Authors: Mimi Barbour
Tags: #Mimi's Mix
Also Author of
Let it Ride (Fall of 2013)
The Vicarage Bench Series
Spirit Travel at its Best!
Angels with Attitude Series
Angels Playing Cupid!
Book one of the Vegas Series
A Short Story
Two weeks ago, life had been normal. Aurora had gone to get a cup of the sludge they called coffee and left her partner Debbie working on their backlog of case files. Lieutenant Cory Ashton had caught up with her on the way back to her office and they’d stepped into the room together, both coming to a dead stop. Debbie, who’d lately taken to the layered look with sloppy clothes, had bent over to pick something up from the floor and everything had draped open— her pregnant belly had been revealed for all to see.
“What the hell?” Cory erupted and his explosion cut off Aurora’s absurd exclamation.
“You’re pregnant.” Soon as the words left her mouth, Aurora wished them back. No need to worry since Cory’s voice rose to a bellow and drowned out her obtuse remarking on the obvious.
“Girl, why didn’t you tell me I’m going to be a father? A guy appreciates knowing these things.” The excited man swept the curvaceous blonde into his arms and hugged her until a smile wiped the horrified expression from her face. Flying high, happier than Aurora had ever seen him, Cory continued. “We need to celebrate. A man doesn’t find out he’s going to be a daddy every day.”
Shock zipped around inside Aurora, and the memory of the horror eight months ago emerged and wouldn’t be squashed. Was this Cory’s baby? She watched her partner closely. No one knew the girl in the same way that she did. For the first time, Aurora couldn’t read her. Innocent pleasure had wiped away all traces of wariness, and Aurora had to accept that adoration shone in eyes that were empty of treachery.
Cory kept his arm around Debbie’s shoulder and caught Aurora trying to sneak away. “Do me a favor doll? Make a reservation at the pub and tell them to expect a bunch of us. As soon as I convince this beauty to marry me, we all need to drink some toasts… on me.”
A couple of hours later, Aurora, cradling a beer, sidled up to a glowing Debbie and suffered the girl’s hug. “It’s a special day, Rory, you’ll have to put up with me.” Pearly whites shone as Debbie’s happiness forced a response from Aurora.
“Yeah, whatever. And don’t call me Rory.” Aurora allowed the hug and even returned it. Then she backed away and stared her friend down. “Give. What’s the story?”
The blank stare that met hers didn’t quite ring true, but the words were believable. “Cory came to see me a few days after Rhondo’s assault. You remember he was out of town when the attack happened? Anyway, he wanted to make sure that the skunk hadn’t damaged me, broke my spirit, you know. Anyway, one thing led to another and we found ourselves undressed and—”
Drolly Aurora interrupted “I do know that part.” Her tone brought a smile to Debbie’s flushed face.
“Well it was incredible. Truth to tell, it scared the shit out of me. However, I knew the rules. I couldn’t stay working with you and carry on with him. So, I called it a one-night stand and shut him down. Hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Twisting her water bottle in both hands, she stared at the floor. “You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit grouchy lately?”
“Grouchy? Are you kidding? We could have handled a bit of grouchiness. Your viper’s tongue has drawn blood from every person in the department. They’ve taken to hiding when you’re sighted.”
“Heck, don’t hold back.” Debbie giggled. “Sorry. Between morning sickness and unrequited love, my hormones were touchy.”
Aurora thought back over the last months and recalled instances where the tension between Deb and the boss had sparked, but she’d just put it down to Debbie’s recent bad mood and temperamental personalities. After all, her partner could be as stubborn as a mule, and Cory took his management role very seriously.
Little did Aurora know that night everything would change for her, and so quickly. Once the secret had been revealed, Debbie gave in to the pressure from all sides and agreed that the time had come to either take on deskwork or go for maternity leave. After all, as detectives, the girls were hands-on and almost every week saw them getting into some sort of physical altercations.
Her choice to take leave had shocked Aurora at first, but once she thought about it, she supposed it would have been her decision also. After all, the baby would be born very soon. She still didn’t know how Deb had hidden her pregnant state for so long. Being a bit chubby to begin with had obviously worked in her favor. Once her secret became exposed, she admitted to dieting carefully and dressing different. Silly idiot!
One of the smartest, most hard-working cops Aurora had ever met, but when it came to her personal life, the girl had no brains at all. The puzzle irked her as to how the hell she thought she could keep a baby a secret. When she’d asked her, Deb’s reply had her shaking her head.
“I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I… I didn’t.”
“But you had to know you’d get caught sooner or later.”
