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Bette had never seen the historical account of her parents’ accident and reading it gave her a chill. She ran her fingertips across the text as if reading from a sacred scroll. Many of the details seemed correct—the date and time, the location, and road conditions—but the article got the most important part wrong.
“This isn’t right. They didn’t die on impact.” Bette wished they had, maybe then, she wouldn’t have feared the curse all those years.
“Have you seen this before?” Tina asked.
“No.” Bette shook her head from side to side. “It says I was the only survivor and police had no reason to suspect any other vehicles were involved. Why didn’t Eric report it?”
“If the police didn’t suspect another car, there must not have been debris in the road or skid marks from the opposite direction,” Tina said. “Maybe he didn’t even realize you went off the road until much later.”
“Doesn’t change a thing. He knew and didn’t tell me.”
Bette turned to the next page, a once folded internal SFPD flyer, soliciting rookie cops as volunteers to operate the department’s booth at the local college job fair. Bette squinted and checked the year.
“I was there. This is where I met Eric for the first time. He gave me such an impassioned pitch and made me think working for SFPD was the best job in the world.”
“So, he’s why you became a cop?”
“Oh no. I knew long before I met him. That officer who rescued me after the accident, he died helping me find you.” Bette shook her head at the memory of Bernie’s kind face. “I wanted to honor him. Eric just convinced me where.”
“So, he knew who you were back then,” Tina said.
“That was almost twelve years ago.”
Bette turned the next half-dozen pages, all containing a newspaper clipping or SFPD newsletter article featuring something Bette did as a uniformed officer. A heaviness settled in her stomach, forcing her mouth to fall open.
“Eric followed my entire career.”
“Sounds like he kept an eye on you until you two partnered up.”
“He asked for me.”
Bette’s mind drifted back to her first day as a detective when she and Eric caught a new case. It all made sense now. Before he even saw her in action, he said, “You know the difference between the law and justice, and that the two don’t always mean the same thing.” That kind of knowledge couldn’t have come from a personnel file. He must have talked to her old partners.
“Are you going to talk to him about this?”
“Maybe someday when I’m not so angry. He’s the reason my parents were killed, and he kept that from me for years.” Bette placed the scrapbook on the coffee table and fell into Tina’s arms.
“Thank you for taking Reagan to see him.” Bette’s voice cracked. “This is between Eric and me. I hate the idea of her being collateral damage.”
“No need to thank me, I love her like she’s my own.” Tina cringed as if she’d said something wrong or too soon.
Bette turned her head to face Tina, smiling up to her eyes. “Really?”
Bette pressed their lips together in a kiss that promised a lifetime together. When she pulled back and peered into Tina’s hazel eyes, she read a message. It was the same one she’d seen on that final day in choir, the same one the night of the perilous wildfire when they crawled from the flames and ashes. The message was that Tina was hers forever.
“Move in with me.”