The suspension was lifted, and she was back.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 84

Georgia tried to pretend she’d only been gone for the weekend, but when she saw Robby at the lockers Monday morning, she held her breath.

“Georgia. Damn if you’re not a sight for sore eyes.” He flashed her a smile. “You back?”

“You better believe it.”

He hugged her. “It’s about time. We—I—missed you, partner.” Releasing her, he jerked a thumb toward Doyle’s office. “What about— that?”

“The situation’s been resolved. I told them that I wasn’t planning to take it further.” She didn’t mention the police association. Robby knew. “Doyle seemed relieved as hell and lifted the suspension.”

Parker fisted her gently in the shoulder. “It was a shitty move.”

“Yeah, well, at least we have some issues for contract renewal.”

“Sorry you had to be the fall guy.”

“It’s over.” She shrugged. “So what’s shaking?”

“The usual.” He gestured toward the patrol room.

“What about the poisonings?”

“I don’t know much. You know patrolmen don’t hear squat.”

“That so?” Georgia sniffed the air. “It stinks in here. Must be all the bullshit.”

He laughed. “Come on Georgia, what the fuck? I don’t know what’s going on. Let’s go. You don’t want to be late on your first day back.”

Though she promised herself she wouldn’t, Georgia kept turning her head to the door during roll call. He’d have to show up eventually; she wanted to be prepared.

Roll call came and went. Matt didn’t. She and Robby got their assignment, gathered their stuff. She was just stepping through the door when a dark-colored Mercedes pulled into the parking lot. Matt climbed out, leaned into the window, and waved. As the Mercedes roared off, he turned around. He was wearing a new jacket edged with fleece. It looked expensive. New gloves too. As he walked to the door, she noticed a bounce in his step.

“Hello, Matt.”

He froze. “Hello, Georgia.”

He felt awkward. Good. “How are you?”

“Okay. Glad to see you back.”

“Thanks. How are the cases going?”

“We’re making progress. How are you?” He repeated.

She nodded. Words passing as conversation. Both of them talking drivel. She didn’t know what to say. Fortunately, Robby came out, and she didn’t have to say anything else. She watched Matt slowly shuffle into the building. At least the bounce was gone.

That afternoon, when her shift was over, she hovered in the hall outside the conference room. The door was open, and she could hear Stone congratulating the others. It was Monday, he was saying, two weeks, and no body.

“Maybe it’s over,” a female voice said. Nelson, the Deerfield Detective.

“We broke the curse,” she heard Matt say.

“Vaughan thinks Champlain and her son hooked up with one of those Survivalist groups,” Stone went on. “Minnesota’s filled with ‘em, he says. They’re checking them out.”

“Does that mean the Feds are taking over?” Georgia recognized Brewster’s voice.

“No.” Stone launched into an explanation, but the sound of footsteps at the other end of the hall distracted her. A woman was hurrying towards the conference room. She was incredibly attractive, with dark hair and eyes that seemed to eat up the light. She carried a package in silver paper with a blue ribbon.

The woman brushed by her as if she didn’t exist, and opened the door to the Detectives’ room. Craning her neck through the open door, Georgia saw Matt’s face brighten in a way it never did with her. He stood up, and the woman, her back to Georgia, raised her fingers and placed them on his lips. Then the door to the conference room closed.

Georgia should have left. She should have gone home. Instead she hid in the parking lot behind a tree. They came out an hour later, walking close together, the woman’s arm linked through Matt’s. He bent his head toward her. Georgia was close enough to hear them.

“I love it,” Matt said. “Let’s go to my place and put it up.”

“But you already have one, right?” she asked. She looked worried.

“You can never have too many mezuzahs.”

The woman’s face cleared. Georgia winced. “The best news is that Dad seems to be coming around. Today he even tried to speak. I’m starting to think he’s going to make it after all.”

Matt kissed her cheek.

She giggled. “What’s that old Yiddish saying? When a Jew breaks one leg, he thanks God he didn’t break both; and when he breaks both—”

“He thanks God he didn’t break his neck,” Matt finished.

“I have a lot to be thankful for.” She slipped an arm around Matt’s waist. The woman fished in her purse, drew out her keys, and unlocked the door to the Mercedes Georgia had seen that morning. “Don’t forget, we need to get gas.”

Matt leaned over and opened the door, the way he used to do for Georgia. Once she was settled, he kissed her again. “Later.” She heard him say.

He walked around to the passenger side. The fucking bounce was back.

Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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