They exited the FDR just before the UN rose into view, turned right, and careened around the corner and lurched to a stop. Hailey gave the driver cash, declined a receipt and pulled her own bag out of the taxi's deep trunk. Hailey always traveled light, so it wasn't tough to yank it out and let it drop to the curb. She turned and looked all the way up to the top of her apartment building to where its roof met the sky. Way up there, thirty-one flights above, was Hailey's cottage in the sky.
Taking the steps up as quickly as she could while pulling the bag behind her, she wondered briefly if the flowers would start up again now that she was back in Manhattan. Ever since two of her patients were brutally strangled, followed by her own false arrest for the murders, the arresting officer, Lieutenant Ethan Kolker, had tried to make amends. As best he could, anyway.
It started small with the old standby, a dozen roses. When she'd promptly had the florist pick them up as a "return," another dozen came, and then, another. When those too were returned, more thought was put into the order. Kolker tried it all, violets, calla lilies, somehow even finding her favorites, stargazers and Cherokee Roses. They too had gone straight back from whence they came, to the florist ... every last petal.
Although they were beautiful, flowers never impressed Hailey. In fact, flowers made her feel guilty, that such beautiful creations were cut and pulled from the fields (or hothouses) where they flourished, for the fleeting whims of a human. Hailey never responded verbally or in written form to the flowers from Kolker, nor did he ever include any written apology or explanation of his thoughts.
Then came the chocolates. A succession of edible treats, also including no communication of regret, sorrow or epiphany, arrived and were returned as well, this time directly to Kolker's precinct in downtown Manhattan ... no note attached.
Kolker could always tell the boxes had been opened, then carefully repacked and returned with no comment whatsoever, always returned in the boxes in which they'd been sent, a new mailing address placed directly over Hailey's own home address.
Sure enough, when Hailey pushed through the heavy glass revolving door into her building's lobby, Ricky the doorman came from around the front desk to give her a big hug.
"Where you been? I missed you! Way to keep in touch ... Not!" He ribbed her a tiny bit. Hailey had seen him graduate from college and doggedly follow his dream to become a sportscaster. She hugged him back tightly but before she could respond, he said "And hey! You've already got a package. Let me get it for you." He bounded back to behind the front desk and into a storage area behind an open side door where the doormen stashed deliveries.
This time it was a box, wrapped, as usual, in plain brown paper. One look at the handwriting and Hailey knew it was from Kolker.
"How'd he know I was coming back?"
"Who's he? The dentist again?' He didn't give up yet?"