Part 5 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.
Any and all comments are welcome, and I have greatly enjoyed what people have e-mailed so far. You can e-mail me at: email@example.com . This is part 5 of 11, and Ill keep posting regularly. J
Dez steered past the well-lit River Centre convention hall. It was ablaze with light because of a Self-esteem Psychology Conference taking place there. She and Jaylynn were assigned away from their regular sector due to all the activities in downtown St. Paul which included the play Jekyll & Hyde at The Ordway Theater at night and a dental convention during the day. She didnt know why it seemed so apparent, but even without white coats and drills, she thought she could recognize the dentists out on the streets. They looked quite different from the rabid looking pack of people waiting outside the theater for Jekyll & Hyde.
Dez slowed and scanned the area past the theater and across the street at the private St. Paul Club. Walking away from her, she saw a tall slender young man dressed in a baseball cap, ratty jeans, and a light tan jacket. He was out of place, looking like he wouldnt belong with the esteem attendees, the dentists, or the Jekkies. Her eyes narrowed as she slowed the car and concentrated on him, and she felt Jaylynn do the same. A man dressed in a suit and a woman dolled up in a wool coat and very high heels strolled toward the police car obviously headed for the theater. A football-sized purse trailed from the womans shoulder.
Jaylynn shot a glance at Dez and then back to the couple. "You know what . . ." she said, but before she could finish, the tan-coated man darted forward, snagged the dangling purse and took off.
"I knew it!" said the blond. She reached for the radio and reported what was happening, calling for backup, and giving a block by block account of their location.
Dez gunned the car engine and sped ahead to Kellogg Boulevard. The man cast a brief look over his shoulder and saw them. He tucked the purse under one arm, and, like a tight end, cut out across the street, dodged around a honking car, and raced to the left.
There was nowhere for him to go on the Boulevard but down the hill. He was penned in on the river side, along the bluff, and if he were to cross back over to the side he had just come from, he had to know the officers would be out of the car and on him. As long as he stayed herded on the wise sidewalk, they drove parallel on the street, lights flashing, waiting to reach the freeway overpass ahead. At the overpass, Kellogg Boulevard became a sharp incline. At that point he would surely run out of energy and they could capture him easily, especially since by then another unit would be heading toward them to cut him off. Every so often he craned his head around desperately looking for a safe exit.
"Where the hell does he think hes gonna go?" said Dez.
"He could turn and run across the Robert Street Bridge," Jaylynn replied.
"Unless he jumps, which I doubt, well have no problem grabbing him there."
"Hmm, theres those warehouses up ahead."
"But hell have to cross the street . . ." He chose that moment to cut across the boulevard. "Yippee-ki-yay! Our boys out of the chute!" Dez slammed on the brakes, and Jaylynn smacked open the door and peeled out of the car after him. Dez hit the siren and sped ahead intending to cut him off at the next street.
The man had a half block advantage, but he was slowing in fatigue from the eight-plus blocks hed already run. He huffed and puffed up the side street next to a row of rambling, broken-down warehouses. He slowed to pull on a door handle, but no luck. Jaylynn was within yards of him when he grabbed another door, and much to his obvious surprise, it opened.
"Shit!" said Dez. She grabbed the radio and called in the address for backup.
Before the heavy metal door shut, Jaylynn had disappeared through it. Dez drove up on the sidewalk, threw the car into park, and got out of the car. She pulled out her gun, raced to grab the door handle, then went in low. Pausing for a heartbeat, she heard the clatter of footsteps on stairs and holstered her weapon, grabbing her flashlight in its place. She ran ahead, passing piles of trash, heaps of unrecognizable junk. The warehouse smelled foul and musty, like there were dead things present. She found the stairs and started up them two at a time.
"Jay!" She no longer heard footsteps and focused on powering her way up. After seven flights of stairs, her thighs burned. She rounded another flight and saw the steps ran out. Another door was just closing at the top. Hitting it with her shoulder before it clicked shut, she burst into a large cavernous room illuminated only by the streetlamps outside. Shafts of light shone in through tall casement windows, which stretched from Dezs waist to near the top of the high vaulted ceiling.
Thirty yards across the warehouse floor, the man stood leaning against the far wall, doubled over and trying to catch his breath. Dead end. Jaylynn held her gun, braced on her left arm.
"Police," panted Jaylynn. "Put . . . your hands up . . .turn around . . . face the wall. . . Dont move, and . . . I wont shoot." She gasped the words out, but the man understood because he followed her directions. She advanced slowly, stepping cautiously across the old wooden floor. Dez kept her flashlight down and drew her weapon. When Jaylynn reached the middle of the floor, the big cop felt an odd vibration, then heard a cracking and a roar. Jaylynn disappeared. One second she was standing, crouched, her back to her partner; the next moment she vanished.
Dezs vision was obscured by a plume of dust shooting up from the floor. She holstered her gun, dropped to her knees and scrambled forward. "Jay!" she shouted. She breathed in powdery dirt and choked back a cough.
She heard a sound, muffled and wheezing, but she recognized the voice. "Dez!"
"Im coming! Keep talking so I can find you."
"Im afraid to move."
"Stay still then," came the gruff reply.
Dez crawled to the middle of the floor and pulled back just in time to avoid sliding into a gaping seam in the floor.
From below Jaylynn said, "I could almost jump up and grab the edgebut Im not so sure how secure this is."
Dez lay on her stomach and pulled herself to the edge to look over. "Definitely stay still. It doesnt look secure at all."
The fourth floor supports had rotted away and the brittle planking resting on them had broken creating a crease in the floor six feet wide that ran from one wall of the warehouse to the other. Jaylynn was perched at the point where some of the cracked boards met but hadnt quite given way. Any minute, the entire jumble of timbers looked like they would go crashing to the floor below.
Dez was aware of the creaking sound of stressed wood separating. "Jaylynn," she said in a low, level voice. "Can you see me clearly?"
"Your head, I can see that."
"See my hand? Im gonna reach down as far as I can. I want you to stand very slowly and grab on." With her right hand, Dez gripped the edge of the hole, and with her left she reached as far as she could, angling her body a little to the side. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the hand, then felt it on her wrist. With strong fingers she clenched the smaller womans arm, felt cloth and skin, and then heard a crunching, crashing sound. The planks under Jaylynn crumbled. A shock of cold air and dust blew into Dezs face, blinding her. She bore the weight of the smaller woman, feeling for a brief instant as though shed dislocated her shoulder. But she held on and didnt lose her grip. With a growl of exertion, the dark-haired woman rolled away to leverage the dangling woman upward. She grabbed Jaylynns belt with her right hand and practically threw the rookie across her body and away from the hole.
The two women scrambled away from the center of the room. Breathless and wheezing, they sat against the wall near the door by which theyd entered. Dez ran her hand over the back of her neck feeling grit under her palm. That was close, she thought, too damn close. She heaved a sigh and rubbed her eyes to clear the dirt from them. She drew her legs up and put her elbows on her knees, letting her hands relax out in front of her. "What happened to our runner?"
A voice sounded from across the room. "Im still here. Im not moving until I know the floors safe."
In a menacing voice Dez said, "Dont move a muscle. The whole floor is unsafe. It could fall in at any minute. I will instruct you when its safe." Dez shook with silent laughter.
Jaylynn elbowed her and hissed, "I dont think its very professional of you to laugh when I almost got my ass crushed."
In a low rumble, Dez said, "Im not laughing at you. Its that idiot. He had all this time to split, and hes sitting over there waiting for help." She giggled helplessly, relief flooding through her.
"It is kind of funny," Jaylynn said grudgingly.
"Are you hurt?"
"Not that I can tell. I landed on my butt, plenty of padding there."
"Oh, yeah, your butt is so huge, right." She craned her head to the side to find Jaylynn looking up at her, the hazel eyes serious and penetrating. It was like a jolt of electricity hitting the big cop in the stomach. She looked away, glad of the dim light, and wondered why the rookie kept having this effect on her. Get a grip, she thought to herself as she cleared her throat and tried to steady her breathing.
The quality of the light shining through the windows changed from a steady yellow glimmer to periodic red flashes. Backup had arrived. In seconds they could hear footsteps beating their way up the stairs. Dez stood and opened the stairway door. "Fourth floor, guys! Come on up!" she hollered. To Jaylynn she said, "Here comes the cavalry." Jaylynn rose and attempted to brush off some of the dust and crud adorning her uniform.
"Dont bother," said Dez as she stifled a sneeze. "Were both too filthy to worry about it."
The backup cops, three of them, blasted around the corner and came huffing up the last set of stairs.
The tall woman said, "Its Reilly and Savage here, guys. Be careful. The floor up here isnt safe. Hey Harnish," she said as the first officers face became recognizable. "How ya doing?"
"No, the question is: how are you doing?"
"A little worse for wear, but otherwise okay."
"You look like you fell into a bowl of dirty flour."
"Yeah, well, at least weve got our suspect cornered."
The five officers stood inside the doorway, and Dez called out, "All right buddy, you gonna give us any trouble?"
Dez and the other officers shone their flashlights in his direction. She said, "Stand up and face me. Now put your hands on your head. Wait! Pick up that purse and bring it with you, but keep your hands up. Good. Move to your right and ease your way along the wall until you reach the corner, then walk this way. Just hug the wall and youll be okay."
