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Story Notes:

DISCLAIMER:  I don't own any of the characters.

Miss Parker walked into her office with the same confidence and attitude she had always emitted to convey the fact that she is in control and that she means business.  But today, after her stint in the Oregon wilderness with you know who, she seems different.  Oh, she’s still intimidating and bossy, and Broots always seems to get the brunt of her wrath, but today, she had a gentle smirk on her face and her eyes were dancing with what is that? Mischief?  Happiness?  Broots and Sydney were both in her office waiting for her and they were a quite mesmerized by her beautiful far-away look. 


“Good morning, Miss Parker,” Sydney greeted.


“Mornin’, boys. ”  She walked passed them and sat on her chair and started fiddling with the stuff on her desk.


Sydney and Broots looked at each other bewilderedly and wondered what happened in the four days she went missing to follow a lead on Jarod.  So many things were running through their minds, but not willing to risk their lives to ask her.  Did she find Jarod and hurt him?  Perhaps he’s back in the Centre.  Did she not follow the lead and just played hooky?  Did she meet a man who swept her off her feet?  Is there news that Raines and Mr. Lyle are dead?  No, that would be too good to be true and she would probably be dancing, not just her eyes.  She didn’t even ask if they had a lead on Jarod.  Something is wrong or maybe something is right.


“Miss Parker?” 


“Hmm?” she responded without looking up at them.


“Do you want to know if we have a lead on Jarod?”


“Sure.”  She answered distractedly.  Then she laughed.  No one said anything funny or did anything comical.  She just laughed a full blown , teeth-showing, amused laugh as if to remember something she did that was out of character. 


“Are you going to tell us what’s going on, Miss Parker?” 


“Not if you want to live,” was all they got from her on that subject, looking at them for the first time since she walked in.  But her tone was not threatening or nasty.  There was a certain warmness about her and a touch of “niceness?”  No!  It cannot be!  Sydney and Broots refused to give in to that trickery—she is up to something.




What a day it has been.  Actually, what a few days it had been.  Miss Parker still can’t believe what happened in the past few days.  Is she crazy?  It’s late and she’s finally home from Oregon, yet she’s not tired at all.  She took a long shower and nursed a warm cup of tea, sitting on her sofa while wrapped in a blanket.  She recalled what happened and asked herself what she was doing.  Is she crazy?  She already asked that question.  What was she doing flirting with Jarod and loving it?  What about doing something nice and good and feeling great about it?  What about leaving her gun with him?  That’s enough to get her admitted to the nut house.  She laughed at the absurdity of working together with Jarod and wanting to do it again.  And she kissed him!  Unbelievable.  If the Centre ever found out what happened, she’d be in for a world of hurt.  Yet, somehow she knew that Jarod would never let that happen. 

Wow, she has gotten soft.  Oh who cares?  She felt alive and ecstatic.  She can’t wait to see him again, mainly because she wants her gun back—yes, that’s what she’ll keep telling herself.  Definitely don’t want him to think she’d be nicer to him now—that would be ridiculous.  If only he’d call, she’d let him know she’s still the Ice Queen.  Of course, he didn’t disappoint and her musings left her questioning her sanity once again.


“What?!”  Yeah, that’s right, feel the venom. 


“I just wanted to make sure you got home safely.”  Okay, what is wrong with him?  She barked her greeting on the phone and he just ignored it!


“Home, safe and sound,”  she responded with much more friendliness and comfort than she intended.  Okay, what is wrong with her? 


“I saw the Morrison family and they wanted me to thank you again.  The family is doing fine.  They would not stop saying ‘thank you’.” The joy in his voice was contagious.


“Yeah, I said goodbye to them at the hospital and they wanted me to tell you the same.”  Oh forget it.  She really liked talking to this guy.  His deep voice is like sweet, smooth, velvety chocolate.  And what she wouldn’t give to kiss that little mole right below his eye.  Next time she gets a chance, that’s exactly what she’s gonna do—it would be worth it just for the shock effect on the cocky Pretender.


“You accompanied them to the hospital?”  Why was that so hard to believe? Jerk. “They named the baby,  Parker Jarod…. PJ for short.”  He chuckled, which made her chuckle, too…after all, she doesn’t do giggle.


“That’s sweet.  I’m flattered.  I’m glad they’re doing well……  Jarod…..I….”  Why was she stammering?  Damn him. 


“Good night,  Miss Parker.  I’ll get your gun to you soon.”


“You’d better.  That’s my favorite gun.”  


