Chapter Six


Wednesday January 17, 2007

Woodside, New York


A myriad of manila file folders and countless papers and photographs lay in an array on Elliot’s coffee table, appearing as if almost windswept into place. He and Olivia had spent the better part of the day going over every detail in this latest string of murders, yet they had made little progress. Their few witnesses had been re-interviewed, family members spoken to and friends and acquaintances of the victims were quizzed, but no new information had developed on the cases.

The detectives had stood beside their captain that afternoon as he delivered a statement to the media stating that, while there were no new leads or evidence at that time, Manhattan’s SVU was working diligently and would find the killer. When the statement had been said, they then took turns answering rapid-fire questions about the case, and the reporters were as ruthless as usual.

Both Elliot and Olivia were tired and frustrated that there was nothing that could be done, that even with fresh victims, their case was growing cold and that a killer was going to get off free. To make matters worse, with the media exposure the case had been receiving, they had had no time to focus on any of their other cases, which had steadily piled over the past week. There were still notes to compare, victims to re-interview and suspects to be interrogated, but there was no easing of the flow on either side.

Elliot stood staring into his refrigerator and wondered if he should reach for a Pabst or a simple Bud Light. Remembering he so rarely had adult company in his apartment, he pulled two Pabst bottles from their case opting to save the Bud Light for when he had to watch a murderer or rapist walk free, acquitted by yet another jury.

Olivia sat on Elliot’s couch, shoes at the door and her hair pulled into a loose ponytail, with a series of files spread across her lap. With the media exposure on their most current case, came the nickname of the killer, The Boxing Strangler, and the usual flow of calls from concerned citizens and crackpots alike. Every lead was to be followed in the off chance that one half-drunk caller could lead them to the killer. However, as the afternoon turned to evening, all calls seemed to be a complete waste of time.

The only one that looked slightly promising, an elderly woman complaining about the “weird guy” downstairs constantly leaving his boxes all throughout the hallways, proved bogus as the man informed them he had recently moved into his apartment and was simply lazy about breaking down his boxes and taking them out the trash. They were both completely exhausted by the time they had spoken with man and simply grunted that they were sorry for having bothered him as they hastily left the apartment.

Unable to stand the idea of listening to the sound of constantly ringing telephones while trying to play catch up, Elliot and Olivia drove to his apartment after the old woman’s false alarm in order to keep their sanity as they reviewed other cases while keeping the Boxing Strangler at the forefront.

Olivia had been going through as many old cases as she could in an attempt to find something that would link back to their killer. From her experience, killers like their Boxing Strangler, may go on sprees, but there was always that first murder that would have occurred long before their spree, the one that would lay the foundation to their capture. It was just a matter of trying to find the case that would be laying somewhere thus unsolved.

She sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose, so tired and aggravated she was ready to rip out her own hair. At this point, she was ready to pin all the murders on Drover just to be able to rest the case, if only for a moment.

Elliot poked her with the cool beer bottle and she took it with a smile. As he settled back onto the couch and took a slice of the pizza that sat at the table’s edge, her mind wondered about the coffee table and its impact on his life.

It looked slightly worn, but did not have the tell-tale of features of surviving a household full of children, so she was certain it had not come from his house when he had moved, but it still filled her with quizzical wonder, as did the rest of his furniture. A year and a half had passed since she and his brothers had helped him move into his current apartment, and she remembered it all too well. A bed frame, a couch and several other pieces of furniture, including the coffee table, had been set in a storage site by the river and the four of them spent the entire Saturday making the two trips back and forth from the storage site to his new apartment.

She had felt the need to do something to help him and was relieved that though he had not asked her to keep away, he did not tell her to leave either. She liked just being able to help Elliot and she was surprised to find that if she had not been dating Jonathan at the time, she would have asked for Elliot’s younger, unmarried brother’s number, as she saw in him everything that she liked about Elliot, but in someone completely detached from her job.

Elliot rustled several papers in her direction, breaking her reverie and she took them returning to the task at hand. The papers were part of Connor Whickfield’s autopsy report that he had wanted her to look over in case she could catch something he did not. As she stared Connor’s face, she wondered if Elliot was comparing him to his son. Half the reason she suspected he wanted to work from his apartment was that, after the day they had had, he simply did not want to be alone. In truth, neither did she and considering that Jonathan had yet to call, text-message or even e-mail her, Olivia figured she would be spending her evening alone as well. Since he had signed his divorce papers, Elliot seemed more irritable, yet forlorn at the same time, and she knew that their case with its murdered children just Dickie’s age, weighed harder on Elliot than anything else.

Olivia heard Elliot sigh as his telephone rang across the room.

“Ten bucks says this is Cragen telling us we need to be over there answering phones,” he said as he stood.

“Ten bucks and another beer,” she replied.

Stabler,” he said into the phone.

“Elliot?” a familiar voice said on the other side on the phone. “It’s me. Look, we need to talk about this thing with Dickie.”

Elliot glanced at Olivia and took the phone into his bedroom. “Yeah, what’s up?”

“Well, how do you think this is going?” Kathy Stabler said. “I told him he couldn’t go to his soccer game tonight and now he won’t speak to me.”

“Kath, he’s still grounded until he apologizes.”

“This isn’t going to work when he’s as stubborn as you!” she shouted into the phone. “He keeps saying he didn’t do anything wrong. He’s not going to apologize!”

“Kathy, he lied to me and snuck out of the house. You’re telling me you’d let him get away with his.”

“Elliot,” she said sighing. “He’s a thirteen-year-old kid. They do things like that or don’t you remember?”

“If I got caught, I apologized and went about my business. He won’t even do that.”

“He’s been grounded for six days now. Hasn’t he suffered enough? Haven’t I suffered enough having to deal with him stomping around, angry all the time?”

Anger ripped through him at her jibe about how Elliot seemed to be prior to their separation. “Kath, have you been watching the news lately? Kids just Dickie and Lizzie’s age are being murdered in the streets and you want to let him run around like it’s nothing?”

He heard her sigh again. “He’s not out wandering around on 120th, Elliot. He was just going out to see his friends down the street. It was no big deal!”

“These kids are being found all over the city, Kathy! Kids who leave their houses to just go see a friend and then they turn up murdered on the other side of the city.”

“Elliot, I know.”

“Do you? I don’t think you get it.”

“And I don’t think you get it! You’re penalizing your son because of what you’re seeing on the job. You can’t do that! He just made a mistake.”