In a deep authoritative voice Harnish said, "Weve got enough fire power here to blow you away, so dont even think of trying anything tricky."
"No sir," the man said in a resigned voice as he shuffled along the wall toward them.
Though her breathing had steadied, Jaylynns heart was still beating wildly. That was close, too close. I wonder how far Id have fallen? She swatted at her pants legs again, raising dust that made her cough.
The runner materialized in front of the phalanx of officers.
"Savage, its your collar," said Dez. "You cuff him, pat him down. Oh, and read him his rights."
After theyd stowed the runner in the car and backup departed, Dez started to get in the vehicle. Jaylynn stood on the sidewalk, uncertain.
One leg in the cruiser, Dez stared over the top of the car and said, "What? Whats wrong?"
"My hat. I lost it."
"So what. Ill give you another one."
In a voice too quiet for Dez to hear across the car, Jaylynn said, "And my weapon."
"What? I didnt hear that . . ."
Jaylynn frowned and shook her head. She hated to admit losing her gun. She knew that was rule number one: never lose your weapon under any circumstances. "Ill be right back."
"You dont want to go back inoh damn." Dez leaned in and told the suspect to stay put, knowing full well he couldnt get out of the locked back seat of the squad car. She slammed the drivers door and stomped over to the warehouse door. Out came the flashlight again, and she went back up the flights of stairs to the third floor, through the doorway and around the corner into the main cavern. She found Jaylynn standing in the shadows against the wall. In the middle of the floor, the pile of planks that had fallen from above were strewn haphazardly, the wood broken and twisted. A gaping hole let a faint light shine down from above.
The smaller woman didnt move.
Dez moved over into the shadows next to the rookie. "Whats the matter?
Jaylynn turned to her. "Thats a good 16 or 18 feet."
"Yeah? So what?"
"I might have survived the fall, but maybe not. I might have been impaled on something. I could have broken my back, my neck . . ." She reached out and clutched her partners biceps. "If you hadnt . . ."
"Dont go there." Dez took hold of both of Jaylynns forearms and squeezed gently. "Dont think about that. Lets just find your hat and get the hell out of here before this floor falls in."
"Thats twice now." Jaylynns voice quivered.
"Oh geez, Jay! Cut it out. Its not that big a deal."
"It is to me."
"Look," said Dez. She bent down, her hand on the rookies shoulder, and pulled Jaylynn closer so each woman could clearly see the others eyes. "Partners watch each others back. Youd have done the same for me."
"As if I could have pulled you out of that."
"Youd be surprised at what you can do if you have to. Ever hear the one about the woman lifting the Volkswagen off some kid who was trapped?"
"Now youre probably going to tell me that was you."
Dez gave a muffled laugh. "No, you lunatic." She slipped an arm around Jaylynns shoulders and steered her over toward the heap of over-sized pick-up sticks. "You got about 30 seconds. Find your hat and lets get outta here."
"I dont care about the hat. I want my gun."
"Oh." Dez rolled her eyes and sighed. "Thats different. When did you drop itright at first or after you fell?"
"After I fell."
Dez moved to the jumble of boards and started shifting them away. "Itll be just our luckitll be at the very bottom in the middle. Yuck. This is so filthy."
"Here let me help."
"Be careful! Theres nails and splintersshit!"
"What?" Jaylynn said with alarm in her voice. She stood up and started toward Dez.
"Never mind. Im fine. Just one of those splinters I was warning you about. Ill get it out later."
Together they shifted through the wood until they found the black .38 covered in dust.
"Guess thatll need a good cleaning," said Jaylynn. She stood, holstered her gun, and turned to leave. Out of the corner of her eye she saw something round several feet away from the pile. She went over and picked up her hat and swatted at it to dust it off. "Hey, what do you knowat least this isnt as dirty."
"Too bad. Then it wont match the rest of your uniform," came the dry reply as her partner led the way to the stairwell.
Tim picked up Jaylynn after her shift ended, and they came home to the well-lit house. As they came up the back walk, Jaylynn heard the tinkle of the piano keys and both of them stopped on the back porch and listened. Sara hadnt played the piano for months, and Jaylynn didnt want to interrupt. They stood, wordlessly, and listened to the waves and crescendos of a moody classical piece . . . she thought it was Mozart.
They stayed on the porch for several minutes until they were both shaking from the cold. When she finally nodded her head, Tim turned and put the key in the lock. He flicked the kitchen light on and off and hollered out. The music stopped abruptly and Sara appeared in the doorway.
"Hi guys," she said. She smiled, her large brown eyes shining.
"Nice tunes," said Jaylynn as she shucked off her coat and mittens to hang them on the hook inside the door. Tim draped his coat over the top of hers and rubbed his hands together, blowing on them to warm up.
"Um hmm " said Sara. "You guys look good and cold. Time for some hot tea, huh?"
The red-haired man said, "I think we should go straight for the brandy, for medicinal purposes, of course."
Jaylynn laughed, and the three bustled around the kitchen getting tea bags and mugs and hot water assembled.
As they all settled at the wooden kitchen table Sara said, "Jay, you never said what happened to those kids in the car wreck."
Jaylynns face fell, and she set down the sugar bowl with less grace than she should have, wiggling the table and causing her tea to slosh over the side of her over-full mug. She rose and got a rag from the sink, saying, "The two kids in the front seatthey died. I guess they were dead when we got there. Dez and I went to see the other girl who we pulled out, and shes a mess." The blond sat back in her chair and mopped up the spilled tea. She remembered the anguish in the face of the girls mother, a nondescript woman who looked no older than Dez. The rookie had hardly been able to contain her own tears when she saw the frightened faces of the two little brothers and sister in the waiting room. "I called the hospital again today, and shes out of intensive care, but shes going to be hospitalized a while."
Tim reached over and patted her arm. He held up the brandy bottle. "You want a shot of this, Jay-o?"
She shook her head. "Nah. Ill just have bad dreams."
"From a little shot of brandy?" he said.
She nodded. "Lately Ive had some weird nightmarestheyre out in full force."
In a soft voice Sara said, "Tell me about itme too."
Jaylynn sprang on the opening. "Have you had any luck with that technique I told you about?"
"Not really. The only thing that seems to work is just not sleeping."
"Oh Sara," she said, "thats not good. Just come sleep with one of us."
Tim nodded and closed the top of the brandy, then got up and took it over to the cupbard to put it away. "You can always crawl into my bed." He grinned devilishly, "And Bill can rest assured you wont be ravished by the likes of me."
Both women laughed, then Saras face turned serious. "I made an appointment at the college counseling center. Im going to see someone. I know I have to deal with this."
"Good for you," said Jaylynn. She reached over and took Saras hand and gave it a big squeeze. "You just have to keep talking about it. Over time itll get better."
"I hope so," the brown eyed woman replied.
The next day Jaylynn gathered up her courage again. They were patrolling the western sector in a residential area, and nothing was happening. A dull day, both in criminal activity and weather. The sky overhead was battleship gray and the wind out of the north cut through her every time she had to leave the car.
"So how about Sunday night after shift?" she said.
Dez knew exactly what she meant and had been hoping the topic would not come up again. "I dont think I could watch that particular video right now." She didnt elaborate.
"Well, how about Shadowlands or The Evening Star?"
"Do you know what those are about?"
"Maybe we could go with something a little lighter."
Jaylynn sprang at her chance. "Oh, there are scads there I havent seen. Pick any of them, whichever you like. You got any you havent seen yet?"
"No, I dont think so."
"Well, we could rent something. Tell you what, Ill skip bringing the box of hankies and bring the video insteadsomething not too heavy at all. Hows that?"
"All right," Dez said in a low, resigned voice. How could she tell Jaylynn no when she sounded so happy and hopeful. She frowned. Now I suppose I have to be perky and cheerful when shes there.
But she wasnt perky or cheerful on Sunday night. Not when Jaylynn showed up at eight p.m. with an older video, gushing about how Debra Winger was one of her all-time favorite actresses. Shed rented Black Widow. Dez lied and said she hadnt seen the movie, when in fact shed watched it in the theater and liked it immensely. But did Jaylynn know about the lesbian undertones in the film? Geez, shes young, thought Dez. Maybe she wont even have a clue. Maybe the subtext will pass her by.
Dez nuked two packages of Orville Redenbacher popcorn and poured them into a big bowl, and they settled onto the couch to watch the show. Scooting near the middle of the sofa, Jaylynn slipped off her shoes and curled up close to the popcorn bowl. Dez slouched down, stretching her long legs out onto the coffee table and crossing them at the ankles. She crossed her arms too.
Jaylynn had also seen Black Widow, and shed picked it on purpose hoping she could get some sort of reaction out of Dez. Was she or wasnt she? The guys at the station treated her with respect to her face, but did she know they made comments about her sexuality behind her back? It seemed everyone assumed Dez was gayjust as they assumed Jaylynn was straight. Wouldnt it be an ironic about-face if it were the other way around? But no, Jaylynn was pretty sure about the tall woman. It was that connection she kept experiencing, something about the way Dez looked at her. They hadnt talked about it yet, but she was sure Dez had to feel it too.