“I know.”


She sat there with a smile on her face, long after he had hung up, thinking of everything and nothing at all.  Can she lead a double life?  Can she still work at the  Centre and pretend to do their bidding, but doing the opposite behind their back?  Can she be okay with having fluttery feelings and mushy thoughts about Jarod?  Damn right, she can.  Can she really be nice?  That may be pushing it.




4 Days Later


Another day at the office.  Not much activity going on.  Jarod has been quiet for a few days. He and Miss Parker still had their nightly chats, but as usual, Jarod was being his cryptic self and she usually tries to let him know that she’s still the bitch he knows so well.  He still hasn’t returned her gun personally, like he promised, so that makes her extra cranky with him.  But by the end of each conversation, they both end up saying a heart-felt goodnight and Miss Parker always, I mean always, end up contemplating and obsessing over that irresistible little mole.  Pathetic,  and she knows it—no point being the Queen of Denial, or being queen of anything—she likes Jarod and she wants to be with him and talk with him and be held by him and yeah, yeah, we know, and kiss that little mole under his right eye.  See?  Obsessed.   To hell with the Centre—that’s what she says.


Miss Parker suspects he’s up to something, though, that will surely involve her while the rest of the Centre suspects NOTHING.  She’s almost giddy with anticipation.  The call to her father’s office put a little damper on said giddiness.


“Hello Daddy,” she greeted with faked enthusiasm.  “Lyle,” she greeted dryly.


“Angel, Son, I have a surprise gift for you both.  I know you two have been working hard to track Jarod and to return him to the Centre, even though unsuccessfully,  still, I wanted to give you both a break and send you on a little R and R.”  Miss Parker and Mr Lyle both narrowed their eyes at their father, confusion and suspicion evident on their faces.  If ever there was a time these two looked like twins, it was then.  “Now, before you assume that there’s something going on that I don’t want your involvement in, extinguish those thoughts.  I want you both to get yourself together, replenish, restore, regain your objective, and return with the determination to get your job done.  I feel that you are slipping and getting sloppy.  Where is that Parker drive?   There’s no point arguing, I insist.“


Lyle and Miss Parker were speechless.  When Lyle finally found his voice, he asked, “What about the search for Jarod?”


“It’s been years since he escaped and has not been returned.  A few days will make no difference.”  Mr. Parker was getting irritated.


It was Miss Parker’s turn to voice her concern, “I hope you don’t expect us to be together during this little vacation.  That would only result in stress and maybe even death.”  The look on her face toward Mr. Lyle conveyed her disgust at the thought.


“No.  You will be at opposite ends of the country and only I know where.  There will be no contact with anyone.  No phone calls, no e-mails, nothing for the 5 days that you will be gone.  You leave tonight.  A driver will pick you up at 3 o’clock and drive you to different airports.  From there, you will be given tickets to your destination.”  Before the two can even ask the question, Mr. Parker offered the answer, “Yes, you will be traveling by commercial airline and not by Centre jets.  Now go home and get packed.  Pack lightly because you won’t need much when you get there.  I have everything taken care of.”


Miss Parker didn’t know what to think.  The idea of getting away from the Centre was kind of exciting, but how is she going to let Jarod know?  Five more days without seeing him will be torture and to not be able to talk to him on the phone will surely be depressing.  What a relief, though, that Lyle will be far away from her.  Knowing him, he won’t take this little vacation to heart.  He’s going to delve into whatever secret their father was hiding.  He’s not going to settle for their father being concerned about their well-being.  This is good for Miss Parker—she won’t have Lyle, or anyone, bothering her for 5 whole days—now that’s a vacation.  She really hoped that Jarod is as resourceful as he says he is.


Miss Parker also sent Sydney and Broots on their own much needed vacation, which they gladly took  since she wasn’t insisting on trying to unearth any Centre sinister plot or discover any buried secrets while she’s away.  She really is getting nicer, but Sydney and Broots won’t ever tell her that—they value their lives too much.




