DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Betaed by Melissa. Thank you!

Ceremony 2: Happy Birthday, Lindsay
By Demeter


"I'm still not sure," Lindsay said with a sigh. She smiled ruefully. "I've barely gotten used to the idea of you two being together." Her body was betraying her though, relaxing into Jill's embrace while her lips were still tingling from Cindy's kiss.

They were still at the beach, walking in the slick sand, water pooling around their ankles. In the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge was looming. The sky above them was clear and star-spangled adding to the weird, melancholic mood that had gripped her ever since the suggestion had been in the room.

Oh yes, she wanted to. And if she screwed this up, something Lindsay knew she was really good at with relationships, she'd lose a lot more than a dearly held fantasy. Was it really worth the risk?

"I'm scared." It was meant to be in her head only, but it came out as a whisper. Damn. Revealing too much of her emotions was another thing that freaked her out, but it had to come to this. Too much had happened in the past few years, her divorce, her father's death, ill-fated relationships that had shaken her confidence. Once, Lindsay had been convinced she'd always know what the right thing to do was.

Now, she just was at a loss.

"I know." Cindy stepped close again, standing on her tiptoes for the faintest chance of making eye contact. "But this will be different. Lindsay. Give yourself a chance at being happy for once."

"And you can make me?" she asked dryly.

Jill chuckled behind her, the feel of warm breath on the skin of her neck making her shiver. "I know we can," Cindy said confidently, flashing that infectious smile of hers. When she leaned in for another kiss, Jill's lips brushing her neck softly, Lindsay knew she was lost.

No matter how much part of her tried to tell here that here on the beach, they were coming pretty close to risking indecent exposure charges, another bigger part had already made up her mind.

"Happy Birthday, Linds," Jill whispered. "Now it's time to retrieve your gift."

"Just let me grab a quick shower." Lindsay was feeling extremely self-conscious all of a sudden. Of course. She had come here under the guise of having dinner and a few drinks with good friends and now Jill and Cindy offered her... She still couldn't wrap her mind around it. Didn't want to really, because she feared the moment that she did, that particular bubble would burst soon, leaving her with the broken shards of an impossible fantasy.

Jill had driven them in Cindy's car, Lindsay next to her in the passenger's seat, Cindy in the backseat. There hadn't been much conversation but the air was crackling.

The temperature seemed to rise considerably the moment they closed the door of the hotel room behind them. There was a double room with a connecting door to a single that would remain unused tonight.

She and Jill had sat down for a moment while Cindy had disappeared into the bathroom. And here they were.

Lindsay didn't know what to say. She was worried that whatever she said or did could reveal the naked need that was eating her up inside. It would have almost been easier if the answer to it had never been in reach. But it was. Literally.

Jill squeezed her hand gently. "It'll be okay, Linds."

She just smiled nervously.

Then the bathroom door opened and Cindy exited, wearing a bathrobe short enough to reveal her legs up to above her knees. The belt was tied only lightly, making it obvious that she had nothing on under it. She shared a knowing smile with Jill.

Lindsay shivered. This was going to kill her. She had faced down hardened criminals, but she didn't think she'd ever been this terrified. What the hell had them ever given this idea? Why did they care?

"I think Cindy has prepared something else for you in the bathroom."

Jill got up, put her arms around Lindsay's shoulders and gently steered her into the right direction. The sight that awaited her in the spacious bathroom was breathtaking. It was a classic seduction scene, complete with the candles, scented oil and champagne.

"You... want to get me drunk?" she managed. Never mind that the scenery revealed a whole different intention.

"Just a little. Now in with you. Relax," Jill directed, before she kissed Lindsay deeply. "I am going to take that quick shower now, and Cindy will keep you company. Then..." She didn't finish the sentence, just smiled mischievously before she quickly stripped down and stepped into the shower stall. Lindsay thought she was getting dizzy. Already.

She grabbed the hem of her shirt, pulling it up, stopping in midmotion.

"Don't be shy," Cindy advised helpfully. "Watching you won't be all I'm going to do tonight, after all."

"Thanks for reminding me."

Lindsay could hardly believe she was talking to the same woman who had knocked over a picture frame during their first conversation. Where that cute flustered girl had gone at the moment, she didn't know. There was a new confidence in her eyes that Lindsay found just as enticing.

Finally, she undressed to step inside the tub not making eye contact until she'd sunk into the warm, pleasantly scented water. She leaned back with a sigh as her body relaxed, closing her eyes. "You know, this already is the best birthday present I can remember."

"Silly." Cindy chuckled. "I've got something else for you. Open up."

