Author's Note: Hello, readers. Just a brief note for you all today. For those interested, we have a new challenge up at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner". Sign-ups for our theme song challenge run through May 14, 2011. The rules are simple. Tell us your favorite character about which to write, the character you'd like to receive a story about AND what you envision that character's theme song being. We think it'll be a lot of fun and hope to see all of you there! All our best!
Also, the second annual Profiler's Choice Awards ARE on the horizon. Please visit our forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" to read the details we have released about this year's awards and offer your opinion on any changes or things you'd like to see this year. It's right around the corner!
I wrote this story to illustrate the challenge. I hope ya'll enjoy it. Song inspiration: I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash.
I Walk the Line
For years, he'd been doing it. Walking that thin, fraying tightrope as he navigated his way down the often murky path that dissected his life.
On one side of that line was the professional side of him. And that area contained those obligations and duties that demanded he remain stoic...steadfast in his determination to succeed, to complete whatever mission assigned to him. He was relentless in his pursuit of those achievements, single-minded in his vigilance to assume a successful outcome to his pursuits.
It was his greatest strength and conversely, his most obvious flaw.
On the opposite side of the damned rope on which he stood poised was the distinctly personal aspect of his personality.
Contrary to an all too popular belief, he wasn't an emotionless robot. Despite how it appeared to those around him, he did have a beating heart. Blood, not ice, filled his veins. He experienced the same joy and despair as every other human being on earth. He just happened to be entirely adept at disguising those feelings that he didn't want others to easily see.
The truth was, he felt things deeply...every victory, but even more keenly, every loss. Each touched him, perhaps more acutely than most. But he'd learned at a young age to mask those emotions that would allow others to find weakness within him. Schooling his face into the neutral mask he wore was as second nature as putting his pants on in the morning.
It was true; he'd become an expert at walking the line, never allowing those two worlds he existed within to blur or collide.
In one instant, everything changed. The heart he'd guarded so closely over the years...the cards he'd held so tightly to his chest… had been exposed. And for a man that had spent a lifetime keeping his eyes wide open, always on alert for potential problems that might cause him great consternation, that had been a moment he'd never forget.
Accustomed to solitude...to maneuvering life's curveballs alone, the sheer act of needing someone...even someone he knew he could trust...someone he could very easily allow himself to love...had been an adjustment. For years, he'd managed to keep those ties binding him to her from being seen. Sometimes he had ignored the connection, telling himself that it was his professional attachment to her rather than any more intimate feelings that he felt entwining around his heart.
He'd been lying to himself.
Over the years, it had become simple to be loyal to her, his eyes never lingering on another woman. Hell, in their line of work, eyes that lingered anywhere but the immediate vicinity generally missed a vital piece of the puzzle anyway. And he was a trained professional, after all, surrounded by an entire team of equally adept and observant professionals.
Maybe that's why it had happened. Perhaps the explanation for his current predicament was that she'd always been accessible to him. Always...there.
And yet, he ended every night alone and empty, afraid to venture across that damned line he walked.
Just lately, however, it seemed as though she was determined to push him off his well travelled beaten path. Whether with the touch of her hand on his shoulder or the husky sound of her laughter in his ear, those small actions kept him on his guard lest he stray too far from the fraying rope he walked.
More and more, she consumed his thoughts. As one case faded into another, his attraction only grew stronger. He'd been a profiler long enough to recognize escalation when it was dangled in front of him.
He was fighting a losing battle with limited options.
Did he risk it? He'd known happiness before her. He remembered what it had felt like to wake up each day fulfilled...happy...optimistic. He remembered the joy that came from being in partnership, joined with a person who seemed to understand the ups and downs and ins and outs that could only be experienced together.
And he wanted it again.
On the other hand, he remembered with cutting clarity how it had felt when the happiness had crumbled, leaving him broken, bleeding and very nearly destroyed. It had taken years to even begin to recover, and it wasn't an experience he was anxious to repeat, especially with a small son to consider.
His son. Now that was a sobering thought. Visions of the dark-headed child filled his mind, reminding him of his commitments. But bringing someone into their life, someone who could only improve it, would be a good thing…right?
Catching a glimpse of her moving through the bullpen as he stood at his office window, he sighed. It was such a fine line he walked. One wrong step in either direction could send him careening into an abyss he'd visited once before...one that had threatened to swallow him whole.
And he knew that climbing out of that black hole once had been a miracle. The second time would likely result in psychological destruction that was beyond even his comprehension.
Watching her now, though, he knew the choice was slowly being made for him. Her darkening eyes as she stared up at him told him so.
Evidently he wasn't quite as good an actor as he'd hoped. Her gaze told him that she knew exactly how he felt. Her knowing smile was the only indicator he needed to know he was right, and he felt the line he stood on tighten to a breaking point.
There were only two options on his horizon now. Turn around and go back to his desk...pretend he hadn't seen what he knew he saw. Or, he could take the chance. Break the rules. Blur the lines.
Inhaling deeply as he looked from his desk to the door, slowly he smiled.
It was time to steal a page from David Rossi's book.
There'd never been a line he hadn't crossed.
And the reward still staring up at him from below was definitely worth any potential hurdle waiting for them.
Perhaps they could both learn to walk this line.
Hand in hand, together.