“Ma’am.” A polite nod.
“Detective.” A courteous half-smile.
He was a detective, and she was a lawyer. He worked on cases all over the city, she worked in a firm in the middle of town. They’d seen each other in random office spaces, passed by each other in courtroom hallways, maybe even dined in the same restaurants with different companions. In hindsight, it may have been difficult to keep missing the other if they even tried.
More often than not, they were on opposing sides in court. He was difficult to convince, she was hard to impress. They thought it would be hard for them to become allies when the case needed them to be, but it wasn’t quite so. He was a man of of intuition and evidence, she was a woman of the law and brandished her weapon of articulate discourse. He secretly admired her tenacity and relentless spirit, she held him in high respect for his contributions to the force and his dedication to public service.
He had big blue eyes that always seemed to find her, she had the curious luck of always running into him. He had the natural charisma of his grandfather, she was armed with a sharp wit and a great sense of humor. He has just broken up with a long-time girlfriend, she had someone she held close to her heart for all the wrong reasons. His experiences taught him to be guarded, hers taught her to be logical and calculative. Neither of them thought more of the other aside from what their jobs defined them to be.
“Miss Schade.” An acknowledging smile.
“Detective Burkhardt.” A soft curl teased on the edge of her lips.
His partner became less subtle about throwing some knowing looks his way, her friend at work started asking her about that man with the blue eyes. He always brushed it off, she always laughed it off. His mind often wandered to his ex, she stayed hopeful that her superior would see her as more than just a colleague. The only time they thought of the other was when they found themselves in the same room together.
He knew he had to move on from his past, she knew she was smarter than this. He stopped coming back to his empty house feeling sorry for himself, she stopped looking for what things she lacked every time she was alone. He devoted himself even more to his work, she made waves within the four walls of the courtroom. He found a deeper purpose in solving cases and helping people, she no longer turned to her superior for validation.
Days, weeks, months passed as they grew as people outside of each other’s circles. Even more time would pass before he had to drop by her law firm for a statement, while she needed to head over to his precinct to ask for documents. They didn’t meet right then, but his partner would tell him about a blonde, and her friend would ask if she remembers blue eyes.
He remembered laughing at her jokes, she remembered falling into easy conversations with him. They didn’t particularly remember the words, but they both knew it had been pleasant in each other’s company.
“Adalind.” A grin with the familiarity of friends.
“Nick.” A smile with the warmth of camaraderie.
He could see his partner wiggling his eyebrows at him, she would answer her friend’s unvoiced questions later after work. He didn’t want to rush into what he was positive could be a good thing, she didn’t want to be ahead of herself and end up like her last romantic conquest. He already knew he liked her after seeing her more, she already knew what that fluttering in her stomach meant before it even happened.
He started to let her catch him staring, she began to let their mutual gazes last a second longer before breaking them. He allowed himself to call her even for non-work-related reasons, she agreed to joining him on a few morning runs and a cup of coffee later. Sometimes they invited a third, or a fourth person, sometimes it was only the two of them. The more they talked, they found there was a lot they didn’t agree on, but there was also much more that they found common ground to stand on until they were facing each other, eye to eye, toe to toe. And even in moments when they found no words to fill the space between them, during mornings when they’d each read newspapers, or on nights when they just walked around the city, it didn’t diminish what they’d built around each other. Whenever it was only the two of them, their silences were charged, and they both could feel the electricity they both generated together.
“Adalind.” Exhilaration made him sound a little breathless.
“Nick.” The happiness in her smile was louder than her own voice.
He started using the word ‘date’ when he called her, she stopped trying to figure things out because they already both knew the answer. He’d always have a box of desserts when he came to the law firm, she’d always have an extra cup of coffee with her when she visited the precinct. He took her to places he’d never taken anyone else to before, she introduced him to all the constellations she made up in the sky. He let her experience him unfiltered, she let him see her in her most vulnerable moments. He spent so much of his weekends with her, she allowed him to take her home a little bit later always.
He could tell something was different about her, and something also changed within him after he met her. She could see that he was smiling more these days, and that getting to know him was helping her become a better version of herself. He knew in his heart that he was ready to try again, she felt it in her bones that she wanted to take the next step. They both knew there was no one else but each other in their minds before they each went to bed.
He didn’t know when it was the right time to kiss her, she didn’t want to keep waiting and took control of her own destiny. He was taken by surprise but leaned into her nonetheless, she pressed closer to him and let him discover her in the way she wanted to be discovered herself. He didn’t have to ask to be invited in, she pulled him through the door and into her most personal space.
He began to feverishly memorize her in the dark, she drank in every new part of him that bloomed into her hands. He was torn between cherishing her and lavishing every part of her, she let him know she wouldn’t break and she wanted just as much of him as he did her. He kept chanting her name like a mantra, she held on tightly to him like a lifeline. When dawn broke through the curtains the next day, neither wanted to break away after knowing such a warm and safe place existed right there in each others’ embrace.
They never run out of loving words for each other. They have good days and bad days, but they never end one without letting the other know how important they are to each other. Their story goes on, their individual narratives now intricately interwoven.
This is his and her story, and it’s just beginning.