The Past Week 6, Day 1: Sunday

"Good morning," Lucy chirps happily as she walks into her bedroom.

Or perhaps it's their bedroom now.

Tim had cheekily suggested Lucy move in with him last night — an idea she summarily rejected on the grounds that she had the better room. But she had been gracious enough to let him stay the night with her.

Tim yawns, stretching his arms lazily over his head. It's been a long time since he's allowed himself to sleep in like this on a Sunday. But Lucy had insisted he needed the rest, tiredly tugging on his arm to stop him from getting up when his alarm had gone off several hours earlier for his morning run.

He'd ultimately given in — the world wouldn't end if he skipped one run. And it was hard to say no to her adorably sleepy face. And it's not like he hadn't gotten plenty of a totally different kind of workout the day and night prior.

She sets a glass of what appears to be green sludge on the nightstand next to him before climbing over him to reclaim her spot on the bed. "I made you breakfast," she explains sweetly.

He eyes the concoction warily. "What is it?"

"It's one of your protein smoothies, you dummy."

He arches an eyebrow. Somehow his vanilla protein shakes don't typically come out quite so green. And he's not sure he'd ever seen quite that shade of green in a smoothie.

"What else did you put in it?" he asks, lifting an arm around her as she burrows closer into his side.

"All sorts of good stuff. Ashwagandha, kale, maca…"

"Yum," he deadpans.

"Just try it…." She kisses his cheek. "And I may have made waffles too."

The sound of her sweet laughter rings in his ears when he rolls on top of her and practically mauls her, chaotically nuzzling and kissing and nipping at her face and neck and shoulder.

She squirms underneath him. "Tim," she attempts to protest through her laughter as she tries to latch her hands around his neck and hold him still.

He finally relents and he is immediately rewarded with the feeling of her soft lips capturing his own.

He stares down at her, a light airy feeling filling up his chest.

It's been so damn long since he's felt this light and free and warm on the inside, especially when everything else in his world feels so heavy and dark. But being with her in moments like this — it sneaks up on him.

"God, you make me happy." And as soon as the words leave his mouth he knows without a doubt they are true.

Her eyes soften and she smiles with so much affection, he's not sure his heart can handle it if she keeps looking at him like that. She arches up to press a quick kiss to the tip of his nose.

And that's it. He's had it. He is never, ever letting her go.

Her lips curve upward and her eyes sparkle as she continues to gaze up at him. "Mmm… that's all well and good, but, tell me, Tim, do I get you hot?"

Then again…

He stares at her in shock for a moment before bursting into laughter.

"I'm not touching that one. You're kind of a little asshole sometimes, you know that?"

"Do you think I'm making a mistake? By not seeing my dad?" Tim eyes Lucy over his mug of coffee and plate of waffles.

The question surprises Lucy, since this is obviously a topic that's difficult for Tim to talk about.

She takes him in. His eyes are uncertain in a way that makes him seem so much younger, and for a moment it's like she's seeing the sad and confused child in place of the man who is understandably full of anger and resentment toward his father.

She reaches for his hand, and he bristles. She tries not to let it get to her as she tangles her fingers with his; it's clear that accepting kindness and affection in these moments of vulnerability doesn't come naturally to him.

And if it were up to her, she'd get even closer — but she settles for squeezing his fingers, not wanting to make him feel uncomfortable.

"You know I can't answer that for you. I obviously don't know very much about what you went through as a kid, Tim. But I heard enough to — I can only imagine how powerless you felt. You didn't get to choose the hand you were dealt back then, but you aren't that kid anymore….

"If you don't want to see him, or you don't want to go back to the house — you get to make your own choices now, Tim. And your choices are valid. And they matter."

Her eyes fill as she remembers how harshly he'd judged himself at dinner on Friday.

"I also don't think having boundaries makes you less of a brother or son. But you're allowed to change your mind or to feel overwhelmed or unsure. It's a lot, Tim."

He nods, shifting his gaze away from hers as he swallows. His voice is thick when his eyes find their way back to her face. "Thank you. For saying that."

"For whatever it's worth, Tim, I'll support whatever you decide."

He holds her gaze and the depth of the sadness in his eyes makes her ache.

"It's worth quite a bit, Lucy."

