UNDER THE GUN
By Lori L. Lake
a/k/a Lorelei, Bard of the Lakes
firstname.lastname@example.org -- www.LoriLake.com
about time, but finally, the online sellers (besides Open Book) are starting
to get GUN SHY and RICOCHET IN TIME properly listed.
Bamm.com is quite up-to-date. If
you've ordered either of my books, you should get copies within the next week
or so. I have heard August 28th
as the date. However, if you ordered
from Barnes & Noble, you might want to double-check your status.
It seems they had some problems and may have wiped out some of the order
be at the RAP FanFaire in Atlanta next weekend.
Come by and say HI if you get the chance. More information can be found at: http://www.rapbooks.com/whatsnew.html
This is a sequel. If you
haven't read the first book, GUN SHY,
you might want to go to: http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/g/gunshy1.html.
you can purchase a copy of GUN SHY,
published by Renaissance Alliance Publishing (Quest Division), at any bookstore
or online bookseller. Also, I have
another book just published, RICOCHET
IN TIME, which has never been posted online.
A good source for both books is at The
The characters and the plot are original and mine.
Please give me advice, feedback, and criticism.
If something doesn't square up for you, go ahead and let me know.
I won't bite. At least not
very hard. This sequel is still
about cops. It
contains scenes of violence and/or their aftermath as well as one or
two swear words here and there. The
story depicts a love/sexual relationship between 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, either be very sneaky about reading this or else don't.
I'm not your mother. Do
what you want. J
Dez rode silently, her eyes systematically scanning the streets of the University
"Frogtown" neighborhood. Three
days had passed since Nielsen had ratted out her relationship with Jaylynn to
the Lieutenant. She wouldn't
even have known who had reported them
if it weren't for the fact that Nielsen had gone around the precinct bragging
Now here she was, bored, angry, stuck in a one-man car, and wishing she could get Nielsen alone in a dark alley.
found she despised riding alone. It
was bad enough during the weeks when Jaylynn's collarbone had been injured,
but at least she had something to look forward to after the rookie healed up.
But now they would never be paired again.
Nielsen had made sure of that.
What an asshole. I hope he
She cruised down University Avenue, slowing to eyeball anyone walking on
the sidewalk. So far, she had seen
no Ladies of the Night. Of course,
it was only about twelve degrees out.
Not a good night for mini-skirts and fishnet stockings-although she was
constantly surprised at the fortitude of the women who braved the bad weather
to make a few bucks off the willing johns who cruised the area.
She came to a stop at a red light on Snelling and University, and the car
idled while she thought about the situation.
What had she done after Ryan died and before Jaylynn entered her life?
She didn't have much memory of the time other than the feeling of a heavy
weight pressing, non-stop, on her chest.
Unfortunately, in the last few days, the feeling had returned, though
not to such a painful degree. Every
night at roll call she held her breath, hoping Jaylynn would be assigned to
a cop with integrity, one who would watch her back.
So far the duty sergeant had succeeded in assigning Jaylynn to Pilcher,
when Pilcher's regular partner, Stevens, was off for the day, and to Crystal
Lopez. Pilcher was okay, but Dez
breathed a sigh of relief when the rookie was assigned to ride with Crystal.
She knew Crystal would never let anything bad happen.
She'd been friends with Crystal since she'd joined the force almost ten
years ago, and Dez relied on her buddy.
That didn't stop her from worrying.
She had programmed her radio to scan several extra channels so she could
listen to dispatch for both of the sectors.
She paid careful attention to the calls that the rookie's squad was sent
Tonight was quiet. Too quiet
to help the time pass. She pulled
over into the Big K parking lot near Hamline and University, angling her car
toward the main street so that she could make a fast departure if Dispatch called.
She clicked on the sidelight and picked up a sheaf of papers and a clipboard
to start completing reports.
After thirty minutes, she was bored with the paperwork.
She was grateful not to be riding a desk.
She didn't much care for filling out forms and trying to figure out how
to explain things in the fewest words possible.
That was one of the reasons she had never taken the sergeant's exam.
Every step up the ladder seemed to decrease street action and increase
the amount of time spent poring over statements and records.
She liked being on her feet, moving around.
Sometimes she got into a flow where time just sped by, and her shift
was over before she knew it. Some
days, though, like today, nothing she did could hasten the slow hours.
She looked at her watch. Crystal
and Jaylynn were scheduled for meal break at nine. Some nights they had been able to meet at a restaurant on the
border of the two sectors-not that she needed to eat. After all the Thanksgiving treats she had packed away the week
before, she felt she shouldn't eat again for about a month.
But she was hungry now, so she pulled out her cell phone and dialed the
rookie's pager, then started counting.
She knew if it took longer than about fifteen seconds, they were likely
on a call . . . but the rookie's cell was answered right away.
The tall cop's spirits rose when the cheery voice came loud and clear over
the line. "Is it as dead over in
your sector as it is in ours, Dez?"
"Want to go hang out for break?"
"Yup." In the background she
could hear Crystal's voice, though Dez couldn't understand what she said.
"Same bat place, same bat channel?"
"'Kay. ETA six minutes."
They both hung up simultaneously.
Dez turned on the ignition key and the engine roared to life. Her ETA,
without speeding, would be at least six minutes. She was glad there was so little traffic out.
It didn't matter if she exceeded the speed limit.
Only seconds apart, they arrived at Danny Boy's, a quiet Irish pub that
served excellent hamburgers and sandwiches.
There were two sections of the bar.
One side sported open tables surrounded by huge TV's tuned in to local
sports events. Little food was
served in that section, but the beer ran like water from the taps.
A brick wall separated tonight's crowd of football fans from the other,
darker side where there were wooden booths, cloth napkins, and menus on the
tables. They were greeted warmly
by the waitress who had been around long enough to know that they might get
a call in the middle of dinner, but could be counted on to come back for their
boxes of food, not to mention pay for it.
Crystal slid into one side of the booth, right in the center, leaving the
other two cops to squeeze in next to one another on the other side-not that
they minded. Dez liked the feeling
of Jaylynn's blue clad leg pressed up against her thigh. She found herself smiling, for no reason, and she pushed down
the happy feeling and tried not to look so lovestruck.
Crystal gazed across at her and shook her head. "You, chica, got it bad."
Dez raised an eyebrow and let her face take on a passive expression.
"I sure have no idea what you mean."
She felt a warm hand slide over her leg and stop at her knee to give a squeeze.
Boom! Her knee came up
reflexively and smacked against the underside of the table.
"Ouch! Geez, Jay.
Thanks for giving her fodder for her sick twisted mind."
The waitress arrived with three glasses of water and a recitation of the
evening's specials. They all ordered
sandwiches, which were quick and portable.
Crystal ordered a diet Coke.
The tall cop shook her head. "How
can you drink that stuff, Crys? It's
like battery acid."
"Yeah, but no calories. I need
to keep the weight down. Gotta
run that two mile thing again here in a couple weeks, and the less I'm packin'
the better." Jaylynn nodded.
Crystal pointed her finger at the blonde.
"Don't you be nodding. You
never have trouble with the qualifying run."
She turned her gaze toward Dez.
"But you'll be a bit slower, I see."
"What?" The dark-haired woman
squinted in the dim light at her pal.
"You know what I mean. Must
be the honeymoon. You're packing
the poundage, too."
Dez's face burned. If
she could have gotten up and walked out, she might have, but she was parked
on the inside of the booth. Besides,
though she knew Crystal was teasing, her first response was to go across the
table and choke the ever-living life out of her friend.
She restrained herself.
"Hey, earth to Desiree." Crystal
snapped her fingers up in the air. Dez
stared daggers at her causing the Latina to raise both hands in the air, palms
facing them. "Sorry.
Sorry. Didn't know you were
so sensitive. Just thought maybe
you could give me a little moral support."
The tall cop glanced to the side to find hazel green eyes peering up at
her, puzzlement showing. "Dez,
is it just me, or is she calling you fat!"
A smiled twitched at the sides of Jaylynn's mouth, an infectious look
that made Dez relax. Jaylynn grinned
and said, "Well, Officer Lopez, obviously you've never seen my honey naked."
"Oh, geez, Jay!" Dez rolled
her eyes, but she was gratified to see, even in the dim light, that the black-haired
cop was blushing.
The rookie went on. "Just sticking
up for my loved one." She picked
up her menu. "Enough of this poor body image discussion.
Let's order, preferably something good and fattening."
The rest of the conversation was much less embarrassing to Dez, and instead of the cheeseburger she had originally planned to have, she ordered a turkey sandwich, which came piled high on wheat bread and was much better for her than the burger would have been.
After they finished their food, talk turned to station politics.
They debated about who would pass probation and speculated about the
new group from the Academy. The latest crew, which had signed on mid-year, had one woman,
and Jaylynn's class had had only had two.
Nobody understood why so few women were joining up.
They knew the classes were small because unemployment was low.
Despite vigorous recruiting, not many young people were applying. They were short on patrol and in the investigation squads-with
more retirements on the horizon. Several
promotions had occurred, and Dez and Crystal agreed that they didn't respect
a couple of the officers promoted.
Jaylynn scooped out a last bite of coleslaw. With her mouth partly full, she said, "A lot of people are
slated for retirement. I heard
two of the lieutenants talking about it when I was on desk duty. They said something about having ten percent salary savings
because of vacancies."
Crystal wiped her mouth on the napkin, then folded it and set it on the
table. "You'd think they'd use
some of that cash to replace a couple of those caca cruisers. I'm sick of the heat going out in 223. It's a piece of junk."
Jaylynn said, "They've got the whole budget based on line items, though.
