Part 10 of 11
By Lorelei, Bard of the Lakes
DISCLAIMERS: All the characters in GUN SHY (except the gods) were dreamed up out of my bizarre little noggin and are mine, mine, mine, with the exception of any characteristics Dez and Jaylynn possess that belong to my partner, who is also mine, mine, mine. So the bottom line is: please don't steal my characters without permission. I wrote this for fun and fame, not profit, so please be kind when you critique me.
VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This novel does contain scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. The protagonists are cops, and they live in a sometimes dangerous, sometimes gritty, always frustrating world. This story contains scenes where there are assaults, shootings, car accidents, arrests, domestic disturbances, and the aftermath of one rape. If you get queasy watching "Law and Order" or "Xena: Warrior Princess," you might not want to read this. However, I would put the level of explicit violence at about PG-13. Oh yeahtheres also a little swearing here and there.
LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state/country where you live, you should move to Minnesota where we have human rights protections and a new governor, Jesse Ventura, to beat up anyone who's mean to us.
HURT/COMFORT WARNING: I've never totally understood what this means, but yes, indeed, each of the main characters (and some of the minor characters) do get hurt in more ways than one, and there is comfort afforded to each here and therehmmm, just read the novel to see what I mean, okay?
SUBTEXT: There is no subtext whatsoeverit's all maintext. While there are no overly graphic scenes (apologies to those of you who were hoping for that and are now sadly disappointed), there are love scenes, and the theme of two women falling in love runs throughout the story. If this bothers you, click BACK PAGE and go immediately to the Jerry Falwell v. Tinky-Winky claymation slugfest scheduled for tonight.
SPECIAL THANKS: Couldnt have done this without my trio of true blue beta readers: one scientist, a doctor, and a police officer. To Buff, Joy, and Erinyou are the BEST! Thanks to Tragedy88 and Dreambard for advice and inspiration. And many blessings to MaryD, Web Goddess Extraordinaire, for encouraging me and keeping me on track. Lastly, to MaryAnn, Linda D, and Susan who listened ad nauseum about this and read parts in the early stages and never stopped cheering me on.
DEDICATION: This ones for Diane, because she had to live with an obsessed madwoman while it was being written. Not only that, she had to read and make sense of itthree times, in factand not at all in any reasonable semblance of order. She deserves a medal.
GREAT NEWS!!!!! Youve probably already all heard, but Justice House Press is going to publish this puppy as a paperback. J
Comments are welcome, and I have greatly enjoyed what people have e-mailed so far. J You can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is part 10 of 11.
After midnight, Jaylynns sisters finally fell asleep on the downstairs couch while watching "Balto," a kid-vid Sara had brought home. Her parents had gone to the hotel before dinner, Tim and Kevin were out, and Sara had hit the hay much earlier. Tired but satisfied, Jaylynn headed up the stairs to her warm and stuffy room. She got ready for bed, stripping down to a t-shirt and briefs, and brushed her teeth with a goofy smile on her face. She peered in the mirror in the bathroom, stared herself in the eye, and thought that she looked like a real dolt with the dumb, lovesick expression on her face. But she couldnt help it. With a sigh she turned out the bathroom light and padded over to her room.
She sat on the couch and examined the new camera. She had taken an entire roll of film at the Minnesota Zoo and couldnt wait to get it developed. She still couldnt believe Dez had consented to go along with her sisters to the zoo, but then again, who could resist Erin or Amanda when they begged? She couldntwhich was why, against her better judgment, theyd had hotdogs and popsicles for dinner. The zoo had been fun, and taking the girls there gave her parents a chance to get away for a while by themselves. The two women and two girls had walked miles, eaten cotton candy, and looked at mammals and fish and birds and reptiles. Amanda and Erin screamed with delight on the kiddie rides, and they all petted a million animals at the petting zooexcept for Dez who was allergic to them. Jaylynn had had to explain to the girls what that meant. For a few moments, they were disappointed that the black haired woman had kept her distance, but she was soon forgotten in the rush from one animal to the next.
The blonde picked up the new CD and painstakingly unwrapped the cellophane, then put the disk in her CD player next to the bed. Closing her eyes, she listened to the mellow tones of piano and Glorias sultry voice, letting the song roll over her, soothe her. And then the songs tempo picked up and she wanted to be dancing. Nice beat. She curled her feet under her and read the words in the libretto. With excitement she realized it looked like an entire CD of salsa love songs. Wow. She couldnt wait to hear it all.
Jaylynn reached over and adjusted the volume to a low level, clicked off the bedside lamp, and stood. She pulled back the covers and something pointy flew at her, poking her in the thigh as it fell. She clicked on the bedside lamp and stretched a hand down, half under the bed, to find a plain white envelope. With a frown on her face she picked it up and ripped open the flap. The picture on the card inside was a black and white photo of the back of two small girls, hand-in-hand and bare-legged. They wore old-fashioned jumpers that she imagined were probably corduroy. One was a curly-haired blonde, the other had short black hair and sported a beret. She opened the card and read:
Thanks for sticking by me through thick and thin (literally!). This
last year has been hard for both of us in a lot of ways. Youve been a good
friend and have come to mean a lot to me.
Hope you have a great birthday on Tuesday and that your day today
was memorable. Im glad I was a part of it.
Her heart was beating so fast she almost couldnt breathe. She read the card through once more. How . . . when . . . . She narrowed her eyes and remembered back to the early afternoon when she had seen Erin and Dez conspiring, and now she knew what that was about. Well, well, Miss Big Shot Cop, you got the drop on me repeatedly today. Hmm well see about this.
She got up, still carrying the card, and slipped out to the hall, hunting around for the phone cord. She found it trailing along the wall near the attic where it disappeared under the door that led upstairs. She opened the door to Tims nest and grabbed the cord, pulling it toward her as she climbed the stairs. She heard it sliding along the floor, and before she reached the top of the steps, it appeared, teetering on the edge. She grabbed it up and skipped back down the stairs, hauling the heavy, old-fashioned phone into her room and shutting the door behind her before setting it on the bed with the card. She crawled up on the bed, cross-legged, and leaned back against the pillows. Glorias voice, in Spanish, sang to a peppy salsa number, and Jaylynn couldnt keep still. She rocked from side to side, happiness pulsing through her.
Jalynn dialed the number she knew by heart but rarely called, and when a familiar husky voice answered, she said, "Hey you."
There was a pause. "Uh, hi."
Grinning from ear to ear the rookie said, "So you think youre pretty clever, huh?"
"Today is definitely a day Id have to agree with you."
"Oh yeah. Thanks for this card, and Im listening to Gloria right now."
"So you didnt have that CD? I thought you might have gotten it already."
"Nope. Ive wanted it, but I didnt get around to it yet. Its just fabulous."
In a low voice, Dez said, "Im glad you like it."
Jaylynn imagined the tall womans face, knowing that shed be blushing a bit right now. "You were great today with my sisters. They like you a lot."
"Theyre a lot like you," said the gruff voice.
"You mean energy-wise?"
"Thatand they dont listen to anything anyone tells em to do if they dont wanna."
"What? I dont do that!"
Jaylynn heard a low chuckle in the phone. "I believe Im getting a bad rep here."
"Well-deserved is what I say."
Jaylynn laughed, a warm, throaty sound that traveled through the phone line like a shot of adrenaline, and suddenly, with great intensity, Dez wished she were there with the blonde. She swallowed and said, "Where are you?"
"In my room, sitting on my bed. Where are you?"
"Standing in the middle of the apartment. Where are the little squirts?"
"They fell asleep on the couch downstairs, sounless they wake in the middle of the night and search me outI get a peaceful night of sleep."
Dez nodded to herself. She picked up the phone and carried it over to her bed, then, tucking the receiver against her chin, lay down, crossed her legs at the ankles, and put her hands behind her head. "What are you gonna do with em tomorrow?"
"I dont know. My step-dad has only been here once before, so well probably do some sightseeing. They wont be here that long. Dez, I still cant believe theyre here!"
Dez smiled. "That was a pretty good surprise party. You really were surprised, werent you?"
Jaylynn made a snorting sound into the phone, "Are you kiddingblown away! I was totally clueless, though I did think you and Crystal were acting kind of odd . . . then again, as far as I knew, it could of just been you two being your same weird selves."
"Who you calling weird? Youre the one who thinks a reporter can talk to Dolly the Sheep."
"Ha! Thats rich," said Jaylynn in a taunting voice, "from someone who breaks out in a sweat when a little petting zoo sheep strolls by."
"Can I help it if Im allergic?"
They talked on, joking and teasing, until Dez glanced over at her bedside clock to see that it was almost one a.m. Theyd been on the phone almost half an hour. "What time are the midgets gonna get up tomorrow?"
"Cause its getting late, and before you know it, theyll be jumping on your bed. You better get some sleep."
"Good point." Jaylynn let a wave of fatigue wash over her. Much as she wished she could keep talking, she was feeling as tired as she ever had. She yawned. "If we go to the movies tomorrow, you wanna come?"
"Not if its to "Tarzan" or one of those bug movies."
A bark of laughter burst out of the younger woman. "At least I know where you stand."
"Probably couldnt go anyway, Jay. I have to work, remember?"
"Oh. Well, that sucks."
"Enjoy your family. Call me after they leave Tuesdayif you feel like it, that is."
"Okay." She yawned again. "Good night Dez."
