Authors: Lynn Ames
Tags: #Thriller, #Lesbian
THE COST OF COMMITMENT
© 2004 BY LYNN AMES
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Other Versions: Paperback, ISBN: 1-933113-02-2
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: TARA YOUNG
COVER DESIGN BY VALERIE HAYKEN (WWW.VALERIEHAYKEN.COM) COVER PHOTO BY VALERIE HAYKEN
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For Alex, whose smile lights my days
The core concept and main storyline for
The Cost of Commitment
have been floating around in my head for the better part of fifteen years. I have to say, it’s great to finally have it out of there and on paper—it unclutters the vacuous space between my ears for new ideas and new novels.
In many ways, this book wrote itself, as did its predecessor
Price of Fame
; the characters, whom I love dearly, spent countless hours whispering in my ear. The result: plot twists that surprised even me.
I have always maintained that the best fiction contains elements of truth; as a reader, it's that believability that keeps you turning the pages.
In that sense I owe a debt of gratitude to all those who provided me with such rich life experiences; you have fed me enough material to write an infinite number of novels.
To the good folks at Intaglio Publications and StarCrossed Productions, especially Kathy Smith, for doing an outstanding job producing this book and for taking such good care of me. And to Radclyffe, an outstanding and most gracious fellow author, for offering just the right advice at just the right moment.
Writing a book like this is made much easier when the author can rely on real-life experts to ensure accuracy. To Richard Symansky, attorney extraordinaire, my eternal thanks for being so good at what you do and for your willingness to share that knowledge with me. To Clair Bee, the real deal, there would be no book without you and the wealth of expertise you so generously share with me. Thanks for refreshing my memory.
A very special thanks goes to my initial editors Terry Glidden and Kat Lodge. Kat is responsible for teaching me about issues and cultures: she is the research queen. Terry is responsible for making my words count. Her patience and attention to detail make my work so much stronger. Thanks to Lisa J. Herzog, who lived through so much of this story and was willing to revisit it with me. Thanks to Stacia Seaman, a wonderful editor who gives me such confidence in the final product.
Whoever said you can't judge a book by its cover hasn't met my cover designer. Thanks hardly seem adequate for the extraordinary job Valerie Hayken has done once again to make me look so good. She is, indeed, one of the most talented photographers/graphic designers I have ever met, and so much more than just a cover designer.
Finally, to those of you who read
The Price of Fame
and have continued to clamor for the sequel, thanks for all your support and encouragement. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
ob, can you get a better fix on what caused the incident at Sing Sing? I’ve got reporters breathing down my neck and pretty soon B
they’re gonna start making up their own version of events.”
The uniformed correction officer struggled to match the long, graceful strides of the woman walking alongside him. “Sure thing, Kate.
We’re working on it; should have an answer to you within the half hour.
They’re just interviewing the last inmate now.” He continued down the corridor, Kate peeling off to the left as they reached the door marked Katherine Kyle, Director of Public Information, New York State Department of Correctional Services.
The tall, raven-haired woman turned inside the door to face her beleaguered assistant. “Yeah, Marisa, what is it?”
“The commissioner wants to see you.”
“Great. Tell him I’ll be right there.” She continued moving through the suite and into her office, where the phone was already ringing. The readout on her phone said “incoming call.” That meant the call originated outside the state government system. Although she couldn’t be positive who it was, Kate felt confident. “Hi, beautiful.”
There was a second’s hesitation on the other end of the line, followed by a surprised chuckle. “What if it hadn’t been me, love?”
“Ah, but it was.”
“Well, if it had been someone else, I guess I would’ve had to offer to take
to dinner and make mad, passionate love to her afterward.”
“So, I guess it’s a good thing it was you, eh?”
“One of these days, Kyle...If you keep this up, I’m not gonna share the three rare Captain America comic books I found for you today.”
“Oh, that is so far below the belt, Jamison Parker. You wouldn’t dare—”
“Do you want to find out?”
Kate cleared her throat and sighed. “Um, Jay, honey, sweetheart, love?”
“I’ve missed you so much today. Can I take you out to dinner someplace nice and then make mad, passionate love to you afterward?”
“I’ll think about it and have my people get in touch with your people.”
“Well, Stretch, the offer sounds wonderful. It’s your delivery that needs work.”
“Everybody’s a critic.” Kate smiled. God, it felt so good to be able to tease each other without reservation again. It had taken nearly all of these past three months to reestablish their equilibrium and get beyond the hurts caused both by circumstance and each other.
“Kate, I’m so ashamed of the way I behaved. How could I have
believed what I read in the tabloids? To cause you that kind of pain...”
Jay’s voice caught; they had been home less than twenty-four hours and
she had awakened from a nightmare.
“Shh, love, please don’t beat yourself up anymore.” Kate stroked
Jay’s fair head where it rested on her shoulder. “We both made mistakes.
