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Shadow Me: Ash
Macy had asked to go over the results of the Myers case before Jordan sent them over to Woody. Nigel has grinned wolfishly. "Prob'ly wants to make sure we've certified him dead in every possible way."
Jordan arched a brow, her expression puzzled.
"You know," Nigel had gone on gleefully. "We wouldn't want our Mr. Myers up and mincing the young interns, various nameless security guards or the like."
Jordan still made no reply.
"Michael Myers, Jordan! We've just autopsied Michael Myers!"
"Right." Jordan's single syllable conveyed the idea that she'd now back slowly out of the room and possibly make a hasty call to Happy Hills Sanitarium.
"Oh, come on!" The Brit was exasperated with her now. "Michael Myers? The mask-wearing, knife-wielding, unstoppable killer from the Halloween films? The first was bloody brilliant, you know. And the second-"
"Gotcha, Nige. Really. Ha, ha." The M.E. scooted out of Trace, hoping he believed her. She'd probably seen it – them? – at one point, but that little aspect of pop-culture hadn't stuck with her. It did explain the smirks on the faces of just about everyone dealing with the unfortunate Mr. Myers though. For a moment, Jordan pictured the thin, mousy little man in there as a knife-toting maniac slashing up teens having premarital sex (wasn't that what all the gore-fest psychos did?) She shook her head. Of course, sometimes it's the quiet ones.
Thus musing she tapped on the door to Garret's office. His reply was longer in coming than she would have expected. She could have sworn she heard the clink of glass on glass as well. Her radar went off and she opened the door uninvited. Indignant, Macy began to berate her, but stopped when he saw the direction and ferocity of her gaze.
He sat down heavily instead, silent, waiting.
For a long moment, her blood pounding in her ears, Jordan simply stared at the Scotch bottle he still held. The air had the faint tang of the alcohol as well – he must have spilled some in his haste. Her forehead crinkled and her eyes darkened with pain and disappointment. "Garret…."
His face might have been carved in stone. "Are you going to ask me to step down?"
She took several short, shallow breaths, fighting back tears. "I have to," she murmured at last.
"How many chances have I given you, Jordan?" he sneered. "Huh? How many? I screw up once and suddenly you're holier-than-thou?"
She shook her head. "This isn't about me, Garret. A killer almost walked last time."
"But he didn't!" Macy gathered his righteous indignation about him like a shroud. "Like I said, how many times have you let your mother's case get in the way of your job?"
"Never." Her voice was even and calm, despite her fury with him for equating the two. "I've never compromised a case, never had evidence questioned because – because of that. I've been in trouble. I've done things to the people around here – to my friends – that I shouldn't have done, but I've always done my job, Garret." She gestured to the bottle. "This is not doing your job. This will call into question everything you've ever done, every case."
He looked down.
Jordan crossed to his desk and leaned over. "Nigel and I found the evidence the last time. Woody and I figured it out. We can't keep covering for you though. I can't." She sniffled, fighting the tears that wanted to stream down her cheeks. "Do you remember when you told me I was like an alcoholic about my mom's case? And you were taking away the bottle? I hated you for that. At the time. But you were right. And you were right because you were worried about me." She took a breath. "I'm worried about you. We all are. You need help."
She stood up and turned around, walking toward the door.
"Jordan? The Myers report?"
She faced him again, shaking her head. "No."
He didn't challenge her.
"The end of the day, Garret. By the end of the day, you put in a request for a leave of absence and you get into some program."
"Or?" His voice was tired now.
"Or I'll have to ask that you be removed. Maybe permanently."
Later that night….
Woody rubbed her shoulders as Jordan stirred the pasta sauce. She murmured her thanks and leaned back against him. Woody reached around her to give the clam sauce an additional little whisk; plus it got Jordan firmly in his arms, a place he was fond of finding her. "Go sit down. I'll finish up."
She craned her neck and smiled up at him. "You sure?"
"I thought in general when you invite someone over for dinner, you don't expect that someone to do the cooking?" Her eyes twinkled at the memory of the first meal he'd cooked for her.
He smiled. "I'll make an exception. As long as you're not writing kinky personal ads." She slid out of his arms and over to the refrigerator. She pulled out a bottle of white wine, unmindful of the irony. He watched her every movement, felt the pull and tug of her gravity on his orbit. "On second thought, maybe you could write one of those ads." She gave him a coy look. "As long as I'm the one who gets to respond."
She laughed darkly at him and handed him a glass of wine. She leaned against the counter, watching him finish the sauce, start the pasta boiling and expertly open a bag of lettuce for salad. Woody already knew the outcome of her day and he wasn't pressing her to talk about it. When he'd met her at the morgue around six, she still looked like she'd been dropped on her head, which, he supposed, she had. Lily had given him the short version as a heads up. Macy was taking a leave of absence and going into rehab; Jordan had been assigned the position of "temporary" Chief M.E. despite her own vigorous protests. Woody hadn't said much, just bundled Jordan up and taken her home.
Now the wine loosened her tongue enough to get her talking. Woody listened, dished up the food, set it on her table, grabbed the wine bottle and silverware and finally said, gently, "Jordan, you did the right thing."
She stopped. "Then why does it hurt so much?"
Across the table, he took her hand. "Because sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do." He squeezed her fingers. "It's going to be fine. Really."
After a deep sigh, she shook her head. "Maybe we can talk about this … I don't know, later?"
He nodded. "Of course, I'll probably have to make an appointment to see you now."
She gave him a glare that held no heat whatsoever.
He took a bite of food and chased it with a sip of the wine. "Temporary Chief M.E. has a nice ring to it – for a while anyway." Woody had another title on his mind, but he knew that wasn't going to be coming anytime soon.
For the first time, she smiled with her old, resilient humor. "I'm thinking She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed actually."
Jordan glanced over at the stack of paperwork on her desk – Macy's desk. He'd been gone six weeks and was planning on being gone at least twelve more. At lunch two days before, he'd dropped that bomb on her. He needed to figure a few things out, he said. She was doing a great job – everyone said so. He'd thanked her for kicking him in the ass.
She'd almost believed all of it.
Another glance at the paperwork and then a look at the clock. She picked up her phone and cancelled her dinner with Woody. Her third cancellation this week. He was patient and understanding, but the frustration was evident in his voice. She wasn't exactly feeling any less irritated, but didn't let it show.
For another couple of hours, she slogged through the files, whittling the stack down to a proportion she could handle the following morning. She stood up, stretched and, without a glance back, locked the door.
At least one thing went right – the elevator arrived as soon as she called for it. Head down, rubbing one shoulder, she stepped into the car. The door slid shut.
Jordan gasped and looked into the face of her not-so-dead half-brother.
End Part One