Chapter 1 – Kristin
Sometimes it felt as though I was driving in circles around my township, especially at night. I would drive aimlessly around, staring out the window of my patrol car at the roads, houses, and dark woods. There was a lot of quiet time on the night shift. Too much time alone with myself and the nightmares I carried inside of me. I spent so much time behind the wheel of my patrol car. Watching…waiting…and allowing my mind to drift.
Ten years ago, I started my job here. I was twenty-four then. Some nights I felt as though I could close my eyes and still manage to drive the twists and turns of the lightless country roads. I had driven thousands of miles during daylight and in the dark of night on these streets. Sometimes, I had a mission in mind. Other times, I wandered aimlessly and tried to find something. I often wondered if I was trying to find myself. Tonight, while dwelling on these thoughts, a favorite song of mine came on the radio.
The haunting melody floated through the car’s speakers and occupied my mind with thoughts of someone forgetting me, missing me.
Missing me? Sometimes I felt like someone should be missing me. As if there was someone out there whom I should be with. Someone who called out to my soul to give it real purpose, but I had yet to find it.
Maybe it was because I missed Trevor, although this feeling had been with me for longer than the past two years.
Or it could’ve been because my mother was killed when I was an infant and I never knew my father. I continuously felt as if I should be searching for something or someone to complete me.
I was a strong woman! I needed no one to complete me! I had friends, and co-workers, and a job that kept my mind busy—who needs more than that, right?
Who am I kidding? I thought to myself. I was lonely, and as hard as I tried not to be, I was sad to be by myself in this life. I wished I knew what was waiting for me out there in this world. I know that everything that happens has a purpose, and I was ready to figure out what my purpose would be.
I have always been a person who needs to control my destiny. A person who makes a decision based on where it would take me in life. My biggest strength: I’m a control freak. I take control of the things around me, and when done correctly, it propels me forward in life and helps those around me, too.
My biggest downfall: I’m a control freak. I’ll be the first one to admit that this same strength gets me in trouble all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to stop needing to be in control and move along with the flow. I considered that this flaw of mine is what has held me back sometimes, kept me from finding someone else to have in my life and to love. Yet, I’m afraid to love someone else and run the chance of losing that control, and another person, again.
“Chirp!” came the sound of the Nextel on my belt. As I reached down for it, I realized it was probably my partner, Mick. Yep. I pushed the button on the side of the phone. “Go ahead,” I said, trying to keep my voice upbeat when I felt anything but.
“Hey, you eat yet?” The strong yet soft voice of my partner came over the speaker.
“Nope, was thinking about heading nineteen to do just that,” I lied. I wasn’t hungry, but being in the light of the station might chase away the sorry feelings I was having for myself right now.
“K. I’ll meet you nineteen—whoever gets there first, starts the coffee. Looks like we’re gonna need it tonight. Quiet out here.”
I cringed. “Jesus, Mick—thanks. There goes our night now.” Everyone on the job knew that you never said the word “quiet”. It was the biggest jinx in the world. “Fine, I’ll see you at the station in a few.” I clipped my Nextel back onto my duty belt and turned left onto a road that would eventually take me back to the station.
I might have complained about the dark, but driving in it was awesome, at least to me. I loved it when I worked the night shift. When the shift started the sun was still up, low in the west, and I worked through the dark to keep the residents protected. Then I’d go home in the morning feeling a sense of satisfaction that I’d done my job. They didn’t need to know about what traveled the roadways at night, or the people whom I dealt with in the shadows. They just needed to know that they were safe to go about their lives.
I pulled up to the station and was backing into my regular spot when Mick zipped into the driveway. Driveway, yes, to our station—to our home, and it was home. It was a regular little ranch house that had been converted to a small police station by a local developer looking for a tax write-off. It was small, but for the most part, it worked for us. We were a small department, only eight of us plus Chief Henderson and our Admin Assistant, Kat Peterson.
