I’m a little bored. Does anyone want any kpop families?? I’ll link the other families for you guys to look through if you want😊
summary| after moving to another country without telling your parents your phone rings while you’re asleep besides your boyfriend eric nam and your mother over hears his voice
My eyes fly open at the sound of my ringtone, at first my brain doesn’t register what I’m seeing in front of me. Eric. My boyfriend of almost a year. It wasn’t abnormal for us to sleep facing on another. Eric doesn’t fall asleep easily, once he is asleep, it’s very easy to wake him and if that happened... he’s screwed for the rest of the night. We sleep facing each other because Eric has a habit of watching me while I sleep... as creepy as it sounds. He says that watching me sleep, helps him fall asleep faster. So, you might ask, what is different this time around. Well, Eric isn’t looking back at me, he’s actually asleep and my phone is screaming with a phone call. The second my brain catches up with my body, I’m rolling over so quickly that I almost fall from the bed grabbing my phone from it’s position on the floor charge and without looking at the caller id, I answer. “Hello?” The whisper is so small that I’m surprised when I get an answer back. “Y/N? Why are you whispering.” My heart drops at the sound of my mother’s voice. The voice I haven’t heard in months since before Eric and I had moved in together and before that before I had even moved to Korea... the move she still didn’t know about. Great communication I know, but it’s the communication I created after moving away for college and completely cut off communication on my end. If she stopped calling, that would be the end of the relationship. I don’t know why I made the decision to cut off my family, it’s just one I made. “Mom, um, what’s up?” “I was just calling... why are you whispering.” I feel the bed shift behind me and before I could stop it from happening, he speaks. “Y/N, what’s going on?” Eric speaks, his voice rough with sleep, very obviously a guys voice. I can’t tell in the moment which is the bigger problem, the fact that my mother heard his voice or that he’s awake. “Who is that-” I end the call before she could continue speaking. I guess Eric being awake won. Throwing the phone down, I turn back to Eric. Who is now slightly sitting up, rubbing the few hours of sleep from his eyes. “Eric, lay down, go back to sleep.” He half listens and lays back into his position before but shakes his head, his eyes completely open now. “Who called you?” He mumbled, obviously still tired as he wrapped an arm around my waist pulling me closer to him. I sigh, no point in lying... the aftermath will have to be dealt with tomorrow... or I guess today as it’s currently 3am. “My mom.” At the mention, he groaned, I could tell he felt bad just by the way he breathed in the next moment. “She heard me didn’t see?” I don’t answer, just nod. He groans again. “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have had anything.” I shake my head again. “It’s not your fault, I’m sorry I woke you up.” A moment of silence before the bomb drops. “What are you going to tell her?” I sigh, closing my eyes wanting to block the whole problem away. She wasn’t apart of my life in Korea, my life with Eric and I didn’t know if I wanted her to be or not. “I guess everything, I kind of have to now.” “Maybe it will be a good thing? It’s not like she can change it, you’re a grown women and you’re millions miles away.” “You’re not going to fall back sleep are you?” Eric laughs at my question. “You have to confront your mom about moving to another country without telling her and you’re worried about my sleep schedule!?” “All I’m saying is she has bad timing!” “Bad timing as in calling while we’re sleeping or calling not even an hour after I fell asleep.” I groan again in grief leaning my head again his chest as he laughs once again. “We can do it now, or we can wait but I’m 100% not falling back asleep now.” “Fuck your insomnia.”
[Fave HDIGH moments 16/∞] I'm a little bit concerned...
How it looks like in 2021:
Song recommendation 15
∙ [Sunmi, Soyeon, Chung Ha, and Alexa Yandere Au] They catch you texting/talking to someone else
∙ [Eric Nam] As your best friend
∙ [Holland] As your best friend
i keep rambling but last thought !! yeonjun gives me eric nam vibes okay that's it goodnight folks
Kpop idols with the same __ as me
rules : name 1 male and female kpop idol that corresponds with your age, birthday, zodiac, height, and personality type. then tag 5 moots to play along!
Tagged by my beloved @gustingirl
Olivia hye (loona) - jisung (nct)
Birthday: 3rd november 2001
Jeongyeon (twice) - eric nam
Height: 167cm? I don't actually know
Lisa (blackpink) - changbin (stray kids)
Personality type: INTP
Wheein (mamamoo) - jin (bts)
This took longer than it should have
Tagging @and-the-glass-handed-kites @canadianwatermelon @kingparkjinyoung @dreamisqueer @isthisatlantis
THE RUNAWAY BY ERIC NAM MUSIC VIDEO IS LITERALLY EXACTLY WHAT I WANT MY LIFE TO BE SOMEONE DO THAT WITH ME
Chapter Word Count: 4.3k
Cover | Trailer | Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08
He was perfectly ordinary.
That was Amber’s first impression of Detective Son as she studied him from her desk. He was tall and round-faced with slender eyes and a general good look about him—the quintessential Boy Scout. He was exactly the kind of handsome dad all the suburban mothers would have fantasized about from the soccer bleachers. At least he’d never be a Five-O’Clock Boy, she thought.
As the other detective and the captain approached her though, her impression shifted with the stranger’s attention. In an instant, he transformed, like a butterfly unfurling dull wings to reveal a resplendent secret. With just a tilt of his chin, Detective Son wielded a powerful masculinity that stopped her in her tracks. Those slender eyes sharpened to dissect her while his too-lush lips quivered with a thought unsaid.
He was anything but ordinary.
Lucas rapped on her desk with his knuckle to get her attention, but it was superfluous. It was impossible to look anywhere other than the new detective’s placid, handsome face.
“Detective Son, this is Detective Amber Spiros.”
“Welcome to your demotion,” she said with a flick of her chin.
Lucas narrowed his eyes but added, “She’ll be your partner on the Hartley disappearance and welcomes any insights or expertise you bring with you from the Ho case. Thank you for joining our team.”
The detective bowed his head to Amber and then to the captain before Lucas dropped him off like a hot potato and disappeared into his office.
In the gathering silence between the reluctant partners, she licked her teeth and said at last, “You got a partner up North, Son?”
“Sometimes,” he answered.
His voice was robust with a natural grumble to it, like a bear waking up from hibernation. Like everything else about him, it was unforgivably masculine.
“Well, I’ve got the best one around,” Amber continued, nodding toward Eric huddled over his temporary desk up front, “and for reasons I cannot fathom, we’ve been split up for this investigation. So, what I’m going to need from you is time and space and maybe some note-taking. You think you can do that?”
“I can,” Shownu replied.
“But I won’t.”
Amber sagged in her seat. “Why not?”
“It’s an important case,” was all he said.
“I know it’s an important case, Son,” she said tightly. “It’s mine. The sooner you understand that, the easier this will be.”
Her brow pinched at the sound. “What does ‘hm’ mean?”
