08/15/2018 UPDATE: I know, I know, and trust me, I know. But, I'm back at it again with full force and determination to finish this story. Now, with that being said, so much has happened in eight years, and things have changed; including this story line. When I started writing this lovely story, I was so much younger, and the world was more conservative than it is now; how strange to think about that. Anyway, I'm going to need you to bear with me on this as I am quite rusty and coming out of severe writer's block, but I will do my absolute best. And here you are…

Chapter One:

I used to think that I was destined to be alone my entire life. That it wasn't in my future to have that white picket fence, that fresh baked cookie smelling home, or to have one of those families that took Christmas picture postcards to mail after Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I was content with that. I could have tried harder, put myself out there and probably found someone sooner, but I didn't. Besides my job made my personal life a little hectic, and I tended to keep myself at an arm's length from everyone, just in case.

I lived the single life of Dani Clark, the woman who couldn't be tied down, who couldn't be bothered by a relationship, but if only that were true. I've worked for the San Francisco Police Department for almost ten years now and I've seen what it does to those who sit at home waiting and praying everything is going to be alright. I remember growing up and seeing my mom worried all night long while my dad was on parole. The thought of making someone worry that much didn't set well with me. And after what happened to Liam I realized that it's better to be alone.

I remember when my dad retired from the Navy and decided to become a police officer. William James Clark II was my childhood hero, my own personal idol, someone who fought bad guys and saved the world. He wanted to protect and service his community, and I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, with both my brother and I following in his footsteps. My father couldn't have been prouder to have both of his children leading on his legacy. I remember his nod of approval the day I showed him my acceptance letter. It was the same one he gave my brother Liam when he joined the department four years prior. My mother, Elizabeth Clark, wasn't too happy with my decision. She wished I would have become a teacher like her, really anything less dangerous for obvious reasons. After what happened to Liam, I know she still sits up some nights worrying since I'm still out here, paroling the streets. I can't do that to someone else, so I consumed myself in my career and left everything else on the backburner.

I didn't even make time to socialize with my friends. I would get invites from everyone and always seemed to find an excuse as to why I couldn't go. I will say that my friends understood to an extent why I stayed single, they were cops just like me, but that didn't stop them. They made time, they found someone, and they all wish I would do the same. It's not like I've never been in a relationship before, I've had plenty of girlfriends, and my last relationship was for five years, relationships just weren't something that I ever really concerned myself with and honestly, I didn't think that would ever change.

That was until my best friend Jackie and her wife decided to introduce me to their friend Kayla. Honestly, I really wasn't up for it and had no intentions of making it go anywhere; just another girl to brush off and forget about. Another one-night stand that was long overdue.

Well, that's not exactly how it happened.

.

I shook my head and started walking out of the shower to my locker. My best friend had been hounding me all day.

"You're trying to set me up?" I looked at her as she was chasing after me, her towel barely covering her naked body. We had just finished up weight training for the day, and the whole time all Jackie kept talking about was this girl her wife wanted me to meet.

"No, that's not all of it! You also get to see Tori and Shauna. C'mon Dani, you need to relax for once. Just have a few drinks, shoot the shit, and possibly meet someone new."

I looked up at her, my longtime friend, and just rolled my eyes while getting into my locker. I could feel Jackie standing over me as I started to get into my locker. Feeling her gaze on the back of my head I turned to face her, studying her excited green eyes and smile lines outlining her childish grin; I thought about how many times that smile has been present when she was trying to convince me into something, anything.

She had aged of course, so had I, but we haven't changed that much especially around each other. Jackie's once dirty blonde hair now showing gray in it and her green eyes holding a lot more in them than what they used to, from all the things we've seen, but we always carry on.

My mind drifted to the day I met Jackie, I was coming in to get instructions for my first day and my sergeant had her show me around. We were in the same unit, Jackie already being there six months, gave me the tour and 411. She was from Arizona and wanted to get out of the desert. Once she finished her criminal justice degree, she applied at the department, was hired in two weeks, bought the first ticket to San Fran and never looked back. I told her about my military brat life, moving from coast to coast, and how we moved up here from San Diego once my dad retired.

Once she found out who my dad is she was determined to become friends. So, she invited me out that night to meet more of the unit, which of course I accepted. Once I got there she met me with that childish smile and convinced me to join her in a beer pong competition as her partner and win the five-hundred-dollar prize. We won of course, beating all 20 teams, leading us to drinking a trough of cheap beer and having a horrible hangover that next morning, my first shift. Shaking the memory from my mind I turned my attention to my locker door and started unlocking it.