You can't take money from one line item because it's dedicated for that
purpose only. I think they have
to get special permission from the City Council.
So instead, they try to run quite a bit of overtime, not just to cover
the job, but also to use up the money."
"Where'd you get that idea?" Her partner looked at her out of the corner
of her eye, and Jaylynn gazed back.
"Heard a lot of things when I was at the main stationhouse."
Crystal sighed. "Somebody ought
to take a stick to the City Council then.
What's the point of a budget if it isn't flexible?"
Dez checked her watch, then reached for her wallet.
"Speaking of funds, my turn to leave the tip."
Everybody ponied up cash for the meal, and the three of them wormed their
way out of the booth.
Jaylynn reached her hand over and placed it flat on Dez's stomach.
"She's not so fat, Crystal . . . it's just the vest."
The Latina rolled her eyes and muttered, "Yeah, sure.
Otherwise we'd be able to see her six-pack right through her shirt, right?"
Dez turned and stalked out. She'd
taken all the flak she could stomach.
Her long legs carried her out to the car, and she unlocked it and got
in. As she drove past the front
of the pub, Jaylynn gave her a little wave, so she saluted, then hit the gas.
She didn't know why Crystal's comments irritated her so much, but they did.
She headed back to the north end of her sector and to patrol the dark
streets by herself. Two-plus more
hours left alone.
Dez didn't think it had been a good night at all.
Saturday night's all right for fightin'... She sighed. There had been a slight warming trend, and the
late afternoon and early evening were uncommonly balmy. Only now, after dark, had the cold set in.
Despite the dropping temperatures, even at seven p.m. the loonies were
out, and everyone seemed to be grumbling about the sudden onset of the cold.
Homeless people, drunks, vandals-seemed everyone was fighting or yelling
and disturbing the peace. Dez had
already been to a nightclub on Selby Avenue twice because the residences around
it reported fights in the alley. The
Sharks and the Jets scattered when she drove her car down the alleyway.
She wondered how many more times she'd have to go back before someone
got knifed or knocked unconscious.
It didn't help that she was exhausted.
She hadn't had more than three consecutive hours of sleep for nearly
a week. Didn't matter how late
she stayed up. Even when she should
have been tired, she wasn't. Lying
next to the slumbering Jaylynn used to be thrilling, but had lately grown old
when she couldn't get enough rest to be anything but crabby the next day.
Seeing another unit with flashing lights in front
of the Tora Tora Bar on University, Dez turned onto a side street and parked
along the curb near the vacant lot on the corner. She had heard the call a while ago, but she'd been busy at
the nightclub and hadn't paid attention who had been dispatched.
It was still early in the evening, but the sun had set long ago, and
it was dark. She got out of the
car and realized it wasn't balmy any more.
She found she was actually shivering from the cold breeze.
Zipping up her jacket, she made a mental note that it was time to break
out the winter coat for cold nights such as this.
She stood on the corner, with the street on her
left, and looked ahead down the sidewalk.
The bar was on the right, and its door led right out on to the sidewalk.
Ahead of her, in front of that doorway, Arturo Alvarez stood, his back
to her, his hands behind him, as he spoke to three teenage youths on bicycles
that seemed too small for the kids' large frames.
To her left, Alvarez's Crown Victoria cruiser was
parked on the street, up close to the curb.
Dwayne Nielsen lounged against the right quarter panel of the squad car,
his feet crossed at the ankles and hands pressed together at his chest as though
he were praying. As she drew nearer,
she saw him break into a wide smile and tip his head first to one side, then
She looked at him, knowing that the hatred shone
in her eyes, but not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much
he had hurt her. She knew that if she were given the opportunity, she'd deck
him. Too bad that wasn't a possibility.
His eyes darted toward the bar where Alvarez stood
under the dim streetlight, speaking earnestly to the boys.
Nielsen uncoiled himself and slithered toward her, his gait smooth, his
face mocking. "Where's your little
gal pal, Dez honey?" he hissed.
She slowed to a halt, her hands in fists.
In a soft voice, she said, "You're making-no, you have made-a
He stopped four feet from her, grinning and giggling
softly. "Uh huh, right.
Seems like you're the one suffering."
The tall cop eyed the rookie officer.
They stood nearly eye to eye with Dez being only perhaps an inch shorter,
though he probably outweighed her by thirty pounds.
She maintained eye contact, letting the hate she felt surge through her.
Crossing her arms, she began counting silently, all the while staring
him in the eye. By the time she
got to six, he was laughing nervously.
"Big, tough Reilly.
You think you're so great-"
"Little weasely Nielsen.
How does it make you feel that most of the precinct is wondering why,
why, why were you at a gay bar? Everybody
knows about me, but they simply had no
idea about you."
If it hadn't been so dark out, Dez was sure she
would have clearly been able to see Nielsen's face blanch.
His voice rasped, but she noticed that he kept it down.
He glanced back over his shoulder to see Alvarez still busy with the
boys, then stepped closer to Dez. He
pointed his index finger at her jacket and punctuated his next sentence by nearly
touching her with every syllable. "You.
She grinned and nodded. "I'm so sad that
you don't believe me-a reliable FTO who's done everything to give you a fair
shake. Why don't you ask around,
you poor sweet thing? I am sure
some of the old timers will have many
choice words for ya."
Now he got in her face, stabbing his finger viciously,
nearly poking her in the eye. "I
should've filed a complaint against you before!"
She leaned away from him, letting her hands drop to her sides and casually taking a stronger stance, feet apart with one foot slightly ahead of the other. "You mean back when you were going around beating up on small women who weigh about a hundred pounds less than you?"
"That's right," he snarled, little bits of spit
flying from his lips.
She backed up and to the side, off the sidewalk
and into the gravel of the parking lot.
"You know what? You're disgusting.
Totally revolting. A poor
excuse for a human being."
He started to turn away, making a motion with his
hands like he was shooing her off. She
laughed out loud and said, "Once a weasel, always a weasel."
Over his shoulder he said, "Fuck you."
In a mocking tone, she sneered, "I didn't know you
were that kinda fella."
With a snarl of rage, he whirled around and rushed
her, his big hands forceful against the front of her bulletproof vest.
She couldn't help but grin, and her laughter further enraged him.
He shoved her again, and she let herself be driven back two steps.
As he gathered his hands to push her a third time, she stepped to the
side, then moved in close, bringing her knee up squarely into his groin.
Instead of slowing him down, this infuriated him.
With a bellow, he took a wild swing at her, which she ducked under.
She tried to step around him, but he got hold of her gun belt, which
pulled her off balance so that she stumbled.
From a distance she heard Alvarez shoulting.
"Hey! Cut it out!"
She spun, slipping out of Nielsen's grasp, and with
unerring accuracy mashed her right fist into his face.
Instant blood. By then Alvarez was there, shouting, "Stop it! Stop it!" and
pulling his partner away.
Dez shook her hand out, relaxing and tensing her
fingers. She figured she was going
to have bruises on her knuckles, but as far as she was concerned, it was well
worth it. Only one punch, but hey! It was something, wasn't it?
Dez had no idea about any problems until the end
of her shift. She signed out and
headed for the locker room only to have Sgt. Belton buttonhole her to tell her
the Lieutenant wanted to see her.
She reversed course, went back up the stairs, and
to Lt. Malcolm's office. When she
tapped on the doorframe, he was standing with his back to her.
"Lieutenant, you wanted to see me?"
He turned to face her, his face livid.
She hadn't seen him upset like this in quite some time, perhaps not since
last summer when she had gone alone without backup into a now familiar house
near Como Lake where an assault was in progress.
He hadn't been this upset when he had found out about her relationship
with Jaylynn-disappointed, yes-but he hadn't been angry.
Now his voice was curt, and she knew something was up.
"Reilly. Come with me. Got something to show you."
He came around the desk and pushed past.
Puzzled, she followed him as he led her out into one of the work rooms
down the hall from the roll call area.
He picked up a remote control and pointed it at the TV set over in the
corner, then popped a video into an attached VCR.
Dez stood in the middle of the room next to piles of newspapers, file
folders, and video cassettes marked with dates, times, and places.
She waited as the fuzz on the screen turned into a recognizable picture.
The lieutenant fast forwarded through a commercial, then hit the play
button. He pressed the button to
increase volume, and Dez heard one of the local TV newscasters.
She recognized the woman but didn't know her name.
"Citizens often wonder and worry about police brutality,
and occasionally, we newscasters can't help but wonder ourselves, especially
when faced with the evidence that officers on the St. Paul Police Force can't
even get along with each other."
The camera cut to a hazy and dark scene, but it was instantly identifiable to Dez. Two figures stood about thirty feet from a remote camera, which was likely perched beneath the rafters at the Tora Tora Bar on University. The broken glass in the gravel of the vacant lot glittered in the moonlight, giving the picture a shimmery fluidity. Dez watched with a sinking feeling as Nielsen shook his finger in her face, pushed her once, twice, and tried a third time. Her knee moved quickly, cat-like, though his body obscured the camera angle, but it was very clear then that he took a swing at her. She frowned. He looks pathetic. Terrible form for such a big guy. She looked almost balletic as she stepped around him-until he grabbed her belt, and then she was obviously off balance.
Alvarez's back appeared on camera, large at first,
then reducing in size, as he rushed toward them.
One more step and he would partially obscure her jab...but no.
There it was, clear as day on video.
Nielsen's head snapped back and he stumbled.
Dez saw how she had brought her hand up, shaking it, but the grin on
her face, even from thirty feet, was unmistakeable.
It was the same grin she currently sported and attempted to suppress.
Lt. Malcolm snapped the video off and hit rewind,
then shut off the set. Tossing
the remote on the table, he crossed his arms.
