Sleepy Hollow both targeted children, from what I know.”

Abbie made no answer. It was time to get to the point, and she knew she was taking a risk. She tore her eyes off Crane and stared at Bram icily.

“What is your business with Nick Hawley, Mr. van Brunt?”

“Strictly business,” Bram replied.

Crane stared into his teacup, colour rising on his cheeks.

“What sort of business?”

“Why don’t you ask Nick Hawley?” Bram tried.

“Because I’m currently asking you,” Abbie said, not wanting Bram to know that Hawley was in custody yet. “What sort of business?”

“Good business!”

“I will make myself clear, Mr. van Brunt: you have the opportunity to cooperate at this point, if you tell us everything we need to know. If not, the alternative is an official interrogation at Westchester FBI. Let me also remind you that this questioning is being taped. The choice is yours,” Abbie declared.

Bram straightened up from his relaxed position on the loveseat. Crane was side eyeing him. They both had reasons to be careful.

“I’m a British citizen,” Bram tried.

“You’re here on a sponsored H-1B visa, just like Professor Crane, while applying for green cards,” Sophie said, reading from her notes. “All thanks to Professor Parrish and Katrina van Tassel, through their family company Sleepy Hollow Heirloom. That alone raises several questions, given that Professor Crane is also hired at the university, and that this is basically an independent business.”

“Is that… against the visa rules?” Crane asked, looking somewhat shocked.

“It depends, Professor Crane,” Sophie said, keeping her formal tone.

“Which basically means that it’s open to juridical interpretation,” Bram said. “I wish to speak with my lawyer.”

Abbie swore internally. She had expected this reply, and the fact that it was Hawley who brought the line out was in itself promising, but it didn’t look too good for Abraham van Brunt.

“That’s your right, Mr. van Brunt,” Abbie calmly explained. “Be aware that if the FBI decides to look closer into your affairs, it will include the records you’re obliged to keep. That might expose both buyers and sellers, along with how you do business.”

Bram visibly swallowed, while Crane looked increasingly worried.

“Tell you what,” Abbie said. “Go talk to your lawyer, if you want. We’ll end this talk here and now, but you’re welcome to contact us at any time, in case you’ve got more to say.”

Bram took Abbie’s card, smirking at Sophie as he got hers, and placed them in his wallet.

Abbie was ready to stand up, when the front door chimed, announcing new visitors.

“Ah! More officers of law! I need to make more tea!” Bram joked.

It was Luke and his colleague Devon Jones, and the sight of Luke made Abbie furious. This was the last thing Abbie needed right now. Or was it? They all stood up and greeted with formal nods, signalling formality. Abbie glared Luke’s way, and his slightly irritated expression turned into surprise, then bewilderment. He knew enough to recognise when she was angry with him.

“Well, isn’t this sweet!” Bram to ease the situation and probably his nervosity, Abbie guessed. “Not quite as yesterday’s cake disaster, but still a family gathering!”

“Sleepy Hollow is a small town,” Abbie said and took up her phone, looking like she was stopping the taping of their conversation. “Hello,” she nodded to Luke.

“Hey,” he said, looking as serious as Abbie felt. “Yup, it’s a small town.”

“I assume you’re also here in official capacity, officers?” Bram prattled on. “Or can I interest you in some vintage jewellery that might delight all the lovely ladies in your life?”

Devon grinned, looking interested.

“No,” Luke said firmly. “It’s strictly official.”

“So, no tea then?” Bram asked. “There are doughnuts left.”

“Doughnuts!” Devon sounded hopeful.

“No doughnuts! Let the federal ladies fall for that, if they want,” Luke scolded. It seemed that he was in the same mood as when he’d called her the same morning. Abbie knew what it took to lift it again, but this was not the time and she was even less interested in trying than before. She had to contain her anger and questions – for now.

“Hello again, Professor Crane,” Luke greeted Ichabod with a smirk. “Another domestic incident?”

Ichabod looked affronted but self-consciously hid his check with his hand. Abbie clenched her fists, fearing Luke was right. Her immediate impulses to defend Crane was something she had to examine later, possibly root out.

“We can leave, we’re done here anyway,” Abbie bit back on Luke’s earlier remark.

“No, that’s fine,” he replied sarcastically. “We’re just here to ask a short question.”

“Good, because after that, I want to talk to you,” Abbie said sharply. “Alone and unofficially.”

It seemed like everyone laughed nervously as a reply to what she said. She stared straight at Luke.

“Okay…” Devon tried carefully. “Mr. van Brunt?”

“Present!” Bram said.

“Do you have a book called…?” Devon read from his notes. “Tamerlane and Other Poems by ‘A Bostonian’?”

“No,” Bram answered, looking bewildered.

“You’re sure? You seem to have a great collection of books.”

“But not that one,” he contradicted.

“So you know each and every book that you have?” Luke questioned.

“Do you know what Tamerlane and Other Poems by ‘A Bostonian’ is? If I had it, I would definitely know.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s one of the rarest and most expensive books there are,” he explained, putting on a snobbish air.

Meanwhile, Abbie took a dark delight in having looked through Bram’s office. His lie was blatant.

“Mrs. Metzcove says –”

“Mrs. Metzcove claims to have left that book along with some other useless old books, yes,” Bram interrupted. “I have no idea where she got that from, it’s nonsense. There was a list of some books in a box, then a bag of various volumes of no consequence.”

Abbie battled with herself. Should she tell Luke, tip them to turn the place upside down? Or should she keep her knowledge to herself and put the Headless Horseman under surveillance? If the book was as valuable as Bram said, what did he plan to do with it? Could that bring more leads? She decided on reporting to Granger first. She quickly texted him a short explanation with some code words, and got a satisfying reply within seconds.

“Have you done more business with Mrs. Metzcove?” Devon asked.

“She invited me to evaluate some antiquities in her home some months ago,” Bram shrugged.

“What kind of antiquities?”

“Listen, Inspector –”

Detective Inspector.”  

“Ah, Detective Inspector! Am I under suspicion?” Bram asked. “I’ve just had a tea party with the FBI, and now I have the police here asking me questions. What on earth is going on?”

“We can’t tell you that, sir,” Devon said.

“Very well. So I’m not under suspicion, then?”

There was a silence for some long seconds.

“Am I allowed to leave town?”

All four officers rolled their eyes.

“You haven’t been read your rights and you’re not under arrest by either the FBI or the police,” Abbie said. “We can’t stop you from leaving town. However, if you suddenly left town, you might be under suspicion.”

“We need to go to New York City soon, is that out of town?”

“Who are ‘we’?” Luke asked.

“Katrina, Ichabod and myself,” Bram explained. “To vote!”

“Vote?” Luke asked, looking confused.

Crane, who had been silent for quite a while, spoke up:

“We’re going to the British Consulate to vote in the EU Referendum.”

“What’s that?” Devon asked.

Crane shortly explained the facts about UK voting whether they should stay in EU or leave, answering some questions and glaring between Bram and Luke, who entered into a discussion on how little Americans knew about what went on in the rest of the world. Soon, four men were debating the US versus the rest of the world, verbally trying to assert dominance.

“Are we done here?” Abbie said firmly, which made them all stop talking and stare at her. “Time to move on then. Luke, we need to talk in private.”

“Uh, yes…”

“Mr. van Brunt, some details,” Devon said. Him, Bram, Sophie and Crane gathered together, but Abbie noticed that Crane glared her way as Luke went over to her.

The walked behind some shelves for privacy. This wasn’t quite the time and place, but it couldn’t be helped.

“Babe, I know I was angry on the phone this morning –” Luke started.

“What’s going on with Jenny?” Abbie interrupted.

Luke merely gaped. “S-sorry?”

“Jenny, what’s going on with her? I know you’re hiding something!” she hissed angrily.

“Ab-abbie, I swear… I…” he said in a hushed voice.

“I swear to God, if you’re hiding anything criminal she’s doing, then I’ll –”

“No, no,” he insisted and grabbed her upper arms. “Abbie, I can explain!”

“Why the hell was she on a photo in your camera?”

The word ‘hell’ could definitely be heard by the others. Luke tried to drag her closer, into his embrace. Abbie pushed him away.

“Let go of me!”

“What… photo?” he asked.

“In your camera! I was down at the precinct, you were out, your camera was on your desk –” she ranted.

“You saw a… photo?”

“Yes.”

“Of Jenny?”

Yes!”

“I swear, it’s… OK, this is silly, but…”

“What!?” Abbie said loud enough to be heard.

“Hey, babe, don’t make a scene!”

“Shut up! Wait, no – tell me what’s going on!”

“It’s a surprise I’m planning, Abbie! A movie for our wedding! About us!” spilled out of his mouth. “I had to ask her for some material! I just copied some stuff!”

“Oh!” Abbie said and closed her mouth firmly. She frowned and looked at Luke.

“Don’t look at me like that, you just ruined my surprise,” Luke said with a crooked smile.

Abbie’s eyes narrowed. It all made sense. So why wasn’t she satisfied with his explanation?

Chapter Text

“You trust me, querida, don’t you?”  

There it was: querida. The endearment that he used very rarely and always when something was serious. Abbie frowned and lowered her voice, knowing she had no choice but to inform Luke of some things, as a fellow officer.  

“Now listen up,” she whispered. “We have Hawley in custody. We’re both here right now because van Brunt, Jenny’s current boyfriend, is shady as fuck.”  

“Hawley, in custody?” Luke hissed.  

“Shhh,” Abbie warned. “Not a word to van Brunt, while we can avoid it. And that’s not all…”  

“What, then?”  

“You remember Abel Moloch?” Abbie asked, knowing full well he did. Sure enough, his face darkened. “His name turned up,” Abbie continued. “He contacted Hawley, telling him to go back to Sleepy Hollow.”  

“What the fuck…?” Luke said slowly.  

“Apparently he’s in Panama these days, leading some cult.”  

“Panama?”  

“Yeah. So you must understand that I worry about Jenny right now,” Abbie explained, watching as Luke got a faraway expression in his eyes. “What is it?”  

“Jenny…” Luke mumbled.  

“Yes, Jenny,” Abbie said irritated. “You see why I’m worried?”  

“Sure, sure,” he muttered, fumbling with his phone. “If we let her go on, she’ll mess up our whole wedding.” 

“That… too, yes. But most importantly –” 

“Mom will have a fit if she’s put in jail again,” Luke interrupted, probably thinking he filled in her sentence.  

As he furiously wrote something on his phone, Abbie just stared at him. Was that really what he took from this conversation? Not that Jenny was in potential danger, either of being hurt by the past or dragged down because of her past? No; to Luke it was all about that wedding.  

“We’re doing great messing up the damn wedding all by ourselves!” Abbie hissed, before she pushed past Luke and went to join the others. She suddenly remembered that her taping device on the phone was still on, so she closed that as she walked.  

Heads turned as she walked, Crane’s stood out, as usual. She had to deal with him next. In a professional manner, if possible.  

* 

Jealousy. It was a flare of jealousy. Crane tried to reason with himself, that it wasn’t any of his business. But fact remained: seeing Abbie and Luke walking side by side, backs turned, towards a secluded area in the shop, released a new kind of inner fire that had been looming ever since the handsome Detective Inspector and fiancé of Abbie Mills had entered the premise. Crane hated the sight of the man, the fact that he was the man Abbie claimed as hers, despite that her eyes shot daggers at Luke. Something Luke did made her furious. What was it? Could he later ask her what it was? Would that be against their… agreement, for lack of better word?  