The taste of fresh strawberry with cream was surprising and yet another hint as to how far both of her friends had gone to make this fantasy of hers real, complete with small details like this.

Licking the juice and cream from Cindy's finger, the other woman's gaze on her suddenly very serious, made her very much aware of how badly she wanted to taste more of her. Had wanted it for a long time but then she'd thought it was too late when it was obvious that Cindy was with Jill now.

She didn't deserve this. The sad truth was, she'd take whatever she could get, because tonight would be the only time they'd leave conventions aside, for real; it was finally sinking in, she was going to have sex with the two of them. Life could be wonderful. It just never lasts.

She snapped back to reality when Jill stepped out of the shower, blessedly unselfconscious as she toweled herself off, unhurriedly aware of her audience. Eventually, she sat down on the side of the tub, taking the glass that Cindy handed her. They shared another loving look that made Lindsay ache with more than her crazy desire for both of them. She didn't know herself any longer. All she knew was that she wanted to be part of it, so badly it was an exquisite pain in itself.

"It's time," Jill said and Lindsay almost laughed. The urge to run from a good thing, because it couldn't last because it would only hurt more in the end, was still strong. It was just her.

Cindy handed her a fluffy towel to wrap around herself then took her hand and gently tugged.

"But I'm all wet," Lindsay protested half-heartedly, realizing the unintended pun only when Jill bit her lip to stifle a grin, and Cindy started to giggle.

"That's kind of the point," Jill reminded her and impossibly, her face heated even more.

They led her to the king-sized bed and she let them. The moment she let the towel fall, Lindsay realized two things: The point of no return had long come and gone. And she was very much okay with it, trembling outside and inside with the need to be touched, and to touch.

Part of her had always hoped that she and Jill would someday pick up that thread they'd begun tentatively - on Jill's side - and reluctantly on Lindsay's. She'd had dreams of Cindy from which she'd woken with her heart pounding, her fingers damp from where she'd touched herself.

No more fantasizing. No more shame.

At least, for tonight.

They made her lie down in the center of the bed, between them, shivering from the cool touch of fresh sheets. The coolness would flee within seconds, she knew. A hand on her thigh, lips brushing her cheek, she could already feel a bead of sweat forming between her breasts.

Lindsay closed her eyes giving in to the tantalizing feeling of having two pairs of hands caress her over-sensitized body. She almost whimpered when there was the whisper of long hair and fingertips stroking her right breast while on her left side, Jill's hand on her knee was slowly sneaking upwards.

"You are so hot," Jill whispered. "I don't know how I managed to leave you alone for all these years."

"Can't understand it either," Cindy muttered.

Her body strained upwards to meet the exploring fingers, the touch too soft not easing the ache but fueling it. She could feel herself shake, desperate for just a tiny bit more of pressure. When Cindy gave it to her finally, she moaned helplessly. "We've got a lot of time tonight, Lindsay. And it's all for you."

"I never got this much for my birthday." She was slightly embarrassed to realize that her voice shook, too. Pathetic much, aren't you?

Jill chuckled. "Get used to it," she whispered. "Cindy and I have a new rule established for birthdays."

"Of course," Cindy added, "Claire is still going to get shoes. Just so you don't get any ideas."

The laughter relaxed her only for a few seconds, as the touch never ceased, tender, naughty, knowing. Knowing her like only these two women did. Finally, she opened her legs, unashamed, opening herself to a love she'd never feel herself completely worthy of, but it didn't matter now.

Jill leaned over to capture her lips in a deep, messy kiss that wasn't entirely distracting her from the fingers sliding into her, her hips bucking upwards to get them deeper inside. "There I thought I was tempting Cindy to the dark side; imagine my surprise when I found out she could teach me a thing or two."

"Quite a... discovery, I imagine." And then she cried out as Cindy slid down her body, adding the touch of her tongue to the motion of her fingers. Jill leaned back down, her tongue gently invading Lindsay's mouth again.

She just knew she was coming apart and there was a chance that this time, maybe for the first time in her life, she'd let herself. If she was just brave enough to let it happen.

To give up the control that structured her life for just once.

Jill stroked her fingers over her hair that was spread out on the pillow, and it was this small tender gesture that undid her. It was too much, too many sensations at once, the kiss, warm wet caress of the tongue against her center, the welcome invasion of her body.

She arced upwards, but Cindy held her down with surprising strength. A moan made it past her lips, another; Jill whispered, "Just let go." So she did, her shuddering breath sounding more like a sob as the first delicious spasm ripped through her, wave of wave after intense pleasure that left her helplessly shaking when it was over.

