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Gail has admitted to being attracted to Sarah but thought it just a passing fancy. When she is shot in the line of duty and Sarah is one of the first officers to reach her the attraction merely deepens. At the hospital they exchange numbers and shortly after that Gail invites her around for dinner while she is recuperating from her gunshot wound.
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, Cassie is the reader of the family and in that respect she’s very much a chip off the old block. She’ll read anything, even my police manual when I brought it home, and she reads the Police Association magazine every month. I have few restrictions these days about what she can and can’t read and in that way I’m the exact opposite of her father. Cassie will curl up with a good book when she’s not out riding and even when she’s riding she takes a book with her to read when she gets to her destination.
Nevertheless, my completely empty love life has brought me full circle back to books again and that day I read about twelve chapters of the book Cassie had picked out for me. It was a bit unrealistic in parts, girl breaks up with boy and falls for her gay flatmate. Hey it happens but the book could have used a little more realism, but it did keep me going if just to see if these two women could drive off into the sunset without doing a Thelma and Louise.
Long came around after school and after checking her ‘second mum’ was okay, she and Cassie went into the bedroom to watch telly, leaving me with the book, my phone and Rastus. Eventually even he went into Cassie’s bedroom while I cooked dinner for all of us. The general rule is that if Long comes around before dinner she’s staying for dinner and if Cassie goes to her joint the same rule applies, she’s developed quite a passion for Asian food.
Sarah knocked on the door just after seven and she was dressed in something a little more dressy, a light blue tee shirt and denim mini skirt. She held up a six pack of Carlton Light.
“You’re not planning on drinking all those tonight, are you?” I stepped back to let her in.
“Perish the thought, I brought them for you but I will have one,” she looked down at Rastus. He usually barks like crazy whenever we have new visitors but with Sarah he was sniffing her boots and jeans.
“He smells my dog on me,” she smiled, “I’ve got a shepherd named Max.”
“Well he certainly likes you,” I led her into the living room, “he usually barks like crazy whenever a stranger comes near the front door.”
“Well that’s gotta be a good thing,” her eyes fell on the book, “a bit of light reading?”
“Oh,” I stared at it, “um, yeah. I just thought I’d read something different.”
Cassie and Long came through at that moment and after introducing Sarah to Long, Cassie picked up the beers.
“Do you want me to put those in the fridge?”
“Thanks,” she pulled a stubby out of the shrink wrap and glanced at me, “you want to wet your whistle?”
“Thank you very much,” I took one and handed the rest over to Cassie.
“I’m not much of a reader myself, the cover looks impressive though,” Sarah sat down on the couch and opened the bottle.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” Cassie warned her.
“She’s right and Cassie would know, she reads everything in sight.”
“Including this?” Sarah picked the book up to read the back cover.
“Yeah, why not? We don’t ban books in this house.”
“Unlike dad’s joint,” Cassie tossed the remark over her shoulder as she stepped into the kitchen.
“David is married to a very respectable bible bashing, homophobe,” I sank into the couch.
“So who left who? Or is that a loaded question?”
“Oh that’s a long story without an interesting ending. David is one of those peace at any price guys and he didn’t like the fact that his wife was putting her life on the line. It took us five years to drift apart, I used the excuse of his affair but truth be told I wasn’t much of a wife for him. He wanted the nice wife with the nice job and he married a copper who carries a gun.”
We had dinner after that and it was an entertaining dinner. Long was truly fascinated by Sarah’s job description and some of her stories. I’ve heard similar stories in the past but Sarah has a way of telling them that bring a smile to your face. She’s got a real dry sense of humour and sometimes you have to think twice to work out if she’s joking or being serious. Cassie looked thoughtful when Sarah told her war stories, like she was processing something but she can be an enigma, she hides a lot behind those eyes. After dinner, Long’s mother dropped in to see me for a few minutes and to pick up her daughter and then it was just Sarah, Cassie and I in the living room.
There was a moment of hesitation and then she curled up on the sofa with one of the books I’d bought her, the grieving one. Sarah had briefly picked it up to read the blurb at the back and at first she thought it was one of my books.
“A bit of light reading,” Sarah commented.
“Yeah,” she looked up, “mum bought it for güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri me.”
