Chapter One: The Elevator
Teresa Andover turned to her brother in the small kitchen of her condo and stared at him.
“I happen to like my job,” she said as she walked to the table and set a cup of coffee down in front of him.
He lifted the cup to his mouth and blew on the hot liquid as he watched her sit in the chair across from him.
“You like the chance of getting yourself killed?” he asked, then took a sip of the hot coffee.
He grunted when it burned his tongue and started fanning his mouth with his hand; his tongue lolled out.
Teresa laughed and shook her head, watching him try to cool his tongue.
“Did mom send you here by any chance?” she asked, still watching him.
He sheepishly looked down at the cup of coffee he had set back on the table. “Maybe,” he mumbled.
“Scottie,” she grumbled, a disappointed look on her face.
He looked up at her and tried for a smile, it was crooked, but he smiled. “Look, whether mom sent me here or not, I’m worried about you.” His smile turned to a frown when he caught the disapproving look on her face.
“You don’t need to worry so much,” she said with a shake of her head. “I’m an adult now, and you and dad taught me everything I need to know,” she reminded him as she leaned forward and laid her hand over his.
“Right,” he said with a sigh. “But Dad was the best of the best, and look what happened to him.”
“That’s the job,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“A job that can get you, just as it got Dad, or worse,” he said, then grabbed for her hand when she pulled away from him.
“You worry too much. You know that?” Teresa said with a forced smile. “I will be okay, I promise. Besides, I get a partner tomorrow, so someone will always have my back.”
“Dad had a partner too,” he said with a frown.
“I’m not quitting,” she said, pulling her hands away from him and standing.
“Boy, you sure are as stubborn as Dad,” he said with a laugh, watching her walk around the table.
“Thank you for worrying, even if it is unnecessarily,” she said, stopping beside him.
“What are big brothers for, if not to worry?” he said with a wide grin.
She smiled and leaned down, kissing his cheek.
“Ewe, girl cooties,” he grumbled, wrinkling his nose, and scrubbing his cheek.
Teresa laughed and gave him a shove, almost knocking him out of his chair. “You’re a brat.”
Scott laughed as he looked up at her.
Teresa recognized the deep concern on his face and took a deep breath. She set her hands on his shoulders and turned him to face her. Then leaned down until she was face to face with him.
She knows she can’t change his mind about worrying so much, but she can hopefully make him feel a little better about her going out into the field.
“Look,” she said, getting his full attention. “I will be fine, Scott. Simon is my captain. He won’t give me anything I can’t handle, you know that.”
Scott nodded and took a deep breath. “I know. But a guy can worry about his little sister, can’t he?”
“Sure,” she said, standing. “As long as he butts out.”
Scott chuckled and got to his feet. “I know you will be a great cop, Sis. You have too much dad in you not to be.”
She grinned and gave him a hug. “Please tell mom that.”
Scott grunted a laugh and hugged her back. “Yeah. You know how far that will go.”
“You’re right. But I need to do this, Scott. Not just for me, but for dad, I want to find….” She stopped talking when she felt his body stiffen.
“Don’t go down that road, Sis,” he said, pulling back so he could look down at her.
“You know I can’t stay away,” she said, looking down at the kitchen floor.
“You have to,” he said with a growl.
Teresa looked up at him and forced yet another smile. She has had to force so many smiles tonight her cheeks hurt.
“I need to go to bed now,” she said, pulling out of his arms and looking at her watch.
“Don’t avoid this,” he said with annoyance, watching her.
She sighed, “I’m not avoiding anything, big brother. I just have a big day tomorrow,” she said, then turned from him and headed for the front door.
“Right,” Scott said with a nod, then followed her to the door.
“And try not to worry so much. You will get wrinkles,” Teresa said with a giggle as she opened the door.
“Big brothers are supposed to worry,” Scott said, watching her.
“I’m pretty sure others don’t worry as much as you do,” she said, wrinkling her nose at him.
“I guess I take after Mom in that department.”
Teresa laughed and shook her head. “I’ll be sure to tell mom you argued the point with me until you were blue in the face.”
Scott nodded. “She will believe that. She knows you’re as stubborn as Dad,” he said, then stepped out into the hall.
Scott turned back to the door and reached out to stop it before she could close it. From the moment she was born, he has been her protector—from bullies at school to boys wanting to date her. Now she’s all grown up, a woman on her own. He knows she will be a great cop. He just can’t help but worry.
“Be careful out there,” he said as he leaned against the door frame.
“I will,” she promised.
Scott nodded and sighed, then pulled her to him for another hug.
“Are you okay?” she asked when he let her go.
“I will be fine,” he said with a nod. “I’ll come back in a few days to see how things are going.” He smiled and backed away from the door.
“I would like that,” she said, smiling back, this time with a real smile. “Be safe driving home.”
He waved, then walked down the hall to the elevator.