Cindy moved until she was poised over her, leaning down for a kiss. Lindsay reached up with shaking hands to pull her down, wanting to feel the weight of her body on hers.

Anything to make this more real as she still couldn't fight the feeling of being lost in a weird but wonderful dream.

There was none of the awkwardness she had feared. Silence, words and laughter. More strawberries and champagne and sticky-sweet caresses. And before she knew it, starting over again. Earlier, this week, Lindsay had felt exhausted with routine, now her body and mind seemed to be humming with excitement. Again.

She could do this.... She could let go, safe in the hands of these women she'd trust with her life. She'd proven it just a while ago. When Cindy gently positioned her arms above her head, fingertips traveling up and down eager skin, her body just broke into shivers once more. She could have broken the hold any time, but had no intention to do so. It was safe.

Then Jill drew something silky across her wrists and like a movie stops when the tape tears, she was jolted out of the warm embrace of bliss. "No." Her voice sounded choked. Cindy curled up beside her, an arm over her waist while Jill tossed the silk scarf aside.

She leaned close, touching her lips against Lindsay's. "Anything you need," she whispered and the shadows receded again, dissolved into nothing. This wasn't the right moment to bring them up.

"I need you." The words came easily, naturally on a night like this where everything was allowed. She watched, waited as Jill's eyes darkened with desire.

"I have no objections at all... Just promise me you won't run like the last time."

"I won't."

They changed places or at least tried but temporarily ended up in giggles and a tangle of limbs.

Lindsay was pretty sure that running wasn't an option tonight, not like the last time when shortly after she and Tom had split up, she and Jill had gotten fairly drunk together, daring when she'd giddily discovered ways to pleasure a woman, a crazy night doing well to counter all the hurt and abandonment that had been her life then.

In its wake, fear had come rushing in of falling that deep again and ending up left behind. They'd never really talked it through, but it wasn't the concept of a late coming out that had made Lindsay panic. It was the certainty that this time, she couldn't bear to be let go. So she let go first and never stopped regretting it.

But she'd remembered... How Jill had liked her trailing her hair over her shivering body, a torturous caress leaving goosebumps in its wake. It still worked very well - this time with the addition of Cindy sitting crosslegged next to them, watching with feverish eyes.

She'd never thought it could ever be possible but here there were, her dreams fragile and precious in her hands. Lindsay planned to handle them with care.

She brushed her thumbs over nipples that perked up under her touch, leaning down to take one of them into her mouth, each brush of her tongue making Jill gasp with pleasure, making her own body tighten in response, making her more aware of the warm wetness between her own legs.

Lindsay didn't let herself get distracted, though. Beneath her, Jill squirmed, hands clutching the sheet. Oh yes, it wasn't hard to remember. Because Lindsay had thought about it often enough.

She let her fingers trail over soft skin, the flat belly and then just laid her hand flush against the curly hair, the warmth of the contact not nearly enough stimulation. Jill groaned, part anticipation, part frustration. "You're such a tease." She moved her head to look at Cindy. "Didn't I tell you?"

Cindy smiled. "Yes, she told me," she said, her voice husky with desire. "Is she right about it?"

"No. Absolutely no," Lindsay denied, testing her lover's readiness with a gentle probe and then sliding two fingers inside, setting up a slow rhythm. Jill's eyes fluttered shut. The soft moan escaping her made Lindsay flush with a pleasure that went straight to her center.

She ignored it for now, focusing all attention on the slide of her fingers into wet heat, the feeling of Jill's body tightening around her. "Does that feel like I'm teasing you?" she asked, her voice a low whisper as her thumb found Jill's clit. Present mingled with past, and she couldn't help but thinking how much better this was when you knew what you were doing and there was no way you could blame it on the alcohol.

"I guess.... Not."

Jill was quiet then even when her hips surged upwards to meet Lindsay's hand, neither of them for a moment forgetting Cindy who was taking in every move with a dreamy smile.

They had slept a little, maybe... Time had lost its meaning completely. Not that it mattered, Lindsay thought not even trying to keep the giddy smile off her face. So that was how it felt. For real.

As exhausted as she was, watching Jill and Cindy move together, Cindy's features going slack with absolute pleasure as Jill touched her just the right way, made her body wake up with a start.

Go crazy... Just once?

And that was it, for her at least? The rush of sadness was annoying. She hadn't asked for more, and they had already given her more that she'd have ever had the right to ask for. A birthday present. One that she shouldn't dismiss by getting greedy but oh, she was, Lindsay knew.

Cindy's eyes met hers, and the younger woman held out her hand. Lindsay took it, the fingers clutching at hers a new, surprising kind of intimacy as their hold became crushing while her orgasm kept Cindy captive.