“Kathy, I saw one of the victims the night before he was killed! His parents let him go half a block down the street and he was murdered. And they knew exactly where he was going!”

“I know, Elliot. I get it! But, the city’s just as dangerous today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. You can’t take that out on the kids!”

He stood silent for a moment before answering. “Kathy, I don’t know what you need me to say to Dickie to make him understand this, but now, it’s the principle of the thing. He lied to me and snuck out of the house. Period. All I’m asking for is an apology. If he can’t even acknowledge that he did something wrong, then he deserves to spend all his time at home. This current case of mine is completely outside of it. It just makes it all the more important that he realizes what he did was wrong. I mean, honestly Kath. If he was at home and you caught him sneaking back in the house at one in the morning, what you would’ve done?”

Elliot was met with silence and wondered if she had simple hung up on him. “He’d still be grounded,” she said a full minute’s silence.

“Thank you. The second he apologizes. Just apologizes. I’m not even asking him to write something saying that he was wrong. I just need to see that he gets it. I want him to understand that it’s not just Dad being Dad, but that it’s for his safety. The second he says he’s sorry, he can go.”

“All right,” she said, sounding defeated. “I’ll give it another week, but if he doesn’t apologize by then, I’m dropping it. I mean, I can’t take both Dickie acting out and Kathleen moping around here and refusing to look at me over dinner, at the same time.”

Well, you wouldn’t have to do it alone if you hadn’t thrown me out of my house and taken my kids away. “What’s wrong with Kathleen?”

“How the hell should I know, Elliot? She doesn’t even talk to me anymore.”

“Well…” Elliot shook his head. “I mean she hasn’t said anything at all?”

“Nothing. She’s completely shut down. I’m really beginning to get worried.”

“Well, it’s not the first time. She’ll be okay.” He heard her sigh again. “Is there anything else?”

“No, that was it…how are you doing by the way?”

He shrugged unconsciously. “Soon as we find this guy, I’ll be doing a lot better.”

“Of course you will,” she said. “I have faith in you, Elliot.”

A part of him wanted to start screaming into the phone at that moment. He wanted to shout and yell that if she really had faith in him, she should have had faith in their marriage. Everything muscle in his body tensed as he restrained himself from going off on her.

“I know, Kath,” he said. “Good night.”

“’Night, Elliot.” 

“Everything all right?” Olivia asked when he sat back down on his couch.

“Yeah. I owe you a beer. You can shove the ten dollars,” he added smiling.

“Oh, I’ll get ‘em,” Olivia said and watched him sigh as he closed his eyes a moment.

“Seriously,” she continued. “Is everything okay?”

He shook his head. Dickie. Kathy’s saying that he’s still mad that he’s grounded.”

“He’s still on punishment for last Thursday?”

“All he has to do is apologize.”

“You don’t think you’re being a little hard on him. I mean, what kind of trouble did you get into when you were his age?”

“What is it with all the women in my life tonight? Kathy said the same thing and that’s not the point. He snuck out of the house and lied to my face. He needs to apologize. End of story.”

“So, what, are you going to ground him until he’s eighteen if he doesn’t?”

“Damn straight I will. He knows he’s wrong. He’ll miss his friends soon enough and he’ll apologize eventually.”

“Hmm…The phrase ‘not bloody likely’ is coming to mind.”

Elliot simply shook his head.

“You’re not coming down on him because of what’s been going on with this case, are you?”

“No. It’s the principle of thing. It’d be the same way whether this guy was out there or not. I can handle this.”

She stared at him, not wanting their conversation to lead into a repeat of Sunday evening or the previous night, but her concern never wavered.

He sighed again. “Let’s…let’s just take a break from this. What do you have about the…uh… Kelly Thomlinson rape case?”

Olivia shifted and looked through a few of the files in her bag. “Uh…let’s see…ThomlinsonThomlinson…oh, yeah. The alleyway behind a club.”

“Was there even DNA on that one?” he asked, eyes closed and rubbing his temples.

“No. I think we should put her at the bottom of the pile for now. I remember her statement at the hospital and she seemed to be more focused on getting a form that said she spent half the night in the hospital than giving us a description of the guy or even telling us how it happened. Sounds like a college student trying to get out of an exam to me.”

“Fine…who else’ve we got?”

“Eddie Dawson…with a bottle in a gay bar…”

“That’s the guy who said he wasn’t gay, but was there anyways, right?”

“Right. Now, I got a call from him a few days ago. He wanted to know how the case was going, but I haven’t had any time to return his call.”

Elliot shook his head. “He still needs to tell us why he was there. I remember he wasn’t all that open with that information. Plus, he said he saw his attacker, but he didn’t want to just give a description. Bottom him, who’s next?”

Marianas Garcia. Walking home from a bodega on East 90th. Two white guys jumped her, pulled her in a car and raped her.”

“Does Novak want to treat it as a hate crime?”

“I’m not sure. I don’t think we’d call it that until we brought the suspects in. Now, I remember we had DNA for the both of the men. One was in the system, but he was in a lockup from a Bronx rape when we first started looking at him and that was right before Connor Whickfield was found.”

“What about the other guy?”

“We had a suspect…” she said, reviewing her notes. “Name of…McDaniel. He lives a few blocks South of the crime scene. Let’s say we put it on the list for tomorrow to go check in on him?”

“Deal,” Elliot said, walking back to his refrigerator.

Olivia nodded her head and as she added to her notes, she saw another note she had made earlier that day. The gentleman with the moving boxes around his apartment, had been very reluctant to even speak to them initially, stating at first that they had no right to impede on his civil rights by asking him about his property. It was not the first time that she and Elliot had encountered people who practically slept with a copy of the Constitution under their pillows, but she made a mental note to speak to him again. Even through her own haze of fatigue she had not liked the way he looked at her and she knew he was worth spending a little more time investigating.

“Another Pabst or a Bud Light?” Elliot shouted from his refrigerator.


“Sure,” he said, handing the beer to her. “Drink me out of all the good stuff.”

She smiled and threw the bottle cap at him as they settled back into their cases.

Two hours and another two beers a piece later, Olivia felt the slight buzz that had been building in her head starting to cloud her thinking as she reviewed her notes. When she realized that she had read the same sentence four times in a row without understanding it, she sighed and rested against Elliot’s couch.

“Let’s call it a night,” she mumbled.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’m exhausted myself.” He stared at her as she lay half asleep. “You know, it’s starting to snow. I don’t feel comfortable driving you home with the weather and a couple beers under my belt. Why don’t you just stay here tonight? I’ll just park it on the couch and drive you home in the morning.”

