Edith Nickerson slowly hung up the phone. "Ned?"
"Yeah?" he called back from the couch.
His mother stood with one hand resting on the frame, looking distracted. "Nancy-- said she'd be by for you in a minute, that you should be waiting and run out when she gets here."
"Sound like she was in a hurry?"
"She was talking so fast I could barely understand her," Edith confirmed, looking worried. "Ned?"
"It's fine," Ned said, pushing himself off the couch and finding his coat. "I'm sure we'll be back in a minute."
The rain was coming down hard outside, and Ned stared out into it. Usually after a fight of such magnitude, they spent the rest of the day cooling off, slept on it, made up the next day. The only reason she would call now, so soon, was if she had a break in the case. A serious one.
He was just so sick of seeing that look in her eyes when she saw some other mildly attractive guy. He was tired of the argument. He was tired of feeling like her reassurances didn't matter and a week, two weeks, a month from now they would be saying the same words and she'd be making the same promises and they would ring just as false.
She pulled up, the Mustang's wipers slamming back and forth against the wave of water on her windshield, and he allowed himself a tiny sigh before he pulled the hood tight over his head and ran to her car, as he'd known he would.
She gave him a small sheepish smile as he huffed with one long full-body shudder and fastened his seatbelt around him, as she shifted into reverse and backed out of his driveway. "Where are we off to?"
"The warehouse district," she said. "I have a hunch and I think they're about to destroy the evidence. And I'm sorry."
"You're--" He glanced over at her.
She ducked her head, her gaze still hard on the road in front of them. "I'm sorry, I was being an idiot, and you're right. Not that it means much for me to say it now."
He relaxed a few inches. "Wasn't expecting that," he replied.
"You were right, you are right. You've told me how much it bugs you when I flirt with other guys. I just-- I don't know, it just makes me feel good. To know someone finds me attractive."
He bit back his reply, giving the passenger window a thin smile.
"I want to be in love with you," she said. "Just you. Only you."
He gazed at her, then, and when she paused at a stoplight she gave him another small, timid smile. "I mean it," she said. "You are the only one I love."
His smile deepened, and he shook his head. "You've always been the only one," he told her. "Just you."
The light changed, and she nodded to herself. "Okay," she murmured. "Okay. So the blackmailers are probably in the warehouse we staked out a few days ago, if we're lucky, and... and thank you for being here, for coming with me even after, after everything we said earlier."
"So where do we go from here?" he asked her, twining his fingers around her right hand.
She smiled. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe for a few slices and some ice cream, and..."
"Yeah," he said softly. "That sounds like a good place to start. After the taking down the bad guys and police reports and the interviews."
She smiled. "Have I said how lucky I am to have you?"
He laughed. "Just you," he said softly. "Just you."