It was always the same dream. Just like the day it happened seven months earlier, someone switched off all the lights and the living room where the drug buy was supposed to happen plunged into darkness. Panic and confusion filled the air as gunfire erupted around undercover Detective Josh Morin, and within seconds, he lay on the floor, dying.
He should have known it was an ambush. His gut told him that as soon as his partner showed up at the last minute to say that it was going down that night, giving him no time to ask questions. But in his dreams, all Josh could do was to react after the fact, pulling his gun in self-defense against veteran detective Ray Bigby, the partner he’d trusted for the last year since he’d been assigned to the drug detail. He was a rookie, after all, Ray would always say, and he still had a lot to learn.
Ray went down first, or at least, it looked like he did and not from Josh’s gun for backup came then. But the searing pain in Josh’s thigh told him that he’d been shot, too, and his leg buckled beneath him. They said the bullet almost nicked his femoral artery which, according to the doctors, remained intact until they got him to the Emergency Room where it burst, nearly killing him if they hadn’t stopped the bleeding right away. They said he coded on the table. Twice.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was that second bullet—the one that shattered parts of his collarbone and damaged branches of his brachial plexus, leaving him with numbness down the inside of his arm and along some of his fingers months later. Hell, he would never know such anatomical terms if it weren’t for the fact that he’d almost lost the limbs they innervated. But that was life. You never know what you got until you lose it.
It was a major screw-up, and even the press said so when the full investigation began, where everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.
But there a few things that never failed to capture Josh’s attention every time the dreams of his ambush returned. It was as if a part of his subconscious wanted him to take one more look in case he missed something, planting seeds that Ray was not working alone.
In his dreams, Josh would always see Ray turning to look back at him before the lights would go out saying something. At first, Josh thought it was Ray saying something like, alright, kid, here we go, like he always did to break the tension just before a drug buy, and that’s exactly what Josh had said during the investigation. But in his dreams, Ray couldn’t have said those words because his gun had already been drawn and pointed straight at Josh. No, the words that had emerged had been something else.
Sorry, kid. Hate to do this to ya.
And like every night when the dream would come, Josh would wake up, heart racing, sweat coursing down his back that would leave his pillows and sheets soaked. He hated feeling so helpless, so stupid, for he should have known. He should have trusted his gut instinct. But that was probably why he still kept dreaming the same dream and hearing Ray saying the same thing over and over again like a broken record.
But if Josh were honest with himself, it wasn’t Ray’s words that sent Josh into a panic every time he awoke from his dream. It was something he’d never admitted to anyone, not even during his therapy sessions with Dr. Ecklund to deal with the emotional trauma. Never mind the shooting. This one left him weak knowing he’d almost missed his chance.
Three simple words he never got to say to the only woman he ever truly loved even though she had no idea how he really felt for her.
I love you, Olivia Firelli.
Okay… that was five words.
In His Heart is one of the fifteen novellas included in Just You & Me Contemporary Romance Collection that’s available for preorder now.
If you’ve read Finding Sam, then you’ll recognize Olivia and Josh, and this is their story.