Jaylynn put the receiver back on the cradle and set the phone on the floor. Fluffing up the spread, she pulled it over her legs and lay on her side, her arms clasped against her chest and the card still next to her on the bed. With a sigh of contentment she closed her eyes, listening to the full, lilting voice of Gloria Estefan against a disco beat. Oh please, you know you own my heart . . . just tell me where to start . . . dont make me wait much longer . . . were the last lyrics she heard before she fell asleep.
Sunday and Monday flew by. Jaylynns family constantly kept busy hiking, shopping, going to the movies, eating meals with various combinations of Sara, Tim, and Kevin, and even riding on a paddlewheel boat from St. Paul down to Hastings. All too soon it was Tuesday and time to say goodbye.
At the airport Jaylynn parked the totally overloaded Camry, and the five occupants extricated themselves, pulling out suitcases and bags and backpacks. They had so much stuff that Jaylynn finally set off to find a cart. As she strode away, leaving her folks with the girls by the car, her mother caught up with her. "Lynnie," she said. "Wait up." They walked side by side through the parking ramp and over to the cart rack by the elevators. She pulled some quarters out of her shorts pockets. "Darn. It takes six, Mom. You got any quarters? I only have three."
Her mother rooted through her purse and came up with a handful of change. "Here you go." Jaylynn bent to insert the money, and when she stood up, her mother was eyeing her uncertainly.
"What?" The younger woman gave her mother a slight smile. "Whats on your mind, Mom? You look like you want to say something."
Her mother cleared her throat and looked at her daughter. She raised a hand up and swept a stray lock of Jaylynns blonde hair away from her forehead. "I dont mean to be presumptuous or anything, Lynnie, but I have to say this."
Jaylynn stood, puzzled, her brow knit in concentration, as she waited for the rest.
Janet paused, then said, "Anyone can see how much you care about Dez, honey, andandwell, weve never had a conversation about this, and maybe nows not the time . . . but I just need you to know its okay. Dave and I just want you to be happy. Do you understand?"
Jaylynn stood mutely, her hands in the pockets of her shorts. She felt her face flaming and had no idea what to say.
Her mother stepped closer and slipped an arm around her daughters waist. "What? Have I rendered my gabby child completely speechless?"
"No . . . II just didnt realize . . . "
"That I knew about you and Dez? Or that I simply knew about you?"
"Eitheror both," she stuttered. "But Mom, theres nothing between us . . ."
Janet erupted in laughter, squeezing her daughter around the waist. When she stopped chortling, she said, "Believe me, there will be."
Jaylynn felt the blush rising up her neck, across her ears and face, all the way to the top of her head. "Could you please tell me why everyone else sees this when I dont?" She slipped away from her mothers embrace and grabbed the cart, jerking it from the rack, then raising her eyes shyly to meet her moms amused gaze.
"Its plain as the nose on your face. Her face too." She reached over and ruffled her daughters short hair, then cupped her eldest childs chin in her hand. "Your father would be proud of how youve grown up, Lynnie. Hed be very proud."
Tears filled her eyes, and Jaylynn turned to the side, stepping out of the way when another family bustled up to the rack. When she turned back, her mom looked at her in alarm, "Hey, sweetie, youre not supposed to cry on your birthday." She put her arm around her again and said, "Come on. Lets go get those antsy girls before they drive Dave crazy."
Jaylynn drove home from the airport feeling teary-eyed and slightly stunned in the wake of the brief conversation with her mom. How many years had she worried about telling her folks, strategized, role played in her mind . . . and the whole subject was suddenly moot. It would take her some time to get adjusted to it. Now she wished she had had time to ask a few questionslike, how long have you known about this, Mom? What is it you see when you look at Dez and me?
She thought back to high school and how confusing it had been for her. Small and "cute," shed never lacked for guys to date, but by her junior year it seemed a useless expenditure of energy. She focused her time and attention on her studies, on running, and on her straight friend, Sandi. Her schoolmate was safe to hang around. She could be in love with her, and no one, not even Sandi, need ever know.
It wasnt until the freedom of college, far away from home, that she allowed herself to get involved with anyone. She had never brought Dana home to Seattle or mentioned her to her parents. Theyd only been together for about eight months, and they were eight of the most confusing and painful months she had ever experienced. By the time they had broken up, Jaylynn was a lot more jaded about love than she had thought she could be. After the fiasco of her second lover, Theresa, she had all but given up, deciding that she would devote her time and energies to causes that mattered to her: childrens issues, human rights, poverty problems. Issues were reliable; people werent.
Now she wondered if her other relationships hadnt worked out because there was someone else floating around out in the world, someone meant to be her soulmate. She felt that it was true. She didnt think dreams lied, and nearly two decades of dreams couldnt be that far off, right? She pulled off Lexington and made her way to the back of the house, got out, and headed into the house.
Maybe I should go for a walk around the lake . . . instantly her body rebelled. She wanted to see the dark haired cop so badly that just thinking about not seeing her actually made a hollow spot behind her rib cage hurt. Guess that solves that question. She smiled and shook her head. Oh girl, youve got it bad. She checked her watch: 2:10. Well, lets go call Miss Tall, Dark and Dangerous, and see whats happening.
Dez picked up the phone on the first ring.
Jaylynn said, "You sitting on the phone or what?"
The big woman found herself blushing. "It rang. I picked up."
"Ah, I see. So, whatcha doing today?"
Dez wanted to say that shed been sitting by the phone, trying to make herself play her guitar, but really waiting for Jaylynns phone call. Instead she said, "Just practicing a little guitar. You got a better offer?"
"Not really." Jaylynn racked her brain for something to suggest, but she drew a total blank.
"So you got em off on the plane safe and sound."
"Theyre on their way."
"You ever play any basketball?"
"Sure. In high school. I didnt play in college."
"Theres a pick-up game over at Central later this afternoon. Wanna go play?"
"Whos this with?"
"Buncha female cops from around the area get together to play on Tuesdays and Thursdays from four to six. Its kinda fun."
"Are we talking regular athletes or super human ones like you?"
"Oh come on! Basketball was never my big forte. Besides, its been months since Ive played. Been too busy bodybuilding. Youre in way better shape than me."
"Okay. Ill dig out my hightops and give it the old college try."
"Ill come by and pick you up at 3:30, okay?"
But Jaylynn found out Dez had exaggerated the extent of her rustiness. She was quick, powerful, and a decent ball handler. Blessed with long arms and great jumping ability, the big woman could even dunk it. Jaylynn watched from the sidelines as the first crew of rough and tumble cops went at it on the floor. She didnt know any of these policewomen, and most were good ball players. They were rowdy, but not flagrant foulers, and there was a lot of good-natured ribbing between the players.
The game was fast and physical. And watching the black-clad Dez weave and scramble through the jungle of limbs was pure joy. She wasnt the tallest player on the floor, but she could outleap any of the others. The rookie watched her fake out the woman guarding her, thread the needle, and lay one up left-handed. She admired the way the brunette could rocket a pass up the floor with unerring accuracy and then follow so quickly that if the fast break shooter missed, Dez often got the rebound and put it back up.
Jaylynn watched how Dez, the blonde-haired post, and the two wings moved about the floor, and she took note of the point guard on both teams. Dezs team had a point guard who wasnt particularly fast, but was able to make some incredible 3-pointers, so the other team guarded her closely. Jaylynn knew shooting was not her strong suit. But if she was guarded closely, she figured she could penetrate and pass off.
They didnt keep score. It was not a game of numbers but of endurance. After the first twenty minutes, the guards ground down and needed a rest, so Jaylynn went in, accepting the ball on the sideline and passing it in to one of the forwards. She cut through the key and popped back up on top, received the pass, and put the ball to the floor. She surveyed the defense. Feinting right, she cut left around her defender, penetrating the top of the key. The defense collapsed on her, but she had already located three of her four fellow team members. Looking left, she flipped a bounce pass right, and the blonde haired post snagged the pass and shot it for an easy 8-foot jumper.
With a little smile, she retreated to the other end of the floor. "Good one," a husky, panting voice said in her ear. As the big woman passed her, she whacked the rookie on the butt, then kept moving to her position at the base of the key.
Later, thinking back to the game, Jaylynn remembered scrambling for the ball, dribbling furiously up and down the floor, fast breaking right and left, and passing, passing, passing. The two opportunities she got for shots didnt result in baskets. But her favorite play of the day occurred late in the afternoon when everyone was pretty wel worn down. She flitted around the point guard, stayed in her face, and just generally dogged her until the scrappy woman bobbled the ball. As the rookie snapped it up, Dez and two players from the other team were on their way past her. Jaylynn got control of the ball, dribbled fiercely up the court, and streaked past the two defenders. She felt one breathing down her neck two steps before the key. So instead of going for the layup, she alley-ooped it up toward the backboard. Two long arms plucked the ball from midair and dropped it in the basket.
"Perfect!" shouted Dez as her feet hit the ground. She spun and grabbed Jaylynn around the waist, swinging her up off her feet, a look of complete joy on her face. "That never happens. Nobody ever feeds me like that."
"Hey!" said Jaylynn, a happy grin on her face. "Put me down."
Dez complied. "On that note," she said, "I think thats enough for one day." To the protests of the other ballplayers, she shook her head and said, "Its almost six anyway, so were outta here." They moved off the court where Dez picked up a towel and daubed at her forehead. "Wanna go get something to eat?"
In disbelief, Jaylynn looked down at her sweat soaked t-shirt.
"Oh, geez, Im even sweatier than you," said the tall woman. "Pizza? Or how bout Mexican?"
Jaylynn narrowed her eyes. "Are you sure youre not a Stepford Dez?"
