3.9

09-19-15_3-51 PM

After a long, painful weekend and a lot of ibuprofen Emery and I presented our conclusion to the Chief. Being able to finally close this case felt amazing. Knowing that I had contributed to Willow Creek’s safety felt even better, even if it was only in a small way.

The best part was when the Chief called me into his office at the end of the day, and offered me the promised promotion to Detective. Excited to have earned that title, I picked up my new uniform and badge and signed the papers. I knew our last case was nothing compared to what I’d face now, but I was looking forward to the challenge. I was finally able to do more than patrol the streets. Finally, I’d be able to do some real good for my neighbourhood.

The only thing that was still bugging me was Blaine’s case. I had to watch myself whenever I researched it and even then I felt like I wasn’t being careful enough.

09-19-15_3-48 PM

I had all but given up on trying to find him at work. The only place where I could really immerse myself in research, thanks to Emery, was at home but even then it was no good. No new information had been added recently, so all I had was old files. I got excited when I saw footage of a bank being robbed in Riverview since he was tagged under it, but the video itself was of such bad quality that it wasn’t worth investigating further. I could see enough to know that the robber’s face was covered completely. The police in Riverview caught him and released a portrait three days later, and it was not him.

The majority of leads ended up that way. I felt like I was getting further and further away from Blaine’s location but did not want to give up. I had to find him, no matter how long it took.

Emery was trying to be supportive, but even with his help we didn’t uncover anything new. Blaine Raegan had disappeared, it was as simple and as complicated as that.

Things with Emery had been fine after he had confessed his feelings for me. Just- That night I’d had a dream, and it had bugged me every day since.

SophiaDream

In my dream I had kissed Emery. I was worried to think that it hadn’t been a dream but drunk memories, but wasn’t sure how to ask. If I had actually kissed him I had to give him credit for not saying anything. He was in love with me, but did not bring it up. Was it fair of me to bring it up?

Still, I needed to know. I hated to think that I had kissed him, drunk or not, but I had to know either way. If it was a dream I could forget how nice it had felt. If it wasn’t… I wasn’t prepared to consider that option just yet.

A week after our evening out I asked Emery to come over after work. I had no idea how to word this, but it had to be done.

Two minutes to six, Emery arrived on my porch. Too nervous to think straight I invited him inside.

09-19-15_4-06 PM-2

“What’s wrong?” His expression darkened when I stalled. “You didn’t find another threat, did you?”

“No, it’s not that” I said, shaking my head slowly. Taking a deep breath in, I added “There’s something I wanted to ask you.”

Looking concerned, Emery stepped closer. “Sure, you can ask me anything.”

“Last week, when you brought me home from the bar…” I watched his expression very carefully, hoping for him to be confused. Needing him to be confused. “Did I… I don’t normally drink, so did I… do anything?” All of my hopes came tumbling down around me when he blushed and looked away.

“Oh. That. Erm… Don’t worry about it. I know you were drunk so I didn’t, erm, read anything into it. I swear.”

I felt dizzy. Needing to sit down I sank onto my sofa, praying that it would swallow me whole.

09-19-15_4-09 PM-3

“Oh Maker. I kissed you.” How could I do this? I’d known he had feelings for me! After all my vows of not getting involved romantically with anyone at work I had a couple of drinks and did this? I’d never be able to make this up to him or myself.

“Yeah, but I promise I didn’t read anything into it. I know you’re not interested… in me… like that. Oh Maker, sorry, that sounded awful.”

“No, I’m sorry, Emery, I don’t know what came over me.” What on earth was wrong with me?

An embarrassed smile lit up his eyes. “Don’t apologise. You were good.”

Feeling my face flush hotter than it had ever done before, I felt my stomach twisting. “Did we-”

“Oh! No, we didn’t- I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant.” Nervous, we both started laughing. “I meant you are a good kisser, not you were good in- I’m sorry, I did not word that well.”

“Even though I was drunk?” I hadn’t even been able to unlock my door without his help. How on earth had I found his face?