Week 6, Day 4: Wednesday

Tim's eyes flit toward the door when Lucy enters the apartment that evening, one eye on her and one eye on the Dodgers.

Her cheeks are still flushed from her exercise class and a few damp strands of hair have escaped her high ponytail to frame her face. His mind immediately jumps to how good it had felt to be tangled up with her sweaty naked body that morning before their alarms had gone off, both knowing they'd regret giving up those last precious moments of sleep but also not caring enough to stop themselves. Same as every other morning that week. And night.

Needless to say, Tim had been rigorous in his commitment to overcoming any lingering challenges in the bedroom, and all of the practice had certainly paid off for them both.

She drops her duffel to the floor before bending to greet Kojo and remove her sneakers. The Dodgers are forgotten as he's distracted by the view, mentally thanking whoever it was that invented leggings.

He averts his eyes as she quickly straightens. She points at him accusingly, "Uh uh uh. I saw that. You're shameless, Tim Bradford."

He shrugs unapologetically, eyes continuing to roam over every inch of her. "Don't put on the show if you don't want me to watch, Lucy."

She purses her lips and shakes her head, eyes crinkling with good humor, "Absolutely shameless."

His attention is drawn back to the game as the bases become loaded off of a single.

"Don't forget your bag," he reminds her as she begins to move toward her bedroom, his eyes not leaving the screen.

He doesn't have to see her to know she's rolling her eyes as she turns back for the bag, grumbling something under her breath that sounds suspiciously like, "I'm bringing crackers to bed tonight."

After her shower, Lucy joins Tim on the couch, swinging her feet up onto his lap as she opens her laptop to continue working. Tim mindlessly rubs her feet, only giving her his full attention when the game goes to commercial.

He frowns, eyeing the well-worn Dodgers tee she's put on over those sexy cut-offs of hers. He'd been searching for it before the game. Next time he's going to start the search in her room. "You know that's my favorite shirt, right?"

She makes a disinterested humming sound, not looking up from the computer.

"I'm not going to have anything left to wear if you keep stealing all of my clothes, you know?" he attempts again.

She lifts her gaze, eyes sparkling playfully. "And that would be a problem because...?" She nudges his thigh with her toes. "Besides, I don't steal, I recycle. I like it better when they smell like you…" she adds coyly.

And just like that, his irritation dissipates. Could she be any cuter? He doesn't think so.

She lets out a squeak of surprise when he grabs hold of her ankles and tugs her until she's lying flat on her back on the couch.

He makes quick work of climbing on top of her, unceremoniously swinging her laptop onto the coffee table before she can deliver a lecture on unwarranted brutality to her electronic devices.

He nuzzles his face into the crook of her neck, and he has to admit, there might be something to her kleptomania. The scent of himself on her skin is certainly a turn-on. Then again, so is everything else about her.

Their eyes meet when he pulls back to look at her, and he can practically feel her anticipation sending a thrill through his own body as she gazes up at him.

Her lips form a pout when he doesn't make a move and she wraps her arm around his neck in an attempt to pull him closer. He grins when she hooks one of her legs around him, his hand automatically moving to admire her thigh.

When he finally dips his head, he delivers a simple peck, and she groans, opening her mouth to complain about his cruel and unnecessary teasing. He takes the opportunity to capture her full lips with his own, tongue slipping in her mouth to explore as she tightens her hold and returns the favor.

The soft moan that he elicits from her as his fingers progress further north, tangling with the frayed edges of her cut-offs, is almost distracting enough for him to forget about the game. Almost.

He pulls back as the commercial break ends, but she hangs on, lips chasing his for more, and he chuckles as he gently extracts himself from her hold.

He palms her breast as he retreats, thumb and forefinger coming together to teasingly squeeze the pebbled peak of her nipple through the thin cotton of her recycled shirt before releasing her and returning to the other end of the couch.

"Hold that thought," he instructs, returning his focus to the screen.

She huffs an aggrieved sigh as she pushes herself back up into a seated position and reaches to retrieve her computer. "You're so romantic, Tim."

By the fourth inning, Lucy's given up on work and allowed Tim to wrap himself around her like a burrito, nuzzling and kissing and adoring her at his will while she scrolls social media on her phone.

The Dodgers are up to bat when a breaking news bulletin interrupts the game.

