DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: First part of the 'Diner Moments' series.
THANKS: To Ann for the beta.
I can feel the bitter sting of vodka bubbling at the back of my throat, clawing its way free in a quest to splash borrowed colour across the pitted Formica. I swallow, convulsively, praying it will buy me a little more time, not sure if I could handle yet another humiliation.
"Can I get you something? Water, coffee...?" She sounds skittish, and I can't really blame her. Claire and Lindsay are used to my infrequent bouts of self destruction, but so far I've only allowed our cub reporter to witness my bitchy and charmingly sarcastic sides. The poor thing probably doesn't have a clue how to handle me. "Should I call Claire?"
"I don't need a doctor." I don't need anybody, according to Luke, and he should know, as he was meant to be my somebody. At least that's what I thought, before he became my nobody. My thoughts are making my head spin, and if we were anywhere other than Papa Joe's, I'd probably give up the fight and let the vodka have its way. "Luke was the perfect guy."
"Nobody's perfect," she argues, not in the least put off by my non sequitur.
"Kind, considerate, handsome." I could go on, but the vodka has started to burn up a firestorm. "He was a doctor, for Christ's sake!"
"Did you love him?"
Such a simplistic question and how like Cindy that it cuts straight to the heart of things. I did love him, in a way, he was good for me, he kept me grounded and made me feel loved. But I know that's not exactly what she means; she means the palm sweating, heart racing kind of love that only ever existed for me in fairy tales. "There's no such thing."
"Sure there is." Her sunny optimism is going to be the death of her one day. "You just haven't met the right person."
"He was perfect!" Why doesn't she get it? Why doesn't she understand that if I can't make it work with someone like Luke, a truly good person, then there's no chance in hell that I could make it with anyone else.
"And you're not." It's a statement, and although I agree with it one hundred percent, I can't help feeling insulted that this champion of the bright-side-of-life would think so too. "So, why are you wasting your time with someone who is?" I'm not sure if she's goading me or offering genuine advice, but the urge to deliver a verbal bitch-slap is almost overwhelming. "You're a mess." Literally and figuratively, my inebriated mind agrees. "But you're hardly the only one."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, it is." The little reporter's getting mad, and I can't help but enjoy the way it brings that extra touch of colour to her cheeks. "Look at Lindsay, hung up on her ex even though she couldn't have given a damn about him when they were together!" I should step in and defend my best friend's screwed up love life, but we both know Cindy's right. "Denise is so jealous of you she gets rip-roaring drunk and spreads your dirty laundry in front of the world." The bitch! "Or what about me?"
"You?" I'd laugh if I didn't think my stomach would rebel. "You're little Ms Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way." God, I could almost hate that about her. "Pretty and witty and..."
"Gay?" She shrugs, and I get the feeling I'm missing something. "I haven't been on a date in months. My good underwear is starting to attract cobwebs, and every person I get interested in turns out to be married, gay or straight!"
Okay, that last bit really did confuse me, but she's rubbing my back and jabbering away to herself about the last time she got laid, and even though I want to stay awake and find out all the juicy details, I know I'm fighting a losing battle. I'll have to remember to thank her in the morning. Maybe calling her to come get me wasn't such a stupid idea after all.
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