Shownu pulled out Eric’s chair and sat down, scooting the prom photo to the far back corner so he could open the case briefing he’d received from the captain. Seeing anyone other than her adorable, big-eared looney toon sitting in that chair was as incomprehensible as a sweat lodge in Death Valley—it was a thing that simply shouldn’t happen.
“That’s my partner’s desk,” Amber growled.
“Yes,” Shownu replied.
“Well? Get out.”
He lifted a page in the folder and continued skimming as he said, “It seems to me the sooner we find Daisy Hartley, the quicker you’ll get back your familiar.”
Like Eric was some witch’s pet instead of her best friend!
Calm down, Spiros, she warned herself. He’s annoying, but he’s not wrong. You want Nam back, find the girl.
That didn’t mean she had to like it or even pretend to like it.
“What do you know about this case already?” she asked.
“A girl is missing.”
Was he trying to be difficult or was that just his default setting?
Amber stretched her neck and took a breath before she stood up and grabbed her keys. “Come on, Son.”
He looked up from the folder at last, face as composed as always. “Where are we going?”
“To see Daisy’s roommate. I’m not in the mood for desk work, and so far, it seems the roommate’s the last one to see her. We’re burning daylight.”
Without so much as a nod, he picked up the report and followed her out while Eric flashed them an encouraging smile. It panged all the more beside Shownu’s stoic mug.
Amber hurried them to her car where she tore out of the lot before Shownu had even buckled in.
“Seatbelts,” he reminded with a pointed look to hers flapping dejectedly against her side panel.
“Yeah, I know, Son,” she said with a scowl.
He turned his attention to the road but added in his firm baritone, “It’s the law.”
With a huff, she snapped it in and pushed the pedal a little harder just to enjoy his hand tightening around the door handle. He spent the rest of the short ride to Goose Hollow with his nose in the police report while Amber imagined it was her actual partner in the seat beside her.
“I’ve got lead,” she said as she parked, and, thankfully, there was no debate.
Amber knocked on the door and found a beautiful blonde girl with the face of a Hollywood ingenue but a frown too deep for her young years. With a tight voice, the girl said, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I’m Detective Spiros, and this is Detective Son.” Amber conveniently omitted the word ‘partner’. “We’re with the Portland Police Department. We’re here about the disappearance of your roommate, Daisy Hartley.”
“Oh, thank god,” said the blonde with her hand at her heart. “Please come in.”
With pleasantries exchanged and everyone comfortable in the living room, Amber let the girl unload. “Daisy’s literally the best person, literally. The best friend, the best student, the best employee. She works hard at everything she does, doesn’t matter what it is—she goes all in. She would never just leave. When she commits to something, she does it—work, school, rent.”
“That’s a lot of pressure, juggling all those things,” Amber said.
Eve narrowed her eyes. “I see what you’re thinking, Detective, but Daisy doesn’t see that stuff as pressure. To her, it’s a challenge. She doesn’t let things beat her—she beats them.”
“My kind of girl,” the detective agreed with a smile. “How long have you two known each other?”
“We met at sorority orientation. Doesn’t sound like a long time, but sometimes when you meet someone, you can just tell it’s a forever friend, you know? Everything just clicks.”
Amber remembered that feeling the moment Eric had opened his mouth at the Academy. “I do.”
“We just get each other, which is why I know she wouldn’t leave her sisters. She’s got a great life.”
“What about other relationships?” Shownu asked. “Was there anybody she didn’t get along with?”
Eve pursed her lips as she thought, but then she shook her head. “Daisy could be pretty blunt, especially if she thought you were an idiot, but she’s just got this charm about her that you like her in spite of it. I never heard anyone even gossip about her, and we’re in a sorority!”
Shownu scribbled it down and asked, “What about coworkers or customers who might be giving her a hard time?”
“She never said anything about it, and I doubt it. Even part time, her tips pay the rent here, so I’d say they get along pretty good.”
“Maybe too good?” Amber wrote on her notepad and flashed it at Shownu. He glanced at it but made no response.
Amber pushed past her new partner’s indifference and returned to the worried roommate. “Her mother said she didn’t know of any boyfriends, but I think a sister might know more about that than a mother. Sisters tell each other everything, right?”
Eve’s shoulders tightened and her brow pinched. “Daisy wasn’t dating anyone. I’m sure of that.”
The blonde looked down at her hands folded in her lap. “Oh god, you know, last time we talked, she was going to meet some guy for coffee. Why did I just remember this now?”
“Do you have a name?”
Amber couldn’t squash the butterflies in her gut. There was no reason for it, no basis in reality other than a loose connection to a coffee she had just had with a magnetic stranger, but coffee culture was booming, so it meant nothing in a sea of millions of caffeine addicts. And yet there it was… That familiar tickle of suspicion.
But Eve shook her head. “No, Daisy didn't even have his name. They met online. This was the first time they were going to meet.”
Suddenly, the room ran out of air. It shouldn’t have. Millions of coffee drinkers, millions of internet users, there was no reasonable connection. But against all rationale, there was only one at the forefront of Amber’s mind.
“Do you know his chat handle?” the detective asked. She could barely contain the anxious edge to her voice, and her new partner heard it, too. Beside her, Shownu shifted on the cushion.
Again, Eve shook her head. “Daisy might have told me, but I don't remember that stuff since I don’t use it. I’m so stupid. Damnit.”
“What about her screen name? Do you know that?”
“Give me a minute, and I'll get it for you.” Eve headed over to their shared computer and logged in. After several minutes of buzzing, screeching, and trilling, an AOL launch screen loaded, and she clicked on the dropdown list for her roommate’s handle, Daisychain13.
“Is there anything you can tell me about the guy she was meeting?” Amber pushed.
Eve swiveled around in the desk chair and shrugged. “Only thing I remember is that he traveled a lot. Oh, and I think he had a big family?”
Shownu’s eyes widened almost as much as Amber’s. She nodded to him, but he made no other acknowledgement of their new lead.
“Is there anything else you can remember? Doesn't matter how small, anything could be a lead.”
“I'm sorry, Detectives. If she told me, I forgot. I'm a terrible listener. I'm a terrible friend!” Tears welled in Eve’s eyes as she tried to rub them away.
Amber placed a hand on the girl's shoulder and soothed her. “You're not a terrible friend. Everything you’ve shared with us will help us find Daisy, and that is what makes you a best friend, okay?”
“Okay,” Eve sniffed though she sounded unconvinced.
“Now, if it’s okay with you, Detective Son and I will split up and do a search of this computer and the apartment? Maybe we’ll find a clue to what happened to her.”
“Of course,” the blonde said. “I’ll be in my room. Is that cool?”
“That’s fine, Eve. Let us know if you think of anything else.”
As the roommate headed to her bedroom, Amber took a seat at the computer. Over her shoulder, she said, “You search Daisy’s room, Son. I got the computer.”
Shownu nodded, but there was a hesitancy to it.
