DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The sun had barely begun its ascent into the sky over a quiet, sleepy neighborhood when, in one of its houses, a door swung open with an annoying squeak, causing an intruder to hesitate long enough to glare at a set of worn hinges with slight contempt. Not deterred by the door's announcement that someone had breached the security of its deadbolt, the individual moved swiftly and with a definite purpose into the inner sanctum of the house.
"Ma!" Jane shouted from the den of her parents' home, frustration clearly evident in her tone at not spotting her mother right away. Angela had called her earlier very, very early and on Jane's day off and asked her daughter to come by, as in right this instant, and lend a hand moving some boxes. Jane had taken her sweet time and had even stopped for coffee along the way, purposely taking the longer route to her parents' house so that she could savor every drop.
"Down here, Jane!" Angela's voice drifted up the basement stairs and bent around the edge of a partially opened door that led below. "I could use a little help here!"
"Oh goodie, I can't wait," Jane muttered as she crossed the room and headed for the basement door. She looked down the narrow steps and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dim light of a single bulb screwed into a cracked porcelain fixture before stomping down the wooden steps as loudly as she was able. "What couldn't wait until a decent hour of the morning?" she groused when she reached the bottom step.
"The church is having a rummage sale this afternoon," Angela said from behind a set of boxes. She peered over the stack, wearing an unhappy and clearly pissed off expression, and Jane was certain that if she could see through the cardboard her mother would have both hands perched firmly on her hips. "Your father was supposed to help me, but your Uncle Tony called and asked him to go play golf. He left an hour before sunrise," she grumbled testily. "Who can play golf in the dark anyway?"
Grateful that, for now, someone else had incurred her mother's wrath, Jane just shrugged and stepped down onto the concrete floor. She didn't understand why anyone would want to play golf in the daylight, either. "So why didn't you call Frankie?"
"It's his day off," Angela said matter-of-factly as she edged around the boxes and headed for a much larger one that stood off by itself. "Let's get this one first. It's the heaviest."
Jane didn't move. "What's today? National 'only bother daughters on their day off' Day?"
Angela looked back over her shoulder and shook her head at her daughter's sarcasm. She didn't know where Jane had inherited such a sharp tongue. "Don't be ridiculous. Everybody knows Frankie, Jr. is a late sleeper. You, on the other hand, always get up early."
"Early as in eight-ish, Ma, not while it's still dark outside," Jane said, her irritation growing at the thought of her mother sparing her brother just because he chose to stay in bed until noon. Wasn't there such a thing as an equal-opportunity suffering clause in the Life with Angela Rizzoli Handbook?
"Well, no sense crying over broken cannoli; you're here now," Angela pointed out and walked around to the other side of the large box. "I can't go backwards on the stairs," she explained as she leaned over to grip the bottom of the container. Jane just sighed and moved to take the closer side. The sooner they carried the boxes up the stairs, the faster she could go home.
"Jeez," Jane complained as she tested the box's weight. "What do you have in here? Bricks?"
"Books," Angela corrected as she struggled to lift her end. She began to rethink her packing strategy, wondering if she should have used the smaller boxes for books and larger ones for clothing.
Jane stared at the top of the well-taped box and suddenly had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. "What books?"
"Just a bunch of old books that have been sitting down here for years," Angela said hastily and with a barely detectable nervous edge to her voice. She finally managed a firm grip on the bottom of the box and readied to stand. "Let's see if we can get it up the stairs."
"Which old books?" Jane asked, her single-minded focus being one of her best attributes as a detective and her ability to read her mother's tone and body language her best feature as Angela Rizzoli's daughter. She looked across at her mother and didn't move a muscle. The box wasn't budging until she knew more about its contents.
Angela's shoulders moved up and down in an attempted shrug, quite difficult to do when she was bent over with her fingertips wedged under the edge of the box. "You know, books that haven't been read in years," Angela replied, her answer just as vague as before. Jane continued to glare at her mother and Angela caved. "All right, it's all those Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books you used to read over and over again." Had she paid closer attention to her own tone, Angela would've solved the mystery of Jane's sarcastic abilities.
"Ma!" Jane exclaimed with an equal mix of surprise and disbelief. "You can't give those away!" She was appalled that her mother had even considered parting with such treasured items.
"When was the last time you actually picked up one of those books, huh?" Angela couldn't help but challenge her daughter for questioning her decision to include the books in the rummage sale goods. She did feel the slightest bit of guilt, however, even if she did blame the books for Jane's misguided career choice.
Jane opened her mouth to snap off a speedy reply but wasn't able to manufacture an answer that would help her cause. She hadn't seen so much as a cover of any of those books since she'd ventured into the world of Agatha Christie somewhere around her eighth grade year.
"See, you didn't even remember they were down here," Angela said, taking advantage of Jane's temporary bout of speechlessness and, like a lion about to pounce on its prey, she didn't waste a second moving in for the kill. "Wouldn't you like to see some other child get some enjoyment out of the same books you did?" She even added a smile.
"You just want them out of your way," Jane replied, although the idea of some little girl burying her nose into a book filled with mystery and intrigue made her heart swell with joy. She slipped her fingers under the corners of the box and began to lift. Angela's smile grew and the older woman pushed to her feet.
"Whoa, this is really heavy," Angela noted as she started forward as Jane inched backward. "We'll need to go slow on the stairs."
"No kidding," Jane grunted and glanced over her shoulder, looking for the bottom step as she felt for it with her foot. She eased her right foot onto the step and nodded at her mother. "Ready?"
