Yes, this will bring Garren’s story to an end. Of course, you can read more in Duty to Protect, but this is the end to this portion of his story. You can get caught up on the rest here.
Garren slid his sunglasses down over his eyes as he left the church. The marshals and Michael had been in there too. But, he’d kept away from them. He stayed in the back of the church, dressed in his starch-stiff uniform, his dress hat tucked under his arm. At least inside, the lights had been kept dimmed. No one had thought to put a dimmer switch on the sun though.
He felt Ginny’s arm slip through his. She hadn’t wanted to come into the church with him. She hadn’t known the Wilkers at all, so didn’t think it was her place to be there. She had wanted to be with him though. He couldn’t remember the last time she’d left his side, except for when she’d had to go to work. He didn’t think it was devotion. They’d never been devoted to each other. He wouldn’t delude himself to think that. They’d always cared about each other, but it wasn’t much stronger than that.
She was scared. He’d seen it in her eyes. Afraid he’d get so drunk, he’d get himself into a fight. Or so drunk he couldn’t make it home. Or worse, drunk enough to hurt someone else. He shuddered at just the thought of it.
He hated to feel like he was losing control of this. But, it was slipping right through his fingers. He hadn’t gone back to work yet. Damn shrink had to clear him before he could go back on the streets. He felt like he was barely holding it together for his sessions with the uptight older man. Then, he went and joined either Kyle or Geoff, and sometimes Ginny, at the bar. The other guys usually left before he did. Ginny didn’t leave his side.
He’d taken to keeping a bottle in his kitchen. It helped soothe the nightmares that visited every night.
He stayed sober during the day. That seemed to be the most he could ask of himself. He just needed to get back to work. The job would help keep his mind off of things, and he wouldn’t feel this need to drown himself in alcohol.
He stopped at the edge of the crowd and saw Kyle making his way over. There was no need for him to go any farther. He could still hear the minister from here and see the two coffins resting over the holes in the ground. There wasn’t much in the way of family around the gravesite. He thought there were more cops there than family members. Everyone else looked more like business associates. Then, he saw Michelle standing in front of the grave, two people in suits on either side of her. Just behind them, he saw a young man in scrubs. Something clenched tight inside him. Had she been in the hospital? He tried to get a closer look at her.
Her face was pale, her eyes shadowed. She didn’t look anywhere but right at the grave. And he realized the social workers weren’t just standing at her side. They were holding her up. He needed to know what had happened.
He slipped Ginny’s arm out of his and started around her. She tried to stop him, but he just shook her off. He kept his eyes on Michelle as he started around the gathered crowd. She looked more like a ghost than a girl, pale against the black of her dress.
He stopped next to Michael. “What happened to her?” He asked. Michael’s wife looked back at him, a soft smile on her face. He nodded back at her while he waited for Michael’s response.
“Breakdown,” he finally said. “Heard she screamed all that night. Wasn’t responsive at all the next morning. Been in the hospital since. I imagine they’re taking her back there once this is over.” He gave a quick shake of his head. “Poor girl. Keeping her drugged up instead of letting her grieve. Shouldn’t be dealing with this.”
“No, she shouldn’t,” he murmured. And he needed to get out of here.
He stepped back but didn’t return to where he’d left Ginny and Kyle. Instead, he turned and walked to his car. He was almost there when he heard steps coming up behind him. He just hunched his shoulders and reached for the door handle. Then, Ginny’s hand slid along his arm.
“Garren, where are you going?”
“Home. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have even come.”
“Then, let me come with you.”
He heard the quiver in her voice, knew it meant she was worried about him. That wasn’t what he wanted. He turned to her and took her hands. “No. Go on with Kyle,” he said, seeing the other man headed toward them. “I’m really piss poor company right now.”
Her face tightened at that. “You have been for the last week, Garren. I’ve stuck with you. Because you needed me.”
“I don’t,” he said with a quick shake of his head. “I don’t need anyone.” He didn’t want to drag anyone down with him. “Just go, Ginny. You don’t need to be stuck with me.” He stepped away from her and opened his door.
As he climbed inside, he heard her murmured, “I want to be.” He couldn’t let it faze him. He just needed to be alone right now. Work this pain out of his system. Then, he could deal with things again.
Yes, that was all he needed. He just needed one more drink to start that.