DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Forsaking All Others
By Angie


Scribbs closed her eyes and sighed, allowing a feeling of deep contentment to wash over her. She snuggled closer to the warm body that was spooning her from behind, smiling when a hand crept under her top and tickled her belly lightly.

"Oi, stop that," she murmured sleepily.

"Well, I would, but I'm getting crushed against the back of this couch and I thought I should try to get your attention somehow to warn you of my impending death."

Scribbs rolled over, allowing Ash to move onto her back while Scribbs climbed on top of her. She grinned down.


Ash raised an eyebrow, her lips curling into a sultry smile.


She reached up behind Scribbs' head, pulling her down and bringing their lips together in a soft, slow kiss. Scribbs pulled away and started dropping tiny kisses over Ash's chin and cheeks and on her closed eyelids.

"Mmmmm, I can't believe we've got a whole long weekend off at the same time," Ash said, enjoying the attention.

"Me neither, Sullivan must be getting soppy in his old age," Scribbs said, propping herself up on her elbows.

"I wouldn't go around using that particular phrase if I were you; I think he's approaching a big birthday."

"What, the big four-oh?" Scribbs asked.

"Must be, he can't be nearly 50. But he's exhibiting the symptoms of a man worried about getting old." Ash said, running her hands down Scribbs' sides and resting them on her hips.

"Like what?"

"Well, he's mentioned babies and settling down on a number of occasions."

"He's not mentioned having babies and settling down with you I hope," Scribbs murmured against the side of Ash's throat.

Ash snorted.

"Hardly. I think we divested him of any notion that I might be interested in him that time he caught us in the car on that stake-out."

Scribbs lifted her head and nodded.

"True. I thought we might need to get him an ambulance that night. Or a hearse."

"Well, I don't suppose he expected to see his subordinate officer's naked arse pressed against the window of a car when he dropped by to see how we were getting on," Ash pointed out.

"If he'd bloody phoned to ask how we were getting on we could've told him that we'd caught the guy and he wouldn't have been traumatised," Scribbs countered, a blush rising to her cheeks.

"Anyway, he seems to be over it now. And he was very good about it at the time. We could've been disciplined, you know."

"Oh yeah, he's over it. He's so fine with it now he thinks that it's OK to make jokes about knowing where my tattoo is in front of that lot down the station."

"He didn't," Ash covered her mouth.

"He bloody did. I heard him saying to Barnsey when he got his new one 'Scribbs has a tattoo in an interesting place'."

"Cheeky bastard. That tattoo's for my eyes only!" Ash said, putting a possessive hand over the area in question.

"Yeah, well, I'll make jokes about his age if I want to," Scribbs said.

"You go right ahead, sweetheart," Ash allowed, lifting her head for another kiss, which Scribbs willingly provided.

The kiss deepened. Ash's fingers danced up Scribbs' back and unhooked her bra. Scribbs sat up and quickly got rid of both her top and her bra, while Ash undid the buttons on her own shirt, shrugging out of it awkwardly, as she was still pinned under Scribbs. Scribbs lay back down and stretched out along Ash's body, encircling her wrists and drawing her hands up above her head, pushing them down onto the arm of the couch. Ash smiled, looking up at Scribbs with lidded eyes.

"Feeling dominant, Sergeant?"

"Perhaps, Inspector. You bothered?"

"Not in the slightest, carry on."

Scribbs grinned and leaned down. A millisecond before her lips made contact with Ash's, the doorbell rang and she groaned, letting her forehead drop to Ash's shoulder.

"Who the bloody hell is that?" Scribbs asked, the words slightly muffled.

"Dunno, I'm not expecting anyone," Ash said, glancing at the clock. Nine-thirty.

"Maybe if we wait a bit they'll go away. It's probably a pizza delivery come to the wrong address or something." Scribbs reasoned.

"Maybe it's Sullivan come to check up on us," Ash joked.

"Well, he can bloody well kiss my tattoo if he thinks we're working this weekend. Easter is sacred to me," Scribbs stated, vehemently.

"Because of the chocolate?"


The doorbell rang again, for longer this time, and it was followed by a sharp knocking.

"Kate? Kate, dear, are you in there?"

