It was the kind of day nightmares were made of. That was all that Jen could think about as she stood outside the police building, trying to come to terms with what had turned out to be the most terrifying and traumatic eight hours of her life.
She glanced down at her cream coloured blouse, regretting doing so almost instantly as it was spattered with blood all along the left side. The sickening sight served only as another reminder of a day that she would be trying her utmost to forget.
It was the weekend, so the police building had been a little quieter than usual. That was the reason, she supposed, that the gunman had been able to take an officer hostage and make his way up to Homicide on the fourth floor without being apprehended.
Upon arrival he had immediately taken herself, Simon and Sergeant Wilton Sparkes hostage at gunpoint. She was then disengaged from the rest of the group and supplied with a baton with which she was to disable any security cameras in the lift and on that floor.
She did as was instructed, fearful and yet oddly grateful at the same time. Duncan and Matt, responding to a call-out at the time, were not in the building. They at least, were safe and when they realized what had happened, they would bring help. She clung to that small comfort as she was forced back into the main office to rejoin the others.
Over the next few hours, the gunman's motive became clear. They were to reopen a closed case and find a new culprit for the crime within it. It came as a slight relief when the gunman received a telephone call. Jen had never been gladder to hear her boss's voice. Matt and Duncan had managed to raise the alarm. Help was on the way.
Now here she was, hours later, watching the flurry of activity outside the building. Journalists were hovering about, paramedics wheeled Sergeant Karen Hatzic into an ambulance and Stanley was deep in conversation with the head of the rescue team. It seemed like everyone had something to do. Even the others who had shared in the ordeal were nowhere to be seen.
She put a weary hand to her head, as though it would soothe her jumbled thoughts. Of course it did no such thing and her brain remained buzzing with adrenaline and terror.
Someone placed a warm blanket around her shoulders and she looked around to see Matt at her side, looking worried. What was left of her self-control was shattered as she saw the concern in his eyes and she fell, sobbing into his arms.
She pressed her face into his jacket and allowed herself to enjoy the comforting embrace that she would never voluntarily have admitted she needed so badly. "Are you OK?" he asked quietly as he held her tight. "I was worried about you." She was tempted to stay where she was for several minutes, as his mere presence was as soothing to her as a long hot bath and a glass of wine. She could not however, make herself forget that he was not hers to have. She had rebuffed his offer of a date some months ago, with the result that he had since found a girlfriend.
Prolonging the hug would only serve to make herself feel even worse when she finally did let go. Besides, it was not fair to Emma. The incident would be all over the news and Jen was sure that Emma would be beside herself with panic when she heard about what had happened.
Reluctantly, she stepped back, missing the consoling arms as soon as they parted company with her body. "You should call Emma," she said, her voice surprisingly steady. "She'll be worried about you, too." Ignoring her every instinct, she forced herself to turn, and walk away from him.
A moment later, she glanced back furtively to see him pull out his mobile phone and dial. Her heart lurched but she was glad to walk away with a clear conscience. Whatever her feelings for him, Matt was her partner and her friend and she would be damned if she stood in the way of his happiness, especially as he'd had so little of it for the past 16 years.
She turned her back on him and pulled the blanket more securely around herself. She was strong. She would get through today, and every other day, one step at a time.