Chapter 1

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I sit in the back of my brother's patrol car with him and his partner Shane. They picked me up on their lunch break, like they do everyday. I reach forward and dip a french fry in Rick's ketchup. He turns to Shane and I, handing napkins to each of us.

"What's the difference between men and women?" Rick prompts.

"Is this a joke?" I ask him.

"No, serious."

"I never met a woman who knew how to turn off a light." Shane answers. I roll my eyes at him and he continues. "I mean seriously, every woman I ever let have a key, I swear to God. I come home, house all lit up and my job apparently because my chromosomes happen to be different, is that I then have to walk through that house and turn off every single light this chick left on."

"Is that right?" I ask amused.

"Yeah, baby." He pauses taking a bite of his sandwich. Then he goes on talking to Rick about how he handles these women. I roll my eyes again and finish eating. I listen in on the rest of the conversation.

"And what do you say to that?" Rick asks, smirking at Shane.

"You know what I wanna say?" Rick raises an eyebrow at him. "I wanna say 'Bi***, you mean to tell me you've been hearing this you're whole life and you're still too da** stupid to learn how to turn off a switch?' Ya know I don't actually say that tho."

"That would be bad." I pipe in, laughing at him.

"Yeah, I go with the, uh, polite version there."

"Very wise." Rick says laughing with us.

"Yes, sir." Shane says before changing the subject. "So...how's it with Lori, man?" Shane and I stop laughing.

"She's good. She's good at turning off lights." Rick says slightly laughing.

"That's not what he meant..." I say quietly.

"We didn't have a great night..." He says getting serious. "It's like she's pissed at me all the time, and I don't know why." I put a hand on his shoulder. I hate seeing him like this.

"Look man, that's just sh** couples go through. It's a phase."

"You know what the last thing she said to me this morning was?"

"Hmm?"

"'Sometimes I wonder if you even care about us at all.' She said that in front of our kid..." I think about Carl and what he must be going through right now. I can't imagine going to school with, something like that in my head. The staticky sound of Rick's radio interupts my thoughts.

"Time to go." Shane mumbles as he helps me collect our garbage. I step out of the car and throw the rest of the food in a nearby garbage can.

"Be careful! I'll meet you at the station for coffee later!" I call after them as they speed off toward the pending police chase. Toward danger. They'll be fine. I tell myself as I walk home. They always are, but I can't help but worry.

***

I stop at Dunkin Donuts on my way to the station and grab three black coffees. When I pull into the station I see Rick's car still isn't back. It's been hours. They should be back by now. They're fine, I tell myself again. I get out of my car and sit on the bench outside. I sit the coffees beside me and wait, letting the hot Georgia sun soak into my skin. Minutes go by before I hear the familiar sirens of a patrol car. I smile when Shane pulls into the parking lot. The smile is wiped from my face when he shuts the car off and steps out of the car alone. I stand slowly as he walks toward me, a sad look on his face.

"Where's Rick?..."I ask holding back tears. He looks at the ground with tears in his eyes.

"Katie...Rick's been shot."

"Is he alive?" I ask, starting to to cry.

"He's in surgery now."

"Oh God..." I break down in tears. He steps forward, pulling me into a comforting hug. I wrap my arms tightly around his neck.

"Katie I'm so sorry. This is all my fault...The call said there were two suspects in the car, but there was a third man. I-I didn't see him in time..." Shane explains choking up.

"This isn't your fault Shane." I say looking up into his deep brown eyes.

"It is I shoulda been more thorough...I shoulda seen that other guy." He sobs quietly.

"Stop it Shane...blaming yourself isn't gonna help anything."He nods and we both pull away.

"Does Lori know?" I ask wiping my tears away.

"Not yet...I came here first." I look at my watch.

"Carl should be getting outta school soon. We should go tell her." He nods and heads toward the car. I get in the passenger side and he starts the car, turning on the sirens. I look sadly out the window as we drive down the road towards the school. I see Shane look at me out of the corner of my eye. He reaches over and grabs my hand, intertwining our fingers. I was a little suprised at first, but I find it comforting. I really need him, now more than ever.

"He's gonna be ok you know." I look over at him, squeezing his hand a little. I nod, giving him half a smile.

"I know."

When we pull into the school Lori automatically starts walking toward us. We both get out of the car. I stay back, leaning against the hood of the car and Shane goes to tell her what happened. The school bell rings and I see Carl run out toward his mother. Shane walks back to me. He puts his arm around my waist and I lean my head against his shoulder as we watch Lori break the news to Carl. My heart breaks when I see the expression on his little face. I look at Shane and see a few tears silently sliding down his cheeks. I wipe them away. He smiles a little.

"Come on, let's go see him. He's probably out of surgery by now." I nod and Shane and I leave to go see Rick in the hospital.

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