In which we introduce out hero’s love interest. New to the game? You can catch up here. Enjoying the story? Send a friend the link. And, as always, thanks for reading.
Liz Johnson sat across the table from Lynch in the booth at McGinty’s – he could see here there, and on the TV above the bar over her left shoulder. Not unusual – he saw more of her on TV these days than he did in person.
“You’re on the tube,” he said. Her and one of the talking heads at CNN. He couldn’t tell what they were talking about, but then Hastings Clarke’s picture popped up, the former Senator from Illinois. His trial was finally coming up, which meant her book about the shit storm that had landed him in the clink to begin with was finally coming out, too. Publisher was holding the launch to coincide with the trial.
She took a quick glance back.
“PR,” she said. “Publisher’s got me booked solid the next couple weeks. Keep having the same conversation over and over again.”
“You’ve got it down, what I’ve seen. Things looking good?”
She shrugged. “Going to a third printing, just on the pre-orders. Not Sarah Palin numbers, but good.”
Lynch smiled at her and nodded.
“None of that would have happened without you.”
“Sure,” he said. “Don’t forget the little people.”
She frowned a little, not sure how to take that. “That a problem?”
He shook his head. “Weird is all. Got my wake up from the clock radio the other day, you talking with somebody over at WBBM. I’m half out of it, reach over to the other side of the bed before I realize you’re not there.”
She gave him a sly smile. “I’ve got better ways to wake you up, Lynch. You know that.”
“That I do,” he said. “That I do.” She was only in town for the night, back to New York in the morning. But he was glad they were at McGinty’s. Not the kind of place where he’d spend dinner watching her sign napkins and pose for pictures. She was still on staff at the Tribune, officially anyway, but the Clarke thing had put her way up the media ladder. Book deal, regular on all the D.C. talk fests, Larry King, the whole nine yards.
“This Stein thing going to be another hairball?” Johnson asked. Lynch and Johnson had a deal. Anything they said was strictly off the record unless they both agreed otherwise, and she’d kept her end of the bargain right down the line. Nice to have somebody to talk to, somebody outside the department.
“Don’t know what to make of it yet. Second killing just up the street the same night, looks like the same shooter. Some African refugee. Bernstein’s pulling Stein’s business shit apart. The whole thing’s got a funny smell to it already.”
Waitress dropped off their burgers, and Johnson took a huge bite. “Jesus, real food. “
“They aren’t feeding you out east?”
“Oh, sure, all the arugula and overpriced fish I can eat. You go to Komi with Stephanapolous, you don’t get any bacon cheeseburgers.”
Lynch laughed. “And how is George?”
“Short. Nice hair, though.”
Later, upstairs in Lynch’s apartment, she lay on top of him on the bed. They hadn’t been together in three weeks, so the first time had been urgent, but now they were rocking gently. Her Blackberry buzzed, vibrating on the table next to the bed. She didn’t reach for it, he had to give her that, be he felt her stiffen for a second, and she never seemed to come all the way back to him. He couldn’t blame her exactly, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. They finished.
“I’m going to wash up a bit,” she said, rolling off him. She took the Blackberry into the bathroom with her.
Lynch lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. She was the best thing he had, and she was in the bathroom with her Blackberry. He was in his bed alone.