Virginia Beach, Virginia
October 23, 2010
The first week of Press’s leave was spent healing physically. The down time helped the sleep come, and he gradually slipped into a more normal sleeping pattern. This had somewhat tempered the irritability that had plagued him since returning from Seattle.
Lizzie, his housekeeper who had been with the family since before Press was born, was still trying to feed him into feeling better. Food was Lizzie’s solution to most problems in the household. She never put on an ounce. He’d put on five pounds—he’d have to extend his runs for the next week or two.
Palmer, the ex-Marine Special Forces and ex-Secret Service bodyguard, now Press’s driver, butler, and Jones’s best pal, just watched him silently. He was simply there when needed.
Both Lizzie and Palmer were now walking around the house a little less cautiously.
He spent lots of time on the beach with Jones and his latest Frisbee, or running with the mammoth dog at his side. They usually ran very early in the morning so that Press didn’t have to leash the beast.
Jones was much more a lover than a fighter—not that a stranger would get close enough to find out. Once they saw the size of the dog, they got away and got away quickly!
Out of season, when the morning air was turning cool, few tourists got out waterside that early—most residents who did run that early knew Press and, of course, Jones. Rather than being mowed down by the affectionate beast, others just kept running and saluted Press in greeting as they passed by.
Unlike before-Seattle—as it had come to be called these days—Jones seldom left Press’s side to chase down another runner.
There, he had managed to find one thing to be thankful for today. The dog was behaving better. Small steps—for Jones and for me, he thought.
Now that the air had cooled down, the pool had had a chlorine shock treatment and was covered for the winter. Press still enjoyed sitting out on the pool’s surrounding patio, reading a good murder mystery or playing on his laptop to the background music of the ocean waves lapping at the shore.
If his mind started wandering toward Maine, he would go upstairs to his workout room. He would spend hours wearing himself out pumping iron or using the other equipment. Sometimes, Palmer would join him and they would have silent endurance competitions. Even at sixty-something, Palmer was very good competition.
Press had invited Trace to come out to watch a football game on Press’s seventy-two-inch television—they didn’t talk much, but lots of beer and nachos with lots of sloppy, spicy, and cheesy dips, compliments of Lizzie, were devoured in huge quantities.
Trace didn’t require conversation, and Press felt one more thing come into better focus. Trace spent the night in a guest room—due to all the beer—and he was gone by the time Press arose the next morning.
Gradually, Press found his temper leveling, and he was snapping at people less and less. Of course, he had still avoided the dreaded Dr. Lindsey.
Press was beginning to feel a little silly about putting off the sessions with Dr. Lindsey. He was a well-educated man. There certainly wasn’t anything to be afraid of—what if she told him to give up on Rachel? What if she suggested that he move on?
He didn’t fully understand why he and the other cops dreaded going to her, worse than they dreaded the dentist. Sarah Lindsey, the VBPD’s psychologist, was tiny, cute as a button, and as tough as nails.
She didn’t hold back and told you exactly what she thought, and she expected you to do the same. Her voice was soft as a whisper and made you pay attention to what she had to say, but her main interest was, of course, what you had to say.
It was time to bite the bullet.