I realised too late that Emery had scooted closer. “Yeah. Even though you were drunk.” I wanted to move away but a larger part of me wanted to stay. It had felt nice. Sitting this close to him now, talking about kissing him had my mind in a nervous mess. Mum had been right about him being in love with me. What if she had been right about me, too? I couldn’t deny the way he made me feel. I felt safer with him around, and loved the feel of his muscles through his clothes.

09-19-15_4-10 PM

“I’m sorry, Emery” I said, making a mental note not to apologise to anyone again for a long time after this. “You’re a great guy. You’ve been a great friend to me and you make me feel safe. I think maybe I haven’t been very fair to you.”

He raised his eyebrows, looking unsure about where this was going. Just like me.

“How so?”

“I promised myself never to mix work with pleasure. We’re in a dangerous job, either of us could die on the next case we take. We’ve dealt with some dangerous people before, and some of them have pointed knives or guns at us. I’m afraid-” I sighed. I’d said too much to stop now. “I don’t want to let my personal feelings get in the way of my job, Emery. What if I had to chose between saving you or saving an innocent bystander? How would you expect me to make that decision?”

Smiling, he gently pulled me into a hug.

09-19-15_4-10 PM-2

The feel of his hand slowly stroking my arm or his lips kissing my forehead just as lovingly was almost too much to bare. How had it taken me this long to admit to myself how I felt? How blind had I been?

Silently, I shook my head at myself. I hadn’t been blind, I had been dedicated. Every time I had thought about Emery in that way, no matter how small the thought, I had pushed it away. I was trying to be professional, forgetting all about my dream of having a large family with a dog and white picket fence. What if the right man for that position had been right here this whole time? And I had tried to ignore it for the sake of my career? I felt so silly.

“I would expect you to save the innocent bystander. I can look after myself, Soph. You should know that.”

I nodded into his shoulder. I did know that. He wasn’t as agile as me but he was strong. His kicks weren’t as fast as mine but they made up for it in power. I had seen him tackle several criminals to the ground who had tried to attack me.

I couldn’t help but smile at the memory. Had he protected me even then?

“Listen, Soph.” I looked up into his eyes, grateful that I was already sitting down. “I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret. I want this, believe me, but it’s not worth it if it means you getting hurt.”

09-19-15_4-13 PM-2

I nodded. He was right, but what if I missed out on something amazing because I was scared? I hated being scared, having this stalker had taught me that. Out there, when I was doing my job, I was never afraid. I could always do what had to be done. Who said that would change?

“And if I’d regret not doing this even more?”

“Well, then I’d prefer if you-” He sighed. “I can’t take this, Soph. You’re torturing me here. Can you please just tell me what you want?”

I knew exactly what that was.

“I don’t want to be scared any more.”

09-19-15_4-14 PM-2

Leaning in I kissed him. My body responded instantly when his arms went around my waist and pulled me closer to him. When I didn’t resist and he kissed me back I knew I had made the right decision. My head was spinning, his moan when he pulled me onto his lap made it impossible to think. I had never felt this good before, and I didn’t want it to end.

It was Friday evening, we had nowhere else to be for the entire weekend. Eventually I would have to break away from him, but for now I wanted to make the moment last.

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3.8

09-19-15_3-26 PM

“Hi Emery. What’s up?”

Two weeks had passed since he had spy-proofed my house and stayed over. He was still avoiding me at work, although we were talking to each other when we needed to. We were finally nearly finished with our case and were about to present our findings to the Chief and get the confession signed, so I hoped that things would go back to normal once we had accepted a new case. I missed having my friend around and wanted to know what I had done to deserve this.

I hadn’t expected him to call me, especially on a Friday evening, and was suspicious when my phone’s screen lit up with his name.

“Hey Soph.” My stomach flipped at hearing him use my nickname again. Maybe we were good, after all? “Could you meet me in town? It’s important.”

“Now?” I hadn’t planned anything else but it was very short notice.

“Only if you’re free. If you’re not don’t wor-”

I sighed, hoping he couldn’t hear it. He had left everything for me on short notice several times. I owed him the same favour at least once.

“It’s fine. Where are you?”

“I’m outside that bar close to the library. You know the one?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I do. I’ll be there in a bit.” Nothing in Willow Creek was really far away so it only took me 15 minutes to drive there. I parked outside the library and walked up to the bar.

