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But the case he was most intrigued by was finally going to get the attention it deserved. And Claire had been drawn to the file as well. She couldn’t explain it, but this was one she wanted real bad. And finally, he’d be able to spend the time on it that it deserved. When a current homicide merges with a cold case, there’s always room for optimism as it could be the straw that finally breaks the camels back. This homicide had occurred only a few months ago, and even though it remained unsolved, the MO was the same as a half dozen others that had ended up on his desk. The warmer the trail the better chance of resolution.

When he told Claire that they could finally work on a full case together, and particularly on this one, she was beside herself. Put the two of them together, and watch out bad guys. You’re going down! Of course, understand that I do have a boss and he expects me to do my job while I’m up here.

She’d flown back to Houston, and exactly as commanded, went to see her boss. He saw her coming before she burst into his office. This was going to be good!

And it was. She told him about Mikey. She told him about some of the cold case files she was working on.


“And what?”

“Do you think I was born yesterday?”

And that’s when she began to laugh, and cry, and she hugged him unabashedly. “Wow. Where’s Claire? Who the hell are you?” And they both began to laugh.

“I’m getting married! Derek and I are getting married! I need you to walk me down the isle! Say you will. Please!”

He’d never, ever seen her like that. Positively giddy. Claire. The Iron Lady. No wonder she wouldn’t tell him on the phone. And now she wouldn’t stop talking! On and on and on. My God! Usually he couldn’t get her to tell him anything without threatening to pull her teeth. Now she wouldn’t shut up! So, he let her ramble, and then he let her ramble some more. And finally “Enough already!” And yes, I’ll walk you down the isle!” Another quick hug from Claire, and he watched as she practically danced out of the room. “What a woman!”

And then it was back to Seattle. And her future groom! Surreal! She’d been involved a few times over the years but work always came first, and for some reason, men didn’t seem to get that. Probably because most of them were just little boys! Besides, they would have complicated her life way to much. And expected her to always “be there” for them! Yuk!

But now, at the age of permanent 39, she was finally ready. Oh my God, was she! Interestingly enough, Derek had never been married either, although he alluded to being in a couple of longer term relationships. So at least that should be in their favour.

It’s not like she hadn’t thought about this earlier. Just in case. Besides, she was a reporter and reporters like making lists! Let’s see: both single; neither had children; both had good, solid careers; both were independent sorts so space shouldn’t be a problem; neither smoked or did drugs; they both enjoyed a glass of wine, or a drink on occasion, but no issues there; there didn’t appear to be any trust issues or overt jealousy; both were the outdoorsy sorts; and so on. What else? Oh yeah, he was a Christian and she was, not exactly sure, but if she had to coin it she’d call herself agnostic. I mean, she’d went to church with her step parents for several years and had participated in a bunch of church activities. She even remembered giving her life to Jesus during one of the rallies but nothing ever really came of it so I don’t know. Agnostic, I guess. Hopefully that wouldn’t be a problem. And one more thing: she couldn’t remember Derek ever talking about his parents. Odd. She’d better check that out. And the religion thing.

And then there was Derek. He did his man thing. Yep, we’re compatible. I love her, she loves me. We can do this! I gotta give her a call right now. So he called, and the first thing she said after the “I love you” stuff was, “we gotta talk.” Oh oh!

That’s part of the reason he had stayed single so long. Women were downright confusing. Just when you thought everything was going along smoothly, they’d want to talk! And that usually involved a lot more than just talking (same word, different definitions).

He’d wanted to get together to discuss the impending case. She wanted to get together to discuss the two of them. It was pretty obvious which one was going to win, wasn’t it?

“I love you, and you love me, right?” so far so good. She continued “And we want to make sure that we are always on the same page, right?” Ok, and “We don’t want to have any secrets between us, agreed?” “Agreed.” Where was this going? Maybe she knew something about him that he didn’t even know about himself. Women are like that!

He’d better start speaking up ” where are you going with this? Did I do something wrong?”

“Why would you think that? Did you?”

He shouldn’t have said a word. Far better to just let her interrogate him or whatever the heck she was doing. Just answer the questions. If you need a lawyer, ask for one.

She continued “I told you about my family and I shared with you about Mikey, right?”

She had.

“But” He could feel it coming. “You haven’t told me a thing about your family. I don’t even know if you have one. Do you?”

Finally. “I thought I told you. My parents were killed in an auto accident when I was like, 23, nearly 17 years ago. It was a head on with a semi. They never had a chance. I was the only child. I could have swore that I told you that the first time I met you back in Houston. In fact, I’m sure I did.”

Claire could feel the blood draining out of her face. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I feel so dumb!”

“It’s okay, it happened a long time ago.”

“But I should have remembered that. What was I thinking?”

“Okay, now that we have that cleared up, anything else?”

There was, but Claire wasn’t about to screw that up too! Perhaps a different approach. “Hon, have you ever thought about having kids?”

Derek nearly choked on that one. He had to ask “You want kids?” Oh boy!

And then Claire began to laugh. She’d made a list; she’d checked it twice, and yet she had completely forgot to ask about kids!

“No, I could never see myself as a mother.” This might be a deal breaker.

“Thank God!” Derek could barely contain himself. “I love kids, other people’s kids. Next question please.”

Definitely! That was close! “Derek, I know you love going to church, and since I’ve been in Seattle, I’ve went with you every time, right?”

“I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve been talking to Pastor Rick and he wants us to drop in to see him one of these days. They have a marriage seminar they want everyone to take before they’ll marry them. It’s only a couple of days long. I think it starts on a Friday night, and is over late Saturday. I told him I’d talk to you before we committed to a time. I hope you don’t mind me jumping the gun a bit but when I saw him at Wal Mart the other day, I had to tell him the good news! I really like that guy.”

“Well, I guess that settles that. Ok, now where I do I go?” Claire muttered to herself.

“Hon you know I’m kind of on the fence a bit when it comes to religion. I told you that, right?”

“I guess” hesitantly, this was getting confusing.

This wasn’t going well. Smarten up Claire! She admonished herself.

“Hey that’s great. You set it up with Pastor Rick and give me as much notice as you can so I can get the time off. You know my boss! He thinks he’s a lot more important than you! Just kidding! By the way, I asked him to stand up for me. I hope that’s ok with you. I should have asked you first but he’s the closet thing to a dad that I have and I didn’t think you’d mind . . . ok, I’ll shut up now.”

When she got going . . .

But now Derek was confused. They’d never even discussed going to church. They just went. He hadn’t really thought all that much about it. He’d been a Christian for, like forever, and even though he’d kind of done his own thing over the years, he still attended church whenever he could. He had to admit, working homicide made it very hard to believe in a loving God! But if he didn’t even have that, then what was the point of anything.

Fortunately, he was a reader as well. Factual stuff. Investigative stuff, and when he heard about Wallace’s book, his faith was definitely given a kick in the pants. And then he read Lee Strobel’s books, the Case for Christ and the other one, The Case for Faith, and that’s all he needed. Never questioned after that. Just resolved to be the best person he could be. Besides, he probably wouldn’t even be working on cold cases if it weren’t for Wallace!

He and Claire were going to have to talk about this a bit more. No matter! He loved her and they’d work it out! At least they both agreed: no kids! Whew!

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