“Mitchell called me but told me not to come,” Ro said, barreling at me.
I let the front door drift shut and opened my arms to her. I prepped for the impact and when it came I tried not to wince. My breasts were sore, my solar plexus, a line of bruised fire burned down the center of my belly, an invisible zipper of pain. She crushed herself to me and feeling her heartbeat calmed me. I dropped my gun belt by the front door and it felt like dropping the weight of a piano.
“You would have just had a lot of boring waiting and by the time you got there they’d have been letting me go.”
“You’re bruised,” she said, pulling back to look at me.
“I’m fine.” I gently disengaged and locked the door. “But I am beat. Beyond beat. I’m fucking whipped.” I took her hand and slowly walked down the hall.
I shook my head. “Nah. They checked me over for a concussion because I took that tumble down the fire escape after…”
“After you were shot!”
I winced again but this time from the fear in her voice.
“After I got hit,” I amended.
“By a bullet!” Ro reminded me. Loudly.
I tried not to sigh. She was scared. Of course she was. “It’s all in the line of duty,” I said.
Sometimes that line calmed folks. They recognized it. I grabbed a cold soda on the way to the bedroom. My bullet proof vest had been taken to the station by my captain. My shirt had been cut off of me. I wore a scrub top from the ER and my uniform pants. I felt like I’d been hit by a train.
“People also get killed in the line of duty,” she said, the anger gone from her voice. Now she sounded softly terrified.
“They do. But I didn’t.” I pushed into our room. A warm cocoon of big fat white bedding that Rowena had chosen and very pale lavender walls that were nearly silver in hue.
“But you could, Harley,” she said.
I turned to face her, giving her a big kiss. It was a quiet lazy kiss, nothing passionate. “You knew that going in and so did I.”
“I know. I did…I do. But it still scares the fuck out of me,” she said.
“Don’t be.” She sighed mightily but then smiled. With trembling fingers she helped me take off the scrubs and then she skated her long delicate fingers over the already black and blue bruises on my torso. Where the bullets had hit the vest I had actual welts, one of the bullets puncturing deep enough in the Kevlar to raise a pretty nifty egg on my skin between my small breasts.
Ro bent her head, her jet black bob swinging forward to hide her face for a heartbeat. Her lips touched the colorful skin, pressing just hard enough to feel good and hurt at the same time. “Take off your pants,” she said. Her lips brushed my shoulder and then she was working the big belt buckle at my hips.
Together we got the pants off, me flinching with every pain-tinged movement. Finally I stood in boy shorts, ugly dark blue socks and my work boots.
“Nice,” Ro snorted. “Sexy look.”
“Oh hush,” I chuckled. A glance in the full length mirror on the back of the bedroom door gave proof that it was certainly a giggle-worthy look.
Ro dropped to her knees and something in me broke and something in me stirred. She looked so concerned and yet, so god damn beautiful. Her sheer black tee showed the white tank decorated with tiny skulls underneath. Her black skinny jeans hugged her ass and her Docs made her legs look somehow more delicate instead of clunky. We were quite a pair—no one every pictured us together. The cop and the Goth artist—like some bad romance novel.
“Lift your foot so I can get this clodhopper off,” Ro said. There were tears in her voice, still, so I laughed to lighten the mood.
“Look who’s talking. The girl who wears Herman Munster boots.”
“Please,” she whispered, “Herman Munster would be thrilled to own my shoes.”
I sighed and let my head fall back. The girl was a mess. Funny. Perfect.
She stole my socks and then my underwear, her pale pink lips kissing a tender trail from one hipbone to the other. When she stood she started to strip her clothing as quickly as I’d seen her shred sketches that made her unhappy.
“What’s up, buttercup?”
“I’m getting in the shower with you. You wince when you blink, you’re going to need help. And you’re…” She brushed debris out of my hair.
“It was a long fall down that fire escape. I took out several flower pots along the way.” I meant it to be funny but her eyes filled with tears. “I’m fine,” I reminded her.
She nodded. “Yep. I know. Now shut up and come on.” She took my hand, tucking her tiny hand in my bigger one and leading me to the shower.
I felt like I had been dipped in concrete. My body heavy and exhausted. My scalp sang with pain, the scrapes on my face felt tight and raw and my body thumped uncomfortably with every move. But I followed her because she needed this. More than me.
“In,” she pointed to the shower. She’d turned it to hot and already steam was billowing around us. I spared a glance at her pale, small body. She was a true hourglass and the flare of her hips never failed to turn me on. The small waist, the heavy breasts, the slim legs. I trailed a finger over her belly button and she gently swatted my hand away.
I got in. I surrendered to Ro and her soapy natural sponge. I let her brush me down with water and fragrant bubbles until some of the fear and tension left my body. It was only after the shots, after the fall, that adrenaline had flooded me. When my partner had led my attacker off in cuffs, I’d felt real stabs of fear. The realization of how things could have gone had hit me full force—more of an impact than the bullets. My mind had gone to head shots, gut shots (that sweet spot where the vest can ride up). Anything that would have made the heavy vest I wore daily null and void.