In a voice filled with fury, he said, "You want to tell me what the hell
that was all about, Reilly?"
Lt. Malcolm rarely swore, and the fact that he just
had made Dez's blood run cold. "What
do you want to know, sir?"
"I want to know what that was all about."
"Sir, I'd rather not say."
He glared at her. She met his gaze, then shrugged a little.
"You might say I could have avoided it, Lieutenant, and that I'm at fault."
"It's pretty clear to me that he pushed you first
and that you didn't respond-at first.
But the fact that you struck him . . . ." He put his hands on his hips and looked down at the floor,
his bald head glistening.
"Yes, sir," she said in a resigned voice.
"You do what you have to do, 'cause you can bet that I'll understand."
"What is the problem with him and you?"
When she didn't answer, he looked down, ran his hand over his bald head.
"Reilly...Reilly. Geez, what
am I gonna do with you?" He stared
at her. "You're one of my best officers.
You've got nearly a decade with the force. You've got so many talents, so much opportunity for advancement.
One day you could be a lieutenant-or captain.
Hell, you could be Chief for all I know!
But lately...oh boy. Lately
you've made some dumb choices." She
looked down at the floor and waited. He
scratched the top of his head and sighed.
"I'll let you know tomorrow-or later in the week-I have to talk to Commander
Paar and wait to see what the political fallout is."
"You know what really ticks me off?"
She waited, not meeting his eyes. "I just put in a request for a commendation
for you, and you can be pretty certain it's going to wind up back on my desk
with a great big red denial on it." He
let out a big sigh and slowly shook his head.
"Go home, Reilly. And please,
I beg you, stay out of trouble." With
a wisp of a smile on his face, he turned and headed for the door.
Almost as an afterthought, he threw a final comment over his shoulder:
"Remind me never to get in the way of your fist. I hear Nielsen's got a deviated septum."
She was glad he wasn't looking because she wasn't
able to force back a grim smile of satisfaction.
The day following the altercation
with Nielsen, the tall cop was in good spirits as she drove her squad car toward
her special assignment. For the
first three hours of her shift, she had been on regular patrol, but now she
was headed downtown to join other officers who were working crowd control at
a Saturday evening convention center event.
She'd already been quietly joshed
by some of her fellow patrol officers about the previous day's events.
She was still surprised to learn how many of them despised Nielsen.
She hid her amazement as officer after officer indicated support and
faulted the hot-headed rookie for accosting her and for turning her and Jaylynn
in to the brass. A couple of them
said they had known about her and the blonde's personal relationship for a while,
and they would never have squawked
to the bosses. She hadn't expected
that at all from so many of her peers.
Not one person was negative, though a couple of cops were silent on the
topic. The ones who did speak up
didn't seem to mind about her choice of lovers as much as they were incensed
that the young upstart had ratted her out to the commanders.
She thought about that for a little while, remembering how many years
she had carefully guarded her personal life.
Did I need to do that?
She didn't know. What
she did know that there was quite a double standard for men and women.
If she and Jaylynn had been male, she could bet they'd be ostracized.
In her opinion, that was unconscionable.
She knew there was no reason that a gay officer couldn't and wouldn't
be just as good a cop as a straight guy-or a lesbian.
I sure hope that changes some day.
We desperately need young cops, and I don't care if they are gay or straight,
men or women, younger or older. We
just need more good cops.
She turned her thoughts to the
"special assignment" ahead of her. Even
though crowd control details were ordinarily boring and tedious, she looked
forward to this one because Jaylynn was already there, working at the River
Centre for the entire shift. The
International Food Fair ran from noon to midnight, and if years past were any
indication, it promised to be a madhouse right up to the end.
There were extra officers on duty inside, and she, Jaylynn, and two others
would work the Kellogg Boulevard traffic posts.
She didn't think she had any worries about the rookie's safety tonight.
She figured the worst of her worries would be that Jaylynn would complain
of the cold. It was down to twenty-eight
degrees and dropping when they left home, and snow was in the forecast.
She pulled up to the River Center
parking ramp, which was directly across from the convention center, and parked
the cruiser in a No Parking zone behind another cop car.
After updating dispatch, she emerged from comfortable warmth into crisp,
damp air. Yup,
snow is on the way. She grabbed
her patrol jacket out of the back seat and shrugged it on.
With her t-shirt, protective vest, and blue uniform shirt, she knew she
would be plenty warm so long as she kept moving.
She locked up, then stood for moment appraising the activity on the street.
In the waning light, she could see people of all shapes, sizes, and colors
scurrying across the wide boulevard, dodging cars, and slowing down traffic.
Someone in a big white Dodge Ram honked his horn at two women in colorful
African headdresses and bulky coats. They
dragged two small children each by the hand, and another two young boys stumbled
along behind them. As quickly as
they disappeared into the center, ten more people emerged and wandered off the
curb, over to the center island, and then across the other double lane to her
side of the street.
She shook her head and rolled
her eyes. Someone is going to get hit here.
Why don't people cross at the lights-or even better, take the skywalk?
How hard could that be? What
She scanned the street and located
her fellow officers, Cheryl Pilcher to the east at the intersection of the boulevard
and Seventh Street, Jaylynn in front of the entrance, and Crystal Lopez to the
Well, whaddya know-an all-woman detail tonight.
Now that's unusual.
She stood on the curb at the
crosswalk and waited for a string of cars on her side of the street, then strolled
across to the twenty-foot wide center island.
She waited again, and when the road was clear, she strode straight toward
The rookie watched as the tall
cop ambled her way, and she couldn't keep the smile off her face.
She was so glad to see Dez that if they hadn't been in public and on
duty, she would have hugged the dark-haired woman.
"Keepin' warm, Jay?"
"So far, so good.
How's your night?"
Nothing happening in sector two."
"That's because everyone in the city is here."
She sniffed the air. "Get
a load of that smell! Every time
someone opens the doors, I want to storm the place."
"Take a break and go in.
You could buy whatever you want, you know."
"Ha. There's over two hundred booths.
I'd be in there snarfing down the food for so long that I'd get reprimanded.
No, it's just as well that we stay out here and do our jobs, so don't
tempt me. We've had a couple of scuffles so far." Dez raised an eyebrow.
"You'd think that multi-cultural events would bring out the best in everyone-you
know, peace, love, and international understanding."
Dez crossed her arms.
"We have two groups of kids who
seem to be at war, and there've been two minor run-ins so far."
The tall woman waited for more.
"Four Asian youths came out about an hour ago followed by a pack of white
kids, and they were exchanging words.
I radioed to Crys and went over and yelled at 'em.
The Asians took off, and the ones who were left gave me a little lip.
For a minute there I thought I was going to have to pull out the baton,
but finally I told them to beat it or I'd call their parents."
"And they did?"
An amused look came over Dez's face.
"They were all of about thirteen
years old, so yes, they took off in opposite directions before Crystal even
"Same scenario, only these kids
were older-maybe seventeen or eighteen-and they were a lot more worked up.
The officers inside herded them out and told them to split, but they
stood out here and taunted one another until I put a stop to it."
They run when they got a look at you and your spanking baton?"
She bit back a smile, and Jaylynn gave her a mock glare.
"Yes, that is exactly what they
did, Miss Know-It-All. But Gentry
and Kelvin, inside, say there is an awful lot of tension between the teens in
there. Nobody's flashing gang colors
or anything, but still, they're watching closely."
We've got plenty of backup out on patrol tonight, so if anything goes
down, we're well covered. Now if
we could just make sure that nobody gets run over by a car, we'll have a good
shift." She turned to survey the area.
"How about you get your whistle and baton, and stand right in the middle
over there." She pointed to a spot
mid-point between the two crosswalks at either end of the block.
"When people exit and start toward you intending to jaywalk, direct them
to the crosswalks. I'll go down by the corner there and stop traffic as needed."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Yeah, we'll make sure there's
no Jay walking tonight."
She smiled broadly, her white teeth flashing in the diminishing light.
The blonde reached over and smacked Dez on the upper arm with the flat
of her hand.
The last of the light in the
sky had long ago faded away, but with the streetlamps and the warm glow emitted
by the convention center itself, the street and sidewalks were well-lit.
Even the skywalk that ran from the second floor of the convention center
over the street and to the parking ramp spilled light out and illuminated the
boulevard. She stood for a moment
and studied the square metal walkway stretched over the street above.
The light inside gleamed dull gold through the thick plate glass windows.
Bright red lettering on the outside of the skywalk spelled out River
Centre, and the gold light reflected glossy orange rays off that lettering.
Jaylynn looked around and thought everything appeared a little shiny
and surreal. She tipped her head
back and looked up at the sky, which was dark with no moon evident anywhere.
She hated to admit it, but it smelled like snow.
The air was heavy, and the cloud cover was so thick that she just knew
snow would fall before morning. I
just hope it waits until after midnight when my shift is over.
She pulled her coat sleeve up
and pushed her glove down to look at her watch. 10:40. More people
were straggling out of the River Centre than were entering, and the volume of
new visitors had decreased in the last half hour or so. She shivered. Despite
wearing fancy super-intensity thermal long underwear under her slacks, she was
still cold. It didn't help that
she was in a patrol jacket that only came down to her waist, leaving her legs
and rear end less protected from the elements.
She did a three hundred sixty
degree turn and scanned the area. For
the moment, nobody was coming or going, and for several more minutes, all was
silent. At the west end of the
street, Pilcher still stood, but Jaylynn could see her leaning against a lamppost,
watching the few cars going by. To
the east Crystal and Dez stood on the sidewalk talking. The rookie took a moment to readjust her belt.