"As I'll ever be," Angela replied with more confidence than she felt. The box was much heavier than she'd imagined, and she struggled to hold up her end. Maybe if she distracted herself, she thought, it would be easier. "So, I hear you had a date the other night. Did you ever plan on telling me?"
"No, I didn't feel up to picking out china patterns," Jane replied bitingly, keeping her sarcastic reputation intact. Shifting her grip on the bottom of the box, she carefully eased up to the next step and actually took a bit of satisfaction in hearing her mother grunt slightly at the downward shift of weight. "Besides, there won't be another."
"I thought he'd sent flowers and candy. Why wouldn't there be another?" Angela had been so excited when she'd heard that Jane hadn't scared her date off like she had all the others, not that there had been all that many.
Jane grumped loudly and not because of the heavy box. "I'm going to kill Frankie."
"Frankie Junior didn't tell me. It was Vince Korsak. I ran into him at the market." Angela looked over the top of the box and locked eyes with her daughter. "So why won't there be another date?"
Jane mentally shifted her murderous intent to her former partner. "Just because, Ma," she said, quickly stepping to another step in hopes that her mother would need to stop talking so that she could concentrate on the heavy box. She really should have known better.
"Is it because he's a male nurse?" Angela guessed, although there really wasn't much guess work involved. Korsak had mentioned something about Jane being weirded out by her date's occupation. "What's wrong with that? Your third cousin Anthony is a nurse."
"Cousin Anthony wears dresses, Ma." Jane cringed at the memory of visiting her cousin Clara when she was seven and finding little Tony playing nurse in his room. The candy-striper dress hadn't exactly been his best look.
"Not all the time," Angela replied, as if that really made a difference. She hesitated long enough to blow a stray hair out of her eyes. "Would it have mattered if your date had been a doctor instead?"
"He likes to cook and walk the dog," Jane answered flatly, but her mother, as usual, failed to notice her daughter's disinterest in the potential suitor.
"That's nice," Angela said with a smile. She wished Frank Sr. would help every now and then with the cooking, or with anything, for that matter.
"I've got Maura for that," Jane shot back, not mentioning that she also had her friend for the occasional sleepover. "And besides, the guy wanted to be a stay at home dad. He expected me to be the breadwinner."
"Really?" The tone of Angela's voice indicated that she wasn't thrilled to hear that little tidbit, and Jane found herself grinning. Finally, a guy her mother didn't approve of. Usually, the only prerequisite Angela ever had for any of Jane's dates was that they were breathing. "Well, maybe he'll change his mind," Angela said hopefully, even though she didn't like the idea that Jane's date had those kinds of thoughts in the first place.
"I don't think so, Ma." Jane eased up to the next step. "He's all into feelings and stuff, too," she said and shivered at the thought of sharing intimate details with Jorge. The guy really gave her the creeps. "I don't even like to talk to Maura about some things."
"So what does Maura have to say about this guy?" Angela asked as she snuck a peek over Jane's shoulder. She was ever so grateful to see the top of the stairs looming in the near distance.
Jane bit down on her lip in thought. "She said he was a good catch, but that he wasn't right for me," she lied easily, much more easily than Maura ever could and just the taste of it shifted her focus to her friend. Maura seemed to really want her to hit it off with Jorge for some reason, almost to the point of pushing Jane too hard. She'd accuse her friend of reverse psychology, but she knew Maura didn't have it in her.
"You're kidding? She thought he was a catch?" Angela said in surprise. "I'd think she'd have a problem with him being so willing to give up on a medical career." If he were her son, Angela would sit him down and tell him a thing or two about the role of the man in the household. Frank Sr. may have his faults, but he would never have suggested staying home and keeping the children while Angela went to work.
"Yeah, well, it doesn't matter now," Jane said in relief, no longer bothered that it took Jorge thinking she was a lesbian to finally quit pursuing her. In fact, she had to admit that she'd have more fun posing as a lesbian than she'd ever had in her straight life, and she'd had more dating opportunities than she'd had in years. It had come so easily to her and had felt perfectly normal, too. Taking one final step, Jane eased through the door and took small steps until her mother had cleared the threshold. "Where do you want to put this?"
Angela blew out a heavy breath. "On the floor next to the wall. Let's get the others while I've still got some strength. Then we can move them all into my car."
"Sounds like a plan," Jane said in agreement and began to lower the box to the floor. She waited until her mother had released her end before she eased her hands free and stood. She motioned for Angela to take the lead back down to the basement.
"You know, Jane, it's really too bad Maura's not a man. She'd be perfect for you," Angela said with a soft sigh as she stepped through the door and headed back down the stairs. She was totally oblivious to the effect her words had on her daughter.
Jane stumbled to a dead stop and stood perfectly still as an image of Maura, working undercover in the lesbian bar and wearing that skintight bustier top, pushed its way into her head and seared itself on to her brain. She found herself fully entranced, once again staring at creamy white breasts that spilled over the top of red rickrack and threatened to burst free of their confines at any second. The scene kept replaying over and over again and Jane was helpless to do anything but watch and hope that something would give and soon.
She got her wish when Angela's parting words joined the looping action running through her head just as the material of Maura's top finally lost its battle and split open. Rickrack sprung left and right and Jane didn't dare look away.
"Holy shit " she whispered as the proverbial 2x4 came within a hairsbreadth of her head.
Maura was perfect.
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