An hour into the movie Jaylynn glanced over at Dez to find her fast asleep. She looked so tired that Jaylynn sat quietly and watched the remainder of the show alone. So much for gauging her reaction. After the movie ended, Dez gave no indication of wakening, so Jaylynn picked up the remote and flipped to an oldies station to watch an ancient black and white movie, The Thin Man Returns. When it ended at eleven oclock, Jaylynn decided to call it a night. She turned the sound down a little with the remote and rose to leave. She took the popcorn bowl into the kitchen and collected up Tims car keys, then could not resist going back into the living room. Dez slept with a scowl on her face, chin tight to her chest, arms and legs crossed, folded up into herself. Jaylynn crept across the floor and brushed a tendril of hair away from Dezs forehead, then leaned over and touched the lightest of kisses there. The sleeping woman didnt stir.
Dez awoke with a start when she heard Jaylynn let herself out. The clock on the VCR read 11:05. Oh crap. I slept for two hours? Geez! She reached up and rubbed her forehead. Was Jaylynn kissing me a dream? Live or Memorex? She wasnt sure. Probably wishful thinking. Wishful thinking? She took a deep breath and tried to put the smiling blond womans face out of her mind. She got up and undressed, dropped her clothes on the valet chair next to the bed and crawled under the comforter. But she didnt sleep well for the rest of the night after all, and her dreams were frightening. What she remembered when she awoke was fire and blood, swords and pain, and screamingsometimes her own, sometimes not.
Jaylynn went home to a house ablaze with light. Oh good, she thought. Saras still up. She unlocked the front door and called out, "Its me," so that Sara would hear her loud and clear. The first thing that assailed her senses was the smell of cinnamon. She dropped her backpack by the front door and hustled down the hall to the kitchen.
Sara was putting a sheet of cookies in the oven. "Hiya, Jay," she said over her shoulder. She shut the oven door and turned to face her friend. "Uh oh. Youre glowing again."
Jaylynn blushed and put her hands in her jeans pockets, then leaned against the kitchen counter.
Sara said, "Youre blushing, too, my friend. Any salient details to share with your best bud?"
"Nah, nothing like that." Jaylynn walked over to the kitchen table and dropped into a chair. "Whatcha making? Smells great."
Jaylynns glance swept the room. "Well? Where are they? They smell so greatyou couldnt have already eaten a whole batch!"
"Of course not. I just made one to make sure the dough was right."
"You are the only person I know who would do that. Id just go ahead and ruin 12 or 15 cookies." Jaylynn leaned back in the chair with a smile on her face. "So where is it?"
Sara pushed her brown hair behind her ear. "I guess you could say I did eat the whole first batch . . . even if it was only one cookie. Youll have to wait about 12 more minutes." She put her elbows on the table and rested her face in her hands. "So, tell me what happened tonight with Desirable Dez."
Jaylynn blushed. "Really, trulynothing. Nada. Zip."
Saras face took on a sly look. "Ah, but youre wishing."
"Oh yeah. Guess I have to admit that."
"What is it about her? The couple times Ive had a glimpse of her, shes just sosogee, how do I explain it?"
"Actually, the word I think I had in mind would be cranky."
"Oh Sara," Jaylynn said earnestly, "shes really not cranky at all. Fascinating, yes. Mysterious, yes. Sexy, oh my god! But not cranky. Shes just shy until you get to know her."
"So what did you and Miss Fascinating do this evening
to set the night on fire?"
"It wasnt like that. We watched a video. Ate popcorn. She fell asleep. I came home."
Sara stifled a laugh. "Some date that turned out to be! Unless something more intimate happened between the popcorn and the sleep, then Id have to say BO-ring!" The timer went off, and Sara took the cookies out. "Mm-mmm. These are just perfect, Jay." By then Jaylynn was looking over her friends shoulder hungrily. "But youll have to wait a minute or two til they set up a bit." She waved the her friend away, and Jaylynn made a big show of sighing and rolling her eyes before she sat again at the table. Sara crossed her arms over her U of M sweatshirt and leaned back against the counter.
Thoughtfully, Jaylynn said, "Shes not a very trusting person, Sara. The fact that she fell asleep, well, that means she let her guard down around me. She hasnt done that before. I take that as a good sign."
Sara shook her head and smiled. "You got it bad, girlie. I am sure I would never stick with a guy I dated who fell asleep on me right in the middle of the damn date!" She turned and picked up the spatula, then scraped the cookies of the sheet and placed them carefully on a brown paper bag already laid out on the cutting board.
"But Sara!" she protested. "It wasnt a date. Actually, it was more of a get-together between two friends. Im not exactly sure how she feels." Jaylynn frowned. "I know she likes me. She doesnt let anyone else joke around with her, and when were alone on patrol, she loosens up a lot. But she is a tough nut to crack. Ill admit that. I think shes coming out of an awful time. When her old partner died, that really cut her deep."
"I dont want you to get hurt."
"Thats not gonna happen! You worry too much."
Sara scooped up the last cookie and walked to the table to drop it into Jaylynns hands. Jaylynn promptly broke it and devoured half in one bite. "Yum yum," she said with a full mouth. "You do make the best cookies." She popped the other half into her mouth and mumbled, "As Seven of Nine would say, I require more nutrition immediately."
"You and your fantasy women!"
Jaylynn swallowed, then paused. "Id rather have a real one."
Wednesday afternoon they met in roll call, and Dez gave Jaylynn a sheepish smile. Jaylynn chuckled and found a chair nearby. One by one other cops shuffled into the room and sat down until the duty sergeant gave out assignments. All the way to the lot Jaylynn kept looking at Dez through narrowed eyes and making tsk-tsk noises.
Once the two women got settled in the police car, Dez blushed and said, "I know, I know, I owe ya for the other night."
Jaylynn laughed and punched her in the arm. "No you dont."
"Yeah, I do. Im sorry."
"Maybe I should feel complimented that you felt comfortable enough to zonk out and snore like crazy."
"Oh pulleeze! I didnt snore."
Jaylynn punched her again. "No, actually you didnt. Im just kidding. You are fun to tease, girl. You take everything so seriously."
Dez hit the gas and pulled out of the parking lot. "No, I dont."
"Oh, yes you do. Just look at your movie collection. Do you have a single comedy?"
"Whats your point?"
"Thats my point. Youre an awfully serious person."
"Most of the time," said the blond.
"What? And youre not a serious person?" She looked over at the warm, smiling green eyes and it occurred to her that she was definitely going to lose this argument. "Okay then, fine. Lets try it again. This time you bring over something funny to watch. Something thatll keep me awake."
"Whenever . . . after shift tonight if you want."
Jaylynn paused thoughtfully. "Wont work. I cant borrow Tims car. Tomorrow?"
"Ill take you home laterhows that?"
Jaylynn nodded. "Okay, then you can come to the video store and help me pick out something funny."
"All right, rookie, you got a deal." Keeping her eyes on the road, Dez held out her hand palm up expecting Jaylynn to give her five. Instead, she was surprised to feel a warm squeeze. She let her hand drop, but Jaylynn didnt relinquish her grip until their hands hit the seat.
"Im not so sure I like Woody Allen," said Dez.
"Oh shut up," said a smiling Jaylynn as she inserted the video into the VCR. "This is a thinking persons funny movie. I dont think youre the slapstick type, are you?" She put her hands on her hips. "Did you want to get Police Academy or one of those Airplane shows?"
"Youll like this one. Its quite entertaining."
"But youve already seen it."
"Its worth a second watch."
"OK, but if you fall asleep, dont blame it on me."
Jaylynn laughed heartily. "I wont fall asleep, dont worry." She plopped down on the couch next to Dez and the popcorn bowl and waited for the credits to roll.
Dez groused, "Do you have any idea why movie makers these days feel the need to include 12 or 13 minutes of previews before the movie starts?"
"Sells more videos that way."
Jaylyn plucked the remote out of Dezs hand and said, "Ill fast forward through them then." She got to the beginning of the movie and leaned forward to set the remote on the coffee table, then settled back next to Dez, their shoulders just barely touching. The tall woman picked at the popcorn bowl, which she held in her lap, while Jaylynn munched away at on handfuls regularly.
Dez discovered that Jaylynn was right about Manhattan Murder Mystery. It was very funny and entertaining and never once did she feel like going to sleep. She sat cross-legged on the couch and laughed her head off during a couple of scenes. By the time the movie ended at 2:30, however, Jaylynn was obviously fatigued.
"Looks like youre running out of gas." Dez flicked the power off on the VCR remote.
Jaylynn yawned. "Guess so. Ill perk right up if you give me something with caffeine in it."
"Uh oh. Dont think I have anything."
"Nothing? Whats with you?" Jaylynn teased as she looked up at her. "No caffeine, you dont eat donuts, I dont think you drink. Dont you have any vices at all?"
Jaylynn put her hand on Dezs knee. In a conspiratorial voice, she said, "Surely at least you eat chocolate? Ill bet you have one whole cupboard loaded full of it, right?"
"Nope." Dez cursed her telltale face. She could feel the blush rising, a warmth that began where the hand was touching her leg and generated heat that traveled from her knee all the way up to her face. Nonchalantly she said, "I should probably get you home then, huh? Wont Tim be wondering why youre so late?"
"Tim? Not a chance. Hes on a date with some guy he met at the restaurant. Id be surprised if he even came home tonight."
Now Dez was thoroughly confused and her face showed it. "Tims gay?
"Sure. I thought you knew that."
"Butbuthes always hugging youyou kiss him goodbye when he drops you off."
