Boyd seethed, Grace sighed and Spencer hung his head. They couldn’t believe they were in the same argument again. Since the dynamics of their group had changed, there was no shortage of arguments to be had, but this one seemed to come up more often than any other.
A year ago, after the death of Sergeant Amelia Silver, the cold case squad had been assigned a new member, Sergeant Jessica Jones. She was young, inexperienced and not a patch on Mel, but she was enthusiastic and sweet, so they tried to welcome her. Grace, seeing another mothering opportunity, had taken the youngster under her wing, protecting her from the wrath of Boyd on many an occasion.
Of course, soon after Mel died their forensics expert, Frankie, also left, with no notice and leaving no real reason. Her replacement, Dr James Elliot, was not fitting in at all. He was stubborn and deliberately awkward about everything, particularly to Boyd, who had no time for him. None of the other members of the team liked him much either, but Boyd had been particularly distraught about Frankie’s departure and had already decided not to like the new doctor before he had arrived.
As the argument raged, things became more and more heated. They were arranged in the office in their usual formation, Boyd stood presenting, and facing James, who stood at the other end of the board, Grace, Spencer and Jessica sat at or on their desks.
“Dr Elliot, I don’t mean to be blunt, but you are talking complete...”
“Boyd!” Grace warned, cutting his sentence short.
“Sorry, Grace, but this man is being so difficult that we can’t get on with this investigation. He should remember he’s still new here,” Boyd told her.
James crossed his arms, “So we’re back to this again. DCI Boyd, you have got to drop this.”
“What? What have I got to drop?” Boyd asked.
“This petty resentment of me just because I’m not your precious Frankie. Why can’t you get it into your head that she’s gone? She’s gone and she’s not coming back.”
“Really? I hate being the last to know everything,” announced a voice from behind them.
Five shocked faces turned to face the intruder, who grinned at their reactions, “What? Don’t I even get a hello now?”
Grace jumped up from her chair, “Frankie! Oh, we’ve missed you.”
Frankie returned Grace’s hug, “I missed you guys too.”
Grace held her at arms length, inspecting her, “So why are you back?”
“Top secret at the moment, I’m afraid,” the younger woman answered, then turned her attention to the man coming towards her and enveloping him in her arms, “Spencer!”
Spencer stepped out of the embrace more quickly than Grace had, aiming to maintain his professional appearance, but he still smiled at the doctor and welcomed her back wholeheartedly.
Boyd watched Frankie greet the member of the team she knew, before making eye contact with her. He wasn’t sure where they stood. If they were still friends or if they had destroyed that. One night had changed their relationship, and he couldn’t be sure it hadn’t been completely eradicated.
A year ago
“Are you going to be okay by yourself, Grace?” Boyd asked, seeing the grief the woman was suffering.
“Yes, I’ll be fine, thanks. See you tomorrow,” she replied, smiling.
“Okay, night,” he relented.
“Night, Grace,” Frankie said, from the other side of her lab.
“How about you, Spence, how are you bearing up?” Boyd turned his attention to the youngest member of his team.
Spencer smiled, “My mum heard about Mel, so she’s come to stay with me. It sounds stupid, but it’s nice to have someone there.”
“Of course. See you tomorrow,” Boyd agreed.
With Grace and Spencer gone, Boyd turned to Frankie, who was busying herself with cleaning. The case was finished, and now she was preparing her equipment for the next morning when there would, no doubt, be another pile of work to get on with.
“Frankie, leave that until the morning,” he encouraged, walking over to her.
“No, it’s okay. It won’t take me long. You get off home,” she replied, deliberately not looking at him, but Boyd could tell from her voice that she was crying. He reached out and took hold of her arm to stop her rubbing the worktop away, and she looked at him.
“Why her, Boyd? What had she ever done?” she weakly said through tears, as he reached out to pull her towards him.
“It’s a cruel world. Nobody deserves that to happen to them, but we’ve done our best. We’ve caught the person that did it, so at least he will get what’s coming to him,” Boyd tried to comfort her, not really sure what he should have been saying.
“It won’t bring her back though, will it?” she replied, more calm now.
Boyd didn’t answer her question, “Come on, I’ll take you home.”
She walked towards him and stopped just a short distance away, “Boyd, I’m so sorry for just walking out like that, but…”
“Frankie, just stop,” he said forcefully, interrupting her, then his expression softened, “It’s really good to see you.” She grinned and they closed the gap.
As they broke away, Boyd turned to the rest of the room, “Let me introduce everyone. Sergeant Jessica Jones, Dr James Elliot, this is Dr Frankie Wharton.” Jessica nodded and smiled as she was on the other side of the room, but James reached out to shake her hand.
