Can a man and a woman really be “just friends”? The question had haunted Sam for as long as she could remember. Of course, her capacity to remember had spun to a definite halt during that one phone call. Sam had always paid an exorbitant amount of attention to detail, often thinking on nothing else until her current obsession was complete. This was both a blessing and a curse. It had helped her solve many crimes, that’s for sure. But it was also at the root of Sam and Dryden’s partnership fiasco. That’s how he works. He knows his victims. He knew he didn’t have to kill Dryden and me. Her eyes drifted to him again, for what seemed the umpteenth time. Objectively speaking, he was still the oddest looking man she had ever known. And the most handsome. Even Will Madden, with his muscular build, strong chin, and strikingly-dark eyes, could not compete with Dryden’s thin frame, angular features, and those piercingly-blue eyes. Jay Hume was also built like a football player. Really, he and Will looked enough alike to be brothers. They are brothers, genes aside. You can’t help but be close in work like ours. 

“Isn’t that right, Sam?” 

The question startled her out of her reverie. “Huh?” 

“That’s right, isn’t it?” 

Every pair of eyes, except Dryden’s, was trained on her, waiting for a response. 

“I’m sorry.” She flushed. “I wasn’t paying attention.” 

“This is your briefing, you know, Agent Bittner.” The Chief’s tone of voice was more than a little annoyed. 

Of course Mr. Neat Desk would be irritated by that. He was irritated by many things, including Dr. Leger’s incessant tapping of a pencil on his thigh, and Detective Hume’s tendency to bounce his knee while sitting. Detective Madden and Dryden were the only ones who sat perfectly still; Madden with an intense, pained expression on his face, Dryden with that typical “I’m-thinking-about-things-you-wouldn’t-understand” look.

He wouldn’t even glance at her. He had been staunchly and very obviously avoiding eye contact. He talked to and answered the Chief; he was condescending to Detective Madden, he laughed with Detective Hume, and was sarcastic with Dr. Leger, but he wouldn’t even look at her. She gripped the arms of the chair, hoping it would keep her focus on the briefing, but to no avail; her mind would not stop racing. She and Dryden had once been as good of friends as Detective Hume and Detective Madden obviously were, but the way he was acting now made it seem like they were never friends at all. How has it come to this? 

~ ~ ~

She was a newbie on the force when they had met; he already had several years of experience under his belt. Not as a cop, though. He had worked as a freelance detective for some time. He’d only joined the force because of a dare. 

There was tension between them to begin with. All of the typical stuff, of course: he thought she was too young. The heartache of a painful breakup did everything but make her feel like a young woman with the whole world at her feet. 

She, on the other hand, thought he was too old. He was five years her senior but acted like he was much older, calling her “kid” every chance he got. But as she had always had a habit of making the most unlikely people her friends, it was not too long before, tension behind them, they truly developed not only a friendship, but a working relationship. But, it was not to last.

Ciara Zaketti
Column Editor