Colton’s gaze dipped to my mouth for a second too long for me to have completely imagined it. His eyes met mine quick enough as he slid into the seat closest to me on my left. “Have you called your husband?”
What the…? I blinked once and then twice. He knew I’d married? Granted, it wasn’t like it had been a secret or anything. Kevin and I…we’d gotten married right after graduation, during the summer, and by winter we had moved. Yes, we all went to school together, but I had been completely invisible to him.
Drawing in a shallow breath, I loosened my grip on the tissue as I refocused my thoughts. “Kevin passed away four years ago. It was a car accident.”
“Shit.” Colton straightened as the look in his steeling blue gaze softened. “I didn’t know.” He reached over, placing his large hand on my shoulder. The weight was shockingly comforting. “I’m sorry, Abby.”
“It’s…” It wasn’t exactly okay even though I’d long come to terms with the loss of Kevin. Some days it was still hard. Something small, like a certain scent or a song on the radio would remind me of him and how uncertain life could be. “Thank you.”
He squeezed gently and then lowered his hand, the tips of his fingers brushing the bare skin of my arm. “Okay. Let’s get this over so you can go home.”
Hart arched a brow as he eyed Colton. He took the seat across from me. “I know you’ve already given your statement to Officer Hun, but we’re going to want you to start from the beginning, okay?”
I nodded slowly. “I was leaving the bar Pixie’s and walking to my car. It was parked a couple of blocks away. Maybe three or four blocks. It was early. Maybe around eight-thirty. I was on a…a date, but the guy was a total douchebag.” My cheeks heated as my gaze darted to Colton. “I’m sorry. That’s not really important.”
Colton’s lips twitched. “Everything is important.”
I forced myself to take another slow, steady breath. “All right. I was walking to my car and I really wasn’t paying attention. That area of the city isn’t bad and so I wasn’t expecting anything to happen, you know? I was just walking and I saw my car up ahead. I was thinking about going home and reading this book,” I continued, knowing I was rambling again. “I heard someone groaning and it was like I had no control over my feet. I stopped and I looked to my right. There was an alley and that’s when I saw them.”
Extending an arm, Colton snatched up the file on the table and flipped it open. His brows burrowed together as he quickly scanned it. “You said you saw three people.”
“Yes. There was a man just standing there. He had…he had a scar on his face and bleached blond hair. The other man, the one with the gun, his head was shaven and he had a huge tattoo on his arm. I couldn’t make out what it looked like. It was too dark. I’m sorry.”
He glanced up at me, his gaze roaming over my face. “That’s okay. You told the officer you could recognize them, right?” When I nodded again, he smiled tightly. Not the big, warm smile I’d seen him throw around when we were teenagers. Not even a hint of it. “They’re compiling some mug shots of those who’ve met your description right now. So we’ll go over that in a few.” There was a pause as he sat back in the chair. “How many times did you hear the gun fire?”
“Once. No. Twice,” I said. Detective Hart was scribbling something down on a small notebook he must’ve had hidden somewhere. “He shot…he shot that man in the alley, and I dropped my keys like a dumbass. Oh!” I smacked my hand over my mouth. “I’m sorry.”
The blue hue of Colton’s eyes had lightened. “Honey, saying dumbass around here isn’t going to offend anyone.”
“No truer words ever spoken,” Hart added dryly.
The smile that curved up the corners of my lips felt weak and brittle. I’d also never in a million years thought I’d hear Colton call me honey. Hell, never in a million years did I think I’d be sitting in front of him.
I really needed to focus, but now it was a struggle. Adrenaline had long since faded and it was way past my normal bedtime of eleven-thirty. “Um, after I dropped the keys, the man with the gun, he turned to me. I saw him. He…he saw me.” My fingers tightened around the poor tissue as a slice of panic cut across my chest. “I turned and ran. He must’ve fired at me, but missed. The bullet hit a nearby building.” I raised my hand toward my cheek and then immediately dropped it back to my lap. “I kept running and that’s when I ran into the man.”
Detective Hart asked a few more questions. Did I notice if they had gotten in a car? No. Was a name even spoken? Not that I recalled. Did they say anything to the man they shot? I wasn’t sure. Eventually, he got up and left the room to retrieve some photos they wanted me to look at.
I was alone with Colton.
Any other time I probably would’ve been beside myself with nervousness, but at this point, I barely registered his presence. All I wanted to do was go home and forget this night.
My gaze slowly lifted at the sound of my name. His voice was deep and gruff—a morning voice.
He leaned toward me, placing his arms on the table. Short dark hairs dusted powerful forearms. The few times I’d seen him over the years, I hadn’t been in close proximity to him, but now I could see the tiny differences between the Colton I’d admired from afar in high school and the one sitting in front of me, some ten years later. Fine lines had formed around the corners of his eyes. His jaw seemed harder, and the five-o’clock shadow was something new.
I really needed to stop thinking in general.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Abby?” he asked, and real concern filled his voice.
I shook my head slowly as a shiver raced down my spine. “Yes. No? I’m sorry. I’m so tired.”
“I can imagine.” He glanced at the door as he moved his shoulders, as if working out a kink. “We’ll get you home soon.”
Slouching in the metal chair, I sighed. “Is this…the start of your shift or…?”
Colton’s cobalt gaze tracked back to me. “I usually get off around eight, but we work in cycles for homicide calls. It was our weekend.”
“Sorry,” I whispered, and then frowned. “I don’t even know why I apologized. It’s got to be hard working those kinds of hours, having to be on call.”
“I imagine it is for some, especially those with a family.” One side of his lips quirked up, and despite the dire situation, my stomach dipped a bit. He lifted his left hand. “Obviously, I’m not married. I wouldn’t know.”
I thought about the beautiful blonde I’d seen him with at the movies. “No girlfriend?” My eyes widened. Did I seriously just ask that?
That half grin spread, revealing the one dimple he had in his left cheek. “No. Not really.”
Not really? What in the heck was that supposed to mean? Did it matter? No. Not at all. I dropped my gaze to the table. A moment passed and I didn’t think about what I was saying. It just…came out. “I’d never seen anyone die before. Never saw the exact moment life was snuffed out. I’d lived through death. With my parents and then with Kevin, but…” I’d seen my husband after he’d passed away. He’d been a pale, waxy shadow of himself and as traumatizing as that was, it was nothing compared to witnessing a life end. “I won’t ever forget tonight.”