"Oh come on," Tim grumbles something about reporters under his breath as Lucy turns her attention to the television.

"Wildfires continue to rage in the San Joaquin Valley; though no injuries have been reported thus far, officials advise caution as firefighters are still struggling to bring things under control with the fire currently at 0% containment. Evacuations are currently underway in Sierra Vista and residents in the surrounding areas are advised to remain vigilant."

"God that must be so terrifying," Lucy says, shaking her head in disbelief as Tim pushes himself to a seated position. "Do you ever feel like you're crazy for living here?"

He pulls Lucy up behind him as she follows suit, bringing her hand to his lips once they're both upright.

"There are a lot of things that I think are pretty crazy," he gazes fondly at her. "Doesn't mean I'm not gonna do them."

"You're such an idiot," she laughs as he leans in to nudge her cheek with his nose, the Breaking News transition screen briefly appearing before the station flips to a commercial.

Lucy shifts, reaching a hand to the back of his neck as she tilts her head back and pulls him down to meet her lips. He sighs with pleasure against her mouth as she threads her fingers through his hair. She is soft and warm and so damn addictive.

"We should probably get started on dinner," he suggests even as he slides his hand under her shirt, flattening his palm against her lower back to pull her even closer. He raises his other hand to cradle her cheek as he takes control of their kiss.

Then again…

"Maybe we'll order in," he offers against her lips.

"Maybe we should go to bed early," she counters.

Tim laughs out loud; it's barely even 6:30, and yet…

They both startle, breaking apart in response to a rap on their door.

"Did you just manifest a food delivery?" Lucy laughs before frowning. "It's weird that nobody buzzed in."

Tim nods as he climbs to his feet, "Do you mind putting Kojo in the bedroom?" The dog is already raucously barking in response to the unexpected arrival. "I'll see who it is."

"Tim." It's so soft it's barely even a breath. Her beautiful blue eyes are uncertain, and for a moment, it's like he's looking at a ghost. Staring at a specter of the woman he'd loved with his whole entire being before she had shattered his heart into a million jagged pieces. Before her addiction had all but destroyed them both.

She looks good. Incredible, even. Healthy.


He gapes at her.

She takes a deep breath, nervously tucking a strand of shiny blonde hair back behind her ear. "I'm sorry to just show up here. I know this is nuts. I just — it felt weird to call after so long. And I followed someone in because I — I thought it would just be easier if we could talk face-to-face…"

He hasn't seen her in almost a year, not since even before the divorce was finalized. Not since that morning she'd woken up from a weeks-long coma and told him in no uncertain terms that she never wanted to see him again. That she'd never forgive him for what had happened to her.

Isabel's gaze shifts over his shoulder in response to Lucy coming back out of the bedroom and closing the door behind her to secure Kojo. "Is that her?"

He ignores her, still trying to make sense of what's happening right in front of him — what she could possibly be doing on his doorstep.

"Isabel — what are you doing here?"

He hears a sharp intake of breath, and he turns to see Lucy standing uncertainly a few feet behind him.

And for a moment, he sees her how Isabel must be seeing her — rumpled clothes and tousled hair and swollen lips and wearing his favorite shirt.

"Isabel…?" Lucy says the name slowly, almost like she's speaking a foreign language.

The two women silently study each other until Tim realizes he needs to say something. He steps back so Isabel can enter the apartment.

"Erm… Isabel, this is Lucy. Lucy, this is Isabel."

Lucy is the first to break the silence, offering Isabel a welcoming smile and a slightly awkward wave. "Hi! I'm Lucy — but, uh, obviously you already know that." She laughs nervously as her cheeks tinge pink. "It's really nice to meet you, Isabel. Can I — can I get you anything to drink?"

And if the circumstances were different, he might be tempted to laugh out loud at the reminder of just how awkward Lucy can be when she's uncomfortable, though still unbelievably kind and warm.

Isabel politely declines, and they all turn to glance toward the TV as another Breaking News update begins, footage of the rapidly spreading flames accompanied by a voiceover with the latest update.

"Prisoner rights advocates are sounding the alarm as the fire begins to close in on Chowchilla, threatening both the Central California Women's Facility and the Valley State Prison. The Central California Women's Facility is the largest female correctional facility in the United States and houses the only State of California death row for women. Valley State Prison is the most overcapacity prison in California.