"Its a peck on the lips! Thats to keep those oversexed male cops from pawing all over me. If youre not with someone, some wont take no for an answer. Some sort of proprietary thing." She patted Dezs thigh. "If a woman says no, it doesnt mean no, but if she says her boyfriend says no, thats a whole nother thing." With her hand still on Dezs knee, Jaylynn curled her feet up underneath her and shifted close enough to lean into the bigger woman. "You, on the other hand, arent the pawing type, are you?"
The brunettes face blushed crimson, but their eyes met, and once again the rookie felt the strange rush of energy flowing back and forth between them. She sat riveted, her heart beating in her chest like someone was pounding on her breastbone with a sledgehammer. With great effort, she choked out, "You feel that too . . . dont you?"
Dez didnt reply, but she continued to fix her gaze on Jaylynn, her steely blue eyes reaching into the younger womans soul. Reaching up, the blond gently stroked the pale cheek above her. Dez continued to meet her eyes with an open directness that almost caused Jaylynns heart to stop. Its now or never, she thought, and lifted her face to meet Dezs lips.
Dez surrendered to the kiss. For a few brief moments she completely lost track of anything but soft lips and the scent of the woman next to her. She took Jaylynns hands into her own, then the rookie slipped her arms around the bigger womans neck. Dez pulled back, breathless, Jaylynns warm breath on her neck. As she shifted away, kind hazel green eyes drilled into her.
Dez looked away. "I cant do this, Jay."
Now it was Jaylynns turn to be confused, and then she felt a moment of fear. Maybe shed judged totally wrong. Maybe Dez wasnt . . . but hey, what about this response? Dez burned with desire and Jaylynn could feel it. "What do you mean?"
Dez said, "I dont date cops."
"No problem. We dont have to do any dating at all."
Dez held her own hands in her lap, balled up in fists. The blue eyes sharpened and peered into Jaylynns eyes. "Im serious," said Dez. "I mean it. I dont date cops."
"Fine. Ill quit then."
Alarmed, Dez said, "You cant quit the force."
"Why would you wanna go and do that?"
"Its just a job. Theres a million things out there I could do. But theres only one you."
"Look, you dont have to quit the force . . . "
With a little half-smile on her face, Jaylynn said, "Did I not hear you deliver an ultimatum?"
"Thats not what I meant."
"Sure it was."
"No," Dez said firmly. She paused as she struggled for her next words. "Im your FTO, for chrissake. It would cause so many problems, so much talk, too many questions." She looked down into her lap as her face went crimson again.
"Oh, and driving around every night pretending Im not absolutely smitten with lust for you doesnt cause problems?"
Dez shook her head and hesitated, then said, "Jay, how can you be sure about this?"
Jaylynn smiled and shrugged. "Dont worry one bit. I never start anything I dont want to finish."
Dez let herself relax into the next kiss, feeling a hundred different sensations exploding inside her. Without breaking contact, Jaylynn shifted to her knees on the couch, then swung her leg over Dezs lap so that she was straddling the taller womans legs. She sat back on Dezs thighs and put her hands on broad shoulders. Jaylynn reached up and gently cradled the dark-haired womans head in her hands until Dez pulled her closer.
Without warning, apprehension arose and Dez caught her breath. How could she explain the sense of endangerment coursing through her, the alarm bells sounding in her head? There was too much to lose here. She hadnt even been romantically involved with Ryan, and the pain she felt at his death still bit into her like a poisonous snake. And then there were the two relationships shed had in college. Both ended badly. Worst of all: Karin. The pain she felt from each womans departure had made her gun shy and wary. To be in love againwhy, she realizedit was absolutely terrifying. She couldnt even maintain a cordial relationship with her own mother; what made her think she could satisfy Jaylynn?
Dez pulled away, bit her lip, and looked down, giving Jaylynn the opportunity to slide her hand between the buttons of her shirt. She slipped her arm behind Dezs neck and leaned into her, unbuttoning the blouse the rest of the way. She pressed her lips against the pale white skin at Dezs collarbone. "Youre frowning, Dez. You dont seem to be enjoying this much."
Breathless, Dez said, "Youre wrong."
"No, Im not. Youre awfully tense."
"I cant help it. Im sorry." She clenched her jaw in frustration.
"Stretch out," said Jaylynn. "Go on, turn over." She moved aside and guided Dez into a face down position on the couch, then pulled Dezs shirt away from her back and slid it down her arms. After unsnapping the hooks on Dezs bra, she ran her hands over the broad back, then straddled the lean hips. Considering how wide and muscular the tall woman was, her shoulders and back were surprisingly soft, the muscles warm and pliable. It was at her neck and along the shoulders where all the tension lay. Jaylynn kneaded and pressed mercilessly until her hands and arms grew tired. She lowered herself and spread out on Dez, her hands reaching around the dark womans rib cage. Dez rolled to her side, and Jaylynn slid down next to her on the cramped couch, teetering on the edge for a moment until Dez pulled her close.
"Thank you," said Dez. "Felt good." Her hands stroked Jaylynns back through her shirt. "I cant do this. Not tonight."
Jaylynn nuzzled against her neck. "I know."
"I need time to think about this more."
"I know. Its okay." She lay with her head near Dezs chest, listening to the slow and steady beating of her heart. "Just hold me a little while, okay?"
"Um hmm." In moments Dez was asleep. Jaylynn shifted to get more comfortable, and Dezs arms tightened around her. Suddenly Jaylynn was as tired as shed ever been. She pulled the quilt down off the back of the sofa and spread it over them, then closed her eyes and fell into deep slumber. She didnt awaken again until sometime just before dawn when Dez cried out. In a hoarse voice she whimpered and shouted, "No!" then turned her head from side to side as she tensed her fists and shook.
Jaylynn sat partway up and brushed the dark hair out of her partners face. "Shhh," she said. "Its okay Dez. Youre safe. Its just a nightmare. Shhh . . . ."
She shivered and rearranged the quilt over the two of them, then stroked the white shoulder and let her hand rest against the pale neck. The dark haired woman didnt wake up. Jaylynn watched her settle and relax, then she pulled her closer and wrapped an arm around her middle. She lay back, pulling the quilt up further, and Dez nestled her head into her neck. Jaylynns left arm was pinned. With her right hand she softly caressed her partners back through the quilt. By the even breathing, she could tell Dez had slipped into a more comfortable sleep.
A feeble light shone in upon them from the porthole across the room over the bed. Jaylynn wondered for a moment what time it was, then drowsed, content. I could get used to this. Despite our differences in height, we fit together well. The last thing she remembered before falling back asleep was the scent of Dezs hair, a citrus smell, like lemonade on a hot summers day.
Dez awoke, startled to find herself shirt-less and cradled in the smaller womans arms. Her head rested on Jaylynns chest and one leg was thrown across her thighs. She craned her neck to see the VCR clock. Close to ten already. She was completely amazed shed slept so long, and for once she actually felt rested. Carefully she extricated herself from Jaylynns grip, slid off the sofa, and padded into the bathroom.
She stood in the shower, her favorite place to think, and let the water run over her. She used to like the metaphor of washing away troubles, but lately no amount of water washed away her worries. What to do about Jaylynn? A relationship is the last thing I want. Shes so young and full of life . . . she deserves more than me. Why in the world would she even want me? Its that older woman/mentor thing. Shes mistaken about her feelings, confused. This could only be a huge mistake.
She ignored the rising feeling of panic, stopping to stretch her arms under the hot water. Im just tense from the heavy chest and triceps workout yesterday. She turned off the water and resolutely stepped out of the shower to towel off. Her muscles were sore in all sorts of places. Her stomach clenched. She shook her head and tried to ignore the aches and pains.
When Jaylynn awoke, she lay on her side, covered by the quilt, facing the closed bathroom door. She could hear the shower running. She couldnt really explain why, but a feeling of foreboding spread through her. Though she felt rested, she remembered little wisps of dark and troubling dreams. She lay still, snuggled in the warm blue quilt, and waited for her partner to appear, which she did in short order. When Dez emerged, she wore a red terry robe and held a white towel, which she was using to dry her long jet black hair.
Jaylynn lay motionless and watched Dez glide slowly past her toward the bed, her head tipped to the side as she toweled dampness out of dark hair that looked so lovely in stark contrast to the red robe. She has no idea how beautiful she is, thought Jaylynn. She spends all her waking hours guarding her emotions, staying tough, keeping her feelings bottled up far too tightly. Even now she doesnt look relaxed. Shes a shuttered and locked house, no admittance. For confirmation, she watched as Dezs eyes came to rest on her and the look of surprise when the tall woman realized Jaylynn was awake and studying her. She also saw the grim look on Dezs face as she came to stand next to the couch. Jaylynn sat up, still hugging the quilt.
Dez was direct. "This isnt going to work."
Jaylynn didnt speak. She looked Dez in the eye and waited patiently.
"Jaylynn, think about this. Im the first uniform youve spent any amount of time with."
The blond shook her head slightly. "Youre not a uniform, Dez."
Dez ignored that comment and went on. "We all tend to fall intointowell, into all sorts of feelings for cops we partner with. I mean, I loved Ryan like he was a brother . . .like more than a brother."
"But you didnt want to sleep with him, right?"
