: A Woman with a PastPairing
: 1, 464Disclaimer
: I don’t own Crossing Jordan or any of it’s characters.Author’s Notes
: My quote prompt was from Dorothy Parker: If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
But I didn’t really get it, so I didn’t use it so much. I was however, rather inspired by this Sunday’s episode, A Man in Blue
and the Joe Nichols song, A Man with a Memory
. Check out the lyrics here
This takes place after Jump, Push, Fall
and before A Man in Blue
Finally, I've left the end rather open but I haven't decided if I want to continue with the story. So please, let me know what you think, good or bad.
Enjoy!* * * * *
In a bar so far out of town, neither had expected to run into someone they knew. Both had come to take the edge off the day, hoping a quiet drink surrounded by strangers would help prepare them for the emptiness that was waiting for them at home.
It was her first time here and she felt guilty the moment her high heels clicked against the smoky hardwood floors. She should be at home. With her baby, being the mother she never intended to be. But one drink wouldn’t hurt. Her daughter would be just as asleep when she got home in an hour as she was now.
He, on the other hand, had been here before. He’d always come alone. He felt no guilt or shame. He was glad of a break from the regular cop bars with the guys constantly trying to cheer him up and distract him from his injury. But the constant phony smiles and fake sincerity did nothing to help him forget, only reminded him that he was different.
Even with her back to the door she’d felt him come into the bar. In a room full of faceless strangers and people who’d rather not be noticed she felt an air of familiarity blow through the door with him. She turned slightly in her booth seat to watch him clamber up to the bar without noticing her. She heard him order a beer and she smiled at his predictably and immaturity. She turned back to her empty glass and cigarette and hoped he wouldn’t notice her here drinking alone on a Wednesday night.
The bar tender slid a cocktail napkin across the bar and placed a cool brown bottle on top of it. The young detective traced his fingers over the beads of sweat that had formed on the bottle’s side before taking a long drink. With his elbows propped up on the bar, he swung his head to the left. At corner table a man and woman sat huddled together batting their eyelashes at one another and speaking in low secretive voices. To the right were two men just like him. Alone with their beers, trying to drown whatever troubles had followed them here. He took quick look over his shoulder at the half dozen others in the bar tonight.
At the same moment she turned to see if he was still here. Even though she knew he wouldn’t have left after only one drink she wanted to be sure. When their eyes met they both smiled with genuine awkwardness. In a setting so removed from where they were accustomed to seeing one another, it was difficult to know how to act. Snatching up his beer and motioning for the bartender to bring him another, Woody slid off his stool and joined Renee at her table.
She didn’t ask for his company but when he sat down across from him, she couldn’t imagine asking him to leave. With her days spent battling in courtrooms and her nights fighting with a crying baby, the company of someone who was neither an attorney nor a toddler was more than welcome.
“How are you, detective?” she asked casually as a slender young waitress slid a beer in front of him. Renee motioned almost imperceptibly to the waitress for another drink. She’d had plenty of practice ordering drinks without being noticed. Vodka on the rocks; easy to disguise. Scotch was for occasions when she wasn’t hiding.
“I’m well,” Woody lied, once the waitress was out of earshot.
“I heard you were back on duty,” Renee said. It was a statement but it sounded like a question.
“Yes, ma’am. I’ve been back about a week and half now,” he explained. She smiled at the way he still called her ma’am
even in this informal setting. He was so young, she thought.
“Please don’t call me ma’am
,” she said and lit another cigarette. If the smoke bothered him, he didn’t mention it, only watched the end swell with orange as she took a long drag on the filter.
“I’ve been following the MacDonald case in the paper,” Woody said. It was the only thing he could think of to say and he was suddenly regretting his decision to join her here at her table. She blew a plume of smoke straight up into the air and looked at him with an eyebrow cocked almost to her hairline. Somewhere in the long moment she stared at him in this way the waitress had returned with her drink.
“What are you doing here, Woody?” she asked finally and he noticed the careful way she used his first name.
“Same as you, I suppose,” he said for lack of a better reason. He took the last sip of his beer and started on the next one.
“Oh,” she said with a coy smile, “you’ve got a daughter that hates you too, have you?” Woody had to think for a moment before he realized the personal nature of what had just been revealed to him.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” he started, “how can a baby hate you?”
“I see my daughter for about an hour a day. I feed her in the morning and I leave her with the nanny. When I get home from work she’s already asleep.” She took a slow drag on her cigarette to let him think about what she’d said. “If I was your mother, wouldn’t you hate me too?” Woody already knew his answer but he thought about for a moment nonetheless.
Renee laughed a skeptical laugh filled with sex and smoke and crushed out her cigarette. In one fluid motion she raised her glass, tipped it in Woody’s direction and poured its comforting contents down her throat before letting it hit the table again with a thud of finality. Gulp and run
, she thought to herself.
“I should go,” she said as she slid out her booth seat as gracefully as she could manage. “It was nice to see you, Woody.” Ever the gentleman, Woody jumped up to help her with her jacket. He held it out for her and she stepped inside, trying in vein to remember the last time she had let a man help her. She moved for her purse to pay for her drinks but Woody tapped her hand to stop her.
“Let me get these,” he insisted and threw down a few bills.
“Thank you,” she said genuinely as she looked up into his face. She was stunned for a moment by what she saw. For a man so young he carried such immense sadness that it almost hurt to look.
“I’ll walk you to your car,” he offered, distracting Renee from her thoughts. She didn’t respond, just headed for the door while he limped behind her.
When they got to the door, she wanted to hold it for him so he might easily hobble through, but she knew he wouldn’t let her. Instead, Woody held it for her and their arms brushed one another’s as she passed. Renee was then suddenly aware of how long it had been since she’d been touched. Of course, she shook hands with people all day long but she missed the closeness of another person, the physical affection and warmth of a hug or a kiss.
Renee stuck her key in her car door a moment later and before unlocking it, she spun to face Woody. He was a few feet behind her and when she turned he took a step closer.
He saw something now in her eyes, something he had missed before but was sure it was reflected in his own. He remembered briefly how he'd once compared her to Jordan. Two peas in a pod
, he’d said. But now, in the darkness of the parking lot, Woody knew that wasn’t true. If she was like anyone, she was like him. Bruised in both mind and spirit, almost ready to give up on everything and submit the pain and loneliness that haunted her.
She opened her mouth to speak then, even though she wasn’t sure what she was about to say. But she needn’t have worried. Before she could get a word out, Woody took her face in his hands and led her mouth to his. When their lips met she let out a quick moan of surprise before giving in to his touch. As his tongue explored the contours of her mouth, she thought briefly that this was wrong. Differences in age and status were only the beginning, but as his arms closed around her, it didn’t seem to matter. He had ignited a spark within in her and set ablaze a passionate affair that, in time, would threaten to destroy them both.* * * * *