CHAPTER 5

After another sleepless night, I got to work bright and early again, this time with even more knots in my stomach than the day before. Much like yesterday, Hunter strolled in around 8 and I already had my nose buried in my reports. I was mostly trying to appear busy in an attempt to distract myself and to help keep my emotions in check. I was sick to my stomach about everything and I felt the distance between Hunter and I growing by the second. I didn't like how this was feeling at all. I truly felt like I was losing him completely, and that terrified me.

Much like yesterday, Hunter and I were split up for most of the day, but somehow the day managed to pass quickly. Alex was due back to LA tomorrow, so I needed to be able to talk to Rick tonight. It was my last opportunity to be able to talk to him alone.

We finished the day at work, and he agreed to meet me at my house for dinner at 7. I wasn't sure how our conversation would go, so I didn't want to risk being out in public and having a breakdown. I was in no mood to cook, so I summoned another food group and ordered us some Italian take out. He knocked on my door right at 7pm, and we sat down at my kitchen table.

"Hey, I'm glad you could make it." I said as I greeted him at the door.

"Yeah, me too." He said with a smile and handed me a bottle of wine. 'Yup, I'm gonna need that,' I thought to myself.

"I haven't seen too much of you the last few days" I said with a laugh, "I was starting to forget what you look like."

Hunter laughed at my comment, but I could feel that there was still some tension between us. I decided to start off with some small talk before getting into the topic of "us." So, we talked for a while about our cases, Peterson's murder case, and our families…anything but the 'big white elephant' in the room.

We polished off about half of our meal and three-quarters of the bottle of Riesling before I mustered up the courage to bring up the very reason why I had asked him to come over. "About the other night..." I started.

"Look, before you say anything, I want to apologize to you. I never should have kissed you like that. It was wrong of me to do that to you considering you are engaged to someone else. My emotions got the best of me and I'm sorry. It was a mistake." Hunter said before I was able to even utter another word.

'A mistake?' My heart sank when I heard him say those words. It might have not been 'appropriate' given the circumstances, but I knew that I didn't regret it even though I probably should have. I was growing more and more confused by the second.

"What do you mean a mistake? Were you not being honest with me about your feelings? I've spent the last 3 days trying to make sense of all of this. What are you saying, Rick?"

"All I'm saying is that you are already spoken for. It wasn't right of me to do that to you and to put you in an awkward position like that. It seems as though you are happy with Alex and he's offering you the life that you want, and I don't want to stand in the way of that."

"So, that's it?" I said half angrily and half surprised as I got up from the table and turned my back to him. This was not going at all how I thought it would. I turned back around to look back at him. "You said all of that to me Saturday night and now you're just going to walk away like none of it ever happened?!" I paused for a moment to look him in square in the eyes. I felt dangerously close to tears, but somehow I managed to plow through and ask him the one question that I needed an answer to more than any other question in the world. "Rick, can you give me any reason in the world why I shouldn't marry Alex?"

Rick looked up at me and remained silent for a minute before speaking. I felt like I lived a lifetime in that minute. "No. I can't." He said as his eyes hit the table. He couldn't even look at me when he said those words.

"You can't?" I asked, rhetorically. My voice started to tremble and my eyes began to water. I couldn't understand what was happening. It was suddenly like the other night meant nothing to him and I had spent the last 3 days so torn up over it. I was growing as angry as I was confused.

"Look, Dee Dee, I'm a cop. This is who I am and who I will always be, and I know you don't want to end up with cop again."

"So, that's it, huh? After all you said to me Saturday night, you're just going to let me go?" I was on the verge of tears and I was starting to realize that maybe I didn't want him to let me go. I suddenly found myself heartbroken.

"I think it's for the best, don't you? I don't want to be the reason that you don't have the life that you want. If you love Alex, then you should be with him. I shouldn't have tried to come between you two, and I am so sorry. I know you both have a history together and if you're happy and want to be with him, then you should marry him. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."

"Wow." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was starting to wonder if I really had dreamt it all.

"Wow, what?"