The big cop laughed. "Whybecause of the dinner offer or the sweat?"
"Oh, definitely the food. Ive worked with you for what, eight months? And Ive never seen you eat pizza or tacos."
"Join me at the local cantina, and I will display my great burrito eating talents. Ill even buy on account of it being your birthday and everything."
"Okay, its a deal."
Later that night, as she lay in bed, Jaylynn thought back to the day and how much fun it had been. She had enjoyed the basketball game, though she definitely felt rusty. Eating chili rellenos with lots of hot sauce and talking with Dez had been exhilarating. Two and a half hours had passed in what felt like thirty minutes. She liked how Dez listened to her, giving her full attention and asking astute questions. She found herself talking way more than half the time, but Dez held up her side of the conversationshe just had a more economical way of stating her points.
There was no doubt at all that the big cop had changed, and Jaylynn didnt know what had brought it on. She wasnt one to question it though. It would be interesting to see how work would go from Wednesday through Sunday. She rolled over and went to sleep to the salsa tones of Gloria Estefan on the CD player.
Labor Day passed without anything of note occurring at work. The following week, the rookie worked two extra days, covering the worst beat in their sector in a two-man car with Cooper. Coopers regular partner covered for Crystal who had gone with Shayna to Cancun. Jaylynn only had Tuesday off and was really tired, though she was glad to say that the low back pain she had been getting from the old duty belt had instantly gone away once she started wearing the belt Dez had bought her. She couldnt believe what a difference it made.
Fatigued, Jaylynn lay around the house reading and taking it easy, knowing she had to go back to work on Wednesday. The only bright side was that shed spend the next several nights riding with Dez again.
From Wednesday until Sunday night, the weeks worth of work was rather routine. In the station Dez was her same cool and distant self, but in the squad car she loosened up, though not as much as she had around Jaylynns birthday. By Sunday night, Jaylynn found herself wondering if shed see Dez at all over the next three days. Not a word had been mentioned about doing anything together, and she was nervous to bring it up. A gust of cool air breezed in from the open window on Dezs side of the car. The hot and humid days of summer seemed to be over, which was fine with Jaylynn. One of her favorite times of the year had always been the warmer days at the beginning of autumn, and she loved the changing colors on the trees and the crisp night air. Right now it actually seemed chilly.
She checked her watch, glad that it was after midnight. The shift was over, and Jaylynn was glad. As if she had read the rookies mind, Dez did a U-turn on University and headed west. In less than a minute they were parked in the station lot.
"You know," said Dez, "after a shitty night like that, I feel like beating the crap out of someone." She pulled on the door handle and kicked the car door open, slamming it behind her.
"I think thats what the last guy we arrested said, wasnt it?"
"You know what I mean. Was there something in the air tonight or what?"
They had spent the evening going from one domestic assault to another, and Jaylynn had to admit that it had been frustrating. The last call they had had to physically restrain the drunken apartment dweller who had beaten up his girlfriend. Paramedics took the bruised young woman off to the hospital with what the rookie suspected could be a broken jaw.
Dez stomped from the car toward the station house, and Jaylynn hustled to keep up with her.
The tall cop said, "Why do people have to be so damn mean and stupid?" Worst of all, Dez knew that itd be hours before she got to sleep. In a mood like this, shed be lucky to catch any sleep at all. "I may as well just take a trip," she said as she grabbed the stationhouse door and wrenched it open, then stood aside for Jaylynn to enter.
"Thank you, Gallant Knight," said Jaylynn with a laugh. "I dont know how I would have gotten that door open, much less handled the nights lively activities without you."
Dez glared at her, then followed Jaylynn down the long hallway. "Im just gonna get in my truck and drive until I reach water."
"Thatll be what? Two miles? I think youll hit Como Lake in about three minutes. What then?
Dez just made a growling sound and kept on moving. They both signed out, then started down the stairs to the locker room. Dez smacked open the door and went to her locker. She pulled out her wallet and checked it. "Ive got sixty-seven bucks. Wanna go to Duluth?"
Jaylynn had her shirt unbuttoned and her vest half off. Over her shoulder, in a voice of disbelief, she said, "What? Are ya nuts?"
"Yeah. Certifiable." Dez quickly stripped off her uniform and changed into blue jeans and a baggy bright green "Luck of the Irish" sweatshirt. She sat down on the bench and pulled off her shoes, reached for a pair of sneakers, and jammed a foot into each shoe. As she tied them, she said, "Im getting in my truck and driving to Duluth. You can come if you wantor not. Whatever."
Jaylynn hung her vest up on a hook in her locker. In her t-shirt she turned to face her partner. "Youre serious? Its after midnight."
The only response she got was a grunt as Dez finished tying her laces, stood up, and grabbed her wallet and keys. "See you on Wednesday then." She moved as if to go, but Jaylynn reached out and grabbed her arm to stop her.
"Wait a minute, Miss Speedy Dresser. Give a girl a minute to get her act together."
The dark haired woman frowned. "Youre not saying you wanna come?"
"Sure. Just let me get organized here. Not everyone is as lightning fast as you, at least not us normal people."
Dez crossed the floor and stood by the sink. She looked in the mirror and noticed that her French braid was in disarray. She went back to her locker for a brush, then returned to the mirror and undid her hair and brushed it out. She hadnt expected Jaylynn to accept her offer. She had been imagining herself driving silently up the darkened Highway 35, good tunes on the stereo, reaching the shores of Lake Superior before the sun rose. With a sigh of impatience, she decided shed rather have company, even though she felt apprehensive about it. She started to braid her hair, then gazed in the mirror. The hell with it, she thought. Ill leave it loose.
She wheeled around and marched back to her locker, dumped off the hairbrush, and rooted through her stuff until she found a black Twins baseball cap, which she mashed down on her head. Then she leaned back against the locker, crossed her arms over her chest, and let out another big sigh.
Jaylynn said, "Okay, okay. I think Im ready." The blonde cocked her head to the side as she watched Dez slowly straighten up. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Dez nodded her head. "Lets hit the road, Jack. But well come back." Full of nervous energy, she took off toward the door.
Jaylynn shook her head. To herself she thought, what am I gonna do with you? You are certifiable. She allowed herself a quick chuckle, then jogged after the bigger woman who was already halfway up the stairs at the end of the hall.
As they walked through the parking lot, Jaylynn reached out and touched Dezs arm. "I have one confession to make right here, right now, before we take off."
Dez glanced at her but kept walking. "And that would be?"
"Within 15 minutes of departure, Im likely to fall asleep. But I only need a short nap," she hastened to add, "and then Ill be totally perky when we get up there."
"Ohhhhh, I see," Dez said in a droll voice. "Ive just invited a snoring companion. Well, dont worry about it. Ill keep the stereo up good and loud to drown it out. And just for the record, its over two hours up there. Thatll be quite the nap."
"Just letting you know." Jaylynn paused as Dez walked on. "You can always un-invite me."
Dez hit the button on the keyless entry, and the interior lights blinked on. She waved her partner forward. "Oh come on," she said in a grumpy voice. "Get in." Jaylynn opened the door and climbed up into the shiny cranberry colored truck. She settled into the comfortable seat as Dez started the engine and then ejected a CD saying, "Any musical requests?"
Jaylynn said, "Oh no. You pick what you wantthe driver should always get to choose."
"Dont you mean the person whos awake chooses?"
Jay smirked at her. "Very funny. Im not asleep yet." She adjusted her seat to lean back slightly and put on her seat belt.
Dez picked up a CD from the small crate on the floor and unwrapped the plastic around it. Peering closely, she picked away at the clear adhesive tape on the top. "Dont you just hate these damn CD wrappers? Ive got no clue why they feel they have to weld them shut." She painstakingly peeled the tape off, pulled out the disk, and inserted it, then stuck the cellophane and tape in the garbage holder.
Dez looked at the dashboard clock. 12:37. She put the truck in gear and pulled out of the parking lot as the strains of her brand new Lucy Kaplansky CD started. She was intrigued to hear words that echoed their own departure: There is no one else around, the road is quiet, the only sound is wind that sounds like cars that sound like breathing . . .
She turned onto the freeway and accelerated into the empty road. Two lanes weaving earth and sky, the stars are all thats keeping time till morning, and I turn and look beside me and youre sleeping like a baby . . .
She set the cruise control and let out a deep breath. . . . and the way you look tonight, fast asleep by the dashboard light, well I cant speak, and thats how I feel. When the song ended, she hit the replay and listened to it all over again.
She glanced over at Jaylynn and couldnt help but smile when she saw the younger woman slumped against the window, already crashed, her face relaxed and soft. Her short blonde hair shone white in the moonlight slanting in the window. Dez looked at the clock on the dash: 12:44. Seven minutes. She shook her head. Geez, if I could go to sleep that quick and sleep as soundlywell, Im jealous, thats for sure. Tossing the black baseball cap behind the seat, she ran a hand through her hair and brushed it out of her eyes, remembering why exactly she tied it back or braided it most of the time. She turned down the music a notch, but she could still hear it clearly:
Open your eyes and look at me, look at me,
Cause I have and hold this love for you
Before this ten year night is through
Im telling you
Take it from me, take it from me . . .
