DreamHe dreamed of Jordan that night.
She was happy and smiling and laughing, and for those two hours of their evening before they went home it seemed for once, the world was as it should have been. Her chocolate brown eyes were bright with contentment and her hair swung, natural, around her shoulders as she chattered excitedly about random topics.
His dream was not so perfect.
Garret motioned to the officer beside him. "There. The barn. I can see them."
"Jordan, DOWN!" he hollered, bursting through the old wooden door and skidding to a stop inside the musty, deserted barn. Jordan ducked instinctively, but a split second too late. Once; twice, gunshots echoed in the semi-darkness and she jerked back harshly, flung by the force of the bullets.
Red stains immediately appeared through the material of her shirt as she lay motionless on the ground. One wound in her shoulder, another above her abdomen. He rushed frantically to her and felt for a pulse. "Jordan, wake up. Come on, you gotta stay with me, Jordan. Jordan!"
Dark eyelashes fluttered against her cheeks, a stark contrast to her unnaturally pale skin. The corners of her mouth lifted ever so slightly. He grasped her hand in an iron grip, sliding his other hand around her shoulders to hold her closer. "Call an ambulance, now!" he yelled to the shocked officer, standing over the now-dead suspect. "Jordan, you'll be okay, just stay with me, okay? Come on, Jordan, I know you can do it. I know you can, baby, stay awake."
"Garret…" she squeezed his hand gently, "don't worry so much. You know I'll be fine. I love you, remember?" Her pupils contracted, gradually ridding her eyes of their characteristic sparkle. She was fading. "You gotta let me go, Garret. I love you."
"No!" The howl was torn from his chest, excruciatingly painful. He couldn't breathe. Her hold on his hand ceased. His own scream reverberated in his ears. Her chest rose and fell for the last time.
And he cried, thinking he had never known such incredible anguish.
Waking up in a cold sweat, the blankets twisted around his legs- evidence of his fitful sleep- he made a split-second decision and picked up the phone. It was only one in the morning; she would most likely still be up. Stiff fingers pressed buttons on the phone on the side of his bed and held the receiver to his ear; hoping, praying that somehow she would answer.
After three infinitely long rings, he heard a click and a wide-awake voice. "Cavanaugh."
He was silent for a moment, and in that moment she figured out exactly who it was. "Garret, you'd better be happy I was up this late, or you would be dead. What's your reason for calling me at one in the morning today?"
His breathing, long and ragged, echoed through the phone almost eerily. Still, he couldn't find the words.
She half-laughed. "I'm coming over. Leave the door open for me, okay?" And a click.
He fell back flat on his back, dragging a hand across his dark eyes and rubbing the sleep out of them. She's going to want coffee, old man, a voice told him, and he sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Fine.
He made his way to the kitchen, and, flicking on the lights, started a pot of hot coffee and pulled out a box of Fruit Loops- her favourite, last time he checked. Personally, he hated the things. Absolutely repugnant. Why they were even in there in the first place, he didn't know.
"Fruit Loops, no question about it," Jordan grinned devilishly at him and tossed an enormous box of the sugary cereal in his shopping car. "Fruity and loopy, that's me."
"Well, you got the loopy part right, at least," he muttered, and she bumped his shoulder playfully, causing him to nearly run over a little old lady in the aisle with a large, intimidating-looking handbag. "My apologies, ma'am," he nodded solemnly, quelling the smile that threatened to appear.
The old lady smiled sweetly. "Well, aren't you a perfect gentleman."
Jordan snickered into her hand, but the lady took no notice. "Yes he is, isn't he? Come on, dear." She linked her arm with his and they turned into the next aisle. "'My apologies, ma'am?'" She giggled hysterically. "What the hell, Gar?"
"I was trying to be polite!" he half-defended, half-argued. "You almost turned her into road kill, dear."
A small smile played on his lips. Typical Jordan.
The sound of the front door opening brought him from his trip down the memory lane, and he went to the living room to greet her with a tired grin.
Jordan, clad in blue flannel pyjama pants that rested low on her hips and a yellow thin-strapped tank top that had the bottom cropped off just above her navel, raised an eyebrow at him expectantly, and he broke his stare long enough to glance down and remember that he was only wearing sweatpants. He opened his mouth to apologize but thought better of it and shrugged. His dark gaze returned to her only to find that she, in turn, was evidently assessing him.
The room was silent for a full two minutes as they continued their bold staring contest without shame. Finally she spoke up. "I smell coffee." She paused. "Fruit Loops?" Her eyes sparkled.
"How the hell'd you smell cereal?" he asked, and all was right again.
Within five minutes they were on the couch, talking. She was munching on her cereal, long legs stretched out in his lap, listening intently. Suddenly, she interrupted, closing the box and leaving it on the coffee table. "Why am I here, Garret?"
Tell her about the dream.
A sigh escaped his lips. She twisted positions so her feet were dangling over the edge of one end of the sofa, and his arms held her upper body close to his bare chest. He shifted, and she caught a whiff of his aftershave- cinnamon, it smelled like.
"Your hair tickles," he commented. She grinned not seeming to notice his evasion to her question. He ran his hand through the long brown locks absently, toying with it with strong fingers.
She wasn't cold anymore.
Jordan didn't move, but abruptly all her senses were alerted to the presence around her. Everything became important. His unique aroma, the sculpted muscles in his arms and chest, his penetrating dark eyes and long eyelashes, the way his voice rumbled sexily when he spoke.
It was too much. She stiffened and sat up, away from the warmth of being cradled in his arms, and looked at him.
His gaze met hers unflinchingly. "You died. You died right there in my arms, and I couldn't do a damn thing about it. I know because…" he brushed his thumb across her cheekbone lightly, "because your sparkle was gone. That same sparkle in your eyes that I can see dying right now."
Her eyes dropped to the floor.
"How long, Jordan?"
She sighed. "Forever."
"Forever and a day."
Her head came up, and a corner of her mouth lifted at the easy smile on his lips. Silence descended upon them again.
"You don't get it, do you?"
She didn't quite know what he meant, and her mouth refused to open, so he leaned forward. "I," he said, "am wildly in love with a crazy, sassy, impulsive Fruit Loops addict. Did you know that?"
She shook her head no, and he leaned even closer, so close that she could feel his hot breath on her lips. "Do you need convincing?" he asked, and without granting her the time to answer he captured her lips in his own. His tongue effortlessly slipped between her lips and teased, flirted, explored, while his hands found their way to her waist, scorching the bare skin around her stomach and hips.
Soon it wasn't enough. The straps slid down her shoulders and the material off, and he kept kissing her; the lids of her eyes, her collarbone, the nape of her neck. Before he continued, he hesitated, a fraction of a second, and opened his eyes to look at her beneath him.
"I love you," she said, her voice barely a whisper, and that was all the prompting he needed.
The first thing that crossed his mind when he woke up that morning was that curly brown hair in his face itched like hell, but having Jordan turning around, smiling, and kissing him good morning was something he could wake up to for the rest of his life.
And the nightmare never came back.