It got pretty crowded in the station when we were all there, but that only happened once in a great while and usually when something big happened or a meeting was called. Otherwise, it worked with the three or four of us who traveled around within the small rooms. We were used to the dancing that was required to get around each other, especially while wearing our duty gear.
I climbed out of the Expedition, my patrol vehicle, and took a moment to appreciate my partner as he exited his Crown Vic. When some people saw him, they stopped dead in their tracks and stared wide-eyed. He wasn’t tall. He was my height—about five foot five—but he was wide, at least twice my width. He had a dark, aggressive look about him. After lifting weights for twenty years, he was able to move within his strong body without thinking about it. He was used to how wide his shoulders were, and moved fast and gracefully despite his bulk. He was attractive in an obscure and stormy kind of way, and very quiet, especially if he didn’t know you.
Mick and I had been partners for years, and as I observed him, I was proud to know he was my partner, proud to call him my friend and my brother in blue. There was no sexual interest between us; we were friends, partners, co-workers.
“You do know if we get any calls tonight, they are going to you first since you jinxed us.” I grinned as I spoke. He guffawed, because he knew that if a call was dispatched, then I would be by his side, no matter what I said.
“Yep, I got them all tonight.” His laughter followed us to the door where I pulled my keys off my belt.
I put a small piece of plastic up to a numeric pad next to the heavy industrial door; a small thump let me know the magnetic release had been released, and Mick pulled the door open, holding it for me to precede him through. The entrance led into the back of our station, which constituted as our locker room, equipment storage room, and evidence processing area. Yep, all that rolled into a small area of about twenty feet in length and twelve feet wide. We used our space well.
Mick followed me through the locker room and into the kitchen area, where we had traded the old stove for two large four-drawer filing cabinets. The rest of the kitchen included two counters, a standard sink, cabinets, a microwave, a regular-sized refrigerator, and our beloved coffee maker.
I walked over to our life-giving machine and flipped open the top, pulling out the old coffee grounds, while Mick reached into a cabinet and took down the container of Folgers. We worked as a team, we always did. No words were spoken. We didn’t need them; we had this down to a science. Once the coffee was brewing, we went about washing our hands and pulling our food out of the fridge.
“Hey, you mind if I put on the game?” Mick asked. Why he bothered, I had no clue. Whether we were watching it or not, there was always some sporting event playing on the big flat-screen TV above our heads in the patrol area.
Our patrol area was actually the living room of the old house. A large counter separated the small waiting area in the front of the L-shaped desk that ran across the room and along the wall toward the kitchen. The desk contained several computers and a Mobile Data Terminal that was hooked up to our County Dispatch system. The TV hung on the wall in the waiting area and could be seen from any angle in the patrol or kitchen area.
I didn’t bother to answer because I knew he already had the controller in his hand and was hitting the power button as he spoke.
We sat down at the small round table on the side of the kitchen and pulled out our sandwiches. His were lovingly made by his wife and consisted of two very large meatloaf sandwiches on whole wheat bread. Mine came from the local deli—a quick, easy meal since I never cooked anymore, and had no one to cook for anyway. I sighed without meaning to.
“What’s up?” Mick glanced at me as he took a large bite. He might have had one eye on the game, but he was usually aware of my moods.
“Nothing,” I replied. “Just another night, ya know?” I wasn’t going to explain that once again, as I thought of his loving wife, thoughts of my own depressing life came back to haunt me. The loss that I dealt with, the loneliness that stayed with me every day. The dreams I had of the night they came to tell me. The other dreams I’d had for years that seemed so real, but were just out of my grasp; dreams that grew more confusing and were now a daily occurrence.
His mammoth shoulders rose in a shrug. He knew I wasn’t telling the truth, but he also understood that if I wanted to discuss it, I would.
I examined the sandwich I had unrolled from the deli paper. I really wasn’t hungry, but I knew I should eat. My teeth were just sinking into the Kaiser roll when my lapel mic came to life with three tones and the female voice of “Thirty-One units.”