As he began sifting through Daisy's nightstand, Amber tooled through the PC. Every thrum, whir, and chime rattled the primal creature inside her. Once, it had been a portal to another world, a place for connection. Now, it was a rifle scope heavy with the thrill of the hunt, and Amber had chwSUX in her sights.
Her breath caught as she launched AIM.
“Find something?” Shownu asked. At some point, he had edged closer to the doorway so he could study the monitor too.
Amber narrowed her eyes. “Nothing yet. Just hopeful.”
He hummed and went back to the dresser, but Amber’s guard was up. She already had two mother hens at the office; she didn’t need a third looking over her shoulder.
Daisy’s buddy list ticked up. Lots of names, but not the one Amber was looking for. Still, that didn’t mean anything. They could have private messaged without being on one another’s buddy lists. If they met, though, it would be impossible to retrace. There were no chat logs or even an idea in which chat room they’d met. Could have been the same one in Amber’s chance meeting, but without proof, she had nothing.
She wondered what Daisychain13 and chwSUX might have talked about. Did he ask the same questions of every girl, like a director casting a role? What were Daisy’s answers?
As Shownu rifled through drawers and closets, on the monitor, a couple buddy windows popped up from a xBiffxSteakx and a mcnuttkins. Amber toyed with the idea of messaging them to ask if they knew anything, but they clearly expected Daisy to be there, which meant they didn’t know she was missing.
Email was next, but there were no conversations or weekend plans or anything other than school assignments and personality surveys. It was a wasteland of teenage cliches. Daisy’s hard drive was no different. She was exactly how her mother and roommate had painted her—a normal college student with her eyes on the future.
Amber sagged back into the chair as Shownu emerged from the bedroom.
“Find anything?” he asked.
“Nothing useful. She’s just a girl growing up.” Amber sighed. “You?”
Shownu presented a receipt for a ticket to Spain in the fall.
“Daisy’s mom mentioned she was planning a trip with friends soon,” she said. “You don’t buy a ticket for halfway around the world in a couple months if you’re planning on skipping town now.”
“My thought, too,” was all he said.
Shownu shook his head and Amber stood up heavily. They had nothing concrete but the feeling that Daisy was now one of nine girls out there somewhere in the city waiting for rescue. And there, in Amber’s periphery, was Hyungwon, cross-legged with a coffee cup to his lips, biding his time until she put the pieces together.
“Let’s go, Son. She wasn’t taken from here, that’s for sure, and we have a few things to talk about.”
He headed toward the front door while Amber knocked for Eve. The blonde opened her bedroom door, bleary-eyed but hopeful.
“Thank you for your help today, Eve,” the detective started. “We’ve got some leads to pursue, but in the meantime, if you remember anything else, any small detail, just call me.”
Amber handed her card to her and smiled though the blonde was too numb to notice.
As the detectives headed through the front door, Eve shouted after them, “Oh, I remembered one more thing. It's really stupid and probably won’t help, but Daisy said his favorite color was red, so she picked out this red velvet slip dress. That was the last time I saw her. I know it's not much, but maybe it’ll help. I might even have a picture.”
Eve darted back into her room while Amber vibrated with excitement. Her breath quickened and her fingertips itched just as they had the night she chatted with chwSUX.
His favorite color was red…
A stupid, pointless detail, less than circumstantial and bordering on totally useless. Admissible absolutely nowhere and yet…
“I like red.”
Eve came back out with a picture this time of the beautiful hometown girl with a sarcastic smile and a cute crimson dress. “That was from Homecoming last year. She loves that dress.”
“May I take this?” Amber asked. Eve nodded and the detective smiled again. “You've helped more than you realize. We’ll be in touch soon, okay?”
Eve closed the door, and just like that, the hunt was on.
On the drive back to the station, Amber confessed her interest in Chae Hyungwon as well as her suspicion that the man was involved with all the missing women through internet chat rooms. Shownu was quiet, but his silence spoke volumes. He didn’t think much of her lead, or anything of it at all maybe, but he did listen. He asked a few neutral questions, and she wondered if he thought she was either off her rocker or just grasping at straws. Still, Lucas had given her license to pursue her hunch further, and no newbie from another precinct was going to challenge another captain. Detective Son would have to go with the flow of the investigation, or he’d be on his way back North.
Once they were back at Central, he had even volunteered to dig up information on Chae’s brothers while Amber waited with narrowed eyes and thin lips in the corner of the Five-O Boys command center where Welling told her to stay until they finished their afternoon debrief with the two FBI agents, Suh and Song.
“What's up, Spiros?” asked Cavill in his gravelly voice. His broad back hunched over the conference table as he actively worked to piss her off.
“I need a favor.”
“Course you do. Out with it.”
She gritted her teeth but then steadied her breath. “The captain has me working a new missing persons case, a girl around the same age as your girls. Went missing a couple days ago—”
His back still to her, he said, “And you think she’s one of our Runaways. Lemme guess? You want to see our files.”
“That would be helpful, yes.”
Cavill straightened and turned around at last, his muscular arms immediately crossing over his strong chest. His dress shirt pulled at the shoulders and his square jaw flexed. “This have anything to do with your cut-and-paste kidnapper?”
Amber rolled her eyes. “Jesus, Cavill, lay off, would ya? A lead’s a lead. Don’t get pissy with me because the sub didn’t want to talk to you.”
He scoffed, a guttural sound that vibrated through his chest. “I’m not pissy because some spoiled brat upper-cruster won’t talk with me. I’m pissy because you keep trying to take over an investigation that isn’t yours, Spiros.”
“That’s not what it sounds like,” she chided, and the detective’s dark eyes hardened.
“How’s this for pissy? The only way you’re getting a look at these files is if you can get them from under my hand.” With the force of an anvil, Cavill slapped one giant mitt on top of a stack of folders at the edge of the table.
Welling grinned as wide as a tin man like him could, which wasn’t much, but it was enough to stoke the embers in Amber’s heart. One well-placed pinch to the back of that ripped tricep, and Cavill would be caterwauling same as the handsy johns she used to detain, but the two FBI agents were there, watching.
For their part, they seemed genuinely apologetic, which she found rather ironic considering they had forced their way into the precinct and demanded cooperation without returning the favor.
Amber glared back at the two detectives and said, “Just remember that I did ask nicely first.”
Welling’s stiff grin widened. “Going to run off and tattle to your ex?”
“We’ll call it even for the Chae stunt. Just know I could take you down in one move.”
Cavill started to scoff, but Amber left them all to marinate in her schemes and settled for the psychological victory.
Back at her desk, she found Shownu laboring over some notes.
“Did you get the file?” he asked.
“No. How’s your luck?”
He swiveled to face her with his notepad in hand. “No parents that I can find.”
Amber raised a brow. “You mean they’re dead?”
“I mean I don’t know. There’s no record of Chae Hyungwon’s parents at all.”
“Everything I’ve come across lists them as unknown.”