It all came back to Abbie. How she had sat there, in the Regency chair as if it was a throne, interrogated Bram and wrung out facts. Bram had easily admitted things that Crane had never known. Yes, Crane knew Abbie’s powers. When she asked, you confessed. When she judged, you paid penance. Was he imagining it, or was she emitting that otherworldly glow again? Was she just her human form in that chair, or was she in fact a overwhelming divinity? Like so many times yesterday, when she had amazed him. She was a goddess. She was Venus, she was Athena… no, she was Persephone. The queen of judgement, of life and death, letting mortals know that their time was up.  

His own time was up soon, if he didn’t watch himself. While Bram chatted with D.I. Jones, Crane’s eyes strayed to the spot where he knew Abbie must be, though only glimpses could be seen of her and Luke behind the shelf that was laden with bric-a-brac. They didn’t stand close. They didn’t kiss, did they? He wished he could grow larger ears when he suddenly heard her say a profanity. Did Luke try to – Crane was sure Abbie pushed him away. His insides were in knots, he had to force himself from not rushing over there. Abruptly turning his head from what little he saw, he realised that he was once more being scrutinised by Agent Foster. Abbie’s colleague and friend, but also Luke’s cousin. He blushed, and looked away. Abbie and Luke were still talking, and he swore he could hear them both say ‘Jenny’. 

Bram was still chatting with D.I. Jones, but Ichabod couldn’t muster any interest. Suddenly, quick and determined steps were heard. Abbie was leaving the hideout, Luke walked further behind, looking bewildered, and her walk made it clear that she was ready to preside over the room again.   

“Yeah,” he heard Agent Foster’s amused voice next to him. “That’s Abbie, alright,” she said, then walked over to Luke, trying to get Abbie to join her. Abbie’s whole body language protested against it. 

“Your girlfriend is scary,” Bram’s whisper was teasing, while they were watching Abbie marching towards their group. 

“My girlfriend is a goddess!” Crane mumbled in reply. 

“You’re not supposed to agree on that part!” Bram protested weakly. 

And she’s scary,” Crane gushed and hurried over to Abbie, cleverly steering her away and shooting daggers at Luke at the same time. “Agent Mills!” he said to a baffled Abbie. “May I show you this collection of letters Bram has? I’m sure they’ll interest you!”  

Luke was as surprised as Abbie, while Crane couldn’t hide his triumph. Devon, on the other hand, urged his colleague to join him, since Bram was going to show them Standra’s books. Sophie and Abbie exchanged a quick glance, and Sophie joined the men walking to another room, leaving Abbie and Crane alone. Abbie pulled him away to a spot where she was pretty sure the cameras didn’t reach. 

“Abbie –” 

“What the hell are you doing?” Her undertone was deadly.  

Crane’s face fell, realising she had a good reason for asking that.  

“I’m, I’m s-sorry!” he stuttered. “I got… carried away.” 

“You can’t do things like that,” she frowned, but felt conflicted. “Stepping forward and pulling me away! Behaving like we’re… It’s not that I don’t…” Abbie sighed. “Crane, it’s just not –” 

“You’re right – it won’t do,” he replied, running his hand through his hair. “God knows what you must think of me. You’re just having a normal conversation with your fiancé, while I –” 

“Hey, that’s not –” 

“And all around us, my family is clearly turning more bizarre than ever,” he ranted and his hands painted vivid scenarios between them before they started to rub his temples. “And that ought to be impossible, them turning more bizarre than they already are! Then again, how bizarre am I, who have absolutely no regrets in meeting with you, stealing every moment I can with you, effectively doing all I can to cancel my upcoming wedding –” 

“Wait! What?” 

“I told Katrina what I’ve done!” he said firmly. “I told her I wasn’t, couldn’t be, the man she expected me to be. I told her… that I’m being unfaithful to her.”  

He looked her straight in the eyes, she stared back, not uttering a word.  

“I didn’t say – oh, dear Lord! Your name wasn’t mentioned, Abbie!” he blurted out. “I wouldn’t want your name or reputation tarnished.” 

“This isn’t the 19th century, you don’t have to defend my honour,” Abbie said sarcastically.  

“If I tell Katrina, she’ll tell Standra… and then, the gossip will spread! Your family, the bureau, the precinct! All will find out.” 

“You make a good point,” Abbie said, “Thank you for thinking that far.”  

“Oh, you mustn’t thank me for that, I wouldn’t dream of exposing you!” he said intensely. “In any case, she took it even more… bizarrely than I expected. And yet, Bram confessed something strange earlier today, regarding Katrina when they were engaged… Nonetheless, she was firm about our upcoming nuptials staying upcoming.”  

Abbie was still silent, listening intently.  

“On top of that, it seems like Bram is… in the thick of it,” he added, looking worried. 

“Could be,” Abbie replied thoughtfully. Abbie guessed how he must be feeling. He had called the police, led them to criminal activities, and now it looked like the people closest to him might be involved in the same activities. When it came to family, most people would back out.  

“He has always been reckless…” Crane mused. “I’ve helped him a few times, and I’ve quarrelled with him about his choices regarding business. But today…” he shook his head slowly. “I’ve also told him off for how he treated girlfriends in the past. And Katrina. In the end, his behaviour paved a way for my engagement with her. It’s not my place to judge him for being, well, promiscuous. But today… He admitted some things, and choices, that actually shocked me, and I guess I… really questioning his morals now?” Conflict and bewilderment flitted over Crane’s features.  

Abbie battled with herself, then sighed.  

“Crane, we have Hawley in custody. We have some leads. You being a witness might not be strictly necessary, if you feel the need to bow out –” 

“What? No, no!” he exclaimed and placed his hands on her upper arms, looming over her with that intense look in his eyes. “There’s something about all this, something’s clearly fishy. When it comes to books, I’m ready to take any steps. I get ready for battle, I can’t deny that. Books and knowledge should be accessible to all. Stolen books will be anything but. This upsets me, and it should upset Bram as well! Abbie, if he’s not on the right side of this… then by God, I have to do my part to find out what he’s entangled in!” he said passionately.  

Abbie believed him. His zeal was genuine and his worries legitimate. His own morals called him to battle.  

On top of this, he really is a gentleman. Not a perfect one, but a gentleman all the same.  

She felt her knees going weak. She fortified herself, before she turned into a puddle. 

“OK,” she said, sounding meek. “Just so we’re clear: there’ll be some tough revelations down this road, Crane,” her voice more steady but adamant, as she stared into the azure and silver of his eyes that were far too close to hers. “You will find out things that will upset you, perhaps upset your closest relationships… I’ve seen this before!”  

He nodded slowly. Taking a deep breath, he straightened up before her, releasing her arms. She had to bend her neck back so much that she felt her aching muscles again.  

“Today has been a day of several revelations already,” he stated. Abbie bowed her head in recognition; his words definitely hit home. “Revelations that has upset me, yes,” he continued. “But if anything, they have shown me that I must stand firm for what I believe in.”  

“Is that why you have this?” she asked and moved her fingertips to just lightly touch the mark on his cheekbone.  

“Well… yes, in a way…” he admitted.  

“Was it Katrina?” Abbie asked and tampered down the angry flare within her. Too much was about that woman.  

“It was,” he replied, eyelids fluttering as she avoided the hurt area and stroke his beard instead.  

“I’m gonna beat her ass,” Abbie muttered, making him laugh. Meeting her eyes again, he saw that she was half joking, half serious. Her eyes were dark and deep, compelling him to do anything for her.  

“But what about you?” he mumbled. “Something… happened today?”  

Abbie quickly looked down, inhaling sharply.  

“Everything happened today,” she said with a shrug, but he wasn’t dissuaded.  

“Let me help,” he said impulsively.  

“What do you mean?” she frowned.  

“Confide in me or let me help you some way… or both,” he said, voice dropping even lower. His hand mirrored hers, lightly stroking her cheek and caressing back a long lock of her hair.  

“Help me?” she whispered.  

“Anything, Abbie. Anything.”  

Chapter Text

Help her? Was he serious? She had several colleagues and a policeman as her official fiancé. What sort of help could she need?

All the help. All of it. The fact that he offered, even though he shouldn’t and didn’t have to. That he asked her to confide in him, a man that she shouldn’t know as intimately as she did. A man who knew who she was up against and perhaps could tell her more. A man who saw her, really saw her. And never looked away. Like now, staring into her eyes as if she was a motherfucking traffic light that never changed. Did he really think that the light wouldn’t turn green? Didn’t she always give him the green light in every situation?

“Crane…”

“Treasure?” he mumbled, suddenly even closer.

“I need to –,” she began but had to swallow slowly, dealing with the task next at hand.

“Yes?” he frowned, suddenly frightened. He could feel anxiety radiating from her. Was she going to tell him something he didn’t want to hear? That his help wasn’t wanted? That he wasn’t wanted? His heart plummeted.

“There is a place… in the forest. I need to go there,” she formulated slowly, as the next logical step presented itself.

“The forest?” he asked. “What part?”

“Not sure…uh… east of your cabin, if we follow the road.”

“Right.”

“We need to do some hiking,” she said and shuddered.

“Very well, rough terrain?”

“Not sure.”

“That’s alright, I’m an experienced hiker and I have a pair of boots in my car.”

Abbie nodded, not saying a word.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I don’t like the forest.”

He paused, but simply nodded. She seemed determined, so he would wait with the questions till later.

“Shall we bring Agent Foster?” he asked, hoping the answer was no.

“No.”

“Good. Oh, here she is!” he warned.

“Abbie?” Sophie said, hastily jogging over to where Abbie and Crane stood. “Luke and Devon behave like they want to give Abraham the third degree in the other room!”

“What!?”

“Well, Luke does, to be honest.”

“C’mon!” Abbie said to Crane and they went to another smaller room lined with books that definitely looked selected. Abraham had his back against one shelf with Luke in front of him, glaring up at the slightly taller, blond Brit. Devon stood right next to them, frowning.

“Hey!” Abbie interrupted.

“Oh, thank the Lord! The cavalry is here!” Bram laughed, but sounded relieved.

“What’s this?” Abbie snarled. “Have you made an arrest of this man?”

“Abbie, it was just… some questions,” Luke said, showing his palms defensively.

“What ever the hell you’re up to, knock it off!”

“Detective Inspector Morales is quite protective,” Bram insinuated.

“Hey!” Luke said, hands turning to fists.

“I said NO!” Abbie barked. The others stared at her, but visibly relaxed.

“OK,” Luke shrugged, once more the blithe persona he usually showed his fiancée. “Come on, Devon, let’s head back to the precinct.”

“Sophie!” she ordered as Luke and his partner left. “Stay here until you’re sure they’re not coming back.”

“OK, see you later at the agency?”

“Yeah, but first Professor Crane has to take me –”

“Oohh, does he now?!” Bram laughed.

“On an errand!” Abbie finished, glaring at Bram in unison with Crane.

“Now, now! Don’t be shy!” Bram went on. “I hope to do an ‘errand’ here with Agent Foster as soon as you two leave.”

“Not happening,” Sophie said firmly.

“Why?! You were eager enough before!”

Before being the operative word here.”

“C’mon,” Abbie smiled at Crane and they went to the door, leaving them to their little discussion.

