DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is another loose chapter in my "soup" series - Chicken (Tortilla) Soup for the Soul and Sleeping Beauty. I don't know what happened with this one... it just dissolved into pure smut. ;-) This one is for ralst. You asked and now I'm delivering...
SPOILERS: Takes place during "And the Truth Will (Sometimes) Set You Free"
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

If You Canít Stand the Heat
By Inspector Boxer


"How is she doing?"

Claire glanced over her shoulder at the petite reporter sleeping soundly on the couch. "She sacked out about two hours ago." She stepped back and let Jill enter Cindy's apartment. "I'm gonna warn you, though. She's cranky."

Jill paused as Claire quietly slipped into her jacket. "Cindy? Cranky?"

"Uh-huh. And we thought Lindsay was a handful when she's not feeling well. Ms. Thomas over there has her beat by a mile."

"Get out," Jill muttered. "You're yanking my chain. She was fine at the hospital."

"She was still processing what happened at the hospital. Now she's home and recovering… and pissed the hell off at the kid for shooting her." Claire zipped her jacket against the cool San Francisco evening waiting beyond the door. "Be patient with her. Try not to take her head off."

"I wouldn't…" Jill started to protest.

"Honey, I almost took her head off." Claire gave Jill a quick hug. "Night. See you in the morning."

Jill felt a flash of panic as the door closed behind her friend. Her eyes darted to the sleeping redhead on the couch. She'd seen Cindy mad, of course. They'd fought bitterly the day before Cindy had been shot. She had not, however, seen Cindy Thomas as cranky as Claire described and had no earthly idea what she was supposed to do if Cindy woke up and displayed such behavior.

Cindy continued to sleep, unaware of Jill's perusal. The blonde watched her for a few quite minutes, just absorbing how young and innocent she looked. Her sleeping beauty.

She hadn't shared her private nickname with the redhead, yet. She got the feeling Cindy might not be amused and the last thing she wanted was Cindy upset with her again. Especially after the way things had ended the last time.

With a sigh, Jill let her carryon slip from her shoulder and set it just inside the entryway. Shifting the white paper bag she carried from one hand to another she crept across the living room and entered the kitchen. She quietly opened the fridge and put the bag inside.

"When did you get here?"

Jill nearly shrieked with fright. She spun around and tumbled into Cindy's fridge, knocking loose a few items from the door. Ketchup and mustard bottles spun in lazy circles on the linoleum as she caught her breath. "You scared the shit out of me."

Cindy bit her lip. Jill could tell she was trying to decide whether to be pissed or amused. Whichever emotion won, Jill took some solace in enjoying the redhead's bare legs. Cindy was in shorts and a tank top, revealing more of the reporter's skin than Jill had ever seen.

"You hungry?"

Cindy sighed and shook her head. "Just tired. I feel like I can't get enough sleep."

Jill squatted and picked up the items, shoving them back into the door then closing it. She stood and came closer. It was hard, seeing such a usually vibrant woman looking so weak and wounded. She wanted to gather Cindy up and hold her close. To give her all her own strength if she could.

"Should you be up?" Jill asked cautiously.

A flash of fire ignited in Cindy's normally friendly brown eyes. "Don't you start, too. I'm not made out of glass."

Jill blinked then quickly summoned all her legal instincts. "Didn't say you were. It's just no one left me any medical instructions here. I need to make sure you do what you're supposed to."


"Why?" Jill thought the answer seemed obvious.

"Why are you supposed to make sure I do what I'm supposed to?"

"Because that's what friends do."

Cindy took a breath and closed her eyes. "Sorry," her anger deflated and left her feeling like a bitter jerk.

Jill gave in to her cravings and crossed to her, wrapping her arms around Cindy's small frame and squeezing gently. The reporter sighed and tucked her head in the crook of Jill's neck, breathing in her unique scent with a sense of idle pleasure.

"It's okay," Jill murmured. Thankfully none of the relief she was feeling came across in her voice. "I'd be pissy, too." She felt Cindy's lips curve where they rested against her skin and her own eyes closed in reaction.

"The little twit shot me," Cindy said in a muffled voice. "And Lindsay felt sorry for him!"

"And you don't?" Jill asked, already knowing the answer. Her hands stroked Cindy's back in lazy circles as she guiltily enjoyed the smaller woman's heat. Her body was reacting to Cindy's curves in a way that was wholly inappropriate at the moment, but another part of her was just glad she was getting this chance to hold her. An inch or two one way or another and she would never have touched Cindy again.

"Not the point," Cindy said sulkily after a moment.

Jill smiled. She ducked her head, nuzzling her cheek against the reporter's hair. Her throat tightened as she breathed Cindy in.

"Jill?" Cindy felt the taller woman starting to tremble. She eased back and was shocked to see tears spilling down her friend's cheeks. "Hey, what's wrong?" She cupped Jill's face in her hands, wincing a little at the pain the gesture caused but not stopping. She used her thumbs to wipe the tears away.

