Tom awakened to warmth and softness. Snuggling deeper into the covers, his thigh brushed naked flesh. He kept his eyes closed as he relished the gentle caress of two bodies connecting. Then, he inhaled and recognized the sweet aroma of Judy. Her soap and body lotion reminded him of a rose garden with beautiful buds blossoming everywhere. For a split second, his enjoyment of the moment reached an all-time high. When the moment ended, the present came crashing down. And he remembered.
A psycho with a gun. Amy defenseless. Amy shot, her blood pouring everywhere. Amy dead.
He moved away from the heaven of being near Judy and into the hell of his reality. Amy was dead and it was his fault. He should have seen it coming.
With a faint yawn, Judy woke up. Her arms stretched above her head. She arched her back. His gaze immediately memorized the graceful curves and lines of her body. Air lodged in his chest as he watched and waited. He really had no right to this. Yet, turning away was impossible.
Finally, she noticed him. Her sexy full bottom lip curved into a soft smile. "Good morning. How did you sleep?"
He shrugged. "I didn't know how good I had it until I woke up. I'm sorry about this," he said, indicating their sleeping arrangements. "I know you didn't want this to happen."
"Don't. Please, don't be sorry. It's not necessary."
The words hung between them. He couldn't bring himself to move. If he could trade everything just to be there like this with her every morning, he would. But it was too late. He should have made that deal before yesterday. Before Amy died.
He pulled free of the bed and the unspoken promises in Judy's brown eyes. "I'd better go."
"Right now?" she asked, staring at his every move.
He stepped into his jeans and slid on his sneakers. "Yeah."
"I can make breakfast first." She rose and slipped on her robe. "It won't take but a minute."
"Don't. I'm not hungry anyway." He tugged a sweater on and headed toward the bathroom. When he returned, he had his small shaving case which he quickly stuffed into his duffel bag. "I think that's everything. I'll talk to you lateró"
"Hanson, wait!" She stopped him at the door. "Where are you going and how do you think you're getting there? Your car isn't downstairs. I'll drive you anywhere you want to go. Give me a minute to dress."
"It's okay, Jude. I can make it." Ignoring the warning inside his head, he brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. God, she was beautiful in the morning. With a hint of sleep still in her eyes. And her eagerness to ease his pain. He didn't deserve her, he grudgingly thought and dropped his hand to his side. "The buses are running. I can hope on or I can hail a cab."
"Where are you going?" She seemed reluctant to let him go.
Her shoulders slumped in defeat. "I'll check on you later."
Judy spent the day thinking about Tom. Sleeping with him, regardless how innocent, had not been planned. She only wanted to console him. The next thing she knew, he was fast asleep with his arms holding her close. Returning to her cold, empty bed didn't feel like the right choice.
Half a dozen times, she reached for the phone to call him. Something always held her back. He left so quickly. Maybe he needed space. Maybe he wanted to grieve alone.
What if he blamed her for Amy's death?
That question nagged at her. She flaked on an outing with Trish because she knew that focusing on the gambling case was impossible. She was too wrapped up in Tom. Eventually, she grabbed her keys and headed to his place. Whether he blamed her or not, last night he needed her. Maybe he still did.
His apartment door was ajar. She knocked once before stepping inside. "Tom?"
Looking wild and disheveled, he stood in the middle of the living room. "Hey." He waved her in. "Come in. I didn't know you were here."
"I just came. The door was open."
"Close it for me. Thanks." He turned away and plopped on the sofa.
"How are you?" she asked, looking around. The place was a mess. Shoes littered the floor. An open pizza box covered the coffee table. Several stacks of pepperoni slices sat on a napkin beside it. Open ginger ale bottles were on the windowsill. Twist off caps lined the wall beneath the window. Destruction and calamity greeted her everywhere she looked. He was always so neat and meticulous. Just seeing his world come apart like this made her uneasy. "What have you been doing?
He patted the space beside him in silent invitation. "I don't want to talk about me. I'm irrelevant."
"Don't say that." She joined him on the sofa. "You've been through a lotó"
"I told you I didn't want to talk about me." He pointed at the pizza. "Have you eaten? I can heat it up. Never mind. It doesn't look that great, does it? I pulled the pepperoni off. Did you know you can pull all the pepperoni slices off a pizza in three point three seconds?"
He stood and began pacing the floor. "You can also sing the entire alphabet and twist the caps off six bottles of ginger ale in three point three seconds. Take your shoes off. Pop a beer. Hold your finger on the remote and pass seventeen stations. All in three point three seconds. Guess what else you can do?"
"Hanson..." She followed and tried to take his hand.
He flinched from her touch. "I'll tell you. You can shoot someone in three point three seconds. With all the things you can do in three point three seconds, I should have been able to stop him."
"How do you know how long it was?" Tears of anguish and sadness filled her eyes. He was falling apart in front of her. "You don't know what you're talking about!"
"I know." He stormed to the television. His hands shook as he turned the set on and pushed play on the vcr. "Watch. It only takes him three point three seconds. Look."
"I don't want to watch that!" She moved to stop the tape. He grabbed her from behind and held her still. "Tom, stop it! Let go of me!"
"Watch, Judy. Just three point three seconds." Keeping her out of reach of the controls, he rewound the tape. "The detectives asked me if I had an opening...if there was a moment when I... There it is."
"I'm scared, Captain." Judy sat with her hands clenched tightly in her lap. "I've never seen him like that."
"He's grieving." Fuller perched on the edge of his desk. "We all grieve in different ways."
"He's reliving it. Over and over." Blinking, she fought the tears blurring her vision. "He has the security tape and he keeps watching it. He made me watch it, too."
Judy nodded. "I tried to turn it off and he grabbed me. We watched it three or four times. I couldn't get him to stop. Nothing I said... I couldn't reach him."
"That doesn't sound like Hanson." Fuller frowned. "Did he hurt you?"
"I'm fine. Tom wouldn't hurt me. He and I... He wouldn't hurt me."
Fuller's frown deepened. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
Dammit! Judy thought twice about talking to the Captain. She was afraid of betraying Tom's trust and of betraying herself. The episode with Hanson left her feeling raw and wide open. Her life had always been so well put together. The indiscretion with Tom threw everything off balance and she hadn't regained equal footing since. Setting Doug straight about their relationship provided a moment's ease to her conscience, but then Amy died. Guilt ate at her. Only by focusing on Tom could she escape her own feelings of responsibility. Maybe if that night with Tom hadn't happened, everything would have turned out differently.
Damn those maybes.
"That's what happened when I saw him," she answered. "I came to you because I didn't know what else to do."
"That's not what I'm talking about." He moved behind his desk and sat. "I couldn't have made it to captain without having good observation skills. Your report...the kiss... I won't pry into affairs that aren't my business, but when an officer's well-being is threatened, I have to step in. Is it time for me to step in, Hoffs?"
She shook her head. "No, sir. Everything is fine. I can do my job."
"I'm not talking about just the job. Amy was Hanson's girlfriend. You're his partner on a case, a partner he kissed. And now his girlfriend is dead. I won't play psychologist with you, but I don't want you to ignore what's going on inside your head, too." He grabbed a notepad and began writing. "Whenever there's a shooting, the officer is required to speak with the staff psychologist. I want you to talk to him, too. He's a good guy. Whatever you say to him will stay with him."
He handed her the paper and she took it. "Thanks, Captain."Back | Chapter 14 | 150