“She picked it out,” I shot back with a smile, “Cassie is the brainiac of the family.”
Sarah wanted to know more. What kinds of books did she read and I saw something I’d never seen before. Cassie actually put the book down and started talking and when she starts talking it’s hard to shut her up, which is why I love hearing her voice. That conversation went from books and films to history, one of her favourite subjects although she thinks her history teacher is boring, diverted to current events and ended up with her opinion on Australia’s holding centres. Her best friend’s mum was once a child refugee and it was obvious she was probing Sarah, I noticed that she didn’t talk down to Cassie. She was even interested in reading some of her short stories.
“I’ll print them out for you,” Cassie promised as she reached for her book, “well, I’m gonna have a shower and go to bed.”
She got out of her chair and kissed me goodnight and nodded at Sarah.
“Sleep tight,” Sarah returned the smile.
And then we were alone on the couch. If Sarah had been a guy it would have been a signal to get closer but I stayed in my position and contemplated a half empty cup of coffee Cassie had made me half an hour ago. Now that she was out of the room I felt I was able to talk about the shooting and Sarah seemed to sense it because she shifted position slightly so that there was more space between us. It came out slowly and almost casually at first. I’d downplayed the incident in front of Cassie but always at the back of my mind was the realisation that if something did happen to me then it would be catastrophic for Cassie.
“I mean, my sister and mum would take care of her, but my ex is a lawyer. He wouldn’t miss a trick to get her back again.”
“Have you ever considered getting another job?”
“More times than I care to remember, I’ve been a cop for eighteen years, since before I was married. I could practically walk into a security job, I’ve got a near spotless record but you know how it is, there’s a real satisfaction despite all negative factors. To make it worse, Cassie is actually proud that her mum is a cop, it’s one of those things that tears me up. Her best friend’s father is a fitter and turner out in Bayswater, her mother is a schoolteacher and when they go to work Long can rest easy knowing that no one is ready to shoot either one of her parents just for turning up for work. This job comes with the ultimate termination clause, someone could just ambush me or it could be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Tell me about it,” Sarah managed a crooked smile, “it’s why my relationships are short and not so sweet, they all love the uniform and it’s a great ego trip but like you say, people see a uniform as a target,” she smoothed out her jeans.
“Tell me something, after eighteen years, you’re still a senior constable. You never thought of going for sergeant?”
“Ah now there’s a case of knowing your limits,” I rubbed my sore arm.
“The truth is, I have been asked more than once. My previous sergeant even tried to push me into it but that means extra work and I’ve got two jobs. I wear a uniform for one job, and my other job is looking after Cassie, it was my original plan to go further but then my marriage broke down and I decided the hell with men. I was going to raise my daughter first and think about a partner once she was old enough to make her own decisions.”
“So why not go for something else, like a detective or prosecutor? You’ve been around long enough to know your way around. I do what I do because I enjoy it but I know it’s got a time limit. I have to keep very fit but eventually the body wears down and you have to step aside and let younger people take over. If I haven’t moved further up the ranks I’d definitely go for detective,” she leaned over to look at her phone as a message came through.
“End of the day, it’s all about moving forward. If you like where you are then fine, but if you don’t then you have to work out how to change things. Your situation can change if you make the changes but it’s your call.”
“It’s like that book,” she pointed to it, “you had to make the decision to fork out the money for the book and then start reading it.”
“I’m up to chapter twelve, it’s actually quite good. A little unrealistic but it’s fiction.”
“So, have they done it yet?”
“They got on together but didn’t go all the way in chapter ten, but in chapter twelve they’ve gone to a cabin for the weekend,” I managed a smile. “The sex scenes were quite graphic though.”
“So your daughter won’t be reading it,” she slapped my leg playfully.
“Au contraire,” I protested, “I’m a progressive mum, she can read it if she wants but I reserve the right to talk to her about it.”
“God, I’d love to have had a mum like you. My mother just didn’t want to talk about it. When I was accepted at the Academy her immortal words güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri were, ‘you’ll never find a decent man now, no man wants a woman who can beat him in a fight.’ Thankfully for her, my two sisters have given her a couple of grandkids each.”
