As Melissa smiled, her lush red lips curving up, making her deep green eyes sparkle, Lazarus' heart skipped. He knew he was lucky, he knew that. But reality gave him a slap around the face, reminding him that Melissa was his and his alone. His smile became a breathless laugh and he kissed her firmly, channelling all his warmth, love and passion through the simple contact. Melissa returned the passion and love equally strong, though she couldn't return his warmth. As they parted, the phone rang, the shrill tone making Lazarus jump, his body tensing momentarily. He chuckled at himself and kissed Melissa again quickly before getting up. He scowled at the phone as he approached it, wondering who was daring to interrupt them.
‘Hello?' he said as he picked up, trying to keep the bitterness out of his voice. Melissa followed him and wrapped her arms around his waist gently, resting her head on his back. At her touch, he instantly relaxed smiling a little.
‘Mr Thorn?' the voice on the phone asked. He recognised the voice on the phone as the Sergeant and began to stiffen again.
‘I'm calling to ask you if you are free tomorrow at three in the afternoon? It's for your pardon. We have to make a thing of it for the TV crews.' The Sergeant told him this with a tone that sounded weary as though he hadn't slept since making his deal with Lazarus. Chances are he hasn't, Lazarus realised. He knew how the man felt about letting him walk free - giving him a public apology must be keeping him tossing and turning at night. He felt a small pang of guilt, but it passed as quickly as it came.
‘Yeah, yeah, where do I have to go?'
‘The station. You'll be there then?' the man sighed.
‘Yes, thank you so much. I'll see you tomorrow...' he trailed off as the Sergeant hung up. Lazarus shook his head and replaced the phone on its cradle. He turned in Melissa's arms and smiled at her. ‘I have to go to the police station at three tomorrow. They're giving me my apology.'
‘That's good to hear,' she replied. Lazarus frowned.
‘You okay? You sound a bit... distant.' He held her away at arm's length and looked at her with worried blue eyes.
‘I'm fine, really. Just, I've had a lot to think about. It's nothing.' She smiled reassuringly, her eyes soft and seemed to smile with her. Lazarus wasn't convinced, but he didn't push the matter, instead looking in the kitchen for something to eat.
As the sun began to tear into the horizon once again, they moved to the bedroom, lying under the covers together, though neither of them slept.
‘What's on your mind?' Lazarus asked eventually, knowing that Melissa wasn't sleeping either.
‘Everything,' she laughed quietly. ‘As always. You, the wedding, the hunters, the police.' He turned on his side, ignoring the persistent ache in his side. He gazed at her through the dim light, putting his hand over her waist comfortingly.
‘Everything'll work out,' he said, the promise in his voice.
‘Yeah, I hope so.' She replied.
‘You don't believe me?' he asked, pulling his hand back a little. ‘What's wrong?'
‘No, no, I believe you,' she protested, though she didn't pull his hand back.
‘Well what's wrong then?'
‘Nothing!' she exclaimed. He was quiet for a few minutes, lying on his back again.
‘Sorry,' he almost whispered the word. Melissa sighed.
‘What for?' she asked.
‘Just being annoying. As usual,' he tried to laugh.
‘You're not! I just don't feel much like talking today. That's all.' She replied. Lazarus nodded and fell silent. Eventually he fell asleep, only to be awoken by his alarm a few hours later. He slipped out of bed quietly, switching the alarm off before it could disturb Melissa. Quickly, he showered, shaved, dressed in the smartest clothes he owned - a pair of dark trousers and a white button up shirt that swamped his frame. He kissed Melissa on her cheek, trying not to cause her to stir as he hurried out of the apartment.
The walk to the police station was not a comfortable one. He was stared at by people on the street and a few people shook their heads in disbelief. They couldn't believe he was being pardoned. Everyone knew he was guilty, his neighbour had seen him with her own eyes. It was clear that though the police were letting him go that they too could not believe they were doing this. He ended up taking the quietest route to the station as he possibly could.
He reached the police station just a few minutes before three o'clock. The Sergeant greeted Lazarus coldly, a quick, wordless hand shake. He was pulled inside and told briefly what was going to happen - the sarge would speak to him outside in front of the cameras, apologise, Lazarus was to accept, smile and then leave, never to bother the police again.
And that was exactly what happened. Lazarus tried to smile, but like the Sergeant his expression was forced, his smile tight and weary.
‘Lazarus Thorn: on behalf of the police force...' Lazarus tuned out. ‘I apologise for improper arrest and conviction for the murder of Connor Hope and for any inconvenience or upset it has caused,' The Sergeant shook Lazarus' hand firmly and smiled before turning inside. Bennett escorted Lazarus away from the cameras and the angry people of the town. Lazarus wasn't sure who was going to get more hate for this - the police or him.
‘I'm supposed to escort you back, by the way, I don't know if they told you.' Bennett told him as they walked.
‘No, they didn't tell me.' Lazarus replied as Bennett watched the people on the streets around them. The apology was bound to be all over the local news later on. He hoped Melissa wouldn't want to watch it back when it came on.
‘Oh. You know if I were you, I'd move town after this. Maybe Scotland won't have heard about this.' Bennett smiled.