*

Ichabod drove his car with Abbie beside him, rolling along the road leading to his cabin, but passing it. She was silent, arms crossed tight over her chest, and she was staring into the distance, apparently thinking hard about something. Suddenly Ichabod realised what he had heard people telling him so often: that he was there, but not there. Lost to those around him, far away in thought as an idea was forming or a problem being solved. Closing out those around him, and annoying those same people. There and then, next to Abbie, he could understand the frustration. But he also knew better than to disturb her, though he wondered where they were going. Suddenly, he remembered something and gasped involuntarily.

Abbie glared at him.

“I beg your pardon… I didn’t mean to disturb your reverie,” he said.

“It’s alright, what made you gasp? Did you think of something?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I have something that you need to see. Can I stop the car?”

She nodded, and he drove to the side and stopped. He stretched back after his despatch bag and pulled it to his lap. He quickly found the package that he had received the same day and handed it to Abbie.

“What’s this? It’s addressed to you?” she frowned.

Crane waited as she turned the small package over and saw what he expected her to find.

“NH?” she said, examining the letters in the corner, then starting to open it.

“It stands for Mr. Hawley, I presume?” Ichabod asked. “What might it contain?”

“His phone, I hope!” Abbie replied excitedly, tearing off the last paper. It landed in her lap, while she started getting rid of a layer of bubble wrap.

“Yep, it’s a phone!” she exclaimed.

“Brilliant! And the paper – there’s something written on the inside!”

Abbie glanced down just as Crane snatched the wrapping paper from her lap.

“What does it say?” she asked, prying the bubble wrap off the phone.

“It says: ‘JM bday bw’,” Crane read. “Bday for birthday, I assume?”

“And JM stands for Jenny Mills, I bet!” Abbie filled in. “Bw, though…?”

She slowly lifted her head and stared into his eyes.

“BACKWARDS!” they said in unison.

Abbie finally held an iPhone in her hand.

“Probably the passcode to the phone,” she said. “It needs charging.”

“I have a charger for it, wait!” Crane said and pulled one out of his bag, putting it in the USB port while Abbie handed him the phone.

“So he’s using Jenny’s birthday date for his phone?” Abbie snorted. “He’s so not over her!”

“So you don’t think he changed the code to make it easier to figure out?”

“Our techs would have gotten into the phone anyway,” she said. “But this is faster.”

“True. And I agree: using the birthday of the one you love as a passcode is a very romantic gesture,” he smiled.

“I know, right?” she grinned.

“So what digits do we need?” he said and handed the phone back to Abbie. It was already kicking back to life.

“7230, I hope. Or 3072. Her birthday is March the 27th,” she said while clicking the digits. “Yep, the first one!”

“Not the most advanced code,” Crane observed.

“Hawley isn’t that advanced. Few criminals are,” she chuckled. “Hmm, let’s see… Missed calls and messages from an ‘AvB’ –”

“Bram, of course.”

“Eight missed calls! And listen to this: ‘Hey, you wanker! Where’s the delivery?? You said you’d sell to me. CALL ME!!’” Abbie read aloud from a text.

“Tsk, Abraham…” Crane frowned. “The books Hawley offered me were very interesting, but mainly to a scholar. What was the whole hubbub about?”

“Hubbub?” Abbie grinned.

“Yes, hubbub! Racket, uproar…”

“Yeah, I get it. Let me look further… Very few apps on the phone, he must have emptied it. Just the maps and notes app…”

She opened it, and the only notes contained two long numbers.

“Coordinates?” Crane mumbled, looking over her shoulder.

“Yeah, hang on,” she said, copied the numbers and put them in the map app’s search app. When the result pointed to a place not far from where they were, Abbie understood more than she wanted to. Deep down, she had hoped that the place had disappeared off the face of the earth.

“That’s just a few miles into the forest,” Crane observed.

“Yes.”

“That’s funny! Why did he – oh, is this the place we’re looking for?”

“Yes.”

“And he left us a map! He is a bit clever, after all!”

She didn’t reply, only stared at the screen.

“Abbie?” he tried in a lower voice, getting worried about her sudden silence.

Her eyes were still fixed on the screen, hand slightly trembling. His hand cupped hers from underneath, giving it warmth and stability.

“What will we find there, Agent Mills?” he asked softly, hoping that calling her agent would lure her mind from a place of pain.

“A cave,” she said in a low voice.

“Have you been there before?” he dared to ask.

Her hand clutched the phone hard. His other hand gently moved to take the phone from her again, coaxing her to let it go and let her grab his hand instead. She clutched it hard. So strong, yet so small. He leaned forward, lightly resting his cheek on the crown of her head. She flinched a little, but cautiously leaned against him. He could feel how tense she was, her back was like a rod.

“Treasure,” he mumbled, elated by her trust. “Tell me?”

“He tricked us there, Jenny and me,” was all she said.

He let his arm encircle her shoulders while his mind went to work. Forest. Two girls. Tricked.

“It was you and Miss Jenny?” he asked softly. “In the forest?”

“Yes,” she muttered. “Abel Moloch.”

“That… beast. I’m so sorry, Abbie,” he said and hugged her closer, his compassion for her bigger than his rising anger at his cousin.

“I hit him,” she mumbled as she burrowed restlessly against his chest. “I fought him, stopped him from trying to do things to Jenny and me. He hit me back, Jenny too. But I was already well trained by then, despite being small. We were gone for 36 hours, we heard later. He mostly talked. Talked and talked about how he was mistreated… I’d forgotten about it. Pushed it away. Corbin was the one who founds us. Details are coming back, I hate it. I don’t…”

“Abbie, we’ll turn back. This isn’t something you should have to go through again.”

“No. No, I want – I need to do this. Need to remember.”

She’d been hiding her face against his shoulder, now she leaned back and stared at him.

“Will you help me?” she asked.

“Anything,” he instantly replied.

“So you said.”

“I mean it. But promise me you tell me when you want to stop.”

“Safe word?” she said with a wry smile, and he smiled back for a moment, remembering their tryst the day before.

“If you want,” he said. “This time, just say that you want to leave or… whatever you wish. I’ll be by your side the whole time.”

“Thank you,” she said solemnly. “Mama told us…” she began and got a faraway look in her eyes.

“What, Abbie?”

“Not to go to the forest. She wasn’t herself by then, she was ill… But she was right all the same.”

His heart went out to her, and he pulled her into his embrace again. It dawned on him how little he actually knew her, despite feeling like he’d always known her.

“You won’t be alone, Abbie. You’re even better trained now, you’re armed and I’ll stay by your side as long as you’ll let me.”

She shivered a little. Sorting out her thoughts was laborious. But he was solid and real, she liked what he said and it helped her.

“This can be dangerous,” she said, feeling his large hand landing on her back of her head, cradling her tenderly.

“The real danger in this forest is you, Abbie. You’re a force of nature.”

She had to smirk at his big words.

“So if I’m so dangerous, why do you go to the forest with me?” she joked.

“Perhaps I can’t resist the danger,” he teased back.

“What if the danger is too great? What if it’ll… harm you?” she dared.

“If that’s what awaits, so be it. I’ll do my part of the fighting. Deal with it, if my time is up,” he claimed.

“Right,” she snorted.

“I feel safe with you,” he said with determination as he hugged her close. “Protected. I want you to feel protected too.”

She couldn’t really formulate a reply to that, only hug him back and slowly relax in his arms, feeling a great deal of tension and apprehension leave her body.

*

“It can’t be far,” she mumbled.

During the hugging session in his car, she had felt almost light-headed. It was strange, getting so close to someone as she did to Ichabod Crane. They had spent some time, probably too long, on just hugging and talking. He had told her the basics of what he’d heard from Abraham and what had happened with Katrina. The part about Katrina wanting Abraham to have sex with their friend Betsy baffled her, but also set her mind at work. What sort of life had Katrina lived, really? Abbie in turn had explained some of what she could tell from her meeting with Hawley earlier, that Sophie had confessed her attraction to her and even the talk she’d had with Agent Granger about buttering up ‘the Professor’. Crane had looked both shocked and amused by all of it, raising an eyebrow suggestively. Above all: he listened. He asked good questions, but didn’t press the issue when she avoided details.

When they reached a good place to park, he changed to boots and showed that he had some stuff in the car that could be useful. She gratefully took the binoculars while he grabbed the flashlight.

They had followed a path along a ridge for a while and he had asked if she recognised something. She didn’t. She only recognised her memories of walking through the forest with Jenny, following a boy of her age as he made promises that got their hopes up. Promises that were only promises, promises that led them to danger. Despite their better judgement.

“My mother knows him,” he had said. “He went ahead. I heard them talk. He’s with her now, and I’ll soon go as well. But I want you to see him first.”

Abbie had gotten more and more doubtful, but they had been in the thick of the forest and they had no idea where they were.

“But is he really here, if he left?” Abbie questioned.

“You’ve got it all wrong, silly!” the tall boy said. “He’s back here, to see you!”

 “But why here?” she had asked.

“I just want to see dad!” Jenny insisted and dragged Abbie on, trying to keep in pace with the boy. With Moloch.

Moloch. Abel Moloch.

The memory faded for the here and now.

“Did you see him a lot, as a kid?” she asked Ichabod as they walked along the path, following the directions of the GPS.

“Abel?” he startled. “Uh, now and then. When his father, Henry Parrish, met my father’s cousin, Libby van Tassel, he quickly divorced Abel’s mother and remarried Libby. That much I know. Apparently, Libby had just divorced herself and wanted to remarry as soon as possible. Katrina was born soon after.”

Abbie listened, nodding at the right places.

“Not a happy family?”

“Libby wanted to live in America, her father was from an old family here and she always held that higher than her mother’s relationship with a dusty old earldom. So we never lived close, but met on and off throughout the year when we all gathered at Maidenwell.”

“Did Katrina and Abel grow up together?”

“Some of it, yes. But then they were sent to public schools. Abel was sent to several.”

You lived at Maidenwell, right?”  

“Yes… Abraham’s family too, from time to time. Not on the manor, mind you.”

“No?”

“Oh, no. We occupied a small cottage on the grounds. My father oversaw the… library. There was a long project of… taking care of that. He wrote his PhD, several other publications, worked at universities occasionally…”

Abbie could tell that Ichabod felt uneasy when he talked about it. Question was why.

“So not really ‘to the manor born’, huh?” she asked.

“No… father and Uncle Anthony always wanted to secure the title. But it was my mother who had the money.”

“Was it?”

“Oh, yes!” he explained. “Abel’s mother had money too, but they were lost in some failed business venture. So grandfather insisted that mother kept possession of all her money – she barely got any, in fact – and that her share would go to me.”

“Ah, OK.”

“Yes. I mean, we weren’t poor. But my father certainly wanted us to uphold a lifestyle that we couldn’t afford. So did Uncle Anthony. It was their right, they claimed.”

“What do you think about that?”

“I learned to abhor it.”

“Oh.”

It didn’t contradict her impression of him, but she wondered what had brought him to that conclusion. They were all a close-knit family, but seemed to be at odds about everything.

“I think that we’ve reached our destination,” he said, frowning at the screen of the iPhone.

He was right. But in her memories, it wasn’t this lush. There had been more rocks.

“This place sure has changed,” she said. “A lot more bushes and trees hiding things.”

