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.
It was smoky and dimly lit: just the kind of place you wouldn't want to be hanging around in, unless you were a biker, the proud owner of a firearm, or an extremely brave and desperate hooker.
Jill Bernhardt was none of those things.
And, she hoped, neither was Cindy Thomas.
But somehow, that's where the reporter had ended up, and Lindsay was tired of playing chase. Somehow, Jill had been elected to find Cindy and bring her home. Jill, not pleased with the assignment, althought she tried to find any excuse to be around the reporter, stormed through the establishment, shooting fire from her eyes at any man who made a motion in her direction.
The blond found her slouched over a table in the back, three empty glasses beside her and a fourth clenched in her hands. Jill pulled up short and studied the redhead: she wasn't her usual perky self, she wasn't talking to anyone, and, everyone knew for a fact, Cindy didn't have more than two drinks a day. Which, Jill decided, meant something was wrong.
"Come here often?" she opted to ask, hoping to get Cindy to smile. The redhead barely looked up.
"What are you doing here?"
"I can't come see you and just have a drink?"
"No." Jill sat back in the seat across from the reporter, watching for any signs of a joke. Cindy was staring into her glass, watching the ice cubes melt into the amber colored liquid. The rings under her eyes were almost hidden by her hair falling into her face, but Jill could still see the way her eyes didn't light up the way they used to. The lawyer reached across the small table and snagged the glass out of the redhead's hands, draining the last of it in one swig.
"What's new in the newspaper world?" Jill asked cautiously. Cindy said nothing. "Okay, what is your problem?"
The redhead remained silent. Jill sighed and unbuttoned her jacket, draping it over the back of her chair. "So, you've been MIA since yesterday, let me fill you in on what's going on. Lindsay caught a case, and we're going to solve it. Claire and Ed started couples therapy, and I'm dutifully moving out of her living room, for the sake of their marriage. Oh. Lindsay finally slept with Pete, so, yay for her." Jill paused. "Did you know that? Is that why you're sulking?" Secretly, Jill hoped the answer was no.
Cindy scoffed bitterly. "As if." She reached slowly into her coat pocket and pulled out an envelope. "This was on my door last night," she said, placing it gingerly on the table top.
Jill stared at it before she picked it up and opened it. She noted the postmark: Denver. She unfolded the single notebook paper inside and read it over twice before the effect of the words hit her. "Oh. Cindy." With an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, Jill reached over and took the redhead's shaking hands in hers.
"It happened last week I guess. It's not a big deal, we weren't close, but I just needed a day to...process, you know?" Cindy shrugged her shoulders as if to prove she didn't care. Jill didn't let go of her hands. "I just needed to take the edge off."
"Which would explain the alchohol consumption." Jill added.
"It was either that or a one-night stand." Cindy clarified. The lawyer found herself grimacing.
"I'm glad you chose the former," she muttered under her breath. Glad, she said to herself, because she's not sure if she could handle knowing Cindy was sleeping with someone else. From where she was sitting, she eyed the redhead, watching the way the reporter was trying to keep herself together. "Are you feeling any pain?"
"None," Cindy informed her, giving her a dry, lifeless smile.
"I figured. Wanna blow this juke joint?" Cindy seemed to seriously consider the idea before shaking her head.
"Nah, I think I'll stay. See blondie at the end there?" Cindy pointed to a blond man with a black leather vest on, sunglasses perched atop his spiked locks. Jill nodded, trying to regain control of her gag reaction. The beefy blond was smirking in Cindy's direction. "He's been checking me out all night. I figure..."
"No," Jill cut in defensively, tightening her grip on Cindy's hands. The redhead raised one eyebrow and for a moment, Jill thought she was talking to Lindsay. "What I mean is, I can't let you go home with a boy that looks like that. He's too cliche and probably not even good in the sack."
"Well, I was going to say, I figure I'd have a drink with him, not much else."
Now Jill felt stupid. "Oh."
"But now that you mention it..." Cindy baited her. The lawyer, too embarassed to speak, didn't take it and instead, let go of the redhead's hands and placed her own in her lap. "Did you have another offer?" Cindy asked with an impish smile. Jill's head snapped up.