"Advocates say their warning calls for preparedness following Oregon's disastrous prison evacuations in 2020 have been largely ignored by the state, despite the growing risk. We are still awaiting a response from the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."

"Wow," Isabel says softly.

"That's going to be a damned mess," Tim shakes his head, turning back to continue the conversation when the TV returns to commercial.

Lucy's still staring at the screen, though, seemingly in a daze.

"Lucy?" he tries, despite feeling a little in a daze himself as he glances back at Isabel.

Lucy slowly turns to face them, a distracted expression on her face.

Recalling how upset she'd been about the city's handling of the virus, he has to wonder if she's already writing her next scathing call for reform in her head.

"Um, listen, I'm just gonna let you two…" she gestures to the bedroom, only stopping to grab her phone and tablet off of the kitchen bar before hurrying into her room, not bothering to spare either of them another look.

Tim shakes his head at the abrupt shift in her demeanor, but then again he's not entirely sure a meeting between his estranged ex-wife and his new reality TV wife could be anything other than a little bit strange.

Lucy closes the door behind her, leaning back against it and squeezing her eyes shut.

It's irrational to be worried, she tries to tell herself, though she's not entirely sure which situation she's attempting to dismiss.

Is it Tim's beautiful ex-wife — the woman he had actually chosen to marry, his partner in the marriage he would have done anything to save — showing up unannounced?

She shakes her head. She's being ridiculous. They were married for over a decade. That's not the type of relationship that just disappears. She's his family. This was bound to happen at some point.

And unless Tim tells her she has something to worry about, she certainly has other things to obsess about.

Like the fires nearing Chowchilla.

There's nothing to worry about.

There's every likelihood that the fires will never reach the prison.

And even if they do, there are protocols for this. Procedures. Somebody out there has to have a plan.

And even if they do, The Central California Woman's Facility is 254.6 miles away. A number she'd looked up even before moving into their temporary apartment. A strange tick she's adopted in the aftermath.

And even if they do, she'll be notified well in advance if there's a legitimate concern or threat.

She sucks in another slow, deep breath, before swiping to the VINE app on her phone. Victim Information and Notification Everyday. Situations like this one are the very reason this victim notification network exists, right?

Her heart drops into her stomach when she sees the status on her screen:


Custody Record




CA: Central California Women's Facility

ID Number246***

Custody StatusUnavailable

Custody DetailUnavailable

This agency is temporarily offline.

Her hand flies to her mouth to muffle her reaction. And even as a familiar feeling that all of the oxygen has been sucked out of the room begins to form in her chest, she forces herself to take a deep slow breath before stumbling across the room to open the balcony door.

She blinks back the tears that are blurring her vision as the fresh air immediately calms her.

She's overreacting.

Rosalind is 254.6 miles away. Locked away in a maximum security cell.

A power outage amidst wildfires is normal.

An obscenely insane amount of variables would have to align for this to be any kind of credible threat to her safety. And on the one-in-a-million chance Rosalind managed to somehow make a prison break and survive the fires, she'd be idiotic to risk her freedom by coming after Lucy.

Even still, she sends a text to the one person who will completely understand.

"She's pretty," Isabel offers.

Tim nods uncomfortably. "How did you know where to find me?"

"I still have some friends in the department," she explains. "But trust me — I didn't believe them at first. I thought for sure they were just messing with me. Never in a million years would I have thought you'd sign up for something like this… I can't believe you're actually going to be on a reality TV show."

Tim hesitates, not entirely sure how to respond because while, yes, the reality TV aspect of all of this is ridiculous, the connection he's built with Lucy is not.

He is, however, deeply grateful that they aren't filming today. This is the exact type of drama the producers would salivate over.

He finally shrugs, "You know how Angela and Genny can be when they get an idea in their head."

She nods, a sad, slightly wistful smile gracing her lips. He feels a pang deep in his gut as memories of group date nights and family dinners and holiday celebrations and how close they all once were flood his mind. It feels like remembering another life.

"So… it's real then. You're really married?" Her gaze is heavy with the weight of their shared grief, and Tim can feel that very same weight settling in his own chest.

He swallows. "Yeah. That's kind of how it works."