The dark road was calming to her nerves, and she soon found herself thinking about the last several months. She felt like she had been on a long forced march, short of energy, short of faith, bereft of all hope. Since Ryan died . . . she didnt like to think about it, but to be honest, it had been a year of hell. She wasnt sure why the world seemed to have returned to a reasonable equilibrium, why she suddenly, without any warning or explanation, had regained some sort of inner balance. All she knew for sure was that she had a wild yearning to feel alive again, to feel energy and excitement. It didnt seem true to Ryan, but then again, it didnt seem true to his memory to mourn indefinitely. She thought of the goofy smirk his face so often held and how much like a little brother he always seemed, even though he was older. Remembering his constant teasing and good spirits brought a bittersweet smile to her face. Many days he was the only good thing about her heart-wrenching job . . . he was, anyway, until Jaylynn came along.
She heard a sigh from her companion and looked across the cab. Jaylynn shivered and groaned in her sleep. Dez reached over and turned the heater up one notch, which, since she was perfectly comfortable, was all she thought she could bear. She flipped up the seats center arm rest and grasped the steering wheel with her left hand. Using her right she fished around behind the seats until her fingers found the soft material of an old baby blue car blanket. She pulled it up and over, onto the top of the bench seat, then stretched across the truck cab and gripped the sleeve of Jaylynns jacket. The sleeping woman shifted and let out a quiet groan.
Dez tugged on her sleeve a bit more and pulled her companion toward her. Jaylynn turned to the left and leaned. Softly the dark haired woman said, "You can lie down, Jay."
With a sigh the blonde shifted the seat belt off her shoulder, and slid down onto the seat until her head came to rest using the bigger womans thigh as a pillow.
Thats not quite what I had in mind, thought Dez. But she awkwardly unfolded the blanket one handed and tucked it around the sleeping rookie. She had to smile when Jaylynns response was to snuggle into the blanket and nestle up closer. The smaller woman curled her legs up on the seat and fell back into a deep sleep.
The CD started over with song number one, and Dez listened to the words again. With a long arm she reached over her companion and grabbed up the jewel case and checked the song name: "Ten Year Night."
Going eighty on the highway, were all rushing somewhere
But the way I feel tonight, its like Im already there.
Open your eyes and look at me, look at me,
Cause I have and hold this love for you
Before this ten year night is through
Im telling you
Take it from me . . .
Tentatively she placed her hand on the rookies shoulder and was surprised when Jaylynn shifted and pulled the bigger womans hand to her chest so that Dez cradled her protectively, her fingers laced with her companions.
She couldnt hold back. Tears came to her eyes and spilled over. She wiped them awkwardly on her left shoulder, but they wouldnt stop. Through brimming eyes, she looked out on the dark road snaking through the night. This woman doesnt lie, not even in her sleep. She trusts me. She really does care about me. A sense of wonderment came over her. Looking down, she checked to see that Jaylynn was still out and was relieved to feel the sleeping womans even breathing. She didnt know how she would explain to Jaylynn what she was feeling, but she knew she had to try sometime soon. She looked at the clock: 1:20. She figured she had another hour or so to consider.
I am so cold, so cold. Jaylynn lay on her side, and through sleepy eyes, she saw the crackling fire. But the small blaze didnt give off enough heat to warm her. She crossed her arms over her chest and curled into a ball.
I am so numb, so very cold. She couldnt wake up though, couldnt rouse herself enough to sit up and find a way to warm herself.
Cool night air blew against her face and the smell of freshly cut pasture tickled her nose. Over the sound of crickets she heard a shuffle and then a toasty warm arm encircled her chest. A blanket covered her over and hot flesh pressed against the entire length of the back of her, radiating heat. Warm breath against her neck, a hand pressed flat against her chest. She laced her fingers with the toasty hand and slipped deeper into the dreams that beckoned her.
Oh, thank you, she thought as she went under. Thank you so very much.
"Hey, sleepyhead. Wake up."
Jaylynn opened her eyes and took a deep breath. "Dont wanna," she said grumpily.
"Were on the hill going down into Duluth. If you wake up now, you may be able to catch sight of the lake before we hit the industrial park."
Jaylynn let out a groan and snuggled deeper under the blanket. "Its pitch black out," she groused. "Unless theres a million lights shining on the lake, I wont be able to see a thing." Suddenly she moved her right hand and realized it was touching warm skin, a hand definitely not her own. She let go and sat up with a start, gaping at Dez out of the corner of her eye as she settled herself on the other side of the seat.
"Ah, now youre awake."
"Yeah, yeah, I am." She ran both hands nervously through her short hair and smoothed it down. "Sorry about that. Didnt mean to use you as a pillow."
"Oh yes you did," Dez said, holding back a smile.
"No, really. I apologize. Wont happen again."
Dez couldnt hold it in any longer. She laughed out loud. "You mean it wont happen again until at least the trip home."
Jaylynn relaxed. "Can I help it if youre like a forest fire over there?" She reached out and playfully punched Dez in the arm.
"Can I help it if youre some sort of heat seeking miss?"
"Ha ha. Very funny. For someone who got off shift in the crabbiest mood on earth, you sure are in a good mood now." She looked at the dashboard clock. "Is it my imagination or have we been listening to this same CD for hours?"
"Yes we have."
"You could have switchedit wouldnt have woke me up."
"A car crash wouldnt have woke you up." Dez grinned. "Its a new CD. I like it." She turned it up. "I decided shes my new favorite artist."
Jaylynn closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. She felt nervous, her stomach skipping and churning. She sneaked a glance at her companion from the corner of her eye and was surprised to see the happy, content look on her face. "Hey," she said. "I like your hair loose like that. You should wear it that way more often."
Even though she couldnt actually see her in the darkened cab, she knew Dez was blushing as she said, "Thanks. But its like a horses tail. Drives me crazy, so I usually tie it back." She steered the truck through one of the many Duluth tunnels and emerged onto a darkened main street.
Jaylynn reached over to stroke the brunette hair and then entangled her fingers for a moment before reluctantly pulling her hand away. "Yup, it is thick, isnt it? Its nice. My hair doesnt have near the body."
Before she knew it, a big hand shot over and palmed the back of her head, then tweaked her hair. "I can imagine you with long hair."
"Oh it was long. I wore it long most of my life and only got it cut a couple of years ago, much to my mothers chagrin. This is much easier though."
"Maybe I have seen you before when you had long hair," said Dez thoughtfully. "From the first time I saw you, I thought you looked familiar." She turned right on Canal Park Drive, and when they crested the hill, she knew Lake Superior was just beyond.
"Its funny you should say that," said Jaelynn. "I sort of thought I knew you from somewhere, but I always wondered if maybe I imagined it."
Dez shrugged. "Who knows . . . maybe in another life." She wheeled into the parking area and nosed the truck into a spot facing east. She shut the engine off and looked at the clock. "Sunll be up before too long."
The bigger woman turned to look at her.
"Its three oclock in the morning."
"Whatever. Unless I miss my guess, its two or three hours before sunrise."
"Whats your point?"
"Its dark, nothings open, we have to wait hours for this wondrous event, and its getting cold in here."
Dez shook her head and gave a big sigh. "You are such a wuss."
Jaylynn gave her a happy smile. "I didnt sign on to be frozen to death. You wanna keep the heater on low?"
"What a waste of gas. Just come over here."
Jaylynn squinted at her partner in the darkness. Dez reclined her seat a couple notches, tilted the steering wheel up, then lifted the blanket from the middle of the seat and pulled it up. Hesitantly Jaylynn unhooked her seatbelt. She cast an anxious glance as she slid over. Dez fluffed the blanket and gathered the smaller woman up against her. With long arms, she tucked the blanket around Jaylynns legs and shifted her own hips so that she faced her slightly and her back was angled partly against the drivers door.
Jaylynn found herself in the bigger womans embrace, her ear against a wildly beating heart. She hugged her left arm to her own chest and tentatively reached her right arm around her partners middle. In response Dez encircled her with both arms and pulled her closer, her chin resting on the top of the blonde head.
They cuddled together, wordlessly, for some time, and after a few minutes, their hearts calmed. The last thing Dez remembered before slipping off to sleep was a feeling of comfort and relaxation, a feeling that had not come to her for many months.
Jaylynn sleepily opened her eyes. She sat on a rock promontory high above the sea. The ground was chilly despite the blanket she sat on, but she was mostly warm due to the morning sun streaming down upon her and the heating pad enveloping her back. She smelled the fresh sea air, and before her she watched a roiling ocean of water. Cozy and content, she sighed. Wow, thats an amazing heating padand its outside too. Wonder where the cord is? She turned her head, only to realize she was nestled into the arms of one scorchingly heated woman.
Tilting her head up and back, Jaylynn studied her. The dark woman leaned back against the wall of a cliff, her eyes closed. Her skin was a deep tan, worry lines creasing her forehead. There was a tiny V-shaped scar above her right brow, but otherwise, her face was unmarked. Without warning bright blue eyes popped open and focused on her, and a feeling of glee rose in the young woman. I know you! You are . . . you are . . . . Confused and perplexed, she frowned. She felt strong arms tighten around her middle, and lips, soft and moist, tickled the skin on the side of her neck.
Her thoughts were in a jumble. Disjointed images rose in her mind, images of deep pits and falling, of bloodthirsty men giving chase, shooting arrows at her, and pain coursing through her body. Wait, she thought in a panic as she looked about her. She saw only the jagged rocks, felt only the warmth of the sun on her legs. Are they coming? Are we safe? She struggled and the arms tightened around her middle. This doesnt happen in my dreams. Youre supposed to save me. Ill do my part, but I dont recall how we got here, to this place . . ..
Shhh. Its okay. Everything is going to be fine . . . Trust me . . . itll be fine . . . .
