Eddie dragged her suitcase behind her as she approached the location of the leadership symposium she had been elected to attend by her precinct. There would be officers from all over the nation at this conference, there would be many opportunities for her to make new contacts and new friends. That had been the hardest part about leaving the NYPD…well, maybe not the hardest part.
Still, Jamie had moved on, now she had to do that same. Thomas was a wonderful man, he cared for her…He texted her almost the second her plane landed. He must have tracked the flight online to see that it was on the ground. It made her smile.
Eddie text back the she was safe and the sky was a big and beautiful as the brochures promised. As Eddie walked into the chateau that would house the members of the conference, she was taken back by its beauty. There were wood fire places, gorgeous masonry, and oak wood desks, tables, and furniture. A sign indicated that she would register on line A-J…she headed to that area and stood still.
The lines were long, but the people handing the check-in were polite and efficient. She tossed her long blonde main off her neck when it was her turn and smiled, "Janko," she told the clerk. "Manhasset, New York."
The clerk checked her in and handed her the room key. "You're in building ten, room 416. That is this building, the elevator is down the hall and your room will be to the right."
Eddie smiled her thanks and started off towards the elevator bank. She passed the K-Q line and finally the R-Z, the longest line. As she walked she got a whiff of after shave, a soft scent, clean, but ruggedly masculine…she only knew one man that wore that particular brand in her life, though she supposed here there were plenty of them.
Eddie couldn't help herself though, she turned her head toward the line labeled R-Z. She nearly fell over. This was her crappy luck, it really was. There, fourth from the front of his line, was Jamie Reagan, no doubt representing his family and the NYPD.
Eddie remembered the day they ended their four year partnership like it was yesterday. She never felt such pain in her heart than she did the day Jamie sat in front of her at O'Keefe's. Eddie thought he was about to suggest they finally make the switch. He was dressed nicely in khaki slacks and a blue shirt wearing the same aftershave she just smelled only a few minutes ago. He let her order, and he didn't make fun of her girly drink. When they had finished, Jamie took her hands into his, his skin so warm and soft, but not too soft. Eddie saw his chest heave as she took a breath then, "Eddie, I'm getting married next month."
Eddie felt like she had been punched in the gut. She stared, mouth agape at Jamie for a solid minute before stuttering an attempt at congratulations. She read the whole thing wrong, the kiss, his feelings, the dance, all of it…Jamie was still speaking. "It's something I have to do. During that time we were apart, and we were trying so hard not to cross the line, I went out and I got drunk with some of the guys. I was stupid and…I got her pregnant Eddie, I made a fellow officer pregnant and I have to do that right thing."
Eddie had protested with him, nowadays the right thing was child support and coaching Little League, he didn't have to marry her, he must have wanted to. Eddie couldn't hide the tears for long, she got up quickly. "I'm glad you can do the right thing by her, Jamie. You sure as Hell couldn't do the right thing by me."
Those were the last words they spoke to each other, Eddie resigned her position with the NYPD effectively immediately and with Renzulli's help secured a positon in Nassau county as an SVU detective. That was three months ago, Jamie's baby was due in a few months, yet he was here…That was puzzling.
Eddie turned and headed to her room, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of cops here, what were the odds they would see each other even from afar? A million to one…
Eddie thought that Jamie missed her, she had no way of knowing that he had gotten a manifest and knew she would be there representing the SVU for Nassau County. That was one of the reasons he agreed to be a speak at this conference that and he needed a break.
The last three months had been like a nightmare for him. Claudia had a rough pregnancy so far, emotionally, and the tension had been overpowering. When Claudia told him she was pregnant, Jamie couldn't believe it, but a couple of hours spent with the math told him it was entirely possible. A CVS test pretty much cinched the deal, he was going to be a father and he had to do the right thing by this woman. Jamie had agonized over it, but in the end he heard his mother's voice, telling him about responsibility, duty, God…Jamie had no choice.
After Eddie left the bar that night, Jamie doubled over in pain. He wanted to explore their relationship, but more than that, he wanted to keep the deep friendship they had made. Jamie knew it was totally unrealistic to do that, and totally unfair as well. The heart wanted what it wanted…
Eddie disappeared down the hallway, her room was in this building. So was his. Jamie had called, texted, and emailed for almost three weeks after Eddie left the bar that night. All had gone unanswered. Jamie didn't want to leave things the way he did in that bar. It hurt, it physically hurt to be away from Eddie.
Eddie felt eyes on her, how could he have seen her already? How would he even know to look? Eddie ducked into her room quickly and double bolted the door. She did NOT want to see Jamie. It hurt too much, way too much.