Jill shook her head. "I just…" She took a breath and laughed a little. "I'm just… really, really glad you're here."

Cindy felt tears of her own starting to brim as she stepped back into Jill's arms. "You're just what the doctor ordered. I haven't felt this good all day."

Jill laughed again and held her close. "You mean you weren't this huggy with Claire?"

"I was too busy being a bitch. I don't do pain well."

"She understands."

"I know. I still owe her a week of babysitting to make up for it, though." Cindy sighed and snuggled closer. "Besides," she confessed. "I'd rather hold you than Claire."

Jill's blue eyes popped wide open. The softly spoken sentiment managed to simultaneously warm her heart and scare her shitless. But it was a good kind of scared, she realized. Not how it was with Luke where she felt trapped and was always thinking of a way out. With Cindy the fear was more like a roller coaster, wondering what surprise lay ahead on the tracks. She loved coasters. Loved the feeling of falling.

And right now Jill knew she was falling hard.

"Glad to be of service," Jill replied in a husky voice. Reluctantly she pulled away. "Come on. Don't smack me for saying this but you need to be off your feet."

Cindy growled but it was more playful than putout. She allowed Jill to lead her back to the couch. "What was in the bag?"

"The bag?"

"That you put in the fridge?" Cindy eased herself down onto the couch then watched, charmed, as Jill sank to her knees beside her. The older woman's hands touched the back of her calves and lifted, helping Cindy to stretch out with minimal pain.

"Oh. Uh…" Jill reluctantly let go of Cindy's legs and reached up to scratch her chin self-consciously. "Soup."

Cindy features slid into a wide smile. "What kind of soup?"

Jill half shrugged. "Soup from Papa Joe's."

"You got Joe to make you chicken tortilla soup?" Cindy asked in disbelief.

"I can be very persuasive. I'm a lawyer after all."

"You told him it was for me."

"Yep." Jill watched her with a fond smile. "He would so marry you."

"He's thirty years older than me," Cindy pointed out, enjoying the look on Jill's face that she had never seen the attorney give anyone else.

"I think that's part of the appeal." Jill pulled a blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over the reporter's legs. She clutched a toe and gave it a playful yank.

"It certainly is for my step dad," Cindy said casually.

Jill frowned in confusion.

"He told me he'd marry you if he hadn't already found mom." Cindy delighted in the ensuing blush that dotted Jill's cheeks. "They really liked you."

"I liked them, which is odd. I usually hate meeting the parents."

Cindy wondered if Jill realized what she's just said. Considering how calm the attorney appeared she guessed not. Still, the words left her feeling warm inside. She sighed. "You know, you, Lindsay and Claire don't have to baby me. I appreciate you willing to stay with me, but the doctor said I'll be up and at it again in no time."

Jill fussed with the blanket so she wouldn't have to look Cindy in the eye. "It's not just about you," she explained honestly. "We… we need to be close to you. Reminds us that you're still here." Her breathing hitched when Cindy took her hand.

"I'm a reporter," Cindy murmured, hoping to lighten the mood. "We don't go away. We pester relentlessly until you give us a quote or we get the story. You think I'm going to let something like a little bullet slow me down? Pfft."

Jill smiled but then it faded. "Thank God you didn't," she whispered. She abruptly stood. "Give me a minute." She walked off toward the kitchen.

Cindy watched her go, wishing she could easily follow. Her head dropped back against the pillows and she cursed the kid who had shot her again. She understood his rage. His need to protect Kate. She just wish he'd been a better damn shot.

Jill stood in the kitchen, hands over her face, as she tried to get her tears under control. She wasn't the weepy sort and it was galling her how much of it she had done lately.

Cindy was wrecking her.

And she found she wouldn't have it any other way.

Finally her emotions settled enough so she felt like she could function. She went to the fridge and fetched the soup before finding a pot and turning on the stove. She had the soup simmering when hands slipped around her torso. Jill didn't even jump, as if her body had been expecting the touch. Pleasure hummed through her and she closed her eyes, soaking it in.

"I thought I told you I wasn't hungry," Cindy murmured.

"I am," Jill drawled. "I was in court all day."

Cindy felt a thread of danger swim through her as her fingers started toying with the buckle on Jill's belt. She heard the blonde's breathing change, felt the sudden tension in the shoulder against her cheek. "Did you win?"

Jill swallowed hard, wondering what Cindy was up to. She licked her lips as she stirred the soup. "Um… defense got a continuance. We don't go back until..." Jill paused as her buckle came loose. "Until the 23rd."


Jill felt the air grow warm as her body did the same. Cindy's fingertips graze the skin of her naval as the redhead began to gather Jill's shirt. Jill felt her stomach muscles clench in reaction. Then Cindy started slowly working the buttons one by one.

"You'll get him," Cindy breathed as she continued. She didn't know what had possessed her to touch Jill like this but now that she had started she was determined to finish. The pain faded into the background, lost in a surge of adrenaline and need.

