Prologue

"I am in love with you," she announced blankly, unable to keep it to herself any longer. Today she had lost everything. Her best friend could not even look her in the eyes anymore because she was disappointed. The fact is that even though Tasha was now aware of having made a mistake all that the brunette had always wanted was to protect her. Keaton's orders had never weighed in the balance. Jane and Kurt, despite their apparent understanding, also seemed to have lost self-confidence. Even Rich, to whom she had never been close, now seemed hostile to her. She understood them. After all, it was Borden. Only the Hispanics could not bear the idea that they think she wanted to harm them. This choice had eaten him up to the point that she had almost gone mad, but she had put Patterson's well-being before hers, as she always had. That day had been hell so when Reade entered this bar, adorable and attentive, as usual; she could not resist. He kept telling her that he would always be there for her, but he did not realize it was killing her slowly. No longer able to bear the pain, the loneliness, and the pretense, she had therefore decided to drop the bomb. However, when she saw her partner's facial expression change, she immediately regretted it.

"Sorry, I should not have told you."

"Of course, you should not have. Tasha, I am engaged ... Where does it come from?"

"What?"

"Two years ago, I kissed you and you pushed me away so I can know why you are taking this out for me now?"

"You had just been buried alive and you said that these were the painkillers," she retorted, feeling that the too full of feelings that she had kept buried for several years was in the process of overwhelming her. At this remark, he froze. The young man did not expect the evening to take this turn. At one time he had loved her so deeply that it had devoured him and now he had come to realize that all his years of doubt, of separation, had not been caused by the lack of reciprocity of his feelings but by his stupidity.

"It ... I have to go," he hastened to declare before getting up from his chair, unable to think in her presence.

"Reade, wait," Zapata, who was now crying, implored. She watched him go as she had previously feared. Unable to bear the weight of her pain any longer, she recommended several drinks to forget everything as quickly as possible. After nearly two hours of swallowing tequila and peanuts, the bartender refused to serve her and called her a taxi. She returned home completely drunk and still so sad.

For his part, Edgar wandered the street completely haggard and lost. When the policeman received this message asking him not to come, he worried about her, knowing very well the impact that this day would have. Nevertheless, he had not imagined that she would admit her feelings to him, even less than she would trace them back to their kiss exchanged two years earlier. When he thought about it he realized that he had not made her job easier because at the time he had not been truly clear about his feelings. Now that he had learned of her love for him several little things came to mind, making him feel even more silly. He should have noticed. Her constant attention, her loyalty should have guided him. She almost begged him to ask her to stay. He should have noticed. All he could focus on now was the pain in her eyes when he showed her the ring or announced his engagement to them. My god, he was blind. To make matters worse he had just behaved like the biggest idiot by letting her drink and cry alone in this bar. He should have stayed. Only there was Megan. They were going to get married and he loved her, away. With her, everything was simple while with Tasha it was intense and complicated. They both had so many pans behind them that their fears had made them unable to communicate. He could no longer count the number of times he wanted to stop her from leaving for the CIA, the number of calls he wanted to make to apologize and beg her to come back. Damn what she may have missed during this year. After sitting at the counter of a bar Reade felt his inhibitions drop. The assistant director needed his few drinks to give him courage. He had realized that no matter how hard he struggled, his feelings for her were visceral. He could not fight them, at least not tonight. Quickly he paid for his drinks and hailed a taxi to his best friend's house. Given the time it must have been at home. Finally, he hoped because of her blood-alcohol level and her sadness, only God knew where it could lead her. Reade did not know what he was going to do or say. He was way too drunk to have a plan. Only he was sure of one thing; he needed her. About a quarter of an hour later the young man arrived at his destination and climbed 4 to 4 the steps leading to her apartment.

"Tasha, open the door," he shouted, pounding on the door after seeing the light. For several minutes he continued his ride, aware that she probably had no desire to see him.

"For the love of God can you be silent? I am trying to sleep and then you are going to wake my neighbors," Zapata grumbled, opening the door ten minutes later visibly exasperated. She was now wearing black jogging pants and an extra-large white sweater. She had removed her makeup which allowed Reade to see the traces of tiredness on her face. Her friend had been hiding them for weeks. It was also more than obvious that she had cried, enormously. Despite this, he still found her exceptionally beautiful.

