“What are you talking about?” Oliver asked me with a confused look on his face. “Wait, is this about Holly? Did she hurt you, Gail?” He jumped out of his seat, knocking it down in the process.
I shook my head.
“Okay, then why do you ask?”
I lifted my eyes to meet his, unable to admit my actions.
“Oh, did you…I mean, did you do something to her?” he asked cautiously.
I looked to the floor of the van. My shoulders slumped forward and I let out a audible breath.
“Hey, hey,” he said kneeling down in front of me. “Gail, look at me.”
I raised my head to look at him and saw how worried he was.
I didn’t know how Oliver dealt with his abduction. I wondered if he felt as defeated and helpless as I did, or if it even occurred to him. “I had a dream,” I whispered. I hated how weak and shy I sounded.
I saw Oliver’s eyes flicker to the monitor for a brief second. “Perik?” he asked softly, as if he could read my mind.
“Something was holding me. I wanted to set myself free, but SHE was holding me, and I accidentally...,” I stopped, trying to hold my tears in check. Oliver nodded as he checked the monitors.
“But you were dreaming, Gail…you know?” he asked.
“Does it matter? I mean I hurt her,” I answered, feeling defeated.
“Yes Peck, it does. You did not hurt her on purpose and I bet she knows that. That’s part of the deal when you’re in a relationship with a cop, kid,” he tried to assure me.
“And getting hurt by your partner comes with the deal?” I snorted again.
“No, not the ‘getting hurt’ by your partner. I meant dealing with the nightmares. Dealing with being scared and worried. Wanting to know what’s going on in our heads, you know?” He waited for me to respond before he continued.
“You know kid, a cop is a cop, no matter if we are on duty or off duty. We are cops, and there is no “off-duty” for us. Being a cop is a lifestyle, not just a job. No matter how hard we try to separate the duty of an officer from the other parts of our life, it’s impossible. For you, it’s probably even harder because of your parents and their expectations of you.” Oliver got up from his chair and placed his hand gently on my shoulder.
“Look kid, Holly sees the outcome of what can happen to us every day. Maybe it’s a pro or maybe it’s a con, but you’ll both figure it out.”
I looked at him and nodded in agreement. Maybe he was right, maybe it was part of the deal, but being punched by me definitely wasn’t.
"Have you talked to her since this morning?" he asked as he turned to look at the monitors.
"Let me guess, you ran out on her? Gail, you have to talk to her. Right now, you are your own worst enemy." Oliver handed me a bag of cheese puffs. He knew using food as bribery was the easiest way to make me talk.
"I hate you," I mumbled, taking the bag out of his hand.
"And you love me just the same," he laughed.
Yes, that’s the truth.
We went back to work, watching the monitor again. We documented our observations of the scene outside our van. There were many individuals entering and leaving the house. Some of the men we saw leaving the house carried bags. Small ones when they entered the building, larger ones when they left it.
Suddenly, it occurred to me. I never told Ollie about Holly and me. How the hell did he know? I looked over to him as he intently watched the monitor.
"How did you know?" I asked.
"Know what?" he asked, taking a sip of his coke.
"About Holly?" I clarified.
"You mean, that you are spending your nights with the beautiful doc?" he chuckled. I shoved my shoulder playfully against his. I knew he was trying to keep our conversation light, and respect my privacy.
"Ouch! No need to assault me." Ollie whined. "Peck, as much as you think of yourself as this ice queen, you are not. You may be good at hiding your feelings, I’ll give you that, but for someone who knows you well,” Ollie stops and points to himself, “this favorite partner of yours can see right through you." He then offered a bar of chocolate.
I snarled. "Well, thank god I don't have a favorite partner!"
Immediately, he pulled the cheese puffs out of my lap, placed all of our sweets in the basket, and pushed it far away for me.
"HEY! What are you doing?" I demanded, trying to reach for the basket.
"Sorry, I share only with my favorite partners. And since you don’t have any, I’ll see if Epstein or Diaz will help me finish these treats." Oliver chuckled as he saw the glare on my face.
"Ugh! Ok, Ollie. You are my one and only favorite.” I mocked with a pouty smile. “Satisfied?"
"I know that's all I’m going to get, so yeah, I’m satisfied.” He placed the cheese puffs back in my lap.
"So anyway, back to the important topic for today," he said smiling at me. I felt a bit uncomfortable knowing he was interested in continuing our talk about Holly and me.
"Shall I remind you that I was there when Holly came to deliver something because the courier was…,” Ollie couldn’t resist teasing me when he air quoted, “…sick.”
That was code for, ‘mind your own business,’ Ollie.
"You looked completely flushed when you came out of the interrogation room. I hope it didn't need to be disinfected after your encounter."
"Ew, no! We didn't do... Urgh...Ollie, you’re awful." I was shocked about his suspicion. I couldn’t believe he would even think that I would do such a thing.
"I suspected something was going on back then, but I knew not to ask. After you invited Holly over to the Penny, I realized you were head over heels for her."
I threw a cheese puff over to him. He caught it, and muttered something about wasting of food before he proceeded to eat it.
"It's a good thing, Peck. The doc makes you smile more. It’s nice to see you happy,” he said like a proud father. I couldn't help myself and placed my hand on his shoulder, squeezing it for just a second before turning back to the monitor.
The rest of our shift went by pretty fast, and as soon as the next shift appeared we went back to the station.
During the stakeout, I thought about what I should do about Holly. It wasn't fair to not talk to her, but I wasn't sure if I was ready to reveal this vulnerable, helpless part of me. Maybe that would finally scare her away. Then Perik would have destroyed something elsein my life. I knew I had to talk to her, I knew it was what she would want. Even if I wouldn’t be able to tell her about the abduction, at least I could apologize to her.