This Spa Resort definitely catered to the prominent and the wealthy.  According to her pampering schedule, Daddy spared no expenses in her getting the best treatments.  She was even provided a beautiful evening gown for a night at one of the fancy restaurant clubs nearby.  Miss Parker wondered if an eye-candy escort will also be provided.  She smiled at the thought and then her thoughts turned to Jarod.  Always Jarod.  For sure by now he’s called her house phone and her cell phone (that was left at her house by her father’s orders) and she’s not there to answer.  For all she knows, he orchestrated this whole thing, but if he did, he would have made himself known already—there were so many chances for him to make himself known:  the limo driver, the bell boy, the pilot, but no.  He wasn’t even waiting in her room.  Oh she was so hoping he’s one of the masseuse,  but there’s no one named Jarod working there.  She asked.  And she’s disappointed.  She flopped on her comfortable bed and tried to sleep off her anxiety and disappointment.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


A night passed, the day is almost over, and still no sign of Jarod.    But the massages and the baths and all the pampering were making up for the Pretender’s absence.  She could handle this for the next 4 days, even without the smug, smirk-toting, mole-sporting, muscled, handsome Lab Rat.  She doesn’t miss him at all, well, not that much anyway.  Okay, she misses him A LOT.  Damn him.


Miss Parker was lying face down on the massage table waiting for a masseuse and trying to erase every Centre-related thoughts from her mind.  Except for Jarod, of course—he’s a hard thought to eradicate.  She was having such a relaxing time, she’d forgotten what her father wanted from her when she returned to the Centre.


“Good evening, Miss Parker,” came a squeaky voice that was a little grating on her nerves.  She closed her eyes and tried to think happy thoughts.  Maybe this guy’s fingers will do wonders to her body, and she’s really hoping that he won’t open his mouth again.  No chance on that last part.  “I’m going to make you feel so good, Miss Parker, you won’t remember your name by the time I’m through with you.”  He laughed a squeakier laugh and she wished she had her favorite gun with her.  Oh wait, Wonderboy still has her favorite gun.  Damn him.


 After a few moments, a warm, smooth, silky liquid was bathing her back in sweet ecstasy.  Oh my.  The hands on her back delivered the right amount of pressure and at precise points that can drive a nun to take up pole dancing.  That may be a bit extreme, but damn! This guy was touching her in ways she has never been touched before—very professional with a touch of erotic….is that even allowed?  He has now moved to her legs, completely easing away any tension she may have had.  His hands felt like sweet but firm caresses……He hesitated a little and ran a finger ever so lightly across the healing wound on her calf………hey, wait a minute!  He must have sensed her tense up and in a moment’s notice, she felt his breath on her cheek.


“Hello Miss Parker,” came that deep, warm, smooth, silky voice, giving her chills up and down her spine.  Oh my.  There goes all her sanity out the window.   Was he still massaging her?  She wasn’t sure.  Miss Parker attempted to get up but he gently pushed her down to keep still.  “There are cameras in the room.  You wouldn’t want me to get fired for inappropriate behavior with a client now, do you?”  She can picture the smirk on his lips and the playfulness in his eyes.


“No, of course not,” she lied.   She doesn’t care if he gets fired.  He doesn’t work there anyways.


“I still have 30 more minutes to work my magic fingers on you and then I have another hour before I get off.”


She doesn’t have patience for this.  That mole is beckoning her to make a move.  But she was at his mercy and he was definitely working his magic on her body after all.  Fine.  She can give in to him this one time, one time only, then she’s taking control of the situation.


“Keep talking, Jarod.  I love the sound of your voice,” she said dreamily.  Did she just say that out loud?  Great.  Another thing he can use against her.  She really needs to keep her guard up because she is slipping.


He talked and massaged and caressed that put her in a catatonic state of bliss.  Best. Day. Ever.  Jarod finally urged her to sit up, wrapping the towel she was lying on around her body, being careful not to expose anything.  She turned so that her legs dangled on the side of the table.  He gave her a glass of water and she took it, drank it, all the while keeping their eyes locked together communicating without speaking or touching.  He took the cup from her, set it aside, and positioned himself between her legs with his hands planted on the table next to her thighs.  He was so close she could almost feel his heartbeat and he’s looking at her with that goofy smirk of his like he’s about to do something naughty.  Oh the anticipation!  She leaned back a little and adjusted the towel around her and raised an eyebrow at him.


“What about the cameras?” She questioned.


“I had it on a timer to be disabled for 5 minutes.”  What?!  Only 5 minutes?!  That’s not enough time to do anything inappropriate!  Without wasting any time, Miss Parker placed her hand on his shoulder and leaned in to sweetly kiss the area  below his eye, then she pulled back with a very satisfied look on her face.  The shock and pleasure on Jarod’s face was priceless.