"Come on Dani, what do you have planned tonight anyways? Hmm? Law and Order? NCIS?", her voice fluttered with laughter as she knew my daily schedule. I looked back at her with sharp eyes and without any doubt she stared right back at me with the same sharp stare.

No, she was still the same old Jacquelyn I met almost ten years ago. We've always had each other's back, no matter the situation. Three years in with our unit, they made us partners and have been stuck together ever since. She may look older, but she still acts like the twenty-two-year-old I first met. I let out a heavy sigh while reaching into the locker to pull out my clothes before responding to her.

"Yeah, sure Jackie, that's fine. Where at?" A smile spread across her face as she crossed her arms over her towel covered chest while leaning against the wall of lockers. I rolled my eyes at her dramatic response to my agreement.

"Why do you ask? Your favorite place at eight."

I slipped my feet into my shoes before standing up and meeting her on an eye to eye level. Her smile spread wider and I couldn't help but laugh at her cheeky face. I wanted to punch her and hug her at the same time.

"You know, I don't need your help in this department." I stated dryly before lifting my shoe up on the bench to tie it. I could see the dumbfounded look her face as she laughed forcefully.

"Right, Dani, right." Jackie looked around to see who was standing around before she leaned in and whispered, "When was the last time you got laid? Six months? Eight months? A year? Two years?" I could feel the heat start to flare up in my neck at her comment. I leaned in close shooting her a dirty look.

"Are you kidding me? You're going to go there?" Dropping my foot loudly on the ground, I clenched my hands in fist and glared at her again. Jackie raised her eyebrows, my frustrations and anger not shifting her stance, she waited quietly for an answer, well more of an explanation.

My mind raced as I started thinking of the last time I felt the of another woman, let alone when I had another woman in my bed.

"Heather. That was the last time, nosey ass. So, last…" my eyes went wide, "July." The last word leaving my lips in a whisper. It was almost September.

Jackie's eyes went wide, and her mouth was hanging open. "Are you kidding me?! You're fuckin' kidding me, right?!"

Once I said it out loud, it didn't register right away. 'Had it really been that long? Over a year since I got ballsy and kissed someone drunkenly on the lips and tried to bury every thought in my head, even if just for the night.' Trying to keep my hands busy from punch Jackie for bringing this up I started shoving gym clothes into my bag.

It was quiet for a moment, I could feel Jackie's eyes studying me. She finally cleared her throat and asked flatly, "Dani, come on… Are you still hung up on Stacy?"

I didn't realize my hands froze, and my breath was caught in my throat, or that the earth had stopped. I can't believe she's asking me that question. My mind raced to Stacy, her long red hair, her freckled nose, and the venom she spewed from between her teeth when she slammed the door on my face. 'Why the hell did she just ask me that? Seriously, she wants to go there?' Wresting with my thoughts, Jackie touched my arm causing me to jolt slightly.

I looked straight into her Jackie's eyes, "No, I'm not. Why the fuck would I still be? I got over her a long time ago. Thanks, thought you knew that."

The blonde raised her hands up in defense and just shook her head. "I'm just asking, no harm intended." She patted my shoulder and backed up to leave. "I'll see you later tonight then, don't be too late."

Her laugh traveled with her as she walked around the corner.

'She never gives up, ever.' I thought to myself as picked up my gym bag and made my way out of the locker room. Stepping outside I let the cool air sweep over me, it was calm and quiet, and the sun was setting, coloring the sky in a rose hue.

"Officer Clark!" I halted and turned to look at the Mayor. A tall older man in his late fifties approached me. Without thought I stopped in my tracked and turned towards him as he approached me. He respectfully stuck out his hand towards me, eager to shake it. I reached out and grabbed it, nodding at him.

"Mr. Mayor how are you sir?", I released his hand and dropped my arm to my side. "I wanted to say congratulations on the future promotion next quarter and I wanted to thank for your take down of that shipment. You, Clark, are the reason we were able to catch Faulk and Ramirez. Your hard work will pay off trust me."

I opened my mouth to speak, but he held up his hand gently at me to let him finish. My mouth snapped shut quickly.

His dark eyes twinkled in the night and he smiled as he continued, "I will personally make sure of it. You, Dani, are a great police officer. Just like your father and brother, a hero."

Hero. That word stuck to me like tar. I hated the attention, but I was not about to get lost in my own torment which the Mayor standing in front of me. I smiled at the man, a forced smile and nodded at him.

"Thank you, sir. To be honest, I was just doing my job. I knew we had to get the situation under control or we would have lost a lot of people and I wasn't going to hesitate to stop it." I forced my smile to not faulter, not right now.