Dez ran her hand through her wet hair and brushed it off her shoulder. "I didnt need to sleep with the guy!" she said in an angry voice. "I felt closer to him than I have to anyone." She half-turned so Jaylynn could no longer see her face. "Lets forget about this and go back to the way things were. Well just chalk this up as aawell forget it happened, okay? Its just a period of adjustment youre going through, you know, admiration for me and all that stuff left over from the attack on Sara."
"Dont patronize me," said Jaylynn. "I know how I feel, and this is not childish hero worship." She stopped abruptly and took a deep breath, closed her eyes and considered her options. She couldnt think of any. This is a losing battle. She marveled at the fact that somehow she knew it before she awoke. "Dez, Im confused. I dont understand. I know how you feel. You may think youre impervious to others, but I can seehell, I can feel your emotions. Im not getting the whole story here, am I?"
Dez looked away, then tossed the towel a few feet through the air onto the valet chair. She pulled the robe tighter and fidgeted with the belt. "I think I told you last night that I just cant date cops. It never works out. Its a rule I dont want to break."
"You dont date cops? Or you mean you wont date me?"
"Cmon Jaylynn. Dont make this so hard."
"I just want to know the truth."
"That is the truth. I dont date cops."
"In 24 hours I can be an ex-cop. Would that change your point-of-view?"
Dez shuddered, then moved away from the couch, her back to Jaylynn. "You cant give up your career."
"But theoretically speaking, if I did, we wouldnt be breaking your rule. So then, what would you say?"
Dez pulled the belt even tighter and turned to Jaylynn, her face a blaze of anger. "No," she said. "I would say no."
Jaylynn felt all the blood run out of her face, and she felt cold all over. "So its not about me being a cop"
"Yes, it is."
"No. Its not," Jaylynn said firmly. She slipped out from under the quilt and retrieved her running shoes from next to the coffee table. As she sat on the couch and tied her shoes, she said, "Youre lying to yourself and youre lying to me. This isnt about us being cops. Why dont you tell me the truth? You think Im too young to take it?"
Dezs face was grimmer and whiter than Jaylynn had ever seen it. She crossed her arms over the blood red robe and in a calm voice said, "All right. Maybe there is more. My job is too important to jeopardize. I wont risk it by having others find out Im in a relationship with another officerand a woman at that."
Jaylynn brushed her hair out of her eyes and in a weary voice said, "Nobody cares. They already think youre gay anyway."
"The hell they do!"
"Wake up, Dez. Believe me when I say its a subject your fellow officers have discussed at length." She let out a bark of laughter. "Theres even money on it."
"Oh shit! Thatsthatsdont listen to that station-house gossip. Its all bullshit!" Now her face flamed red, and fine veins in her forehead showed through. "Those jerks know nothing for sure, and Im keeping it that way. Ive worked too hard building a reputation, creating alliances. Im not going to blow that now."
Jaylynns anger surged in response. "Youd rather ride around alone in a patrol car, holding out your sterling reputation and keeping everyone at arms length than take a chance with me? Is that what youre saying?"
Dez glared at her and crossed her arms around the red robe as though she were cold.
"Youd rather ride all night alone than in a two-man car with a partner?"
"Yeah, thats right. What do you wanna do about it?"
"Nothing, Dez. Thats your choice." Jaylynn rose and tucked her plaid shirt into her jeans. In a spiritless voice she said, "Im just sorry you feel that way, that its more important for you to keep up appearances than to care about other people." She strode through the door and into the kitchen and grabbed her jacket.
Dez came to stand in the doorway. She looked uncertain. "Hey, let me get some clothes on and Ill run you home."
"Nope. Thats all right. I can walk."
"Geez, Jay, its over a mile. Ill take you. Its cold out."
In a voice as cold as ice, she said, "Thanks. But Id much rather walk." She opened the kitchen door, not looking back, and pulled it shut behind her, leaving Dez light-headed. The tall woman stumbled back into the living area and onto the couch. God, that went badly. I didnt mean to hurt her. I didnt mean for it to be soso goddamn awful. She couldnt control it anymore. Her eyes welled up with tears and she sat on the couch, her head in her hands, and cried bitter tears until she could cry no more.
Jaylynn pulled her hood up and adjusted the snaps as tightly as she could. Despite the weak afternoon sun, it was cold. She tucked her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket, closed her eyes a moment, shook her head. That had gone so badly. That was a dose of stubborn Irish womanhood I never expected to see. But hey, Im a realist, right? I should have realized she wouldnt be able to handle it. I should have known. I blew it. God, I messed that up big time.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a brief moment.
But does Dez really feel that way? That her career is more important than exploring a relationship with someone else? I cant believe it. I dont want to believe it.
She kicked every rock she came across, and as she walked, she became increasingly angry. What a chicken shit! A little voice in the back of her head tried to argue that Dez was probably still dealing with Ryans death, that perhaps she needed more time, but Jaylynn pushed the thought out of her mind. No sympathy allowed. Not until she forced Dez to work this out with her. Dammit, shed listen to reason or else.
Jaylynn was chilled, but fuming when she reached the house. She was grateful that neither Sara nor Tim were home as she stomped up the stairs to her room. She undressed, got into the shower, and kept turning Dezs words over and over in her head. How could she be so callous, so hard-hearted? I know for a fact that there is a heart in there somewhere. How can she deny herself love and pleasure and happiness? I dont understand. She felt the tears burn in her eyes and fought them back. No tears, Dez said. Cops dont cry.
Steaming hot water coursed over her, and she fought back the tears. No need to cry about this now. Its not over.
The days off on Monday and Tuesday dragged by for Jaylynn. A tiny fraction of her hoped Dez might perhaps call, but the phone never rang for anyone in the household but Tim. She tried to focus on a book, a video, tidying up her room, all the while trying to dissolve the awful feeling of doom that had sat on her chest since Sunday.
Finally on Wednesday afternoon she could take it no longer. Still upset, shed picked over her lunch, not able to eat much. After the meal, she borrowed Tims beater and drove over to Dezs place. She went around to the back yard and was surprised to find Luella out sweeping the light dusting of snow off the cement walk.
"Well, hello dear. How are you?" said the older woman.
"Hi Luella. Im fine. Whatcha up to?"
Luella leaned on the broom. "Nothing much at all. Ive got some excellent pork loin leftover if you"
Jaylynn shook her head. "Thanks, Luella, but I ate a big lunch, and I just couldnt. But thank you so much for offering. I still havent gotten over how wonderful those ribs were that you made the last time I was here!"
"Secret family recipe," Luella said in a conspiratorial voice. "Someday Ill share it with you."
"Sounds good. So is Dez around? I need to talk with her."
"You go on up honey. Shes been in hermit mode all day. Hope you can get her to come out, enjoy a few of the suns rays before its pitch black out. I swear shes turning into a vampireonly comes out at night." The old woman laughed at that and followed Jaylynn up the stairs into the house. "Go on. See if you can liven her up some."
Jaylynn took the stairs two at a time and stood in front of the door a moment trying to compose herself. She rapped on the door and waited until Dez whipped it open and looked at her as though startled. "Uh, hi. Whatre you doing here?"
"I was hoping we could talk before our shift."
Dez was barefoot and wore an oversized faded blue t-shirt and baggy black sweatpants. She looked like shed just awakened. She opened the door wider and stepped back to let Jaylynn into the tiny kitchen, then backed up to the counter and put her hands on the edge. She leaned her hips against it, legs crossed at the ankle. Jaylynn came in and shut the door behind her. She turned to face the taller woman. There was a tension about her, an edginess directed her way that Jaylynn wasnt used to getting. How could Dez be so cold, she wondered, so distant?
Dez said, "I wish youd called and told me you were coming."
Jaylynn shook her head and laughed humorlessly. "I would have if I had known your phone number. I suppose you know youre unlisted, right?"
Dez gave a slight nod.
"So could we talk about Sunday night?" Jaylynn said.
Dez glared over her shoulder, not meeting the rookies eyes, her face going from pale and tight to pink and impassive in the space of only a few seconds. "Theres really not much to talk about."
Jaylynn tucked her hands into her jacket pockets and tilted her head a bit to the side, looking at Dez quizzically. "How can you say that?"
"I think we said it all already. Maybe this is one of those things where we have to agree to disagree."
"And where does that leave you and me?"
Dez shrugged. She looked around the room, everywhere but at Jaylynn.
Jaylynn was glad shed eaten so little because suddenly her stomach clenched and she felt like she couldnt quite breathe. This was worse than shed expected.
She made one last stab. "I dont know if it helps to say this, but Im sorry. I didnt mean to push you or offend you or"
"No, no, no." Dez made a motion with her hand to cut her off. She straightened up and put one hand back on the counter, the other on her hip. "Forget about it," she said sharply.
Jaylynn stepped back as though slapped. "Okay." She took a deep breath. "All right then." She grabbed hold of the knob and pulled the door open. This time she looked back. Dez had leaned against the counter again, her arms crossed over the blue t-shirt. She looked down at the floor. Jaylynn didnt bother to pull the door shut. She made it to the stairs in four quick steps and hurtled down in a rush, grateful to hit the cold, clear air outside.
Jaylynn arrived early for her shift only to learn that Dez had called in sick. "First time in a couple of years," said the duty sergeant, "other than that broken arm thing last summer, but that dont really count as a sick day."