Jarod kissed her on the cheek, then the corner of her mouth,  and then pulled back slowly from the table and away from her.  Damn.  5 minutes must have been up.  He sure is being coy and somewhat cautious.  Two can play that game.  They both can feel the desire and passion bubbling up to the surface and if either of them opens up,  it won’t just nicely flow over, it’s going to explode. 


“Will you go out to dinner tonight with me, Miss Parker?”  He looked almost uncertain after asking the question.  Almost--that’s only because she was looking at him like she didn’t understand the question or that he was speaking in some unknown language.


“You’re asking me out on a date?”  she asked.


“Yes.  yes, I am.”  He was grinning like a handsome idiot.  How can she say no to that?


“You’re taking me to that fancy restaurant club across the street.”  It wasn’t a question or a suggestion.  After all, when and where else was she going to wear that gown?


“I’ve already made reservations.” Oh he’s good.



Jarod must have had some influence with the manager because they were escorted to a very discreet corner of the restaurant where no one can spy on them or disturb them.  They sat very close together and spent a lot of time looking into each other’s eyes “talking”, flirting, and making sure each other knew the rules of the game they’re playing.  Miss Parker sat with her legs crossed, with her foot hooked around Jarod’s calf.  Jarod had one hand on her crossed leg and the other hand held her at the waist.  For the fifth time that night, Miss Parker satisfied her obsession.  Jarod was quite amused at her fixation on that side of his face, but he’s not complaining.  But this time, she didn’t stop there--she kissed the corner of his mouth, then settled on his lips.  They kissed sweetly and tenderly like peaches and plums.  Before they got to the alfalfa stage of kissing, the waiter came to pour more wine and to take their order.  They pulled away, blushing.  Blushing?  Definitely no sanity left in both of them.


After the waiter left their company, Jarod posed a serious proposition, unsure how she was going to respond.   “Come help me with a pretend, Parker.”


Miss Parker was taken aback.  Shocked. Dumbfounded.  Bewildered.  Unbelieving.  He was almost certain that would be her response. What he didn’t figure on was the slight fear in her eyes. 


“What did you just ask me?”


“I’m working as a police detective in a city about 2 hours from here.  This morning, we responded to a call and found a woman who was badly beaten.  After she was taken to the hospital, we searched the place and found a 5 year-old little girl hiding in the bedroom closet.  She is in shock and won’t respond to anyone.  That’s why I was late coming.”


“And you think I can help with that?” she asked mockingly. “I’m no Kindergarten teacher, Jarod.  Now if you had said you needed me to shoot someone’s knee caps off, I would have taken that into serious consideration.  Which reminds me, where’s my gun?”


“Somewhere safe.  The little girl won’t respond to anyone because  she doesn’t understand English.  She’s Japanese.” 


“Can’t you learn Japanese in an hour?  Why can’t you talk to her?”


“I’ve tried.  She fears all the men at the station.  You can help.  And besides, I kind of enjoy your company.  Having you around for a few days would be great, even if I have to put up with your stubbornness and bitchy attitude.”  Wow, he is really pushing his luck.


“Kind of?  You really know how to sweet-talk a girl.”  Can she do this?  Can she run off with Jarod and do a pretend?  Then can she go back to the Centre and act like her father’s little obedient Angel? 


“We can leave tonight and you can still be back at the Centre on schedule.”  He saw the struggle that battled inside her and wondered who will win.  He looked at her expectantly and braced himself for the outcome.




“Alright?  Are you sure?”


“No, I’m not sure!  But alright, I’ll do it.”  She just made him the happiest man in the world.  “I better get my nightly massage still or  heads will roll,” she threatened.


“Yes, m’am.  I’ll tell Sergei to pack our food to go.”  


She was never good at following the rules, especially Centre rules.



The trip to Jarod’s apartment was a quick 2-hour ride.  Their conversations were light and comfortable.  Some moments were spent in silence as the two smiled and grinned to themselves,  and sometimes Miss Parker would try to stifle a snort.  No one had to explain anything because they both knew what each other were thinking.  They never fully held hands throughout the ride, but their fingers constantly fiddled with each other’s—tenderly and softly twining and untwining, like a fluid dance of silk threads against the wind.


It was late getting to the apartment, but not that late.  Jarod’s hasty good-night left Miss Parker in a quandary.  After kissing her quickly on the lips, he made a beeline for the door, leaving her confused as hell—he was mumbling something about getting some work done on the computer and getting some rest because it’s gonna be an early wake-up tomorrow, blah, blah, blah.  What a load of bull. 