The only advantage to having gained a few pounds was that she had another
inch or so at her waist for all the gear she had to carry.
That was one of the things she liked the least about the job.
It had taken her a while to get used to where her gear was and to decide
what arrangement on the belt made the most sense for her.
She liked to cross-draw her baton, and she was right handed, so the baton
went on her left hip, and her Glock went on her right hip.
Right in front of the gun, she kept her ASR-aerosol subject restraint,
often called Mace. She liked to
keep her handcuffs right behind her gun, with only a keeper in between to make
sure that her holster stayed firmly in place.
Along her back was her flashlight and radio holder.
in front of the baton and against her left hipbone was her double magazine holder,
Some cops liked to have their baton and their ASR on
the left side and their gun on the right side, but the rookie's personal theory
was that it was unlikely that she would use more than one weapon at a time.
She also recognized that she was limited severely by space issues.
Good old Cal Braswell sure doesn't
have to deal with that! She
reached behind her gun onto her hip, and there was the clasp for her cuffs.
She flipped it up and snapped the cuffs into her hand.
She felt most comfortable doing tactical handcuffing with her strong
hand, and she doubted that she would ever cuff someone while holding her gun
so it was perfect to keep those two items to the right.
She looked around her. Two women came out the River Centre door, hustled quickly to
the crosswalk, and hurried across the street.
Crystal and Dez didn't pay any attention to them at all.
The women disappeared into the parking ramp, and Jaylynn focused back
on her gear. She pulled her flashlight
off the left side of her belt and flicked it on. She used it so rarely, mostly
on traffic stops at night and that was it.
She kept it on her weak side because she wanted to be able to keep her
gun hand free at all times on traffic stops.
She was pleased with her familiarity with her equipment.
She had everything set so that she could get out of the car and turn
on her portable radio, then grab her light in one motion.
It had become a habit, and she realized with satisfaction that the tools
of the job were there, right where she expected, whenever she reached for them.
Still, she disliked the amount of awkward gear arrayed around her waist.
Looking at her watch again, she began to pace.
Ten steps east, turn, ten steps back.
Occasionally a small group left the River Centre, laughing, carrying
food in paper bags and Styrofoam containers, but nobody was crossing the street
to enter the Food Fair. The party
was definitely winding down.
Just when she was starting to think that perhaps they
should call in and suggest knocking off for the night, she saw movement above
her in the glass skywalk and stopped to stare. From her right and traveling across toward the ramp, three
small men sprinted, followed by four bigger figures.
The chasers caught up with the littler guys in the middle of the skywalk
and all but two of the seven were suddenly in a pile. Jaylynn touched the button on her shoulder mike to call in
the fight in progress, which also alerted her fellow officers.
As she sprinted across the street, she listened to Dispatch's acknowledgment
and the instructions for backup. Both
Crystal's and Dez's voices came through the shoulder mike, and the rookie knew
her buddies was right behind her.
She picked up her pace as she crossed over the center
island. In the glowing light from
the catwalk, she could see a scramble of arms and legs, fists and falling bodies.
The back of a dark haired man slammed against the glass, and he slipped
down. When she reached the other side of the street, she hit her
shoulder mike and informed dispatch that there were seven subjects fighting.
Pilcher's voice scratched over the radio indicating
that she was moving into backup position, but the rookie couldn't see her yet.
Without waiting for the others to catch up, Jaylynn dashed toward the
parking ramp's flight of stairs up to the skyway.
She hit the first of six stairs that led to heavy metal doors.
Beyond them were thirty or more stairs up to the skywalk above which
extended off to the right. Behind
her she heard the rat-tat-tat of footfalls, and Dez called out, "Right behind
ya." She wrenched open the metal
door and tore up the steps two at a time, hugging the wall on her right.
Above, she heard shouting, grunting, and swearing, then a scream of pain.
Jaylynn reached the top three stairs, squatted down,
and leaned out over the top step to look around the corner.
She heard Crystal and Dez come through the door and hit the stairs below
her but she focused on the same melee she had originally seen from below.
She scanned the area for weapons but didn't see any knives, guns, or
sticks. One of the white kids looked
knocked out or dead. He lay motionless
on his side along the far window. She
wasn't sure, but there seemed to be blood on the floor near him.
She glanced behind when Dez and Crystal, breathing
hard, caught up with her. Gentry
and Kelvin were not yet in sight, but she knew they were on the way.
Staying low, she went up the last three stairs with backup behind her.
"Police, break it up!"
One of the small Asians, on the floor on his stomach, was squirming wildly while being pummeled from behind by a bigger white boy wearing a jeans, bulky jacket, and a backwards red baseball cap. The red-capped kid's head shot up. He rolled away and got up to run the other direction as did two of the other white kids. The remaining young men, on the floor and bleeding, stayed down.
Crystal shouted, "I've got 'em!
You two, go!"
Pilcher made it to the top of the stairs as Jaylynn
and Dez took off after the three runners, leaving Crystal to call in.
If the kids made it to the underground garage, Jaylynn
figured they had a good chance of getting away through the parking exits, and
once out on the street, they had a lot of options for escape.
But just then, two of the three young men split to the right, toward
glass doors leading into the convention center.
Bad decision, thought the rookie.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the two runners skid to a halt
when Kelvin and Gentry came through the doors and apprehended them.
She fumbled for her ASR. Because
she slowed slightly, Dez passed her. With
a good grip on the ASR can, she watched as the one remaining suspect hit the
horizontal metal handle on the stairwell door ahead.
As quick as he was through, Dez was behind him, with the rookie on her
Dez leapt down the stairs two and three at a time.
At the bottom of the first flight, Jaylynn leaned over the handrail and
pointed her aerosol can down to the flight of stairs below.
When she saw the red-capped man's face, she shouted, "Dez!
I'm gonna spray him!"
The canister in her hand made a "shhhkeeee" sound as
she nailed the man in the face-and then he was through the trajectory of Mace
and down to the next landing. Two
beats passed, Dez still in pursuit, before they heard a gasp and then a wail.
"Owww...get this shit off me!" She
heard the sound of stumbing as she continued down the stairs, holding her breath.
Dez was on him. With a jerk,
she grabbed his coat collar and knocked him to the floor where he knelt gasping
and coughing. After cuffing his
hands behind his back, she opened the door on the landing and coughed a few
times herself as Jaylynn descended the stairs.
"Geez, Jay, thanks for the warning.
I hate the that stuff."
Even though Jaylynn was trying not to breathe any more
than she had to, it still felt like pins and needles in her throat.
"Yeah, me, too."
The kneeling man choked out, "Me three."
Dez stayed in the stairwell doorway and coughed several times as the rookie took hold of the young man's arm. She said, "Get up, champ, and let's get you out of here." He rose, his eyes watering uncontrollably. He made choking and wheezing sounds as he let her half-drag him into the underground parking area where she proceeded to read him his rights.
Dez clicked her shoulder mike and called in then gestured
toward the well-lit elevator area. "I think we'll stay out of the stairwell
and ride back up."
"Good idea. And
this bozo here needs to have his eyes and face washed up."
The red-capped man said, "You got that right.
Shit, I need a kleenex."
In a weary voice, the dark-haired cop said, "Yeah,
yeah, we all do."
It wasn't until they got the suspect outside that Jaylynn
saw what she had predicted all night.
Big fluffy flakes of snow were falling.
Jaylynn sat, her arms crossed
over her chest, as Crystal recounted all the ways she'd like to help the blonde
wreak revenge on rookie officer Dwayne Nielsen. It was the end of a week of working Third Watch without Dez,
and the young woman was already tired of spending the entire shift paired with
someone other than Dez. Being apart
gave her an ache in her chest, behind her breastbone. It faded when she wasn't thinking of Dez, but when she did
conjure up the lovely blue eyes, the ache returned. She knew there would be many nights in the future when she
wouldn't even see the veteran cop at meal breaks because the Sergeant would
now always assign them to different sectors.
Tonight she and Crystal were on the East Side, several miles away from
Frogtown, where Dez was assigned.
The first five hours of Third Watch had been quiet: two possible breaking
and enterings reported, a barking dog complaint, and a drunk and disorderly
at the QT Tavern. It was full dark
now, with a light breeze in the air. Last
night's snow had already melted, leaving everything looking bleak and washed
out. Jaylynn was happy to feel
exactly comfortable temperature-wise, not too hot, not too cold, just right.
But it was the first of November-any time soon it could start snowing
non-stop and turn bitter cold.
Dispatch came over the radio to summon them to a domestic dispute on Forest
Street. Crystal gunned the car
up Mounds View Boulevard, turned on Forest, and pulled up to a dilapidated brown,
two-story house on the corner. As
she got out of the car, Jaylynn could hear high-pitched shrieking and a lower,
deeper voice shouting. The windows
weren't even open, and she could hear thuds and scuffling.
"Great," she said. "Sounds like a real dandy."
"What is wrong with people!" Crystal
said, as she shook her head.
They moved swiftly up a walk bordered by bunches of patchy grass. Three not-quite-lifesize fiberglas deer-a buck, a doe, and a spotted fawn-grazed in the dirt to the left of the stairs and below the front room window. The deer looked out of place in the shabby yard. Jaylynn followed Crystal up five cement steps to the concrete porch. She leaned on the black wrought iron railing that ran up the left side of the stairs and attached to the side of the house.
"Open up!" Crystal shouted as she beat on the front door. "It's the police."
All sound in the house ceased abruptly, and Jaylynn heard a shuffle of footsteps.
The lock turned and the door swung inward, revealing the face of a frightened
child, about seven years old. With
dark, solemn eyes, he looked up at the officers.
