A/n - This story came about when I was trying to decided if my story "Not Here to Hold Your Hand" had become a pumpkin after the airing of "Hot and Bothered." I decided that I did not have the time to continue that story properly and so decided to write a quick one shot instead. As with all my writing projects, the whole thing grew much larger than I originally intended and will be posted in two parts.
I hope you enjoy it.
Andy McNally knew what love was. It was not the superficial attraction peddled by Hollywood romantic comedies but something that settled so deep in your bones and swirled so thickly through your blood that your partner became a part of your physical being. Her parents had been in love or, at least, her father had been. As a child, she had watched her parents orbit each other like twin stars, the dashing police officer and the beautiful artist moving in perfect unison around the breakfast table, a hand caressing a shoulder blade as juice was poured, a spontaneous embrace in front of the refrigerator, a kiss on the collarbone or whisper in the ear while dishes were washed. At night, Andy fell asleep basking in her family's warmth, listening to her parents' laughter floating down the hall.
Then, one morning, her mother was not at breakfast. Her father, looking strangely flat and still, fingered a note on the table and, in the impersonal voice he used to deliver bad news to the families of car crash victims, told her that her mother had left them to start a new family. Andy had not understood. How could her mother, a woman she had worshipped with the fervour of an innocent child, leave her without even saying goodbye? How could she have cheated on her father? How could the love of that new man be stronger and worth more than the love that she already had? If there had been signs or warnings leading up to her mother's departure, Andy had not heeded them. She was blindsided. She felt as if some essential part of her had been brutally hewn from her body leaving a jagged festering wound. She had screamed and yelled and cried for weeks but it had made no difference, her mother was gone and she was not coming back.
It was not until several months had passed that Andy noticed that her father had disappeared as well. He was there physically, of course, but where the mischief had once sparkled in his eyes there was nothing but a deep, black emptiness. It was as if the life force that had animated him had been snuffed out, leaving behind an automaton which completed daily tasks with no joy or purpose. He spent long hours at work and when he came home Andy could smell the sharp odour of alcohol on his breath. She tried to be the best and most attentive daughter that she could be, hoping that, somehow, she could bring back the man that she had idolised. Sometimes, over silent dinners that she had prepared, she would catch him staring at her with a heartbreaking sadness.
"You look so much like your mother." He would whisper before excusing himself from the table. Andy would quietly follow him down the hall and sit, her back against the locked bathroom door, to listen to him sob.
In her last year of high school, she had returned from school one Friday to find him lying ashen and unresponsive, half under their coffee table. The room reeked of alcohol, broken glass and empty pill bottles littered the floor around his body, and his navy uniform had turned black with vomit and blood. Being the daughter of a cop, Andy had immediately rushed for the phone to dial 911 before hysteria could set in and paralyse her. All she could think about as she observed the paramedics working over his lifeless body was that he had tried to leave her too. The only person that she had left in the world had tried to leave her. She felt the pain of her mother's abandonment, doubled by her father's fresh betrayal, rend her fragile soul open anew. It was in that moment, hot tears stinging her cheeks, that Andy promised herself that she would never feel this way again. She was determined that she would never even give somebody the opportunity to make her feel this way again. As they wheeled her once vibrant father away on a gurney, she swore that she would never fall in love with someone who could break her heart and she would never love anyone or anything that she couldn't bear to lose.
Her father had survived and, for a while at least, seemed more like his old self. As she grew older, Andy became determined to fix not just her father but the whole world if she could. She knew that some things could be reassembled even if her family could not. In her twenties, Andy had plenty of friends and lovers but she was always cautious with her heart. If she ever forgot, Tommy McNally's spiral into alcoholism and the disastrous end to his career were there to constantly remind Andy of the promises that she had made.
Andy hadn't been attracted to Sam Swarek at first sight. He had been posing as a drug dealer and she had been too full of rookie zeal to appreciate the way his muscles rippled under his t-shirt as she tackled him to the ground. Later though, as he stripped down in front of her in the men's locker room, she couldn't help but feel a flicker of interest, even if he was a complete jerk. That night, she had attempted to buy him a drink at The Black Penny. It was supposed to be an apology or a thank you, whichever he would accept, but she had found herself overly annoyed at him when he rejected her offer. Why was he mad at her? She was just a rookie who didn't know any better. Getting arrested might have even helped his street cred. He should be angry with Officer Shaw for not finding a way to warn the station what was happening or at Detective Barber who had been the one stupid enough to actually blow his cover but Swarek had seemed quite content to drink with Barber and blame her for his misfortunes. Trying to figure out why this irritated her so much, she felt compelled to glance in his direction occasionally even though she had to turn her head considerably to do so. Once or twice, she thought she might have caught him returning her gaze.
She thought she was being hazed when Boyko had paired her with Swarek the next morning. She was certain of it when she realised that the warrant that Swarek had given her to arrest Emily Starling was nothing more than a take-out menu. He had made it clear that he was not pleased to have her ride along but seemed to surprise himself by changing his mind when she proved herself to be competent and innovative. Swarek's methods of policing and his obvious concern for the well being of his witnesses reminded Andy of her father in his better days and she found herself desperately wanting to impress him. She also couldn't deny that showered, shaved, and in uniform, the sleazebag that she had arrested was actually quite handsome.
At the end of her shift, she had joined the other rookies at The Black Penny for a drink. Andy wasn't sure what made her abandon an almost full drink to follow her training officer out into the rainy parking lot. He seemed a little surprised that she had and even more taken a back at the question that she blurted out as they came to stand beside his car.
"How do you know Anton Hill isn't going to follow Emily out west?"
"Huh?" His eyebrows dropped in puzzlement.
"We put her on a bus to Kelowna how do we know he is not going to follow her there and kill her?"
"Cause she didn't go to Kelowna." He replied, still wondering why she was asking. Her face fell and he explained further. "It's not that I don't trust you it just seems the fewer people who know..."
"Right. Yeah." She could understand that. "You really gave up the whole case for her huh?" She asked quietly, respect and adulation clear in her tone.
"Yeah, well. Who knows what I gave up? Maybe nothing. Emily's smart that way." Swarek studied her, evidently intrigued by the candid conversation she had been able to pry from him.
"Were you scared in there?" Andy asked, surprised that she had the nerve to ask such a personal question of a man who had openly disliked her that morning. He considered her and then the question for a moment.
"Yeah." He breathed out truthfully, his bravado falling away. "You?" The intimacy of the moment set her heart racing slightly and she knew that she couldn't lie to him.
"No." She shook her head. "I mean, you were there." He gaped at her as his mind tried to process her response. She reached to shake his hand. Goosebumps ran up her arm at the feel of his callused fingertips against hers.
"Let me take you home." He said not letting go of her hand. Of its own accord, her body took a step forward and she found him perilously deep into her personal space. The scent of soap warmed by his skin caressed her nostrils and she looked up into dangerous brown eyes filled with confusion and intense attraction. Her stomach flip-flopped in her throat and the emotions in his eyes flooded through her every capillary. As he leaned in to kiss her, she put her hand on his chest to stop him, taking pleasure in the sensation of hard, warm muscle under his t-shirt. A minute later, as she watched him drive away, she could still feel his body heat in her fingertips. Her reaction to Sam had been visceral, unexpected, and treacherous, the intensity of it frightening. She knew that if she wasn't careful she might find herself passionately and irreparably in love with the man. Andy took a deep breath her and resolved to keep herself as far away as she could from Sam Swarek.