Jarod ran his fingers through his hair and headed to the kitchen sink to splash cold water on his face.  Is he crazy?  He took his shirt off and stood in front of the opened fridge to cool off.  It wasn’t that hot out, but he sure was feeling flushed, actually, he was feeling frustrated.  He didn’t want to be too aggressive toward her, didn’t want to rush her, or push her.  But damn!  He wasn’t being anything except stupid—and for a genius, that’s hard to admit.


“Anything in there to drink?” 


Jarod was startled at the sound of her voice.  She was standing really close by—he felt her without seeing her.  How did she sneak up on him like that?


“Sure.”  He reached in and took a bottle of water and handed it to her, still not turning around to face her. 


“Thanks.”  And being the evil person that is Miss Parker, she scraped a nail lightly across his back as she passed him,  her breath tickling the back of his neck as she uttered her gratitude.  If Jarod didn’t breathe, he would have surely pass out.


Jarod finally got a look at her as she sauntered to the living room and he not only quit breathing, all the blood had drained from his brain.  She was wearing one of his shirts and that’s it—she was showing a lot of leg—those beautiful, long, firm legs.


She sat on the couch and motioned for him to come over with her finger and for him to sit next to her by patting the couch.

Jarod could only obey dumbly.  What else could he do?  She has bewitched him.


“You can’t sleep?”  Jarod, Jarod, Jarod….dumb question.  He actually looked concerned that her accommodations may not be satisfactory.


“Let me ask you a question, Jarod.”


“Shoot”  He threw her an apologetic look for that one.


“Do I turn you on?”  What kind of question was that?!


Jarod quickly stood and put some distance between him and Miss Parker.  For some reason, Miss Parker was not bothered by his actions.  Something is definitely bothering the Pretender and she’s going to use all her wily ways to get to the bottom of this.


“You know you do,” he responded, a little frustrated. 


“Then why are you avoiding the inevitable?”  Let’s try the soft approach first.


“Because I don’t want to lose what we have now.”  Cryptic Boy Genius is at it again.  What the heck does  having sex have to do with losing anything?


“Explain yourself.”


“Damn it, Parker!  Do you think I like being uncomfortable and frustrated whenever you’re near?  Every time you kiss me here (pointing at that spot at the corner of his eye), I get turned on.  Whenever you smile, I get turned on.  Damn it, everything about you turns me on.”  That didn’t really explain anything.


“Then what is your problem?”


Jarod sighed and tried to compose himself.  “What if we get to that next step and you regret it?  What if you realize that having sex with me will make you lose control?  And we both know you’re a control freak.   What if you just consider me as one of your conquests then toss me aside, because to be honest, Parker, I’m not completely sure I can trust where your devotion lies.  What we  have now--the friendship, the comfort,  the camaraderie, the flirting—it’s more than I’ve ever dreamed of for us.  I’m going to hold on to that for as long as I can.  And if it takes prolonging going to bed with you, then I’m willing to sacrifice what it takes.  Besides, what if I’m not…..”


“Whoah.  Hold it right there, Cowboy.  Get your ass over here and sit down.”  Jarod reluctantly obeyed and sat on the couch next to her.  She really is a control freak.  Miss Parker was not about to give in to all this sacrificial crap he’s dishing out.  What about the part that he might not be…?  She can’t even fathom the thought of him not performing wonderfully.  Miss Parker gave no concern about his discomfort, insecurities, or his stupid way of thinking and straddled him on the couch.   “Listen here, Pez Head.  I’m risking my life to be with you.  I’m tired of looking over my shoulder to seek approval from my father.  I’m tired of grieving for my mother.  I’m tired of living in the past.  I’m tired of telling you I’m tired.  To put it simply, in case that genius brain of yours is not functioning at the moment,” she glanced down with a raised eyebrow and shifted her hips, grinding into him for emphasis.


“You had me at Pez Head,” he interrupted her little speech.


She was wide-eyed with playful scorn.  What a stinking little flirt.  “Anyway, like I was saying, to put it simply, I’m tired of the Centre.  Plain and simple.  What I’m NOT tired of” she continued,  “is being with you.  I’m not about to give up the one person who makes me feel alive.  Even if you are the worst lover in the world, which I doubt very highly, I would still keep you around.  You still owe me 4 days of massages.”  She smiled at him and kissed him, not on the lips, as they both knew. 

 “Okay, you win.”  Just like that, Jarod conceded and kissed her passionately, picking her up and pinning her beneath him on the couch.  All the frustrations relieved and discomforts eased.  Best. Night. Ever.


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