The wind was more than doing its part to wreak havoc on Alex's hair. She walked quickly, heels clicking along the sidewalk, as she held a makeshift ponytail in one hand and her bag in the other. It was an annoyance she barely noticed compared to how her week had been going. The latest case seemed to just be getting worse and worse, and trying to salvage it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But Alex was more than determined.
She glanced at the coffee shop and decided to pass it by. There were other things to do, and she didn't have the hands to hold the cup or the capacity to deal with getting it all over her silk blouse. As she headed across the street, she kept her head down, concentrating on her steps, on a thousand other things—the small details of the case. But as she stepped onto the sidewalk and glanced up, Alex was struck by the crowd on the steps. It wasn't general cluster that accompanied some cases that got attention, and there was nothing going on that would draw this.
Then she saw her, immediately recognizing that flash of a smile. Alex let her hand slip to her side, and the wind caught her hair, twisting the straight strands and whipping them across her face. She couldn't hear a word Taylor Hamilton was saying when she stopped smiling and started again because her eyes soon fixed on Abbie behind her. Alex could almost remember her boxy suits like it was yesterday. She had certainly graduated from her own, and so had Abbie, who was wearing a dress with as simple shrug. She was the picture of a supportive wife, but she had not lost any of her edge.
Alex found that she was holding her breath waiting for Abbie's pleasant, attentive expression to change into a full smile. Applause was beginning, and Alex only just registered that Taylor was announcing that she was running again. She had moved from the makeshift podium and Abbie had stepped up next to her. There they were…arm in arm. Alex couldn't remember the last time she had walked arm in arm with anyone, but she could remember one evening, strolling home after just a little too much wine with her arm around Abbie's slim waist and Abbie's around her shoulders. They had been laughing.
She drew in such a sharp breath that it hurt, but Abbie was smiling. She was smiling and she was beautiful…and she was entirely happy. Alex pressed her lips together, stunned still that it could continue to hurt after what seemed like so long. As Abbie turned her gaze to the crowd, Alex's heart pounded. She watched those dark eyes sweep over the faces without making contact with hers. Abbie had not seen her. She had felt so numb…so numb since she'd come back, and now feeling the sting of this was almost too much.
Slowly, her hair still whipping across her cheeks and neck, Alex backed away. She could come back after a cup of coffee. She could avoid turning on her television or watching the video that would inevitably be on the internet. But she wouldn't; she wouldn't avoid it, and afterward, she would make her way to Liz's, as she had come back again and again after the first time she had returned to her.