They are quiet for a few moments, and Tim finds himself remembering how easy it was to get lost in her eyes.

"You look good, Iz."

"Thanks. I — I'm feeling a lot better too. Eleven months, 22 days, 13 hours. Turns out the key to getting sober was getting shot in the head and being in a coma for the hardest part of withdrawal."

He stares at her, not finding the humor in her attempted joke, instead feeling a little like he's been punched in the stomach, dark fingers of grief and guilt and resentment beginning to clench around his insides.

"Listen, I know what I said when I woke up, Tim. I know how much I hurt you, and you have every right to be angry with me —"

"I don't want to be angry with you. What are you doing here, Isabel?" his voice is harsher this time, with a twinge of desperation, but he doesn't need this uninvited trip down memory lane. Not when he is finally, finally feeling something that feels a lot like happiness again.

She takes a deep breath, pressing her eyes closed, and Tim immediately knows it's not something he is going to want to hear.

She meets his eyes. "I'm being investigated. IA is looking at all of the cases I worked in the six months before I was fired, and Tim — you know what things were like back then. I don't even know what they're going to find — about me… About you…"

Tim feels his jaw tighten.

Two years ago, Isabel had been fired for cause by the LAPD. She'd become a liability and they were ready to wash their hands of her. Her service and the unimaginable sacrifices she'd made in the line of duty had been so easily wiped away in the face of an addiction that was spiraling out of control.

He had tried desperately to help her hang on to her job — made choices that he knows won't look so great in the light of day — because he had known it was the last thing tethering her to who she was before the drugs had taken over, the last thing tethering her to him and the life they'd built together. And he'd been right.

Because the morning after she was fired, she'd walked out on him. Just up and left without a word.

He couldn't tell you much about the next year of his life after that — a blur of agonizing and searching and hoping. Unable to move on without knowing what had happened to her.

And then, almost a year to the day, he'd received a call from the hospital informing him that Isabel had overdosed.

The next month had been one of the most painful in his life. Somehow even more painful during his time in limbo, because back then, he'd at least still had hope. He'd naively thought that finding her meant he still had a chance of reaching her.

Instead, she'd been so strung out, she barely even seemed to remember who he was. And when she did, she made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with him. Despite that, he had still enabled her. Giving her money and swiping NARCAN and trading favors to get charges dropped because he couldn't bear the thought of turning his back on her. Of not helping her when he had the chance.

And then she had been busted with her boyfriend's stash, and suddenly she was begging and pleading with him to help her. To cross a line he wouldn't be able to come back from.

She'd been forced to become a confidential informant to avoid jail time and was sent into a situation that very nearly cost her her life, despite Tim's every effort to protect her.

He'll never, ever forget what it was like seeing her limp, lifeless body being lifted from that dumpster. What it felt like keeping vigil at her side, praying for her recovery and for a second chance for them to build a life together. Not knowing if she'd ever wake up. Hating himself more with every passing hour.

Painful as it was, the morning she woke up and tore his heart out for what felt like the millionth time was the turning point. It had gutted him to accept that he had failed her, but all of the fight had simply flooded out of him.

He gave her what she wanted. Walked away. Filed for divorce. Did his best to move on with his life even though it felt like he'd never be whole again.

Isabel's voice wavers slightly as she continues. "They've been asking me to come in. And I know I shouldn't have, but I've been avoiding it because I'm scared, Tim. And now," she swallows, "they said if I didn't come in tonight, they'll put a warrant out for my arrest. I just — I don't know if I can handle this. I'm finally back on my feet and trying to move forward and now it's like I'm being pulled right back into —" her voice breaks as tears well in her eyes.

She had lost so much for this job; they both had. The fact that some asshole in IA has decided to pursue this two years later after the department had left her with less than nothing is inconceivable. It's nothing short of enraging.

But rage isn't going to help either one of them right now. He sucks in a breath.

It's strange to think that this is exactly what he had wanted for so damn long. For her to come back to him. For her to be willing to ask for his help. For her to trust him enough to accept it.

It's instinctual — reaching to comfort her when her tears begin to spill over. She melts into his arms in that way that has always somehow felt like it just fits.

He breathes her in, holding her tightly until her tears have stopped flowing. "We'll figure it out, Iz. Okay? I promise."

