Crossing the Lines of Friendship
By Lis Pascual
Rita sat at her desk and stared across her. She was glad that Chris wasn’t in yet. She had to do something before he came waltzing in through the double doors. She took a deep breath before rising from her chair. The end had finally come, and her limit has been pushed. Days before Eric had been killed.
Rita couldn’t get a grasp of herself. She had tried to talk to Chris a couple of times but he hasn’t been around. He was away for the weekend with Jillian. He had no idea that Eric was killed. When Rita tried to reach him his cell phone was off. Rita took it as a sign not to disturb. She knocked on the Cap’s door. She knew the Cap would be mad, no that was an understatement, furious, but at this point Rita didn’t really care. She knew what she wanted and in the end she knew Cap would give in.
“YOU WHAT! LANCE….” The Cap shouted. It made the whole office turn around. Rita embarrassed, closed the blinds interrupting him.
“Cap, please understand I need this.” Rita’s voice pleaded with him. The look in her eyes made him soften. It pained him to see her like this. She was almost like a daughter to him.
“But to resign Rita…Have you talked to Chris about this?” Rita let out a deep sigh.
“Cap, Chris and I are not joined by the hip. I don’t need to consult him about everything that goes on in my life.” As she said those words Cap could hear the disappointment and hurt on her voice.
“You haven’t told him have you?”
“He’s not available for consultation. Look Cap, this doesn’t have anything to do with Chris, he doesn’t need to be involved. I came in here to discuss my life. Are you going to let me go with a comforting hug or am I going to walk out of this door with you mad at me?”
Cap knew there was no point in arguing with Rita Lee Lance. The Cap rose from his chair and gave her a hug.“You keep in touch you hear? Your badge is here whenever you choose to come back.”
Rita nodded as tears began to roll down her cheeks. She didn’t really know where she was headed or what to do next. All she knew that her things were in boxes sitting in her apartment. And a suitcase was in the back of her jeep. She was going to look for a place to go to, and have the Cap ship her things to her.
“You give Frannie a kiss for me okay?” The Cap nodded not knowing what else to do.
“Thanks for everything Cap. I love you Harry.” Harry pulled her towards him even tighter. He felt like he was losing a daughter.
“I love you too Rita. What am I going to say to Chris? Don’t you think you owe him some sort of explanation?”
“Not now Cap. Just tell him I had to go. Tell him about Eric. Tell him anything. I better go.”
When Rita walked out of the Cap’s office ,Chris was sitting in his chair. He looked up and flashed her that famous Lorenzo smile.
“Hey Sam, what did Cap want so early in the morning?” Rita refused to meet his eye. She knew that if he saw the redness around her eyes, she’d have to sit there.
“Oh nothing. Listen I just have to go out for a sec…” Rita put her sunglasses on and grabbed her jacket and purse.
“Later Chris.” She was nearly out the door when she glanced back one more time. She found Chris staring at her. She knew she owed him so much more than “Later Chris” but she was angry with him too. Where was he? She needed him and he wasn’t there.
Chris thought he saw tears in her eyes, and quickly rose to his feet. At that moment Cap yelled from his office.
“LORENZO IN MY OFFICE NOW!”
Rita grateful for Cap’s support she quickly made her exit and started the jeep. She had no idea where she was going but she knew she had to get out of there before she had the chance to chicken out.
Chris walked over to Cap’s office confused. When he turned back to look at his office he realized that Rita’s desk seemed emptier than usual. He shrugged it off thinking that she cleaned up and shoved her things in her drawer. Chris sat himself on the chair in front of the Cap. The Cap looked slightly more stressed than he usually is.
“What the hell is going on Lorenzo?” he barked. Chris had no idea what was going on. He had just walked in.
“You lost me Cap.” Harry shook his head frustrated.
“Did you speak to you partner before she left?” he asked hoping for a yes.
Chris shook his head no.
“DAMMIT Lorenzo where have you been?”
“Whoa Cap, cool down. I’ve been away for the weekend with Jillian, we had a lot to sort out. Why?”
“Did Rita try to get in touch with you at all?” He asked remembering Rita’s almost bitter comment.
“Yeah once or twice, but at inopportune times. I was going to talk to her today but she had to go somewhere. I thought you sent her out to grab something.” Chris shifted in sit uncomfortably now. His gut was telling him something was wrong. Without a word Cap placed a badge and a gun on top of his desk. Chris’ face quickly lost its color. He got up and was about to run out the door.