The rookie was assigned to ride with Officer Cheryl Pilcher, a seasoned veteran in her early 40s. Jaylynn only knew her well enough to smile and say hi, but she did know Pilcher had recently had her twenty-year anniversary because some of the other cops razzed her about it. Pilcher was known to be quite a cut-up around the station playing practical jokes and hamming it up. The blond looked her over surreptitiously during roll call. A curvaceous woman at least three inches shorter than Jaylynn, Pilcher had sandy brown hair and brown eyes. She moved with confidence, a kind of strut of sureness that Jaylynn wished she herself had.
Jaylynn was nervous at first because Pilcher didnt seem too crazy about the pairing, but once they headed toward the car, her temporary partner said, "Itll be nice to ride with you tonight, Savage. I started out as Vells FTO, but then he got transferred to Tour I because they were so short. Ive been on my own since my partner left for six weeks of paternity leave, and it gets kinda lonely out here alone. You wanna drive or should I?"
Jaylynn hesitated. "I dont usually drive."
"Oh yeah, thats right. Youve been riding with Reilly, and she hogs the wheel all the time. Here. Why dont you take the keys and drive the first half of the shift. Ill catch the second half after meal break. And dont call me Pilcher. My names Cheryl."
"And you can call me Jaylynnor Jay." She took the keys and got into the cruiser.
Jaylynn found Cheryl to be an entertaining partner. It wasnt long before they were sharing stories of what had happened to each of them in their first few months on the job. After a particularly amusing story about one of the grumpier old guys in the division refusing to let Cheryl drive because of her "height impairment," Jaylynn said, "Hey, its good to hear somebody elses old war stories. This is a tough job at first, but Im getting better at it."
"How many other cops have you ridden with?"
"In training, I had two weeks each with Alvarez, Felder, and then Reilly. Since then, just Reilly so far. Ive only been on the force for three months, you know."
"You should ask around, talk to the other women. Some of them can tell you real horror stories. You wont get any out of Dez Reilly though. She tell you anything about her first months?"
Jaylynn shook her head.
"Yeah, figures. She must have been born a cop. Shes like the golden girl of all the bosses. Never makes a mistake. Well, not until Michaelson anyway."
Jaylynn eyed Cheryl with a puzzled look on her face. "What do you mean?"
"You heard about Ryan Michaelson, right?"
"Yeah, her partner who died."
"He might be alive today if she had stood by him, gave him first aid."
"I dont understand," Jaylynn whispered. "I thought he was shot by some low-life."
"He was. She called for backup and the paramedics, then went off to chase the shootershe got him, toobut Michaelson bled to death. I hear shes real good at training in rookies, but I wouldnt want to ride with her on a regular basis. Guess Im just superstitious. Besides that, she acts like shes too good for all of us veteran female cops. I hope she treated you well."
"For the most part, yes, she did."
"Wasnt too hard on you, was she?"
"You know you can report anything to the Lieutenant . . ."
"No, no, there werent any problems."
Jaylynn felt Cheryls eyes bore into her, and then the older woman said, "You know her nickname, dont ya?"
"The Ice Queen. Seems fitting, dont you think? Personally, I think of her as Dez the Lez. She didnt make a pass at you or anything, did she?"
Jaylynn snorted and shook her head. "No. That for sure never happened."
"Well, an awful lot of us wonder if shes gay, but hey, shes the Ice Queen. Whats the chance of that when shes so damn cold-hearted? Youll probably ride with her again, and just remember, if shes ever hard on you, you should report it."
Cheryl rattled on about procedures for complaints, but Jaylynn wasnt listening. Things clicked into place about Dez. The way she held herself apart from the other women, her reticence to get involved, the sadness around her so much of the time. No wonder she didnt want to get close to me. She was probably planning on getting rid of the new rookie as soon as she could anyway. But what were those couple of kisses all about? Jaylynn felt a flush rise from her neck to forehead and was glad for the veil of twilight that obscured her features from the chattering passenger. Those kisses were for real. Jaylynn stopped to reflect. Well, maybe not. Maybe I just got so carried away that I felt what I wanted to feel that I thought it was mutual. Stillshe let me hold her all night . . . wasnt that something? But that could be explained too. Dez had been so tired, exhausted really. Perhaps she just put up with it because she was overtired. She humored me. She was going to pass me on to someone else when her Field Training Officer assignment ended, and she was just being polite. Thats why she said shed rather ride alone. I didnt think it was true, but now I know it must be.
A call came over the radio, and Cheryl picked it up to respond. Off they went to a domestic call, and thoughts of Dez left Jaylynn for a short while.
Dez arrived at work an hour early on Thursday and apologized to the duty sergeant, Belton, for her absence the day before.
"Gee, Reilly, youre never sick. Dont worry about it. Actually," he said as he peered into her face, "you still look like shit. Sure youre feeling okay today?"
Dez felt herself blush. She smiled. "Nah, I feel fine today, even if I dont look so good. Is the Lieutenant in?"
"Yeah, and hes in a good mood so dont piss him off."
"Never! Would I ever do that to you?" She smiled grimly and he winked back at her as she stepped past him. She passed the battered metal desk and tapped on the scarred wood trim outside Lt. Malcolms open office door.
He looked up. "Well, Reilly. How ya doing?" The Lieutenant was elbow deep in paper work, his suit jacket off with his dingy white shirt sleeves rolled up.
"Im fine, sir. But I have a request to make about trainee assignments."
"Yeah?" He sat back. "You wanna come in and sit down?"
"No thanks, this will only take a minute of your time. I think Im ready to pass Savage on to one of the other FTOs."
"Too late for that."
"What?" Dez frowned, thoroughly taken aback.
"She and Pilcher already asked for reassignment yesterday, and I approved it. Now dont tell me you girls went and had a big fight last tour?"
Dez sputtered. "No sir, we most certainly didnt. I was out sick. I dont know anything about . . ."
He laughed. "Calm down, Reilly. Theres no problem. I was just jerkin your chain a little. She said she was ready for a change, wanted the chance to ride with a variety of officers. She complimented you. Said you had taught her a lot." He shuffled the pages in his hands. "Sure doesnt happen very often that vets and rookies have the same sense of timing. Good job. Youre on your own for a while until the duty sergeant sets you up with someone else."
"Thank you, sir." She turned to go.
"Reilly?" he said. "I really do appreciate you taking the rookies out and showing them the ropes. Youve done a good job, and I mean that.
"Thank you sir," she said.
"Wont be long though, and youll have to hook up with a regular partner when you work the East Side."
"Otherwise," he said, clearing his voice, "How ya doing?"
She knew what he referred to, but she wasnt about to speak of Ryan or her feelings or anything else the department shrink had encouraged her to discuss with her superiors and peers. Instead she said, "Im hanging in there, Lieutenant. Some days better than others. But Im fine."
"Good to hear," he said heartily. "Nice job then. Go out and get em, Reilly. Have a good shift."
"Yes sir," she said, but shed only half heard him. Her head was busy trying to figure out why Jaylynn had jumped ship. Beat her to the punch was maybe the better metaphor, for she decided she felt like shed been socked upside the head. She walked toward the womens locker room in a daze and sat on the bench outside her locker for several minutes before standing up and unlocking it. Unlike her neat apartment, her locker was stuffed full of gear and clothes. In a fit of frustration, she hauled everything out and piled it on the floor in front of her, then sat back on the bench with her head in her hands. Tears threatened to fall again, and she looked around in alarm only to note that she was alone in the locker room. Pull it together, Reilly, she thought. Dont be foolish. You cant expect her to want to keep riding with someone who just rejected her. Cant go back to holding hands. She gave a cynical laugh and began sorting through all her belongings and putting them in good order in the locker.
Jaylynn arrived in the meeting room seconds before the sergeant called roll. Dez sat on the side, near the back in her regular spot, drinking water from a quart bottle. Jaylynn glanced at her and noted the impassive face, the cold eyes, the alabaster face. Dez eyes flicked toward her, not meeting the rookies gaze. Though the dark haired woman did give an almost imperceptible nod, she looked away and didnt turn back. Jaylynn felt her knees shake and instead of sitting in the back near her ex-partner, she took a spot in the middle of the room a few chairs ahead of Dez.
As the sergeant started calling everyone to order, Cheryl came rushing in to join her. "Didnt miss anything, did I?" she whispered loudly.
"No. Hes just starting."
Jaylynn tried to concentrate on what the duty sergeant was saying. It was all she could do to keep from getting up and dragging Dez outside to talk. All she wanted to do was explain the switch, make her understand. But what good would it do? We cant talk about it anymore, and as she said, we just disagree. What would be the use of forcing the issue again? It didnt work earlier. What could I say now? Shes made her decision, and Ill respect it. I dont have to like it, but Ill respect it.
With a heavy heart Jaylynn left after roll call ended, followed by Cheryl who laughed and talked with everyone on the way out the door to the parking lot. Jaylynn didnt look back but she swore she could feel those chips of blue ice burning into her back.
It was several days before Jaylynn felt like shed regained her equilibrium. It was a trial each day to go to roll call, but she did it, hoping each time that it would get easier. It never did. She considered switching from Tour III, but she didnt have enough seniority to bid onto Tour II days, and she sure didnt want to work the Tour I graveyard shift. Besides, as much as it hurt, as much as it disconcerted her, she felt compelled to see the taciturn dark haired cop. Sara told Jaylynn she was a sucker for sucker punches, but she couldnt help herself.