We talked some more but there was nothing physical between us that night, which did impress me because I wouldn’t have resisted. As a matter of fact I even said she could use the couch if she felt like staying but she was determined to wake up in her own bed.
“I’m going to head up to Maroondah dam tomorrow to do some hiking.”
“I haven’t been up there for years,” I dug my hands into my pockets.
“Fancy hitching a ride?” Sarah turned towards me.
“Maybe, I’ll check with Cassie and see what she’s wanting to do.”
“So bring her along as well, we could grab something to eat at the pub or take some snags and have a barbie.”
“I’ll text you in the morning,” I took a step forward and put my arm around her neck, “thanks for coming around and listening,” I kissed her neck and was rewarded with a pat on the bum.
I released her and swallowed as she looked into my eyes and then I kissed her lips ever so lightly and stepped back out of reach.
“I’ll text you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be leaving about ten or so.”
And then she was gone and I was standing in the doorway watching her get into the car. Had I gone too far? Was this a good idea or was this just one of the many consequences of PTSD? The doctor who spoke to me at the hospital had warned me that there might be some unexpected side effects but kissing a woman wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, I couldn’t deny that I liked her and I wasn’t the only one. When I told Cassie that next morning, she wanted to know if she could take her bike.
“Because I want to ride up there.”
I guess that meant we were going and when I told Sarah a few minutes later she chuckled and told me that was fine.
“I’ll pick you up in an hour, I’m just out of bed wearing nothing but my knickers.”
I winced at that thought.
Maroondah dam is located just east of Healesville and while access to the dam is prohibited because it’s one of the main sources of potable water for Melbourne, the Maroondah Reservoir park is next to the dam and there are walking tracks where you can look out over the water. Back in the day it was the place we used to go if we wanted to have a few beers or a couple of joints and of course that led to other activities that are still prohibited in public! In case you’re wondering, I’m an old Healesville girl, born and bred. I knew a couple of girlfriends who lost their virginity out at the old Reservoir. I lost mine in the back of a panel van. Hey, I wanted some privacy!
“I lost mine in my boyfriend’s bedroom,” Sarah told me after I shared my encounter. We were on a track and Cassie was some distance ahead but we got a view of her from time to time when she stopped to take a drink of water.
“So you weren’t always that way inclined?”
“No, I was a bit of a switcher,” she took a drink of water. “I used to go from one to the other, the motivational factor seemed to be alcohol. I was a big drinker when I was younger.”
“Yeah, I was too but marriage put a dent in that although I had one hell of a divorce party though, we went to Crystal Tease in Brunswick and my girlfriends and my sister poured me out at the front door in the early hours of the morning. I woke up in the morning with a mouth like the inside of a bird cage and swore I’d never drink that much again.”
“And have you?”
“On my birthday, I do lash out but it seems my body chemistry has changed, I used to be able to drink more but these days it’s not even four beers and I’m wanting to lie down,” I looked over at Sarah and framed my next question.
“So, what turned you onto women? Apart from booze, I mean I’ve been seriously pissed and fallen into bed with women but that never came up.”
“It started out with a lap dance on my twenty first birthday,” she smiled.
“The girls had all put in for the lap dance and I was expecting some hot guy with a six pack but instead they had a hot woman complete with fantasy police uniform. She gyrated all over me and that was all well and good but the next morning I was thinking about it and decided to call this woman up to ask a few questions. As it turned out, Selene was a dancer and didn’t do that kind of stuff but her housemate was an escort girl who did women. She put me onto her and about an hour and a half later Emma was going down on me,” she took another swig as Cassie came back on her bike, she was riding slowly.
“Best sex I’d had in a long time. After that I started experimenting and after chopping and changing between the two I eventually settled on women,” she stopped as Cassie came to a halt.
“What’s up, Missy Moo,” I asked.
“Nothing, just came back to see you.”
“Well we’re both still here,” Sarah replied.
“Do you want a ride?” Cassie asked her.
“Me?” güvenilir bahis şirketleri Sarah glanced at me briefly, “yeah, why not? Although that helmet won’t fit me.”
“That’s cool, mum can always arrest you later,” she smirked.
Sarah shot me a sly smile as Cassie got off the bike. A minute or so later Sarah set off as Cassie and I started walking again.