“Forget it Lorenzo.” Chris turned around and looked at Cap. His face looked as though he had lost a huge part of himself. The guilt in his eyes was evident.
“What happened Cap?”
“Eric Russell was killed a couple of nights ago. I think it was the night you left. Rita was the one who found him.” Chris sunk back down to his chair as Harry continued.
“She was a wreck. I asked her if there was anything I could do and all she looked for was you. I offered to call you and she said she’d do it.”
“Cap, can I have the day off. I want to go and see her.” Harry nodded. Harry had no idea that Rita was moving. Rita had no plans on telling him, she knew that he would probably get someone to tail her. Chris remorsefully got up from his chair.
“Chris…” but Harry had no words. Chris was about to grab his jacket when he stopped by hers. He opened the drawers and found that they were empty. Chris ran out of the door and sped over to her apartment. Chris banged on her door.
“Sam, you there? Open up Sam we need to talk. SAM” Still no response. Chris pulled out his keys and let himself in.
“Rita NO” he whispered unable to move. He stared at her apartment. Everything was in boxes. He searched the house hoping to find her, but she was long gone. Chris dialed her number and received her voice mail. He tried to beep her hoping she would respond. Chris then called the Cap.
“Did you know anything about this Cap?” He asked. The Cap replied no, but he had a feeling Rita was running. Chris slumped down on her covered couch and stared at the place around him. The endless hours they had spent in the very same room, eating pizza’s, watching movies, talking and laughing. He couldn’t believe it was all gone. The guilt for not being around for her ate him up. He knew how much she counted on him. With all that she had lost he was the one thing that she counted on. He was the only one she ran to and he knew that.
Rita’s beeper kept beeping. She read the first one and it was from Chris. “Sammy, I’m sorry. Please call me.” A huge part of Rita wanted to turn the car around and run to his arms. She always felt safe there. But it was wrong. It was wrong to depend on someone like that, because in the end all one gets, is hurt and disappointment. She realized how much of her happiness relied on Chris and that wasn’t fair. She had lived the last 5 years depending on him, and she didn’t like how that felt anymore. It hurt when he let her down. A new environment was what she needed.
Days passed and the word was out. Sgt. Lance had quit the force and no one had heard from her since the day she left. The Cap watched Chris walk around in a complete catatonic state. Rita had paged Harry the night she left telling him that she was okay. Harry wished he could talk to her, but he knew she needed the time and space.
A week later he received a phone call. Chris was in his office briefing the Cap on a case.
“Rita…how are you?” Chris looked up. He wanted to grab the phone from the Captain.
“I’m fine Cap. Just checking in. I know I worried you by not telling you what I had planned.”
“You sure did. You had us worried.” Rita took note of the ‘us’ and pretended not to have heard it. The more time she had to think about it she knew she couldn’t be angry with Chris but that didn’t stop her. It was irrational to expect someone to be there all the time. She knew that, theoretically. Chris was the first person who has ever made her feel so safe and it hurt to think that she took the back seat to Jillian. One of the things she also realized was that she was more mad at him by choosing Jillian over her than she was about him not being there.
“Sorry Cap. I’ll call you in about a week when I know what I’m doing. When I call you can you please ship the rest of my things?”
“You’re not serious.” He asked concerned. If she wanted to quit the force then so be it, but to move away. Chris was watching him expectantly.
“Yeah I am Cap. Come on Cap you knew deep down I wasn’t going to stay.” Harry let out a sigh.
“How’s Fran Cap?” Rita asked changing the subject. She wanted to talk to Chris but she told herself to get a grip. Talking to him wasn’t exactly going to help her get over him.
“She’s fine. Rita, Chris is in my office now.” Silence fell before them.
“I gotta go Cap. I’ll call. Thanks for everything.” She blurted out before hanging up. She knew it was rude to Cap and unfair to Chris. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she was still trying to deal with what she was feeling.
Chris looked as though he had been slapped in the face when he realized that she just hung up. Harry watched his detective sit back and look out the window. He knew he wasn’t going to get much use of him in such a state.
“Take some time off Lorenzo…” Chris was about to protest when Harry held a hand up. He picked up the phone again,
“David you got an address from the last call.” Harry scribbled an address down on his pad as Chris’ face broke into a smile. The Cap handed him the piece of paper and told Chris to get out. Chris was almost out the door when the Cap yelled
“You bring her back you hear?” Chris grinned and rushed out of the doors. He passed by his apartment and grabbed a few things before leaving. In the past week or so since Rita left Chris found himself thinking and re accessing everything in his mind.