Scribbs suddenly found herself on the floor. She was about to ask what the hell the matter was but was cut off by the force of her top hitting her in the face, followed rapidly by her bra. She pulled them off to see Ash frantically doing up the buttons on her shirt.

"It's my mother!" Ash hissed.

"Oh shit."

"Exactly! Get dressed." Ash turned to the door and raised her voice. "I'm coming mum, just a sec."

Scribbs hurriedly got back into her clothes as Ash whirled around, fluffing pillows and picking up empty wine bottles and tubes of Pringles. A moment later Ash surveyed the room, her eyes finally landing on Scribbs giving her a once over. Happy that the room didn't look like they'd just been about to have sex in it, Ash headed to the door and undid the lock, bracing herself and plastering a smile across her face. She opened the door.


Scribbs watched as Ash's mum swept into the hallway, dropping a suitcase on her way and heading straight for the living room. Scribbs had only met Ash's mum briefly at the station a couple of times. She immediately stood up straighter and ran a self conscious hand over her hair in the presence of the tall, elegant older woman. Ash followed on her mother's heels, gesturing towards Scribbs.

"Mum, you remember Emma?"

"Oh, yes, of course, nice to see you again, dear."

"You too, Mrs Ashurst." Scribbs nodded, wondering why she felt the desire to curtsey.

Ash's mother sat down heavily on the couch and Scribbs saw the colour rise in Ash's neck, obviously thinking about what had just been happening there.

"Do you have any wine, darling?"

Ash stood looking at her mother in confusion so Scribbs stepped in.

"I'll get it, red or white, Mrs Ashurst?"

"Red would be lovely, thank you Emma." Mrs Ashurst said, leaning back into the sofa.

Scribbs headed into the kitchen, glad of the excuse to get out of the living-room, where the temperature seemed to be on the rise. As she poured the wine into a glass, she heard the conversation in the other room.

"Mum, what's going on? You never turn up unannounced. Particularly at this time of night. And where's Dad?"

"I've left him."

Scribbs nearly dropped the bottle.

"Left him where?"

Scribbs rolled her eyes. Honestly, Ash could be so very obtuse at times. She grabbed the full glass and headed back in to support her partner, just as her mother was explaining herself.

"I've left your Father. For good."

Ash's eyes grew wide.

"You mean you've left him?" she squeaked. "You can't have left him. You've been married forever!"

Scribbs gave Ash's elbow a quick squeeze on the way past.

"Here you go, Mrs Ashurst."

Ash's mother accepted the glass gratefully.

"Thank you, dear, and do call me Penelope."

Scribbs smiled and retreated to stand beside Ash.

"Penelope it is, then."

Ash was shaking her head.

"No, sorry, could we go back to the 'I've left my husband of forty years' thing for a moment, please?"

Penelope sighed and took a long drink of wine before levelling her gaze at Ash.

"Kate, I have left your Father. Please accept that. And I'm not going back so don't think you can convince me to with your police intimidation techniques."

She took another drink, Scribbs noticed that the glass was almost empty and went to the kitchen to fetch the rest of the bottle.

"What do you mean, you're not going back? Where are you going to live? All of your things are there. All of your clothes. And Dad's there for God's sake!"

Scribbs re-entered and put the bottle of wine on the coffee table. She nudged Ash gently and inclined her head in the direction of the not very small suitcase that was sitting in her hall. Ash looked at her mother.

"So this is your plan, is it? Leave Dad and move in with me?"

Penelope was pouring more wine into her glass.

"Well, obviously not in the longer term, but I had hoped you would put me up for a night or two while I get myself sorted."

Scribbs put a hand on Ash's back and guided her to an armchair.

"Look, maybe you should sit down and talk to your mum, A…er, Kate. And I should leave both of you to it."


Both Ashursts spoke at once, seemingly unwilling to be left alone with each other.

"No, Emma, I've come along and interrupted your evening. Don't leave on my account. I'm just going to have a little more wine and then I'm off to bed. Please, sit."

Scribbs tentatively took a seat on the arm of the chair that Ash was occupying.

"You're not going to let me drink alone, are you?" Penelope enquired, topping up her glass, again.

"I think I need a drink," Ash confirmed, starting to stand up. Scribbs' hand on her shoulder stopped her.

"I'll grab that bottle of white out of the fridge for us. And another bottle of red for your mum," Scribbs said, already on her way to the kitchen.