It was a spontaneous gesture to pull her close then, nothing selfish or jealous, though on second thought it seemed that way causing a stab of guilt though Cindy obviously didn't have any problems with cuddling into her arms.

Jill spooned up behind her on the other side, running her hand down Cindy's arm until her fingers met Lindsay's and intertwined with them. "You love her just as much."

Lindsay felt her throat go tight, so she didn't say anything, just nodded.

"I know. And it's okay. This wouldn't be happening if we weren't sure."

"Thank you."

Like this, their hands joined with Cindy between them, Lindsay allowed herself to slip into sleep, the thought that she was really not worth this, for the moment, suspended.

Sleep didn't last long, though. Before sunrise, she slipped out of bed, put on some clothes and went out on the balcony. The view of the San Francisco skyline, the city just awakening, was amazing. Almost unreal. Like the fact she'd been in bed with two of her best friends last night, who were a happy couple...

Which had been her birthday present. Even when they'd made her come so hard she had tears in her eyes from the sheer intensity of it, all of this had been part of the birthday surprise. There was no future for the three of them. And just how could you be so stupid to ever wish for that?

Starting at the soft sound of the door being opened again, Lindsay turned to see Jill stepping outside, shivering in her silk robe. "What are you doing out here?"

Jill rolled her eyes at that. "Imagine that, I was just about to ask you the same."

Lindsay turned her gaze back to the city, let a little smile play over her lips. "Greeting the day," she said finally. Letting go of the other day...

Jill stepped closer, sitting down in the chair next to Lindsay. "Beautiful." The sun had been starting to rise.


There was a pause before Jill asked. Lindsay had known the question would come; you couldn't blame an attorney for curiosity. Or a reporter, for that matter.

"Why are you not inside?"

Lindsay contemplated this for a moment. "Last night was... I don't even know how to decribe it. It was everything I dreamed of, and much more than that. I guess I didn't want to overstay my welcome."

"You wouldn't have. Look, I'm not promising we can make this work. But Cindy and I want to try - if you're in."

Lindsay found that her heart had just skipped a beat. Absorbing the enormity of what they were negotiating here, would take longer than these few moments. Much longer. "This is big."

"Yeah. We are aware of that."

"Then why are you doing this?"

Lindsay dared to make eye contact again, to find Jill look puzzled at the question.

"I mean, you and Cindy. It's perfect." It was surprisingly painful to say it out loud. "So why?"

Sensing her doubts correctly, Jill smiled gently before she said, "Because it makes a perfect thing even better. We'll still get into arguments and disagree, but last night was only the beginning. Come on, Linds. Everybody deserves a little happiness. Don't question it to pieces."

"I'll try." Half a laugh, half a sigh.

"I am not easy. I know you aren't, either. Now, Cindy is who we need to be lest worried about. She hasn't always had it easy, yet she's the least complicated person I know."

"I'm glad you think I'm not complicated. For it to stay that way, is there a way of getting me breakfast?" Cindy joined them on the balcony at last.

Jill groaned. "If we must have meaningful conversations in the dead of night, can't we at least do it someplace warm?"

The following laughter made Lindsay daring with hope. I am 'in'. The thought made her giddy.

Breakfast was served by room service and for the first time since this adventure had started, Lindsay was, guiltily reminded that the costs involved weren't all metaphorical.

"You two must be crazy," she said. "All this... It's expensive."

They sat around the table, now dressed, enjoying the rest of their stay.... And she couldn't help but smile when she realized that she'd hardly noticed, anything, yesterday about the building; her mind focused on one unbelievable thought.

"It is," Cindy said bluntly. "But I guess we can agree it's worth it, right?" Jill just smiled at her, and once again Lindsay feared that the moment they'd walk out of this door, she was going to wake up. So it had been real, everybody was okay with it, but outside these walls? It was impossible to uphold that level of discretion that would be necessary, wasn't it?

Damn her and her high expectations.

"It is," she finally agreed. "It's just--"

"It's just that you're going to need a while to believe it," Jill finished the sentence for her. She raised her glass. "Well, Linds, we got you this far. I believe we can do it."

"Our club rocks," Cindy murmured into her own glass, making everyone crack up.

And maybe they were right; maybe it was her own fear she'd let block her time and again. Jill was right, it'd take a little longer to change the habit of a lifetime, but she was willing to try. "So, I guess... Thank you."

The twin smiles told her just how welcome she was, and they were right; for once, Lindsay didn't want to question it.

For once, she wanted to be sure.

The End

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