Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(23)

By: Ingrid Reinke

The last message was from a local number that I didn’t have stored in my phone.

“Hi Louisa, it’s Rocky. I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to tell you that I know you probably need a ride to you car, so I’m going to swing by your apartment at around 1:30 to pick you up.”

It was 1:22 PM. I looked up and caught a reflection of myself in the mirror: complete disaster. My outfit was even more horrifying and embarrassing. This was so totally not going to work.

When the doorbell rang at exactly 1:30, I was spraying on some cheap, fruity-scented body mist. I took one last look at myself, and decided that, irrespective of the sweatpants, I had not done too dismal of a job in only eight minutes. I took a deep breath, then tried to force myself to walk slowly down the stairs, calming my frantically pounding heart, and up to the door as casually as I could.

I felt better as soon as I saw Rocky. He looked the same as he had the day before in his uniform, but today he had a freshly shaven face and smelled clean and musty in his familiar brand of cologne. When he saw me he smiled widely.

“Hi!” I said, a little too excitedly. “I just got your message a few minutes ago. I kind of forgot about my car.” I did OK until the end of the sentence, when my voice decided to squeak uncontrollably. I cringed.

“Well, you had quite a day yesterday,” he said kindly. “You still need a ride, right? I mean, unless you are going to have your boyfriend drive you…”

He faded off. In my rush, I hadn’t really thought about it, but now I realized that his picking me up today was not a part of the normal service provided to persons of interest in a police investigation. Either Rocky was going for the Police Officer of the Year award, or this guy was genuinely interested in dating me.

“Yes, I still need a ride,” I said. “My boyfriend who doesn’t exist treats me badly and won’t take me downtown to pick up my car.”

“Then I guess you owe me,” he chuckled.

“I guess I do,” I said back to him.

We got back into the cruiser to head downtown. While we drove, Rocky showed me the various knobs and buttons in the cruiser that turned on the lights and sirens and the small video camera that was constantly recording what was happening in front of the vehicle when he was on duty. I was trying to pay attention when my phone started ringing loudly.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll turn it off.”

Call from SATAN, the screen of the phone blared. Rocky saw the name and started to laugh again.

“And who exactly is Satan?” he asked me playfully.

“That’s just my personal trainer. He’s a really nice guy, but he tortures me twice a week at the gym. I’m pretty sure no one else calls him Satan.”

“Well OK, when I ask you to go on a date with me, I promise it won’t be an exercise date.”

I looked at him for a minute, smiling and blushing a bit. “You’re going to ask me on a date?” I asked. “You mean this is not a normal service provided by the Seattle PD?”

Rocky was looking left and right, waiting for traffic to clear. After a second he pulled out onto the road, and looked over at me deliberately.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I was going to ask you on a date, if that’s all right with you, and no, I am on my lunch break. Police officers are here to protect and serve, but chauffeuring witnesses around is currently not a normal service that we provide.”

“Hmm. Well, then,” I said, pretending to be surprised. “OK, I accept your offer. No exercise though.”

“Good,” He looked down at this lap, a bit shyly, then over to me. “I promise. No exercise.” We were both smiling. “How about dinner? I promise I will take you somewhere nice,” he suggested.

“Dinner sounds great, but you should know that I prefer to eat somewhere terrible.” I was in a joking mood.

“Perfect. I will happily take you to Seattle’s shittiest dining establishment. Unfortunately my schedule is a little crazy right now, so I don’t know exactly what night this will be. I hope you’ll still think I’m a gentleman when I call you to make last minute plans,” he explained. I really didn’t mind at all. In fact, it would probably be better for my psyche to have less time to spend obsessing and freaking out about a first date.

“I do think you’re a gentleman, and I will accompany you to said shit restaurant any day of the week.”

When Rocky dropped me off at my car, I was in a great mood, even though we hadn’t nailed down a specific date. I was hoping it would be sooner rather than later, but either way, I was pretty sure we were going go out, and I felt excited and optimistic.