“You’re a tough act to follow,” he said, trying to charm her.
“And judging by the scene as I entered, you failed,” she replied. The others in the room hid smirks, while James’ confident expression faltered. Boyd was amazed. In twelve months he had barely managed to shake this guy’s ego, but Frankie had destroyed it in two minutes.
“I’d better get back to my lab,” James excused himself and hurried away.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve got work to do, I just wanted to say hello,” Frankie said.
“Where are you working now?” Spencer asked, returning to his desk.
“I’m between jobs at the moment, but my top secret reason for being here could be my new job. All will be revealed in time.”
“Well, come back and see us more often,” Grace demanded.
“I certainly will,” Frankie agreed, before turning to Boyd, “Can I have a quick word?”
In Boyd’s office, she started, “I know when I left we weren’t exactly sorted. Neither of us really knew where we stood.”
“No, not really,” he agreed.
“Right, well on that note, could you come over tonight? I think we need to talk,” she asked, handing him a piece of paper with her new address on.
“Sure, what time?”
“Fine. I’ll see you later then.”
Boyd pulled up outside Frankie’s new house and looked at it. It was a fairly plain semi-detached house, front door, path, windows, nothing out of the ordinary. Stepping out of the car, he pushed open the gate and went to ring the doorbell, checking his watch as he went. He was only fifteen minutes late.
Frankie opened the door quickly, “Hi, come in.” He entered the house and stood in the hallway as she shut the door behind him. When she turned back, she said, “Okay, before we go in there, you have to know that things have changed for me. Since I’ve been away, things have happened which I didn’t ask for and I didn’t know how to deal with for the best, but I did what I thought was right.”
“Frankie, what are you babbling about?” he asked, smiling.
She took a deep breath, “I have to do this before I chicken out. Come in here.” She pushed open a door behind her and went through, indicating for Boyd to follow. His eyes adjusted to the change in light, as the room was only lit dimly. He could see it was her living room, containing sofas, chairs, a carry cot, TV. Then his eyes returned to the one piece of furniture that seemed out of place in her living room. The carry cot. He walked towards it, never letting his eyes leave it, and soon a form became visible inside. The tiny child in the blankets was awake, but silent, kicking it’s arms and legs around, staring up at the world.
“Is it yours?” he asked, the only words he could manage.
She stood next to him, “Ours”
A year ago
She hadn’t stopped crying since they left the lab, but now there were just tears, not the all encompassing sobs she had started with. Boyd sat with her on the sofa, ignoring how wet his shirt was getting, holding her close.
After a while, she pulled away and wiped her eyes, “Sorry about this, I’m sure this is not how you planned to spend your evening.”
“Actually, it’s better. With my plans, I would have been on my own.”
She smiled at him, leaning back against him again, “I think I’m okay now. I just needed to let it all out.”
“Good,” he replied, planting a gentle kiss on the top of her head, “I’ll leave you to it then.”
“You don’t have to,” she argued, as he went to stand up, “You could stay.”
Frankie’s new house
They were sat on the sofa again, a cup of coffee for him and a tea for her on the coffee table, the baby in her arms. Nothing had been said since she had announced the parentage of her baby.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but I was scared. The longer I left it, the harder I knew it would be.”
“So why now? What’s changed?” he asked, looking at the baby.
“This is going to sound really stupid,” she warned, “I wanted to know which surname to use.”
“Well, I thought if you wanted to be involved, then it would be Boyd, but if you didn’t, then it would be Wharton, but I wanted to let you decide first.”
“How very generous of you,” he said, his voice dripping sarcasm.
“Look, I know I should have told you sooner, and I have apologized, but the fact is she is your daughter and I’m giving you the chance to be her dad,” she snapped, obviously worn out, then she sighed, “I don’t expect anything of you. I don’t expect a marriage proposal or anything. She’s all I care about. I can do this on my own, but I don’t want to. If you want to be involved, then great, but if not say, because I wont have you being half a father.”
“It’s a girl?” he asked, probably having heard nothing after that.
“She’s tiny,” he decided, in awe, “Can I hold her?” Frankie held out the child and placed it in Boyd’s arms. He held her so naturally and could not take his eyes off the little bundle.
“Hello, sweetheart. I’m your daddy,” Frankie felt her eyes fill up as she watched the scene, “What’s her name?”
She took a deep breath, “Amelia Grace.” Boyd’s head snapped up, and she got worried, “Don’t you like it?”
His face changed, “It’s perfect.”