Life had been steady for Aya since the shootout that had mercifully claimed her ex-husband and wracked the picturesque Kehoe to its core, not tilting precariously to the side while fingernails carved crescent moons into palms, not stilling body and mind to prevent committing violent acts in the name of fury and desperation.
Steady, barely a ripple, one capable detective in the foreground, gloves balled in one hand and the other brushing hair out of her face.
“It’s all good for you, Aya, I mean, you got this whole new life with your son now that you don’t have to deal with your ex-husband.”
“Dead prick of an ex-husband,” Aya reminded. She had said it at least a dozen times since she and Kim had hooked up, because she couldn’t quite believe how much better that one little added word could make her feel after all the bullshit and fighting and swallowing her pride she’d had to commit on a daily basis with the once indulgent, blindingly charming, never quite love of her life drug dealer that had, perhaps inevitably, become her ex-husband and perhaps even more inevitably still… her dead ex-husband.
Kim didn’t need to keep hearing about it though. It probably made her assume that Aya would be better off single, after all the drugs and abuse and compromises, better off just focusing on raising her son the best way she saw fit.
But she didn’t need to be alone anymore.
And she most certainly didn’t need to be with a man either.
She wanted gratification and goodness and a little less dysfunction. She wanted to be planted firmly on the right side of the law for once. So why did she need to date a cop to achieve that?
A detective, a no-nonsense, gorgeous detective who let nothing slide by her and could do awkward, fumbling moments, who had a dark yet positively glowing sense of humor and who was as tough as nails but never confident or experienced enough not to show her humanity. She was this bright pinpoint of light in a past that still consumed Aya, but it was a past that was inch by inch being sloughed away after Trevor’s death.
For the first time in years, or maybe even the first time in her entire mess of a life, she could actually breathe.
And still Kim thought, imagined that she was keeping Aya firmly rooted in that horrid past, holding her back in some essential way.
It was easy to see that Kimberly Dash didn’t do relationships either. There was pain and anger in her gaze when Trevor was on Aya’s mind, there was annoyance and there were words laced with a bitter tint when Aya didn’t call or came up with some excuse not to come over.
But there was also fragile though unwavering surprise when Aya would show up unexpected in the newest bar Kim was frequenting or across the street from an arrest in progress or just on the other line when Kim was knee-deep in a crime scene, phone pressed to her ear Aya sensed was the only distraction from the bone-biting cold and brutal lash of the wind.
Every time she even so much as glanced into Kim’s eyes she could see all of that. She could breathe Kim in and feel her seep into her skin and feel Kim’s soft fingers gently opening her eyes to something better, something better than anything that had come before.
“…But I just feel like this person floundering through your life, waiting for you to wake up and push me out or waiting for myself to do it,” Kim finished. Her words, like her posture, were unsure, waiting desperately for Aya to confirm them, to claim that Kim was too pushy or too clingy or even too endearing.
And Aya just kept saying the same words she had said when she had come to her decision. “I want you , Kimberly Dash. I don’t need your past, even though I may stumble through mine from time to time. And I don’t need explanations and excuses and judgments. I don’t need every waking moment with you and I don’t need to know every detail of every case you’re working on, but I will listen if you let me and I will be there when I can and especially when you need me.”
This was Aya’s time to grow, this was their time to shred all their expectations and just roll with it.
Kim lowered her eyes, trusting, relieved, and finally shed her jacket and tossed it onto Aya’s bed. “Fine. But let me know the second I’m hanging on too tight and I’ll walk.”
“It won’t happen. This is it for me.”
Aya could feel it in her bones, as sure as she knew she would never turn to drugs again, as sure as she could feel the sun caressing her face from the open window and Kim’s small, strong hands grasping hers and reeling her in.
She could feel her new beginning.