Snow & Winter series -

Interview with Neil Millett Coda

I sat in the accidentally eclectic coffee shop again. I kind of liked it. Neil took a seat across from me at the table by the window. He set a coffee mug down and stared expectantly.
"Thank you for coming out to this interview," I started, flipping the notepad open. "I know you're a busy man."
"It's no problem," he answered in that polite tone that hinted it probably was a problem, but Neil would never actually say so.
"So!" I smiled. "Neil Millett. You're a detective with the NYPD."
"That's right."
"And, uh, are Sebastian's ex," I added after a half a second pause.
Surprisingly, Neil smiled. Or rather, it was the hint of a smile. "I swear that'll be written on my headstone."
"Why do you say that?"
Neil leaned back in his chair to cross his legs. "I think humans all have at least one relationship, romantic or otherwise, that leaves a brand on the soul. For better or worse."
"Sebastian was that human for you?"
He only shrugged.
Okay then.
"Let's start with the basics," I hastily said. "How old are you?"
"Recently turned thirty-eight."
"What's your degree in?"
"I have a bachelor's in forensic science," Neil answered.
I flipped the pages in my notepad. "And that segues to our first question, posed by Kat. Why did you decide to become a cop, and why CSU specifically?"
Neil's mouth quirked into that sort-of smile again. He reached for his mug and took a sip of coffee. "The same romantic reason most people join-- I wanted to help, and my kind of skills are always in demand with a metropolitan police force." Neil set the cup down. He rubbed his chin for a moment, looking very serious as he considered his next statement, before letting out an unexpected laugh. "As for CSU... what can I say, I like solving mysteries."
I grinned. "Yeah?"
"But mysteries should be left to professionals," he reiterated. "Not busybody amateur sleuths."
I made a few notes on the page. "How'd you join the Crime Scene Unit?"
"I started on the Evidence Collection Team," Neil replied. "When I made detective, they promoted me to CSU."
"Do you enjoy it?" I asked next.
"I don't know if I'd say enjoy," Neil said a bit thoughtfully. "We're overworked and understaffed, see the ugliest side of humanity, and if I don't encounter blood, vomit, or piss it's a solid day. But... I'm not burned out. I still feel like I'm making a difference. Is that a good answer?"
"Perfect answer," I replied while I jotted 'blood, vomit, and piss = bad day.' "So what about--"
"When are you going to ask me a question about Sebastian?" Neil interrupted.
I glanced at him and slowly set the pen down. "Do you want me to?"
"Want is neither here nor there."
"People are curious."
"Yeah, I know. I dated a nutcase for four years. Who wouldn't be curious?"
I bit the inside of my cheek. "He's not a nutcase."
"Sort of, yes," Neil said with finality.
"Well, let's see..." I checked my notepad again. "Inez wanted to ask you, what's one thing about Sebastian you miss?"
"Right for the jugular," he murmured as he turned, stared out the bay window, and watched the New York foot traffic. "This isn't going to get back to him, is it?"
"No."
Neil nodded absently. He still wouldn't look at me and was silent for a long time. "His smile. His real smile. When no one's watching and he's just being... Sebastian."
I smiled. "And what don't you miss?"
"Everything else," he said with a bit of a sarcastic laugh. Neil turned his attention back to me. "Look. We've reached a place of understanding, I think. But the reality under the heartbreak, and mess that followed our breakup, was we were not a good match. Period. What he's got now with Winter is something we never could have attained together."
"Why not?"
"We weren't soulmates."
I raised an eyebrow. "Neil Millett believes in soulmates?"
"Don't write that down."
I held my hands up.
Neil eyed me with an expression usually reserved for a particularly complex blood spatter pattern. "Anything else? I have to get back soon."
"Oh. One last question. This is from Samantha, and they'd like--" The question made me snort and I covered my mouth. "Sorry."
Neil narrowed his eyes.
"What were you thinking when you bought that expensive BMW?"
Neil tapped the tabletop with his index finger. "I was thinking, I look damn good in this car." He took one more sip of coffee, stood, and buttoned his suit coat. "Thanks for this."
I turned and watched him leave the cafe. Sebastian always said he looked a bit like a 50s hard-boiled detective and I had to agree. Neil was cynical like one too.
At least for now.

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