"Her," Jill managed on a gasp as her blouse opened, exposing her skin to the air in the room and Cindy's curious touch. "Cindy…"

"Sshh." Cindy explored the flat plane of Jill's stomach. The blonde was starting to tremble but she wasn't stopping her. Cindy reached up and slipped the silk from Jill's shoulders. A smile graced her features when she saw a small tattoo of Lady Justice peering at her over the top of Jill's skirt. "Turn off the stove."

Jill did as ordered then gripped the oven door handle as Cindy's hands covered her breasts and stroked her through red lace. "This isn't… you're… we shouldn't." She gasped as Cindy's thumbs began to tease and she arched into the touch. "You can't…"

"I can't," Cindy agreed. "But you can."

"Christ." Jill shuddered as warm lips connected with her right shoulder blade and a hot tongue tasted her skin. She knew she should resist. Make Cindy stop. But like everything else where Cindy was concerned she simply didn't have the willpower.

Cindy nibbled at the skin under her teeth and heard Jill moan. It was the sexiest damn thing she'd ever heard. She grinned when she realized Jill's bra had a front clasp. Her fingers stilled on the hooks momentarily. "May I?"

Now she was asking? Jill was incredulous. She could only nod. Seconds later the lace was gone and Cindy's small hands were mapping her skin, teasing her breasts and generally driving the attorney out of her mind. A hand skimmed down her stomach and began to fumble with the clasp on her skirt. Then the zipper was easing down. Finally the fabric pooled around Jill's ankles.

"Do you want this?" Cindy had to ask. She knew she was rushing things but all she could think about in that hospital bed was how close she'd come to never knowing what could have been between them. The shooting had made her feel powerless and vulnerable, but touching Jill, hearing and watching her friend react with such wanton abandon, she felt her world stabilizing. Her fingers slipped beneath the waist of Jill's red lace panties. What she found drew a soft groan of her own.

"Fuck," Jill gasped as she clutched weakly at the handle, her legs spreading shamelessly to allow Cindy better access. Her hips began to move in time to the slow strokes of Cindy's talented fingers. She surrendered everything to the reporter, letting Cindy do with her what she would for as long as she wanted to do it. And Cindy sure as hell took her time…

If the movement was hurting her, Cindy gave no outward indication. Her teeth and tongue continued to tantalize Jill's back, finding sensitive spots with unerring precision.

It was so good Jill could barely stand it, but she wanted to see Cindy's face… her eyes…

As if Cindy had read her mind, the reporter's fingers vanished only long enough for Jill to be spun around. Then the touch returned, more forcefully this time. Jill heard the provocative gasps and whimpers escaping her lips but she was helpless to hold them back. She hoped the walls of Cindy's apartment weren't too thin. Her gaze met Cindy's and she was utterly captured by the look of fiery determination and love in them. Seeing that expression connected her emotions with Cindy's deft touch and the world came shuddering down around her.

When it was over, they leaned heavily against one another. Cindy started to remove her fingers but Jill grasped her wrist. "Not yet," she pleaded. "I want to feel you inside me a little longer."

Cindy knew she needed to sit down before she fell down. Her own body had reacted to Jill's release and left her quaking. "That was…" She smirked. For a journalist she was disgustingly short on words.

"That was fucking awesome," Jill provided, half-laughing. "And you are so going to get it when you're well enough."

Cindy smiled as she continued to gasp for breath, the fingers of her right hand still cocooned in velvet heat. "Promise?"

"Under oath," Jill declared. "Minx."

Cindy laughed at that. "It's your fault. I can't seem to keep my hands off you."

"Assault me anytime you like."

They snuggled for several silent minutes.

"I think I'm hungry now," Cindy murmured.

"Small wonder. I'm starving." Jill closed her eyes when Cindy's touch eased from her. Then warm lips brushed hers and she willingly surrendered to them for a long, quiet moment.

"Is this serious for you?" Cindy whispered when they parted. She needed to know before her heart got any deeper.

Jill clasped her hands behind Cindy's neck. "I realized… when I knew that I would have stepped in front of that bullet for you… that this was serious for me."

Cindy's eyes filled with tears. "Claire and Lindsay are gonna have a field day."

Jill smirked. "Only when we tell them. And for now I'm keeping this a secret. I want you all to myself for a little while."

Cindy stood up on tip-toe and kissed her softly. "I wouldn't have wanted you to take this bullet. But it means the world to me that you would have."

Jill brushed a strand of red hair from Cindy's features. "Go lie down and let me make you your soup. If I can stand up long enough…" she added. She watched Cindy smile then walk away. The sight of her made her heart feel like it was both swelling and breaking. "You are in way over your head Bernhardt," she muttered with a chuckle. With a shake of her head, she bent to retrieve her clothes, opting to slip out of the high heels she was still wearing.

She tossed on her blouse sans bra and only buttoned two buttons. The skirt went over the back of a kitchen chair. She'd just been ravished by Cindy Thomas. Modesty really didn't seem to matter. With a grin, she turned the stove back on.

The End

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