Cheryl worked Saturday through Wednesday, so Jaylynn rode with her part of the time, but on Cheryls days off, she rode with a variety of cops. Every Thursday and Friday Jaylynn went to roll call and tried to pretend to herself that she wasnt hoping shed get assigned to Dez. But as the days went by, it appeared it was never going to happen. One night she rode with a gray-haired black cop, Reed, who very kindly quizzed her on procedures and helped her to learn the radio codes more thoroughly. Another night she had a miserable time with a handsome officer named Barstow who thought he was gods gift to the world. She chalked it up to experience. Eventually she was assigned fairly routinely to ride with Crystal Lopez on Cheryls nights off.
Every afternoon she found Dez in the back of the roll call room calmly sipping water, her face impassive. Was it her imagination or did the dark-haired womans face look more hollow and gaunt each day? Usually the blue eyes bored past her like cold icicles, not really connecting at all. Just one warm lookjust one, thought Jaylynn. If just one time Dez would look even the slightest bit welcoming . . . but it didnt happen. The words to a Stevie Nicks song kept running through her head at inopportune moments: No, I never got over those blue eyes . . . I see them . . . everywhere . . . And I miss those arms that held me . . . . She put the song out of her mind, but it kept coming back to haunt her.
One night after shed worked with Crystal off and on for a few weeks, they got onto the subject of Dez Reilly. Jaylynn drove slowly through the Selby-Dale area, keeping an eye out for anything unusual. It was a quiet night, with lots of dead time for chatting, and she and Crystal had touched on the lives of many of their fellow officers.
"Can I ask you something?" said Crystal.
"Whats up with you and Dez?"
"What do you mean?" said Jaylynn, holding her breath.
Crystal reached across the car and punched her playfully in the arm. "Come on, mi amiga, I know her well enough, and Im getting to know you. Shes giving you that tough macha mean chick routine. She doesnt do that unless you got under her skin. Whatd you do to her?"
Jaylynn kept her hands on the wheel, but gripped it tightly. She stumbled on her words, not knowing how to explain. "I dont know . . . I mean, I cant say. Its not that I did anything to her . . . its more that she doesnt want to be around me."
"Thats hard for me to believe. She likes you a lot. I can tell. She only said good things about you when she was training you. And believe me, once shes your friend, then its for always. Shes very loyal. We had a big screaming fight one time . . . ." Crystal laughed heartily. "Let me rephrase thatshe didnt say much. We had a disagreement, and I bitched at her big time. We were really pissed at each other. The next night I found out my partners mother was deathly sick. I lived in a really rough neighborhood back then, so Dez came to house-sit and take care of the dogs so we could go to Louisiana. I didnt even know she was allergic to dogs til we got back. It was winter, and she basically slept on the three-season porch in a sleeping bag, but hey, she looked out for our house. Shes reliable, that one is. Even if shes pissed at you, shell treat you fair."
"What happened to your partner?"
"I mean where is he or she now?"
Crystal gave her a blank look. "Shes at home, where else?"
Jaylynn paused a moment. "So she doesnt ride with you anymore?"
Crystal let out a snort of laughter. "Shayna wouldnt be caught dead in light blue. Says she only looks good in orange and olive and autumn colors. Colors like that make me look sallow and dead." She laughed again. "No, shes not on the force. She never wanted to be a cop. Ever. She works at a craft store framing stuff, selling thread and needles and shit like that. And shes my partner. My sweetie. Know what I mean?"
Jaylynn felt embarrassed for being so dense, but she grinned and made light of her misunderstanding. "Oh! Partner! Like a wife," she said. "I gotta get me one of them."
"Si senorita. Real good idea. You sure youre the type?"
"Uh huh, though my mother will probably be disappointed."
"No wonder you and I get along so fine," said Crystal. "I should have known. But hey, I dont assume. Bad idea, you know. So now you can tell me all about your life and loves. You with anyone now?"
"Nah, not since the first couple of years of college. Didnt work out."
"I know quite a few nice girlssingle, I meanI should introduce you to."
"Oh I dont know"
"What?" Crystal reached across the car and punched Jaylynn playfully in the arm. "Youre young, youre sweet, you got those nice hazel green eyes. I bet you look great in street clothes. I could set you up with a ton of good-looking chicas. You just say the word."
"Sure. Ill let you know."
Crystal gave a sigh. "All right, why you holding back, Jay?"
Jaylynn grimaced. "My hearts not in it right yet. Kind of a rebound thing."
"You let me know then. We can go out to the club, meet some nice women. Ill show you around. When youre ready."
Jaylynn nodded and smiled over at her, then turned left and headed north over the freeway overpass.
Crystal put her hand out and grasped Jaylynns forearm. "Let me give you a piece of advice about Dez. Dont let her mean ass routine get to you. She just looks like that on the outside. On the inside shes mush."
When Jaylynn didnt answer and only nodded slightly, Crystal watched her surreptitiously out of the corner of her eye, then shook her head and smiled a knowing smile. She nodded and leaned back, taking a few minutes to think before starting up another conversation about an entirely different subject.
Crystal continued to badger Jaylynn about going out and about meeting new friends. Finally one afternoon toward the middle of March, the younger woman agreed to go out after their shift was over.
"All right!" said Crystal as she peeked around the corner in the locker room. "Lemme just call Shayna, and well see who we can round up. I know Merilee will come, and maybe Marshall, that other new rookie. I dont know her first name yet, but hey," she said suggestively, "shes pretty cute." Crystal flashed her a wide smile and then disappeared through the locker room door.
Jaylynn shook her head. Pretty cute. Ha. Thats the last thing I need. Paula Marshall was just fine in Police Academy, and the rookie had liked her a lot, but not to date. There was no spark between the two of them. Paula might eventually turn into a good friend though. She finished buttoning up her blue shirt, tucked it in, and fastened her belt. She checked her watch and decided she had better get a move on. She hastened around the corner to the bathrooms and ran smack into 170 pounds of glowering Desiree Reilly.
"Uh, sorry," she said as she rebounded off the solid form.
In response the scowling woman inclined her head, giving the rookie the slightest of nods, then looked away and hastened past. It occurred to Jaylynn that she must have heard the conversation with Crystal, and she wondered if that was why the tall cop was so abruptno, actually, she was rude. The blond went into the bathroom stall and found herself fuming. She doesnt own me. She cant pick my friends. If I want to go out and whoop it up, then dammit I will! She emerged from the restroom and took the stairs two at a time.
As she passed down the hall toward the roll call room, a clerk on the telephone gestured to her, and she stopped, puzzled. "Me?" she said, pointing to her own chest.
He nodded. "Yeah. Phone call here."
She walked across the Comm Center and took the phone from him.
"Hello, sweetie," said a kindly voice.
"Thats me. Say, I was wondering if youd like to come over for dinner again. I havent seen you for so long, Im missing you."
"Well thats so nice of you! Sure Ill come. When?"
They arranged to have supper the following Tuesday night, and then Jaylynn hung up the phone and hustled over to the roll call room. She was glad to hear from Luella. She had missed the old woman a lot.
Jaylynn arrived at Luellas house and parked her new Camry out front. She got out of the car and slammed the door, looking down with pride at her most expensive acquisition ever. She had been quite tired of relying on the bus and the vagaries of Tims schedule in order to get around and had been saving for three months. The previous day she had bought the modest gray Camry from a neighbor whod upgraded to an Avalon. The bank loaned her the money without a problem, and now she was the proud possessor of a neat and tidy Toyota with less than 38,000 miles on it.
When she got into Luellas house she proudly pointed it out, and the older woman surprised her by saying, "Well, hey! Lets take it for a spin."
"You wanna drive?"
"No, but you can be the chauffeur."
"What about your dinner?"
"Thats the nice thing about casseroles. Ill just turn it down a bit, and well come back in fifteen minutes to a nice hot dinner." After a quick visit to the kitchen, Luella returned to the porch and shrugged on her black quilted jacket. Today she wore a scarlet colored wool skirt and a long-sleeved ivory-colored blouse. She slipped out of the ubiquitous pink slippers and into a clunky pair of Nikes. "Wish I could still wear heels," she said, "but these old feet just wont allow it."
Jaylynn pointed to her Adidas. "Ill take tennis shoes any day. I dont care if I ever wear fancy shoes again." She took the older womans arm and they made their way down the stairs.
Luella said, "I always liked elegant shoes. Had a whole closet full when I was a young thing like you." She sighed. "But times change. Im just thankful to God that I can still get around at my advanced age."
Jaylynn laughed. "I can only hope I am in half as good a shape when I get to be your age, Luella." She opened the passenger door, helped the silver haired woman in and shut the door.
Dez watched from the upstairs bathroom window. She saw the laughing blond tuck the old lady into the car and then hurry around to the drivers side and get in. As they drove off , Dez wondered where the car came from. She knew it wasnt Tims. Maybe Saras? She backed away from the window and wandered into the living room and stood uncertainly for a moment. Luella hadnt told her shed invited the rookie over, and she wondered whether the old woman knew she and Jaylynn werent speaking. Sometimes she thought her landlady was psychic.
