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Keep Running

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Because she was small and scrappy and red-haired, she learned at an early age to run fast and far, to never look back, to never let other people catch up. Most of all, she learned to never let other people in, and that's why things were always just this side of being dicey with Rick. And with Jack, and with Reg, and with everyone at work but that was just too damn bad. She'd always worked alone and always would work best alone.

Rick probably would have benefited from talking to Greg before proposing, but she was more grateful than she ever let on that he never had and never would. There was so much bitterness with and for and around and about Greg and their divorce, so much, and she didn't want Jack to have anything to do with his father. Off living his new life in Chicago: so be it, let it happen. No one could tell Sarah Linden that she wasn't perfectly capable of raising her son on her own and in her own way.

No one but the courts, and she wasn't having any of that. Regi reminded her about it from time to time, but they were about to pick up and move to Sonoma. They would be a family in a nice warm dry place: her and Rick and Jack, and she would keep on not smoking. Run more — she'd be able to run every day there — and Rick could do his thing and Jack could go to school and make new friends even though right then he hated her for making him move, and she could...

She could...

What the hell was she going to do in Sonoma? Rick promised her they'd figure it out and besides, maybe it was time for her to just take things easy, to take a break from work. It wasn't exactly easy being a homicide detective. Like most people in her line of work, she let herself get all too consumed by it. That almost cost her Jack once, and she was never going to let it happen again. Never. Going to California would see to that. It would be a whole new world for them. A good new world, she told herself as she tied the laces of her running shoes. One last jog through the damp Seattle streets, one last one. Then she'd head back, finish packing, and get on her way. Get her and Jack on their way. It would be good, a brand new start. She deserved one of those and Rick, insistent though he was, had proved himself to be a sweet man at heart. Jack would grow to like him (love wasn't expected and she'd never demand it of her son) and they could be a family.

Yeah, right, said that cynical cigarette-smoking seventeen-year-old who still lived in her brain. Annoying, obnoxious... but unmarried and unfettered by too much responsibility. No marriage, no kid, no divorce. She loved Jack so much, but even now, even all these years later, she had no idea how to be his mother.

But she'd learn. She'd learn in California, where it was sunny and warm and dry and no one would expect her to lose herself and everything and everyone she cared about in the next murder case or the next one or the one after that. Rick promised.

Only one thing about it troubled her, sitting at the back of her thoughts like dead weight: since when had she bought into any man's promises?