“I’ll just get a cab.”

“This late? And, in this snow?”

“I’ll be fine. Thanks for the offer though.”

A few moments later, Elliot watched Olivia gather herself and her things into a cab and, as he headed back to his own apartment, could not get their last conversation out of his head.

What was he thinking asking her to stay? Of course, the rational thing would have been to call her a cab. Why even suggest asking her to spend the night?

He shook his head as he straightened up his living room. They had had a few drinks each; just enough to remove any initial inhibitions about themselves and lead down a dangerous road. The question had simply rolled out of his mouth before he even had time to think about what was said.

What would he have done if she had agreed? Olivia sleeping in his bed? What would he have done if something happened?

He sighed as he remembered the smile Olivia gave him as she stepped into the cab before leaving and he tried to shake the memory. Knowing there was no way he would get to sleep anytime soon, he undressed and decided instead to take a long, cold shower.




The cab driver made the trip to Olivia’s apartment slowly and steadily as the snow began to fall on the city, covering most surfaces with its white fluff. The moment she paid the driver, she noticed a tall figure standing in the doorway of her building.

“You know, it’s twenty degrees out here,” she said to the man in her doorway.

“I know,” Jonathan said, shivering slightly. “So, it should seem obvious that I really wanted to talk to you.”

“Well,” she said stepping into the doorway. “If you just wanted to talk, there are these remarkable little inventions known as phones, you know.”

“Fine,” he said. “I needed to come see you then.”

She stared at him for a minute. “What makes you think I’m even gonna let you up?”

“Please, Liv,” he said, shivering again. “We need to talk…”

She watched him shiver for a moment more before answering. “Well…all right then.”

“I have something for you,” Jonathan said once they were in the elevator.

He pulled out a long Tiffany Blue box and handed it out to her. Olivia stared at it for a moment, wondering whether or not to even take the gift. 

When they had first started dating, Jonathan tried showering her with expensive jewelry and things from Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue and the like, but she told him to stop. Wealthy or not, she did not want him giving her expensive gifts all the time as it seemed unbecoming of an NYPD detective to walk around with earrings that cost more than half a year’s salary. For the most part, Jonathan had obliged, opting to buy her small plastic, bubble gum machine rings and such instead, and she loved those more than the flawless, one carat, Emerald Cut diamond he bought for her on their anniversary.

“I told you about these gifts Jonathan,” she said, slowly taking the box from him. “I don’t want these expensive things.”

“I know, but I wanted you to have this. I had it made especially for you.”

“You can’t just buy me something from Tiffany’s every time you mess up.”

“Will you just open it?”

She sighed and pulled the white, satin ribbon from the light, Tiffany Blue box and opened it. Inside, set carefully on the inner satin, laid a necklace made of candy hearts. The largest center heart sat pink with red letters that said “Only Olivia Has My Heart.”

She sighed and closed her eyes at the simple gift. Jonathan looked down at her, blue eyes shining with redress, and took her hand in his. She could not speak and simply shook her head as she thought of the night of their very first date.

An hour later, after a grave apology and the promise of better understanding in the future, Olivia felt herself climax as Jonathan rocked beneath her and she slowly settled under her covers with him.

As her breathing slowed back to a steady pace, Jonathan pulled her closer to him. Olivia wanted to simply close her eyes and fall asleep on Jonathan’s bare chest, but as her heartbeat slowed, her mind was raced. At some point in the past hour, she had the great urge to call out a name, but only one could come to mind and it was not Jonathan’s.

Jonathan’s breathing became slow and steady, signifying that he was asleep and Olivia blushed as she lied next to him. The candy necklace lay on its satin pillow in the blue box on her nightstand and, for a moment, it appeared to sparkle in the moonlight. Everything she had ever known or felt about love lied beside her with his arm around her middle keeping her near as he slept, but her mind still played on one single idea, half blurred by ecstasy and the Pabst that still splashed in her stomach.

What if, she thought, What if I had stayed?




Thursday January 18, 2007

SVU Squad room



“All right,” Cragen said, standing in front of his lead detectives on his most poignant case. “Someone give me a run down on what we’ve got so far.”

Fin spoke up first. “Well, we had Drover, but his DNA wasn’t a match, so he’s gone.”

“What about another link between the boys?” Cragen asked.

“Drover was it,” Elliot said. “He’s the only one who’s had some kind of relationship with each of the kids. Not to mention that he lives and works within a few miles of all the dumping sites and found one of the victims. He was the only link we had.”

“But,” Olivia added, “aside from the DNA and the incorrect ID, his actions in the interrogation screamed for an innocent man. He’s out of the loop. There’s got to be another link between these kids.”

Cragen shook his head. “Everything goes back to that the soccer complex. I want two of you to go back there and interview anyone you can think of who might have had some kind of relation to the kids.”

“I’ll go,” Fin said.

“I’m right behind you,” Elliot said, walking toward the elevators.

Glances were exchanged between everyone as Elliot walked to the elevators and Olivia was slightly unnerved by the change, especially considering how she and Elliot had left things the previous night.

A short, female detective with red hair gave Olivia a small smile as waved for Cragen’s attention, but Olivia only returned it with a nod, suddenly feeling very depressed about the nature of her partnership.

“Hey,” Munch said, breaking the uncomfortable silence after Cragen returned to his office with the smaller detective. “Liv. I want to go over something with you on that guy with the boxes. What was his name?”

“Something Kreider,” Olivia said, looking through notes on her desk.

“I think we need to look at him again,” Munch continued.

She smiled. “Why? You feel a kindred spirit in another conspiracy nut?”

“No,” he said sternly, but with sarcasm dripping. “Besides, from the sound of it, he’s not even a conspiracy nut at that age. Merely a wannabe, and he’s not even good at that.”

Olivia laughed and she sat down at her desk to bring up information on the “nut” with the boxes.

When Fin and Elliot returned four hours later, all smiles were gone from Munch and Olivia’s faces.

“What’s up?” Elliot said, the moment he got to his desk.

Olivia sighed. “You first. What’d you turn up at the complex?”

“Refs and kiosk guys talked about a guy they’ve seen around. Tall-ish, hazel-ish eyes, black-ish hair, always watching the games.

“That’s a lot of –ishes,” Olivia said.

“Tell me about it,” Elliot said.