He wore a ragged yellow Pokemon t-shirt and blue sweat bottoms that were
much too tight.
"St. Paul Police," Crystal said. "Can
we see the adults who are here?"
The boy stepped back and opened the door wide to admit the two women.
They walked into a tidy living room.
The ancient gold carpeting still bore the signs of a recent vacuuming,
and as they moved into the room their duty boots left footprints in the deep
nap. Two shabby couches, a standing
pole lamp, and a recliner were the only furniture in the room.
The sole illumination in the front room came from the light shining in
from the street lamp outside.
Just then a door ahead of them on the opposite wall opened up, and a woman
emerged who appeared to be Jaylynn's age. She pulled the door shut behind her and stood leaning against
it. Holding her left arm crossed
over her chest, her opposite hand covered her mouth and chin.
Perilously thin, with bags under her eyes, she displayed the same dark
eyes as the young boy standing by the front door.
She had obviously been crying but had tried to dab away the tears.
As Jaylynn stood looking at the woman's impassive face, she saw water
collect in the corners of her eyes and seep out onto her cheekbones.
"Ma'am," Crystal said. "We
received a report of a dispute. Is
everything all right?"
The woman mumbled through her hand, and Jaylynn thought she said, "Yes,
officer. No trouble."
Jaylynn watched the woman closely.
It was clear something wasn't quite right, but she wasn't sure what.
Crystal said, "What's your name, ma'am?"
Jaylynn thought the woman said Cindy Sterling. She stepped closer to the woman and said, "Ms. Sterling, please
hold your hands out in front of you so I can see them."
She saw the look of fright in the brown eyes, but the woman did as she was
told. Her right hand came away
covered with a generous amount of blood.
Her bottom lip was split in at least three places, and Jaylynn wondered
if some of her teeth had been knocked out because of all the blood in her mouth.
In the dim light, her teeth looked black and white, like something out
of a Bela Lugosi movie.
"Who did this to you?" barked Crystal.
The little boy, still holding the front door handle, piped up and said,
"Bucky hits mommy all the time."
"Shut up, Vinny!" the woman hissed.
The little boy ran to the stairwell leading up to the second floor and hid
on the other side, his scared, white face peeking out between the spindles of
"All right, lady," Crystal said. "That's
enough. Where is this Bucky?"
Defiantly, Ms. Sterling turned the handle of the door behind her, stepped
aside, and let the door swing slowly open.
A short hallway, about six feet long, led back into another dimly lit
room. From where they stood, Jaylynn
could see a large figure lying on a couch against the opposite wall, the only
light the flickering blue emitted from a TV somewhere else in the room.
"Sir," Crystal said loudly. "Please
get up and come out here. Now."
The man didn't move.
Jaylynn and Crystal looked at one another. They waited a moment.
Jaylynn thought perhaps the man was asleep-or dead-but then she saw one
large arm lift and scratch his chest.
She saw no weapons anywhere, and she could see both his hands, so she
moved down the tight hallway, Crystal at her back.
"You're under arrest, sir, for domestic assault.
Get up. You're going downtown."
"Screw you." The man's voice
was deep and soft. Crystal paused
in the hallway, one hand on her ASR, the other hand on her gun, as Jaylynn moved
into the center of the room. Bucky
continued to look past her at the TV set where WWF
Smackdown participants were tossing one another around in the ring.
He lay motionless, wearing black levi pants, square-toed brown leather
boots, and a dirty white t-shirt that didn't completely cover his mound of a
beer belly. He had three days growth
of beard on his face and chin, and he looked like he hadn't bathed for a few
"Listen, Bucky, don't make me do this the hard way." The rookie glanced
over her shoulder at Crystal, who just shrugged and seemed to be encouraging
The man tore his eyes away from the television, and looked at her.
"You are going to do what the
hard way? Take me
in? Ha!" He crossed
his hands over his chest, chuckling quietly to himself.
Crystal moved into the room, standing next to Jaylynn.
"We can call for backup, Mister, and you're just going to get a charge
for resisting arrest. Be a good sport and get up off your ass."
The man rolled his eyes, showed them a two second display of his middle
finger, then turned his attention back to the television.
Jaylynn saw the remote control on the floor. As Crystal pressed her shoulder mike to report to dispatch,
the rookie bent and darted out a hand.
She grabbed the remote and pointed it at the huge TV set. She pushed the off button, and the set went black.
"Hey, you little fucker!" roared the man. He was up off the couch much faster
than Jaylynn ever expected. He
moved so suddenly that he knocked Crystal backwards onto the floor, then lunged
for the rookie. Jaylynn twisted
away, turned and blasted through the little hallway, knowing Crystal would follow
and back her up. She headed toward
the front door. As she emerged onto the blocky, cement porch, Bucky caught her
in one ham-sized hand by the collar of her leather jacket, stopping her in her
Jaylynn drove her elbow back into the big man's stomach and tried to pull
away. He grunted but held fast.
"You bitch...I'll show you..."
"Crystal!" She could smell
the alcohol on his breath as he loomed over her.
She swung wildly with her right arm, succeeding only in smashing the
remote control against the porch railing.
Twisting to her left, which caused her head to be forced below his arms,
she leaned back against the wrought iron railing and grabbed her baton in her
right hand. With one smooth swing,
she struck out at his left knee connecting to make a solid thwack noise.
He snarled, a wild beastly roar, and slammed her against the railing,
mashing her ribs and reinjuring the muscles around her tender collarbone.
She dropped the baton, but he didn't let go of her.
"Freeze, buddy," shouted Crystal.
She stood behind him in the doorway, both hands cradling her weapon.
"Hands behind your head, asshole, or I swear to God
I'll shoot you!"
For a split second, the big man stood very still, one arm wrapped around Jaylynn's waist, his other hand clutching the collar of her jacket. Her left side was pressed into his mammoth middle, and she could feel him breathing. She let her body go slack, hoping he would let go. For a freak second, she thought his hold was loosening, then he spun, swinging her around in front of him as he backed down the stairs.
In a high pitched squeal, he said, "Go ahead. Shoot me! But
you'll have to go through this little bitch first."
He laughed maniacally and continued to back down the cracked cement walkway,
holding her well off the ground.
Her legs dangling, and one arm free, she took every opportunity to kick
backwards and to strike him with her right arm. Her left arm was pinned in front of her, and she wasn't able
to pull away, and his arm was over her gun, so she couldn't draw.
She squirmed and kicked, feeling the hard edge of her heel nailing him
in the shins and knees a number of times, but it didn't slow him in the slightest.
Wide-eyed, Crystal followed them down the stairs, her Glock trained on the
man. She lifted a hand to her shoulder
mike, called the code, and quickly reported the situation.
Clicking the mike off, she said, "Put her down.
Now. You're in enough trouble already. Let. Her.
Jaylynn could feel the man's hold slipping, and his breath was coming in
labored gasps. He let her slip
down several inches, but she was still pinned tightly across the middle, her
protective vest shifting upwards slightly.
He hiked her higher up in the air so that her gunbelt dug in to her back
and hip. The rookie realized her
gun had to be poking him, too, and she thought, Oh,
please God, don't let him get my gun.
Please! She formed a
fist and brought her elbow back into his stomach, but to no avail.
He made an oomph sound, but it didn't stop him. Now he was to the curb, still backing up.
He sidled backwards between the police car and an old red Camaro, which
were parked about three feet apart. Jaylynn
saw her chance. She pulled her
feet up, put one on the back bumper of the Camaro and the other on the front
of the police car, and used her legs to push off and slightly to the left.
This threw Bucky off balance, and because Jaylynn's feet were placed
at different levels, it threw her off, too.
They fell against the Camaro, the side of her head striking the back
windshield. The rookie twisted
and kicked. The big man lost his
hold, and she rolled off the rusted red vehicle.
Crystal was on them in an instant, but not before he had a chance to pull
back his foot and nail Jaylynn solidly in the chin with his square-toed boot.
The last things she remembered as the world went blank were a flash of
pain in her jaw, the taste of metal in her mouth, and an antlered fiberglas
deer gazing her way as though surprised to see her.
Cruising University near Rice Street, Dez heard the first call and Crystal's
clipped tense words to Dispatch. Holding down the panic, she flipped on lights
and siren and did a U turn right in front of oncoming traffic.
She didn't care that the other cars had the right-of-way.
She hit the gas and drove up University, turned on Jackson, and careened
around the corner onto 7th Street.
She weaved and swerved as cars attempted to get out of her way, once
even going up on the curb.
Another loud, clear voice came over the radio instructing backup units to
head to the Forest Street address and shortly after, another series of messages
came over between Dispatch and Crystal.
They used the cryptic 10-codes, but it was very clear to Dez that an
officer was down and needed medical attention in a hurry.
If she could hear Crystal's voice, who else could it be other than Jaylynn?
The cold, hard knot in Dez's stomach twisted into a frozen ball.
She forgot how to breathe. She
was conscious of the whine in her ears, the flashling lights, the grainy black
and white and gray of the world she passed by, but her mind held no thoughts.
Driving purely by instinct, she was impelled forward by a liquid-cold
fear surrounded by a deadly calm.
She made the right turn onto Mounds Bouldevard going forty, slowed enough
to negotiate the red light on Kellogg, and sped toward Forest.
She heard the tires scream when she made the right turn but she was intent
only on reaching the house. She
caught sight of the police car and saw figures in a yard on the right. A limp
figure lay sprawled on the sidewalk ahead, between a large laughing man and
Crystal, who stood, feet apart, left hand cradling her right, with her gun trained
on him. Dez's squad car rolled easily up onto the sidewalk.
