Even the Sun Sets in Paradise
All those fairy tales are full of shit
One more fucking love song, I’ll be sick.
Nikki got the call in the wee hours of the morning. A couple of hikers had found a body in the woods. It was an ugly scene and the identification would be nearly impossible without dental records. Those took time. She’d gone to the scene, the body was half buried, and animals had gotten to it and it was badly damaged. It was going to take further examination to determine cause of death, or even how long it had been out here. Nikki shook her head, released the body from the scene, got in her car and headed back toward the morgue. This was going to take a while. *This* one was going to be a puzzle. All she knew at this point was the body was a blond, dyed dark, female, somewhere between twenty and thirty, and she’d been murdered.
She worked with the cool detachment that only one that has seen a human in death many times can muster. The only one she knew that could muster that kind of fortitude was Ryan. She’d forgotten his humor, and realized she’d missed it. They hadn’t really spoken much since she broke it off and she missed talking to him. They’d had a fling… she kept trying to convince herself that was all it was a fling. Her friends had told her if he hadn’t moved the relationship further “by now”, it wasn’t going to happen and she needed to cut her losses, count it as a good time and “move on”. They’d taken her out a few nights after she’d broken it off and they’d been utterly wasted. She’d thrown her panties at Tristan and the rest was history. She liked Tristan… a lot.
She smiled thinking about Tristan still asleep in her bed. She’d set the coffee timer, and left him a note not wanting to wake him up. She’d known he was going to ask her about Ryan as soon as he could. Tristan hadn’t disappointed her. She just hadn’t wanted to talk about it because of how they started and *because* her feelings for Ryan had run deeper than she’d been willing to at admit while she was with him, and because of how she felt about Tristan. She’d pointed Ryan in Devon’s direction because she thought they’d get along. Devon was a pretty girl, somewhat shy, studious and one of the smartest, observant interns she’d ever had. She picked up things most seasoned coroners missed on the first pass. Devon had a wry sense of humor and a dry wit that bordered on sarcasm most days. It was never nasty, it was just her way. Nikki shook her head clearing it and started to prep the body. Devon would be in soon to help her.
You can’t expect me to be fine,
I don’t expect you to care
I know I’ve said it before
While Nikki was busy in the morgue, Hayden was pacing her house like a caged animal. Van and Lia had finally left, after rushing Brennan off. She was a bit miffed at that. She shook her head. She knew they meant well but there was no way she was buying they just happened to follow her home. Lia had tried to get her to talk and she’d given the absolute bare minimum to satisfy her and get them out. Now she wished she could call Brennan back. She knew though that he was probably with Aubrey and *that* would only lead to bad things happening for him. Hayden stood in the shower, and as had become her nightly ritual, let the tears come convincing herself that it was tears but shampoo in her eyes or the water on her face.. anything but the tears. Ever since she’d gotten the call she’d felt like she was drowning. Her chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it and it was hard to breathe. The only time she’d felt okay was when she was with Brennan and it only got worse when she was alone, or if too many people were around.
She knew they were right. Everything they’d said at the Rock made sense, but she just couldn’t get there. Brennan had done what he could and she felt a little bit better for it. She’d told Lia about that she Lia told her it was progress in baby steps, and that for now that was what she needed..Baby steps. Hayden redressed and left the house. She grabbed the keys to the convertible, her father’s midlife crisis, and figured she’d drive for a while. She drove through town stopping briefly at the strip club, parked in a shadow she saw Brennan and Aubrey leave together. She put the car in gear and headed for the highway. She remembered driving this car with her dad, his favorite music cranked on the radio. They’d taken it through the mountains just to see what it could do. She pulled over when she felt the burning in her eyes and knowing she was alone out here let it out. The anger and pain, the tears, everything poured out of her. As the sun came up, turning the sky into a kaleidoscope of color, Hayden realized she wasn’t crying anymore, she was smiling remembering how her dad used to wake her up on morning’s like this just to see the sunrise. She watched the sky change from a myriad of changing color to a shocking blue, started the car and turned around and headed home. She knew she had things she had to do and a limited amount of time to do them before she became Boss girl again.