09-19-15_3-28 PM

Emery was still waiting by the front door when I got there. I waved as I hurried closer, surprised to see him smiling in response. He didn’t seem as tense as he had done for the past two weeks. He didn’t seem in the middle of an urgent emergency either. Instead he just looked relaxed, if a little nervous.

“Are you okay? I came as quickly as I could.”

09-19-15_3-29 PM

“I am. Thanks for coming, Soph. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you what this is about over the phone.” My curiosity peeked I gave him a questioning look. “Listen, Soph… I’m sorry for my behaviour these past few weeks. I know I’ve been ignoring you, and I feel bad. I was hoping to make it up to you tonight.”

Oh. So that’s why he had asked me to a bar? No emergency, he just wanted to hang out? I felt myself smile. I guessed I could do that.

“So why have you been ignoring me?” If he really wanted to make it up to me he could start by telling me the truth.

“Why don’t we talk inside? I’ll buy you a drink.” Nervously, I nodded. This was the closest I had ever been to a date, even if this wasn’t one. I didn’t normally go to bars, and I didn’t usually drink but I could tell that Emery felt bad. If this was how he wanted to make up for it I wasn’t going to refuse him. The very idea of going on a date with Emery made my insides squirm and I blushed.

“Sure.” He smiled his appreciation, and I followed him inside. I had heard good things about this place before but had never been myself. Entering the main room now I could see why it had received so many good reviews. This bar was hardly a high-end establishment, but it was cosy with a piano and microphone in the corner for live music and comfortable looking seats.

I followed Emery around the corner to the bar, and took a seat next to him.

09-19-15_3-32 PM

“What can I get you?” the bartender asked. I quickly scanned the menu ashamed of my limited knowledge of drinks, and just picked the first thing that stood out to me.

“An Exotic Fusion, please.”

“Just a water for me” Emery said, earning himself a disapproving frown from the bartender.

“Sure thing. Just be a minute.”

While she busied herself with our drinks – or rather with my drink – I turned around to face Emery.

“I’d have thought you’d want something stronger.” I knew he wasn’t an alcoholic but why invite someone to a bar if you’re not going to drink?

Smiling, he shook his head. “Someone’s got to drive you home, Soph! I saw you park your car. I only walked here, I can drive you back later.”

I blushed, embarrassed that I had forgotten how I had gotten here. Of course I wouldn’t be able to drive. What had I been thinking? Frowning, I blamed my nerves.

09-19-15_3-32 PM-2

“So why have you been ignoring me?”

I wasn’t sure if it was the drink or the lighting or something else, but Emery looked more nervous than I felt.

He sighed. “I’m sorry, Soph. I know I should have said something, but how could I- I didn’t know how. Maker, I still don’t. But you should know.”

“What do you mean?”

“I… I like you, Soph. A lot. You’re a great colleague, you’re fun to be around, you’re smart, you’re brave, you’re beautiful- I shouldn’t have suggested we share your bed but you looked scared and I wanted to comfort you somehow. Believe me, it wasn’t easy to stick to the edge of the bed. But I respect you too much to try anything, so I got up once you’d fallen asleep.” He took a deep breath in, leaving me to stare at him as I processed everything he had just told me. “I’m sorry I left in a hurry that morning. I’m sorry I haven’t talked to you since then. I didn’t know whether I should tell you or not but I thought you deserved to know why I’ve been such an ass.”

09-19-15_3-33 PM-2

Maker. Mum was right. Emery really did have feelings for me.

“Emery, I-” He looked so hopeful, and I felt terrible for having to crush his hopes.

“I know, you don’t need to say anything. I know you want to keep our relationship strictly professional, and I’m okay with that. I haven’t asked you here tonight to ask you out, I just wanted to give you a reason for the way I’ve been behaving. If this isn’t too weird for you, I’d still like to be friends.”

I took a big sip of my Exotic Fusion which mostly tasted of vodka and raspberries. Not a bad combination.

He was asking if this was too weird for me? Yes, it’d be weird, but he was the one in love! If he could manage surely I could, too?

I nodded. “I’d love to be friends, Emery. I thought we already were.”