She cracked her knuckles and then shook her hands out before reaching down to snag her acoustic guitar. She went over and slouched down on the couch, one foot up on the coffee table. Checking the strings, she adjusted the tuning and started picking a pattern and playing various chords with it. Her mind wandered as she played. She thought about the friendship that had started to develop with the rookie and how it had been ruined. She wasnt sure how she could have done things differently, but she knew she should have. It occurred to her that nothing ever made sense to her at a very quick rate. It took her so long to figure out what she was feeling that it was no wonder that she didnt have any close friends anymore . . . not that shed ever had many.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself, she scolded. Whats the point? She focused on playing the guitar and found herself moving through a series of minor chords and throwing in some C-majors and F-majors. A little smile came to her. This chord progression and melody was going to stick. Lately, every time she picked up the guitar it flowed out of her fingers, and every time it happened, she thought of Jaylynn. Guess Ill have to call this "Jaylynns Song." Maybe someday Ill think of some words to go with it. She leaned the guitar against the couch cushion and got up and moved over to the roll top desk. Sliding the top open, she avoided looking at the pair of photographs on the inside desk surface and instead grabbed a pencil and a stack of lined paper, then shut the top.
She took the paper and pencil over to the coffee table and spent some time writing out the chord progression and the melody line for the song. In the middle of it, she heard the downstairs door slam, so she rose and looked out the bathroom window again. The gray Camry was once more parked out front.
A part of her wanted very much to go down the back stairs and drop in, but she couldnt bring herself to do it. Up until the last few days, her pride would not have let her even think of such a thing, but it wasnt her pride now preventing her from doing it. She didnt think Jaylynn would appreciate the intrusion. It was obvious Friday afternoon in the locker room that the blond had moved on to other "cuter" friends. Besides, the rookie had made it perfectly clear that she wanted nothing to do with her, so Dez had no intention of upsetting her any more than she already had. She sighed and moved back into the living room, now feeling unexpectedly claustrophobic. Shuddering, she returned to the couch where she picked up the guitar and quietly played the chord progression that she couldnt get out of her head.
St. Patricks Day dawned clear and cold, but sunny. Jaylynn rolled out of bed in response to the clock radio blaring. She wasnt happy to be going to work early, by eleven a.m., and working until at least Midnight. For one thing, that meant that she wouldnt get a run in at all today. But it was also going to be an awfully long day. The old timers on the force had told her that St. Paddys Day was always fun because of the parades and festive spirits, but St. Paddys Night was hell with all the drunk driving and bar brawls. The pleasant March weather was likely to bring out a raft of people, though her colleagues had said it wouldnt be so bad on a Tuesday night as it was when the holiday fell on a weekend.
The rookie showered, dressed, ate a big breakfast, and packed a variety of snacks to take with her to the station. She wasnt used to arriving in the roll call room so early, and obviously, neither were her fellow shift members. Oster looked like he had rolled out of bed and forgotten to brush his short hair. Pilcher and Lopez sat in the folding chairs yawning and complaining. The rest sat in silence, waiting to jump start their day. Even the duty sergeant was crabby. Jaylynn sat down in a chair near Lopez, but not before noticing haunted blue eyes in the rear of the room. The big cop leaned back in her chair, arms crossed over her chest and feet up on a chair in front of her. If she didnt know better, Jaylynn would have wondered if the Irish cop had already tied one on the night before. Instead, she suspected that she simply hadnt slept enough.
The rookie listened carefully as the duty sergeant outlined their assignments. At 11:30, all of them were to be out in full force in downtown St. Paul to line the streets during the parade. The sergeant went through a long list of dos and donts, then quickly shouted out which corners each would be assigned for the duration of the parade and its aftermath. Jaylynn knew she would be in front of the bank on the corner of 5th and Wabasha with Crystal down the block near the towering Landmark Center. Then they would go on patrol, have an early meal break, and be ready for things to start simmering as it grew dark out.
Crystal Lopez, still complaining, tossed her the keys and hiked out to the car with the blond. "I hate this holiday."
Jaylynn gave her a big grin. "Sounds like exactly the same thing happens on Cinco De Mayo."
"Yeah, but at least I get a little respect from the kids."
"Hey, we could get you some nice leprechaun ears or something."
"Thanks but no thanks. I like my ears just fine."
In short order they arrived in downtown and parked in a tow away zone. One of the few benefits of police work was never having to worry about finding a parking spot or about getting ticketed or tagged. They headed down the block on foot, Crystal moving toward the castle-like Landmark Center which was across from Rice Park and the Library, and Jaylynn further down the street by the bank. The parade route was blockaded so there was no traffic, but as every moment passed, more and more people appeared and lined the parade route.
A tiny old lady, her face wrinkled in pink, dressed in a light green elf hat, green polyester pants, a bright green jacket, and olive green tennis shoes stopped the rookie to ask what time the parade began and where the best place would be to watch. The rookie explained that the marchers would come up the street and head toward the River Centre. She suggested that the woman cross the street and watch from a vantagepoint by the St. Paul Hotel because she could get up on the steps and see better. The old lady tipped her hat and moved jauntily across the street in the busy crosswalk. Jaylynn watched her until she made it safely to the other side, and then her roaming eye caught sight of her fellow officer standing on the far opposite corner in front of the new Pazzaluna restaurant.
Dez Reilly stood calmly, her reflective sunglasses glinting in the sunlight. Her head was turned slightly away, but Jaylynn had the distinct feeling that the tall woman was watching her. She let her hazel eyes focus on the mirrored lenses, as though she could see right through them, and with a start the dark haired woman turned away. Jaylynn couldnt help but smile.
After a while the rookie glanced at her watch. It was after Noon now, and when she listened carefully over the talking and laughing of the crowd, she could hear the faraway the boom-boom of a bass drum, which gradually grew louder until she could also discern the tinny sound of horns. Before long, the band could be heard loud and clear, and she could see a bright green banner so wide that it went from one curb across to the other and required six people to hold it. Hundreds of people followed, some as part of civic groups, some parts of the various clans. The mayor and his entourage crawled along in a convertible, which said on the side "Provided by Chuck OLeary Chevrolet." There were shamrocks, and green hats, and curly-toed shoes, and green, green, green everywhere.
As the mayors car neared the intersection of 5th and Wabasha, Jaylynn caught sight of a quick movement. A young man on Dezs side of the street suddenly drew his arm back to throw something light tan in color. His arm came forward. Jaylynn opened her mouth to shout, but before a sound escaped, the light tan object vanished and the man stumbled forward a step off the curb and into the street. A blue arm grabbed him from behind. He jerked back and disappeared from sight as the place where he had been standing filled in with the eager onlookers.
The mayors car passed. Jaylynn saluted, then in the vehicles wake, cut across the street toward the hotel. The next band coming down the street was playing "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin" and she stepped to the beat of the song. She squeezed through the crowd lining the curb and peered over by Pazzaluna. From the St. Paul Hotel corner she could see the dark haired cop, no longer wearing the sunglasses, her right hand holding the tan object and her left grasping the material at the front of the young mans coat.
The blond weaved her way through the people on the sidewalk and hustled across Wabasha. As she drew near the altercation, she saw Dez strongarm the young man up against the plate glass window of the restaurant, her fist under his chin and still holding his bunched up jacket. The brown haired man was a good six inches shorter than the big cop, but it was clear he wasnt afraid of her. Jaylynn heard him say, "You cant prove it. You dont know."
A low voice growled, "Youre under arrest."
"For what?" he said.
"You were going to throw this at the mayors car." She held up the object which, as Jaylynn drew nearer, she could see was a paper bag wrapped around a bottle.
Jaylynn reached over and said, "Here. Let me have that." With barely a glance, Dez let go of the bottle. The rookie hefted it in her hand. It was at least half full, heavy enough to have done some damage to the car or to a person, if it hit right. Dez cuffed the man and read him his rights.
The tail end of the parade was passing by, and as it moved away, the people lined up along the street began to break up, too, looking curiously at the two cops standing with the suspect. Even though his hands were cuffed behind him, he pressed forward at Dez snarling and swearing. When he kicked out at the tall officer, Dez sprang back easily and moved into a ready stance. Jaylynn watched as a predatory look swept across the big cops face, her eyes alight with excitement.
In the crowd someone muttered, "Police brutality again." Jaylynn looked up, startled, but she couldnt see who had made the comment. The cuffed man called out, "Look at this, people. Asshole cops, arresting innocent people as usual." Dez grabbed his arm. He jerked away.
Jaylynn reached out with her free hand and gripped the mans ear. He winced and let out a squawk. "Listen up, Mister," she said. She raised her voice for the benefit of the milling crowd. "I saw you try to throw this at the mayors car." She held up the bottle in the bag. "Quit whining and come along."
She pulled his ear and, with his head turned to the side, he shuffled beside her protesting, but docile, like a small child in trouble with his mom. She said, "You should be ashamed of yourself. There was no reason to be so unpleasant. Come on now." The crowd lost interest and dispersed. When she and the man reached the corner, Jaylynn glanced over her shoulder. "Reilly, where you parked?"
The big woman gave the rookie a quizzical look and tossed her head toward Kellogg Blvd. "Round the corner there." She trailed a few steps behind, watching the younger woman dragging the sputtering man, and suddenly it seemed very comical. Minutes ago she had wanted to beat the hell out of this half-drunk moron, and nowwell, now it just didnt matter. She watched as the rookie continued to scold the man, her hair shining like white gold in the cold March sun. Dez was struck with a sense of familiarity, as though she had done this before, had followed the blond down scores of other streets hundreds of times. It brought a smile to her lips, though, upon reflection, she had no idea why she felt so happy.
Continued in Part 6
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