Cynthia was assigned to the same Homicide team as Ainslie, then headed by a long-service detective-sergeant, Felix Foster. Soon after Cynthia's arrival, Foster was made a lieutenant and moved to another department. Ainslie, promoted to sergeant, took his place.
But even before that, Ainslie and Cynthia had worked together and were mutually attracted an attraction that simmered briefly, then exploded.
Cynthia was lead investigator in a triple murder, aided at times by Ainslie. While following several promising leads, the two of them flew to Atlanta for two days. The leads promised to pay off, and at the end of the first grueling but successful day, they checked into a suburban motel.
Then, over dinner that night in a small, surprisingly good trattoria, Ainslie looked at Cynthia across the table and, with instinct telling him what was coming, he asked, "Are you very tired?"
"Tired as hell," she answered. Then, reaching for his hand, "But not too tired for what you and I want most and it's not dessert."
In the car, as they drove back to their motel, Cynthia leaned over and brushed her tongue across his ear. "I'm not sure I can wait," she breathed. "Can you?" Then she teased him with her hand, causing him to groan and swerve.
At the door to his room, he leaned over and kissed her gently. "I gather you want to come in."
"Just as badly as you want me to," she answered playfully.
It was all Ainslie needed. Opening the door, he pushed her inside. The door slammed and the room was dark. Easing Cynthia against a wall, he let his weight press into her. He felt her breathing quicken, her body pulsate with eagerness. Breathing into her hair, kissing the back of her neck, Ainslie slipped his hand around her waist and into her pants.
"Oh Jesus," Cynthia whispered, "I want you now."
"Shhh," Ainslie said, his finger wet and tantalizing. "Don't say anything. Not a word."
She turned then quickly and without warning so she faced him but was still flattened against the wall. "Screw you, Sergeant," she said, breathless, then smothered him with her lips.
They struggled out of their clothes as the kissing grew more desperate. "You're beautiful," Ainslie muttered several times. "Christ, you're beautiful."
Finally Cynthia pushed him onto the bed and crawled on top of him. "I need you now, my love. Don't you dare make me wait one more second."
Afterward they rested, then made love again, continuing all through the night. Amid the chaos of his thoughts, it came to Malcolm that Cynthia had become their sexual leader and, surprising him, he had a sense of being dominated and possessed, though he didn't mind.
In the months to come, with Ainslie's promotion from detective to detective-sergeant, he was able to arrange duty schedules so that he and Cynthia were frequently to "ether both in Miami and on occasional overnight assignments outside the city. Either way their affair continued.
There were many moments when Ainslie reminded himself, with a semblance of guilt, of his marriage to Karen. But Cynthia's explosive hunger and his own wild pleasure in satisfying her seemed to eclipse all else.
Like their first sexual encounter, each subsequent romp began with the long, continuous kiss as they undressed and, as time went by, their magical, exhilarating game continued.
It was during one of their disrobings that Ainslie discovered a second gun Cynthia carried in an ankle holster beneath the trousers that, like most women detectives, she wore on duty. The usual police weapon both Ainslie and Cynthia carried was a 9mm Glock automatic with a fifteen shot clip and hollow-point bullets. But this small one Cynthia had purchased herself a tiny, chrome-plated Smith & Wesson five-shot pistol.
She murmured, "It's for anyone other than you who attacks me, darling." Then, inserting the tip of her tongue in his ear, "Right now yours is the only weapon I'm interested in."
The extra gun known on the force as a "throwdown" was legal for a police officer, providing it was registered and the owner had qualified in its use at the shooting range. In both cases Cynthia fulfilled the requirements.
Her extra gun, in fact, would be put to use in a way that Malcolm Ainslie remembered gratefully.
* * *
Cynthia Ernst was lead detective, Ainslie her supervising sergeant, in a complex whodunit investigation in which a male employee of a Miami bank was believed to have witnessed a murder, but had not come forward voluntarily. Cynthia and Ainslie had gone together to the bank a large downtown branch to question the potential witness and, upon entering, found a robbery in progress.
The time was near noon; the bank was crowded.
Barely three minutes earlier the robber, a tall, muscular white man armed with an Uzi automatic machine pistol, had confronted a woman teller and ordered her to put all the cash from her till into the cloth bag he pushed toward her. Few people knew what was happening until a bank guard noticed the man and rushed forward. With his pistol drawn, the guard commanded, "You at the counter! Drop that gun!"
Instead of obeying, the robber swung around, firing a burst from his Uzi at the guard, who fell to the floor. As panic and screams ensued, the intruder shouted, "This is a robbery! Nobody move, and no one else will get hurt!" Then he reached over, seized the teller by the neck, and, dragging her across the counter, caught her in a chokehold.
It was during this confusion, then sudden silence, that Cynthia and Ainslie walked into the bank.
Ainslie unhesitatingly reached into the holster beneath his jacket and produced his 9mm Glock. Using both hands, maintaining a steady stance, he aimed it at the robber, shouting in a strong voice, "I'm a police officer. Let the woman go. Put your gun on the counter and raise your hands, or I shoot!"
