The next morning I dragged myself out of my apartment and back to work. If it’d been up to me, today would have been devoted to sleep-ins, chick-flicks and a tub of caramel ice-cream, however it was a Tuesday, and Tuesdays were workdays. If I’m totally honest with myself, I’m not really handling the job very well; I wasn’t aware of the emotional strain of being a homicide detective, and I was feeling less than appreciated by certain members of my partnership. Maybe it was time to book a little one-on-one time with my favourite psychologist.
With this in mind, I bypassed my desk and headed straight for Ryan’s office. Through the small window I could see him; tall, built like a runner, with that gorgeous, sandy hair and intelligent, butterscotch eyes that I just craved. Today he looked awkward, lent against the sideboard, one hand stirring instant coffee powder very slowly, absently into a mug, the other raking through his hair. I wouldn’t normally knock, but I was sure something was wrong.
“Ryan? May I come in?” I poked my head around the door. He didn’t even acknowledge me. “Ryan? You okay, honey?” Nothing. I closed the door behind myself and came up behind him, my hand on his shoulder. Gently, I took the mug from his hand, steered him to the small couch in the corner and sat down close beside him. “You’re scaring me, Ryan, talk to me.”
“Liar. Come on, you’re drinking instant.” Almost a smile. “Is it your mother?”
She’d been in hospital since I knew Ryan; she had bone marrow cancer and was deteriorating by the day.
“Yeah, you’re good. I got a call this morning. She’s getting worse, practically comatose. They asked me if I would sign a palliative care agreement. I think I just signed her death warrant.”
“Are you going to see her?”
“I can’t afford a plane ticket, Jorjie, not after how much I’m paying for her to stay in the private hospice. I sentenced her to death, and now I can’t even apologize to her face. I’m disgusting.”
“No, Ryan, you’re human, and there’s always going to be tough decisions to make. You’re doing the right thing, if you hadn’t signed the agreement you’d only be prolonging the suffering.” I inched closer and softly rested my head in the hollow of his shoulder. “Can I ask you something? Why did you move out here if she’s so sick?”
“She told me not to hang around and waste my life, but that was before she was hospitalized. I couldn’t move back initially because of my college internship, and by then I’d started paying for the hospice. I needed to work and there was nothing back home. I just wish…”
Looking up at his face, the pain was obvious. I kissed his cheek and he slid an arm around my waist, pulling me closer still. I ached to kiss him but I checked myself; it wasn’t my place to, not after what was just said.
“I’m glad I have you here.”
He stroked my hair for a moment in silence, and then ran his fingers down my face until he reached my neck, tilting my head to look me in the eye. When he opened his mouth I assumed he was about to say something, instead he started towards mine. I closed my eyes in anticipation.
My phone rang. He stopped centimeters from my lips.
“You going to get that? Might be important.”
I closed the gap and kissed him, softly, sweetly, until he broke away.
“You really ought to get that, it’s probably Bateman.”