Chapter 14

After meeting with the Captain, Judy decided to take his advice. She spoke with the staff shrink. Without divulging too much, she told him about the incident with Tom and how it worried her. If the psychologist picked up on their relationship being more than professional, the doctor kept it to himself. The session proved somewhat useful. Judy understood that what happened to Amy wasn't her fault. She wished that Tom understood the same. She hadn't seen or heard from him in a week. Her phone messages went unanswered and he never seemed to be around to answer her knock. She continued to worry about him, but she couldn't let that stop her from doing her job.

Trish, Owen and the gambling gang had a late night. She pulled into the Jump Street bleary-eyed and tired. She grabbed her satchel of books and tumbled from the car. Just then, a blue Mustang screeched to a stop beside her. Tom slammed from the driver's seat and blocked her between their two cars. The wild look in his brown eyes shocked her.

Oh, God. Not again.

"Tom. You're back."

"Yeah." He grabbed the satchel from her grasp. "What's this?"

"My books...for school."

His eyes narrowed. His grip on the satchel tightened. "You're still working the case?"

"The Captain—"

"I don't want to hear about the Captain!" He flung the bag into the backseat of her Jeep. "How could you do this?" His voice lowered as he advanced, backing her against the door. "What were you thinking?"

"Do what?" Her instinct to fight back warred with her desire to calm him. "What are you talking about?"

"The case."

"Trish trusts me. I'm in. I can't lose my cover now."

"So, you'll risk your life by working without me."

"Hanson, I've gone undercover without you many times. I'm okay."

"All it takes is one time when you're not on guard. When you're distracted. Do you think about that—"

"Tom—"

"No, you're not listening," he said, eyes blazing. "You don't ever go in without back up. Ever! Do you understand me? Hell, you shouldn't be there period."

"Hey!" Ioki jumped from his gas guzzler and jogged across the parking lot to them. "You two okay?"

"Yeah," she mumbled, using the interruption to grab her bag and sidestep Tom. "Just great. I'll see you guys inside."

Tom looked undeterred, but Ioki stepped between them, welcoming Tom back to Jump Street. As Judy climbed the steps into the chapel, she glanced once over her shoulder at her current partner. The stubborn set of his jaw warned her that his tirade was far from over.

---

"HANSON!"

The Captain's bellow shook the stained glass windows and caused everyone to cringe. Tom squared his shoulders and headed to his boss's office. Judy didn't even look his way as he walked past her. If she was expecting an apology, she could think again. He stood behind what he said one hundred per cent. She had no business working any case without him. If something happened to her...

He pushed the thought from his behind and made the final steps inside Fuller's office. The Captain slammed the door shut as soon as Tom entered.

"I thought you were okay to come back. When we talked on the phone, you said you were ready."

"I am." Tom nodded once and met Fuller's hard stare. "I'm ready."

"And the scene with Hoffs this morning? Was that supposed to be a sign of your readiness?"

"I was concerned about her working the case alone. I won't apologize for that."

"You should." Fuller moved behind his desk and gestured for Tom to sit. "Hoffs is a damn good cop. She's capable of taking care of herself. She wouldn't be here if she wasn't."

"Over confidence can lead to mistakes—"

"What happened at that convenience store was tragic, and I'm sorry for your loss."

Tom inhaled a sharp breath. "But?"

"But shopping at a convenience store during your off hours and consciously working a case are two different things."

"She shouldn't have gone back without me."

"Who shouldn't have?"

Tom clenched his hands together in his lap. He hadn't missed the thinly disguised shrink talk. He wasn't mentally unstable. It was just that Judy meant a lot to him. He needed to know that she was safe.

"Hoffs, Captain. I'm not confusing them. Judy is alive, and I plan to make damn sure that she stays that way."

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