At the same time, Cynthia eased away from Ainslie, though making no sudden move that might attract the man's attention. Held casually in her hands was a small, inconspicuous purse.
The robber tightened his grip on the teller and pointed his gun at her head. He snarled at Ainslie, "You drop the gun, scumbag, or the broad gets it first. Do it! Drop it! I'll count to ten. One, two. . ."
The teller, her voice thin and stifled, called, "Please do what he says! I don't want " Her words were cut off as the choke-hold tightened.
The robber continued, "Three . . . four . . ."
Ainslie called out, "I tell you again, put the damn gun down and give up."
"Bullshit! Five . . . six . . . You drop the fucking gun, shitbag, or I nix this bitch at ten!"
Cynthia, off to one side, her mind cool and calculating, weighed the fields of fire. She knew that Ainslie would have guessed what she was doing and was trying to stall and gain time, though without much chance of success. The robber was a loser, knew he would never get away, and therefore didn't care . . .
His count continued. "Seven . . ."
Ainslie, unyielding, held his firing position. Cynthia knew he was relying on her totally now. There was no sound in the bank; everyone was still and tense. By this time, presumably, silent alarms had been tripped. But it would be several minutes before more police arrived, and even then, what could they do?
She could see there was no one immediately behind the robber. He now faced Cynthia almost directly, though seemingly unaware of her as his focus remained on Ainslie. The teller, with the gun still aimed at her head, was dangerously close, too close for safety, but there was no choice. Cynthia would get one shot only, and it had to be dead-on, a killing shot . . .
"Eight . . . "
With a single swift movement, Cynthia released a fallaway seam of her specialized purse a new, efficient substitute for an ankle holster. Letting the purse drop, she grasped the tiny Smith & Wesson pistol from inside, the chrome-plated gun gleaming as she raised it.
"Nine . . ."
Instantly taking aim, bracing herself, she fired.
The sharp sound of the shot caused heads to turn. Cynthia ignored the stares, her eyes locked on the man who slumped over as a single red hole near the center of his forehead began oozing blood. The woman teller quickly freed herself from the man's arm, then fell to the ground sobbing.
Ainslie, his gun still trained on the robber, walked toward him, looked carefully at the body, now motionless, then put the gun away. As Cynthia joined him, he said with a grin, "You cut it fine. But thanks.''
Within the bank a buzz of conversation rose; then, as realization dawned, applause broke out, changing almost at once to spontaneous cheers directed at Cynthia. Smiling, she leaned against Malcolm and, sighing with relief, whispered, "I think you owe me a week in the sack for that one."
Ainslie nodded. "We'll have to be careful. You're going to be famous." And over the next few days, as a widely acclaimed media heroine, she was.
* * *
Long after, when Malcolm Ainslie looked back on his affair with Cynthia, he wondered if his own unbridled lust was a delayed reaction to those long years he had spent in unnatural priestly celibacy. True or not, his priority throughout what he thought of still as Cynthia's Year was his personal, exquisite carnal satisfaction.
Occasionally during that time he had asked himself, Should my conscience trouble me? Then reminded himself there were aeons of precedents the year 1000 B.C., or thereabouts, as an example. His scholarly recall (would he ever escape it?) brought back the Bible's King David and the Second Book of Samuel, chapter 11:
In an eveningtide. . . David arose from off his bed . . . and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
It was Bathsheba, of course, the wife of Uriah, who was away fighting as the Old Testament described it one of God's wars.
And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her. . . And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
Unfortunately for David, all of that was before condoms, which Ainslie used with Cynthia. Nor did Ainslie have a paramour's husband to contend with like the warrior Uriah, whom King David had ordered killed. . .
Surprisingly, through all of that time with Cynthia, Malcolm Ainslie's love for Karen did not diminish. It was as if he had two private lives: ode, his marriage, representing security and permanence, the other a wild adventure he always knew must one day end. Ainslie never seriously considered leaving Karen and their son Jason, then three and growing up into a delightful little guy.
Occasionally, during that period, there were moments when Ainslie wondered if Karen was aware of, or even suspected, the affair. A word or attitude could leave him believing uneasily that she did.
Meanwhile, as the Year of Cynthia progressed, some aspects of Cynthia's nature began to make Ainslie uncomfortable, at times professionally uneasy. She would periodically switch moods for no discernible reason from free-flowing, amorous warmth to sudden and icy coldness. At such moments Ainslie would wonder what had happened between them, then realize after several experiences that nothing had; it was simply Cynthia's way, a facet of her character, more visible and frequent as time went on.
But that mood shift was manageable, the professional unease less so.
Ainslie, throughout his police career, had believed in ethical behavior, even when dealing with habitual criminals who disregarded ethics totally. Sometimes minor tradeoffs were acceptable in exchange for information, but that was Ainslie's limit. Some in police work, though, held differing views and would make illegal deals with criminals, or lie when making statements, or plant evidence when there seemed no other way to get it. But Ainslie would have no part of such tactics, either for himself or those who worked with him.