Rita went for a walk along the beach. The afternoon sun was setting. The beach was almost empty. Rita sat down on the sun and enjoyed that afternoon ray.
Chris found Rita’s jeep in a motel room a couple of hours from Palm Beach. He knocked on her door but received no answer. When he turned around and saw the beach across the road, he knew where she was. He ran across the road, he’d missed his best friend so much. All he wanted to do was throw his arms around her. He saw a figure sitting on the sand. Her eyes were shut, as the wind blew her curly brown hair uncontrollably, but she didn’t seem to care. She looked so beautiful. He just wanted to hold her and never let go. Rita was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice someone had sat beside her.
“Sam” he whispered quietly. Rita’s eyes flew open as she turned to face the voice that had spoken. She almost smiled, but her anger and disappointment got the better of her. She got up without saying a word and began to walk away. Chris saw the hurt in her eyes, and it killed him. It was hurt he put in there.
“Sam wait.” He said grabbing her arm. Rita stopped and through clenched teeth she asked him to let go of her. Chris let go of her arm but didn’t give up.
“Sam let’s talk.”
“Why because it’s convenient for you.” She snapped. The look on Chris’ face made her regret her words.
“Sorry Sam” she apologized. Rita sat back down on the sand. She knew they would have to talk at some point.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there Sam.” Chris said sincerely.
“Why? You were on a romantic weekend away with your girlfriend. You’re entitled to that. We’re not married Chris, you’re not at my beck and call. I was the one who got used to relying on you. I came to expect that you would always be there. That was dumb.”
Chris took her hands in his.“No it isn’t Sam. I am there for you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you this time.”
Rita shook her head.“No Chris, it’s wrong. You go on with your life and I’ll go on with mine.”
Chris looked at her wondering what had he done to crush her spirit to this level.
“I’m not going to let you go that easily Sammy.” Rita closed her eyes. It was beginning to get frustrating.
“And why not?” she asked.
“Because I’m in love with you” Chris said to her softly but adamantly.
“Chris I love you too…but” Rita stopped dead in her tracks. Did he say, what she thinks he just said?
Chris kneeled in front of her and took her face into his hands. He looked straight into her eyes as he repeated himself. “Because I’m in love with you.”
Rita was speechless. She looked up at him, and was mesmerized by his eyes. Chris leaned closer as Rita felt as though her face was being pulled closer to his, till their lips met. Chris kissed her softly and tenderly as she kissed him back, feeling the passion inside of her. Her arms automatically wrapped themselves around his head. After a few moments Rita pulled away and buried her head in his chest. Chris lifted her face to look at him. He saw the fear in her eyes.
“Shh Sam. It’ll be okay.”
“No…” Rita pushed him away as Chris looked wounded.
“You can’t just walk in here and tell me you’re in love with me.”
“But I am Sam. The reason why I never called you back that weekend was because I realized my feelings for you is more than one feels for a best friend. I was going to tell you that Monday night about how I felt. But you left.”
Rita took a deep breath before she began.
“Chris, I’m in love with you too. When Eric and I broke up I realized this. And I wanted nothing more than to tell you. But I couldn’t compete with Jillian.” Chris kissed the side of her head as she continued.
“After I broke up with Eric it killed me to see you and Jillian together. What was worse was that you and I never even hung out like we used to. We hardly talked. It was unbearable Chris. Then you went away with her. Eric was killed. I wanted so much for you to be there, to comfort me. But you weren’t there. The only thing that kept playing in my mind is that you were with her instead of me. So it was her you wanted to be with and not me! I couldn’t bare it any longer. Losing Eric brought feelings of guilt, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit on the other side of the desk listen to you tell me about your weekend with her. It was time for me to move one and I took the opportunity.” Chris pulled her into his arms as he whispered his apologies.
“Rita, it’s always been you. Jillian made me see the reason why I couldn’t commit to anyone was because there wasn’t enough to give. See you were so much a part of me and I wasn’t willing to compromise that. Until I realized that it was you who owned my heart completely.”
Rita looked up at him questioningly. She wanted so much to believe him but her guard was still up.
“Really?” Chris kissed her nose.
“You know in your heart it’s true Sammy.” Rita smiled because she did. She felt Chris’ arms tighten around her. Together they watched the sunset in each other’s arms as they talked about their future. They agreed that when they return to Palm Beach they would talk to Harry. It was a new beginning for both of them and they were ready to accept the truth that they had been hiding for so many years. Hand in hand the Sam’s walked back to Rita’s room.
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