“I think you could live alone just fine,” Niles thought. “What kills a person is not the loneliness, but the happiness you see others have; it’s envy that eats away at your heart.”
Rich entered the office and sat at his desk. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and about the push Annie’s number. “No, just be lonely and work on not being envious.” He stuffed the phone back in his pocket.
Niles stepped up to the first floor. With the threat of another shooting gone Jessica’s desk was returned to the lobby.
Jessica spun around in her chair hearing Niles approach from the stairway.
“It’s a good thing you’re a cop,” Jessica said, “you’d never make a cat burglar.”
“Don’t like cats,” Niles said. “Just come up to check on you.”
“Ya, know I can handle myself, don’t you?” Jessica said.
“I know,” Niles said, “but to be honest, if I had a daughter I’d want somebody checking on her.”
“My dad calls twice a day,” Jessica confided. “You never mention children, did you have any?”
“We had one,” Niles said. “Never made it out of the hospital. In case you’re wondering, it was a girl.”
“How long ago?” Jessica said.
“Yesterday,” Niles said.
“You got a big hole, don’t you?” Jessica said.
“I got two,” Niles said. “I wanted to tell you I’m going to visit my dad for a few days, so I won’t be in Monday. Tom will cover.”
“How’s you’re dad doing?” Jessica said.
“Doing good,” Niles said. “I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”
“Chief,” Jessica said, “never mind. On second thought, it’s fine to visit your dad, but you need something else. I worry about you. When was the last time you called Annie?”
“She has a life,” Niles said. “That ship went out with the tide and never will it return.”
“You ever think about dating?” Jessica said.
“I’m really uncomfortable with this conversation,” Niles said.
“Hold on there, Chief,” Jessica said, “don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not talkin’ about me and you.”
“I was starting to worry for a moment,” Niles said. “However, we did have a good time at the gun club.”
“Who doesn’t have a good time at the gun club?” Jessica said. “The crack of a gun, the smell of gunpowder, and the recoil of a good rifle is all a gal needs.”
“You’re too much,” Niles said. “You’ll probably end up married to an interior decorator or florist.”
“But I do have someone in mind,” Jessica said.
“No thanks,” Niles chuckled, “I’m fine miserable. And if you don’t mind, let’s not talk about this again.”
“Sure, Chief,” Jessica smiled, “but if you open the door, I’m barreling in.”
“Fair enough,” Niles smiled, waved, headed down the steps to his office.