That didn’t make sense. If Chae had six brothers, some of them had to be at least old enough to know who their parents were.
Shownu continued down his notes. “His house, however, was deeded in the name Choi Seunghyun. No way of knowing yet if that was his father or another relative, but there are no other records of a Choi Seunghyun—no police records, no tax filings, no voting records.”
The other detective shrugged as though that explained everything. “I did have more luck tracking down most of his brothers.”
Shownu presented his notepad to her with a list of five names in neat printing.
Amber pursed her lips as she ran her finger over each name. “It's a lot of missing women for all those brothers not to notice.”
“What are you saying?” Shownu asked. There was an edge to his voice—hard to identify but almost wary. “You think they're in on it?”
“I'm saying from that lawyer brother’s outburst, they all seem to meddle in each other's business, so at the very least, covering for Chae is a real possibility. And anyway, if they weren’t covering anything up, why the name changes? I mean, unless they’re half-brothers? And what about the seventh son?”
Shownu shook his head. “Haven’t found any mention of him yet.”
“No other names tied to that address?”
“Do you think that Choi could be the brother?” Amber wondered.
“I don’t think so,” he answered. “The deed was transferred into Chae’s name just a few months ago actually. Before that, it looks like Choi paid on the house for decades.”
“Could be a parent or grandparent then?”
“Likely, but there’s no birth or death record that I could find either. We could just go ask him,” Shownu suggested.
“Nah, we’re not ready. We have nothing to talk about yet, and he’ll know we’re on his trail. Last thing I need is another run-in with that prick Yoo.”
Another “hm” was Shownu’s only reply.
Amber glanced at the list again and scowled, as if the answer would materialize simply out of fear of her wrath. She mouthed each brother’s name and committed them to memory since she knew she’d be visiting them all soon. As her finger trailed down the list, it stopped. Something tickled at the back of her memory.
“Wait. Wait,” she said as she tapped her finger furiously against the paper.
“What is it?” Shownu asked.
“Hold on.” Amber tossed aside a half-dozen folders and even more statements and reports before she got to a manila folder marked only with a case number and a red stamp that read “Closed”.
“You think they have something to do with an old case?” Shownu said as she watched her flip through a stack of witness statements.
“Shut up, Son. You talk more than Nam,” she snapped, completely ignoring the irony. Behind a litany of files, she found a stack of grainy, photocopied evidence photos.
Shownu’s keen eyes narrowed at once. “Those aren't from that closed case, are they?”
Amber didn't respond.
“I thought you said you didn't get the Runaways case file?”
“I didn't get the updated file,” she amended. “I may have obtained this copy at an earlier time when I wasn't feeling cooperative.”
Her new partner said nothing, but that was louder than an accusation.
Still, Amber ignored him for her quest. She could see what she wanted so clearly in her mind, and she willed it to the top of the pile. As soon as she found it, she slapped it on her desk. The photo was dark and muddled from multiple copies, but she could still make out a roadside with a pile of garbage scattered by the wind.
“What do you see?” she asked.
Shownu hunched over the image for a full minute and then shrugged.
“Those are the contents of Han So Hee’s purse we found scattered along the side of Southwest Vista shortly after she went missing,” Amber explained.
He shrugged again—she was really beginning to resent those broad shoulders. “One of the missing? Okay...”
She sighed and bit back the frustration before she could insist that Eric would have picked up her connection. Instead, she scooted the picture closer to Shownu. “You don't notice anything coincidental?”
Another look at the picture but he still shook his head.
She stamped her finger on the photocopy on top of a blurry little card wedged under a hairbrush and lipstick. “That’s a Crimson Cow Video membership card. That’s where two of Chae's brothers work.”
Shownu remained unimpressed. “How can you even make that out?”
Amber didn’t need to explain she’d fallen asleep on top of these photos enough times to have absorbed them into her skin.
But he pressed on, “I also see a Blockbuster card. Couldn't somebody there have been just as likely to have taken her?”
She hissed. “It's like I work with an entire department of Devil's advocates. Yeah, sure, some psycho at Blockbuster could have equal opportunity to kidnap her, but this place is local, intimate, and just so happens to be run by the brothers of my only person of interest.”
“Shouldn’t we be looking at other potential suspects, too?” Shownu persisted.
“Hey, the field just widened to seven. Cut me some slack.”
He set his lips in a firm line but didn't say whatever lurked on the other side of them. After a long moment, he returned his attention to the evidence photo and said, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to visit the store, rattle some cages, wake some demons.”
After another beat, he said, “Tomorrow?”
“As soon as possible. I’m just going to have to start paying them all a visit one by one until I find out who the fuck these people are and what they want with my city.” Shownu looked like he was going to suggest an alternative, but Amber was already gathering her jacket. “I’m going to work from home for the night. Too many distractions here. I suggest you do the same, Son. See if you can get a hold of any of Daisy’s sorority sisters, and find out if any of them heard any more about the mystery date. I’ll cover my own leads, and we can pick up with the brothers tomorrow.”
He seemed surprised but didn’t argue, though he also didn’t make a move to pack up anything from the desk that most definitely wasn’t his.
As she gave him a once-over, Amber pursed her lips. “Be ready, Son.”
With that, she left.
introducing jeno, nct dream’s actual maknae 👶
I’m having a crisis because I remembered that I’m the same age as Dream’s 00 line
Chapter Word Count: 5.8k
A/N: I know y’all be wondering, “Bitch, where’s the smut?” It’s right around the bend, I promise, and from there we’re on the bullet train straight to sin after sin. Setting up a good backstory was the only way my conscience would let me do all the things I’m about to do. *is pathetic* In the meantime, let’s add a few more layers of tension because that shit’s delicious and it makes the payoff taste all the sweeter…
Cover | Trailer | Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08
Amber's pen dropped from her lips to the desk as she sighed dramatically, but there was no one around to pity her. Day Four of her probation and, while her partner/chaperone was currently picking up her favorite gyro for her, she had nothing to do but fill out paperwork on their arrest in the Chevron case and sulk.
They had caught one bad guy, but she felt no triumph. Of course, it was hard to celebrate one arrest while she was also essentially on house arrest herself, but it was bigger than that, and she couldn’t deny it. Eight women were still missing, and she knew there would be more—and, no doubt, soon there would be bodies.
True to his word, the captain had transferred Chae Hyungwon’s file to Welling and Cavill, who had surprised Amber by actually following up with her. Of course, most of that was an excuse to lob barbs about trolling cyberspace for her “cut-and-paste kidnapper,” but she had managed to wedge in her leads in between their elbowing. It was something, but it wasn’t enough. She had to wait until she got home to feel any sense of control again.
Every evening, Amber anticipated the tender heart of night when she could slip into the stream of her modem’s whistles and wails and navigate to her usual chat room, the same one she had four nights ago.