"Such a lovely girl," she heard Ash's mother say.

Once they were all settled with glasses of wine, Ash decided to broach the dreaded subject.

"I suppose you better tell me why you've decided to leave Dad after all this time."

Penelope sighed deeply.

"Oh Kate, there are so very many reasons I could give you, but in plain and simple terms, I just don't love him. I doubt I ever have, not in that way. He's a good man, he's provided well for me, but it's been like living with a brother for forty years."

Ash was shaking her head.

"Are you telling me that you've never been in love with my Father?"

"I suppose I am, yes."

Ash threw her hands up in frustration.

"Then why on earth did you marry him?"

"That's what we did in those days. If a handsome man with a lot of money asked you to marry him, you said yes. Love didn't really come into it a great deal."

Ash was now pacing in front of the coffee table. Scribbs watched, aching to be able to go to her and hold her.

"Don't make it sound like you lived in bloody Jane Austen's day, Mother, we're talking about the late sixties here."

"And don't you make the mistake of thinking it was all 'free-love' and smoking funny cigarettes. In certain sets, not an awful lot had changed since Jane Austen's day. I was a virgin until I married your father."

"Jesus Christ!" Ash sat back down and put her head in her hands.

Penelope's speech was a little slurred, her mouth slackened by red wine and her newly liberated state. She addressed Scribbs now.

"Do you know that I haven't had sex since 1978?"

"Uhhh, I…" Scribbs stammered.

"I remember it clearly. Not because it was earth-shattering, you understand, but because it was the day that England beat Scotland in the Five Nations."

Penelope sat up straighter and fixed Scribbs with a slightly wavering stare.

"That's almost thirty years ago. Can you imagine that, Emma?"

Scribbs shook her head, mutely.

"I don't think Emma needs to be imagining you having sex, mother. I know I certainly could have done without it," Ash put in, irritably.

"Your hair's shorter than the last time I saw you," Penelope said, completely ignoring her daughter. She leaned forward and ran her fingers through Scribbs' chin-length hair. "It suits you like this. I've said to Kate for a long time that she should cut her hair, she's hardly in the first flushes of youth anymore."

"I like her hair!" Scribbs blurted out, positively horror-stricken at the mere thought of anyone tampering with Ash's raven locks.

"I'm not cutting my hair. And didn't you say you'd be going to bed?"

Penelope looked at the two empty wine bottles on the table.

"Yes, I think that's for the best."

She pushed herself to her feet, wobbling slightly. Ash stood and took her arm, steadying her.

"I'm sorry for interrupting your evening, girls. Oh, actually, what are you both doing tomorrow?"

Ash and Scribbs glanced at each other. Their plans for Easter Sunday hadn't been terribly complex, involving nothing more than a lie-in and a lazy day. Scribbs answered for both of them when she saw that Ash was stuck for words.

"Nothing special."

"Fabulous! Well, I'm meeting your brother at the club for lunch, why don't you both join us? My treat as an apology for this evening."

Ash looked to Scribbs for an opinion. Scribbs shrugged and nodded. Ash decided not to ask why she hadn't been included in the invitation in the first place.

"Yes, OK, lunch sounds good."

"Excellent. Well, I'll say goodnight then. I'll see you tomorrow, Emma."

"G'night Mrs Ash…er, Penelope."

Scribbs busied herself with calling a taxi and taking the wine bottles and glasses into the kitchen while Ash got her mother upstairs and settled in the guest bedroom. She came back down and wandered into the kitchen, looking like she was in a daze. Scribbs approached her a little nervously.

"You OK?"

Ash shrugged, folding her arms over her stomach. Scribbs sighed.

"I have absolutely no idea what to say to make you feel better, but I can provide cuddles if that's any use to you."

Ash smiled softly and nodded. Scribbs opened her arms and Ash walked into her embrace, pressing her face into Scribbs' neck. Scribbs stroked her back, swaying them both slightly in a comforting motion.

"Go a bit easier on your mum, eh? This must've been a hard decision for her to make."

She felt Ash sigh.

"I know it must've been hard and I do feel sorry for her. But for some reason I felt like I was possessed by a stroppy teenager at various points this evening and there was nothing I could do to stop myself from whining at her."