“Sounds kind of like Drover, though,” Munch added. “Doesn’t it?”

“Probably is,” Fin said.

“What’ve you two been doing?” Elliot asked.

“Looking up a little info on an Owen Kreider,” Olivia said. “You remember the guy with the boxes?”

“Yeah, he was moving in. So what?”

“So,” she continued. “He’s either extremely lazy or he’s been moving for a long time. John and I called his landlord. Kreider moved into that apartment three years ago.”

“So, he’s lazy,” Elliot said. “Besides, that box thing was weak anyway.”

“But, his sealed records aren’t,” Munch said. “He was sent away for something that might’ve been violent. We can’t see the records just yet, but we’re requesting them.”

Elliot stared between Olivia and Munch from his chair for a moment. “And you two think that that counts as something? Those records could be about anything and everything. Could’ve been robbing liquor stores or flashing old ladies.”

“Have you taken a good look at Owen Kreider?” Olivia said, handing him a photo. “That’s the mug shot from when he was seventeen. Do you notice a mild coincidence?”

“No,” he said, after giving the photo a quick glance.

She took it away and handed it to Fin. “First thing we noticed is that he looks a lot like Drover.”

Fin nodded as he looked at the photo. “Black-ish hair and hazel-ish eyes. Same sad look on his face. How tall is he now?”

“‘Bout six-one,” Munch said. “Tall-ish. Like Drover. And he and Drover both work for Rohlman-Hayworth. I bet you Kreider knows Alphabet City pretty good, too.”

“Sounds promising,” Fin said. “Who’s gonna talk to him first?”

“Sounds like a waste of time,” Elliot mumbled. “If similar colouring is the only thing we’ve got on this other guy, we’re gonna have a helluva time bringing him in.”

“We had less than this on Drover, and you were itching to bring him in,” Olivia said.

“This guy didn’t find one of the victims while going for a run at three o’clock in the morning! We’re wasting our time. This guy’s out there killing kids and we’re nowhere closer to finding him than the day we found Jacob Lewendale!”

He had not meant to shout, but the very idea of this new suspect seemed more than ludicrous to him.

“Elliot,” Olivia said, standing in front of him. “What’s the problem? We talk to Kreider and we figure out if we can rule him out as a suspect or not. What’s the big deal? Please don’t tell me this is still about Drover.”

He shook his head slowly, but she answered for him. “It is, isn’t it? You can’t stand the fact that Drover’s really not the guy.”

“There’s no way he can have that kind of link to the victims and not be related to the crimes.”

DNA cleared him, Elliot,” she said, crossing her arms. “His prints don’t match. It’s not him.”

“We only found DNA on one victim and just the newest victim’s prints on all on the others. DNA might have cleared him on Jacob Lewendale, but my eye’s still on him for the rest.”

Olivia glared at him, shaking her head all the while and Fin spoke before she could lay into him again.

“Look,” he said. “I say we just sit Drover on the back burner for a sec. Elliot’s right. We only have DNA from one victim.”

“But Warner says all the victims were killed by the same one person,” Olivia said.

“And she’s human,” Fin said. “She makes mistakes. Jacob Lewendale was killed days before the others, but these last five were all killed back to back to back.”

“It means he was just warming up with the first one,” Olivia said, nearly shouting. “These boys were all killed by the same guy.”

“No,” Elliot said. “It looks like all the same guy. There’s still too much with these cases that says it has to be more than one person.”

“Wait,” Munch interrupted, “now you want to back my copy cat theory?”

Olivia spoke before Elliot could answer. “No, he just can’t take that fact that he was wrong about Drover, so now he’s got to do something to make it look like it could still be him.”

Elliot stood at her last statement. “Don’t tell me what I’m thinking. I’m telling you. Drover’s involved! He’s banging the single moms of the kids he coaching and all the while he’s checking out the kids. Just because his DNA didn’t match Jacob Lewendale doesn’t mean he’s not involved with the others!”

“Elliot,” Fin said softly tapping him on the shoulder.

“What!” he screamed as he turned.

Fin nodded toward the elevators and Elliot turned further to see Kathleen standing in the corner of the squad room.

He crossed the room in four steps and allowed his temper to come down to a simmer as he approached his daughter, who stood arms folded and glaring at him.

“Hey,” he said softly. “What are you doing here?”

“Are you serious?” she hissed.

“What? What’d I do?”

“You’re still grounding Dickie!”

Elliot pulled Kathleen toward the wall of the squad room. “Kathleen, I really don’t have time to discuss this right now. Let’s talk about this later.”

“The hell we will. I wanna talk about it now! You’re being completely unfair about everything.”

“Look! I told you already! This doesn’t even concern you. Go home and I’ll talk to Dickie about this later.”

“He doesn’t want to talk to you. Ever! And, I don’t blame him.”

Elliot rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe I’m even entertaining this conversation right now. Kathleen, I’m up to my eyes with work and you’re coming here about this insignificant stuff? Go home and I’ll talk to all of you about it later!”

“It’s not insignificant to me and it’s not to Dickie either!”

“I don’t have time for this.”

“You don’t have time for anything! You just don’t care!”

He sighed and spoke to her in a soft, deep voice. “I care, Kathleen. I care that you felt it necessary to come all the way over here just for your brother. I get it. I understand, but you kids know better than to lie to your mother and me, and you all know that you can’t sneak out of the house without getting into trouble.”

 “It’s been a week. For one time, Dad? That’s not even fair.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Elliot said. “Since Dickie’s sending you to go fight his battles, you go back to him and ask him why he’s making everybody’s life miserable just because he won’t apologize.”

“You’re being completely unfair.”

“I think it’s perfectly fair. He apologizes for sneaking out, he’s free. He knows it. But, go. Tell him that. Repeat it for him so that he gets it and we don’t have to go through this again.”

Kathleen simply shook her head and began to walk away from him.

“Hey,” he said. “What’s going on with you and your mother?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Mom says you’re quiet all the time. What gives?”

She sighed and was about to open her mouth when Olivia came around the corner. “Elliot? Cragen wants us.”

He glanced at Olivia and then back at Kathleen. Concern trickled through him as he saw the change in his daughter’s face. She had turned very pale in a matter of seconds and she would not look him in the eye.

“One sec, Liv,” he said as stared at Kathleen.

Kathleen’s eyes quickly went back and forth from her father and Olivia. “No. I-It’s fine, Dad. I’m fine and I’ve gotta go.”

“You’re sure?”

