Sergeant Tom Ryan was resting peacefully in front of his TV screen when a low knock slowly brought him back to reality.
He yawned; then rubbed his eyes; seemed like he had fallen asleep during the game. With a sigh he gazed at his watch, 10.30 pm. Who the hell was knocking at this time of night?
There was only one person he could think of, his blonde partner and ex-wife Cassandra St. John. Probably she had once again figured out another clue about their current case; but why hadn't she called first?
The young man shuffled towards the door apparently not caring about his tousled hair or his crumpled clothes.
"Cass, you better have a good reason to…" he grumbled while opening the door to his apartment; then his hazel eyes opened wide and in an instant he was fully awake. No, it definitely was not his partner standing on the threshold.
"Hi Tom. Everything ok?" The brown-haired woman smiled at him. "You look like you have seen a ghost or something."
He blinked his eyes. "Grace?"
"Yes. Think it is a good sign you remember my name." She gazed at him critically. "Looks like you were not expecting any visitors tonight."
"No." He smiled at her sheepishly; then stepped aside. "Come in."
Tom had met her about six months ago during an investigation. Afterwards they had met a couple of times and yes he had started falling in love with her. During their first date she had told him that she was going blind due to an infection. He had promised her not to stay by her side because he felt sorry for her.
Then only a couple of weeks later and out of the blue she had left for California to move in with her parents. It had taken a while for the young cop to accept this decision and in the beginning he had missed her terribly. Now she was back, but why?
Grace sat down on one of the barstools in the kitchen while Tom was searching the fridge hoping to be the reason for her return to Palm Beach.
"Wine?" he asked.
The young man poured the white liquid in two glasses and placed them on the counter.
"Now tell me, what are you doing in Palm Beach, thought you moved to your parents in California?"
"Yes I did…"
"I started thinking… about me… about us…"
Tom looked at her hopefully.
"I told you, I did not want a partner that only loves me out of pity. So I left before our relationship got too close." Grace sighed. "But I realized it was not you, it was me. I was afraid." She looked at him. "Afraid to fall in love again after my divorce with Darren. I thought I did not deserve a man like you, Tom… I just wanted to spare you the ordeal of seeing me getting blind."
"Yes, I know you told me you don't care and you want to try."
Then Grace gently touched his warm cheek. "I came back to ask you if you still feel the same? I know that was six months ago and perhaps you have already met someone new, but I just had to see you again to become clear about it."
"Yes of course I do", he whispered.
"So you are not mad at me for leaving you?"
"I was disappointed, disappointed that I was not able to convince you to stay, realizing that I lost my best buddy to watch old football tapes." He said with a mischievously grin.
Grace chuckled. "Oh, so you are only missing your Football buddy? I should have known that."
"No." Tom answered, then leaned over the counter. In an instant his lips touched hers and they kissed passionately.
"Ok, it is not all about old football tapes", she declared breathlessly afterwards. "You have a very unique way of persuasion."
Tom's hazel eyes were sparkling.
Grace reached for her handbag, then waved a black tape. "This is the game we watched at our first date back at my house. I have not seen it since then because it always reminded me of that evening… I should have known that you were serious about your feelings, you did not run off after I told you about my disease."
The young detective approached her looking deep into her eyes. "How could I have left an adorable woman like you? There is much more about a person than a disease."
He noticed that her eyes were glistening.
"Grace, from the first moment I met you, I knew that you were special. I was so happy when I discovered the tapes in your living-room. It gave me a reason to see you again."
"And I was happy you asked", she answered in a tear-choked voice.
In the twinkling of an eye Tom embraced her. No, he would not let her go again. Not this time. This time he would fight for their relationship. With closed eyes he inhaled the scent of her silky hair while softly caressing her back.
They stood in silence for several minutes just enjoying the closeness and realizing how much they had missed one another during the last four months; both of them knowing that this second chance was a very rare and precious gift.
"I was really afraid that you had forgotten about me", Grace whispered.
"So was I."
The young woman laughed softly. "How could I? I have all the games on tape."
"Right", Tom chuckled.
"Mind watching some Tom Ryan Action on the Football Field?"
"Not at all", the young man answered. "And by the way are you hungry?"
"Let me guess. Lentil soup?"
"How do you know?"
"It smells fantastic." Grace smiled at him. "And I know it tastes even better."
"Cassy always says it's too salty."
"That's her opinion, I love it."
"Thank you", Tom said, then kissed her tenderly. "So let the games begin."
Half an hour later Grace had fallen asleep her head resting against Tom's shoulder. The young man switched off the TV and just listened to her constant breath filling the silence of the room. In the pale moonlight her face almost seemed angelic. He planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
"I am so happy you came back", he whispered knowing that they were able to face these difficult times together and within that moment he realized that Grace was already holding a very special place in his heart.