The Paperback Edition…
“Charlie! It’s okay. I’m a police officer…I’m an undercover cop, MPD. My name is Mike. Mike Foster.” The words were clear and simple and strong…meant to be calming.
His voice…it sounded so familiar…and then it slowly dawned on me.
It was the same voice as the one who had asked me last night if I was “driving home”. I now remembered Hannah whispering in my ear…
“That Mike is sure a cutie.” Hannah had said, referring to Doyle’s cute , new bouncer as she had guided ‘my drunken self’ out the door.
I slowly turned around and looked up. It was him. My mind raced… no wonder he was with all those cops at the court house. Of course. He must have seen me and didn’t want to take a chance on blowing his cover.
“Mike…” I murmured under my breath. “Right…”
He let me stand free for a moment as he put his gun away. I swayed a little and he grabbed my elbow to steady me.
“Hey, take it easy.” he said softly.
Quiet tears of relief started to stream down my cheeks and I started to shake. Shock and the freezing cold began taking their toll on me.
Mike pulled me a little nearer and tried to close up my coat, saying soft, comforting words as he fumbled with the buttons.
Then he stopped and took his hands and lifted my face so he could look me in the eyes…
“Charlie. It’s all over. You’re safe now.” He spoke very slowly, carefully choosing his words… to be sure I understood.
But I was so cold. I couldn’t stop shivering and I couldn’t stop crying. I just stood there unable to speak or move.
Graphic images I had seen too many times from crime scenes I’d covered the last couple of years were flashing thru my mind.
I knew just how bad this could have been.
“So cold…” I managed to whisper.
Mike gently pulled me next to him. His jacket was open and he wrapped his arms and his jacket around me. I could hear sirens in the distance.
“Thank God I was still here,” he said, his voice ragged with emotion.
I sighed and sank into the safety and warmth of his body.
After a few minutes, my tears stopped and I was shaking less. But I didn’t want to leave the warmth of Mike’s arms. And he didn’t appear to be in any hurry to let me go.
I pulled back just a little, looked up and asked, “The rose?”
It was the first time I had ever seen Mike Foster smile. He had a great smile.