"And that's OK. It's fine for you to be affected by it too, it's still your family after all. You have to deal with your emotions first before you can move on and help your mum with hers."

Ash lifted her head, an amused smile on her face.

"And when did you turn into a psychologist?"

Scribbs attempted to look serious and wise.

"Around the time you turned into a stroppy teenager."

Ash poked her in the stomach, playfully.

"Hey! OK, more like the time I was off work with that broken toe…it's amazing the things you learn from watching 'Trisha'."

"That sounds about right," Ash said, leaning in for a brief kiss. She rested her forehead against Scribbs'. "I'm sorry we were interrupted earlier."

"Me too."

"I'm sorry you have to go to lunch with my, apparently dysfunctional, family tomorrow."

"Don't be sorry, I'm looking forward to meeting your brother."

"Don't get too excited. He is an accountant."

"What should I wear to this 'club'? I take it that it's mega-posh? Is some sort of tweed in order?"

"More like mega-pretentious." Ash thought for a moment. "Do you still have that suit of mine that you borrowed for that wedding?"

"Oh, look, I meant to give that back but…"

"No, it's fine. Wear that. You look amazing in that suit."

"I'll have all the posh boys falling at my feet, will I?"

"Trust me when I tell you that you will be the sweetest, most interesting and best looking person in that room tomorrow. And if any posh boys fall at your feet I'd appreciate it if you just step over them politely."

Scribbs grinned at Ash's attempt to cover up her insecurity. She put her mouth close to Ash's ear and whispered.

"Not a problem, I only like posh girls."

Ash tightened her arms around Scribbs in acknowledgment and Scribbs felt a definite sigh of relief. She squeezed Ash firmly before stepping away.

"I should get going, my taxi will be here any minute."

Ash pouted.

"You leaving so wasn't part of my plans for this evening."

"You know what they say about the best laid plans."

"What do they say?"

"I dunno, something about gangs of mice I think. It's all in Scottish."

"Trisha didn't stretch to poetry, then?"

A car drew up outside.

"That's the cab now."

Scribbs cupped Ash's cheek and planted a solid kiss on her mouth.

"I'll see you tomorrow, try and get some sleep, eh?"

Ash nodded, trailing woefully behind Scribbs on the way to the door. She leaned against the doorframe and watched Scribbs walk down the hall. She was suddenly taken with the great need to tell her something.

"Oi, Scribbs?"

Scribbs turned and raised an eyebrow in question.

"I love you, you know."

The side of Scribbs' mouth crept up. She nodded.

"I know. I'm quite fond of you too. I'll see you tomorrow."


The following day, Scribbs walked into the club glowing from the look of approval she'd received from Ash's mum when she saw her in the suit. She also seemed to be getting quite a number of appreciative stares from the club's occupants as they walked through the lounge area. She sneaked a look at Ash who seemed to be equal parts proud and annoyed.

"Ah, David! Sorry we're a little late, darling."

Penelope's loud greeting was directed at a man sitting alone at the bar. He stood up and enveloped his mother in a warm hug. Scribbs mouth dropped open. He was a male Ash. He was tall, athletically built, with dark hair flopping onto his brow. Oh, and he was gorgeous.

"Hiya Katie!"

Ash was engulfed in a bear-hug that lifted her off her feet slightly. When she returned to earth she was trying to scowl but failing miserably.

"You know I hate being called that."

"Of course I do," David agreed, his eyes falling on Scribbs for the first time. "And who is your dazzlingly attractive friend, Katie?"

Penelope practically jumped in front of Ash to make the introductions.

"David, this is Emma, she works with Kate in the Police. Emma, this is my son, David."

Scribbs held out her hand and David took it, making an elaborate bowing gesture before kissing the back of her hand.

"Charmed, I'm sure." He stood back up but didn't let go of Scribbs' hand. "I didn't know they made coppers as pretty as you."

"Oh for God's sake," Ash muttered, rolling her eyes.

"Oh my God!" Scribbs exclaimed, looking back and forward between David and Ash. "You have exactly the same eyes! It's really quite spooky."

Ash smirked.

"When David was a teenager he had long hair. People kept mistaking him for me until he was forced to get it cut."

"It's not my fault you had a masculine look about you, Katie."

Seeing that this had the potential to get nasty, Scribbs intervened.

