DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Cheryl for the beta! :)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I turn around once, for long enough to see Claire kissing Cindy on the forehead, and for some reason, the need to get out of the hallway and the building, increases ten-fold.
My steps quickening, I'm almost running by the time I get to the parking lot. I unlock the door, sit behind the wheel, but don't start the engine. I'm breathing hard, my hands are shaking, and with a curse, I toss the keys onto the passenger seat.
Why do I have to be such a coward?
Why this lousy excuse?
Because it's understood, wherever I go from here, I can't be with Pete right now. And it would only be fair to let him know that, since he's expecting me. I pick up the phone and dial, waiting for an answer. Wondering if the memory will come back to haunt me every time I pick up the cell phone -- like I did that moment, hastening down the stairs after Claire had called out for me.
I am not afraid of dangerous situations. I can handle them; I'm trained for it. They just never tell you how to handle it when someone you love is fighting for their life. It cracks that armor of self-confidence you've built up over the years in a heartbeat.
I've never felt as naked and vulnerable as I did, kneeling beside her, her hand in mine. I couldn't fool anyone. Claire got it covered, putting pressure on the wound, feeling for Cindy's pulse, I just... couldn't not touch her.
"Lindsay. I guess that means something came up."
Pete's voice is warm and gentle, and far more understanding than I deserve. "Yes," I manage, desperately trying to force the image of Cindy's gaze, clouded with pain, from my mind. Not knowing if she'd be all right. Not knowing if...
"Well, we can always reschedule... if you want it, that is," he adds after a moment.
"I... yes." Why keep lying to myself? I'll screw this up, like all the other times before.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I almost snap, while my vision gets blurry with the tears I try hard to fight back. "I need to go now. Talk to you tomorrow."
"Take care of yourself."
I hang up on the last word, giving in to the pain. There's no way I could ever tell her. So I'll stay here for a while, until I get myself together enough to go home, feed Martha and take her for a walk.
Tomorrow, I can fake the resemblance of normalcy again.
All I really want is to go back up there and be with her, but I can't. And that even makes sense in my twisted reasoning, because I'm doing her a favor by staying away. Take a look at my track record in relationships, and it becomes obvious.
I'm saving her from me.
And that hurts more than I could ever have known.
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