“We are. Thank you, Soph, I really appreciate you taking it so well” he said, smiling gratefully.

“How did you think I’d take it?”

“I don’t know. I thought maybe you’d run out of here disgusted.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Even if this was the reason why, at least we were talking again and it felt good to laugh together.

09-19-15_3-36 PM

The rest of the evening we spent chatting, as friends. Like we had done many times before at home. He seemed a lot more relaxed now that he had confessed his feelings for me, and the drinks helped me not freak out about it. I didn’t care that he had feelings for me, but a part of me wished he hadn’t told me. Another part of me wondered what being his girlfriend would be like, but I quickly dismissed that part. I was worried it would effect us working together somehow, and I knew it would always be at the back of my mind now whenever I saw him. He kept buying me drinks,  and eventually his confession did not bother me in the slightest any more. All of my concerns were gone, and I was just grateful to still be his friend, even know.

“I think that’s enough.”

“What? Jus’anozza.”

“Here. Drink some of this.” Not caring what the clear liquid was I quickly emptied the glass.

“Eww! Whazzat?”

“It’s water, Soph. It’ll help you sober up a little. Come on, let’s get you home.” Emery helped me leave the bar and get to my car, where he ignored all comments and forced me into the passenger seat. I knew I couldn’t drive, but this was my car. I had driven myself here, and I could drive us home.

09-19-15_3-41 PM

I had no idea what the time was when we finally got back, but my head was spinning dangerously fast. Or maybe it was the world that was spinning? Either way, I needed it to stop.

“Thanks for coming out tonight, Soph. I appreciate you meeting me in town and not making a big deal out of…” Embarrassed and blushing, he looked to the floor. “Well, out of that. Will you be okay from here?”

I nodded, desperately looking forward to my bed. I thanked the Maker that it was Saturday tomorrow – this was not how I wanted to present our case to the Chief!

“Good. I’ll be off then. Give me a call tomorrow if you want to go over our short presentation again, okay?” Not convinced that I’d be sober enough after only one night, I nodded.

Emery waved and helped me find the keyhole in the door before stepping away. Thank the Maker he was there, that thing had definitely gotten smaller while we had been out! “Great, I’ll see you then.”

09-19-15_3-40 PM-3

I quickly threw my arms around Emery. He had been a great friend to me since he had moved here and I needed him to know how much I appreciated it. It felt good to be so close, to smell his cologne and feel the muscles through his jumper, but before I knew it I woke up the next morning with a killer headache, relieved to see that I hadn’t done anything stupid.

3.7

Note: There’s a tiny bit of cussing near the end – nothing much, but since this doesn’t usually involve heavy swearing I thought I should warn you 🙂

——————————————————————————

07-26-15_1-00 PM

That night I had a nightmare. A faceless, genderless body was moving freely through my house while I slept, reading through my emails and acting like they belonged here. Once they had inspected everything I had researched they stood by my bed, watching me sleep. They reached for me with long, inhumane fingers and I woke up, screaming.

My heart hammering and tears stinging my eyes I sat up, looking around rapidly. It was dark in my room but I was alone. The only shadows belonged to my furniture, there was no one standing over me.

Wiping my eyes dry I sat up. I had a feeling I wouldn’t get any more sleep tonight, but maybe I could sit outside for a while to think and watch the sunrise. I’d been meaning to do that ever since I moved here since I had a good view from my garden, but I had never been up in time. The open space and crisp air would also be a comfort.

My alarm clock read four-thirty, the sun would start rising in about an hour. I got up, wanting to throw on a jacket and some slippers when my door was thrown open and Emery came crashing into my room, eyes wide.

07-26-15_1-02 PM

“Are you okay? I heard you scream!”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Feeling silly at the confession, I added: “I had a bad dream. I’m sorry I woke you.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. That’s what I’m here for, remember?”

I couldn’t help but smile. Emery still looked a little worried, and I noticed that he hadn’t changed out of his clothes. He could have slept in his underwear on my sofa if he had gotten too warm, but he had stayed dressed instead. In case I walked in, I imagined. It was my house after all, and hadn’t I just wanted to pop out to watch the sunrise?

“Thanks. I really appreciate you staying over.”