"Well, I'll do my very best not to call you 'Ma'am'."

Ash snorted.

"Like you ever call me 'Ma'am'!"

"I do! When the occasion calls for it." Scribbs protested, smiling cheekily.

Before Ash had a chance to blush too deeply thinking of the situations in which Scribbs had called her 'ma'am', a waiter came to show them to their table. David extended his elbow to Scribbs.

"Shall we, Miss Emma?"

Scribbs cast an apologetic glance at Ash before smiling at David and taking the offered arm. Penelope grabbed Ash's arm and held her back slightly, so that they were walking a few paces behind Scribbs and David. She leaned into Ash.

"Don't they make a handsome couple?"

Ash nearly choked on her tongue.

"What? Mother, they've just met!"

"I know, I'm merely commenting that they look good together."

"Don't you try any matchmaking today." Ash warned, feeling slightly sick at the thought of it.

"Of course not, darling. I'm just going to let nature take its course."

Suddenly Ash wanted to be somewhere very far away.

They settled in and ordered drinks. Ash seethed silently when David decided to advise Scribbs on the menu. It was an innocuous act, but seeing her brother lean close to Scribbs to point out certain dishes set her teeth on edge. She was very relieved when Scribbs looked over her and spoke.

"I have to use the…ummm…"

Ash suppressed a smirk as she watched Scribbs grope around for a word to finish off her sentence. Then Scribbs broke out in a wide smile.

"I have to powder my nose. Kate, could you show me where to go?"

Ash returned the smile.

"Of course, I'll come with you."

David stood slightly as Scribbs pushed back her chair. A proper gentleman. Scribbs nodded at him and hurried to follow Ash who had already taken off in the other direction. She leaned in close and lowered her voice.

"Buggered if I could remember a polite word for 'loo'."

"'Loo' would've done fine, Scribbs, you're not dining with the Queen you know."

"Feels a bit like it."

They entered the bathroom, finding it to be empty. Scribbs immediately grabbed Ash and pushed her up against the row of sinks. Ash had to hop up onto the counter and Scribbs moved between her legs, kissing her soundly. Ash drew away.

"What're you doing?"

"Kissing you."


Scribbs looked around and grinned mischievously.

"Isn't it a bit exciting? Snogging in the loo of a posh club? Knowing that the 'Ladies who Lunch' could come in at any second?"

Ash didn't look convinced.

"Well, I suppose…"

Scribbs cut her off with another searing kiss which Ash participated in enthusiastically. Until she felt Scribbs' hand creep up under her skirt. She wrenched her lips away and stopped the progress of Scribbs' hand. She raised an eyebrow at Scribbs.

"Not a chance."

Scribbs' brow crinkled a little and Ash steeled herself.

"C'mon Ash, we can stop if we hear the door."


Scribbs' bottom lip had started to protrude, the puppy eyes would surely follow if nothing was done about it. Ash's hand moved quickly and caught the offending lip between her thumb and forefinger, squeezing slightly.

"Ow, mmloody hehwl!"

"No means no, Detective Sergeant."

She let go of Scribbs' lip, shoving her away and hopping down off the counter. She turned to check her make-up in the mirror. Scribbs glowered at her in the reflective surface, touching her lip gingerly.

"You didn't have to get violent," she huffed.

"Sometimes that's the only way with you," Ash asserted, retouching her lipstick and rubbing her lips together. Then she remembered the reason she'd accompanied Scribbs in the first place.

"Oh, slight warning. My mother is probably going to…"

"…try to set me up with your brother, I know."

"You noticed, did you?"

"All those months at Detective School had to come in useful at some point in my life."

"Well, I just thought I'd warn you."

"Warn me off him?"

"Warn you that my mother is very persistent when she gets something in her head. She doesn't back off easily."

Scribbs sighed.

"You know, she wouldn't be pursuing this line of thinking if she actually knew that I was already spoken for."

Ash's eyes lit up.

"Fab idea! Tell her you've got a boyfriend."

Scribbs shook her head.

"Not quite where I was going. I was thinking more along the lines of her knowing that I had a girlfriend. And knowing who that girlfriend was."

Ash closed her eyes and rubbed the area between her eyebrows. Scribbs reached up and stopped the nervous gesture but she kept hold of Ash's hand.