“But… we’re close to a cave, right?”

“Yes.”

“So…”

“Shhh!” Abbie urged and grabbed his arm.

They heard the sound of a car screeching and stopping at a distance. Thankfully it was from another direction to where Crane’s car was. Quickly, they hid behind some bushes.

Sitting on their knees, Ichabod felt his heart beating fast. Abbie looked hard-set and silently got her gun out of her holster, staring intently in the direction of the sound. Someone was coming, determined steps could be heard.

Jenny. It was Jenny.

Ichabod saw Abbie’s lips form a silent ‘fuck’.

Jenny was quickly stomping towards some trees near the ridge, when she fell with a loud yelp. The next moment, a large branch was swinging towards her, hitting her squarely in the stomach and toppling her over.

“Fuck you, Hawley!” she cursed loudly, and Abbie and Ichabod had to stop themselves from laughing.

“Trap,” Crane mouthed to her and she nodded. They had been lucky.

Muttering, the wind clearly knocked out of her, Jenny struggled to get up.

“I must stop her,” Abbie whispered.

“Leave it to me,” Crane whispered back and winked.

“What – Crane, no!” she hissed.

But Crane had already sneaked to another set of bushed, then stood up confidently and shouted:

“Miss Jenny! Fancy meeting you here!”

Abbie didn’t know who she wanted to kill most: Crane or Jenny.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing here!?” Jenny exclaimed at the sight of Ichabod Crane, hurrying towards her.

“Oh no, what rotten luck!” he lamented, ignoring her question. “I heard a shout and went this way! Have you fallen over? Are you hurt?” he babbled.

“But why are you here, in the forest?” she demanded, rubbing her ankle.

“Here? Oh, I’ve often walk these woods. I spend a lot of time in my cabin, surely you know that I bought Corbin’s old place? I enjoy hiking. Here, let me!” he insisted and kneeled by Jenny’s feet to help her.

Abbie watched it, heart in mouth. She was angry, curious and anxious. Just 20 yards away, in the small glade, sat her sister and her lover, talking nonsense. What had Crane been thinking, rushing over like that? He probably didn’t think at all.

Fool! What if Jenny…

Jenny what? Had a gun? Likely. Would she use it on Crane? How big a risk was it that Jenny would do something dangerous? Why was she here? Why now? How much did she remember?

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Why is she here? What is she up to?

Abbie’s mind raced. Was Crane trying to distract Jenny?

“Can you stand on your foot, Miss Jenny?” Crane asked, still behaving like he was saving a damsel in distress.

Abbie glanced around the place where Jenny fell. The large branch. A trap. Jenny probably knew where the cave was. Her arrival had helped them. But would it also expose them?

“I don’t know,” Jenny answered doubtfully. “It hurts pretty bad.”

“Allow me to –”

“Is my sister here?” Jenny interrupted.

“N-no,” Crane blushed. “Isn’t she at work?”

“Hmm, well you should know.”

“Me? Hardly! She said she was staying with you, surely you should know where she is?”

“Surely Luke should know?” Jenny teased.

Crane harrumphed. He offered Jenny his hand in order to help her up, but she crossed her arms and grinned.

“So where’s your fiancée?”

“Pardon?”

“You know. The woman you’re supposed to marry.”

“Katrina is… uh, at home.”

“Why’re you so embarrassed?” Jenny laughed. “Were you following me?”

“Absolutely not!” he protested. “Can you stand up? Or does it hurt too much?”

“What’s going on?” she insisted. “Something’s up!”

“No, no, Miss Jenny! I assure you…”

“Spill!” she shouted.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” Abbie hissed to herself from her hiding place.

“Well, it’s… uh…” Crane stuttered. “It’s just that…”

“Yeah?” Jenny prodded.

“I went by Abraham’s shop, and… he wasn’t alone,” he said, hands moving nervously.

“Who was he with?” she asked.

“Well, he was… with Agent Foster.”

“Didn’t you join them?” Jenny smirked.

“What! No!”

“Seems we’re all doing everyone,” Jenny smiled saucily. “What do you say?” she said and began to run her hand up along Crane’s arm.

“No!” he said firmly with a hint of annoyance as he pulled her hand away and stood up.

Jenny glared up at him.

“Aren’t you going to help me up?”

“I’ll be happy to escort you to your car, but that is all,” he said correctly.

Abbie had to admit that it was a good plan, while she battled with her jealousy. What the hell was Jenny up to?

“Wow, not good enough, am I?”

“Ready when you are, Miss Jenny.”

“So only my sanctimonious sister will do? You don’t know what you’re missing out on,” Jenny tried.

“Up you go!” Crane yanked her up as soon as she gave him her hand, but made sure she stood firmly some feet away from him.

“Woah!” Jenny yelled, a bit unbalanced. “Ouch!”

“Take my arm, I’ll lead you to your car,” he declared.

“You sure you don’t –”

“We will never speak of this again!” he declared in a manner that wouldn’t be contradicted.

Jenny was limping by his side as they walked towards the car. Crane could obviously hold his own, but Abbie would still have wanted to jump forward and slap Jenny into next week.

While their footsteps receded, Abbie looked around again. Map. Trap. Cave? She took up the binoculars she’s borrowed from Crane’s car and looked in them towards the shrubbery growing next to the ridge. It grew tight and thick, there were no way they could get behind it if there wasn’t a path into it. Was there? It looked like an uneven shadow and perhaps a path.

Abbie heard a car start and drive away. She waited and it wasn’t long until Crane returned.

“The coast is clear, Abbie,” he said.

Abbie stepped forward.

“Aren’t you a knight in shining armour,” she said, putting on a brave face.

“It was so embarrassing,” he winced, hands restless again. “I’m sorry!”

“You didn’t do anything!” she laughed.

“No, but it was so unexpected, I –”

“Weren’t you flattered?”

“Under the circumstances, no.”

“Hm. OK.” She sounded doubtful.

“Abbie, your sister is an attractive woman, but I assure you –”

“Shh,” she said and placed a finger on his lips. “I know. I’m sorry she did that. Just be glad I didn’t jump forward and beat her up.”

“I will be glad, but I might have enjoyed that sight too much,” he replied with a small smile.

“I thought you were a gentleman!”

“I wouldn’t mind being defended by you.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Also: I only have eyes for you, so that’s that.”

She wanted to kiss him, but now wasn’t the time.

“I swear to God that I wanted to beat up you too when you jumped forward like that,” she grumbled. “But I have to admit that you came up with a good plan really quick.”

“My only motive was to use her situation to get her out of here,” he said and acknowledged her stern praise with a small nod and a twinkle in his eye.

“It was a huge risk,” she said, hands on her hips.

“It was.” He stood ramrod straight, but his fingers made their small dance.

“But it worked.”

“It did,” he agreed and lifted an eyebrow.  

She glared at him for some seconds until she couldn’t hold back a smile.

“C’mon, we have a cave to find. I’ve been scouting,” she said and turned on her heel. He followed her to the shrubbery.

“What have you found, Agent?” he mumbled just behind her.

Smooth, you fucker.

The whole thing and his presence was really distracting her from her former anxiety over being back at this place. She still wondered what Jenny’s plan had been, but had to save that for later. Still: she was quite sure Jenny was under some level of surveillance by the police already, probably a GPS tracker on her car.

“Over here,” she gestured and went closer to their destination, leaning in and lifting some branches hanging low.

Sure enough, the ground was a bit hollow and formed a path.

“Ohh, indeed!” Crane said and helped her lifting some more branches. “Look at that!”

Some yards ahead, there was a small opening among some rocks. They had found the entrance to the cave. It was within view, it was real and like she remembered. This was it.

“Are we ready?” he mumbled.

She merely nodded.

Ichabod watched as Abbie hunched in order to walk under the low hanging branches. He had to walk on all four, nearly crawl, to follow her there.

“Will Miss Jenny be back, do you think?” he asked, trying to distract himself from the alluring sight of Abbie’s posterior right in front of him. If only the situation was different… Alone in the forest with her and both in shape for it; now, that was a definite temptation.

“I was thinking the same,” she said with a huff, also struggling to move bent over while her muscles protested. “Whether she has someone that can join her or come back in her place. She must have found out that Hawley is in custody. We didn’t tell Abraham, but she might have found out anyway.”

“So who might have told her?”

“You read my mind, Crane,” she replied with a frown. Her gun was still in her hand and she raised it was they got closer to the entrance. “Oh look! There’s a sort of gate over the opening.”

“Gate?” he asked.

“Just some chicken wire in a frame.”

“Probably to keep animals out,” he mused as he reached her side. They were sitting on the ground, thick shrubbery reaching all the way to the rocks.

“It wasn’t there when I was here so long ago. This is new,” she mumbled and noticed a latch.

“So someone, presumably Hawley, is using this place. And your sister know, or has used it too,” Crane concluded and she nodded. “Does the entrance look familiar?” he asked carefully.

Abbie glanced up the rocky ridge and down on the entrance that was wide but no more than two feet high, almost like a crack into the underground.

“Yeah, this is it.”

Seeing the hillside and the crevice made it undeniable. She had pushed it to a cloudy part of her mind for many years. Now, she had to enter into a lair, but she had to be the lion.

“Is the cave deep?” he asked.

“No, not really. Tall enough for you to stand in. Just a slope to get down to the bottom,” she reminisced. “Do you dislike small spaces?”

“No more than what is reasonable,” he replied. He leaned closer to the hole and got hold of the frame covering the crevice. Then, lying flat on his stomach, he used his flashlight to see what was down there. “I see the bottom, yes. It’s not big, and it seems to be empty.”

“Good,” she nodded. They were still lingering.

“In fact, I can go down first,” he said after some beats, resting on his elbows.

“Nah, you really shouldn’t,” she said and gave him a panicked glance. He was getting quite dusty. “You’re already getting dirty from this, and who knows if there’s another trap down there?”

He got up and found a longer, slender branch on the ground that he dragged to the hole and pushed in. Using the flashlight, he observed what happened.

“Nothing,” he remarked and pulled it up again. “Unless there’s a very elaborate contraption somewhere.”

“Given how relatively simple the trap outside was, and the fact that we’re dealing with Hawley, I’d find it unlikely,” she admitted. She liked that he took the initiative. Especially now. It didn’t feel like he took over or questioned her authority, he was just reading the situation and her need, proving himself capable.

“Then let me go first?” he repeated.

“You should at least have a safety vest,” she said grudgingly.

“Are you wearing one?”

“No.”

“Yours wouldn’t fit me anyway,” he said with a wink.

She had to chuckle.

“I’ll be right behind you, gun ready,” she said.

“You give the commands, I obey,” he nodded with a small salute.

He was rearranging his long limbs, getting ready to slide down feet first, when she suddenly grabbed his arm.

“What?” he asked, somewhat alarmed.

She quickly leaned forward and kissed him hard, just about pouring all her anguish and gratitude into the kiss for some stolen moments, enough for him to give a warm response.

“Thank you,” she mumbled.

He looked at her, dazed.

“Anything,” he repeated, then smiled as he caressed her cheek. “Down the rabbit hole we go,” he added and started to slide down on his back.

She was right behind him, slower than him and scrutinising all that the flashlight in his hand lit up. Crane was at the bottom in a matter of seconds, getting up and stretching out his hand to her. He kept her small hand in his large one, anchoring her.