He was always there in the sidebar, as present as if he were in her room with her. It was just six letters on the screen, but somehow it was more than a name—it was a whole person now, elegant limbs and perfect posture waiting in a darkened corner.
Like her new handle, chwSUX didn’t participate in the chat even when someone would try to engage him, even when teenage girls would join and flirt. It was eerier than if he’d continued to cast his lines into the open waters. Instead, it was like he could see through the digital window as clearly as a real one, right to the woman on the other side of her androgynous new ShwingShwing screen name.
Last night, he had shattered that window with a chipper notification ring.
He probably sent private IMs to everyone in the chat, but still, Amber had slammed the X with authority and logged off, possibly forever. When she finally forced herself into bed, she’d laid stiff on top of her mattress and stared at the ceiling, praying for the mercy of sleep.
At some point, she had drifted off, only to wake to Hyungwon sitting in the chair at the end of her bed with one leg crossed over the other and both hands in his lap. He didn’t say anything. He just watched her with a half-smile. She should have panicked, but there was no point. He belonged there.
Under his gaze, a warmth washed through Amber’s body, and against all sane judgment, she spread her legs for him under her sheet. Horror stampeded through what was left of her mind, but it couldn’t crush the lust searing its way through every nerve ending.
Hyungwon’s smile widened as her hand trailed beneath the covers down to the waist of her pants. It was wrong. It was wrong. But he was so pleased, and she wanted to please him more. Her breath stuttered and her thighs trembled and her core throbbed as he watched her patiently but expectantly. Amber pulled back the sheet.
Her fingers had just dipped below her waistband when she remembered who the man at the end of her bed truly was, not some charismatic businessman but a beautiful devil.
In the blink of an eye, she dove for her gun, but when she turned back, he was gone.
When she had woken, Amber was exhausted and disoriented. It had seemed so real, but when she looked at the same chair in the morning sun, she found her dirty laundry strewn across it, just as she had left it, and her gun still stashed under her mattress.
Now at work, she slumped over her paperwork looking as miserable as she felt.
“Hey, Amber?” The detective looked up to find Stefanie’s elvish face enhanced with widened eyes. Her voice was buoyed with a hint of eagerness. “There's some tall, handsome guy here to see you. Should I send him back?”
The admin glanced into the lobby and Amber’s eyes followed to where the ethereal apparition of Chae Hyungwon waited with one hand in his pocket. A thrill ran through her at the sight of his cold, steady gaze. His image was as clear as it had been last night in her room, only this time it wasn’t a dream.
“You sure he’s here to see me?” Amber asked skeptically.
“Asked for you specifically. So, send him back?”
Amber didn’t trust that tone. The two women had worked together long enough for Amber to consider Stefanie a friend, but that also meant they’d worked together long enough to know the admin was the office girly girl, with model good looks and a perpetual twinkle of a romantic scheme in her eye.
Amber scowled. “You know he’s a person of interest in the Runaways case, right?”
This dropped the smile from Stefanie’s lips and replaced it with a disappointed frown. “You really know how to pick ‘em.”
“This one picked me,” the detective muttered as she nodded for Hyungwon to come back.
His walk was so silent and swift that it was almost like he’d teleported to her desk. He loomed over her as he rested his fingertips on the stack of folders in her inbox.
“Mr. Chae, I’m surprised to see you. Are you stopping back on your way to see Detectives Welling and Cavill?”
“I'm surprised I haven’t seen you,” he replied. “You promised you’d stop by.”
Amber forced herself to glaze over the slight scolding in his voice.
“Actually, I was just lending a hand to my fellow detectives. They’re spearheading the investigation, so they’ll be your points of contact moving forward.”
“The two Neanderthals? They're so… square,” Hyungwon said with a furrowed brow. Amber almost didn't catch her laugh before it came out, and he noticed. With a smirk, he added, “Those stuffed suits they brought with them were even worse.”
“You mean Agents Suh and Song? They’re on loan from the FBI to assist on the missing persons cases. They’re good guys, maybe a little formal, but good.”
Hyungwon scowled. “They’re uptight. It’s off-putting.”
“Maybe that’s the idea—to put you off your game,” she offered. “I know from experience that’s pretty hard to do.”
Stop it, Amber, she hissed in her head. That’s coming dangerously close to flirting with the enemy.
“You’re easier to talk to,” he said, his voice an octave lower. “You’re real.”
What was wrong with her? He was a suspect, the first person she truly believed knew something about the missing women, but it was like her hormones had overridden her every sensibility. Just the gravel in his voice ignited something inside her she knew should be smothered immediately, and yet she burned to follow him to his car so he could drive her home and do whatever he wanted to her.
And just like that, her fantasies came to a screeching halt. Maybe that’s what happened with the missing women, too. Right now, they could all be in a ditch at the base of Mt. Hood, and they needed Amber to snap the fuck out of it.
“Did you have some information you’d like to share with the Department, Mr. Chae?” she said as she scrounged around for a pen and paper.
With a light sigh, the travel agent shook his head. “Not with the Department, with you.”
All at once, the air seemed to crackle, and Hyungwon’s eyes shifted their diligent attention from her to the person behind her.
“Mr. Chae, let me show you back to Detective Welling’s desk. He’s waiting for you.”
Amber recognized that firm voice instantly, and her shoulders tightened.
With a slight grin, Hyungwon replied, “That won't be necessary, Captain Wong.”
Neither officer missed the weight of the captain's name uttered without so much as an introduction ever between them—no doubt a clever play suggested by Hyungwon’s puppet master lawyer brother.
“It’s just a short walk back this way,” Lucas said more firmly, but Hyungwon shook his head.
“As I told them, they can direct any further questions to my lawyer. I'm actually here to fulfill a promise to your Detective Spiros.”
Above her, Amber heard Lucas’s teeth set on edge.
“My appointment calendar as promised.” Hyungwon handed the leather-bound booklet to the detective as she squinted at him.
“I thought you said your assistant was going to fax this over?”
“She was, but since I was already on my way downtown for a meeting, I saved her the effort. And unfortunately, I have that appointment now, and I can’t be late. If you have any questions, Detective Spiros, please feel free to see me. You'll never need an appointment.”
Hyungwon’s insinuations were clear and heavy, and the whole precinct felt weighed down by them. Neither man had anything further to say to the other, and judging from Lucas’s heat assaulting her back, Amber knew she shouldn’t open her mouth either. She let the stare-down conclude with the handsome interloper giving her a polite smile and a knock on the appointment book. The captain waited beside her until the slender silhouette of their adversary vaporized in the blinding sunlight.
As soon as the man was gone, Lucas swiped the calendar out of her hands before she even had time to react and stormed back to his office.
His door slammed in time for Eric to drop Amber’s lunch on her desk. “What’d you do now?”
“Honestly,” she grumbled as she ripped into her gyro, “it wasn’t me this time.”
“You’re the only one I’ve ever seen make Lucas that angry.”
“Think I should be jealous?” Amber teased, but it did nothing to lighten the mood.