"I'm not suggesting that you tell her now. I realise this isn't the best time in any of your lives for that kind of revelation. I'm just saying that your brother wouldn't be flirting with me quite so blatantly if he knew about us."

"I know…it's just…it's difficult," Ash mumbled, looking down at their joined hands.

"I told my mum," Scribbs reminded her, gently.

Ash looked up abruptly.

"That's hardly the same thing."

"Why is it not the same thing?"

"Come off it, Scribbs! Are you really saying the two are comparable?"

Scribbs looked like she was trying very hard to find a way to make them comparable. But she had to admit defeat.

"Fair enough, it's different. My mum knew I fancied you."


"And she already liked you better than she liked me. You're the first person I've taken home that she's approved of."

"She did say something about me being the daughter she'd never had."

"Which was lovely for me and my sister to hear."

"I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it."

"Oh no, nothing at all. I'm surprised she hasn't offered to adopt you. I swear, you're probably getting more in her will than I am."

"Only her wedding ring and the good china tea-set."

"We're getting away from the point a bit."

"Yes, the point is that my mother is completely oblivious to everything in this world that doesn't fall within her immediate sphere of influence. Me suddenly announcing that I was a lesbian and in love with my work colleague she has obviously decided is excellent wife material for my brother might just cause her to have a nervous breakdown."

"OK, fine, I understand."

They stood holding hands in silence for a few moments.

"We should probably get back to the table," Scribbs suggested.

"I thought you had to go to the loo?" Ash asked.

"Nah, I just wanted to get you alone. I knew you'd follow me."

"Is that so? Am I that predicable?"

"When you're in jealous mode, you are. I saw those daggers you were sending your brother's way."

"If he doesn't back off a bit my butter knife will be sticking out of his chest."

"Ooooh, murder at the posh club. You realise I'd have to arrest you?"

"I'd get off with it. A crime of passion and all that."

"Your mother would certainly get the picture then."

"True. C'mon, we better get back, she'll be in to see what's happening if we're much longer."

Scribbs nodded. She turned towards the bathroom door, stopped abruptly and turned back.

"I forgot to tell you. I brought a six-pack of Cadbury's Creme Eggs with me for later. Thought we could share them out at the table after lunch."

Ash's mouth dropped open in horror.

"You wouldn't."

Scribbs assumed the most innocent expression she could muster.

"Why not? It's Easter. It's tradition."

"Scribbs, please, I'm begging you."

Scribbs knew all too well why Ash was so bothered. Ever since she'd bought her first Creme Egg of the year she'd been aware of the effect the sight of her eating one had on Ash. Something to do with the way she dipped her tongue into the chocolate shell, questing for the sweet, sticky fondant that lay within seemed to turn Ash into a quivering wreck. It was alarmingly easy to do.

"Fine, I won't share them with your mother and your brother. I'll save them for later."

The relief on Ash's face was so clear it was almost funny. Scribbs shook her head and continued out of the bathroom. Ash sighed deeply before trudging after her.

The rest of lunch had passed relatively uneventfully. David had continued to flirt good-naturedly with Scribbs and poke fun at Ash. Penelope had continued to comment on David's eligibility and on Scribbs' general loveliness. Scribbs had noticed Ash toying with her butter knife on a number of occasions but thankfully it had not ended up sticking out of any part of David's body.

As they said their goodbyes, David made a great show of kissing Scribbs on the cheek and telling her that he looked forward to seeing her again, soon. Somehow, Ash managed to 'accidentally' step on his toes, quite heavily, when she was hugging him goodbye.

They had come back to Ash's house and spent a quiet evening watching 'The Sound of Music' as is traditional on Easter Sunday. Scribbs pretended not to notice Ash tearing up during 'Something Good' and Ash pretended not to notice Scribbs lusting over Julie Andrews.

Once the Germans had been outsmarted and the hills had stopped singing songs they had sung for a thousand years, Penelope announced her intention to go to bed. She bid Ash and Scribbs goodnight and headed up the stairs. Ash looked over at Scribbs.

"What do you want to do now?"

Scribbs shrugged.

"I should probably get going."

Ash sat up, poker straight.

"What? Now?"

Scribbs stood up and stretched.

"Yeah, it's getting late."

Ash was on her feet immediately, she moved to Scribbs and wrapped her arms loosely around her shoulders. She was quiet for a moment, thinking.



