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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.