She sensed trouble on the horizon the way some people felt rain coming in their knees. It was inevitable and out of her control, and no amount of desk duty could push her out of its path.
Things only got weirder as the afternoon wore on. Lucas had been on the phone for what seemed like hours, and despite having closed the Chevron case, Eric and she hadn’t received a new assignment yet. Amber knew she was on probation, so maybe she was being hyper-sensitive, but since Hyungwon had shown up unannounced, it felt less like probation and more like a blacklist.
“Look at you, complaining about doing less work,” Eric joked. “You should be glad more people aren’t shooting each other.”
“I am, smartass,” she snapped.
“Rather than lament your entire existence, why don’t you call it a day? If you’re lucky, tomorrow there will be another juicy mystery for you to solve, Nancy Drew.”
“Shove it, Nam.”
“Do I need to escort you to your car?”
Amber narrowed her eyes. “You’re in rare form today. No, don’t bother. My other chaperone’s still boring holes into the back of my neck, isn’t he?”
Eric glanced toward the captain’s office and nodded. “Sure is. Okay, well, call me if you wanna shoot some pool or something, or if you want me to set you up with my buddy. He’s free tonight, you know.”
“Do you have a Rolodex of single friends on standby? You’re like an old-country matchmaker.”
“And I’m not even charging for my services. Later, Bro.” Eric waved as he tossed his bag over his shoulder and headed out.
The precinct emptied out quickly after her partner, leaving only a handful of officers waiting to start their beats. With nothing left to do, Amber shuffled her things into loose piles to tackle in the morning and stood up right as Stefanie rushed over.
“I’m so glad I caught you!” the admin said. “I know you’re on your way out, but I have a mother here who wants to report her daughter missing, and Detectives Welling and Cavill are gone along with just about everyone else. Do you think you could take her statement?”
Stefanie’s eyes flicked back to the captain’s office and then back to Amber. Translation: are you allowed to take her statement?
“Of course,” Amber assured. “Bring her back.”
Stefanie nodded and, a few moments later, she returned with a middle-aged woman sporting a very deflated Rachel haircut and yesterday's faded makeup. Her eyes were drawn and red from tears, and her shoulders were hunched under crushing terror.
“Thank you for meeting with me, Detective,” the woman managed as she sat in the chair beside Amber’s desk. Her eyes watched her hands as she wrung a tissue in her lap. “You must get moms in here like me all the time, especially these days, but I don't want you to think I'm overreacting or overbearing—I’m really not. My daughter, Daisy, hasn't called me in two days, and she calls me every day, and what with all the other missing girls—”
She sounded like she was choking on her own words, and Amber reached out a hand to the woman’s wrist.
“It's okay, Ms...”
“Jean Hartley. My daughter is Daisy.”
“Okay, and you haven’t heard from Daisy in two days?”
“N-no.” It came out more as a sob than a word.
“It’s all right,” Amber soothed. “You’re in the right place. So, Daisy calls you every day?”
“Every day,” Mrs. Hartley echoed.
“What about her father?”
The mother shook her head. “He lives in Baker City. They never see each other.”
But the woman cut off the detective with an emphatic head shake. “I already called, but he hasn’t heard from her in months.”
“How old is Daisy?”
“She just turned 20.”
“She’s in college?”
“Yes,” the woman said. “She’ll be a sophomore at PSU.”
“Busy time. Maybe she went on a trip with her friends?”
“She is missing,” Mrs. Hartley asserted.
“I’m not saying she isn’t,” Amber replied with a gentle smile. “I just don’t want you to worry any longer than you already have.”
The woman let out a juddering sob and nodded, though she did not release her stranglehold on the tissue. After a few deep breaths, she said, “This morning, I went by Daisy’s apartment, and her roommate hadn’t seen or heard from her since Tuesday. Something’s wrong.”
Amber withdrew her hand from the mother’s wrist and rifled through her drawers for a tablet and pencil. “Okay, Mrs. Hartley, why don't you start off by telling me a little about your daughter and what’s happened.”
The woman instantly shrank into her seat. Her red-rimmed eyes scanned back and forth as they pared down her memory banks for the most important details about her daughter. “She's been living off-campus in Goose Hollow with her girlfriend Eve and working part-time at a diner in the Pearl.”
At the mention of the Pearl District, Amber straightened. It was a neighborhood filled with all kinds of shady characters and even more transients, a place where people went to or were taken to disappear. It would be easy enough for a predator to look in a diner window for his next target.
“Theta’s Hotcakes,” the mother clarified.
As Amber jotted notes, Mrs. Hartley began to rapid-fire everything she could think of about her daughter. “Daisy was a straight-A student in high school, graduated at the top of her class. Straight-A student in her first year in college, too. She has wonderful friends. She’s never been in trouble—she's never done anything to make me worry.”
“No reason you can think of she’d want to disappear? Sometimes balancing work and school can take a serious toll, especially when you feel pressured to keep up expectations. Maybe she needed a break and just stepped out for a few days?”
The mother’s brows furrowed with indignation. “Detective, I know you have to ask that, but you have to know that I know my daughter. If Daisy was stressed or scared, she would have told me. We don’t keep secrets because we don’t need to.”
Amber had heard that line countless times before but never with such force. Mrs. Hartley spoke with the confidence of a doctor who’d been practicing for thirty years.
“Daisy’s not just my daughter, she's my best friend. I can't get a hold of her, and she hasn’t come home. Daisy’s never not come home, Detective, and with all the other missing girls in this city, I’m freaking out.”
Amber nodded and offered a fresh tissue, hoping to calm the woman, who was now visibly shaking. “Boyfriend?”
Mrs. Hartley shook her head. “No. Daisy’s never been a big dater. Hasn’t even had a steady boyfriend. She was always too focused on her school and her friends, and even now, she keeps saying she doesn't have time. She's been working non-stop before the next semester starts up because she wants to go to Spain with her friends.”
“What about anybody she's seeing casually?”
The woman’s sad bob flared as she shook her head again.
“No run-ins with friends or exes? Nobody with a grudge that you know of?”
“Detective, I'm not trying to be that mom, but I'm telling you my daughter really is nothing but goodness. Her high school class voted her Most Loved by Parents. Look.” Mrs. Hartley dug through her purse and pulled out her daughter's senior picture.
With her shoulder-length blond waves, clear blue eyes, and a sincere smile, she had a classic hometown girl-next-door vibe. Round eyes, round cheeks, and a round face gave her a sweetness where her alabaster skin gave her an innocence. The thought of another girl like this joining the ranks of the Runaways case stoked a fire in Amber's chest.
“We’ll need to talk to her roommate,” Amber said as she handed back the picture.
“Of course. I’ll tell Eve to expect you.” Mrs. Hartley wrote down the other girl’s name and address, and as she slipped it back across the desk, she grabbed Amber’s hand. “Please, please, Detective, find my daughter. She’s all I have.”