"Stay here tonight."

"I can't Ash, your mum's here. What would we say?"

Ash lifted her shoulders and let them drop.

"We could just say that we had too much wine and you fell asleep on the couch."

"Ash…" Scribbs started, sadly.

"Come on. This was supposed to be our weekend and we've hardly had any real time to ourselves. Stay the night, please?"

Ash's words and expression were so beseeching that Scribbs almost gave in. But she was determined.

"Ash, I'm not fourteen anymore. I don't want to be lying to someone's mum about why I happen to be at the breakfast table in the morning."

"You were at inappropriate breakfast tables when you were fourteen?"

"That's not the point. Point is, I'm not into this secrecy stuff. When you've told your mum about us then I'll be more than happy to stay over – but not before then."

Ash opened her mouth to speak but Scribbs interrupted.

"And no, that wasn't an ultimatum. Like I said earlier, I know now isn't the right time. I'm just not going to lie to your mum."

Scribbs leaned in for a brief kiss. She pulled back with a thoughtful look on her face.

"Of course, depending on how long she stays with you, we might need to arrange a lot of assignments which require us to stay away overnight."

Ash smiled.

"Preferably not at an old folk's home?"

"I dunno, at least Zenith would approve of our lifestyle."

"True," Ash said, wistfully.

"I really am going now," Scribbs whispered.

Ash sighed in acceptance.

"OK. But will I see you tomorrow?"

"Won't your mum wonder why I'm always hanging around you while we're on holiday from work?"

"No, she'll probably just use it as another chance to extol my brother's virtues to you."

"Phone me in the morning and we'll see."

Ash pouted.

"I'm not sure I like you being all mature."

Scribbs grinned.

"Don't worry, I can't see it lasting. Gimme a kiss."

Ash complied. This time when they parted, Scribbs really did head to the door, followed by Ash. Scribbs opened the door but turned back to face Ash. She reached into her bag and held out her hand. In it was a Cadbury's Creme Egg.

"Here, think of me while you're eating this."

Ash narrowed her eyes.

"You're such a tease."

"And you love it!" Scribbs called over her shoulder.

Ash slumped against the doorframe.

"Yes I do," she whispered to herself.

She sighed and closed the door, leaning back against it and looking at the egg Scribbs had given her. Eating it wouldn't be the same as watching Scribbs eat one. Her mobile rang, startling her slightly. She looked at the display: 'David'. She grimaced as she answered.


"Hello Katie!"

"Would you stop calling me that?"

"Never. Listen, just wanted to give you a ring to say how much I enjoyed lunch."


"So, are you ever going to tell mum that you and Emma are a couple?"


"Come on, Katie, it's obvious that the two of you are at it."


"Completely obvious. I thought you might stick your fork in my eye at one point…possibly when I mentioned Emma wearing a police uniform."

Ash bristled all over again at the suggestion.

"So if it was so obvious, as you say, then why the hell did you spend the afternoon flirting with her?"

"To wind you up, dear sister."

"You're a git, you do know that, don't you?"

"All joking aside, Kate, stop fannying around and tell mum about this. Mum obviously likes Emma. And if you're not careful she'll have her married off to me within the month."

"I…I can't…"

"Why bloody not?"

"I just…what would I say?"

"You'd say 'Mum, me and Emma are shagging, OK?'"

"You are the least helpful person I've ever encountered."

"Just tell her. Use whatever words you want to use, but tell her. What's the worst that could happen?"

"I don't know."

"You're a big girl. Stop being scared of Mummy's disapproval and get on with your life. Emma's a lovely bit of stuff and if you're not careful, she'll get fed up of being kept secret."

Her stomach clenched in fear as his words hit home.

"No, you're right. I need to tell her."

"Good. When?"


"When are you going to tell her? Tomorrow, I'd suggest."


"Tomorrow, Katie. Or I might do it for you."

The very idea of that made her mind up for her.

"OK. Tomorrow."

"Excellent. I'll call tomorrow night, to make sure you've done it."

"Right. Thanks, David."

"You're welcome, Katie."

"I hate you."

"Love you too, 'night."


And with those parting words, Kate Ashurst went on to experience the most nerve-wracking sleepless night of her life.

