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They Will Never Tear Us Apart
Cindy had seen the way the sheriff had looked at Lindsay, the serious tones between them floating over to her, finally, the smile. Talk about adding insult to injury. That moment as she was pressing the ice pack against her aching face, she was wondering if she'd been setting herself up for serious painful disappointment.
Then Lindsay ended the conversation and came over to the table. She sat down, giving Cindy an intent look. "Are you okay?"
"Perfect." Cindy forced a smile, although with the adrenaline wearing off, she felt more like crying. "The waitress says our dinner is on the house." She was pretty sure that Lindsay was working up the nerve to yell at her about what the hell had she been thinking, getting them caught up in a case of domestic violence. That calling the police from her cell phone would have been way enough involvement. Instead, they were stuck for another night. "Come on, say it. Let's get this out of the way."
"I was going to say..." Lindsay looked away, then back at her. Cindy braced herself. "That you're very brave. Sometimes, I wish you weren't." Her voice was suspiciously shaky. She reached out to touch Cindy's cheek lightly, then quickly took her hand away. "I'll check on that free dinner."
Cindy, forgetting about her face for a moment, smiled, the instant pain reminding her again. There was a metaphor in there somewhere.
"You girls saved the day," Anna claimed as she poured more coffee for both of them. "It's about time that someone put Parker in his place."
"People just watched him beat her up all this time?" There was an edge to Lindsay's voice.
"Bastard would usually be more careful about it," Anna said with disgust. "I hope this time they'll keep him long enough for Marcie to get away."
"I told your Sheriff I'd check up on that. Parker's not just your problem anymore."
"Yeah," Anna acknowledged. "Let me get your dinner, and then I want to show you something. Just so you won't leave thinking all's ugly here."
They ate in silence. Cindy didn't quite know what to make out of this ambience, and she couldn't bear the uncertainty. "You sure you're not mad at me?" Maybe she just wanted to be sure, that she hadn't imagined the touch of Lindsay's hand against her cheek.
"I'm not mad," Lindsay said, and she didn't seem surprised by Cindy's need for reassurance. "I'm not crazy about you getting slapped by random guys because you have more guts than the average person either."
"You scared him."
"Yeah. But I can't always be around. I can't"
Cindy waited, holding her breath, but Lindsay didn't finish the sentence. "It's a half hour drive to the spot that Anna mentioned," she said instead. "Do you want to check it out tonight? I mean... We have to stay tonight anyway. If you're up for it."
"It's still early," Cindy said, wondered where that pang of disappointment came from. "Let's go."
In an attempt to prive that their town had more to offer, Anna had shown them this place on the map, from which the whole valley could be overlooked. The sun was setting on the horizon while they left the city limits behind. As it was a weekday, it wouldn't be very crowded.
"Sheriff Walters..." Lindsay shook her head, laughing self-consciously. "He asked me out."
"Oh." Cindy had nothing more to say to that, but the appeal of the beautiful sunset was gone in a heartbeat. What had she been thinking? She wouldn't have needed these days alone with Lindsay, or a potentially dangerous situation to see clearly. She couldn't come to any more conclusions, but her knowledge against the backdrop of their shared journey was even more painful. "That's nice," she added, wincing at her obvious lack of enthusiasm.
"It's stupid," Lindsay said. "I don't plan on ever coming back here."
"Okay." Good. Cindy wondered if Lindsay had any idea about the emotional rollercoaster she was on. From the words 'You're in'. Or maybe before that. Maybe having been slapped in the face was making her emotional. Who knew?
Lindsay gave her a quick, curious sideways glance. "What? I thought this was for us. I trust you not to run off with the first good-looking guy we meet along the way."
And didn't she know how to turn the knife?
After parking the car, they walked for a few minutes until they came to a clearing. The first stars were coming out in the sky spanning above them, and the view was as beautiful as Anna had described. It was also a jarring contrast to the violence they'd witnessed just a few hours ago. Cindy had always believed that the freedom to make choices was the most important thing in life. Just leaving their jobs behind like that, going wherever they wanted to... You could barely have more freedom than that. Marcie Hale's story was sobering, though.
"Do you think we'll ever get anywhere?" she asked into the silence. She could tell from Lindsay's interested, somewhat patient look that she had no idea what Cindy was talking about. "Not only he'll probably out of jail long before we're back home, but he won't think he's done anything wrong."
"That sucks," Lindsay admitted. "If he hasn't learned his lesson, let's hope that the people here have."
"And what about us? We work our asses off, every day. You talk cases with this guy, and when you turn around, he checks you out."
"Fong is still doing that? Son of a bitch." There was a bit of humor to Lindsay's voice, but her gaze was attentive, understanding. "Did something happen at work?"
Cindy shrugged. "Just the usual. It gets tiring sometimes."
"Yeah, it does. But to answer your question, yes, I think we're getting somewhere. Bit by bit. Sit down for a moment?"
It wasn't until then that Cindy realized she'd been pacing. "Sometimes, it feels like it's going too damn slow. With a sigh, she plopped down on the blanket Lindsay had spread on the ground earlier. "Sorry. It's just sometimes that all of this comes crashing down."
"It's okay. You don't have to explain."
Cindy looked up at the now star-lit sky. This was surreal, the scenery around them, this whole day. The fact that they'd left San Francisco behind almost a week ago. She turned back realizing that Lindsay had watched her the whole time. They'd done that all the time, hold each other's gaze for a little too long, looking away before imagination turned to reality. Not today. Not this time.
Lindsay leaned forward to kiss her. Cautious, testing, as if she didn't know that Cindy had waited forever for this to happen. Maybe she was just being careful with regard to Cindy's condition, but any pain of today was nothing but a faint memory. She shivered from more than the night chill setting in. There was nothing she would have liked more than go back to their room and just take that next logical step, but Cindy had reserved some caution on her own. She wasn't going to push. She had learned that with Lindsay, it would be a bad idea, especially knowing that this might be a first time.
"It's getting cold," Lindsay said softly with a shy smile.
Cindy regarded her in the half-dark, her scrutiny now open and unabashed, thinking of moments and memories, and the ever-present curiosity between them. She'd been in love with a few people, men, fewer women though she'd been questioning that ratio. She'd never been this drawn to someone, like her life depended on it.
"Yeah. We should go back."
There would come a point when they'd need more words than that, to make it real what had just happened. For the moment, as they walked back to the car, fingers entwined, it was all that Cindy needed.
They were getting somewhere. Bit by bit.
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