Dez awoke with a start as a seagull swept low making a high-pitched "kwee-kwee" noise. It didnt get a stir from the slumbering bundle nestled up against her. She hugged Jaylynn tighter and looked out across the parking lot and out to the horizon. The sun would soon emerge, but at the moment all she could see of the lake was a solid dark gray mass and the faintest line where the sea met sky.
She took a deep breath and thought about the rookie and their relationship and how it was changing. She felt as though a deep chasm had been bridged, and the chasm had all been due to her own failure to understand the first thing about Jaylynnnot to mention herself.
What had Luella said about the two of them?something about them being drawn to one another like those violets on her window sill. Dez thought she was right. She couldnt explain it at all, but the pull she felt from the sleeping woman in her arms was more than she could resist. And she knew somehow that the feeling was mutual, though the idea of that scared the hell out of her. Shed faced down robbers and police chiefs, street thugs and drug runners, but none of them made her blood run cold with fear the way the idea of revealing her feelings to Jaylynn did. At the same time, there was a certainty about the rightness of doing it that made her resolve to figure out how to broach the subject.
One moment the world seemed dusky gray, and the next Dez saw fluorescent pink begin to appear before her. The lake moved from an inky black mass to a choppy gray sea right before her eyes. Gradually, rays of sun peeked over the edge of the horizon, and Canal Park became more visible. Over her shoulder was the bronze statue of the old man and the sea. To her left and stretching around in front of them was a rocky beach full of stones and rip rap. A leaning metal anchor, taller than Dezs head, was planted in the middle of a raised platform. All around it seagulls landed and walked, bobbing along in the wind like bits of styrofoam.
Jaylynn shifted. "Dez?"
She sat up and stretched her neck, then turned to gaze into serious blue eyes. "Do you know your heart beats only 54 times in a minute?"
"Thats the last thing I expected to hear!" said Dez, laughing. "How do you know that?"
"Because Ive been counting all night."
"No, youve been sleeping all night."
Jaylynn sat up a little and reached for Dezs hand. "Ive been awake for the last few minutes. I thought you were asleep still."
"Nah, just watching the sun come up." It was now peeping up over the horizon, and the light was bright. "Its going to be a nice day. Windy, but really pretty."
Jaylynn leaned her head against the bigger womans shoulder and squeezed her hand. "What are we going to do once the suns up?"
"I can guess what your vote is." As Dez said that, they both heard the rumble from Jaylynns stomach.
"Yeah, yeah, Im hungry. As usual."
Dez let go of Jaylynns hand and reached to start the engine, but the blonde grabbed her arm to stop her. "Wait. Lets stay til the suns all the way up. Then we can find a place to eat." If the truth were told, shed have to say that she couldnt care less about the sun at that moment, but she didnt want to break the spell they both seemed to be under.
"All right." The dark haired woman opened her hand and looked at her palm. Jaylynn shyly placed her smaller hand against it and intertwined their fingers. She looked up into Dezs eyes, unsure if this was okay. The warm twinkle of the blue eyes that greeted her set her mind at ease.
Dez said, "Do you sometimes wish we could start over, maybe meet all over again for the first time? Like at a coffeeshop oror a basketball game, or maybe at a party?"
Jaylynn thought about that. "I really dont know. This has seemed so fated, so, hmmm, Im not sure how to explain this, but its seems almost"
"Like some sort of strange destiny?"
"Yeah. Do you believe in that?"
"I didnt use to . . ." She paused. "But maybe I do now."
They stopped at a bakery on Superior Street. "Mmm, it smells so good in here," said the blonde. "Dont you love the smell of baking and cinnamon?"
The taller woman nodded as she studied the huge variety of donuts in the long glass display case.
They bought donuts, coffee for Jaylynn, and bottles of water. As Dez stood at the register, insisting on paying for the treats, her companion said, "Do you mean to tell me youre actually going to eat two apple fritters?"
The low voice said, "By that, are you insinuating that two is too many?"
Jaylynn gave a snort of laughter. "No! I just cant believe youre actually going to place that much fat and sugar in the temple of your body. You gotta admitthey are enormous."
The lady behind the counter, who was herself a rather substantial woman, laughed merrily. "She could use a little meat on them bones," she said. "Ill throw in an extra for you."
So they departed with their drinks and five donuts. They stopped at a gas station to use the restrooms. While Dez filled the truck up with gas, Jaylynn called her house and left a message for Tim and Sara so they wouldnt worry, and then they continued up the road.
With her mouth full of a delectable Chocolate Long John, Jaylynn said, "Where to, Magoo?"
Dez suddenly realized she hadnt even asked Jaylynn what she wanted to do. What if she wanted to head home? But she was already on the coast highway heading north, so she simply said, "I was heading toward Gooseberry Falls. You been there?"
"No. Ive passed by a few times, but never stopped."
"Feel like hiking?"
"At six a.m.?"
"Hey, itll be seven or so when we get there."
"Sounds like that gives me just enough time for another nap," she said as she took a last swig of her coffee.
"Wait a minute. I thought coffee was supposed to keep a person awake."
"Nah, never affects me." She slung the blanket over her shoulders and looked at Dez as if for permission.
Dez let out a sigh. She patted the seat next to her. "Go ahead. Ill wake you up when we get there."
Jaylynn stretched out on her left side and returned to the snuggly position with her head on Dezs right thigh. Dez gripped the wheel with her left hand and rested her other hand on Jaylynns shoulder. A small hand promptly reached up, grabbed her hand, and pulled it to her chest.
Later, at Gooseberry Falls, Dez parked the truck. As Jaylynn got out, she could hear the rush of water and smell the fresh scent it carried. The big waterfalls were close to the bridge, and she could see the water as she hiked excitedly down a series of stone stairs.
"Wow, this is great," said Jaylynn. She stood gazing out over rocks carved out of the hillside from many eons of erosion. Aspen, birch, and evergreen trees lined the sides of the deep chasm, the leaves of the deciduous trees starting to change from green to gold. She squeezed past an older couple who stood looking at the crashing water and stepped carefully across the dark brown rock as if spellbound. She stood close to the first large pool of water. Dez followed a few paces behind, her hands in her jeans pockets. Turning around, eyes shining, Jaylynn said, "Oh I wish I had my camera! I never knew this was so beautiful." She spun around and knelt on one knee, thrusting her fingers in the water only to jerk them out just as abruptly. "Eeek! Thats cold!" She stood and shook her hand out, drying it on the leg of her pants.
Dez smiled and said, "There are five waterfalls all together. These two here," she pointed to the left, "are the biggest, but theres usually a lot of people here." She looked around at the kids throwing rocks and other sightseers taking photos. In a grouchy voice she said, "What are all these people doing here on a Monday anyway?"
"Theyre here because its so gorgeous." The blonde let her eyes scan the area yet another time and decided it was one of the most lovely spots shed ever been to.
"We can take that pathits called the Gitchi Gummi Trail," said Dez, pointing alongside the water. "It comes out at Agate Beach where this runs into Lake Superior. Lets walk out there, okay?"
She had such a hopeful look on her face that Jaylynn found she couldnt refuse. She looked down at the lightweight jacket she was wearing. "But I bet Ill get cold."
"Ill run up to the truck and get that blanket, and Im pretty sure I have a sweatshirt behind the seat."
"You dont have to do that."
"I dont mind," and with that, the dark haired woman was off like a shot. Jaylynn watched as her long legs ate up the flights of stone stairs, and then she disappeared around a corner at the top. In moments she was back, skipping down the stairs like a kid. She arrived, breathless, carrying the light blue blanket, her black baseball cap, and a gray U of M sweatshirt.
Jaylynn took the sweatshirt and said, "Hey! I think this is mine. I was wondering where it was."
Dez mumbled, "Yeah, guess you left it in the truck a while ago." She jammed her black cap on over windblown hair and started off down the path, carrying the blanket and not letting the rookie see the embarrassed look on her face. She had been toting the sweatshirt around for months. She knew she should have returned it long ago, but it was the only thing she had of Jaylynns, and she couldnt bring herself to give it back. Shed even worn it a couple of times. She looked over her shoulder to see Jaylynn pulling the thick sweatshirt on over her polo shirt and then zipping up her jacket over it. The younger woman hastened to catch up with her.
"My sweatshirt smells like you, Dez."
The taller woman blanched. She stopped and faced the rookie. Stuttering she said, "Gosh, I hope its not sweaty or anything. I I I think I did wear it . . . yeah, I guess I must have."
Jaylynn pulled at the neckband a bit and ducked her head down to sniff it. "No, it doesnt smell bad at all. It smells goodlike you."
Dez wheeled around and began walking faster, her face flaming. Jaylynn hustled behind her and continued to talk. "Ever notice how people all smell so different? And did you ever read about pheromones and all that stuff in biology?" They stepped up on a wooden bridge. It was only five feet across and carried them over a muddy wash of water. "Smells are so interesting. Like have you noticed that some people who really like each other a lot seem to smell the same, and if youre around someone whose smell doesnt appeal to you, you just dont seem to like them at all?"
Dez didnt answer, so Jaylynn kept on. "For instance, Tim and Kevin. You probably didnt get close enough to notice this, but Ill just tell you anyway. They smell the same. If I hug either of them, they carry the same scent."
Over her shoulder Dez said, "Like they use the same cologne, or what?"
"No, not that. They just have the same smellIm sorry. I think Im explaining this badly." She stepped over a twisted tree root and ducked under a low-hanging branch. "Whatever they eat, they both carry the same exact scent. Their breath is even the same. They probably sweat identically or something. And you know, theyre perfect for each other, cant resist each other. Its that pheromone thing, Im just sure of it. This guy is the one for Tim. I can tell. Nobody else has ever affected him this way. But theyre not the only ones like this. So are Sara and Bill. And my mom and step-dad. And have you ever noticed that about Crystal and Shayna? Those two always smell like a vanilla candle."