"Sugar Puffs? When did you start eating these ghastly things?" Penelope asked, looking at the garish box like it might actually explode.

"I don't."

"Then why are they in your cupboard?" Penelope shoved them back in and rummaged around for some muesli.

"Mum, you know Emma?"

"Well, I have spent the better part of the weekend in her company Kate."

"Yes, well, there's a reason she's around so much."

"Oh, I wasn't complaining dear, she's a lovely girl."

"No, I know but…she's my partner."

"Yes, I know that, Kate. I met her at your Police Station."

"No, not that kind of partner."

"Oh, do you have a new partner?"

"No, Scribbs is…I mean, yes, she's still my work partner but she's also my other kind of partner…"

"I'm afraid you've lost me, dear."

"Mum, I'm in love with Emma."

"Good heavens! Does she know?"

"Of course she bloody knows!"

"Kate, language!"

"Sorry, but what I'm saying is that I'm in love with her and she's in love with me and we're having a relationship with each other and have been for quite some time now."

Penelope closed the cupboard door with a bang.

"Well, I must say I'm a bit surprised. And I do feel a bit silly for trying to encourage her to go out with David." She looked at Ash disapprovingly. "Why didn't you say anything about this before?"

Ash's mouth dropped open.

"I…I didn't know what to say."

"Well, you proved that with all that ridiculous confusion you just caused me."

"So…you're not shocked?"

Penelope laughed gently.

"Oh Kate, darling, I've known which side you batted for ever since you took a liking to that stable-girl of your Uncle Henry's. Do you remember?"

Ash was dumbstruck. She shook her head to clear it.

"Why didn't you say this to me before?"

"Well, I rather thought you would tell me at some point. And then when you didn't, I thought perhaps you'd converted."

"I don't think it's quite that simple, Mum."

"Well, one never knows these days. So, how long have you been together?"

Ash couldn't quite believe that they were having a calm conversation about this.

"Just over a year."

"A year! And you haven't said a word!"

"Let's not talk about secrets, shall we? Up until two days ago I was under the impression that I came from a happy family and that my parents loved each other."

"That's totally different. But anyway, what are you plans."


"With Emma."

"What do you mean, plans?"

"Will you be having one of these civil-doodahs?"


"You know, these gay marriage things that were all over the news a little while ago. Your Aunt Helen was at one last month and she said it was rather fun. She said people still wore lovely hats. Including some of the men, apparently."

"Mother, I haven't even spoken about this with Scribbs so don't go choosing a hat."

"Well why not? You're not getting any younger, darling."

"Thanks for that, Mum."

"I'm only pointing it out."

"Why are you such a proponent of marriage all of a sudden? Shouldn't you be telling me to steer well clear?"

"The difference is, Kate, when you finally decided to tell me of your involvement with Emma, the words you chose to use were 'I'm in love with her'. You should grab onto that. Don't ever underestimate the importance of feeling that way about someone."

She swept some of Ash's hair behind her ear and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. Then she returned to her muesli hunt without further elaboration. Ash turned in a stupor and headed into the living room. She located her phone and prodded at a few buttons. After a couple of rings, Scribbs picked up.

"This is early, missing me already?"

"How do you fancy coming over and staying the night?"

"Has your mum gone?"



"I think she's currently on debenhams.co.uk picking out a hat for our inevitable nuptials."


"I told her."

"You told her?"

"I told her."


"And it seems that she's known that I was gay for longer than I have."

"You're kidding."

"I wish I was kidding. All that bloody stress for nothing!"

"Wait a minute, what was the nuptials thing about?"

"Oh, apparently she thinks we should have one of these 'gay marriages' that are all the rage nowadays."

"Does she indeed? And did you tell her about your aversion to weddings?"


"Don't 'hmmm' me!"

"Maybe I've had a change of heart on that front."

"Kate Ashurst, if this is building up to some kind of proposal you better just stop right there."


"If I'm going to be proposed to it is not going to be over the phone and I am not going to be in my jammies. I want the works! Dinner, candles, flowers, bended knees, the lot!"

"That right?" Ash asked, amused.

"That is right."

"Well, I'm glad we cleared that up."


"Right. Oh, one thing we should also get clear right now."

"What's that?"

"I am not having 'Islands in the Stream' at my wedding!"

The End

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