It’s fine,” she said quickly and turned to jump onto the elevator that had just opened.

“Everything okay?” Olivia asked. She felt a tightening in her chest as she hoped that Kathleen had finally come to tell her father what she and Olivia were about to do.

Dickie sent Kathleen in here to get him out of punishment.”

Olivia resisted rolling her eyes. “Well, if that’s stressing out the whole family, don’t you think it’s gone on long enough?”

“Oh, come on,” he said. “I told you yesterday. It’s the principle of the thing. Nothing’s changed.”

“Well, if Kathleen’s crossing a river to come tell you you’re being unfair, isn’t-”

“Stop,” Elliot said. “I don’t need this from you. I know my kids and I know what’s going on here.”

He started to walk away, but she could not hold her mouth shut. “Oh, please.”

Elliot whirled around to face her. “Excuse me?”

“You don’t know your kids half as well as you think you do. Otherwise, it wouldn’t catch you off guard that Dickie sneaks out of the house or that Kathleen…will come all the way over here just to pick a fight with you.”

“Who do you think you are?” he said taking a step closer to her. “You don’t know my kids! You don’t know my family!”

“I know enough about you to know that when the job coincides with something going on with your kids, your judgment turns to crap!”

“You’re full of shit,” he said and turned away from her.

“Oh am I? You’re coming down on your son because of this case and you won’t let go of Drover because he probably reminds you of someone in Dickie’s life! I’m not wrong here and you know it!”

“Drover’s involved!”

“No, he’s not! You just want him to be!”

“Benson! Stabler!” Cragen boomed from across the room.

The detectives glared at one another for a moment more before walking in the direction of Cragen’s office.

“All right. Let’s at least pretend to be professionals for a minute,” Cragen said minutes later to the four detectives. He glowered at Elliot and Olivia before continuing. “Our priorities just shifted. The daughter of a state representative was visiting the city this week. After drinking all night, Helena Fayden heads back to her hotel where she was jumped, dragged to the stairwell and raped. For now, the focus is off this strangler and onto the girl.”

“So, five kids have to wait because Fayden’s dad has money?” Fin said, a strong frown on his face.

“This is coming down to me from on high. Fayden’s already gone to the media and he wants justice…now.”

“So, does everyone,” Fin said.

“I want you at the hotel. Interview the staff and find out who was around that night.”

All four stood and headed for the door.

“Elliot, I need to talk to you. Benson, stay put,” Cragen added as Olivia continued out the door of the office. “Now…what the hell is going on with you two?”

The detectives remained silent, neither wanting to erupt a three-way argument.

“We already had this discussion. What’s this about?”

Olivia pursed her lips as Cragen yelled and glanced at Elliot, hoping that he would speak up before she said something she regretted.

“Captain,” Elliot began to Olivia’s relief. “There’s been some…conflicting opinions on how we should look at our next suspect…”

“Oh, is that it,” Cragen said, sardonically. He took a step towards Elliot. “Look, I know that this case might be hitting a little close to home. If you can’t handle the case-”

“I can handle the case,” Elliot interrupted.

“Well, then act like it! I don’t want to see anymore of that crap going on in here again! Got it?”

Both detectives nodded and Elliot stormed out of the room.

“Olivia,” Cragen said, with a softer tone, “you’ve got the Dana Barrington case tomorrow?”

“I’m due in court at ten.”

“Fine,” he said and then sighed. “I don’t know what’s going on with the two of you, but I really need you to get it together.”

“I am…we are.”

“Just keep an eye on him,” he added. “I don’t want him doing anything rash over this Drover thing.”

“I will.”




Olivia stepped off the elevator on her floor and trekked toward her apartment door, weighed down by the stacks of files in her bag and those being carried under her arm. All of the documents and images that pertained to Dana Barrington’s rape case were in her possession and she was scheduled to testify at the trial the next day. She knew she was ready for the trial as she had testified at many previous to this one, but she hauled everything home to review just as a comfort to herself.

Dana Barrington was a high school student who had been brought into a hospital after being found bleeding profusely in an alley. She had attempted to perform an abortion on herself with a wire hanger and nearly killed herself in the process. After she was admitted, the detectives learned that she had been raped several months earlier and that she could not tell anyone about what had happened to her. Dana had said that she was too embarrassed to say anything because she had walked home alone and she knew she should not have.

The rapist, Gregory Lars, had been apprehended by the DNA provided by Dana’s baby who was born premature, but healthy, two months later. Lars had been preying on adolescent girls in the city for years, but it was only with this case that they had the DNA needed to convict him.

On Friday, Olivia was supposed to testify about Lars’ behavior when he was finally caught. She had no qualms about testifying in front of Lars, who had actually hit her in the stomach while she had him against a wall, but her nerves were slightly on edge when it came to facing the victim again. Dana’s large brown eyes displayed nothing but innocence and she knew only too well that a child born to a raped victim, especially one as young as Dana, would not be as loved as he could be. She knew that upon seeing Dana in court, she would want to tell her what was coming in her life and what she should tell her son as he grew up, but she knew she could not. It was not her place to do so.

Olivia nearly had her keys finagled into her door when she heard Mrs. Fitzgivens’ door open and saw the elderly woman step out into the corridor out of the corner of her eye.

“Olivia!” she said buoyantly. “You’re home so early!”

“Yes,” Olivia said, turning the key into her apartment door. “And, I’ve got loads of stuff to go over…and…you know, I’ve got court tomorrow so…”

“My Philip’s over visiting,” Mrs. Fitzgivens said, ignoring Olivia. “Can you come over a minute?”

“Really…I just can’t. I’ve this court appearance tomorrow and…” Olivia stared at the woman’s hopeful expression and magnified eyes and sighed. “Yeah…just…give me a second.”

“Oh, take all the time you need. In fact, why don’t I just send Philip over in a half an hour and you two could go get a bite to eat?”

Olivia simply nodded her head. “Okay.”

An hour later, after Olivia had changed clothes and reapplied her makeup, she and Philip Fitzgivens were sitting in a chain restaurant at 13th Street and 6th Avenue. She munched on her Greek salad as Philip prattled on about his life and his work as a programmer.

Apparently, he was the youngest of four boys, all of whom worked low-paying, blue collar jobs work except for him, he was the apple of his mother’s eye, he had just moved back to the city after living in Michigan for several years and now worked from his home in East Village.

“Why’d you decide to go to Michigan State?” Olivia asked hoping to avoid an uncomfortable silence.