Abbie stared around with big, round eyes. The flashlight was bright, but created strange shadows. Just a bit of daylight reached into the entrance. It was both a cave and a hole in the ground, perhaps ten square feet with that little alcove to the side where she and Jenny had huddled; cold and afraid. It was as horrifying then as it was now.

And yet, it was different. There were duffle bags, a cool bag and a wooden box with a lid. Two storm lamps hung from the ceiling, and she spied a candle lighter on top of one duffle bag. Those items had not been there when Abbie and Jenny had been trapped there with Abel Moloch. Back then, the few things in the cave were some dirty blankets, a fading flashlight, a stinking bucket, some water bottles, candy and apples – all of it handed out if their captor had agreed to it.

This was something else. This time, the cave had another use. While memories flooded over her, it helped that there were differences and something else to focus on. She was still fighting the panic and the sense of it all being a bad dream, having returned to this place. Crane was large and real beside her, his thumb making soothing strokes on the back of her hand.

“A hiding place?” Crane asked, looking around just like her.

“Yeah. Possibly for stolen goods,” she filled in. “We shouldn’t touch anything.”

“Right,” he said, and she felt his hand twitch a little as it held hers. “Although…”

“Yes?”

“With your permission, Agent Mills – that wooden box looks very interesting.”

“Hmm.”

“Dare I say… familiar?”

“How so?” She couldn’t quite see the expression on his face, but his voice was full of excitement.

“If I may suggest: I touch as little as possible while you guard the exit, making sure we’re not getting any company? Meanwhile, I have a look at that box. It’s quite flat, so it must have been made to fit this cave…”

“Really? Is that familiar as well?”

“No, not really. But custom made boxes are.”

“OK… she said slowly.

“I don’t think we should leave it here.”

“I’m beginning to think you’re right,” Abbie agreed. “I’ll watch the entrance.”

She fully understood that he wanted her to do something that could ease things up for her, during the circumstances. Being close to the exit and seeing the world outside was just right, so she crawled up the slope. She still had the binoculars and kept the path under close inspection, while Crane rummaged around.

“Well…” she heard him say after a while. “Alright over there, Agent Mills?”

“Yes, Professor,” she said, partly echoing his formality, partly joking a little to keep it light.

“May I propose that you climb out, then drag up this box, while I push from below?” he suggested.

She looked back and saw that he held the long, rather flat box with some difficulty.

“Is it heavy?” she asked.

“Quite, and a bit cumbersome.”

“OK, hang on,” she agreed and climbed up. She looked and listened one last time before she turned back and stretched down while he was pushing the box up. There was a rope attached at the end, working as a handle. The box was heavier than expected and the angle somewhat difficult, but he pushed it steadily and she pulled it up on the ground. Crane followed right after, putting the chicken wire frame back in its place. Their visit to the cave hadn’t been long, but it was still a great relief to be out of there.

They exchanged a small nod, then lifted the box together. It was about one feet wide and two feet long, perhaps ten inches high, Abbie surmised, and perhaps the wood made it heavy. Perhaps it was the content inside. It was a bit of bother to get it out of the shrubbery into the glade, they had to shift between lifting and dragging it out.

“So,” Crane said. “A ‘pirate’ sent us a map, pointing out a hiding place. X marked the spot. We found a forgotten cave and now, a Treasure and I have hunted down a treasure!”

Abbie laughed a little.

“Are all your working days like these, Agent Mills?” he kept joking, keeping her in a good mood.

“I wish!” she chuckled. “Far from it!”

Once they reached the glade, they lifted the box together – Abbie insisted – and hurried to Crane’s car. Once there, they pushed it into the backseat.

“We should take this to the bureau,” Abbie said, slowly leaning against the side of the car.

“We should! Can I come along?”

“Yes, yes…” she said, suddenly feeling dizzy as she finally relaxed from the ordeal of revisiting the cave. She was shivering, despite it being a hot summer’s day. Her shaking hand wiped the cold sweat off her brow.

“Abbie?”

His voice sounded so far away.

“Abbie? Dearest?! Abbie!!

He caught her before she collapsed on the ground.

Chapter Text

She hadn’t fainted. She was aware. But she wasn’t able to do something right then. It was as if she was locked inside herself. She sort of swayed in his arms as he led her to the trunk, pulled out a blanket that he swept around her, then managed to get them to a fallen log where he somehow wrapped her tightly in the blanket, sat her on his lap and while rubbing her arms and back, he was whispering to her. He was worried. He urged her to talk to him. He wrapped her in his embrace, warmer than any blanket.

She stirred and burrowed her face into the crook of his neck, even pulled her knees up and he added them to his wide hug, engulfing all of her to his chest, a large hand cupping her head. Still shivering, the feeling like she had been running on adrenaline for days and threatened to life was strong, only to find that she wouldn’t be killed. Not this time. This time, she was safe. This time, the fear and exposure had been worth it.

The sound of her thundering heart was slowly fading, her sight got less blurred. She was starting to get warm from within. Her breath was no longer panicked. She was landing. She could hear the birds in the forest and the wind in the trees. She could hear his heart, his breaths, and the sounds of his strokes from her head down her back.

Abbie cuddled even closer, as if she wanted to slip under his skin and stay there. He responded by hugging her and kissing the top of her head, making a small moan of relief in the process.

“Are you coming back to me, Abbie?” he whispered.

It was still hard to form words, but she nodded. He leaned his cheek against her forehead, lightly rubbing her with his beard.

After some moments, he began to hum very low, it was merely some bars in a voice deeper than his baritone. He nearly rocked her in the very slow rhythm. Something within Abbie responded, lifted its head in interest and tried to figure out what song it was.

Her hand slipped inside his shirt, trembling, then resting on his hairy chest and feeling his heart leap.

“Again?” she uttered.

He gasped and began anew, still in a lower register.

“Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois…”

“…la vie en rose” she filled in with him, more mumbling than singing.

“Il me dit des mots d'amour
Des mots de tous les jours
Et ça me fait quelque chose”

He sang and formed the word slowly, and she hummed along, not knowing the French lyrics. But she closed her eyes in the process, enjoying how the song vibrated out of him and into her. She filled in with a verse in English, a part she remembered:

“Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is…”

“…la vie en rose” he filled in with her.

They hummed together for a while, their embrace turning relaxed and gentle. As the song ended, she bent her head back and looked at him with heavy eyelids.

“Hey,” she mumbled.

“Hey you,” he responded and cupped her cheek, gazing tenderly into her eyes.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

He chuckled with surprise.

“You’re asking me?”

“I’m sorry if I was… strange,” she said awkwardly.

“Please, don’t apologise. I beg you, Abbie,” he urged and cradled her close again.

“It’s been… a day,” she confessed.

“I believe it has,” he agreed.

“I didn’t mean to lose it like that.”

“Do not for a moment think that I blame you in any way,” he assured her. “After what I’ve heard today, what you’ve been through, and then coming back here for this ordeal… I’m in awe, Agent Mills. Plain and simple.”

It was her turn to laugh a little, it came out as a croak.

“It was an ordeal,” she agreed.

“You pulled through, when you shouldn’t have had to face this again.”

“No,” she disagreed. “No, I needed to do this. It was hard, but… I needed to do this today.”

“And you did,” he said.

“Thank you,” she mumbled, slipping her arm around his neck, hugging him close. “For coming with me, for listening, for… everything.”

“You know it was my pleasure,” he whispered, as he kissed her temple.

It was her turn to put her hand on his cheek, and it wasn’t the first time she marvelled at the contrasts. He dark hand was so small on his bearded cheek, and her gentle giant inhaled, then released a sigh of contentment. He leaned in and they shared some feather light kisses before he rested his forehead against hers.

“Whenever you want to tell me more about this, please don’t hesitate. I want to listen,” he said.

She could tell that he meant it.

*

“Can I have one of your fries?” she asked, since she had finished her burger and neglected to get her own plate of French Fries.

“Be my guest – oh!” he exclaimed in delight, seeing her quickly stuff herself with three at once.

“Sorry, I was hungrier than I thought!” she blushed.

“Please! Have all you want!” he gestured with a contented smile, before he slurped soda through his straw and watched her dive in.

They sat at a table outside the fast food restaurant, keeping the car in sight and benefitting from being alone there. After having left the forest and driving back to town, Abbie suggested the pit stop.

“Nothing like an adventure to make one hungry!” Crane gladly agreed.

Abbie had quickly used the restroom and they had both brushed off the most of the dust from their clothes.

“No use looking perfect,” she said. “Special Agent Granger will approve if he can see that we’ve been getting ourselves a little dirty.”

“Oh, will he?”

“Yep. He might even overlook the fact that I pulled you along for the ride.”

“It’s a good thing that one of your tasks is… to keep your witness happy,” he said meaningfully.

She grinned, even more embarrassed.

“All I can do for now is to eat too many of your fries,” she giggled.

“Oh, that works very well,” he smiled smugly, watching her with rapt attention as she indulged in another long fry.

Not half an hour earlier, she had been a ball of intense energy in his arms. An energy he knew, but suddenly canalised into something completely different than what they had shared sexually. This was a very different sort of sharing. But she had let him take care of her. He could feel that this bit was vital: her state of shock had been against her will, but she had faced her fears in his company. When it was too overwhelming, he’d been there for her as much as he could, and she had appreciated it. Welcomed it, even. Nearly crawled into his chest, quite literally.

His own fear at that moment had been desperation. When she slowly returned to herself and relaxed in his arms, it had restored more than his courage. Her tensed, shivering body had unfolded, like a flower waking up after winter. She had made him feel capable during the whole mission. He had sensed when to step up, and their exchanged glances told him he had done it at the right times. Never had he felt stronger or that he was at the right place, doing the right thing.

“Don’t look so worried, Crane,” she smiled back. “I really feel better.”

“It shows, Treasure,” he said. “Though you have been through more than enough for one day. I just wish you had the rest of the day off. That we had all the time in the world today.”

Beaming and blushing, she shook her head.

“We’d be all talk and no action today, you know that!”

“Haven’t we already been all action?”

“You know what I mean!” she said with an amused eye-roll.

“Do I?” he faked a chock. “I’m sure I haven’t the foggiest idea!”

“Don’t play innocent with me, Mr. Knows-Very-Well-Why-He-Slurps-So-Loudly-On-That-Straw!”

“That was an absurd nomenclature,” he snickered. “Agent Eats-That-Fry-So-Innocently-While-Knowing-Very-Well-That-It-Actually-Physically-Hurts-To-Be-Aroused –”

“Fucking stop already!!” she shrieked and melted with laughter.

“But I don’t want to stop!” he protested, while trying to pout and failing completely. “I won’t deny that I’d much rather put my tongue in action between your thighs!” he dared.

“Ohh, Mr. Big Talk!” she squealed with delight, always getting horny when he talked dirty. “Well, I’m not lying when I say I’d rather be flat on my back with your giant head squeezed between my thighs!”

“You would!” he exulted. “Oh, thank God!”

“Why?! Like you didn’t know?”

“Well, I just feared that you might… not…” He let his expressive hand gesture finish his sentence.

“Yeah, I know very well what I shouldn’t do. But…”

“But?”

“But I’d be lying if I said that it wouldn’t happen again.”

He sighed with relief, having held his breath.

“Hence my gratitude.”

“You might die from the experience, if I squeezed my thighs too hard!” she grinned.