In a low gruff voice, Dez said, "Im not sure I ever get close enough to people to test your theory." She didnt know where the rookie was going with this idea, but she was glad she seemed to have forgotten about the sweatshirt.
Jaylynn thought about that as she strode along right behind the taller woman. "Guess youll have to take my word for it cause I think its true."
The path twisted to the right and wandered around a bit, and when Jaylynn thought they were deep in the forest, they suddenly emerged from the trees and found a pebbly beach spread out before them. She stopped and stared. Two hundred yards away were huge cracked glacial rocks, tossed haphazardly in what looked like an enormous pile at the waters edge. The water was blue, the color of Dezs eyes, and it lapped gently at the shore.
The sun shone bright but cold. Dez had kept walking and now stood forty yards away near the water, the blanket over her shoulder. She had her hands in jeans pockets, her long hair whipping to the side in the brisk breeze. The taller woman glanced over her shoulder, then wheeled around and found Jaylynn with her eyes. She raised her arms parallel to the ground, then tipped her head to the side slightly and shrugged as if to ask why the blonde wasnt keeping up.
Jaylynn smiled and slogged through the pebbles to join her. The air was crisp and smelled fresh, like clean laundry, and she breathed it in, letting the familiarity of the place soothe her. She came to stand right next to the taller woman and reached up to grasp her upper arm. "Its really beautiful here, Dez. What a great place."
Dez nodded. She hadnt been to Gooseberry Falls for several years, not since Karin. Shed always loved it and had hiked it high and low. Shed climbed the rocks and cliffs with her dad when she was younger, but she had thought Karin had spoiled it for her. She was surprised that the association of the place with Karin no longer had an effect on her at all. She realized, unexpectedly, that she could reclaim a favorite spot, and it made her feel relieved and warm all over.
On impulse she grabbed Jaylynns hand and pulled her toward the rocks. "Come on, let me show you something."
She hauled Jaylynn up on one gigantic rock.
The younger woman said, "Do I need to remind you that Im kind of afraid of heights?"
"We wont be very high. Dont worry." The brunette pulled herself up another level and reached back to help her companion. They crawled up the pile of massive rocks. Dez picked her way along an edge and squeezed through a narrow space between two boulders, reaching back to help Jaylynn when necessary. Beyond the boulders there was a wide flat spot, and then a cliff, and from it they could see the craggy shoreline and the lake which stretched out for miles.
Jaylynn inched over to stand behind Dez as the bigger woman gazed out from the precipice. In a worried voice she said, "Dont get too close, Dez."
The dark-haired woman turned to face her anxious friend and gave her a brilliant smile. "I thought I was the worry wart around here."
"Well trade off. It can be my turn today." She reached for Dezs hand and pulled her away from the edge.
Dez looked around and then pointed to a smooth depression in the rock against a tall outcropping. "Theres a great place to sit." She realized she was nervous, but she moved over and arranged the partly folded blanket in the hollow, then sat on it and scooted back. She gestured to Jaylynn. "Its a good spot hereout of the wind. Come join me?" She patted the blanket in front of her and drew her knees up. Jaylynn gingerly stepped over and lowered herself to sit, her back against Dezs shins. The bigger woman leaned back against the cool rock. "Is that okay?"
"Um hmm." Jaylynn shivered.
"Are you cold again?"
The rookie nodded. "A teeny bit hungry too."
Dez laughed. She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a pack of Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes which she set beside her. She unzipped her coat and moved her knees apart and made a V with her legs, then surprised Jaylynn by wrapping her arms around the shivering woman and pulling her closer. Once she got the smaller woman settled comfortably against her mid-section, she put her hands on her own knees. Dez hoped this was okay. It was all she could do to keep her hands off Jaylynn. But she had resolved not to be pushy, to let whatever happened happen. If we are only destined to be friends, I will live with thatmaybe. She grinned and picked up the cellophane-wrapped treat next to her and thrust it in the rookies face.
Jaylynn twisted around. "Hey! Whered you get that?"
"Bought it in the food mart when we stopped for gas."
"Well, arent you the clever one." She ripped into the package and nestled back into the warmth. Dez pulled her open jacket around the smaller woman as far as it would go.
As she munched, Jaylynn suddenly remembered fragments of a dream. She swallowed a bite of cupcake and said, "You wont believe this, but earlier today in the truck, I dreamed of us in this place, this cliff, sitting here . . . that is so weird . . . hmm . . ."
Jaylynn squeezed her eyes shut and willed the dream to come to the forefront but it would not. "I hate when that happens!"
"What? What do you mean?"
"When a scrap of a dream comes into your mind but before you can really remember it fully, it slips away. I hate that. But it was a good dream, I think." She closed her eyes again and waited, but it was too late. She opened her eyes and looked out on the broad expanse of the lake. A movement caught her eye. Along the shore was a stand of poplar trees, and a bird rose from high up in the branches and took flight. She watched the hawk ascend, then circle above the treeline, floating and dipping in the morning wind.
Dezs hand rose from her knee, and Jaylynn saw her pointing toward the hawk. "Yes, I see. Isnt she beautiful?" She reached up and took the big hand in her own and pulled it down and around her.
A husky voice said, "How do you know its a she?"
She shrugged. "I dont know. It just seems right. I imagine shes circling above her nest, keeping an eye on it." She squeezed the hand she held. Tentative arms encircled her waist, and the blonde drew her own knees up and leaned back with a peaceful sigh. When Dez shifted, Jaylynn twitched and said, "Am I squishing you?"
"Oh no. Im just settling in," she said in a husky voice. "Hold still. Youre fine."
Jaylynn sat peacefully. She couldnt help but smile and was glad Dez couldnt see her face because she didnt want to be asked any questions right now. She wanted to sit with this woman on the rocks gazing at Lake Superior forever and ever. But Id get awfully hungry, she thought and then stifled a giggle.
A deep voice near her ear murmured, "Whats so funny?"
"Just thinking about my stomach again." She picked up the cupcake package and held it up. "Do you want this second cupcake?"
"No, Im fine. Go ahead."
"Im not used to eating something so sweet."
"Wanna save it for later?"
When she nodded, Dez took the cellophane package and tucked it into her jacket pocket. Quickly she returned her arm to its place around Jaylynns middle, feeling the smooth surface of the windbreaker beneath her palms. When the blonde contentedly wrapped arms over the top of her forearms, Dez felt a warmth rise from her mid-section and spread through her body. Jaylynns blonde head nestled under her chin on Dezs chest and the dark-haired woman could have kissed the white-blonde hair without stretching a bit. She took a deep breath and savored the smell. It occurred to her that maybe Jaylynn was right: maybe it was the scent of a person that attracted you to them. And she certainly felt attracted now. She hoped the woman snuggling comfortably between her legs didnt realize what was happening. She didnt want to scare her away or overwhelm herbut suddenly, Dez was flooded with heat. She tried to still her breath, to pace her thumping heart, but the sensations racing through her body seemed to short-circuit her will. With one slight shift her lips could be at the smaller womans ear, her neck. With every ounce of will, she fought against what her body urged her to do.
Dez cleared her throat and said, "Should we head back home?"
"Are you in a hurry to get back today?"
"We could look around some more if you want." There was a question in the blondes voice.
"Is anyone expecting youI mean, do you have to be anywhere today?"
"Nope. If Sara or Tim come home and wonder where I am, theyll get my phone message. Youre stuck with me for as long as you want."
Dez tipped her head to the side and thought to herself, what if its forever? What if I want to be stuck with you forever? She could no longer avoid this conclusion. She felt complete when she was with Jaylynn, as though all was right with the worldeven if that did sound trite and corny. At the same time, the intensity of her feelings scared the hell out of her. What if this woman she cradled in her arms didnt feel the same way? She had spoken once of lust, but lust was not enough. I want love. Passion. Commitment. Forever. What likelihood was there of that? And Dez had felt the penalties of unrequited lovehow could she live through that again?
They sat for some time, long enough for a ship to appear on the horizon and steam south until they could no longer see it over the rocks.
"Do you ever think about the man you had to shoot, you know, the one who killed Ryan?"
All thoughts of love and sex and commitment vanished from the tall womans mind. She shifted uncomfortably. "I try not to. Why?"
"Cause I cant stop thinking about the guy I shot." She paused, then went on. "He was so young. He couldve had a life." In a whisper Dez could hardly hear, she said, "Its my fault he doesnt. I still cant believe someones dead because of me."
In a firm voice, Dez said, "Hes dead because of his own choices. Its not your fault. If you hadnt shot him, hed have shot you and probably the clerk too."
"We dont know that," she said in a strangled voice.
"Its likely though. He was high. It wasnt your fault, Jay. You have to believe that." Now she leaned forward and nuzzled the smaller womans neck with the side of her cheek. She tightened her grip and made a soothing sound in the back of her throat.
"I wish I could go back and do it all over again," said Jaylynn, and Dez realized the younger woman was crying.
In a choked voice Dez said, "You did the right thing. You probably saved my lifeand yours. What else could you have done?"
"I could have shot to wound," she choked out.
"It happened too fast, Jay. You just reacted out of instinct."