“Sure! And I figured when that happened, then I’d take care of it.” Gruffness covered her embarrassment.
Aurora never turned away from reality. In her mind, facing it dead on worked much better. Now she had to deal with what tore up her insides. Life had changed and she hated it.
Appalled by the sickly wrenching in her stomach, Aurora finally understood. So, this is what missing someone feels like.
Kind of sad and lonely mashed together, eating away at you all day long. Aurora had never tackled this before, worst of all, the annoying ache refused to go away. Being that she seldom allowed gloomy thoughts to grab hold and mess with her head, this crap had to stop. Looking around her messy office, seeing the empty desk across from hers, sorrow gnawed away until she gave in. The absence of her old partner left behind a hollow emptiness, a sensation she would never admit to anyone else.
What did you expect
? Chastising herself had become habit. Not having the person you trust more than anyone else in the world backing you up sucked big time.
The computer’s flashing screen caught her attention as the file she’d been waiting for finally appeared. Since the night of the attack, everyone in their office had been following up leads on Earl Rhondo. At the beginning, Debbie had been feverishly searching, every thread, every clue; even the most obscure tip-offs were checked. She’d been like a crazy person. Except, nothing popped. It’s as if he’d disappeared off the face of the earth.
Aurora had been as bad as Debbie. She wanted that sucker more than she’d ever wanted anyone. In fact, by pursuing him the way she had, she’d pretty much driven all her contacts crazy. However, this slime ball had made it personal. He’d hurt Debbie, and she had full intentions of making him pay.
Through her ongoing research, she’d found out certain things about him. He loved the ladies but whores not so much. That he preferred his ladies screaming and fighting made it even more essential she find him. Who knew how many women the maniac had destroyed? Women who hadn’t come forward! The statistics of these kinds of unreported crimes were sickening. The females, who survived the horror, got on with their broken lives and the perpetrators moved on to their next victim.
Her investigation had shown that he’d been incarcerated once for eighteen months. Had done his time and swore to his cellmate he’d die before returning. A sinister thought had formed when she’d learned this. She’d relish putting his ugly face behind the bars he’d swore never to see again.
Not being a gambler in a city where people lived and breathed gambling might seem strange. But there was one sure thing she’d roll the dice on. As soon as she found him, he’d be going down. And she would find him. Others had told her she had a one-track mind. The track she now fixated on had Earl Rhondo at the end.
All of a sudden, the door swung open and the person who’d been the focus of her thoughts appeared wearing a snug maternity t-shirt and black tights.
“Hey partner, you still annoyed at me?” Debbie, glowing, wore a cheeky grin.
Aurora quickly hid her welcoming smile and played at being the caustic cop who everyone recognized. “Slumming today, Mrs. Ashton?” She stood up and approached the very pregnant blonde who waited, apprehension obvious in her expression. The yearning on Deb’s face, her need for reassurance, forced Aurora’s arms to open seemingly of their own accord. Hugging, an action that didn’t come easily to Aurora began before she could put on the breaks. Debbie took full advantage. She moved in close and clung. After a quick squeeze, Aurora backed away. The familiar musky perfume fed the previous sadness and had Aurora blink quickly to stem the threatening moisture. God she wished things were the same as before, when the two of them shared the joined desks and worked as a unit. It wasn’t to be. Instead, she’d be having a new partner, and Debbie would be having a baby.
Seconds of rethinking made her inner bitch smile.
I guess if I had my druthers, getting a new partner isn’t so bad.
She’d felt the protrusion of Debbie’s big belly against hers and a silly yearning started up again from deep within. It’d been that way since the baby had been obvious. During every moment spent with a radiant Debbie, strange feelings surfaced and were getting harder to hide, especially from herself. Not in a million years could she ever imagine being in that condition. Then why the hell was she mooning over every baby that came into her sight? She had to get over this shit. “Enough with all this girlie stuff. You’ll have the department thinking I’m getting soft instead of the badass they’re used to.”
Debbie’s quirky grin appeared “Face it my friend, we all know you’re a marshm…”
“Don’t say it or I’ll have to hurt you. Even for me, hitting pregnant ladies goes against the grain.”
“Yeah! Yeah!” Debbie used Aurora’s favorite comeback against her and then laughed until the restraint Aurora fought against melted and she chuckled too.
“Seriously, what brings you to this dungeon now that you’re a free woman?”
“Have to pick up Cory. He promised me a night out, and I’m holding him to it. You’re welcome to join us.” Debbie said. Since the day her pregnancy had been revealed, Cory had moved in on Debbie. Their romance had flared, and they’d pulled off a Vegas wedding only a few weeks ago.