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All the best conversations happen in bathrooms
By Lesley Mitchell
"She'll work it out, eventually, you know."
In the cubical, Cindy Thomas jumped. She'd been lost in thought and the voice had been particularly unexpected.
Using the time it took to ready herself to re-enter the public space of the bathroom to recover some of her lost composure, she was able to step out and see an almost normal level of calmness on the face that reflected back at her from the garishly lit mirrors.
"Claire. Er, hi."
"It took her an age to realise what Tom wanted. Even longer with Jill."
Cindy appeared to be entirely focused on washing her hands, however, her mind was racing, desperate to try and catch up to the point where she should have entered this conversation, which appeared to her to be about five minutes before it had actually started.
"And now, well. She's distracted with this whole Kiss-Me-Not thing hanging over her. And while her subconscious mind has quite clearly processed the signals you're giving off, and is raring to go, it'll be a little while before the rest of her hard head catches up."
"Er... why are you telling me this?"
"Cindy Thomas, you are not playing this game with me."
The redhead did her best to look blank.
"The girl who charmed my son in under twenty minutes, and who's been making sheep's eyes at my best friend since she suddenly appeared in our lives? You are going to try and tell me that you aren't hopelessly..."
"All right! I give in," cried Cindy.
"Yes!" came a hissed response from the end cubical, followed by a flush, and a white-blonde DDA appeared, looking terribly pleased with herself, and joined the flustered reporter at the sinks.
"Claire and I had a bet," Jill explained, a little too casually.
"You and Claire were betting, about me." There was anger now in her tone, gaining the upper hand over confusion. She was staring hard at her damp hands, where they rested in the sink, with a furiosity that should have caused the droplets that covered them to instantly vapourise.
"Just a friendly..." offered Claire, trying to head off the rant.
"Hang on!" The exclamation cut through the medical examiner's placatory advances more thoroughly than a scalpel. Suddenly looking up at Claire, "You said... Lindsay and Tom, and Lindsay and," she rounded on the suddenly much less smug lawyer, "Jill?!"
"It was once," said Jill, backing away and holding up her hands defensively. "It was a long time ago. We were drunk."
Cindy's gaze didn't waver.
"I was bailing out on a relationship that had got... too much. Lindsay was there to catch me. We were..." she paused, weighing her next words carefully, "not drunk enough that we couldn't have stopped. But, really, it was a long time ago."
"Cindy," said Claire softly, pulling the young woman's attention back to herself. "When you're in the room, on many levels, none of the rest of us exist for her, any more."
"She's going to realise it soon," Jill continued. "And when she does... well, are you sure you're quite ready for all of Lindsay Boxer's attention to be focused entirely on you? Because, if you're not..."
"I am ready," came the firm response. Cindy stood supporting herself against the vanity, knuckles white where they clasped the unit, not looking at either of the other women.
Claire placed a gentle hand on Cindy's shoulder, and Jill mirrored the action. After a moment, the reporter looked up into twin looks of concern, and while some of it was for their absent friend, it was clear that the majority of it was for the woman who stood before them.
"I," she stammered, "I, er... I will be ready."
"Good girl," said Claire. "Now, I still have candy in my office... and," she paused to check her watch, "beer."
The three women exited the bathroom, one after the other. Claire led the way. As Cindy moved to follow, Jill placed her hand on the other woman's shoulder again, stopping her.
"Claire would never say this. But, if you... If Lindsay... Well, let's just say, they would never find your body."
Jill let Cindy go and turned to her reflection. After a moment, she sighed heavily, pushed some stray strands of hair back behind her ear, and set off to join the others in Claire's cosy, basement office.
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