“So, what’s on your mind?” I put an arm around her shoulders.
“Nothing much,” she snuggled into me, “just wondering how you’re getting on with Sarah.”
“Oh you are, are you?” I looked down at her, “don’t you think I’ve got enough on my plate without getting into a relationship? Besides, can’t we just be friends?”
“Of course you can, mum,” she nudged her glasses, “but if you want to be with someone it’s okay, I mean dad’s got Diane, I’ve got my friends but you’ve got no one special.”
“I’ve got you,” I squeezed her shoulder.
“I know but it’s not enough, you know what I mean.”
There are times when I get a glimpse of the woman she’s growing into, thoughtful, intuitive and above all practical. Cassie can pull an argument apart and put it back together, granted she’s not even fifteen yet but I’ve heard her talking to her friends and she’s poles apart from them in many ways and I know I’m prejudiced.
“How’s about I think about this,” I replied a few moments later, “relationships are complicated and they don’t just happen overnight.”
“I know that, mum,” she replied.
We could have gone straight back down the highway to Heathmont but Sarah was in the mood for a drive and decided to head up Don Road and down the other side to Launching Place, which brought back a few memories for me. The Home Hotel was one of my local pubs, even though it was a good half an hour away from home.
“Tommy and I used to come to this pub,” I indicated the pub, “whenever we got sick of the Grand or the bloody Terminus.”
“Never been in there,” she replied.
“You haven’t missed much,” I leaned back into the seat and looked up in the rear view mirror, “you all right back there, sweetie?”
“I’m cool,” Cassie piped up, “so how old were you when you used to come here?”
“Let’s just say I was too young to drink legally but a bit of makeup and some nice clothes and the barmaids used to just hand me the beer.”
“You know I’ll have to arrest you now,” Sarah nudged me playfully.
“I’m surprised my boyfriend wasn’t arrested for being over the limit, we had a few scares on the Don Road. Tommy used to think I was being a bloody nag for asking him if he was all right to drive but one night I did take charge and forced him to let me drive the rest of the way home. I wasn’t even on my Learners yet but fortunately it was an auto and it was all downhill.”
“So what happened to Tommy?” Sarah asked.
“Last I heard he went north to the Gold Coast and I haven’t seen him since. It was a long time ago, I was seventeen and he’d just turned eighteen.”
I frowned as I pictured his face.
“Funny thing is, now I think about it. We were introduced by his sister, and I only went out with him because I got to see her. She was a couple of years older than me, I was a part time cashier at Coles in my last year of high school and she was the full timer.”
“Did you have a crush on her?”
“Not so much a crush as I used to go to her if I needed something to do instead of my supervisor or the manager, she was closer to my age for a start and a woman as well. She quit a month before I finished high school and went onto to do her teaching degree. She actually bought me my first ever legal beer in the Terminus hotel, but we drifted apart after that. I went to study law but dropped out to enrol in the Police Academy and a year or so later I got married and Cassie came along. But now and then I wonder about what happened to her. It’s not like we were best of friends but there are some people who just had an impact on you because of how they made you feel. Emily never made me feel inferior or inadequate, and even when I broke up with her brother she said that was cool and I was too good for him anyway.”
“So, it all comes out now,” Sarah nudged my leg, “you had the hots for your boyfriend’s sister, I can see a novel out of that one.”
“And I can write it,” Cassie chimed in, “I’ll change the names of course.”
Which got a laugh out of me and a smile from Sarah but it did get me thinking on the way back about Emily and what the hell happened to her? Her last name was Johnstone but as I remembered she got married in her mid twenties but what would have happened if things had taken a different turn? Granted it would have been against the law but my interpretation of legal and the official definition of legal back then were poles apart.
“It’s made me think,” I finally confessed to Sarah as we sat out under the pergola in the back yard waiting for the barbecue to heat up.
“What was I back then? I know I looked up to her and found her attractive but I was young, stupid and a little bit naïve.”
“Back then it would have been different,” Sarah shrugged as she eyed the snags and chops, “it’s why we have these rules about when you can have sex, your mind is still developing. Half the time you think you’re an adult but you still want to return to that childhood state when things were simpler, I know I did for sure.”
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