“What a way to go,” he said dreamily, once again sucking on his straw.

She chuckled and had to shake her head.

“You’re… something else, Ichabod Crane.”

“Am I? How so?” he asked innocently, but heart beating in anticipation.

She thought for a moment, then decided to be as honest as him.

“You’re the dorkiest and sexiest man I’ve met. You’re not a ladies man, and yet we fuck like there’s no tomorrow. We’re both is this weird situation… and yet you’re always honest. And always there for me.”

Her words made him speechless, forcing him to sit up straighter and nervously rearrange the litter on his tray.

“Well, um, wow,” he managed. “Thank you for that. I think?”

“I definitely meant it as praise, yeah.”

“Good, uh…” He wanted to be poetic. Serenade her, conjure up a rose, or some other nonsense. He wanted to use his normally very extensive vocabulary.

“I wish I could be as honest as you,” she continued.

“But you are! You just were?” he asked, suddenly confused.

“To you, yes. Always to you. To everyone else?” she said, some bitterness tinting her words. “You’ve told Katrina you’re seeing someone. You’ve really removed yourself, taken some battles that I’ve both seen and heard about. We both seem to be… stuck in a mess. But I feel like you try to do something. Meanwhile, I just nag with Jenny and go to work meetings at the bureau!”

“Abbie!” he exclaimed and grabbed her hand across the table. “For one thing, you’re still very much busy with the bureau and with this case! While I, on the other hand, am just wrapping up a semester at collage! This is the most I have done in weeks! Furthermore, you have a whole different pressure on you! As a woman, so much more is expected from you in the matters of weddings and all… And last, but not least: this must be on your terms. When you are ready! If… I mean… I…” he stuttered, feeling dangerously close to assuming things.

“Thank you,” she said seriously and squeezed his hand. “I’m getting… somewhere. You know, I did start to feel guilty when Sophie showed her faith in me? She’s honest as well, almost totally surprised me with her confession today…”

“No one can blame her for feeling what she does for you,” he said warmly, nursing a soft spot for Agent Foster’s apparent attraction for Abbie.

“Hadn’t it been for what you said yesterday, hinting at it, I’d be completely in the dark!”

“I certainly don’t know why a federal agent, excellent profiler and detective is so blind when it comes to her friend and colleague,” he said diplomatically.

“It’s not just Sophie! Jenny is up to her neck in this mess somehow, and Luke is being slippery like a goddamn eel about things! He won’t listen, won’t let me talk sense, won’t give truthful answers…” she ranted, and felt how his hand held hers tighter. “We always said we’d never go professional on one another, Luke and I,” she continued. “You know what I mean? Not go all detective, play investigator or try to evaluate the other in a police like manner.”

“It makes sense,” he said carefully, suddenly battling the onslaught of jealousy. “Leaving your work personas at work, so to speak?”

“Yeah, exactly,” she nodded, noticing his discomfort. “But he’s… just so odd,” she said and it was suddenly awkward to hold Crane’s hand. “It’s like he knows this is all wrong – of course he knows – but he’s determined to go through with it and that there’ll be some magical solution to all problems just because we get married?”

“People do… strange things to get married. When they’re about to be married,” he frowned. “I don’t even feel like I know Katrina, and I’ve known some sort of… version of her all my life.”

“Yeah,” Abbie mused. “Are these versions their real selves or just their ‘let’s get this wedding on the road’ versions?”

They were silent for a while, hands still attached, while they had to give the issue some thought, not wanting to delve deeper into it either.

“To be fair, I am feeling a bit guilty towards Luke as well,” Abbie finally said. “Took me long enough.”

“You do yourself injustice,” he said. “The circumstance of our meeting was so… exceptional. Almost as if it was a dream.”

“Now you’re doing us both an injustice!” she snorted. “We know what we did.”

“We did, but… could it have gone any other way?”

She had no witty comeback to that. She only shook her head. She could blame the first time on the partying, on booze, the singing, even if it wasn’t fair. Yesterday? It had been just as deliberate. Their attraction was off the chart, but they were also set on breaking their own rules.

“I do feel guilty towards Katrina,” he explained. “Not that she seems rational in any way or even seem to really… care? But that in itself makes me uneasy.”

“Yeah!” she startled. “About that – I’ve been wondering!”

“Yes?”

“Well, Moloch is…”

“…her half-brother, yes.”

“Katrina… wanted you to have sex with Standra,” she said thoughtfully.

“Do not remind me!” he shuddered.

“She told Abraham to have sex with a woman…”

“Betsy,” he said in a biting tone.

“Doesn’t Katrina have any nice friends?”

“No. Also, Betsy’s family has known ours for ages.”

“It figures. Anyway: both times, she wanted to watch.”

“Hmpf,” was all Crane said.

“And her mom offered both you and Abraham sex.”

“Jesus, please stop,” Crane begged, hiding his face in his free hand.

“No, bear with me a bit longer!” she said eagerly, squeezing the hand she held on to. “Both times, you said no. But do you think her mom offered Moloch sex back in the day? He was there, just as you and Abraham. Same age.”

“Her own stepson!” he protested. “That’s vile!” He looked livid for some seconds. “So, yes: she probably did.”

“Do you think he agreed?”

“Yes,” he huffed.

“Do you… think that Katrina saw it?” she asked carefully.

“I – pardon?”

“Look, I know this is a weird thing to ask, even during an investigation. But… the way she goes about these things…”

“Go on.”

“It seems… ritualistic?”

Crane got a faraway look about him, suddenly remembering summers at Maidenwell. How Abel had teased and taunted his younger sister who was only 14 at the time. How Abel seemed to have Katrina on a string, always making her coming back for more, always being able to manipulate her. How Ichabod had heard the adults whisper about the horrible thing Abel had done to some boys in the school that expelled him, and about Libby van Tassel’s scandalous behaviour with drinking and picking up men at the local pub. How things had come to some sort of culmination, leading to Libby taking both kids to USA, putting them in new schools and some new gossip that gave the adults new things to whisper about.

“Are you OK?” Abbie asked after a while, her thumb stroking his knuckles.

“I’ll never forget what I heard my father said: ‘what Abel did to Katrina was the last straw’.”

Chapter Text

The silence was heavy while they processed what had been said.  

“This is the first time I’m starting to connect the dots,” Crane said in a low voice.  

Abbie held her breath, wondering where his train of thought was going.  

“I think I’ve always… looked out for her, since then?” he said warily. “Worrying. Having all the facts, but not being able to get the puzzle right.”  

She nodded, waiting for him to go on.  

“She was changed. We put it down to being the American influence,” he explained. “She was enlisted to a school even more posh that the one in the UK. And Abel, of course, went to a school here in Sleepy Hollow…”  

“My school,” she said and suddenly felt so tired. “He definitely let us all know that we were way beneath his standards. And he instantly started to manipulate some kids like he must have done with Katrina.”  

“Did he do it to Jenny?”  

“Yeah, Jenny was one of them.” 

Their distress was wordless, though their eyes communicated the anguish of past memories.  

“And then he tricked you into the forest, keeping you kidnapped for two days,” he shuddered and covered her hand with both his.  

She placed her other hand on top of his, making it a pile of comfort that they needed.  

“It passed. They found us,” she assured him. “He didn’t molest us, at least.”  

“I’m glad that’s a relief for you,” he said. “But didn’t he try? Didn’t you say you had to fend him off? And so many hours down that hole! I was there, I saw it!” The agitated words jumbled out of his mouth.  

Abbie wanted to shrink away from it all, say things that made it a small, insignificant matter. Like she always had. But the warmth emanating from him gave her strength to see it for what it was.  

“It was horrible…” she began, screwing her eyes shut as she felt the confession hurting her body like a stab to the heart. She took a deep breath and continued. “He covered the crevice completely, making it almost dark, all the time. Occasionally, he lit some tea lights. And he talked. Talked and talked and talked. A string of words. About books, great men in history, former gods, how he had been mistreated when he should be elevated. It all lead to him being destined to be one of the great figures of history, and our part was to be the sacrifices to getting him there.”  

“Jesus Christ…” Crane mumbled, feeling her tremble again as she spoke. “He… did sporadically say things that made me think he had some illusions of grandeur. But then again, we were all teenagers… and part of a family that has illusion of grandeur as a bit of a family trait.”  

“I believe you,” she said, sarcasm pulling her back to the here and now. “Except from being expelled from school, was he punished at all? Was there any police case?”  

“I… doubt that. He was at Maidenwell with all of us, people were cross with him for being expelled… but punishment? Correction of any kind, social services? No, that’s not likely.”  

“So he was basically treated as if he had smashed some windows and gotten caught?”  

“Yes,” Crane said and looked ashamed.  

“Do you know what he did to those boys at his former school?”  

Crane swallowed hard and looked almost terrified.  

“The way you say it tells me it must have been bad.”  

“They didn’t die, they weren’t put in a black hole for two days… but they must have been through some traumas. And operations.”  

Crane felt sick to his stomach, grateful that she didn’t give any further details. 

“We put everyone at risk, letting him roam free.”  

“Not you. His parents. Your parents.” 

All that could be heard were cars swishing by, while the parasol flapped in the wind.  

“But to be honest: the news that he’s a leader of a cult didn’t really come as a surprise,” she said after a while. “How common is it that a former schoolmate was going to be that? That’s something to write in the yearbook: ‘Most likely to start a religious cult’.” 

Crane snorted against his will. Then he frowned. 

“I think he did something… to Katrina.” 

Abbie had to swallow and wanted to withdraw her hand. He startled and held on to it, his eyes begging for her to not let go. She relaxed and so did his grip.  

“Forgive me… I won’t mention it again,” he said.  

“No, no,” she assured him. “I’ve wondered myself.”  

“You did? Yes, of course you did.” 

“I couldn’t say anything, it was just a hunch. It was only today, when Moloch’s name came up, that it became more than a hunch. Wanting both you and Abraham to be with other women with her in the room sounded ritualistic, you know? As if she staged some… trauma. Perhaps something she saw her mom do?”  

“Of course, yes.” He nodded but looked ill at ease. “It’s… been there in the back of my mind, a thought here and there that something might have happened to her. And since we got engaged, started to plan our future, move here – it’s as if she has a book of rules to follow.”  

“Yeah,” Abbie mused. “She goes through her script, follows her plan and tells herself it’s out of duty. She believes she does the right thing and that cancelling the plan will lead to disaster.” The longer she spoke, the more she became unaware of everything around her, staging the play in her mind, as if in a trance.  

“That’s spot on!” he exclaimed. “You’ve described her perfectly after having met her just once!”  

“But what a meeting,” she remarked, shaking off the feeling that she had described herself.  

“She was… at her worst in the cake shop yesterday,” he mulled.  

“But you were at your best. And you’re engaged to her. There must be something good about her, and something that… compels you to… I mean, I know you –” 

“Abbie,” he pleaded. 

“I know you love her and –” 

“Abbie!” he insisted. “We have no relationship, her and I. It’s…” 

“…not over,” she filled in.  

His head sunk, chin leaning against his chest. But their hands didn’t let go.  

“You’re very caring,” she observed after a while. “You care to take care of me, when we’re together.” 

“I want to,” he mumbled. 

“I know,” she said. “It’s integrated in who you are. And you care for her as well.”  

“I do. But –” 

“Crane, listen –” 

“Abbie, it’s not –” he tried. 

