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Seeing Red
By EponinesGhost

Chapter Seven

Even though she'd suspected that the trip out to Rikers would be a waste of her time, for once Kelly didn't mind. She'd had to make a perfunctory appearance just in case there had been anything worth listening to on the table, but today she'd actually been grateful for the distraction. She'd crossed an obligatory task off of her list and put some distance between herself and her decimation.

Part of her still felt like retreating, getting as far away from the source of her pain as fast as she could. The other part wasn't willing to give up so easily. She'd had to fight her way to where she was now. She knew that she possessed whatever it would take to stay there. Still ... the temptation to curl into the smallest space she could find and draw the shutters around her was very powerful. So she'd compromised. The early arrival, the full schedule ... returning to the office at this hour only because she knew Tracey had a lunch meeting. It wasn't completely cowardly. It would only delay the inevitable. But, she rationalized, maybe when she finally encountered Tracey today, she might have patched herself together enough to withstand the heartache.

Walking briskly toward the building, Kelly second-guessed her decision not to pick up lunch. She wasn't hungry, that was true. And she wanted to check in with Salazar and Ravell about any progress on the witnesses. If she was lucky, she might be able to write up the particulars of her session with Canton's lawyer, run down all of the updates, and find some logical reason to get back out before Tracey returned. Are you listening to yourself, Gaffney? You weren't running scared, remember? Aggressive offense my ass. If she got stuck in the office for the afternoon, the bagel she had nibbled on earlier might not be enough to tide her over. Shuddering slightly at the thought of looking Tracey in the eye, she decided that an empty stomach was the least of her worries. In fact, at that point, it might be a distinct advantage.

"Ms. Gaffney?"

Kelly looked over her shoulder toward the sound of her name just in time to see a woman push away from the column she'd been leaning against. Shit. No fucking way.

"Excuse me, it is Gaffney, isn't it? Forgive me if I'm not remembering it exactly ..."

Stunned, Kelly could only stand there as the she came closer. Fuck. Seven hours plus of near normalcy wiped out in a single instant.

"I'm sorry to bother you ..."

"Can I help you?" Kelly tried to buy some time by feigning ignorance of the redhead's identity.

Stopping right in front of her, the woman appeared to falter slightly. "I'm ... we met last night ... Rochelle?" She raised her eyebrows in a way intended to nudge Kelly's memory.

Her face almost splitting with phony politeness, Kelly responded, "Yes... Rochelle. Good to see you again, I'm sure Tracey will be back from lunch shortly ..." She started to turn away.

"I'm actually here to see you." Her smile seemed genuine. "Have you had lunch?"

Good God. This isn't happening. No fucking way she was going to discuss Tracey over lunch with her ... girlfriend. "Yes, I have, thank you." Again she turned to leave.

Rochelle's hand on her arm stopped her. "If I could just have a minute of your time then ..."

"I don't think that would be a good idea." She had to get away from this person. She was going to lose it.

Becoming exasperated, Rochelle tried once more. She hadn't come all the way down here on her lunch hour not to make her point. "Look, I understand ..."

Kelly shook Rochelle's hand off of her, along with the last vestiges of her pride. Her voice nearly cracked, "No ... you don't! You couldn't possibly ..." Backing away, she stifled the urge to break into a run.

"I wish I didn't ... more than you know ..." Rochelle raised her own voice as she stepped forward. Somehow she had to reach the blond. "She ... Tracey ... " Her face seemed to crumple a bit.

The emotion in Rochelle's delivery and the mention of Tracey's name held Kelly there. Almost against her will she whispered hoarsely, "What?"

"She and I ... what we had ... what we were ... it meant nothing to her." Rochelle closed her eyes briefly, then fixed them solidly on Kelly. "It's over."

Inordinately confused and still rocked by the whole horror of running into Rochelle without warning, Kelly stared at her. In the natural sunlight, she looked older than she had in the club. Much closer to Kelly's age. And much more exposed, despite her impeccably tailored ensemble.

At a loss, Kelly shook her head slowly. "What ... Why are you telling me this?

With a melancholy smile that touched Kelly in spite of her best efforts to resist it, Rochelle answered quietly. "Because ... God help me ... I want her to be happy. And she wants you."

Letting that hang in the air, she brushed past Kelly and blended into the pedestrian flow on the sidewalk. Dumbfounded, Kelly stood motionless for an eternity, oblivious to everything but the impact of Rochelle's last remark.

Hector was idly scanning the passersby as Ravell worked his way toward an open parking place. He heard Chris mumbling about how it should have been much easier to find a reserved spot during lunch, which, by the way, they themselves had yet to enjoy. Smiling, he was just about to reply when one person in particular caught his eye. Talk about stopping traffic. She was drop dead gorgeous. And that red hair. He whistled under his breath. Reaching across the seat to flick Ravell's upper arm with the back of his hand, he watched her stride closer. "Hey man, check it out."

Ravell followed Hector's gaze. No way. If this didn't beat all. Small world all of the sudden. He'd known next to nothing about Kibre's personal life yesterday at this time, yet in less than 24 hours he seemed to have stepped right into the middle of it. Still, as much as the woman rubbed him the wrong way, he had to hand it to her. She had great taste. Shifting the car into park, he laughed out loud.

"What? You don't think she's all that? Did you get a good look at her?" Hector was craning his neck around to catch one last glimpse.

Still grinning, Ravell turned to his partner. "You gotta trust me when I say this ... YOU are totally not her type."

Part 8

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