“Where the hell is she,” Ian shouted, as he entered the room. “This has gone on long enough. I know you know where she is.”
“Slow down, son,” Lieutenant Moreno said, looking up from the reports he was reviewing. “What do you mean stomping in here and raising your voice to me?”
“I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that it’s been months without a word from her. I’ve got to talk to her. There are some things I have say to her. I need to tell her I was wrong.”
“I know where she is, but I’m not about to tell you. If Morgan wanted to get in touch with you, she’d have done it months ago. Don’t make it worse on yourself by dwelling on the past. Get on with your life son.”
Ian bit his lip as he thought about what to say next. He was used to getting his way, and he wasn’t sure how to go about getting it this time.
Lieutenant Moreno watched Ian struggle, waiting for the next round of verbal conflict to begin. He sympathized with how Ian felt. Morgan had left without a word to him or any of her friends more than eight months ago. It had to be hard for him, but he had brought it on himself, frightening her like he had. A man had to have it bad for a woman to have done all the things he had—endangering his job as a deputy and stalking her relentlessly. It was no wonder she had taken off without telling him.
Moreno stood and walked around the desk. He didn’t like the tactical disadvantage of being in his chair. Ian was an unusually tall man, but Moreno was a close second.
“Ian, you’ve got to understand. It hasn’t been that long since she lost her husband. It’s got to be tough enough to be widowed, but losing him to murder, and then right in front of her eyes. On top of that, finding out you’d been following her for so long. What do you expect?”
“It isn’t what I expect. It’s more like what I need. Could you please get a letter to her? That’s all I ask.”
The lieutenant took a deep breath and let it out slowly, audibly, as he considered the proposal. He brushed his silver gray hair off his forehead and methodically rubbed his brow as he thought it over.
“I guess I could do that. What is it you think you could say to make things better?”
Ian had to admit he really didn’t know what would help, but he knew he had to try. He had been in total anguish since she left. It had nearly driven him crazy thinking about it sometimes. If he could only have one more chance, he knew somehow he could make it work out. That wasn’t going to happen until he made her understand how he felt.
“I’ll have the letter to you by morning. I’ll pay the postage if you’ll send it to her overnight express.”
“I can do that. Better choose your words carefully though. I don’t think she’s of a mind to be hearing anything from you at this point.”
“Thanks, Lieutenant, I owe you big time.”
Moreno’s steel cold blue eyes held scrutinized Ian’s. If he hadn’t been so far behind on his paperwork, he might have taken time to explain a few things to Ian. It probably wouldn’t change anything if he did. Shaking his head he placed his hand on Ian’s shoulder, directing him out of the room.
“Yes, son, that you do.”
Ian left the new District Two Office, and headed to his cabin off 39 Highway. It was where she had stayed with him during those terrible days just after her husband had been murdered, shot through the head.
She had been such a mess that night, his blood and brains splattered all over her face and beautiful blond curls. The first time he held her in his arms he knew it was where she belonged. He wished more than anything she were there again. It had felt like heaven to have her with him those few days. There would be no peace or happiness for him as long as she was gone.
It was a typical May evening in Central Florida; already the heat was nearly unbearable. Walking from the car to the door made his clothes damp with the thick moisture that hung in the air. He batted away a cloud of mosquitoes and gnats as he fidgeted with the key in the lock, anxious to be safe inside the air conditioning.
Wondering how people ever survived this hostile climate before the age of modern convenience, he hung his keys on the peg by the door. He sunk into the couch that sat across from the stone fireplace and put his feet up on the old steamer trunk that doubled as a coffee table.
Turning his mind to the business at hand, Ian sighed aloud to no one and nothing but the walls that surrounded him. He allowed his mind to wander back to those days, those few sweet days that she had shared here with him. It was a bittersweet exercise in futility at best.
After all this time, he still wasn’t sure who had killed Greg, or why. At the time it had seemed enough that Morgan was no longer a suspect. When Morgan left, he thought at first she had run from them—the killers—that somehow they had found her. It had come as a shock when Moreno called to say it was Ian she wanted to get away from.
It would take a lot of thinking before he would decide on what to say to her. What would he write? What words would make her see how much he wanted her back? Words had never been his strong suit and he had no idea why she had left.
Hoping a run would clear his head, he left the cabin as night fell over the Alafia River. After exhausting himself, still no closer to an answer, he stopped to watch the river. The swirling current captured leaves and sticks like a magnet, taking them further and further downstream. Feeling as powerless to change his course as one of those leaves, he sighed. The stars were beginning to appear as the crickets harmonized in a mesmerizing sonata. Remembering the night she had been under these same stars with him, he wondered if she might be looking up at them right now from God only knew where.
A long, cold shower proved refreshing to his body, but did not clear his mind. Knowing it would be a long night with little sleep, he twisted open a bottle of Icehouse and stretched out on the couch. Even now her presence was here, like some faint apparition, impossible to grasp. Several hours and five beers later, he settled on a few words and wrote them down. As he sealed the envelope he knew his future would be determined by what he had written.