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Bridget stood in center of her entry-way and turned in a slow circle taking in all of the chaos. She’d forgotten how bad it was. She’d tried not to think about it over the past twenty-four hours. Her parents had wanted to hire a cleaning firm to help clean it up, but the police had suggested that it shouldn’t be done until Bridget had time to go through the contents more thoroughly and advise them of any missing items.
At first glance on the night of the break-in Bridget had been unsure if there was anything missing. She’d checked out the obvious like her jewellery, but with all the mess it was very hard to tell. Her jewellery box had been over turned and bits and pieces of jewellery lay on the top of her bureau, on the floor. With it scattered all over, it was just too difficult to know what might not be there.
All though it was fairly obvious to Bridget that her entire house had been gone through, by far the worst damage was in her office. Her beloved books were strewn all over the room. Many lying open and trod upon, torn, ripped and ruined. Her filing cabinets had been emptied. Paper work, receipts and photos joined her books on the floor. By far the most upsetting to Bridget was her camera equipment. Her extra lenses and external flash lay broken and ruined on the floor amongst the paper mess.
Thankfully for Bridget she always carried her camera with her, but the loss of her additional equipment was definitely a low blow. She scrimped and saved for every last item. They’d been important to her, but not nearly as important as the photos she’d take with them.
Most of those photos were saved on external hard-drives that were in her desk. Only the most recent photos were saved on her laptop. Bridget scanned the floor of her office looking for the drives. There weren’t immediately visible. She started pushing around books, paper and office supplies with her feet looking for the hard-drives under the mess on the floor. They didn’t seem to be there.
Her desk had been tipped forward and was lying face down on the other side of the room. The position of the desk made it impossible for Bridget to know what was still left inside. She could see that the large flat screen monitor that she used with her desk-top computer was lying partially under the desk. She hoped it was still operational. She didn’t use her desk-top very often anymore, but if she planned to in the future she’d need a functional monitor.
Bridget crossed the room and bent to lift her desk. It was surprisingly light and Bridget had no trouble setting it upright. As she did so all of the doors and drawers swung open. There was very little left inside any of the compartments. Her desk-top was missing and unless her external drives were lying somewhere in the midst the chaos in her office, it looked like they were missing too.
Bridget dropped to her knees and began frantically searching through all the mess on floor of her office. After a few minutes of desperate searching, there was nothing. Bridget took a deep breath and decided to be more methodical. She was just shifting mess from one area to another and she had no idea where she’d looked and where she hadn’t.
She crawled backward on her hands and knees slowly towards the door. Then she began placing papers in one pile and books in another. Although the room was in utter chaos, it wasn’t large and it didn’t take Bridget long to clear and stack most of the clutter on her office floor. It was becoming very evident to her that her desk-top and her external hard-drives were missing.
Defeated Bridget pushed herself onto her knees and sat quietly on the floor of her office. For the first time since the break-in her eyes filled with tears. She was miserable, confused even furious. Why would anyone take her photographs and desk-top? It made no sense.
“Bridget is everything okay?” Lane asked quietly from the door of the small office.
Bridget fought to hold back the tears that were still threatening to fall and slowly stood up. “No everything is not okay Detective. Have you seen the state of my house? Does it look like everything is okay? Does it?” Her voice cracked and she hid her face in her hands.
“It’s just stuff Bridget, it can be replaced and the mess can be cleaned up. It’ll take some time, but it can be put right.”
Bridget wished what Lane said was true. She took a deep breath and steadied herself. The last person she wanted to watch her cry was Lane Johnson. “My desk-top and my external hard-drives are all missing. The majority of my photography collection was on those external drives. There were years of financial files on the desktop, not to mention the novel I wrote a couple of years ago. I’d backed the desk-top up in case of computer problems, but it was backed up onto to one of the external drives that are missing. It just makes no sense, why would Max Giovanni want my photos and computer?”
“I’m not sure Bridget, but I’ll get to the bottom of this,” Lane promised. He crossed the space between them and put one of his arms around her shoulders. “I know that probably doesn’t make this any better right now. “ He gave her a quick squeeze.
Bridget wasn’t prepared for Lane’s kind words, and his kindness overwhelmed her. The tears she’d been holding back overflowed. Bridget buried her face in her hands and began to cry in earnest.
Lane was at a loss. He’d sort of gotten used to a feisty, fighting Bridget and didn’t have a clue what to do with a crying Bridget. He squeezed her shoulder a little more tightly and she moved in closer burying her face in his shoulder. He was surprised at how good she felt. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be thinking about the large breasts pushed up against him. He chided himself silently, “get a grip Lane!”
Lane used his free hand to push masses of copper curls away back from her forehead, “are you in there Bridget? Come on sweetheart don’t cry anymore. We’re going to get this all sorted out. I promise.” Lane thought he could smell her shampoo, he liked it. It was natural and a little bit like peppermint. He forced himself not to get any closer. He liked having her in his arms way too much.
Bridget was mortified, how on earth had she ended up crying in the detectives arms, while he stroked her hair? “Oh great!” she thought. Now he can added hysterical female to his list of negative stereotypes. She had to admit that it felt good though. He felt good, really good.
Bridget reluctantly used her palms to push herself slowly away from Lane. She looked down and wiped at her eyes using her shirt sleeves and the palms of her hands, “sorry about that. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She was embarrassed.
“Bridget, look at me,” Lane said quietly and tilted her face up to his. She lifted her head, but avoided looking directly into his eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with you and absolutely no reason to be sorry. It’s been a tough couple of days. Most people would have cried long before now. How about a cup of coffee? I swept up in the kitchen and made a fresh pot …”
“Thanks, that sounds good. I’ll have a quick coffee and then I’ll start on the casserole.” Bridget was glad to have something besides Lane and her missing computer hardware to think about. “Are you really hungry? It’s going to take a while, not only do I have to prepare it, but I have to photograph the whole process, which slows things down considerably. I could order you a pizza, if you like?”
“I’m not a house-guest Bridget. You don’t have to worry about feeding me, plus my mom made me lasagne before I picked you up. It’s only been a couple of hours. I’m good.”
“You live with your mom?” Bridget asked. She hoped she didn’t sound as horrified as she was. Her big, strong detective was disappearing right before her eyes. She was pretty sure he was older than she was. She wanted to laugh, he lived with his mom and he thought she was spoiled.
“No, I don’t live with my mom!” Lane retorted indignantly. “I said she fed me, I didn’t say I lived with her. There’s a big difference Bridget.” Then he laughed and said, “you thought you were going to have one up on me didn’t you Bridget?”
“The night is not over Detective,” she teased as she headed towards the kitchen.
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