Everything happened so quickly, we’d have to be superhuman to come
out of that without any scars. The important thing is that we’re here now,
together. All that matters to me is that I have you.” Kate tightened her
embrace, reliving in her mind the whirlwind that had been their lives for
the previous few weeks.
It had all started with the explosion that rocked the state capitol
building in Albany. Kate was the only journalist on the scene, and her
coverage of the story and subsequent efforts to save those trapped and
injured by the blast were broadcast live across the country. That led to a
spot on the cover of
and a reconnection with Jay, who wrote the
story for the magazine. They had fallen in love at first sight in college in
1982, but neither of them had acted on their feelings at the time. Five
years later, fate had thrown them together again. This time the attraction
was undeniable and they seized the moment.
Kate thought wryly,
was the good part.
Kate’s overnight stardom had attracted the attention of the editor of
, who sent a photographer to dig up dirt. He
The Cost of Commitment
tracked her to the Caribbean island of St. John, where she had just
proposed marriage to Jay.
Kate silently intoned. The image he
captured of them kissing on the beach appeared on page one, although
Jay was unrecognizable in the photo. The public outcry resulted in Kate
being fired from WCAP-TV.
“I was right about one thing, Jay: the press isn’t going to stop until they identify you.”
She sighed. That’s why she had undertaken a solo
cross-country odyssey; Kate had hoped it would forestall the logical
follow-up story—the identity of her blonde lover. She meant to save Jay’s
career and future, but her decision to distance herself from her lover had
nearly destroyed both of them. After close to a week on the road Jay had
tracked her to Sedona, Arizona, where they reunited and renewed their
commitment to each other.
“How’s your day going?” Jay broke into Kate’s ruminations, effectively returning her focus to the present.
“Not too bad. The usual mix of mayhem. Inmates beating each other over the head, officers breaking the law, reporters making up their own stories. You know. How’s your day?”
“Better than that, I guess. I only have to contend with corporate officers who won’t speak on the record.”
“Ah. Which train are you catching to Albany? Will you be home tonight in time for dinner?”
“Looks like it right now. How about you?”
“I’m hopeful. It would be the first night this week and it’s already Thursday.” Kate suddenly got serious. “I really do miss you, Jay. We live in the same house, and still it feels like I haven’t been able to spend any time with you lately.”
“I know, honey. I miss you, too, but we both knew when you took this job it wasn’t going to be easy. Don’t worry. We’ll make it work.”
“Thank you for being so patient and understanding, love. I promise I’ll be home in time to take you to dinner at 7:30, okay?”
“It’s a date.”
“See you then. Right now the commissioner is waiting to see me.
Until tonight, babe. I love you.”
“I love you too, Kate. Bye.”
“Kate, c’mon in.”
“Good morning, sir. Something I can do for you?” She stood expectantly, notebook at the ready.
he thought, as he had every time he’d been face to face with her.
I know I’m very married, and happily so, at that—and I know she’s a
lesbian—but damn, I’d have to be dead not to notice. She’s gorgeous!
He spared a moment to observe her: six feet tall, well muscled, and sleek; glossy black hair that flowed halfway down her back; high, chiseled cheekbones and a flawless face. But it was the eyes, those amazing, vibrant, intelligent cerulean blue eyes, that captured him effortlessly.
That and the fact that she seemed to be completely unaware of her beauty. “Sit down, Kate. No need to be so formal.”
She took the seat nearest the massive cherry desk, noting once again that, despite his lean physique, her new boss’s presence pervaded the room. Brian Sampson was neither loud nor overbearing; rather, he projected a quiet, calm confidence that indicated his comfort with the seat of power he held. “We’ve certainly been keeping you busy, haven’t we?”
Kate smiled. She liked this man. He was both honest and honorable, rare qualities in a politician. “Yeah, you could say that.”
In fact, Kate’s first ninety days as sole spokesperson for the third-largest prison system in the country had been a blur. With 67 prisons, 47,000 inmates, and 35,000 employees, there was never a dull moment.
So far, she’d managed one full night’s sleep in three months without being awakened by either a reporter writing a story or the command center letting her know about an incident.
It had taken her a while to get used to her phone ringing at all hours of the day and night. She had thought being a television news anchor and reporter was an all-consuming job; working for DOCS made the pace of her former career seem downright slow.
“Kate Kyle, this is Officer Banks and Officer Kirby. Gentlemen, this
is your new best friend, Kate.”
“Yes, sir.” The uniformed men stood at attention as they answered
Executive Deputy Commissioner William Redfield, the number-two man
at the agency.
“Nice to meet you both.” Kate had been on the job less than an hour,
and already her head was spinning. There was so much to learn; DOCS
was clearly a paramilitary organization with a definite hierarchy, and
she was very nearly at the top of the food chain. This became evident to
her right away when correction officers and assistant commissioners to
whom she was introduced practically saluted her.
“Banks and Kirby man the command center during the day; Ritter
and Hobbs have the night shift. The command center is the twenty-four-hour communications hub. Anything that happens anywhere in the system
is reported immediately to these gentlemen, who will then inform you