Eddie's phone rang, it was Tom. She picked up and smiled, "Hey, handsome, how are you?"
"Missing you, I'm glad you got there okay," Tom replied. "You forgot your scarf and it's cold there even in the spring so I sent it overnight."
"You are too good to me," Eddie sighed. She had just had a bad cold and still have the cough to go with it.
"Nothing is too good for my girl," Tom replied. "When you get home, I want to go to Café Bacci for capellini cakes and veal parmigiana. Something to look forward to, right?"
"Right," Eddie replied. The pair talked a few more minutes, "Well the first speaker is coming up in about a half hour and I have to get the lay of the land. I'll call you before bed, okay?"
"Okay," Tom replied. "I love you."
"Me too," Eddie replied and hung up the phone.
Jamie had his eyes peeled for Eddie at the beginning of the convention. He stood near the back door…Eddie saw him as she approached and turned to head in through the outside French doors. Jamie sighed, if she was trying to avoid him she couldn't do a better job at it. He'd have to be more discreet if he wanted to get a word with his old friend and partner.
Jamie took a seat in the back near the juice, coffee, and cookies. If he knew Eddie she's be back here for a snack. From a distance though she looked amazing. She lost a few pounds, her hair was as glossy and silky as ever, but her face…there was something about it.
The speaker called the event to order, this one was on "Giving the Power Back" It was on the art of questioning sexual assault victims. Sadly, that was something not enough cops knew how to do. This talk was being given by Former Rye Beach Commissioner Tony Schembri, Eddie idolized him.
Eddie watched the speaker and diligently took notes. Jamie watched Eddie. He had to find a way to talk to her, to see she was okay…to let her see that he was not. It was easy to fool Danny, Erin, his Dad, but Eddie she'd see right through it all, she always did.
Jamie expected Eddie to hang back and try to talk to Commissioner Schembri, so as the talk wound down he darted to the center to get a hold of her as she went to pass him. Eddie outsmarted him again, she went out the side door before Jamie had a chance to catch up.
That went on for the rest of that first day and into the second. It was like Eddie has eyes in the back of her head, she was avoiding him, Jamie was certain. Jamie began to check into area bars and restaurants with a happy hour or wings. He could maybe catch her going there. He didn't expect to finally see her coming back from the steam room, the hallway to her room had no escape, finally she was in his grasp.
Eddie felt Jamie's eyes close in on her, she darted sideways trying to get away…Jamie went around the other side, that supply closet she was going to hide in had two doors.
Eddie gasped when she sensed Jamie in the closet with her. At first the silence was deafening. Everything that Jamie wanted to say left his head. He was overcome with the urge to hold her. She looked so cute, hair a little frizzy, face a touch pink…Jamie found his voice first. "Finally, it's been almost three days," Jamie replied. "You're really good at avoiding me."
"Apparently not good enough," Eddie replied. "What are you doing here? This is not your show, Reagan. You aren't a conference kind of guy."
"Well, I am now," Jamie replied. "I…needed a break and I saw you were…I saw you were going to be…You never called me back, you never answered my texts…"
"Why would I?" Eddie asked. "You are a married man with a baby on the way, why would I engage you?"
"Because we're best friends," Jamie replied quickly, his hand going to hold Eddie's arms so she couldn't escape.
"Wrong, Reagan," Eddie almost hissed, all of her anger coming up. "We were best friends."
Jamie sucked in a long breath, "Eddie…can we just talk it out? Please, let's talk it out."
"What is there to talk about? You did get married, I can feel your ring! Is she still having a baby?"
"Yes," Jamie replied. "Claudia is having a baby, but Eddie…"
"Then, honey, we are where we are," Eddie replied. 'Please let me go."
"Can I see you again?" Jamie asked as he let her arms go. "Before we go, meet me for breakfast tomorrow."
Eddie took a breath, "Jamie, we are here for four more days, and I am going to try not to see you in that time. I can't see you, you have to understand. It's just too hard."
Eddie pulled back and turned on her heel leaving Jamie standing in the closet, staring after her.
Jamie's cell phone began to ring, Claudia's ring tone. Jamie picked up the phone, "Hey…"
"You didn't call me back," she accused sharply. "It's your fault I'm here sick with kid. You could at least call me back."
Jamie sighed. First it was accusations, then insults, it was Hell on earth. Pure Hell.
A/N -Thanks to all my regular readers, followers, and guests that have come to check out this story's debut. You make it such a rewarding experience to share stories and ideas in a public forum. Through this hobby, I met my good friend and now co-author NancyReviews. We have put a lot of time into making this story something we hope everyone enjoys.
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