Part 17

Tom stared at the fact sheet and tried to read the data again. The letters jumbled and the numbers collided. He drew in a deep breath. He sensed Fuller giving him a hard look. The new outreach program was important. Tom didn't want to screw it up, but he couldn't stop thinking about Judy. Did she really mean it when she said that maybe Harry was the better man for her?


Tom jumped at Fuller's sharp tone. It wasn't that the Captain was angry. He just had a certain way of commanding attention.

"Yes, Captain?" Tom rubbed a hand over his face and tried to compose his features before meeting his superior's stare. "I'm listening, Coach."

"That's good because you're certainly not concentrating." Fuller pointed toward the stack of papers on the table. "You've been here two hours and haven't read more than five pages. Is the paperwork boring you?"

"No." He returned the fact sheet to the stack. "Knowing the boys' past is important to helping them change their future. I'm not bored."

"Then, what is it? You're a hard worker, but you're not working hard today."

"I have a lot on my mind," Tom confessed. "I thought I could leave it outside, but I can't stop thinking about it."

Fuller gave him a knowing look. "It's a woman, isn't it? Did you forget a birthday?"

"No, that's not until July," he said under his breath. Maybe coffee would help. The stuff here was a lot better than what they had at the Chapel. He filled his mug to the brim. "We're having a difference of opinion. I'm sure it will work itself out."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Tom trusted Fuller's opinion on a lot of things, but he wasn't sure about confiding in his boss about his love life. Especially when Judy was the love of his life. The Captain's respect for Judy was no secret. It was almost like they were blood relations the way he looked out for her. Tom wasn't sure how the Captain would react to his two officers expanding their relationship.

"It's a little complicated," Tom said. "I probably shouldn't until I figure out some of this on my own."

Fuller shrugged. "The door is open."

"Thanks." Tom returned to his chair and picked up the fact sheet again. Later that week, they planned to start the first legs of the program. Tom needed to be ready. He pushed thoughts of Judy to the back of his mind and forced himself to focus on the job at hand.

- - -

"I can't stop thinking about what happened," Dorothy said as she entered Judy's apartment. "Doug wants me to let it go, but I can't. I feel responsible."

Judy closed and locked the door. In the silence, she collected her thoughts. When Dorothy called and asked if it would be okay to talk, Judy's first thought was to say no. But the plea in Dorothy's tone touched her. The other woman wasn't so bad. She sometimes had a unique way of looking at things.

"You shouldn't feel that way." Judy turned around. With a wave of her hand, she silently invited Dorothy to sit. "Can I get you anything? Beer or coffee?"

"I've been drinking coffee all day and I'm not ready for beer." Dorothy sat on the far end of the sofa. "Doug's working late tonight so I'll probably just grab something on the way home."

"We could order a pizza." The invitation came out before Judy could think twice about it.

A tentative smile came to Dorothy's lips. "Are you sure? Are you sure you're not mad at me?"

"I don't have a reason to be mad at you. Hold on and I'll get the menu." Judy headed toward the kitchen and the menu drawer beside the phone. She fished inside until she found the menu for Gino's Pizzeria. The place was around the corner and Gino used the freshest ingredients. Tom loved the place the first time she took him--

Her heart lurched at the thought of him. Had it really been a week since their argument? She stormed out and half expected him to follow her. When he didn't, the doubts returned tenfold. Her pride took over and she couldn't bring herself to call him.

"Here." Judy handed the menu to Dorothy. "Everything's great. We can split a medium. I have lettuce and tomatoes in the fridge if you'd like a salad to go with it."

"That sounds good. What do you think about sausage with black olives?"

"Love it," Judy said. She grabbed the phone. "Is a hand tossed crust okay with you?"

Dorothy nodded. She pulled her wallet from her purse. "It's my treat."

"No." Judy shook her head. "We can split it."

"Please, it's the least I can do. Okay?"

Judy nodded. "Okay."

After she ordered the pizza, they moved to the kitchen to prepare the salad. Dorothy chopped the tomatoes while Judy tore the lettuce into bite sized pieces. They decided to use olive oil and vinegar for the dressing.

"I'm sorry about the dinner party," Judy said. "You went to a lot of trouble and it fell apart. I feel partly to blame. I should have realized what was happening with Harry."

"He wasn't sure so how could you know?" Dorothy asked. "Matters of the heart are tricky business. Doug and I have been going back and forth since high school. Moving in together was a big step and I'm still not sure it will work out."

"Really? I thought you and Doug were happy."

Dorothy released a short laugh. "We fight a lot. I'm surprised Doug doesn't shout it from the rooftops. I drive him crazy. He drives me crazy. Sometimes, that's fun. Sometimes, it isn't. How are you and Tom? You look so good together."

The compliment surprised Judy. She stopped tossing the salad to look at Dorothy. "Do you really think so?"

"I wouldn't say it if I didn't believe it. Tom's a good catch. He's solid and sincere. Not to mention cute!" Dorothy laughed as Judy blushed. "Guys like him are hard to come by."

"Yeah, he is a good guy," Judy said softly.

"Uh oh." Dorothy took the salad bowl from Judy and placed it on the dining room table.

Judy followed her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You tell me."

Just then the doorbell rang. Dorothy grabbed her wallet and answered the door. Pretty soon, the delicious aroma of pizza filled Judy's apartment. The women quickly settled down to eat.

"Well?" Dorothy said, raising a slice to her lips. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. Doug says I pry too much."

Judy picked an olive from her slice of pizza. "I did something I shouldn't have. Not once but twice. We had a pretty bad argument and I haven't heard from him."

"In how long?"

"A week!" The single word made her stomach clench. She pushed her plate away and fiddled with her napkin. "In the last two years, I've never gone a week without talking to him. I can't believe he doesn't want to talk to me."

"Maybe he thinks you don't want to talk to him," Dorothy suggested. "Why don't you call him?"

Judy looked away.

"Don't let pride run your life. Pride can't keep you warm at night and it sure as hell doesn't look as good in a pair of jeans."

"I don't know what to say," Judy confessed.

"Start with 'hello' and see what happens." Dorothy wiped her hands with a napkin before grabbing Judy's phone. She handed the cordless headset over. "Here."