“There is nothing we won’t do to bring her back to you, Mrs. Hartley. Count on it.”
Suddenly, the woman leapt forward and gathered Amber into a hug, and the detective felt a sharp pang in her chest for her own mother.
“Thank you,” the woman whispered before she let go and shuffled out of the precinct.
For a long moment, Amber sat at her desk numb. A thousand thoughts rushed through her mind with one repeatedly bobbing back to the surface.
I should have left with Eric.
If she hadn’t met Mrs. Hartley, if she hadn’t seen that girl’s picture, if she didn’t know Chae Hyungwon, maybe she would sleep tonight. Instead, nervous energy piped through her, prickling her fingertips and propelling her feet forward. Everything inside her demanded she slip that report into her jacket pocket and head straight for her study. Somehow, a single sheet of paper weighed more than the whole of the Earth.
Notes in hand, Amber rose with her bag and headed down the hallway where the lights were yellow with old cigarette smoke and the walls looked as sticky as they actually were. It was quiet at the end, and shadows trickled out of the shuttered offices, but she could make out the wall of headshots and thumbtacks webbed together with permanent marker. Even in the dimness, she recognized the missing, with their bright eyes piercing the veil.
As soon as her hand touched the knob, a voice behind her startled her. “What are you doing?”
Amber turned to Lucas and waved her incident report. “Jesus, you scared me. Got another missing girl. Just turning it over to your detectives.”
“Yes, really. I’m not always wildly irresponsible.”
“Just most times,” he said with a smile. Lucas was so pretty when he smiled, wild and bright like a flirtatious boy who would love you and leave you just as fast. It had been so long since she’d seen it, and in that time, its brightness had intensified. She wondered if his new girl made him smile like this.
Amber felt the walls constrict—she could practically feel their tackiness pressing against her skin. She glanced back down the hall but saw and heard no one else. The isolation was as dangerous as his smile.
“Well, I have to get going, Cap,” she blurted as her hand moved back to the door. “Eric’s waiting for me at the pool hall with his friend.”
Lies, Ambrosia! Lies! she hissed at herself. Why even bother with the pretense? She wasn’t doing anything wrong, and he was relieved for a change. There was no need for it, and yet the words had come out of her mouth with conviction.
His smile fell away, like a picture shattering against the floor. “You can leave the report with me, and I’ll review it with Welling and Cavill tomorrow.”
The color had left his voice, and now there was nothing—no annoyance or amusement or even anger—nothing but icy professionalism. The walls had moved away but a chill had settled in instead, and all Amber could do was nod and hand the captain the report before she hurried out into the evening air.
Another morning sagging into her coffee cup after another night of restlessness. Amber had managed to stay away from the chatrooms, convincing herself it couldn’t make a difference now that another girl was missing and her cover had been blown, but guilt over abandoning her instincts had plagued her into the deepest part of the night.
When she had finally coaxed her eyes closed, even her dreams tormented her, but instead of finding Hyungwon in her room, this time, it was Kihyun. He had leaned against her door frame with his arms crossed, as though he was both disappointed and daring her, and part of her thrilled at doing both. He didn’t look like the kind of man who would tolerate misbehavior, which is exactly why she wanted to misbehave. If it hadn’t been for her alarm, who knew where his challenge might have taken her.
“You look like shit, Bro,” Eric said as he nudged one of his sugary bribes toward her.
“Thanks for the support, partner,” she grumbled through a mouthful of fat-fried pastry.
“Eh, you technically paid for this support. So, I take it you’re still not sleeping?” he asked, though it was more of a scolding.
“It’s not for lack of trying, believe me.”
“You should have come to Pal’s last night. Jackson was really hoping you’d change your mind.”
A piece of doughnut tumbled out of Amber’s mouth. “Jackson? Oh god, I told you no set-ups.”
“Not a set-up,” Eric assured though the awkward back-of-the-head scratch said otherwise. “Just want my friends to get to know each other. Is that so much to ask?”
“On the bright, we got a new assignment,” he continued, hoisting up a fresh folder from his inbox. “Looks like an armed robbery downtown, ooh, right next to that Chinese place with that shrimp lo mein you love.”
Amber’s head perked up. “Shining Star? At least something’s looking up.”
Eric perused the file. “Looks like Ellis was the reporting officer last night, and he’s still on duty. Let me grab him and we’ll get started.”
Her partner jogged to the front of the station where the serious-faced officer was already conversing with a few others, including the captain. Meanwhile, Amber stuffed her face with the last of her doughnut and flipped through the newspaper while she waited for Eric to return. Before she could pilfer another treat, Lucas buzzed by her desk.
“Follow me, Spiros,” he ordered without stopping.
After a dramatic head loll, Amber marched back with the indignation of a kid waiting on a reprimand. It was too early for a scolding, especially when she knew, for the first time in her life, she hadn’t stepped a toe out of line.
“I swear,” she blurted the second she entered the captain’s office, “this time I really didn't do it.”
“Have a seat, Detective.” Lucas laced his fingers together on his desk and hummed.
Amber sat down and studied her boss. His eyes were unusually sunken and his skin was drawn. On the counter behind him, she saw a rumpled pile of clothes and an open shaving kit, and on his desk were four mugs and a banana peel, all the hallmarks of a man who hadn’t gone home.
“Are you okay?” he asked, and she blinked. She couldn’t remember the last time he’d asked her that. Probably the day they split, but certainly not since the advent of their strictly professional relationship.
“Just haven’t been sleeping much these last couple of days, but I’m fine,” she replied. “Looks like you haven’t either.”
Lucas nodded. “It’s been a busy twelve hours.”
Silence hung in the air. Amber waited for an order or scolding, but when neither came, she made a move to get up, and the captain shook to life.
“How do you manage to do it?” he blurted.
She raised an eyebrow. “Do what?”
“Find every loophole.”
“Sir, I really don't know what you're talking about.”
“I'm temporarily reassigning you to a new case,” he said as he withdrew a folder and flipped it open. “I tried to give it to Welling and Cavill, but your Mrs. Hartley called late last night and specifically requested you work her daughter’s missing persons case.”
Amber knew what that meant. Civilians didn’t request detectives—they demanded them—but even then, no self-respecting police captain would reorganize his detectives to suit them without the pressure of follow-up calls to the right people up the chain of command.
“Mrs. Hartley requested me?” It was impossible to mute the pride in her voice as she took back her incident report from his desk.
“This reassignment comes with another,” the captain cautioned. He handed another file to the detective, this one with a dossier attached for a Detective Son.
Her eyes snapped immediately to the picture of the handsome, impassive face of the other detective in his dress blues. He looked fresh out of the academy in the shot. His face was round and smooth, his cheekbones high, and his brown hair had been combed back into a clean, professional part.
“Sir?” Amber said as she lowered the folder.
The captain nodded as though that was all the clarification she needed. Her heart accelerated.
