The shooter was still out there.
Taking my time, I looked at each of the photos spread out in front of me. At first, they all looked alike—men in their upper twenties, bald with tats on the neck or just on their arms. I’d looked at twenty or so before Detective Hart added five more photos to the mix. I glanced over at them.
My heart stopped as I sucked in an unsteady breath. I reached over, picking up the third photograph, and held it close. There were three shots: full frontal and two profiles.
For a moment I couldn’t get my tongue to work. Like it was glued to the roof of my mouth. My hand trembled as I stared at the face of the man I’d seen shoot someone—kill someone. My throat was dry. “It’s him.”
Detective Hart leaned forward, placing his forearm on the table. “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” I cleared my throat. “That’s him.” Unable to look at the photo any longer, I handed it over to the detective. Satisfaction gleamed in his eyes. “What’s his name?” I asked and then frowned. “You probably can’t tell me that, can you?”
He slipped the photo in a file. “You’d be correct. At least not right now.” Standing, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. “There’s just a couple of forms we need you to sign and then you’ll be on your way.”
Taking several shallow breaths, I ignored the unease twisting up my insides. Detective Hart paused at the door. “You’re going to put this man behind bars, where he belongs.” His smile was tight. “And you’ve probably saved his life.”
* * * *
Monday was weird.
I couldn’t focus on the new manuscript, not that anyone would blame me. I’d identified a murderer this morning and according to Detective Hart, I’d probably saved his life by doing so. Unless the mob guy Colton had mentioned got to him first.
Throughout the day, I engaged in some major wishful phone checking. As if somehow I had missed his text or call. Of course, there were no missed messages. My stomach dropped. After identifying the shooter, I figured Colton would be in contact, even if it was in a purely professional sense.
Monday slowly churned into Tuesday. No calls. No texts. I could’ve messaged him, I realized that, but I was the one who messed up and I honestly had no experience in these things. Dating was so far out of my realm of understanding. Was I supposed to give him space? Give him time? Or was he waiting for me to reach out? Or was he just really busy? The latter made sense. He was probably trying to search down the shooter.
Sitting at my desk, I groaned as I leaned over, resting my forehead against the cool wood. I was such an idiot. I’d let that stupid, ugly voice in my head get the better of me. I was still letting it get the better of me, wasn’t I? Because why hadn’t I messaged Colton?
Messaging Colton would be the normal thing to do.
I lifted my head and gently lowered it back to the desk. Rinse and repeat. What was I doing, other than banging my head on a desk? Because that wasn’t weird or anything. Okay. I needed a plan. My heart skipped a beat when I lifted my head and saw my cell. I could text him, something small. I could totally do it.
Snatching up my phone, I tapped the screen and then the little green message icon. My pulse was kicking around as I hit Colton’s name and started typing out the first thing that came to mind. I didn’t let myself stop and think about it or let myself feel stupid for typing it out. The message was just four words.
I miss your crepes.
Okay. That was kind of a cute message and sort of stupid. A lot stupid. Before I hit send, I deleted the message.
I was such an idiot, geez.
I didn’t text Colton and I didn’t hear from him.
My life had been so crazy the last two weeks it was almost hard to believe that only that short amount of time had passed. I didn’t know how to feel about witnessing a murder, knowing one was dead, and the other one, the shooter, would soon be—hopefully—apprehended.
I didn’t know how to feel about a lot of things.
Actually, that wasn’t entirely true. When it came to Colton, I knew exactly how I felt. Crappy. I didn’t think his text Monday was an excuse to not see me. After all, after what happened, he would be busy, and since he normally worked on Tuesday, I wasn’t expecting a visit.
I didn’t get one either.
And he hadn’t texted or called. There was a part of me that wanted to listen to the small and probably more reasonable voice that claimed his lack of contact didn’t mean anything. He had to be busy, and I also hadn’t reached out to him. Mainly because I didn’t know what to say.
I still couldn’t believe I had asked him that question. If he was angry, which I knew he had been even though he’d said I hadn’t needed to apologize, it was within his right. Insinuating that he had some kind of ulterior motive to spending time with me and doing the things we had been doing was downright insulting.
I’d fucked up.
And as Jillian sat on the edge of my couch early Wednesday evening, watching me pace back and forth in my living room, I told her just how badly I’d fucked up while she sipped the latte she’d brought with her.
“So, that’s about it.” I dropped down on the couch, eyeing the cappuccino she’d brought me. It was all gone. “Not only does he probably think I’m a jackass, he also knows I have the confidence of a sewer rat.”
Jillian frowned from behind the rim of her cup. “I don’t think he believes you’re an asshole. He told you not to apologize.”
“That’s because he’s a good guy and he’s not mean to anyone. Even in high school he was that way. Standing up for the kids that got picked on and friendly to everyone, and this last week has taught me he hasn’t changed in that department.” I grabbed the empty cup and stood, unable to stay seated. I walked into the kitchen, tossing it in the trash. “If he thought I was a jackass, he’s not going to say anything.”
“That may be true, but I just don’t think that’s the case.” She placed her cup on the coffee table and waited until I returned to the living room. “And about the confidence thing? You shouldn’t be embarrassed by it.”
Stopping near the TV, I arched a brow as I folded my arms across my chest. “Lack of confidence is seriously one of the most unattractive things out there.”
Jillian rolled her eyes. “And it’s also seriously one of the most normal, common things out there.”
“True,” I murmured.
“I always thought being told you should be more confident, because confidence is sexy, was like getting a bitch slap in the face,” Jillian said. “Like ‘thanks for pointing that out.’”
I laughed dryly. “It’s weird, you know? I hadn’t even noticed this about myself in the last couple of years. I just sort of stopped thinking about myself as a woman. I know that sounds stupid, but that’s the best way I can explain it. I think…” I sat back down, resting my hands in my lap as I gave a lopsided shrug. “And I was always so comfortable with Kevin. It wasn’t something I ever had to think about, and I think the newness of all of this rattled me.”
A weak smile crossed my lips as I glanced at my phone. Colton should be off tonight, unless he was still handling the investigation. My stomach dropped a little. “I guess in a way it’s a blessing in disguise. At least now I know how I feel. I can do something about it.”