"Okay, you sound lucid enough. And I guess he's not so bad and you're old enough to take care of youself, so I'm going to go, out of this bar, go home, and I'll see you at the diner tomorrow morning, eight o'clock. Nite." Jill grabbed her jacket off the chair hastily and crossed the hardwood floor with her heels clacking against them, marking each step she took away from the sad, recently parentless, painfully breathtaking, semi inebriated redhead.
"Goddamnit!" Jill shouted at the night sky as the bar door shut behind her. She couldn't get over how much of an idiot she was. She had a perfect oppurtunity back there, and she just threw it away. She dropped to the sidewalk and sat on the curb, ankles crossed as her legs stretched out into the street. San Francisco was an entertaining place and this street was no exception. There were people littering the sidewalks and right there, smack dab in the middle of them, was Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt, lounging in the gutters. The door opened ten minutes later and the blonde from before stumbled out, swaying slightly and grasping the hand of one equally swaying reporter. Jill averted her gaze and stood, heading down the street, the sound of Cindy's absurdly obnoxious laughter ringing in her ears. And then she made a spilt-second decision.
Turning so fast she almost gave herself whiplash, Jill ignored the pain of running on sidewalks in high heels and grabbed Cindy's arm just as the redhead was falling into her new friend's car. The younger woman grunted in surprise and her escort gave a "hey" in protest, but Jill pinned the redhead to the side of the building and forced her to look into her colbalt blue eyes.
"Jill, what the hell are you doing?" The redhead struggled under the lawyer's surprisingly strong hold. "Jill, seriously, this is...embarrassing and unnecessary. So, let go!"
Jill tightened her grip on the reporter and cut her off. "Listen to me, because I'm only going to make a fool of myself this one time. Are you paying attention? You have two choices right now, and only two. The first is, you can go home with beef cake over there," Jill said dryly, gesturing towards the confused man a few feet away. "And in the morning, you can regret how drunk you were to sleep with a guy who didn't even spend the night and you can go through the entire day feeling worthless and lost."
"Wow, Ms. Optimistic." Jill glared at the redhead and Cindy's mouth all but snapped shut.
"Option two is that you let this guy leave on his own...and you come home with me. And when you wake up in the morning, I'll still be there and you won't regret anything. And you won't ever feel worthless, not in the morning, not the next day or the day after that. I'm not promising you the world - "
"Sure seems like it."
"But I can promise that in the morning, I'm going to love you as much as I love you right now, even more than I love you right now. Because I want to take you home and make love to you, not any of that 'get-some-get-done' crap. I want you to wake up in my arms. I want you to wake up in my arms for as long as you want to be there." Jill released her hold on the younger woman and took a step back, the weight of her words crashing down upon her shoulders and making her realize almost immediately how much of a fool she was being. She ran a hand through her incredibly short hair and, avoiding eye contact with the gaping "blonde beef cake" she turned and walked away with what little piece of her dignity she still had.
"Get some, get done? I mean, really?" Jill stopped in the middle of the sidewalk half a block away from where she left the redhead, frozen at the sound of the oh-so familiar voice. A small hand slid ghostlike down her arm, slipping into her clammy hand. Gingerly, she interlocked her fingers with Cindy's. "All that fancy lawyer school, and all you could come up with was 'get some, get done'?"
"Better suggestion Ms. By Line?" Jill avoided the redhead's amused gaze.
"A ton of them. Kiss me and we can see if any of my smartness rubs off on you." The hand in her's spun her around so that she was pressed flush against Cindy, their breath mingling. Cindy's mouth was on hers, hot breath and sliding tounges. Jill could feel her heart rate hit the ceiling.
"Smarter yet?" Cindy asked as they pulled away to breathe. Jill smirked.
"Maybe you should kiss me again and see if any more rubs off." The laywer realized at that moment that they were standing in the middle of a San Francisco sidewalk, making out like lovesick teenagers - and she didn't give a rat's ass.
"Will you really be there in the morning?" Cindy's hesitant question was a whisper against her mouth, a passing comment. Jill buried her face in auburn hair, breathing in the smell of passion fruit shampoo, drinking in every scent that was Cindy.
"Every morning." She whispered softly, nipping at Cindy's lips. "I might make you breakfast if you're lucky."
Cindy shook with laughter in her arms. "You, cook? We'll stick to diner food and Claire's cooking. How's that sound?"
"Sounds like a promise." Jill linked her arm through the redhead's and dragged her towards the road, a smile on her face, and her fingers locked with Cindy's.
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