“Well, I originally wanted to go to their business college, but when I took a few programming courses as electives, I knew which way I wanted to go.”

“Oh, really,” she said, trying to sound interested.

“Yeah. I mean you wouldn’t believe some of the capabilities of these programs nowadays.”

“Well, I know a little. I worked in our Computer Crimes for a while.”

“Wow. Computer Crimes. Sounds like something I should’ve looked into, eh?”


She allowed the conversation to rail onward for another hour as Philip described events in which he was too shy to participate while at Michigan State, described the inner workings of how a series of ones and zeroes could be used to portray anything in the universe and let it slip that he was thirty-five, then thirty-two, then actually twenty-nine years old.

As her watch hit eight-thirty, she decided she was tired of being pleasant and tired of amusing her neighbor’s interests.

“Philip,” she began. “Look, you seem like a really nice guy, but…”

“Hey, don’t brush me off so quick. I’m not quite as nerdy as I seem. I’m just kind of nervous.”

“I don’t think you’re a nerd,” she lied. “But…”

“And, don’t think I had to have my mother ask you to dinner for me. I was kind of hesitant when she first told me about you because she wants to see me married, but don’t let that scare you into brushing me off, either.”

“I’m not trying to brush you off. It’s just that…”

“It-it’s the age thing, right? Trust me, I don’t see it as a problem. In fact, I’ve always been attracted to older-”

Don’t finish that sentence,” she said, putting up her hand. “It’s not just the age difference. The thing is, I’m actually in a relationship right now, and even though he can be an ass at times, I like him. We’re good together. And, I wouldn’t want to lead you on when I’m dating someone else.”

Philip sighed, looking deflated. “Okay. Well…I mean, thanks for just coming out with me, at least.”

She smiled and nodded as she took a sip of her iced tea. Somehow, the phrase “you’re welcome” simply did not suit the situation.

“M-J,” Olivia said into her phone as she left the restaurant ten minutes later.

Her phone beeped and then rang twice before someone answered on the other end.


“Maya,” Olivia said. “What are you up to?”

“Would you believe it? My Thursday has gone to crap. Right now, I’m just taking off my shoes since Amit has to pull another random shift.”

“Well, put ‘em back on and come meet for a drink at Riese’s.”

“Holy hell! Livia’s free for a drink? I’ll be there in a lick!”

Olivia laughed into the phone and made her way up several blocks to the small bar she and Maya frequented. Twenty minutes after she had been called, Maya appeared through the bar’s doors dressed in something from Roberto Cavalli’s latest Fall line.

“Aren’t we a little overdressed for Riese’s?” Olivia asked when Maya found her at the bar.

“Hey, you called me and this was what I was already wearing. Amit and I were supposed to be at this new restaurant’s opening, but of course, the great doctor had to work. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother with him. I guess it’s because he’s probably the man I’ll end up with…when I’m ready. So! Why are you suddenly free to meet for a drink?”

“Just a quick one.”

“But, still! When was the last time we did this? 2005?”

Olivia smiled. “Or three weeks ago… Anyway, I just needed to tell you, face to face, how I kept myself from turning down your tenacious little road.”

Maya put her hand to her chest in mock surprise. “My goodness! What ever could you be talking about?”

“You and your idea of keeping one guy on the side at all times. No matter what people say, I’m not ‘exactly’ like you and I proved that to myself tonight.”

Maya laughed into her drink, half spilling it onto the table. “You don’t have a guy on the side? Why, did you stop eyeballing your partner when he walks out of a room?”

Olivia gave Maya a hard nudge with her foot. “No. I mean yes. I mean I don’t do that anyway. And, I was talking about this twenty-nine year old kid, I told to find himself another girl since I was already dating someone else.”

“Twenty-nine, eh? Go Livia! A little younger than that and you’d be officially robbing the cradle!”

“Seriously. He was adorable in that nerdy sense, but since I’m in love with my Jonathan, I told him to keep on trucking.”

“Love, huh,” Maya said, wiping up her spilled Rum and Coke. “Got some last night, did you?”

Olivia nudged her with her arm, smiling. “Shut up, you little heifer.”

Maya laughed and she took a long drink from her glass.

“But…about Elliot though…”

“Uh-oh,” Maya said. “What happened?”

“It’s not him. It’s his daughter. She came to me asking for advice on birth control.”

Maya’s eyebrows furrowed. “Well…I guess that kind of makes sense…I mean if she didn’t want to go to her mom or something.”

“She didn’t and she was pretty adamant about it. And of course, she doesn’t want me to mention anything to her father.”

“Would you if you were in her position? Hell, when we were eighteen we couldn’t go to our parents with stuff like that. I’m actually not surprised she went to you.”

“I just don’t think I’m doing the right thing, I mean especially after that thing in Midtown last year. She doesn’t seem mature enough to handle this.”

 “Who is? Sex is a big deal whenever it happens. But, at least you’re keeping yourself less stressed in the long run.”

“How so?”

“Well, say you don’t help her out and she gets pregnant. You get to spend the next nine months dealing with your partner’s anxiety over the whole thing and everything that happens once she has the kid. You’re helping everybody out in the long run.”

“That’s what I keep telling myself, but every time I talk to her…I just don’t know. I saw her today while she was talking to her father and you should’ve seen the look on her face. She looked like she swallowed her own tongue.”

Livia, don’t worry so much. Look, Elliot will find out about it, he’ll blow a gasket and then he’ll get over it and be so thankful his kid even thought of coming to you, he’ll probably buy you something. Trust me. It’ll be fine. I mean I wish we had someone like you to go to at that age.”

“You did.”

“No, but I mean you now, not the you of 1984. I needed someone older to talk to. Not the girl sitting next to me with the same bad hair and acid-washed jeans I was wearing too.”

“You had Lavanya and Priyani.”

“I needed someone other than my stupid “we’re-so-much-better-than-you” sisters. I needed some better than them and you did too. Back then it was just the blind leading the blind. But, seriously, Elliot’ll be fine with it…eventually.”

“If you would’ve seen him today, you wouldn’t say that.”

“Something else happened?”

“I couldn’t keep my mouth shut,” Olivia said sighing, “and we ended up blowing up at each other in the middle of the squad room.”

“I’ve been tellin’ you since forever, Livia. When in doubt, shut your mouth.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “The thing is our partnership is as frayed as it can get right now. After this thing with Kathleen, I’ll probably be looking for a new partner…if he doesn’t kill me first.”

