Characteristic

Characteristic

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/your-daily-word-prompt-characteristic-april-13-2019/

It wasn’t characteristic for Nigel to share bits of his home life June surmised given the shake that followed, and she wondered if it were her in particular, or his way in general. 

His next words surprised her.  “I’m comfortable around you, June.  Not something I’m given to or admitting for that matter.”

“I have one of those faces,” she smiled, “you’d be surprised.”

“No, no I wouldn’t.  You aren’t judgmental, your comfortable in your own skin and you accept others without reservation.”

“How could you know that?”

“I’ve studied people since forever.  I get a pretty good sense of who they are and what they’re capable of within minutes.”

“You ever wrong?”

His silence had her turning her head to stare are him.  “Yeah, once.”

She waited him out.  “It was a case I was working on.  I had him pegged as malicious but not violent.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.”

“What happened?”

“He murdered his wife and kid.  Came back when the heat died down and slaughtered them.”

“That must have been horrible.”

“It was brutal.”

“You took it on.”

He sighed, “Yeah, it took me a long time to come to terms with.”

“You couldn’t have known, Nigel.  It’s impossible to gauge anyone’s instincts and actions.”

“Yeah, but I should have.  My gut told me one thing, the superiors another.  I went against my gut and didn’t follow up.”

“That’s not on you.  That’s on them!”  June reached across and lay a hand on his arm.  “You can only do so much.”

“My heart and mind are divided on that score.”

“You’re still beating yourself up over it?”

“Sometimes, in the dead of night, the picture comes back and haunts me.”

“Is that why you aren’t on the force anymore?”

“Yeah, part of it.  I needed to step back for a bit.  Not sure I want that life any more.  Having someone’s life hanging in the balance is a touch thing to juggle.”

“I took a leave of absence.  I could go back or continue as I am.  I have to admit the outdoors, the hiking, searching gives me something positive to hold on to.”

“I get that.  I truly do.”

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