Lucas stood up from his desk and stowed his shaving kit in his desk drawer as he said, “Detective Son will be on special loan from the North Precinct for your support and assistance.”
“He’s already a top-flight detective under Commander Hedbrandh, and he was lead on the disappearance of Jessica Ho before everything went to shit.”
“The first disappearance?”
The captain nodded without breaking stride or looking back as he opened the door and headed into the heart of the station, all without breaking conversation. “He will have some insights that I’m sure even you can’t turn down as you partner up on your leads.”
Amber stumbled after him with an arm out, but as usual, Lucas was out of reach. “Wait, Cap—”
“In the interim, Detective Nam will be assigned in a mentorship role to Officer Ellis, and they can work the robbery investigation.”
Lucas stopped on his heel in the middle of the precinct and whirled around to funnel all of his intensity on the young detective behind him. “You won’t begrudge yourself a valuable resource on your case, nor will you begrudge your coworker the opportunity to get some much-needed experience to move up the ladder, will you, Spiros?”
“Sir, I already have a partner,” she said in a rush before his words even had a chance to make it to her brain. She flushed at the notion that she sounded ungrateful in spite of his consideration to leave her on her lead, but she was desperate to keep the man she trusted most by her side.
“You do,” the captain agreed, “and once this case is over, you'll be back with Nam, but for now, you and—”
“If Detective Son is so great, why isn’t he already working with the Five-O Boys?”
But Lucas was moving again as though he was trying to dodge a harping neighbor on the front lawn. When he was nearly to the lobby, Amber grabbed his arm, and his indifferent façade fractured. His gaze lingered on her hand before they traveled to her frantic eyes.
“Captain. Luke. If this is because of the way things ended—”
He huffed and shook her grip as though she were a mosquito. His voice was dark and sour. “It's really not.”
His steps were longer now, more urgent.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Amber shouted as she stumbled after him. “I know you would never do something like that. I’m just blind-sided, okay? I don’t know this guy, and he doesn’t know me or how I work.”
“Trust me, that’s a good thing. Nam indulges you,” the captain growled and, barely noticeable under the cacophony of keyboard clacks and file cabinets slamming, she made out, “we all do.”
They were nearly to the lobby and gathering more attention with every step until the captain stopped again and sighed.
“You have this nasty habit of getting swept up in these cases, and more than once, it could have cost you your life, Spiros. But thanks to Nam’s mother-henning, you’ve developed this irrational belief that you’re invincible. You trust in this invisible bulletproof armor, but it doesn’t exist. You’re careless and tunnel-visioned, and you need a reality check.”
His words were scalding, and in her head, she tossed the nearest chair across the room in rebuttal.
“I know, I’m lucky. I have an amazing partner and I have you—” She caught herself in time to add, “—as a boss, and I should be grateful—”
“Finally, we agree,” Lucas said as he whizzed through the counter doors at reception. Amber had never seen him walk so fast.
The couple garnered more than a few odd stares. Even for those who weren’t aware of their past, no one in Central could be oblivious to their contentious present. It made up for more than half of all slammed doors on a monthly basis.
“What if we just—”
“My decision is final, Spiros. Detective Son will be here in a couple hours. He can have Nam’s desk in the interim.” The captain’s tone was resolute and his eyes were more unfathomable than the Pacific at night.
“Eric’s— I won’t work with him. I can’t!” she protested.
“You can and you will, or you will be suspended, and you’ll have to call Mrs. Hartley and tell her why you don’t want to help find her daughter.”
Amber gaped at her captain, but there was nothing more to say. Lucas knew it, too, and in another heartbeat, he had disappeared through the precinct doors into a world that had fundamentally shifted.
Wide-eyed and breathless, she glanced around for something to anchor her. Eric was only a few desks over, sitting beside his new protégé, Ellis, watching the whole thing. With red staining her cheeks as though she’d just been slapped, she whispered, “Eric, do something.”
Amber took in his doleful puppy eyes and helpless brow, and she snarled. His words were clear, if unspoken.
He's your problem.
“He’s already talked to you about this, hasn’t he?” she said at last.
Eric nodded. “Right before you. What am I going to do? Say no?”
“How’d that work out for you?” he replied. “If you think about it, Bro, it’s kind of the best-case scenario for everybody.”
“You’re my best-case scenario,” she lamented.
“And I love you for saying that, but, hey, I’m still right here with two very big, very adorable ears for you to bend whenever you want. Plus, you still get to conduct your own investigation into Chae, which, let’s be honest, was probably the least likely thing with the way Welling has been bearing down on the captain since he found out.”
“I’m always right.”
“Let’s not get carried away,” she sniffed.
“Do me a favor, will ya?” Eric said, swiveling so he could meet her gaze with his most earnest expression, the one that always made her cow to his whims. “Don’t get carried away with this new partner, okay? You’re still my partner.”
“Duh,” Amber said with a jab of his shoulder. But she saw the tightness linger at the corner of his mouth, and she added, “You’re my only partner. Detective Son is a reluctant resource and that’s it.”
“Okay, so when you crack Case of the Year, don’t forget me in your acceptance speech.”
“Forget you? Eric, I’ve got our couples Glamour Shot on my nightstand. No one could forget a horror show like us.”
As final as everything sounded, for the rest of the day, Amber kept hoping that Lucas would storm back in just as abruptly and announce he’d changed his mind, but the next thing she knew, Eric was collecting his files and some of his items from his desk.
“Don’t think you’re getting out of the rest of those doughnuts you owe me,” he said as he tapped his folders into a pile.
“Wouldn’t dare,” she said, but it sounded as deflated as she felt. “Can’t promise the whole dozen will make it in the long walk to the front though.”
Eric bumped her seat with his hip as he passed and snapped, “They better!”
Amber watched him drop the better part of his career on his new desk, only three rows up from her, but, for all intents and purposes, he was gone. He was already smiling at the perennially stubbly Ellis. He was already making him laugh at his terrible, terrible puns. Jealousy surged over the rising tide of powerlessness, and she chucked a stack of paperwork onto what would be the lackluster replacement’s desk. Which was when she noticed it.
Eric had left one framed picture front and center—the two partners at the Policeman’s Ball a couple years ago. As a joke, they had dressed up like a prom couple, Eric in a tux and Amber in a flouncy lavender number replete with a corsage on her wrist. They posed with barely-contained sarcastic grins and an awkward cross-body handhold.
She didn’t know who the reminder was for—her or the new guy—but the message was clear: “I’m coming back.”
210708 | Enhypen via Eric Nam's Instagram post
(It's the same picture they uploaded when announcing Enhypen's appearance on The Daebak Show with Eric Nam back in May for episode #114 but this one is not cropped.).
near… far… wherever you are… we are going to record this podcast 🙏
shoutout to all of the guests, listeners, and @thedivestudios team for making it happen.
who do you want to see next? lmk lmk lmk