Ripping the door open, she was out as though ejected and moving smoothly
with the speed and velocity of a Mack truck.
In the six running strides to the man, Dez saw the blonde woman's face,
covered in blood and unmoving. She
was dead. The rookie was dead.
Dez let out a shriek, a sound of desperate fury and loss, and all about
her the world suddenly became muted. The
colors washed out. Sound muffled. Her vision narrowed until all she saw was a dirty white t-shirt.
Like a lineman tackling the quarterback, the dark-haired cop lowered her
head and plowed into the beer belly, driving the big man several steps back
into the street. He brought a large
fist up and mashed it into her brow, but that was the last blow he got in.
She kneed him in the groin, and when he doubled over, hit him with an
uppercut. She laced her hands together
and brought them to the side like a batter, then smashed them into the side
of his head. He made a choking
sound and tried to back away. She
hit him in the stomach, again and again.
"You killed him," she sobbed. "I
shoulda killed you when I had the chance.
You murderer, you killed him, you scum, you...you..."
She nailed him with a roundhouse to the side of the jaw.
The big man fell to his knees, and she brought her bloodied fist back.
Her entire world reduced to a gray whirling tunnel that led from her
fist to his face. A gash opened
up in his brow, spurting blood that looked black in the moonlight. She drew her fist back again, unconscious of the damage she
was doing to her own hand, and suddenly she was off balance, being pulled away.
In her ear a familiar male voice shouted.
"Cut it out, Reilly! Calm down.
Calm down, for chrissake!"
With a shriek of frustration she tried to extricate herself, but two sets
of arms held her.
"Let me go! Let go of me!
He killed Ryan. He deserves to die."
The last word came out a rasping shout, and she found herself panting,
wheezing. She was filled through
and through with a feeling of horror and rage.
"Goddammit, let me go!" she screamed.
She kicked out, flailing with hands and feet, twisting, shouting.
Gritting her teeth, she closed her eyes and continued to struggle.
In her mind's eye she saw the blond hair, the blue eyes-the vision from
a hundred terrifying dreams-and she redoubled her efforts to free herself.
She was on her back, heavy weights on her chest, arms and legs. A sharp rock dug into her right hip. The whine of a siren split her eardrums, then quavered down to nothing. She heard slamming doors, shouts, the murmur of urgent voices. She opened her eyes, gulping air as best she could, and the world changed from the gray swirling confusion it had been to solid black and blue-the solid, dark hues of blue uniforms. Gasping for breath, she came to her senses, a feeling a dread coursing through her. "Oh, shit. Braswell, get the hell off me."
She gazed up at the fat cop, Braswell, with his porkchop sideburns.
His red, sweating face looked at her with concern.
He straddled her thighs and pressed down on her collarbones while two
other cops, Tilden and Oster, knelt on her arms and pressed her shoulders into
the dirt. She thought for a moment that she might vomit, but she forced
the feeling back. "Let me up,"
she said in a quiet and reasonable voice.
Braswell said, "You ain't gonna go nutso on us now, are you, Reilly?"
She took a deep breath. "No."
Mitch Oster was the first to loosen his grip. He shifted from his knees back to a squat, peering at her with
worry in his eyes. Tilden let go
and stood up to brush off his pants legs.
Braswell rose with effort, hitching up his pants over his prodigious
In a hoarse whisper, Oster said, "Dez, what in the hell are you doing
She sat up, feeling queasy once again. It all came back to her in a jumbled flood of sounds and images: the roar of a gun going off loud in her ear; short blond hair; the sound of laughter; her own legs running; the pool of blood under a still body; ...but no. Wait. Something was wrong. It was all out of order, confused. The mishmash of scenes wasn't right. There were two scenes, two separate events, both equally terrifying.
"Jay!" she whispered, and she was on her feet, ready to move again, but
not before the three cops could grab her once more.
Braswell grunted, "Hold your horses, Reilly!"
She stood motionless, her knees weak, with the three cops grasping her,
their hands and arms firm against her.
She had the feeling that if it weren't for their touch, she wouldn't
be able to support herself. Across
the street, three EMTs clustered around a figure seated on the ground.
Turning her head, she saw on the grass to her left, about forty feet
away, another EMT kneeling next to the huge man in the dirty t-shirt.
She stepped forward. One short
step. Then another.
The three cops fell into stride with her, Oster and Braswell on either
side with Tilden bringing up the rear.
She crossed the street, stepping around neighborhood onlookers who backed
away in fear, and came to stand a few feet from the knot of people surrounding
Jaylynn. A dark head popped up
to see who was towering above, and Dez met Crystal's anxious eyes.
"Dez." Crystal slowly rose.
Now Dez could see the blonde's battered face, blood on her left cheek and
chin. The young woman was not dead,
after all, but she didn't seem to be fully conscious, despite the fact that
her eyes were open.
Crystal reached over to put a hand on Dez's forearm.
In a whisper, Dez said, "You were supposed to watch her back, keep her safe-"
"Dez, there was nothing I could do.
"I trusted you."
An EMT rose just then, and gestured the two cops out of the way as he went
to the ambulance for the stretcher.
The tall cop turned away and put her face in her hands.
Oh my God.
What have I done. What in
the hell do I do now?
It was seven a.m. and Dez sat, dressed in street clothes, in the Commander's
office. She'd already been read
the riot act by Lieutenant Malcolm five hours before, and now she waited for
Commander Paar to show up on his day off and finish the reaming.
With her left hand, she held her right fist, rubbing the knuckles gently.
She couldn't close her hand, and her index and middle two fingers were
swelled and bruised. She knew she
needed to ice them, but she hadn't had the time.
Compounding the fact that she left her sector the previous night and beat
up an alleged attacker, she had also chosen to ignore Dispatch's order that
she return to her sector. Instead,
she had driven the squad car to the hospital.
Not until she received word near eleven p.m. that Jaylynn was going to
be all right did she return to the car, call in, and ask if she should go back
on patrol. By then, Lieutenant
Malcolm had left orders for her to return to the precinct.
She had listened to his diatribe calmly.
In fact, she barely took it in at all.
She felt curiously disconnected, as though someone else, some sort of
puppet, was moving her through the proper motions, saying "Yes, sir," nodding,
shifting in her chair. Meanwhile,
part of her hovered a few inches above and behind her, observing dispassionately.
She supposed she was in some sort of shock.
She had to admit that she certainly felt numb enough.
It wasn't that she didn't care about all that had happened; she just
didn't have the energy or strength to feel
any caring. Dez chalked that up
to lack of sleep.
Only when he said the words "medical leave" did she snap into some semblance
of attention. "What?"
"I'm sending you to the psychiatrist, Reilly."
She looked at him in disbelief, not quite able to comprehend what she had
After Lt. Malcolm dismissed her, telling her she was on paid suspension
pending psychiatric evaluation, she changed clothes mechanically, as though
in a trance. She went out to her
truck and drove to the hospital where she was promptly informed that only family
could be admitted. She had to flash
her badge before the overly cautious nurse reluctantly allowed her in.
The nurse back on the unit explained that Jaylynn would be spending the
night for observation because of concussion.
She ushered Dez into the hospital room, saying that the young woman had
a hairline crack in her jawbone, numerous facial cuts and bruises, and a broken
wrist. "We've given her something
to calm her, so she may not awaken. She
needs her rest, now, so don't stay too long."
The nurse pulled the door shut, and Dez stood several feet from the still
figure on the bed.
Jaylynn's head was turned away from the bedside light, but even from where
Dez stood, she could see how puffy and bruised the pale face was.
Something bubbled up from deep inside, and Dez was at a loss for a moment
to determine what it was. It made
the back of her knees weak and took her breath away, leaving her heart fluttering
and her temples pounding. She had
to force back the feeling that she was going to be sick.
Staggering slightly, she stumbled over to the bedside chair, sat, and
put her head between her knees. After
a few breaths, the world stopped spinning, and she lifted her head tentatively.
Jaylynn slept on, her face relaxed, her breathing regular.
She didn't wake for the next three hours, and Dez sat quietly next to
the bed, not thinking, unable to sleep, feeling little or nothing.
At 6:30 she left in order to meet Captain Paar at seven a.m., and now
she sat brooding outside his office, wondering what would become of her.
Jaylynn awakened to a crashing headache that seemed to encompass the entire
left side of her head all the way to her jaw. Throbbing.
My head is literally throbbing.
Gawd! I've had one hell
of a dream! She didn't recall
exactly what had happened, but what she did remember involved struggle and fighting
and pain. She winced as she opened
her eyes, taking a moment to get adjusted to the bright light.
She frowned. Her bedroom
walls were now white.
Wait a minute! I painted
them peach colored . . . why are they
. . . ?
She sat up, looked around, and immediately hit upon the amazing realization
that she was in a hospital room. To
her left was a metal rail with a call device hooked to it.
She lifted her left hand, then did a double take-her arm was in a shiny
white cast that ran halfway up her forearm.
Rotating her wrist a little, it hit her that her hand was throbbing in
concert with her head. She reached across her body with her good hand and pressed
the red button, and when it stayed red, she laid back in the bed, feeling a
rush of fatigue.
Only a minute passed before a slender black man in blue scrubs appeared.
"You're awake. Good."
He stepped up to the bed railing and pressed a button on the side so
that the bed inclined up. "Jaylynn,
my name's Everett, and I'm one of the nurse's assistants.
How would you like a little something to drink?"
"Okay." She let him straighten
out her covers and arrange pillows. "Why
am I here? Besides the fact that
there is something obviously wrong with my hand, I mean."
"I'll let the doctor come talk to you in a bit, Officer."
With that word-Officer-everything abruptly came
back to her...the big man, the fight, trying to get away.
