Coming to Heather's house every day after work, spending the night and then leaving for work in the morning again has become his routine. Ulises hasn't been to his own apartment in a week.
"I'm not going to be coming by tomorrow," he tells Heather as she gets dinner started, "I've got stuff I ned to take care of at home."
Heather's heart sinks into her stomach, but she tries not to show her disappointment.
"I don't want you to think I expect you be here every night. I mean, I love having you, but if you need your space..." Heather says, trying to convince herself more than him. She does want him with her every night, and she thought he wanted that, too.
"I don't need space, Heather. I need to check my mail, pay my bills. And work out; I have to keep in shape for my job. All my equipment is at my place. Believe me, if it weren't for that, I'd be here tomorrow night, and every night."
"You could bring your stuff here," Heather suggests.
"I have been mostly living here," Ulises agrees, "We might as well make it official."
Heather smiles, "I love knowing you'll be coming home to me at night. I want my home to be your home."
"Listen, would you consider getting a place together, somewhere closer to the city? The commute is killing me."
Heather pauses before answering. She's lived in this house since childhood and never considering leaving it. But that's not the real issue; she's managed to keep her grow room in the shed hidden from Ulises, as he's never had a need to go back there. But if they move, she's not going to be able to set up a new grow room under his nose. And staying here will be almost as bad; someday, he'll find some reason to go into the shed, looking for a tool, or a place to store something. "Move your stuff in here for now, and we can start looking for a new place this weekend," she says. The choice was not that difficult, love is more important than money. As soon as Ulises leaves for work the next morning, Heather makes some calls, starting the process of getting out of the drug trade.
Ulises went back to his apartment that night, to pay his bills and get in a workout. With that done, he was left alone in his apartment. He'd lived alone for some time before he met Heather, and the solitude never bothered him. But now, the quiet is more than he can bear. He grabs a few things to take with him as the start of the moving in process, and makes the three hour drive out to Topanga, arriving at her place around midnight.
When he gets to her door, he senses something is wrong here. The lights are off, but the door is slightly open.
Quietly, Ulises pushes the door open and steps into the dark room.
Heather is sobbing, on her knees as a thug looms over her.
Ulises moves quickly, grabbing the thug and pulling him off Heather.
"Esparza!" he growls, immediately recognizing the son of one of the city's biggest drug lords. Ulises had arrested him more than once. It makes no sense for Aaron Esparza to be doing a B&E job, his family is all about trafficking, and Aaron is too high in the chain to be involved in a simple burglary.
The time for interrogation will come after he's made his arrest. With his gun locked up in its case for the night, Ulises has no choice but to wrestle Esparza to the ground and cuff him.
"Did he hurt you?" Ulises ask Heather once Esparza has been subdued.
"I'm fine," she assures him, tears running down her face, "I'm so glad you came."
Ulises takes out his phone to call the station; Heather grabs his hand before he can dial. "We can't get the cops involved," she says.
"The cops are involved, Heather," he says, confused, "I just arrested Esparza. I have to take him in."
Heather sobs and shakes her head, "I can't have my house turn into a crime scene, to have police going through everything."
He tries to tell her it will be okay, but she just shakes her head and cries.
"Let me show you," she says, taking him by the hand and leading him to her garden shed.
She unlocks the door and opens it for him. "Santa Maria," he breathes when he sees what she's hiding back here, "This isn't just for personal consumption, is it?"
"No, it's for sale," she says, "And if you call the station and the cops come out here..."
"We'd take you in," Ulises says quietly. Does it make him a bad cop, he wonders, that he's not even considering arresting her himself?
"How are you involved with the Esparzas?" he asks her, afraid of the answer.
"I wasn't, until recently. I used to just sell to my own regular customers, no one else was involved. But when we started dating, I figured it would be better if I wasn't involved in making the sales myself. So I got in contact with a distributor who would buy my crop in bulk. I didn't know he was one of the Esparzas' guys. I don't even know who the Esparzas are," Heather explains, "And then when we started talking about moving in together, I realized I had to give it all up, growing as well as selling. So I called my guy, and told him the deal was off, I was getting out of the business."
Ulises groans at her naivete. "And the Esparzas sent Aaron in to convince you otherwise."
"I'm so sorry," Heather sobs, folding into herself as she sinks into her chair.
He knows she's right, if he does what he knows he should do, call the station and have them take Esparza in, they'll search this house and find Heather's crops, and arrest her along with Esparza. Ulises is not about to let that happen. She's more important to him than the law, or even his own integrity as a cop.
"Get up, pendejo," Ulises growls as he uncuffs Esparza, "Get up, and get out of here. I'm letting you go; you tell your father to let her go, too. Comprende?"
"Yeah, comprende," Esparza mutters, and leaves quickly before Ulises changes his mind.
Heather continues her soft sobbing. "Are you going to leave me?" she asks, her voice barely audible.
"Never, Heather," Ulises says, kneeling in front of her, "I'm with you forever. But you should have trusted me, you should have told me..."
She shakes with a fresh round of sobbing, "I just didn't want to lose you," she says.
Ulises lifts her up and holds her in his arms. "It's all right now. We'll fix this."
"Will Esparza really leave me alone now?" she asks.
He shakes his head sadly, "No. He won't. I'm going to get you a gun and..."
"No," she protests, "I don't want a gun."
"You have to protect yourself when I'm not here," he insists.
"Still, I won't use a gun."
Ulises sighs, "Then the sooner we move out of here, the better."