"No. I made a choice." The events played out in Jaylynns mind as they had hundreds of times already. The startled face of the gunman as he swung toward them. Her arm going back automatically and unsnapping her holster. The explosion as Dez fell back into her. Instinctively using her partner as a shield as she pulled her weapon. Aiming. Firing. And then a split second feeling of a weight descending upon her chest and choking all the air out. "I shot to kill, not to wound."
Dez leaned forward and inclined her head around to see Jaylynns face, but the smaller woman turned the other way. "Dont look at me, Dez. I probably look terrible."
The brunette shook her head. "No you dont. You look fine, Jay. Listen to me. I think what youre feeling is totally normal. I felt all the same things." Only worse, she amended to herself. She knew what she had done, and it was unforgivable, much worse than what Jaylynn could ever think to do. She swallowed, feeling a bitterness rise up in her. Fat lot of good it did anyway. "Jay, when we became cops, we knew this kind of thing could happen. Were trained to respond a certain way, and you acted exactly the way you were taught. You did the right thing. If it happened again, I would want you to react the very same way."
"Itit really bothers me, Dez. I think about it far too much."
"I know what you mean," the tall woman said bitterly.
"Will you tell me what happened that night, the night Ryan got shot?"
Dez stiffened, her breath stopping in her chest. Not today. She couldnt. She forced herself to take a breath and then relaxed her hands, which she found she was gripping in tight fists. "Yes," she said. "I will someday. Just not now, okay?"
Jaylynns head nodded in front of her. "Another thing keeps bothering me. I couldnt take it if it happened again. I I dont know if I canIm not sure if . . . oh geez! How were you able to stay on the job?" She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her jacket and shifted to the left so that she could look back at the concerned woman behind her.
Dez stared at her, surprised. "I dont know. I just did. I tried not to think about it."
"But did you ever want to quit?"
"Quit? Quit being a cop? No, its the only thing I know how to do."
Jaylynn burst out into a mirthful laugh. "What do you mean! You know how to do a ton of things."
That response flustered Dez, and now it was her turn to look away from the steady eyes. "Not anything thats a profession."
"Oh, give me a break! You can build stuff, you get along with people, you follow directions well, youre an excellent teacher. Hell, you could run a paint company! Youre very smart, Dez. Theres a million professions for you! Youve been a patrol cop for all this time. Have you ever thought of promoting?"
Dez pressed back against the cool rock. "Sometimes."
In an excited voice, Jaylynn said, "Why dont you take the sergeants exam then? Its coming up in a couple months again." She sat up and shifted almost a quarter turn so that she could look over her left shoulder and face the dark woman.
"I dont know . . . sergeants have a crappy job."
"Youd be a great detective. Why havent you applied for vice or homicide or something like that?"
"How did this suddenly get to be all about me?" grumbled Dez.
For some reason that made Jaylynn laugh out loud. "You are such a character."
"Whats that supposed to mean?"
"You just crack me up." She grinned and then impulsively said, "You make me happy."
Next thing Dez knew, the blonde was again nestled in her arms, this time twisted more on her side, her cheek pressed into the chest of the brunettes green sweatshirt. Dez slowly brought her arms up and gathered the woman tighter to her. She felt a wave of protectiveness wash over her and then realized she was helpless before this bundle of energy. She could no sooner resist her than she could stop breathing. And much as she might hate the uncertainty, she was going to have to deal with it. She sighed and in a soft voice said, "You make me happy too."
Some time later, the two women made their way off the rocks, across the pebbly beach, and back through the forest. It was not nearly as warm under the cover of trees, so Jaylynn unfolded the blanket and draped it over her shoulders.
Dez said, "You look like youre in a blue cape."
"Just call me Superman," Jaylynn said.
"Im pretty sure Supermans cape was red."
"You think so?" said the blonde as she thought for a moment. "It couldnt possibly have been this warm."
"Bet that old rag wont let you fly though."
Jaylynn cheerfully trudged up the stone stairs to the truck and stood inspecting the blue material. "I think this blanket has gotten a little dirty today," she said as she refolded the it.
"Itll wash," said the bigger woman in a grouchy voice as she stepped up into the truck.
There she goes, thought Jaylynn, back to being a woman of few words. She crawled up into the cab and watched Dez out of the corner of her eye as she started the truck up.
The dark haired woman looked over and caught her staring. "What?"
Jaylynn hastened to shrug and say, "Nothing," with a hint of innocence in her voice. Inside she was smiling to herself and wondering how to get her companion to extend the day with her.
In a noncommital voice, Dez said, "Back to Duluth?"
"What do you want to do?"
Dez looked away and out the side window. She didnt want the morning to end. She didnt want to go home. She hadnt wanted to leave the rocky promontory theyd been on. "Are you hungry?"
Jaylynn giggled. "Do fish have fins?"
Dez couldnt help but chuckle. She relaxed as she backed out of the parking space. "Then I guess the question is do we go north or south?"
"Which direction will yield the closest food?"
Dez grinned, then thought for a moment. "Two Harbors is south and has some restaurants. Beaver Bay and Silver Bay are north, and they do too. Beyond them there are some neat towns, and theres always Grand Marais, but thats a bit of a drive."
"Sounds good to me."
Dez frowned. "You want to go to Grand Marais?"
"Yeah. Lets head that direction. If you dont mind, that is."
"No, I dont mind at all." Dez threw the truck into gear and peeled out of the parking lot, accelerating to 50 and then easing into a steady speed. She heard a click and saw Jaylynn unbuckling her seatbelt.
The blonde moved over toward Dez and fished around in the cushions of the bench seat to find the middle lap belt. Shyly, she said, "Im gonna sit here by you, okay?"
Jaylynn pulled the center belt around her waist and snapped it together, then let her hands drop to her lap. They drove along up the road like that for some time, following a string of vehicles, before Dez finally mustered up the courage to take her right hand off the wheel and reach out. Jaylynn promptly opened her hand and laced their fingers together.
At the same time that she was flooded with warmth and a buoyancy she wasnt used to, Dez found herself worried about the teenage emotions that kept rising in her unbidden. She felt like a fool, like a sheepish, daffy, lovesick teenager. It was embarrassing. She snuck a dubious look out of the corner of her eye, and her companion seemed to have the same bashfulness adorning her face. Her eyes did not veer away quickly enough, and Jaylynn suddenly turned and looked up at her, catching her unguarded gaze.
The smaller woman said, "Are we going to talk about whats happening?"
Dez knew immediately what she was referring to, but she hesitated, then turned her eyes back to the road. "No." She paused and took a deep breath. "I mean yes. Justjust, not right now. Is that okay?"
She watched Jaylynn look down at their hands, and then the hazel green eyes were looking up at her, full of trust and hope. "Can I ask why?"
Dez didnt answer right away, but when she did, she chose her words with care. "Lets just enjoy the day for right now."
"But we will talk?"
Dez nodded. "Soon."
Jaylynn lifted their hands out of her lap. "Is this okay?"
With a big smile on her face, the brunette said, "Yes, its more than okay. Pleasestay right where you are." She leveled her blue eyes on the rookie and was rewarded with a smile, and then the blonde leaned her head against her shoulder.
It felt very right. It felt like home.
They ate omelettes and hash browns in Grand Marais at a funny little cafÈ called Gwens Goodies. In addition to the old-fashioned chrome-trimmed booth in which they sat, they were surrounded by art supplies, stationery, and art pieces: sculptures, mosaics, paintings, clay pots. One entire wall was covered with artwork Grandma Moses could have done. Upon another wall a variety of Amish quilts were displayed. Over their table hung a four-foot tall paper mache mask. Celtic music warbled in the background. The small restaurant was an explosion: of wild colors, the sound of pennywhistles, and the smell of butter and cinnamon. Jaylynn loved it.
Dez sat slouched in the booth, her hands in her jacket pockets, and gazed across the room out the cafÈs bay window. The sun shone brightly through the window, and across the road she could see piles of rocks bordering a finger of the lake that pointed toward them.
Jaylynn said, "A penny for your thoughts."
Dezs head swung toward the blonde, her crystal blue eyes coming to rest on the rookies face. Jaylynn was once again startled at the intensity of the black haired womans gaze. She couldnt help but smile.
Dez said, "I wasnt thinking of anything much . . . just how my dad used to take my brother and me out walleye fishing when we were little. Not up here, but at a smaller lake."
"Do you just have one brother?" said Jaylynn. "No sisters?"
Dez nodded. "Yup."
"You never talk about him."
Dez shrugged. "Not much to say. Were not close."
Jaylynn paused, considering whether to ask the next logical question. Instead, she said, "Where does he live?"
"Thats not far to travel. Wish my family lived so near. And I always wished I had a brother. Is he older or younger than you?"
"Younger, by four years."
Jaylynn paused a moment, worried that shed start treading on thin ice, but she went ahead. "That night at the hospital, I got the impression that your mom is a doctor or nurse."
Jaylynn nodded, then said, "Is she married to that Mac?"
This clearly startled Dez. She jerked up from her slouching position in the booth and leveled an intent stare at the rookie. "Of course theyre not married. Why would you say that?"
Jaylynn set her fork down and pushed her plate away. She wiped her lips with the napkin and said, "That nightat the hospitalit was clear to me that they care about each other."
"He was my fathers best friend. Thats it."
"Dez," Jaylynn said gently. "Its been a lot of years since your dad died. Your mom has moved on, I think."
"With Mac? I dont think so. Youre wrong." She crossed her arms over her sweatshirt and glowered over at the blonde, her face so cross that Jaylynn would have laughed if the topic had not been so obviously painful.