Closing the awkward gap between us, he pulled me into a hug and I instantly felt safer.

07-26-15_1-02 PM-2

“No problem, Soph. Wanna talk about it?” My heart skipped uncomfortably. He had never used my nickname before. I hadn’t even been aware that I had a nickname! I had always been Sophia, never Soph. It was nice.

I sighed, waving his offer away. “No, it’s okay. All this, it’s just getting to me. I’m sorry.” The words just slipped out without my permission.

“What are you apologising for? Some creep is stalking you, you’re entitled to a nightmare or two.” Two? There’d better not be!

“Maybe, but I’m a cop. I’m supposed to be tougher than that.” I had not realised how much that had been bothering me until now.

“And you are, but usually our cases don’t get personal. This is different. Speaking of which, you should get more sleep. We’ve still got a tough case to crack, remember?”

I smiled back. “I do. But I don’t think I can sleep any more. I’m a little too freaked out still.”

“Would it help if I stayed?” By the way he blushed I didn’t think he had meant to say those words out loud. “I mean, I’ll sleep right on the edge, I’ll keep my jeans on and I won’t even face you if you’d be more comfortable that way.”

He was right, I should get more sleep. An alert cop was a good cop. Sleeping in the same bed sounded almost too intimate, but it wasn’t like we were going to sleep in our underwear. And I couldn’t deny that I felt safer with him around.

I nodded. “Okay.”

07-26-15_1-04 PM

Surprisingly enough I did manage to fall asleep again. True to his word Emery stayed on the other side of the bed, and even nearly fell off once.

When my alarm clock went off Emery was gone. Through the closed door I could hear the TV running quietly. I quickly got up and got dressed, and went to make breakfast. Emery had fallen asleep on the sofa so I tried my best not to wake him. Busying myself with flour, eggs and milk I wondered when he had gotten up. I had been so deeply asleep I hadn’t realised he had left. Had he only stayed until I had fallen asleep? Or had he gotten some sleep himself?

Lost in thought I didn’t pay enough attention to my stove, and burned myself when I reached to turn the temperature down.

“Shit!” With tears stinging my eyes I quickly ran cold water over the freshly burned area. Too late I remembered Emery sleeping on my sofa.

07-26-15_1-06 PM

“Hey Emery” I said, going back to stirring my pancake dough before baking them. I was making a lot so I hoped he was hungry – making breakfast was the least I could after everything he had done for me. And I had burned myself in the effort.

He looked pretty tired and I expected that was partly because he had had two rude awakenings now. All the more reason for me to make breakfast.

“Hey Sophia. Listen, I’ll-”

“Thank you for last night. I’m glad you were here, even if I’ve woken you up twice now. Pancakes?”

07-26-15_1-07 PM

“I should head off, actually. We’re starting work in ninety minutes and I’d really like to take a shower first.” For some reason I was disappointed. He had a right to get home, didn’t he? He had already stayed here for longer than I had asked of him to.

“You’re welcome to use my shower, I’ve got spare towels.”

It hurt when he shook his head. “No, thanks, I really should get home. I’ll see you at work, okay?”

Offering a smile, I answered “Yeah, sure. I’ll see you there.”

07-26-15_1-19 PM

But I didn’t. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought that Emery was trying to avoid me. Had sleeping in the same bed been too awkward for him after all? He had been the one to suggest it but maybe he had only offered to be polite, hoping I’d refuse. Or maybe it was something I had said?

We mostly went our own ways at work after that. Both of us worked on different aspects of the evidence we had collected, and since we had found more than we had ever done on any other case there was a lot to get through. While I interrogated people, he went over witness reports. While he searched suspects, I ran diagnoses on the fingerprint samples we had. All findings we added to our board at the end of the day, but we seemed to miss each other every evening. By the time I got in there to pin up my own findings he had already left.

07-26-15_1-11 PM

On the plus side, I felt like we were getting close to finishing this. We had good leads on the suspects and I was confident that we already had the right person locked up. I knew it was only a matter of time before we could close this case and move on to the next one, and maybe I’d even get that promotion the Chief had mentioned.

And maybe, when we got the next case, Emery would talk to me again.