Part I

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Leah had imagined her trip to Chicago to go in many ways. Various scenarios of meeting up with friends and other students to join in a peaceful demonstration. The weekend had been planned for some time, so every possible version of the getaway had contained a positive undertone. None of the dreamt-up plots for the weekend had foreseen a night in jail – but here she was.

Alone in the small holding cell, the young woman couldn't believe this had happened. She had never gotten arrested before and still couldn't fathom what had transpired. A part of her almost saw it as a badge of honor, considering she had been part of a protest against police brutality. The movement had always inspired her, and after the invitation of her friends, the college student had agreed to be a part of it. Leah smiled to herself, imagining her friends of all shades and hues probably applauding her once she got out...whenever that would be.

"Ms. Daly?"

Leah inadvertently flinched as soon as she heard her last name. However, she was surprised to hear it in a soft and gentle voice. She looked up and saw a young woman that must have been around her age in uniform. The female police officer was smiling faintly while holding a bottle of water.

"I was wondering if you needed something to drink?" the officer asked but Leah was more preoccupied eyeing her. For some reason, the appearance of the woman on the other side of the metal bars intrigued her. The long, chestnut-brown hair was tightly bound in a ponytail to assumedly convey a stern expression, which didn't match the soft voice and facial features. Her stature was slim yet athletic and Leah estimated her height between 5'8 and 5'9. Why on earth was she examining the officer so intently, she wondered internally.

"Ms. Daly? Are you alright?" the officer's question sounded more concerned this time.

"Yes," Leah answered quickly. "I'm sorry, I'd love some water."

As the current occupant of the cell made her way to the metal bars, she kept a close eye on the officer before taking the water bottle from her hands.

"How are you holding up?" the policewoman asked as Leah took a big gulp of water.

"I'm in jail," the college student scoffed. "How do you think I'm holding up? For something I didn't even do."

"You assaulted an officer," the brunette responded calmly.

"He startled me, and I thought I was getting attacked," Leah defended herself and her actions during the protest that had gone awry. "All I did was defend myself. But apparently that's against the law now."

"I'm sorry you felt startled," the other woman said with a serene voice.

"What's your name?" Leah blurted out since she wasn't afraid to ask questions.

"Officer Santini," the woman in uniform complied and appeared to be chuckling.

Italian, Leah instantly thought to herself and her curiosity was sparked even more.

"I don't mean to be nosy look young," Leah said carefully. "Have you been doing this a long time?"

"Being an officer?" The policewoman wondered as Leah nodded. "Almost a year now."

"How come...I mean," Leah stopped herself because her interest made her stumble over her own words. "What made you decide to become a police officer?"

"I like to protect people and I love the law," the brunette answered shortly but seemed amused by the questioning.

"And you don't think there's an issue with excessive force at the hands of police?" The student asked bravely and focused on the brown eyes of the officer.

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