“Crane, it’s OK!” she interrupted again. “You can sense when someone is in need of care, you know? Me, Katrina.” 

“That’s not –” 

“Please!” she begged. “I just don’t want to be a charity case for you.” 

“You’re not! God, Abbie – you’re anything but! Please!” His hands grabbed both of hers. “I understand that you realise that things… situations… make us feel bound to promises and that compassion can be confused with lo-, uh, other feelings.”  

Abbie couldn’t meet his eyes just then, but stared at their joined hands.  

“We met,” he began after some afterthought. “You and I met, we sang and couldn’t deny our instant attraction. Perhaps we could have stopped, naturally we should have. I know that. Perhaps different situations in our lives might have made it easier to resist, or harder. But… I think it would have happened, Abbie. Regardless of situations.”  

“Yeah,” she agreed with a deep sigh. “It would have happened. We met, and it happened.” She lifted her chin and met his eyes. “It’s just… off the charts, when it comes to you and me. All bets are off.” 

“Yes,” he said, slowly caressing her hands with his long thumbs. “The surprise in the carefully constructed script.” 

She blushed, feeling her insides warm up.  

“The best surprise,” she smiled.  

“The greatest treasure,” he agreed tenderly, his large hands engulfing hers.  

It was an utterly sweet moment. Sadly, moments were all they had. 

“When it comes to Abraham…” Abbie started, but paused as Crane’s reaction went from surprise to worry. 

“What about Abraham?” he asked. 

“Look, I know he’s practically your brother and that you two love and appreciate each other, despite being different, but…” Abbie hesitated again.  

“It’s really that bad, isn’t it?” was Crane’s disheartened reply. “He’s in deep trouble?” 

“I can’t give you a straight answer at this point,” she explained, being the one comforting him with the squeeze of her hand in his. “Nor can I divulge any details. I may have to ask you some odd questions that must stay between us. I may have to ask you to ask him some odd questions, as long as he doesn’t get suspicious.”  

“I see.” 

“You sure you do?” she urged. “It… may well be that we can’t keep you as a witness when this case is progressing.” 

“Too much involvement?”  

“At least on a family level.” 

“But…?” 

“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you more than that right now.” 

“Did you come to Bram’s shop in Agent Foster’s company?” he asked.  

“Why do you ask?” 

“Your car wasn’t with you, but hers was,” he stated, scrutinising her. 

“Mmm,” was all she offered while grabbing one of his last fries. 

“This is America. A officer of the law doesn’t happen to stroll by an antique’s shop outside of town.”  

“Unlike Midsomer Murders?” she tried to deflect.  

“And yet, you and Miss Foster behaved like you hadn’t arrived together,” he continued, unfazed. 

“Not much that escapes your notice, Crane,” she admitted, munching his last fries. 

“So what were you doing while Agent Foster entertained Abraham, I wonder?” 

“You’d better keep on wondering about that, Crane. By yourself. For now.” 

“Message received, Agent Mills.”  

“This isn’t a fair deal, Crane. I’m sorry. But there’s no other way.” 

“You needn’t apologise to me for neither federal procedures nor my suspected cousin, Abbie. We merely have to play by the rules set by others.” 

“Yes, you’re right. We do. And thank you for understanding.” 

“I try my best,” he smiled. “At least I get to be around you. For now.”  

Blushing helplessly, Abbie could only return his goofy smile with her own.  

“Hey there,” someone said, startling them. Crane jumped up, Abbie turned her head and saw Sophie, who had obviously turned up unnoticed.  

“Agent Foster!” Crane yelped.  

“Sophie!” Abbie shrieked.  

“Sorry, sorry!” Sophie said soothingly, showing her palms defensively. “I didn’t mean to surprise you!”  

“No, not at all!” Crane insisted, waving his hands nervously.  

“We, wou, we,” Abbie stammered, failing miserably with all attempts to excuses.  

“What can I get you?” Crane shot in. “Anything to eat? Drink? I was just going to get a beverage myself!” 

Sophie looked from one of them to the other, noticing their embarrassment with a raised eyebrow.  

“Sure!” she agreed. “Coffee for me!” 

“And for me too!” Abbie begged. 

“I was just going to suggest that, Abb – Agent Mills!” he replied, then hastily walked to the fast food restaurant. 

Sophie instantly took his place on the bench opposite Abbie. Abbie felt that like she was going to be interrogated, like a kid found in the pantry with a hand in the cookie jar. 

“So,” Sophie began. “Nice little moment you had there.” 

“We, uh –” 

“Hand holding. So high school cute.” Sophie was all business. 

“It’s, uh, it’s…” If Abbie hadn’t been so deeply embarrassed, she might have been able to form words.  

“You looked happy.”  

“I, we – what?”  

“You looked happy. Both of you. I like that.”  

What Sophie said made Abbie completely speechless.  

“You know how I’ve been drinking too much and been sad lately, except for being extremely chipper while planning your wedding with Aunt Lídia?” she asked.  

Abbie nodded slowly. 

“I’ve realised why. Planning a wedding didn’t make you happy. I’ve never seen you look really happy about it. You were happy at Quantico, for instance. Oh, relax! I don’t think you’d be happier if you’d been with me. I know you don’t feel the same, never expected you to. But I want you to be happy. I’m your friend, remember?” 

Again, all Abbie could do was to offer a muted nod.  

“When I saw you sing with him at Mabie’s, it was like seeing a whole new Abbie. Now, I don’t know what the hell is really going on, and I’d be willing to bet that you and the Professor don’t know that either.” 

Still gaping like a fish out of water, she shook her head and decided to change the direction of their conversation.  

“Look... you’re not wrong, Sophie. But what you saw right now –” 

“You don’t –” Sophie tried. 

“Please, listen! I brought him to the cave.”  

“Cave, what cave?”  

“The cave where Abel Moloch held Jenny and me captive, back then.” 

That cave!”  

Abbie told Sophie what had happened, how Jenny had turned up, how they’ve been able to shake her off due to a simple trap but omitted her failed hookup attempt on Crane. She gave an economic report of their exploration of the cave, the box they had found and just shortly described that she had been a bit upset later, but that Crane had been a good support.  

Sophie listened with rapt attention, torn between her professional and personal self, as her own empathy for Abbie was always strong.  

“So, what happened with Abraham after we left?” Abbie asked, dying for that coffee but also glad that it took time for Crane to return. 

“Not much,” Sophie began, frowning. “He wanted to fool around at first, but then mostly talk about Luke. I let him. Apparently, Luke kind of threatened him when they were alone with Devon.” 

“Threatened him?” Abbie asked.  

“Yeah... I thought he was exaggerating at first, but apparently, Luke had told him to ‘stay off his women’. I asked him to elaborate, but he got kind of vague, mentioning the dinner we had together after the cake shop disaster yesterday.”  

“Oh, right...” Abbie mused, knowing that Luke could be a bit forceful at times. But was it really necessary when it came to Abraham van Brunt? “The only men there was Luke and Bram...”  

“And the women were you, me, his mom and your sister. I mean, Jenny will be his extended family by marriage,” Sophie said. 

“Heh,” Abbie snorted. “Luke and Lídia will never consider Jenny family!”  

“Err, I have to disagree, Abbie,” Sophie said. “They more or less do already. I know our family go a bit far, but to Aunt Lídia, Luke and I are more brother and sister than cousins. You are her daughter and Jenny is mine and Luke’s sister as well as yours. She may not want to see Jenny as her daughter, but she’s definitely family. Close family.”  

“Well, that’s Lídia,” Abbie shrugged.  

“I think you’ll find that the same goes for Luke,” Sophie insisted.  

“Really... Jenny won’t like that!” Abbie chuckled.  

“It’s not just a Latino thing,” Sophie observed. “Look at Bram and Crane. Cousins, but practically brothers. Bram said so himself, explaining that family meant everything to him and that he understood Luke to an extent.”  

“Yeah, only they marry every cousin they can!” Abbie said, rolling her eyes. “Which means that you more or less fooled around with a sister yesterday –” 

“Hey! Don’t remind me!” Sophie laughed. “But we could never marry family, not even extended one!”  

“Lucky for you,” Abbie chuckled. “I have no brothers and you don’t have to marry Jenny.” 

“Aunt Lídia wouldn’t let me marry a woman anyway,” Sophie mulled.  

Let you!”  

“You know what I mean.”  

She had to keep whatever she wanted to say to herself, because Crane returned with a trey of take away cups.  

“Three coffees, as ordered!” he said cheerfully.  

Abbie scooted over, leaving room for him to sit next to her. He slid down next to her, just as Abbie realised how that simple gesture must appear to Sophie. She just smirked and stretched out after her coffee. Abbie took hers and looked curiously on Crane’s. 

“Coffee?” she asked. 

“Cappuccino,” he said.  

“I thought you drank tea?”  

“Like a proper Brit?” he smiled. “I enjoy cappuccino as well! Don’t you drink tea?” 

“Yeah, I do,” she replied.  

“Well, then,” he nodded and took off the lid on his cup. “My only problem is the milk foam, it sticks to my moustache.” 

Abbie and Sophie laughed and they all sipped their coffees, then laughed some more as Ichabod had to wipe off foam a few times.  

Suddenly, Abbie lit up at the sight of someone and started to wave eagerly. Both Sophie and Crane looked that way and saw a soldier, waving and laughing back. Abbie jumped up and ran over, and the soldier met her with a warm laugh and a bear hug. They talked animatedly for some moments, then Abbie took the soldier by the arm, dragging her over to the table where Sophie and Crane waited. Crane immediately stood up, ready to greet the new acquaintance. 

The soldier woman was tall and muscular like a man, wearing camouflage clothing, heavy boots and had a tan that told Crane that she’d probably just returned from service abroad.  

“That’s Joe!” Sophie exclaimed. 

“Joe? Joe Corbin?” Ichabod asked.  

“Yeah!” she said breathlessly.  

Abbie and Joe came closer. Joe’s femininity was striking up close; soft, kind eyes and an open expression with a tight ponytail in her neck that both contrasted and matched her camouflage patterned outfit.  

“Hi!” she said, stretching out her hand to Ichabod. “I’m Josephine Corbin. But please call me Joe!”  

Chapter Text

“So, when did you come back?” Abbie asked Joe eagerly.  

Crane and Sophie watched with rapt attention, questions of their own forming. Abbie dragged the young soldier to their table, seating her next to her colleague who quickly made sure to make room on the bench, while she reclaimed her seat next to Crane.  

“This morning,” Joe replied with a tense smile. “I dropped my stuff at my old place and went out to get something to eat! Running into you all was pure luck – or accident, depending on opinion,” she said with a hasty but meaningful glance in Sophie’s direction.  

Crane saw Sophie blush, while a quick frown passed over Abbie’s face.   

“It was definitely a lucky coincidence!” Abbie said enthusiastically, and Sophie nodded in agreement, stealing furtive glances in Joe’s direction. When Joe looked her way, it was her turn to blush and look away.   

This made Abbie and Crane exchange glances; Crane with a lifted eyebrow and Abbie with a teasing smile.   

“I’m glad I run into you as well, Professor Crane!” Joe said purposefully.

“Please, just call me Ichabod or Crane, whichever you prefer,” Crane replied.   

“Right… Crane! We exchanged some emails when you bought my dad’s cabin,” Joe continued.  