"I'm just surprised and I don't know what else to say. It's - it's like you did a complete 180 from Saturday night. On Saturday you told me you loved me and then you kissed me like that and now you are telling me that it was a mistake and that I should marry Alex?! I just don't get it, Rick." I paused for a moment to collect myself. "Are you saying….that… you didn't feel anything with that kiss?" I searched his face for a response, but wasn't really getting one, so I continued, confessing my feelings and laying it all out on the table. I had nothing to lose at this point. "I know that I felt something, and that's exactly why I am so confused about my feelings for you and my feelings for Alex!"

"I did feel something Dee Dee! I meant what I said, but I will step aside because I want you to be happy and have everything that you want out of life. I know you don't want to be a street cop's wife again."

"Rick, this just doesn't make any sense. Do you hear what I am saying to you?"

"This is hard for me Dee Dee. I don't want to rip you away from a life that you want, and have you resent me for it later on. We've never even tried this "relationship" thing between us, so who knows if it would even work out. We've been partners and best friends for years. Maybe we are better off just leaving it like that. This way, there are no hard feelings and we'll still always be friends and a part of each others lives."

"Is that what you really want? Be honest with me." I pleaded with him with tears in my eyes.

"Dee Dee, it doesn't matter what I want, what matters is what you want. You need to follow your heart and do what's right for you. I don't want to cloud your decision in any way. I just want you to be happy. Do what makes you happy."

"What I want, huh?" I got up from my chair and turned and walked in the other direction so Rick couldn't see me as tears rolled down my face. "I used to know exactly what I wanted, but now I just don't even know anymore."

Rick got up and grabbed my arms in an effort to console me, but I shoved him off. I could see it in his face that he was getting upset too.

"Maybe I shouldn't have come by. I should never have said anything to you on Saturday. I am sorry that I upset you like this. I never meant to hurt you."

I looked him in the eyes and I could see that he was hurting, and even though he was trying his best to do what he thought was the honorable thing here. I really didn't think that he meant it. His lips may have been saying one thing, but his eyes were saying another, and just looking at them made me start to feel weak. I was dangerously close to falling into his arms because something was telling me that he wanted me there, and something was telling me that I wanted me there too.

"Rick, no. I'm glad that you were honest with me. But why did you wait so long to tell me?" I said with tears in my eyes. "Didn't you know that I felt the same way?"

"You never said anything."

"Did I really have to?" I paused, and when I realized he wasn't getting it, I continued. "that night…"

"Oh."

"I didn't think I needed to explain it to you. I thought you knew me well enough to know that I don't just sleep with anyone."

"I know. But, you left for 6 weeks. We never talked about it then, or even when you came back. At the time, I thought maybe you regretted it and wanted to forget it happened, so I let it go."

"Rick, I could never regret that night. It was beautiful. You know that…."

"Yeah, it was." A faint smile appeared across his face as his mind must have flashed back to our night 3 years ago.

"So what do we do now?" I nervously asked even though I already knew what his answer was going to be.

"We finish our meal together, and we part as friends. And then you go off and marry the man of your dreams, move to London and have lots of babies." Rick said as another smile appeared across his face. "I am giving you my blessing, Dee Dee."

Over the next 2 hours, we finished our meals and another full bottle of wine. We laughed and reminisced about our days as partners. We sure had a great time together over the years, and a lot of funny stories to tell.

It was a few minutes after 11 when Rick grabbed his sport jacket and car keys and headed for my front door. He grabbed both of my hands and looked me in the eyes. "Thank you for dinner tonight, Dee Dee."

"You're welcome." I smiled faintly.

"I'm really going to miss you, Dee Dee. Alex is a very lucky guy. Make sure you tell him I said that."

"I will. Thank you."

We hugged for a couple of minutes and I realized in that moment that I felt at peace. He pulled back and kissed me on the forehead and then turned and headed out the door.

"Goodnight, Dee Dee."

"Goodnight, Rick."

I closed the door behind him and then plopped down on the couch, replaying everything that had happened tonight in my head. I had this agonizing feeling that something was definitely off with everything he said to me tonight. "His blessing?" I said aloud, sarcastically to myself. You don't spend 6 years day in and day out with someone and not be able to read them like a book. Rick Hunter was full of shit, and I knew it.

(continued...)