"Come on Peck, let's go to the Penny for a drink, or two," Ollie offered as we headed into the locker room. I really needed a drink to help me end the day, but I wasn’t in the mood for one of Oliver’s ‘life’ lessons. I liked his fatherly advice, but I would never tell him. I knew he cared about me in a way that few people did, and it felt good.
While grabbing my clothes out of the locker, I looked at my phone and saw messages from my brother, Traci and Holly. I opened the texts from Holly.
Favorite lunchbox (3:20 AM): Gail, are you OK? Please call me. XOXO
Favorite lunchbox (4:50 AM): Hey, I’m worried about you. Text me…
Favorite lunchbox (7:48 AM): Went to look for you at the station. Traci said you’re on patrol. I would love to hear from you. Confirmation of your existence, maybe? :)
My heart clenched as I read Holly’s messages. My plan to leave my phone in the locker was selfish. Holly was worried about me the whole day. She was that kind of person. Why do I always screw things up? Every time I tried to do what I thought was right in this relationship, I always seem to fail.
"Peck!” Oliver yelled in the locker room. “I'm an old man. I don’t plan on dying here while waiting for you." Not wanting to leave him waiting any longer, I ditched the shower and quickly changed into my new set of clothes. I jogged towards the locker entrance to meet Ollie.
“Hey Oliver, I’m sorry, but I can’t go to the Penny tonight,” I said as I reached him. “Maybe tomorrow?”
“Sure Gail, next time,” Ollie smiled. “Tell Holly to join us, if she’s not too busy.”
“I will. Thanks, Oliver.”
I left the station not knowing where I should go. I didn’t feel like going home, and I wasn’t sure if showing up at Holly’s place was a good idea after everything that happened. I found myself walking through the city. I wasn’t in the mood to see people, or be seen by them, so I avoided the crowded streets and walked through silent alleys.Toodistracted by my inner debate about talking to Holly or not, I didn’t realize I was in front of the very park I stopped at in the morning.
When we first came to the park, I told Holly about my relationship with Nick, and Holly told me about her ex-girlfriend who broke her heart.
I settled on the swing again and listened to the sound of the city – cars passing by and an occasional driver honking, fire engine sirens blaring, and people chatting as they walked by. All these familiar sounds seemed to fade in the distance as the chatter in my head took over. The only thing I could hear loud and clear was a thunder from afar, which alerted me to the weather that was closing in.
The thunders became louder, and soon it started to rain heavily. The tears I felt running down my face as I thought about Holly were washed away. That’s the good thing about rain. No one would see my tears, no one would ask me if I was alright, and no one would pay attention to me. Everyone would escape the rain and go inside.
I needed to reread Holly’s messages. I pulled out my mobile and opened her messages.As I reread her last message, my mobile vibrated again.
Traci: Hey, where are you? Ollie just walked into The Penny and said you passed on drinks and our company. Don’t like us anymore? BTW, I saw Holly today. She looked awful. Everything ok?
Thanks Traci! Just what I needed to feel even guiltier.
I wantedto know what Traci meant by her text.Before I hit the call button, I tried to calm myself down a bit, and waited until
“Hey Gail, wait for a sec. I´m looking for a quieter place,” Traci said loudly.
I heard a few sorry’s, excuse me’s and may I on her way to a quieter place. I enjoyed the distraction coming from the other end the phone.
“Now, Hey!” she said softly as the background noise was quieter.
“Hey!” I greeted her.
“Everything ok? Holly came to the station earlier, looking for you.” I didn’t know what to say. The silence on my end was enough of an answer for Traci.
“Gail, she’s worried about you. You know, I meant what I said when I told you, you deserve to be happy. It seems like she makes you happy.”
“She does,” I said, myvoice breaking.
“So what happened?”
“I ran away again,” I barely whispered.
“Oh… Gail, may I ask why?” She asked softly withconcern.
“Well, you know, the day after the shooting I freaked out and ran out of her apartment. But you know, I went back. I… I went back to her, and… and she said it was ok. I promised her that I would talk to her instead of running away, like I did.” I rambled before I sobbed.
“Ok, ok so why did you run again?”
I shrugged, only to realize Traci could not see me.
“I dunno, well I do but... but…,” I trailed off, unable to tell Traci why I ran out on Holly again. She knew I felt guilty about Jerry and I didn’t want to remind her of him.
“Gail, no matter what happened, you need to talk to her. She´s worried. She really cares about you, you know? Do yourself a favor and call her. If not for you, do it for her.”
I mumbled between sobs.
“Okay then, I´ll let you do it now.”
“Bye, Traci” I said. “And, thank you.”
“Bye Gail, but hey, call her. She needs to know you’re ok,” she said before she hung up.
Never have I felt so awful. Regret, shame, guilt, sorry even anxious of what would happen next. Hearing Traci say how horrible Holly looked made me feel even more ashamed of my actions. I never wanted to hurt her, but I did, not just physically, but emotionally as well. I hurt us again. My sobs became louder as more tears streaming down my face.
I had to tell her I was sorry for everything, if I wanted to save our relationship. I needed to call her. My finger hovered over her picture, which she changed after our first night together. She was looking towards the camera smiling widely while I buried my face sideways between her shoulder and her neck, with a grin on my face. I was wearing her jersey, and she was covered by me and her sheets.
I hit the call button and waited for her to answer.
“Holly,” I cracked between sobs. “I’m sorry.”
“Where are you?”
“I, uh…” I sobbed after a few moments of silence. “I’m at home?” It wasn’t my intention to let it sound like a question.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know…” I shook my head. “No, I’m not. I hurt you, and I am so sorry.” I whispered after a few moments of sobs.
“Holly, can we talk?”