“What good would telling you have done?”
Emotions flitted across his face. Terror, anger, understanding. “Nothing. It would have affected nothing,” he admitted.
She lifted her chin. “I knew that. It would have only thrown off your concentration.”
He pulled her tight to him and kissed her on the forehead. “Don’t do that again,” he growled.
She slid her hands around him, guilt creeping over her at the sensation of his heart pounding in his chest. “I won’t.”
They stood in silence for a few seconds, forgiveness and intimacy weaving between them. She knew her boss would call about the shooting and no doubt he’d steer her toward seeing a therapist before she returned to work. That was okay with her. She wouldn’t mind dumping her thoughts in a stranger’s lap instead of holding back the scary parts the way she did sometimes with Mason.
“Did they get an identification yet?” Ava asked softly.
“Not yet. We obviously couldn’t give a photo to the news stations, and the description of a tall man in his twenties is too vague. Early this morning the medical examiner told us he had a tattoo on his upper arm, so we’ve added that to the description. I’ll bet twenty bucks the morning newscasts will trigger the right lead once they broadcast that information.” He pulled back and glanced at the silent television. “Not going to watch?”
“No. I don’t need to watch speculation about what happened yesterday.” She’d dreamed about the shooter all night. Sometimes he was still alive as the police rushed the bathroom entrance, and he killed all the team members. Then he stalked up the aisle and shot her and Misty. Other times the shooter had a hostage: the small boy who’d been carried out in his father’s arms. One time she’d dreamed the bathroom was empty, and it was her fault for telling the police she’d seen him go in. Several times she’d dreamed he shot her and Misty during the moment she’d finally told Mason about.
She didn’t want the TV on; the silence inside the old house was soothing. The occasional sounds of the frustrated dog and the teasing of the squirrel kept her grounded after her surreal experience yesterday. She needed normal.
“I get to go watch an autopsy this morning,” Mason said.
“I assumed the examiner already did it, since you mentioned the tattoo.”
“He only looked at the body, trying to put together a better description to broadcast for an ID.” Mason stepped to the counter, poured coffee in his Star Trek travel mug, and kissed her good-bye. “I love you,” he said, pressing his forehead against hers. “Don’t go to any malls today,” he added half-seriously.
“No worries.” She shuddered.
He winked as he left, but she saw the stress in his face.
It was over, and there was no point in worrying over something that had already happened. She wasn’t in a hospital with a gunshot wound. This time.
She watched out the window as he backed his vehicle out of the driveway, feeling very domestic and June Cleaver-ish. She still had another week left on her vacation. Her goal had been to paint one of the guest rooms, but so far she’d read two books and played with Bingo at the dog park every day. She’d watched the other dog parents, wondering what they did for jobs that allowed them so much freedom during the day.
She could get used to a life of leisure.
Too bad she bored easily.
She glanced at the huge pile of boxes from her kitchen and moaned as she remembered she needed to dig through them to find more coffee filters. The sight was so overwhelming, she couldn’t move. She’d tried to label them as they were packed, but her previous searches for chopped almonds and her cheese grater had proven that something had gone drastically wrong with her labeling technique.
Go buy some. She’d already made multiple trips to Target to buy supplies she knew she had. How many more trips would there be?
How about just finish the damned kitchen?
Last remodeling project ever. The dated master bath popped into her head. It was next on their list to tackle. Surely a bathroom wouldn’t be as disruptive as a kitchen?
Her cell rang, and the sight of the number made her heart speed up. No matter how well her sister might be doing, Ava sweated when she saw Jayne’s number on her phone.
“Hi, Jayne,” she answered, setting down her coffee. She situated herself in an easy chair and propped up her legs. Calls with Jayne often required a comfortable place to sit. Jayne liked to talk.
She was par for the course that morning. Ava heard about Jayne’s previous day at work, and her roommate’s odd clothing choices. Ava smiled, enjoying her sister’s talkativeness. Jayne was currently in a stable position both mentally and emotionally. Her twin had completed an extensive drug rehab program and had spent the last twelve weeks in a good halfway house. She enjoyed her job at a coffee shop, and the customers found her to be amusing. She claimed she was avoiding men and “trying to get myself fixed before taking on someone else’s baggage.”
Ava prayed it would last.
But part of her knew it couldn’t. It never lasted. Maybe this time it will? She never completely gave up hope. Several times she’d washed her hands of her sister, but she’d recently watched Jayne make several good decisions in a row, so Ava had her fingers crossed. Right now Jayne was on a solid streak. Please don’t let her fall.
Even Jayne’s voice sounded in control. Her previously high-pitched, speedy, pointless chatter had been modulated into normal conversation—pleasant and polite. And right now the best Ava could do for Jayne was offer a listening ear. She’d kept her distance as Jayne struggled through therapy and searched for a job. Her twin needed to dig her own way out of her giant hole.