“You’ll be fine. You’re partnership is fine. You’re both fine. We’re all fine! Everybody’s fine!”

Olivia smiled and shook her head. She tried to let Maya’s happy-go-lucky aura flow over as she finished her single drink, and when she left the bar a short while later, she felt better than she had in several days.

Once back in her apartment, she reviewed Dana Barrington’s case again and also the notes she and Munch had made on Owen Kreider. She made a mental note to question Kreider again the next day. Elliot would most likely be against it, but she knew in order for them to find the killer, she would have to remain objective.

Despite what Maya had said, Olivia could not shake the feeling of pure rage directed at her today. Before Fin stepped in to tell them that Kathleen was standing in the room, Elliot was completely red with anger and every bit of it seemed directed at her.

Why couldn’t I just let it go? she thought.

The jab about his children was lower than she had ever gone, and she knew it was out of her own frustration about everything going on in her own life. Their current caseload aside, Elliot just seemed so out of control recently. He was so determined to nail Drover that it seemed like he would do anything, which was what scared her most.

As she flipped through documents at her desk, Olivia could only think about Elliot. Why was he so angry? Was it solely this case or did it have to do with the fact that he finally signed his divorce papers? Why could they not seem to get things back to the way they were? Were they that out of sync? Maybe it had something to do with Kathleen?

Olivia felt her stomach rumble at the thought. Why did Kathleen have to come to her of all people? The question had been posed several times, but she still had trouble with it. Kathleen had a mother and a sister with a good head on shoulders. She had high school counselors and hosts of friends. Why did she have to come to her? Was their encounter at the bar the previous year so bonding that Kathleen saw fit to confide in her further?

She set down her files and rubbed her temples, wishing she had told Elliot about the incident she had pushed from mind to avoid inadvertently blurting it out during an argument. Regardless of what could have been done, all that lied ahead was potential deceit. Olivia had been unwillingly dragged into Elliot’s family life and there seemed to be no way out of it. But, what else could she do? Hold Elliot’s hand when he told her that Kathleen was going to have a child out of wedlock at eighteen years old?

Remembering that she had barely touched her salad during her “date” that evening, Olivia looked into her refrigerator and surveyed all that remained. There were eight items in fridge including an empty egg carton that she had absent-mindedly placed back in the fridge, a bag with three slices of bread that were steadily molding over, a half gallon of milk in which floated small, solid chunks of white and an unopened package of salad fixings that was turning into slime in the bag.

She threw all the items into the garbage, which she quickly threw out into the garbage room on her floor, and added those same items to the paper shopping list that was held to the refrigerator with a September 11th memorial magnet. Grabbing the phone on her wall, she speed dialed her favorite Chinese delivery, Mr. Huo’s, ordered Singapore noodles with chicken and told herself that no matter what, she was going to the gym the next evening.

Ten minutes later, Olivia heard a knock at her door. Thinking initially, that it was her order coming faster than usual, she grabbed her wallet and headed toward the door. It was only when she began to turn the handle did the question How the hell would the guy have gotten to my door without me buzzing him in? come to mind.

“Hey!” Mark said the moment she opened the door. He was holding a brown paper bag full of groceries.

She sighed in relief as she had one foot preparing to run for her gun. “Mark. I thought it was someone else. What’s up?”

“Nothing really,” he said. “I went shopping earlier tonight and I was a complete dolt. I bought, like, two of a couple things here. Just eggs and milk and stuff. You know the essentials, but I realized that there’s no way I can use all these before they go bad. Anyway, I know you never have time to go shopping and stuff and I was wondering if you maybe wanted these.”

She smiled as she peeked into the bag. “Well, you’ve got some two percent milk there and I only drink skim, but…I think Mrs. Fitzgivens could probably use all that stuff. I know she’s always cooking and needing stuff anyway.”

Mark nodded, visibly disappointed. “Okay. I’ll give her a knock…tomorrow. I think you and me are the only one’s still up this late on our floor.”

“Okay,” she said, closing the door.

“Hey, wait a sec,” Mark said.


“Look, I’m sorry about what I said the other day about that…um guy…uh Adam. I don’t want you to think I’m like that. I didn’t realize you guys were close.”

“He’s a good friend and a great guy. You should really get to know him.”

“You know…I think…I think maybe I will. Where’s he live?”

“Two floors above in the same apartment as me. He’s closer to your age, so talk to him about basketball and music and old school video games and you’re in like flint.”

He smiled at her. “Talk to you later, then?”

“Yeah. Good night.”

As she closed the door, Olivia smiled to herself. She did not fully believe Mark’s change in bigotry, but the thought that he was making an attempt for her sake was comforting. For that moment at least, even with looming investigations for the Boxing Strangler and her ever increasing pile of cases, Olivia felt she was saving the world one bigot, one child molester, one rapist and one murderer at a time.




“Rat bastard!” Elliot shouted as he drove his padded hand into the bulk of the stiff punching bag.

He had been there for close to two hours, since he had left the Hyatton Hotel, where Helena Fayden had been raped. They had turned up nothing in the initial investigation and while the next step was requesting a DNA sample from each of the male employees, Elliot was still frustrated when he, Munch, Fin and Olivia had parted ways.

Part of that frustration lied in the fact that he and Olivia did not have their customary “make-up” talk following their argument and he could still feel the tension flowing between them. She had been out of line stating that he did not know his kids, but she was right on the nose regarding Drover.

After everything that he had found about Drover in the past week, he was so sure that he was involved. They had so much evidence on him, and yet, he was walking free. And, there was also the issue with Kathleen and Dickie. The situation had blown so far out of proportion Elliot could barely remember what had started it in the first place. The combination of the two stresses made hearing his captain tell him should step down from the case almost too much to bear.

Having no other avenue of venting his rage and frustration, Elliot returned to his favorite all-night gym and began to wear down the large bag in the weight room. As he continued to hit the bag, every one of the day’s irritations returned to him in full force.

Who was Olivia trying to kid? Drover was involved! He was just the kind of guy who could pull off some kind of crazed stunt to keep him out of prison. Why could Olivia and Cragen not see that? Why the hell would Cragen want to pull him from the case? Had he not already shown him that he could handle anything through years in the unit?

And, what was going on with Kathleen? He did not like the exchange that took place between Olivia and Kathleen. Normally, she gave Olivia at least a “hi” or a nod, but today, she looked like she was about to pass out at the sight of her.