Jaylynn sat quietly thinking back to the scene in the hospital room on the fourth of July. She had no doubt that Mac MacArthur and Colette Reilly were more than just friends, but she didnt understand why Dez not only did not know that, but was also so against it. Yet another mystery to unravel. She wondered how many secrets and old wounds this woman before her harbored.
The waitress appeared to ask if they needed anything more, and when both women shook their heads, she set the check facedown on the table and cleared their plates away. Dez picked up the ticket, glanced at it, and rose, tossing a sheaf of bills on the table.
Jaylynn opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, Dez said, "I got thatdont worry about it. Cmon."
The blonde slid out of the booth, wincing at the change in the tall woman. She followed Dez by an eight-foot tall display of Mary Engelbreit items, between two racks of stationery, and past a shelf full of art supplies. When they got out to the sidewalk, the dark haired woman strode toward her truck. Jaylynn caught up with Dez and grabbed her hand, halting her.
"Dez! Look at me."
The tall woman raised blue eyes full of misery.
"I didnt mean to upset you."
Mutely the tall woman nodded, but it looked to Jaylynn like she was on the verge of tears.
"Theres no hurry, is there? Can we walk over there by the water?" The rookie pointed across the road to where the long jetty extended out to the sea. She kept hold of Dezs hand and pulled her along behind her, across the street, down a short walk, and then onto the pebbly beach. The wind whipped her hair to the side, and she was glad that the sun shone so brightly upon them. As the two women drew close, two gulls took flight and flapped above them before retreating to a safe distance. Jaylynn stepped around a dead bass, its flesh mostly picked away by the birds, and she kept a tight hold on Dezs hand, which felt cold in her grip.
Once they were far away from the street, and the restaurant appeared as small as a tiny wooden block in the distance, Jaylynn stopped and looked up at the tall woman shed been dragging along behind her. Still holding her hand, she said, "Remember that conversation we had walking around the lake? That one about practicing talking about stuff?"
Jaylynn gave her a little grin and said, "Youve been shirking your training in that area. So out of the blue you get a little heavy weight, and you cant lift it." She made a tsk-tsk sound with her tongue, and with her free hand shook her finger in the air. In a kind voice, she said, "You know what happens when an athlete dogs it in practice?"
Dez didnt respond in words, but a line of furrows appeared on her forehead, and she looked away out to sea.
"Um hmm . . . I know you know. Extra drills. Extra training until youre on top of your form." She reached up and cupped Dezs cheek in one hand, bringing the tall womans face back so they were eye to eye. She let her hand drop. "You cant run away from this, Dez, and you dont need to. Come here."
Dez let the smaller woman lead her another twenty paces until they came to a large chunk of driftwood wedged deep into the sand. Between two branches, there was just enough space for one person to sit.
"Here, sit down and take a load off," said Jaylynn, the double meaning not missed by Dez. The dark haired woman started to sit on the log, but the blonde said, "Wait a minute. I think I should get the tall seat for once." She sat and pointed down, "You get to sit in front this time."
Dez lowered herself onto the warm sand and nestled her hips back against the partly buried log. Jaylynn splayed her legs out on either side of her, and the big cop leaned her head back until it came in contact with warm solidness. She felt the rookie rest her forearms on her broad shoulders and then a tickle of breath in her ear said, "You dont even have to look at mejust start talking."
The tall cop was at a loss as to what to say, where to start. She had not been involved in her mothers lifeor Macs, for that matterfor nearly six years. Mac had retired five years earlier at 55, and she so very rarely saw him. For all she knew, perhaps they were together. She didnt remember very much about their visit that night at the hospital. She wished she did, but from the moment of the bullets impact until the next morning, everything was fuzzy.
She sat up tall and reached to grasp Jaylynns forearms, pulling the tawny colored limbs down, and then crossed her own arms over the top of them. The smaller woman shifted until she was pressed tight against the muscular back, her chin resting on Dezs left shoulder, and her arms around a warm neck.
In a hoarse voice, Dez said, "Are you comfortable?"
"Yes, I am," said a soft voice in her ear.
"Okay. Then what do you remember about my mothers visit to the hospital that night?"
Jaylynn considered for a moment. "Are you asking me to tell you every little detail I can remember, or do you want to know why I think Mac and your mother are lovers?"
A snort of laughter erupted from Dez. It occurred to her that Jaylynn didnt mess around skimming the surface of tough subjects. Just then the blonde peered around Dezs shoulder and tried to see in her eyes.
"Hey, hey!" said Dez. "Youre supposed to stay on your side of the couch, Dr. Freud." She felt Jaylynn laughing behind her. "Yes, I want to know why you think theyre lovers."
She heard the rookie take a deep breath and then say, "Body proximity, eye contact, affectionate touch."
Dez wanted to mention that with the exception of the eye contact, right now anyone observing the two of them would assume they were loversand they werentbut she held her tongue.
Jaylynn went on, "Do you recall what you said to your mother?"
Dez paused, then shook her head and waited.
"If I remember correctly, it was something like, Why are you here, Mom? You dont even like me anymore. As soon as you said that, she teared up, and Mac stepped in close, a little behind her. His arm had been across her shoulders, but he let it drop around her waistpractically around her whole middleso that his hand came to rest like this. . ." Jaylynns hand caressed down Dezs front until she laid it flat against the reclining womans stomach, just below her left breast.
Dez drew in a sharp breath.
Jaylynn said, "See? Thats kind of an intimate touch, and he wouldnt have done thatunder those circumstances especiallyunless they had a high level of trust in one another. And from your mothers demeanor, her manner, she doesnt let just anybody touch her."
"Like mother, like daughter, huh?"
Jaylynn laughed. "You could say that."
Dez thought about what Jaylynn had explained. It did make sense. She remembered that all through her teen years she had wanted Mac to take her fathers place, to leave his wife and come live with her family. But it wasnt until she was 22 that he and his wife had divorced, and then so soon after that, theyd had their falling out. Her mouth dropped open, and she stared out across Lake Superior in wonderment. After a moment, she said, "Shit, I think I just figured something out."
Jaylynn pressed a slightly chilled face against her neck, and Dez felt a thrill of warmth course through her body, which she tried to disregard. "I always assumed that my mother called up Mac and outed me to him out of spite. But what if she and he were seeing each other, and it became a topic of conversation? What if he was so distant with me because he was just being protective of her but didnt want to interfere?" Dez knew Mac had never been the type to horn in on anyones business, not in his work life, and not in his personal life. He had, in fact, always let her work through her troubles her own way, and had been quite supportive of her.
"Why dont you ask him?" said Jaylynn.
"Easier said than done."
"Call him up on the phone. Send him a letter. Just start something. Youll never find out otherwise, and arent you incredibly curious? I know I am!"
Dez found herself grinning and was glad the rookie couldnt see the goofy expression on her face. "Yeah, I guess I am. Its probably time to bury the hatchet anywayfor sure with my mom."
"She loves you a lot, Dez. I could see that in the hospital room. When you said that to her, I could tell her heart just about broke. I hope you can sort things out with herand with your brother. Why dont you two get along?"
"He took moms side."
"What does that mean?"
"Let me see . . . he told me I was being pig-headed and mean, and he said I was a jerk for upsetting her, and then he said I could just butt out of his life until I saw fit to treat her better."
Jaylynn was very still and didnt speak for so long that Dez finally said, "What? What are you thinking?"
"To be honest, I was just realizing that this is the stuff family feuds are made of and that I hope, hope, hope that my sisters and I never go through this. Whats your brothers name?"
"And you havent seen him for six years?"
Dez shrugged. "About that."
"Oh, Dez. He was right about one thing. You are the most pig-headed woman Ive ever met."
"Hey!" she protested, as she held back her desire to burst out laughing. "Im sure Dr. Goldman would never be so judgmental."
"But shes not your friend, you fool. I will say one thing for you though: youve got endurance."
"And you said I was doggin it earlier."
"Truer words were never spoken! Youre going to need lots and lots and lots of practice at this, Miss Grin-and-Stuff-It. But your exercises have gone quite well today, dont you think?"
"Yeah, not bad." She got to her feet and brushed the sand off the back of her jeans, then reached down and took Jaylynns hand to pull her up. Still holding the smaller womans hand she pointed out to the end of the jetty and said, "Lets walk all the way out there, okay?"
Jaylynn nodded, and they strolled along the pebbly beach, hand in hand, in the warm sunlight.
Two meals, a large snack, and several hundred miles later they finally returned from Duluth to St. Paul. It was full dark, and the early September sun had long ago set. Dez pulled the Ford truck into the parking lot at the precinct and wheeled over to Jaylynns Camry. Before they came to a stop, the blonde had unhooked her seatbelt and scooted over to the other side of the truck. She sat there awkwardly when the truck halted in front of her car. "Its been quite a day," she said.
"See you Wednesday?"
"Thanks for lunch, Dez."
"To which of the three meals are you referring," she said, a smile on her face.
"I dont think you can call the cupcake a lunch."
"Oh, that reminds me . . ." Dez rooted around behind the seat and dug her jacket out, and after some more searching, triumphantly pulled something up. "Here you go," she said as she handed it to her partner. "You can have it for a midnight snack."
In the darkness of the cab Jaylynn felt the mashed cupcake still folded up in the crinkled cellophane. In a cross voice she said, "Ill treasure it always." She opened the truck door which flipped the overhead light on, and as she slid out, she caught and held dark blue eyes. Standing hesitantly in the open door, she looked up at Dez. She didnt want to leave, didnt want the night to end, but her courage failed her.
"Good night, Dez."
Continued in Part 11 (Conclusion)
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