“Yes, I realised it was you, when you introduced yourself,” Crane agreed, also remembering that he had assumed that Joe Corbin was the late owner’s son, not daughter.   

“I heard you made some renovations. About time someone gave the place some TLC!” Joe smiled.   

It was a natural observation, but it left both Crane and Abbie laughing nervously.   

“It looks great!” Abbie blurted out, and wanted to the earth to swallow her the same moment she said it. 

“Oh, you’ve seen it?” Joe asked.  

“When was that, Abbie!?” Sophie almost yelled with wide eyes.

“Oh, it was just –” Crane stammered.  

“That… that thing you needed when –” Abbie tried.   

“Yes! I had to show you the – the, uh –”  

“Passport?”   

“Yes! My passport!” he nodded eagerly, blushing furiously.   

“OK, relaaaax!” Sophie laughed, and it was Joe’s turn to look bewildered.  

Was it nice?” Joe asked.   

“Nice?? What do you mean!?” Abbie snorted defensively.  

“The renovations?” Joe frowned.   

“Oh! Oh, yes! Really nice!” This time, Abbie’s blush was visible and she was sweating just a little on her neck. Crane wanted to lick that neck there and then.   

“I’m glad you think so, Abb- Agent Mills!” Crane babbled. “You must come for a visit, Miss, uh, Joe. You as well, Agent Foster.”   

“OK, I don’t get it,” Joe said directly. “You three hang out and have burgers, but you’re not on first name basis?”  

The three people were all silent; Sophie gleefully as she watched the embarrassment the two others suffered from. Abbie took a deep breath in order to make things clear.   

“Professor – well, Crane – is a witness in a case. We’ve just had his assistance in securing some potential evidence.”   

“We have?” Sophie asked.   

“Yeah.”   

You have,” her colleague insisted.   

Abbie rolled her eyes.   

“We were on our way to the federal headquarters –” Crane tried.  

“He means the bureau,” Abbie cut in.   

“Thank you, the bureau, but needed a pit stop.”   

“Yeah, I get it,” Joe said, frowning. “But that’s not what I meant. You met before that.”   

“Um…”   

“The karaoke!”   

“True, true,” Crane nodded, very interested in his cappuccino.   

“That spread all the way to Afghanistan?” Abbie was baffled. “Didn’t know you could access Facebook there.”   

“I didn’t see it on Facebook,” Joe explained. “It was uploaded somewhere else.”  

“Somewhere else?” Abbie and Crane said in unison.  

“Yeah, it had millions of hits! You should do another and upload, a whole karaoke series!” Joe suggested, looking serious but her eyes glittered with amusement.  

Sophie started laughing hysterically.   

“WE DIDN’T UPLOAD –” Crane started, but Abbie put a calming hand on his wrist.   

“Someone downloaded it and put it somewhere else?” Abbie asked again.  

“Yeah, it was spread by some news site… popular vids, you know,” Joe explained with some vague gesture. “They pick up everything.”   

“Hmm, yeah,” Abbie mumbled, noticing how Crane fidgeted next to her and gulping down coffee. “Are you going to order something, Joe?”

“Why are you changing the subject?” Joe asked and winked. 

“I wasn’t changing the subject!” Abbie said defensively.  

“Riiiight,” the soldier answered. “Anyway, is it too late to say yes to the wedding invitation?”   

Crane knocked over his coffee cup, making both Abbie and Sophie jump.  

“Oh damn, I’m so clumsy!” he cried. “Not to worry, it was empty, I just drank the last of it!”   

“Yeah, OK, fine!” Abbie babbled, who had grabbed a napkin just in case. She helped Crane getting rid of the paper cup, noticing he was far too nervous to deal with it. “You were saying, Joe?”   

Joe was chuckling and Sophie joined in, nervously.   

“Just wondering if it’s OK to crash your wedding?”   

“Are you going to crash Agent Mills’ wedding, Miss – uhm – Joe?” Crane interrupted. “That’s… that’s…” he tried, hands gesturing as he tried to find the right words.   

“Not crash as in ruining it, Crane,” Abbie mumbled.   

“Oh! Oh, I see. Well. That’s…”   

“Yeah, but you never know,” Joe said thoughtfully, glancing at Sophie. “Did you actually think Abbie was going to marry Luke, Soph?”   

“Never!” Sophie said right away. “Uh, I mean…” she looked stricken. “It’s just…”   

“…a touchy subject, yeah I’m noticing,” Joe filled in, scrutinising all three of them. “Can’t help wondering what dad would have said about all this,” she added, looking a bit sad for a moment.   

Abbie felt a surge of sorrow in her chest. Not a day went by when she wished that August was around, meddling in their lives and being his kind, obnoxious self.   

“He’d been none too pleased,” Abbie mumbled, noticing Crane startle beside her. She could feel his piercing stare on her skin.  

“He’d still insist on walking you down the aisle, though,” Joe observed with a fond smile. “Who’s doing it instead?”  

Abbie didn’t say anything, just stared down in her own cup.  

“Uh, it’s…” Sophie tried.   

“We’ll see,” Abbie interrupted.   

“Have you invited your dad?” Joe asked.  

Damn you, Joe! Why did you have to show up just now? Abbie thought, closing her fists so hard that she felt her nails in her palm. Joe was probably the most sincere person Abbie had ever known, except for her dad August… and Crane, she realised. Joe had a way of going straight to the point, quite innocently and always endearingly.   

“It doesn’t matter, he won’t turn up,” Abbie muttered and stood up. “It’s time to get back!”   

“Now!?” Sophie protested.  

“We’re on a tight schedule,” Abbie reminded her and felt a pang of guilt. “The things we found are in the car, you can ride with me,” she stared at Sophie and ignored Crane and Joe, as they both looked baffled.   

“Pardon, but we drove my car,” Crane reminded her, who had risen from his seat a moment after her.  

“Yeah, and we went to the antique’s shop in mine…” Sophie filled in.   

Abbie wished the ground would swallow her up, she was never that confused about stuff, never  

“If I may,” Crane continued carefully. “The box we found is bespoke of a type that I’m familiar with.”  

“Yeah, I forgot that for a moment,” Abbie said and rubbed her eyes tiredly. “I need you to come along to the bureau, of course.”  

“I’m happy to be of service,” he said formally, but his worried frown belied his attempt to hide his concern for her. “It’s been a rather eventful day.”  

“And it’s far from over,” Abbie added to his sentence.   

*  

“Did I notice some kind of tension between Agent Foster and Miss Corbin?” Crane asked when he was driving again.   

“Yeah, I noticed it too,” Abbie agreed. She was grateful that Crane was driving and that he wasn’t bringing up how she had almost panicked when Joe started to talk about the wedding plans.  Still, Abbie wished she could be alone and think. Sort things out about the case. But all of that thinking and sorting was in the car with her; the strange box and the strange professor.   

“Miss Corbin does spell her nickname with an e, doesn’t she?” he continued.

“Yes, since we were kids in school. She was always, well, a tomboy? Some mean kid spelled Jo with an e, and she decided to own it. She stood up and told everyone to always call her Joe and always spell it with an e.”  

Crane smiled and nodded, eyes never leaving the road.  

“So, this box?” she began, deciding to find out what Crane knew.   

He frowned, and she could almost see his mind going to work.  

“It’s for book, rare and old books mostly,” he said casually.  

“For being sent?” she asked lightly.  

“Yes.”  

She nodded, remembering his earlier passionate speech about books and knowledge. She had warned him. Why was he so secretive now? She could use several techniques to make him talk; some bureau approved, some not and some completely unprofessional, even with the bureau’s oblique approval. It would be faster if he just told her and stopped acting mysterious, but her interrogation in his office had been quite satisfactory. Abbie could wait. He was always honest with her, so a bit of honesty in return could be a risk that paid off.  

“About Abraham van Brunt...”  

“What about Abraham?” Crane asked when she didn’t continue.  

She rubbed her forehead and looked at him.  

“Like you said in his antique’s shop earlier: he is in, what you called it, the thick of it.”  

Crane swallowed and nodded solemnly.  

“How bad is it?”  

“It’s not the first time, is it?” she concluded by his question.  

Crane rolled his shoulders and his fingers drummed nervously on the steering wheel.  

“He’s... a bit careless, as I said. With money.”  

“Your money?”  

Crane barked a laughter.  

“More than once,” he admitted. “You do seem to know quite a bit more than you told me in his shop.”  

“I haven’t had reports about your financial status, Crane,” she said. “I might as well tell you that I’ll get one. Of you, Abraham, Katrina... standard procedures.”  

“Oh dear. Yes, of course.”   

“I did however manage to get a quick look into his office.”  

“Aahh!” he said, understanding dawning on his face. “That’s why you turned up so suddenly, behind me! And without a car! Miss Foster and you arrived together and while she kept Bram distracted, you sneaked into his office?”  

“You’re far too clever for your own good.”  

“But the cameras –”  

“Don’t you worry about them,” she said with a wink.  

Crane grinned, looking smug for the both of them.  

“Look, Crane... like I said before: you were thrown into this quite out of nowhere,” she said softly. “This seems to be bigger than we expected. More... sprawling than we expected. We need you.”  

He simply nodded.  

“I trust you.”

“Good,” he smiled warmly, but looked a bit wan.  

“But I’m afraid this doesn’t look good for Abraham... or for Standra,” she continued.  

“If Standra is involved, then, by extension, possible also Katrina,” Crane volunteered. “They do business together... as a matter of fact, Standra left today for some business meeting.” 

“Do you know where she went?”  

“Cayman Islands,” he said carefully.  

Abbie rolled her eyes and leaned back against the seat, breathing in slowly.  

“There’s more,” he explained. “Standra’s scheduled to meet a new business associate from Central America. Some... leader of a new church.”  

“Church?” Abbie said and lifted her head off the headrest.  

“That’s all I know. After that, Katrina and I got into a fight,” he confessed.  

“Central America?”  

“That’s what Katrina said, you can rely on my word. We were in a heated discussion, but I don’t forget anything.”  

“No, I know,” she nodded. “What do they want with this... church leader?”  

“Oh, sell their spiritualistic rubbish,” Crane said acerbically.  

“You don’t like it?”  

“It’s nonsense, some sort of past time for them to annoy their friends with!”  

“Does Katrina know you feel that way?”  

“Not so directly, at least not until this morning.”  

Abbie decided to keep being blunt.  

“Does she have her own money?”  

“Yes, yes she does,” he said, a bit startled.  

“And what about you? Some trust fund that van Brunt borrows from?”  

“I... inherited the majority of my mother’s fortune, to my father’s dismay. He got a generous legacy, her sister’s family – including Moloch – got nothing.”  

“Hm. So you’re loaded?”  

“That’s... a way of putting it.”  

“And you’re not letting your daddy use the money to for that earldom business?”  

“Also correct.”  

“He’s bitter.”  

“Very.”  

“Bram’s dad, is he bitter too?”  

“Probably even more so.”  

So, what would it take to grab that earldom back into the 21st century, and who’d be the actual earl?”  

“Oh, rubbing shoulders with The House of Lords, more than they already do... lobbying, fine dinners... gifts.” Crane sighed.  

“Yeah, that sounds expensive. And downright feudal.”  

“It is.”    

“But you still have the manor.”   

“We do. That’s actually –”  

“So, what the hell is your connection with this smuggling business?”