She had this fuzzy recollection of Dez standing above her, looking down,
her face angry and fearful. Must
have been a dream. Dez couldn't
have been there. She did remember
the doctor in the ER. She had been
very soothing, very warm, reminding Jaylynn of her own mother.
After that, she couldn't summon up any memory. "What time is it?"
The slim man looked at his wristwatch.
"Ten after seven. Would you like some tea or coffee?"
"Coffee would be great."
I'll take whatever you can get me."
"That's what we like to hear. Appetite
is a good thing, but I can't get you anything solid until the doctor does her
stomach was clenching painfully. "How
long will that be?"
"Shouldn't be too long. She comes on duty today at half past seven."
"Reilly, you realize you're in big trouble."
The captain made it a statement, not a question.
watching him warily from across his desk.
Lt. Malcolm sat in the chair to her right.
"You have the right to have a union
rep here, you know."
"Sure you don't want to call for one?'
"Are you disciplining me?"
He glared at her. "Not at this point, I'm not."
"All right then, I don't need a rep now."
"You're awful goddamn calm for someone who I understand
went fuckin' nuts last night."
There was no reasonable response to that, so Dez
kept her mouth shut. She looked
down at her hands, rubbing the knuckles of her right hand.
The captain picked up a folder and leafed through
it. "You left your sector-which
I might have done, too, under the circumstances.
Then you beat the crap out of the suspect." He looked up at her over his glasses. "I might have done that, too.
But you ignored communication from Dispatch, failed to return to your
assignment, just did what you pleased without even calling in to let the duty
sergeant or anyone know." He slapped
the folder down on the desk. "It's
not enough that you're personally involved with the officer who got hurt last
night-Savage-you also had to go postal?
What the hell is wrong with you, Reilly? And what's the deal with your hand?"
He rose from his chair and came around the other
side of the desk. Smoothing out
his gray slacks, he crossed his arms, leaning back against the desk as he looked
down at the top of her head. "Hold
your hand out-no, dammit! Your
She sighed and held her hand out, palm up.
He smiled a grim smirk and shook his head.
"Turn it over." He surveyed her hand, pointed at her knuckles.
"You're going to the doctor today to get that checked.
That's an order. And then
you're going to the psychiatrist. You
haven't been yourself for months, Reilly.
We should have made you keep going."
He stood, his arms still crossed over his white starched shirt.
"Lt. Malcolm here thought you'd pull through on your own.
It's obvious to me you haven't."
He paused. "Have you got
anything to say for yourself?"
She looked up at him, trying to hide her misery.
Very slowly, she shook her head from side to side.
"Nothing at all, huh? Fine," he said in an angry voice. "Get an appointment for an x-ray today."
He glanced over at the lieutenant.
"You'll need to file work comp papers, so Malcolm, get in touch with
H.R. And Reilly, I want verification
that you saw the doctor for that hand by the end of the day tomorrow.
As for the psych eval, we'll let you know when it is.
Go home. Your lieutenant
will be calling later in the day with instructions for you. For now, you're on medical leave."
She reached down next to her chair and picked up
her holster, extracting the department issued gun, which she laid on his desk.
From her back pocket she removed her leather ID folder which contained
her badge, but before she could set it next to the gun, he interrupted her.
"Oh no. You're not suspended.
Yet. You keep all that. Put it in a safe place.
I'm giving you four weeks to get your act together.
Then I'll decide whether we
need to take further action. Lt. Malcolm has great faith in you. You go get your head straight, then we'll talk more."
She rose, her legs a good deal shakier than she
expected them to be. He uncrossed
his arms and turned away, so without another word, she left his office and drove
herself to the Urgent Care Clinic where she sat for two hours before finding
out that the bone in her right middle finger was cracked.
They gave her a splint and told her to ice it-exactly what she would
have done anyway.
Jaylynn was sitting up in the hospital bed, leaning
back against two pillows, with the tall, rolling tray in front of her.
Upon it were two cartons of juice-apple and grape-and a styrofoam plate
with one piece of dry toast cut in half.
She'd been waiting for food for almost three hours and wasn't too thrilled
when all they had brought was toast and juice.
She would have preferred cereal and yogurt and bacon and pancakes and
. . . the list in her head seemed endless.
Instead, she was stuck with a miserable piece of cold bread and juice.
What kind of hospital is this,
She held a plastic fork in the fingers of her casted
left hand and, with her good hand, was trying to peel away the plastic from
a tiny container that had a picture of a bunch of grapes on the front.
So intent was she that she didn't notice the dark-haired figure in the
Dez crossed her arms and leaned against the doorframe
to watch the blonde. She saw that
a hank of blonde hair had fallen into Jaylynn's eyes, which the younger woman
impatiently brushed back. She set
the plastic knife down and leaned forward, trying to open the jam, so focused,
so occupied with her task-so like Jaylynn.
Dez thought about how the rookie threw herself into everything, into
life in general, with a passion and an energy she herself seemed to lack.
And to think that the big loser on Forest Street could have deprived
the world of that. To have
this woman's love, her caring, just her attention was frightening and overwhelming
to the tall cop.
Click: a huge fist striking the sunny blonde woman. Click: the small figure crumpling, falling. Click: Jaylynn on the ground, blood all over her face. Click-Dez didn't want to see anymore of the images and forced them out of her mind. Taking a deep ragged breath, she realized that the weak feeling behind her knees and the shakiness of the last several hours was fear, pure and simple. Endangered. Exposed. Now there were two "E" words that explained her feelings. She was terrified, and there wasn't anyone on the planet, least of all Jaylynn, to whom she wanted to admit that. It made Dez shudder, and that small movement caught the rookie's eye.
have you been?" She held a hand
out, gesturing her to come close, and Dez automatically allowed herself to be
reeled in. Next thing she knew,
she was seated on the edge of the bed, facing the blonde, and wrapped in a tight
hug, tight enough to disguise how shaky she felt.
Jaylynn leaned back and examined the dark-haired
woman. "You look like hell!
I swear, I'm the beat up one who's been in the hospital all night, but
you look like you should be the one
here in the bed!"
"Oh, Jay . . . ." She made a huffing noise and looked away.
"Have you slept at all?"
Without waiting for an answer, Jaylynn picked up the jam packet and put
it in the dark-haired woman's palm. "Can
you get a fingernail under that? I
can't get this stupid little teeny thing open."
Dez reached over and picked up the plastic knife
and plunged it right through the plastic top a little more viciously than she'd
meant to. Jam oozed out the sides
onto her palm.
Jaylynn grabbed it out of her hand.
"Geez, Dez! I
could have done that!"
She dumped the remaining jam onto the cold toast, scraped some out with
the plastic knife and spread it around, then reached for the tall woman's hand
and rolled her eyes. "You gonna
go around with jam on you like that?"
She bent her blonde head, and sporting a mischievous look, licked away
the sticky grape stuff from Dez's thumb and palm.
"There. Better, huh?
You get any on your other hand?"
She reached for Dez's right fingers, but her touch
caused Dez to gulp and draw it back.
"Hey, what'd you do there?"
She gently examined the splinted finger.
"Ouch, that looks painful-it looks awful.
Is it broken?" With a puzzled
frown on her face, she looked up into the troubled blue eyes.
"Buckminster-a.k.a. Bucky-Reginald happened."
Jaylynn looked at her blankly.
"Buckmin-whoa! You didn't go over this morning and beat up that asshole Bucky
from the call last night?"
"No, I didn't beat up Bucky today.
I answered your backup call."
Jaylynn frowned, and Dez could almost see the wheels
spinning behind the hazel green eyes.
"You were there?"
I was there too late. You
were already down. I thought he'd
"So you helped Crystal subdue him?"
"I nailed the bastard," she said, feeling a tiny
sense of satisfaction, even though she also felt regret she wasn't going to
"Dez, you weren't working our sector.
You-you left your post?" The
dark head nodded slowly, and in response, Jaylynn's jaw dropped.
"Ow! God, it hurts to open
my mouth. How the hell am I supposed
"You have a cracked jawbone."
The blonde reached up and lightly touched the side
of her face. "I know.
My whole head is just pounding.
But that will go away . . . what I want to know is what happened last
night. Didn't you get in trouble
with the Lieutenant?"
with Captain Paar."
"Oh no." Jaylynn
looked positively horrified. "You
are in deep doo-doo then.
Start at the beginning. Tell
me everything. I want a blow-by-blow
account-no pun intended."
Dez shook her head. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"I can't-not now. I really don't want to talk about it."
"But Dez, wait.
tall cop held up a hand and scooted back down the bed slightly.
"Stop. Listen to me.
It doesn't matter what happened or why.
What matters is that you're safe.
And once you get outta here, you can put in your resignation.
This kind of thing-"
forehead crinkled and her face took on a perplexed look.
Dez leaned in close. In a low voice she said, "You don't have to put up with this
shit. They'll probably make a settlement
with you for your injuries. You
can use the money to go to law school or something."
you crazy? I'm less than a month
away from passing probation. Why
would I quit now?"
"Jay, it's dangerous for a small
person like you. You're too-too-"
"I'm not small!
I'm five and a half feet tall!"
"You're barely five-foot-five-unless you have shoes
"I'm just as big as about half the women on the
Dez exhaled forcefully, then stood up, crossing
her arms. She paced toward the
wall, then came back four steps and glanced over at Jaylynn who held the mangled
jam container in one hand as though she had forgotten all about it.
"Jay, honey, you're not listening to me."
"I'm listening quite well, Desiree, and I don't
like what I'm hearing."
is your chance to get out before you get hurt.
