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A New Normal

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Sidling into the cab was nothing short of a reprieve. He released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, and he didn’t care that the first breath after that was filled with stale smoke and the smell of rain.

He smelled oregano too, and it made him shudder. What the hell had happened? Was it a tough case? Was she just overworked, emotionally spent?

He doubted that. For all she’d told him to let Sandbrook go, for all her judgment about his ‘obsession’, he knew the truth. He’d worked with her: he knew that she was just as focused as he’d ever been, the only difference was that she never connected with the case. She worked tirelessly—and she was good at it, for the most part—she just didn’t care. Not like he did.

But he supposed that could change. Maybe whatever case she was working had hit close to home. Or maybe she was finally repenting.

He didn’t care. He was just glad to be gone. And if he was taking Daisy to university alone, he might not need to see Tess again for a considerable length of time, which was a relief in and of itself.

The cab dropped him in front of his hotel, and he was quick to get in, check in, and get up to the seclusion of his room, where he abandoned his bag in the corner and promptly shucked his jacket, chucked his shoes.

The rest of his clothes he dumped in the cushy armchair by the window, and then he showered.

It was half ten by the time he dropped onto the bed beside his phone and wallet, and as he moved them to the bedside table, his phone buzzed.

‘Thank you’, from Miller.

He wondered how she was. He could guess, of course, but a nagging feeling made him wish he knew. Maybe that was why he’d needed to tell her he’d left Broadchurch: so that she’d know where he was in case she needed him. He couldn’t fathom why she would, but just in case.

That’s what he’d told himself, ‘just in case’. He’d be back in a few days, anyway; he’d check on the Millers then.

And in the meantime: ‘Go to sleep, Miller’, he typed. ‘You’re not on duty, so sleep while you can.’

He erased it though. He knew she wouldn’t sleep, and as much as he wished it would, a joke probably wouldn’t help anything.

He set the phone back down on the table, and turned out the light.