Teresa sighed heavily and closed the door, locking it. Then turned and leaned her back against the door, closing her eyes. She opened her eyes with a heavy heart and busy mind and looked down to find her large cat lounging by the door.
“Well, Peaches,” she said, watching her cat. “Looks like it’s just you and me again.”
The large cat meowed, then yawned. Teresa yawned with him and stretched her arms.
“I know what you mean,” she said, stretching her back. “It is way past our bedtime.”
She bent down and lifted her cat into her arms and cuddled against his fur. He purred as she carried him to the bedroom and set him on the bed so she could change into her nightshirt.
Once changed, she crawled into bed and smiled when she felt her cat curl up next to her on the pillow.
With a sigh, she fell asleep to the sound of Peaches’ purring.
“Guess who showed up last night all worried for my safety,” Teresa said the following day when she opened the door to her best friend.
“Hmm, let me guess,” her friend said, tapping her finger to her chin. “Scott?”
“How did you know?” Teresa asked, a little surprised her friend had guessed so easily.
“Well, for one, I know your family. And another, living next door has its advantages,” her friend said, grinning.
“You saw him.”
Her friend laughed and nodded. “I saw him.”
Teresa shook her head and grabbed her coat off the coat rack beside the door. She moved into the hall with her friend and turned to lock the door.
With a grunt, she pushed the door open again.
“You okay?” her friend asked, peaking into the condo.
“Forgot my keys,” Teresa grumbled.
“You would forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on,” her friend said, giggling.
“Hardy har-har,” Teresa said as she lifted her keys off the owl key hanger.
Her friend laughed as they moved back into the hall. Teresa turned and started to slide the key into the lock, then paused. Her brother had made a lot of great points last night.
Was he right? Was she not ready for this?
“Earth to Teresa, come in, Teresa.”
Teresa shook her head and locked the door. She forced a smile and turned to her friend.
“That smile isn’t fooling anyone. What’s on your pretty little mind?” her friend asked as they walked down the hall toward the elevator.
“I was just wondering if my brother was right. Am I ready for this?” Teresa stopped when her friend pulled on her arm.
“You were born ready for this, Teresa. I have known you most of our lives, you were ready when we were in kindergarten, and you arrested Peter Scotch for stealing my teddy bear.”
Teresa laughed at the memory. “Thanks, Julian. I really needed that reminder.”
Julian grinned at her best friend. “Any time. That’s what best friends are for. Right?”
Teresa nodded and chuckled. They stepped into the elevator when the doors opened and noticed a man standing in the far-right corner.
They ignored his presence and turned to face the doors.
“What really brought this on?” Julian asked, looking up at her friend. “You’re not getting scared, are you?”
“Of course not,” Teresa said with a heavy sigh, looking down at her friend.
Julian is a good six inches shorter than Teresa but not a woman to mess with. She had joined law enforcement while Teresa was still finishing college.
Not only was she spry, but she was smart.
Julian had skipped several grades ahead of Teresa in high school. Graduating before her. But that hadn’t stopped them from going to each other’s graduations or staying best friends as Julian went off to college.
“I guess I’m getting a bit worried. What if I don’t like my partner?”
“Then we will shoot him,” Julian said with a shrug.
Teresa laughed, “very funny.”
Julian grinned. “Who said I was joking?”
“You’re terrible,” Teresa said with a laugh, nudging her friend with her shoulder.
Julian laughed and nudged her back.
The man in the back of the elevator quietly stood in the corner and watched the two women in front of him.
‘I wonder what they’re talking about,’ he thought. ’Don’t wonder, it’s none of your damn business,’ he scolded himself.
He has seriously got to get over the habit of trying to listen in on other people’s conversations. Even though the trait comes in handy on his job, it’s not for listening in on beautiful women’s conversations, even if one of them does have a really…
Had he said that out loud?
He seriously hoped not. He hoped he’d just said it so loud in his head that he had heard it out loud. He took a deep breath and leaned against the wall trying his hardest to look nonchalant.
“Did he just say what I think he said?” Teresa whispered, leaning in closer to her friend.
“He did,” Julian said, trying her hardest not to burst into laughter. “He was talking about you and your sexiness.”
Teresa started to laugh hysterically. Julian put her finger to her lips, silencing her friend.
“Don’t let the poor guy know we heard him,” Julian said, trying her hardest to control her own laughter.
“Right,” Teresa said with a nod.
They cleared their throats and stood up straight. It took all of Teresa’s willpower to not laugh so hard that she fell to the floor of the elevator holding her stomach.
When the elevator doors opened, they fell out giggling and headed toward their cars.
Julian looked behind them and grinned. “Don’t look now, but your lover-boy is right behind us.”
Teresa forced herself to not look behind them as she pulled her arms through her coat sleeves.
“He’s not my lover-boy,” she grumbled.