That's what I'm saying. You're
a good cop, but you're little-and-and-you know
. . . you're at a disadvantage."
She wheeled on her heel and paced toward the wall again.
"Little? Shrimpy? You're calling me delicate?" In an ominous voice she said, "Or do you mean spineless?"
The dark haired woman turned again, putting her
right hand up to her forehead. "No!
That's not what I'm saying.
I just mean that you're no match for some huge monster of a guy like
"What! Who the
hell do you think you are telling me I'm too frail, like, like some sort of
puny little baby doll?"
She smacked the jam container down on the rolling table and heaved out
a deep breath from a very angry mouth.
"No, no, that's not what I meant
. . ."
The rookie's face was flushing red, and Dez could
see it coming. She raised a hand
as though to ward it off, but it was too late.
With fury in her voice, Jaylynn said, "How dare you call me a wimp?"
"I didn't say wimp-"
"That's what you mean! I'll have you know
you couldn't have dealt with this guy yourself. He was big-big as
a mountain. And we got sort of
ambushed by him, but believe me, nothing like that's ever going to happen again."
Dez bent forward, holding one fist up in front of
her. In a tight, clipped voice,
she said, "You're right. It won't
happen again, Jay, if you just resign.
If you want to stay in law enforcement, there's plenty of civilian jobs
at the station that-"
"Grrrrrrr..." A growling noise came from the younger woman, startling the dark-haired cop. The blonde crossed her arms and glowered. "I am not resigning. Never. I can't believe you'd even suggest it. So, I got into a beat-down. It happens. I'm fine now. I'll heal up in just a day or so. Dammit! You listen, Dez. Crystal and I should have called for backup sooner. There's not a person on the force who could have dealt with that giant idiot."
"You're wrong, Jay."
"What do you mean-wrong? I am not wrong. He was mammoth. You couldn't have handled him."
"I more than handled him," Dez said sharply, and the words came pouring out, like a leak in a roof that she couldn't stop. "I beat the hell out of him. He's in intensive care right now, and it'll take his broken ribs, bruised kidneys, busted cheekbone, and mashed-in nose a hell of a lot longer to heal than your injuries will ever need!"
Jaylynn sat back against her pillows, speechless, and Dez felt her fierce pride deflate and shrink, replaced with shame. The cold knot in the pit of her stomach expanded, like water freezing in a glass jar, threatening any minute to crack and explode. She struggled for words. How could she tell her partner that if they went on like this-Jaylynn out on the street, unprotected, away from her-she would quite simply have a nervous breakdown from the fear and stress of it? She couldn't explain that. Nobody would ever understand. "Jay! Jay, honey, listen. Last year, you offered to quit the force if it meant that we could be together. This isn't all that different."
"What do you mean?" The rookie's voice was soft. "Are you saying that we can't be together anymore if I don't quit?"
Dez looked down at her hands, trying unsuccessfully to flex the right one.
"I can't believe you would say that," Jaylynn said, amazement in her voice. Neither spoke for several seconds, then the rookie's face gradually went from pink to pale. After a moment, she said, "You can't control me, Dez Reilly. It's my life, my job, my choice to decide what I do. Get out! You need to go away and leave me alone. I don't want to see you ever again until you can accept that I'm a cop, just like you."
Dez stared at the blonde, shock on her face. Jaylynn pushed the rolling table a few inches away and looked toward the gray light coming through the hospital window. The tall woman backed up, and now her legs were really shaking. She wanted to say you don't mean that, Jay ...please, take it back...don't send me away. But it seemed that her voice would not work. Jaylynn did not turn her head, would not meet her eyes. Tears sprang to the tall woman's eyes, but before a single drop could fall, Dez spun on her heel and sped from the room.
She hustled down the long hallway, found the stairs, and ran down four flights, bursting out into the lobby area. She didn't even see Crystal and Shayna striding across the open lounge area, and she never heard them when they called out her name.
It had been so long since she had spent any time
at her apartment that it took Dez a while to find all the things she needed.
She wasn't thinking very clearly.
Any minute she was sure she would shatter into a couple thousand pieces
on the floor, but somehow she held it together to get herself ready.
She grabbed her comfortable old St. Patrick's day sweatshirt off the
hook on the back of the door in the bathroom, but she was disappointed when
she realized her favorite jeans were over at Jaylynn's house along with at least
a third of her wardrobe. She would
have to make do without those things.
She packed quickly, stuffing clothes, clean towels, and various toiletry
items in the big bag. She had already
called to make arrangements for her stay, and she knew she wouldn't be back
for several days or a week, so she moved around the apartment, mentally checking
things off. She picked out CD's
to listen to in the truck. On the
way out of the main room to the kitchen, she stopped to grab two paperback books
that had sat so long on top of her desk that she could see a few flecks of fine
She stacked her things on the landing outside her
door and sat at the kitchen table. Taking
a sheet of paper from the pad she kept there, she wrote a note to Luella, then
got up and rooted around in the junk drawer until she found some masking tape.
She ripped off a three-inch strip and stuck it to the note, then dashed
downstairs to tape it to her landlady's door.
She strode back up the stairs, locked her door, and picked everything
up from the landing. With each
step she took, as she descended the stairs, her grief threatened to spill over. She pushed it back, biting her bottom lip so hard that it began
Unlocking the truck with the remote, she balanced
her bag on her upraised knee and opened the door to the extra cab.
She tossed in a heavy jacket, a pair of snow boots, and
a large duffel bag, then slammed the door with more force than was necessary.
She climbed up into the driver's seat and paused.
She had CD's, but she realized she hadn't brought any other music. For a moment she considered going back up to the apartment
for her guitar, but then she changed her mind.
Luella could come home any time.
Someone else could drop by. She
felt too precarious, too vulnerable. She
pulled the door shut and started up the engine.
She'd probably be back soon enough for her psych evaluation, and she
could get it then if she wanted it. For
now she was traveling light.
She backed out of the parking spot and pulled onto
the road and in short order was on the highway heading north.
it's over and done with. That's
it. Tears filled her eyes,
and she wiped them impatiently on the sleeve of her shirt, but they wouldn't
Well, what's new? Nothing
good has ever lasted for me.
It was afternoon before Jaylynn was released. By then she had told every one who entered her room that she was starving, but the nurses and aides kept telling her she would be released any moment so they weren't ordering any meals. When Sara came to get her, Jaylynn talked her into stopping at the first fast food place they drove by, which was the drive-thru at Burger King. The hungry rookie began eating the French fries right away in the car, but she didn't think she could juggle the hamburger. As she munched on greasy fries, all the rest of the way home she explained to her friend what had happened the night before.
"Geez!" Sara said. "You should have called me at the video store. I would have come over last night, you know."
"Sara, I didn't even wake up until this morning."
"Oh. Well, did you call your parents?"
Jaylynn frowned and shook her head. "I'm afraid they'll have a cow like Dez did."
"What do you mean?" The brown-eyed woman slowed the car at a light and idled, taking a moment to look at the blonde. Jaylynn's face was pale, and her uniform rumpled and blood stained.
The blonde closed her eyes and shook her head. "Sara, she just pissed me off to beat the band. She showed up this morning and started telling me I have to quit the force-that I'm too small and weak for the job. Damn, she made me mad!"
Sara turned on Como Avenue, and took a second to look across the car at her roommate. "I wouldn't say that you're weak, Jay-you've got a lot of muscle packed on your frame-but you have gotten hurt a number of times now."
"Well, so what! It happens to everybody now and then!" She tried to cross her arms and winced when her wrist flared in pain, so she set her hands in her lap.
Sara pulled up to the front of their house and turned the car off. "Dez cares a lot about you. Remember how you felt when she was shot in the vest? Imagine how scared and upset you were then, and that's probably how she feels."
"Yeah, I know, but did I tell her she had to quit being a cop? No! I never even thought of that." With an indignant exhalation, she hauled herself up out of the car. They walked up to the house, Jaylynn holding the Burger King bag and her holstered gun awkwardly in her good hand. "I'm not supposed to have my gun at home, you know."
Sara nodded as she jingled the house keys looking for the right one.
"Dammit! That's a stupid rule. Only twenty-nine days until I pass probation and then I can keep it at home all I want."
"Maybe I can run you down to the station later on so you can drop it off."
Jaylynn sighed and nodded. Her hand and head were both throbbing in two-part harmony, and it wasn't pleasant.
Sara unlocked the front door and they both went in and headed for the kitchen. Jaylynn shrugged out of her leather jacket with difficulty, her cast getting hung up on the coat sleeve. "For cripesake, now I know what a pain that cast was for Dez. Geez!"
"You want a cup of tea?" the brown haired woman said.
"Yeah, sure." She threw herself wearily into a chair at the kitchen table and opened up the bag to dig out the hamburger.
"How long are you in that cast for?"
With her mouth full, Jaylynn said, "Ten days. Then I'll get a removeable splint."
"You're off work for a while then?"
Jaylynn looked surprised. "No, just for today and tomorrow. Then I get light duty again. Lt. Malcolm came by to see me this morning. He said that Tsorro and Parkins would be pleased to get help again on the Tivoli case." She set the hamburger down on the greasy yellow wrapper and wiped her mouth with a paper napkin. "To be honest, I would really like to work on that case some more. If we could just catch a break . . . "
Sara leaned back against the counter, waiting for
the teapot to boil. "You know,
Jay, Dez is right about one thing. Your
talents are wasted on patrol. You
should be an investigator."
"Fat chance of that. I've only got a year of experience."
The teapot started to whistle.
Sara turned to pull it off the burner.
"But you're good at that, and you'd enjoy it a lot more.
Jaylynn took another bite of her sandwich and refused
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