"We need to talk," he announced softly. He did not want to rush her or force her to do anything that she did not want.

"I have no desire to speak. I should have kept my mouth shut. Forget it and go home to see your future wife," she retorted bitterly. Tasha was so sad and tired. Everything had become too hard and she had to set limits before she could not break up.

"I won't leave until we have done it, even if that implies that I spend the night in this corridor," he affirmed with determination. Reade also could not keep hiding. Understanding that he would not give up, she returned to her living room, leaving the door open. The young man joined her immediately but could not speak. She looked so sad that it broke his heart. Besides, he also felt guilty about Megan. He would screw everything up.

"You do not have to take pity on me. It is not worth the trouble."

"How long you have kept this for yourself?" He could not help but ask. The pretty brunette turned her head to try to hide her tears. She now looked out the window.

"I think I understood it the day you told me you were going out with Sarah," she said with difficulty. Edgar closed his eyes, startled. It had been five years since he had told her about his story with Sarah Weller. How the hell could she keep it to herself for so long? How had he not seen it? Even more, how had she done to suffer during all this time without ever cracking? The young man knew that Tasha did not like to express her feelings. She had always hated feeling vulnerable. However, at the time he had hoped that she would feel confident enough to be herself in his presence.

"Why do not you …? Finally, after we split up I was single for a long time so ..."
"What? What would you have wanted me to do? I could not decently show up at your place and admit that I was crazy about you, at the risk of losing the only person I felt safe with. You do not know me, Reade. You have no idea of everything I have been through. So, stop believing that you can save me because that is far from the case. It has been a long time since I understood that nothing could happen between us. Megan is perfect for you and I am glad you found happiness only you have to stop all this because I no longer have the strength."

"What do I stop? Worrying about you, wanting you to be happy. This is what I have always done, and this is not about to change. I care about you Tasha and it is not because you think you are too damaged that it is true. You are ... I ..."

"Please do not finish this sentence. I am tired of suffering and I cannot bear to see you hate me or run away from me. Tomorrow morning, I will call Keaton and I ask to be transferred. I know some particularly good agents who can replace me quickly. Now come out of my house," the Hispanic announced with tears in his eyes. She had no desire to leave the team again. Only she could no longer fight and staying would destroy her slowly. Finally, the brunette was at the same turning point as two years ago: stay for him or leave to try not to make her heartbreak again.

"I could never hate you or run away from you. Please, Tasha, do not go," the deputy director implored unable to imagine her life without her. No matter how conflicting their relationship was, the idea that she would disappear again was inconceivable. He had ideas clouded by alcohol and his feelings, but the young man was certain that he would never make the same mistake again.

"It has been a long time since I have had any reason to stay," the brunette concluded sadly. She was no longer bitter but simply tired.

Unable to resist any longer Reade brushed aside doubt and guilt to close the space between their two bodies. Without giving her time to protest, he turned her around and rested his lips on those of her teammate. After a few seconds to realize what was happening Zapata fully let go of this embrace. It was so nice that she could not think anymore. He had put his hands around her waist when hers were grabbed at the back of his neck. His smell made her capsize and the tenderness of his lips was astounding. He pressed her against the wall, deepening their kiss even more. Tasha automatically tied her legs around his waist making the space between them completely void. Out of breath, they parted, and Edgar slid his mouth from his ear to the hollow of her neck. This gesture made her moan automatically. Coupled with the friction of their two bodies, the beautiful policewoman shifted into high gear and began to take off her clothes. He started to do the same and a few minutes later the two lovers found themselves in their underwear lying on the bed. That night they made love for long hours, letting talk about all that they had kept for them until then. They were uninhibited by alcohol and pain. None of them had the strength to worry about tomorrow, the consequences it could have on the future. All that counted was their union. Edgar whispered sweet words in her ear, revealing to her all that he had never dared to say until now. Tasha gave herself headlong in their embrace, forgetting the pain, frustration, and sadness. When they fell asleep that night the two lovers had no idea what would happen next or even their reaction once the alcohol had given way to a good hangover, but he was certain that nothing would be the same.