Katie gave up trying to sleep at five o’clock in the morning.
She stumbled out of the room and made her way towards the kitchen. The house was dark and silent. Brandon was still asleep.
She moved as quietly as possible through the kitchen, making her way to the counter and filling the coffee maker with water and her favorite dark Italian roast before hitting the start button. While the coffee brewed, she pulled out all the necessary ingredients and tools for breakfast.
If Brandon’s schedule had remained the same as before she moved, then he would be up by five-thirty. He would take a quick shower then come out to eat. Katie was determined that everything be ready by then.
She was truly exhausted, but sleep had been elusive to her and now she was starving. As predicted, she spent over an hour crying herself to sleep. She’d made sure that Brandon was fast asleep before letting her emotions out. When she did finally fall asleep it came in short bursts with crime-scene-photo-filled dreams. The images still danced through her head, giving her chills.
True to form, Katie heard Brandon shuffle to the bathroom right at five-thirty. A few moments later, she heard the spray of the shower and the faint whoosh of the curtain being closed. For a split second she considered joining him, but dismissed the idea. Firstly, she didn’t want to give him any sort of false hope, especially since she was still figuring out what exactly was going on. Yes, she still hurt, but he hurt too—she had realized that last night when she saw the photo. It was obvious he still thought about her, but that did not mean he still loved her.
No, the only thing joining him in the shower would solve was her year-long forced celibacy. Sure, she could have had a fling or two, but that wasn’t what she wanted. She was done with that. Right now, she wanted just one person; the same person who was showering just a room away. Katie pushed the thoughts out of her head. Stop teasing yourself. Thinking about it will only make it worse. She poured herself a cup of coffee and began working on breakfast.
The caffeine did wonders to calm her nerves. She chugged down her first cup and quickly filled a second. While she sipped on her mug, she cooked French toast and sausage links on the stove.
Then she cut a cantaloupe they bought the night before. This had always been Brandon’s favorite breakfast. Just as she put the cantaloupe chunks in a bowl, Brandon emerged from his room.
“Something smells good,” he mumbled as he dragged himself to the coffee maker. His sandy blond hair was combed and parted, making him look like some sort of Hollywood leading man from the forties. His tailored pants, shirt, and jacket fit him to perfection. She knew the jacket concealed his holster. Back when they were together, Brandon had become so used to wearing the gun that oftentimes he forgot to take it off. While he was used to the firearm, Katie never could bring herself to embrace it. To her it was a constant reminder of the danger he was in every day.
“Thanks. I figured you could use a good breakfast before you went to work.” Katie smiled.
“Yeah,” he mumbled.
Katie chuckled. Brandon was the farthest thing from a morning person that existed. In fact, he was basically a zombie until he had at least two cups of coffee. As confirmation of that fact, Brandon was now standing next to the coffee machine chugging down his first cup of black coffee. “Hey, slow down, champ. That’s going to hit you hard and fast.”
“The sooner the better,” he replied and poured a second cup.
Once the food was done, Katie quickly fixed her plate then sat down. Brandon did the same. Their meal passed quietly.
Brandon took his time eating the mountain of food in front of him. Katie had always been amazed by how fit he stayed, considering he ate about as well as a teenage boy. Apparently he had been blessed with the metabolism of one as well. She was definitely envious.
“Do you still get home from work around six?” “Yeah. Why?”
“Well, I need to get a car while I’m here. If you can drop me off at a rental place that would be great. I could even come with you this morning if that would be better.”
Katie watched as Brandon considered her request. She knew he probably didn’t feel comfortable with her driving all over the place, alone, while a serial killer was loose. This was especially true since this maniac was apparently targeting her. While she understood his concern, she refused to be placed under house arrest. For one thing, she would never stay put. “Brandon.”
He looked up from the table and found himself staring straight into her eyes. “Don’t worry about renting a car. You can use my Mustang.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. He was very protective of that car. It was his baby. He’d had it for the last two years—a present to himself once he’d made detective. Despite their relationship, she still had only driven it twice.
“Yeah. I can use my Jeep for work. I mean, unless you don’t like the Mustang. Then I guess we can get you a rental.”
“No, it’s not that. It’s just…well, you love that car.” “I trust you to take care of it.”
“Okay. Awesome.” She desperately needed to have her freedom. Staying in this house for too long would only make her sad.
“Just be careful, Katie. Keep your eyes open and don’t go anywhere shady. If something is bothering you, please call me. I’ll drop everything and come,” he declared, once again staring into her eyes.
“I will.” Katie swallowed. His gaze was memorizing and she felt a shiver of anticipation shimmy up her spine.
“Good,” he replied then stood from the table. He checked his watch, an anniversary present from Katie, and frowned. “I hate to eat and run.”
“It’s okay. I know the drill. I’ll clean the kitchen.” Katie was sad that their time together was ending. She always enjoyed the few precious moments she was able to spend with him before he left for work.
“Hey, let’s do lunch today. I have a few things to do this morning then we can get something to eat. I mean, if you’d like.”
“Sure, sounds great.”
“Awesome. Do you want me to pick you up?”
“No, that’s okay. I’ll drive,” Katie stated. “Now go and get to work. I’ll take care of the kitchen.”
“Thanks,” he whispered. “I’ll let you know when I’m ready for lunch.” Then, without warning, he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and left.
Katie sat in her chair, dumbstruck. Breakfast had gone the same way it always had when they were together, right down to the kiss on the cheek. This kiss, while a small gesture, was something she had not expected—at least not this time around. Maybe, she thought, they weren’t doomed to just be friends after all. With a new spring in her step, Katie hopped up from the table. As she cleaned she felt a wave of post-meal drowsiness creep in. Once the kitchen was in order, she went towards her room to lie down. At the last second she changed her mind and went to Brandon’s room. She slid beneath the sheets, snuggled up to his pillow, and fell asleep.