Elliot shook his head as he paused between hits. Olivia knew all his children fairly well, but she did not spend a lot of time with them without him around as well. What could have happened that would make Kathleen’s demeanor toward Olivia change so drastically?

“She hiding something,” Elliot said to himself, as he began again on the bag. “And, she’s lying about it.”

When did his kids start thinking it was okay to lie to their father? Why would Dickie think he could get away with sneaking out at night? That could not have been his first time doing it. Why did he have to lie about it initially? Was this something Kathy was pressing on all of them?

Kathy. When was she going to file the paperwork to finalize their divorce? Was he going to feel the exact moment his life officially fell apart? What was he going to do if, no when Kathy started dating? What if she decided to get remarried?

Elliot’s knuckles cracked beneath the glove at the last question. The thought of someone else married to his wife, raising his children, was agonizing. The whole thing could not have been all of his fault, could it? Olivia seemed to think everything he said or did was wrong.

What was with her lately? It felt like she was picking a fight with him at every chance she got. What was going on with her? He knew it was not her cycle. He had a calendar telling him exactly which days to tread softly around her. It had to be something with the wealthy jackass she was dating.

Elliot extended his arms to exert full force in his muscles, pummeling the grey bag. What could she possibly see in that guy? Of all the ones he had seen over the years, he could not understand Jonathan. Why would she even waste her time with some rich guy who liked to pretend he made his millions on his own? She was too good for him. There was no way he would last. But, what if he did? What if she married him? The bastard was so wealthy…what if she quit her job? What if she left him for good? God, how would he cope?

At the last thought, he simply hung on to the bag. Every body part seemed to ache, but he had so much pent up that he wanted to hit the bag all night.

“Tough day?” a voice said from behind him.

He turned around, still breathing hard, to face a thirty-something hazel-eyed woman. He nodded at her and gave a weak smile.

“Diana,” he said, after he had taken a drink of water. “Tough doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

“That bad?” she said, with a sultry laugh.

“It was unbelievable.”

Elliot had known Diana Willex as nothing more than an acquaintance for close to three years. She was an aerobics instructor and was a teacher at a school not far from his apartment. Diana liked to come to the gym about the same times as Elliot did and after spotting one another on various bench presses and assisting with stretching here and there, Elliot had come to know her somewhat well.

She flirted with him from time to time, but he never once reciprocated. In the last months he had seen her, however, she noted the fact that he no longer wore his wedding ring, and he did nothing to allay her further flirtations.

“Well, I guess I can kind of imagine,” Diana said. “Since I notice you only give the bag a workout like that when it looks like something’s really bothering you.”

He sighed and stared at her for a moment, wondering how fast she would run away from him if he spilled everything that was stressing him. As he stared at her, he found himself amazed by her presence, like he was truly seeing her for the first time. Diana looked, oddly, like a perfect mix between his wife, his ex-wife, and his partner. While Olivia was nearly his height and Kathy was a few inches shorter, Diana came somewhere in between them. Her eyes were large, like both Kathy and Olivia, but their colour could only be described as the perfect mix between brown and blue. Diana’s hair, perfectly straight and just below her shoulder line, was light brown with a hint of highlight to it and her smiling face seemed to melt his heart as did the aforementioned women.

“How much longer have you got?” Elliot asked grabbing some of his things.

Diana shrugged. “I could be done now.” She then laughed. “You look like you could use a drink.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “A big one.”




In all truth, Elliot had only intended to have just a drink with Diana. He only wanted to have a few beers and complain about life in general with someone who was not Kathy, Olivia or one of his brothers. He had simply wanted to talk, and when Elliot rolled over in his bed, he wondered how he had gone so wrong.

He and Diana had gone to Debbs’ bar at on West End and, initially, all they did was talk. They discussed everything from how co-workers could seemingly lose their minds at times to life in general. When he began to discuss what it felt like to finally sign the papers that ended his marriage, he felt his eyes burn as they began to well with tears and Diana moved from her side of the booth to Elliot’s to rub his arm and tell him that everything would be all right in the end.

He did not believe the words as they came from her mouth, but he nodded his head at her, nonetheless. An hour later, they were in his bedroom, Elliot feeling that if he just had some kind of release he might feel better about everything that was happening in his life. Release, any release, might take off some of the pressure he felt pushing on him from all sides. Yet, even when he rolled off of Diana a while earlier that night, no rushing clarity or feeling of ease overcame him. He wanted something, anything, but he was only empty.

Elliot stared at his clock as he listened to Diana’s breathing beside him. He watched the clock turn minute by minute until one-thirty, wondering all the while how long he would have to remain cordial and allow Diana to sleep in his bed. Everything about her suddenly seemed dirty and he had the urgent need to go to confession.

He did not do this sort of thing often, as Diana had been only the third since Kathy had served him with divorce papers, but he never felt right before, during or afterward. Having spent the majority of his adult life with Kathy, Elliot hated even the feel of another woman beside him in bed. Something always seemed amiss in his world when new women entered it and when Diana shifted in his bed, his stomach churned out of sheer stress.

After another hour hoping sleep would come, he got up to do some work. He made a mental note to see his priest in the morning while Olivia was in court. She always had that Elliot, what’s wrong? expression on her face if she learned he had gone to confession and he had hated having to shake that expression throughout his day. In essence, he had not actually done anything wrong. He was a grown man and his marriage had ended. Diana was a nice enough person who had been after him for years and he had done nothing to seduce her to his apartment. It was she, after all, who had done the suggesting, stating that he probably should not spend the night alone. Though he did not, as pulled out some of his current case files, he wished he had.

Even throughout her pressing questions, Elliot could not even begin to tell Diana what he saw everyday. He knew there was simply no way she could understand, and he suddenly thought of Olivia trying to date and avoiding the topic of work should it come up during a dinner.

He mused on the thought further. The way things were going in his life, he might soon be trying to avoid talking about work while trying to date too.

When the word date jumped to mind, Elliot felt his stomach churn again. He did not want to date and he did not want to face the idea of Kathy doing so either. He barely tolerated any of the women in his life dating, from his wife to his daughters to his sister to his partner. The prospect of Kathy finding someone else was just too much to take.

He scribbled some notes onto Manny Scheibley’s file before him and went back to bed. He stared at Diana for a moment before he slid beside her to spend the rest of the twilight hours praying for sleep’s solace. Moonlight shone through his blinds, showering Diana’s sleeping form in a pale light and though she looked beautiful, he missed his wife more than he had in a long while.