Truth & Tenderness

By: Tere Michaels



Boring. He might join Danny and disappear into his phone for a while.

A bit of jostling about ten rows ahead caught his eye.

The press.

More press than usual for this sort of thing, a fact that most people in attendance wouldn’t realize. Matt gave Jim an elbow to his side, gesturing with a chin raise toward the people setting up cameras and microphones.

“Oh,” Jim said.

They didn’t say anything out loud. Elizabeth and Danny were in earshot, and who knew what gossips were hanging around behind them.

Today was interesting beyond the usual buried picture and a few inches of copy. From today on, an openly gay captain would serve in the NYPD.

“He’s gonna flip,” Jim murmured as Matt sighed, tugging at his tie.





EVAN SECURED his hat backstage, breathing in and out as people flitted around him. They were about to start, and he couldn’t fight the growing sense of worry. He didn’t like being on display, particularly if it meant calling attention to himself for reasons less than important in his mind. A promotion felt good, but Evan felt much more proud of lives saved than shiny squares on his uniform. This was a course of action that would put him in the spotlight—for things not entirely related to his record.

For most captains, that light swung to big cases and political hot topics that might fall into their laps.

The attention would be on Evan for an entirely different reason.

“Evan?”

He turned at the sound of his name, coming face to face with a welcome sight: Casper Vaughn, a friend from GOAL—the LGBT police organization—and a bit of relief from the strangers swarming about.

“Casper, hi,” he said, shaking his hand. “What are you doing back here?”

“PR liaison.” Casper gestured toward the badge on the lapel of his expensive navy suit. “I’m moving over to Midtown South.” The smile on his face was wide and grew wider as Evan realized what that meant.

“Thank God,” Evan muttered.

Casper laughed, clapping one hand on his shoulder. “You’ll be fine. I’ll take care of you.”

“Why’d they move you over from…,” Evan started then clamped his mouth closed. Oh, right.

“It’s fine with me. I like the idea of trailblazing our way through Midtown South. You and I are on the front line.”

“Of matinee traffic jams and street closures due to filming,” he said dryly.

Casper, who always looked like he was ready to step in front of a camera, reminded him of an even more polished version of Shane. A Harvard-educated beach bum. Older, broader, but still brimming with charm and direct eye contact that eventually made you want to blush a little. When he winked and leaned in like he was sharing a secret, Evan wasn’t surprised by the intrusion into his personal space.

“With your authoritative presence and my ceaseless sparkle, we are going to make such a great team, they’ll be moving us somewhere better in no time.”

Of course Casper saw that as a good thing. Evan, on the other hand, knew that meant more serious crime, more victims, more intensity, and making statements in the middle of chaos and anger. But he didn’t pop Casper’s balloon just yet.

“I’m counting on you not to let me make a fool of myself,” Evan said with a smile, ducking back a half step. Casper’s aftershave had started to tickle his nose.

“No worries, Evan. I’m going to make you look great.” That wide smile stayed in place, even as Evan heard someone calling in the distance that they were ready to get started.

“Are you coming to the reception afterward with Tony?” Evan asked, readjusting his hat.

A somber veil fell over Casper’s expression. “No. Uh, Tony moved back to Chicago two weeks ago.”

Evan stopped mid-wrinkle-inspection. He’d seen them—last month? At the GOAL fundraising meeting?—and everything seemed fine between Casper and his friendly partner, who worked for an advertising agency in midtown.

“What?”

“Tony and I split up. I haven’t really told anyone.” Casper looked around, clearly uncomfortable. “It wasn’t pretty,” he said with a grimace. “It’s been eleven years, you know? How do you make that announcement?”

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