The Mayor placed his hand on my shoulder, give it a light squeeze, "And that Clark, is what makes you a true hero. Without doubt or hesitation your rushed into action, valuing your comrades above yourself. Listen, you have yourself a good night and make sure you get your paperwork in as soon as possible so we can get you processed for promotion. I'll make sure it's on my schedule."

We shook hands again and thanked him, but at a loss of any other words. So, I bid him farewell, which he returned, before we went our separate ways.

I glanced down at my watch and I sighed as I finished my interrupted trek to my Jeep. I tossed my gym bag in the passenger seat, conveniently on top of my paperwork, before starting my old red Wrangler up and making my way home.

.

Opening up the front door I took a deep breath once I crossed the threshold. The smell of sandalwood and the cool air immediately caused all the tension in my body to diminish. I closed my eyes while taking another deep breath. The house was quiet, the AC was humming lowly in the background by the silence tuned it out. I kept my eyes closed and relished in the calming moment.

As usual I was interrupted by the sound and feeling of vibrations in my pocket. I reached in and pulled out my phone to see a text message from Jackie. I scuffed at the screen, 'Don't be late! Everyone is excited to see you! Drinks on me!' and then looked at the time above the notification bubble. '1845'

"Ugh" I said out loud in a groan and made my way down the hall to my bedroom.

'Just get through tonight and then you can come home and relax. And even better if you get laid.' I smacked myself in the forehead at that last comment. My sensual mind had been woken up to the question of 'How long has it been?'

Reaching my bedroom's open door, I walk in taking off my jacket and setting it and phone on the long dresser against the wall. Walking to my bed, I sit and unlace my shoes before stand and removing my belt and pulling my pants off. Down to my underclothes I set my shoes next to the side of the dresser and walked into the closet to toss my clothes in the hamper.

Hearing another vibration buzz, I picked up my phone and rolled my eyes at the message. 'I mean it, don't be fucking late!'

"Sure, thing Jackie, sure thing." I mumbled back at her message before making my way into the bathroom for a much need shower.

.

"I really don't want to do this." I grumbled to myself while I put gel into my hair. Running my fingers through my hair, trying to make it look decent, I continued to argue with my stubborn self.

"So why the hell didn't you say no when they asked you to?" I stated part of me trying to convince myself to tell Jackie I can't make it. Tell her that something came up. Anything. But a small pull in my gut kept tell me to just go. 'What's the worst that can happen?'

I sighed, checking my hair from side to side one more time before making my way out of the bathroom into the bedroom. 'Why do all my friends have it in their minds that it was okay to just invade my personal life when they saw it fit?' I thought about the other girls they've set me up with over the last year. I lost count after the fifth girl; they all seemed to be the same anyways. And the last one, that had to have been some sort of joke.

The poor girl, barely twenty-two, didn't even have a chance once she told me that. I should have known by the way the girl was acting at the club, like some teeny bobber. She was extremely attractive, long red hair, green eyes, slender body and of course a nice ass, but she couldn't hold a conversation for the life of her. "What was her name…?" I sat on the bed, reaching under for my black boots and started tying them up as a memory resurfaced in my mind.

"So, what do you do again?" The nameless girl asked. "I'm a cop" The was a blank stare on the girl's face made me want to chock Jackie and Tori, she was their idea. "What do you do?" I stated before taking a long squig of my beer. The girl smiled and took a sip of her martini, "I'm a shot girl at Cher, you know the night club." I just smiled and nodded, before returning to finish my beer quickly, cursing my friends in my mind.

Pushing past the memory I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror. I checked myself out in the mirror, the thought of maybe changing briefly crossing my mind. I wasn't the flashy type and went with a more casual look wearing a plain grey V-neck, slim dark wash blue jeans and black men's lace up boots. 'I want to at least be comfortable at this sham. Besides we're only meeting at the bar. The Juke Joint isn't really what you would call fancy anyway.'

"I'm going to need a haircut soon.", I stated while I ran my hand through my hair. It was starting to touch my ears on the side and the top was almost an inch longer than I liked, causing it to show some curl. I combed it back with my fingers once more before stepping away from the mirror. I quickly grabbed my cologne off the top of the dresser and sprayed myself before making my way to leave. My foot steps were heavy onto the solid hardwood floor from my boots causing an echo as I made my way down the hall. I glanced at my watch before running towards the door grabbing my keys on the way out.

"Shit!" I cursed at myself while slamming door, sprinting to my Jeep. 'She's never going to forgive me.'