She takes a deep breath before stepping back from him. "Thank you, Tim. And again — I'm sorry for just showing up like this. Tell Lucy — just makes sure she knows I'm not trying to mess anything up for you two."

He nods, moving to pull the door back open for her. "I'll meet you at the station in an hour."

He knocks softly on the door to Lucy's bedroom, and she jumps from where she is seated on the edge of the bed, tearing her eyes from the tablet. She's gripping the device so tightly that her fingers are turning white.

A tinny voice rings out from the speaker.

"The fires are continuing to spread into the western parts of Madera County, with officials advising Merced County residents to prepare to evacuate if the situation continues to escalate. Vigilance and caution are strongly advised as the fire is currently less than 5% contained.

"We're expecting to hear from the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation within the hour to address the growing concern about public safety as well as the threat to incarcerated populations as the risk to the Chowchilla prison complex continues to increase."

He takes her in, "Are you okay?"

She stares blankly at him for a few moments, almost as if she'd forgotten he was even in the apartment with her.

She finally flips the tablet case closed, setting the device to the side. "Uh. Yeah. I'm fine. How's Isabel?"

Her eyes are already darting back toward the tablet, like she can't bear to not be following the coverage for even half a second.

He crosses the room toward her. "Come here," he gestures for her to stand before opening his arms.

She seems to relax a bit as she steps into his hold. "Sorry. I'm just a little distracted."

"What's going on? Are you worried about the fire? The situation with the prisons?"

She doesn't respond, but he feels her arms tighten slightly around him.

He shakes his head, thinking it would be just like her to be deeply concerned about vulnerable populations in a situation like this, even if they do happen to be criminals.

He pulls back to look at her, raising a hand to cradle her face. "I think your heart is too big for your own good, Lucy. But listen, I know how you media types like to turn everything into a crisis," he teases lightly. "But I promise procedures are in place if an evacuation is needed. Not to mention the preventative measures to stop that from ever even being required — they built the structures and maintain the landscape specifically to limit the risk. I think they even have a dedicated fire brigade.

"And it sounds like they're getting warnings to residential areas with plenty of advance notice, so try not to worry too much, okay?"

She nods, some of the tension easing from her expression. "Yeah. You're right. That all makes sense."

He studies her carefully. "As for this stuff with Isabel, I know it's out of nowhere. I haven't even spoken to her since before the divorce. But listen, I promise I'll tell you everything when I get back."

She jerks back from him. "Wait — you're leaving?" The distress in her tone is unmistakable.

He frowns, brow furrowing as he tries to make sense of her reaction. She seems almost distraught.

"Isabel needs my help with something. I wouldn't go tonight if it wasn't important. We've got to go up to North Hollywood to get it sorted. Hopefully, it doesn't take more than a few hours."

She looks away, biting her lip as she again reaches for the tablet, flipping it back open.

He's not sure he's ever seen her this agitated.

"Lucy, talk to me. What's going on?"

But she's already turned her focus back to the screen.

She doesn't meet his eyes. "Nothing. It's fine, Tim. Do what you need to do."

He stares at her — her lies aren't even marginally convincing.

He shakes his head, running a hand back through his hair in frustration. He doesn't want to be back in this place. Doesn't want to be playing these damn games trying to guess why she won't be straight with him.

But a bigger part of him doesn't want to leave things like this.

"Look, Lucy, if you don't want me to go…"

But she's shaking her head before he can even fully process the idea of having to make a choice.

"No, Tim, that's not — I wouldn't — of course you should go."

She blinks back tears and it makes him feel a bit like crying himself, realizing that she's dealt with far more than her fair share of his baggage. This would be a lot for anyone to process and he's not being fair to her by getting frustrated.

She seems to sense his hesitation, because she drops the tablet and turns back to him, sliding her arms around him. He hugs her tightly to his chest.

"I'm sorry I'm being so — it's just been a weird night," her voice is muffled against his chest. "But you really should go. I'll be fine for a few hours." She tilts her head back to look up at him and swallows. He's again surprised by the intensity of the emotion swirling in her eyes. "But when you get back — Tim, there's something I need to talk to you about, too."

And it makes him want to leave her even less. But he knows the clock is ticking for Isabel. "Are you sure it can wait?"

She pulls him down to meet her lips. "I'm sure."