DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is in response to Wolfemeister's FOL Christmas Wish List prompt--a perfect gift.
SERIES: Part of the Post Peekskill Series; sequel to Recoveries
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Please, please, please ..Thank you," Blair breathed out in satisfaction.
Jo chuckled. "One of the many things I love about you, babe, is that even in the midst of hot sex, you're so polite. I keep expecting to get an acknowledgment card at the end of the session."
Blair's nerve synapses had turned to liquid so she had to wait a moment before she could respond. "One of the many things?" she repeated. "There are many things?"
"Of course, almost as many as the things that drive me nuts." Jo shifted her position and wrapped her arms around the blonde. "They're often the same," she added, kissing Blair's shoulder.
Blair sighed, nestling closer. "Why is it still so good with us?"
"How come it's still so good? It's unusual, don't you think?"
"I don't know. Is it?" Jo murmured, blowing seductively into Blair's ear.
"Hmm, that's nice. Based on what my friends say, yes. They all tell me that the magic lessens as the years go by. It gets routine. Some of them don't even really want it that much anymore."
"You can't be talking about Nat, I know that," Jo commented, nuzzling Blair's neck.
"Well, no," Blair admitted. "Actually it was more that Boots ."
Jo ceased her nuzzling. "Stop right there. I hereby forbid any pillow talk about Boots' sex drive or lack thereof."
"All right. But it isn't just her or that Howard is getting to the age where he has difficulty never mind," Blair said catching Jo's grimace. "And it isn't just my married straight friends either. I read a long article about LBD."
"Lesbian Bed Death," Blair supplied. "It's when "
"I know what it is," Jo interrupted. "And it has not been nor ever will be a problem."
"Because you're such a fox and I'm so skilled," Jo declared with certainty.
"Skilled? My, don't we have a high opinion of ourselves?"
"Just stating the facts, ma'am," Jo said in her best police investigator voice.
Blair was silent for a moment. "I guess you're skilled. But then I don't really have anything to compare it to, do I?"
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Polniaczek, Jo thought. How stupid can you be? "Um."
Blair pulled out of Jo's arms and reclined against the headboard. "Jo, you have an advantage. You've been with lots of other people. For me, you're the only one."
"Lots? I wouldn't say lots."
"Well, we now know about Rachel Levine, don't we? And you've admitted that you had female lovers in college."
"Uh, that's true but there weren't "
"And while you were whoring around, I was saving myself for the man I would marry," Blair noted.
"Whoring around? Blair!"
"And you had sex with men, too, didn't you?" the blonde pressed.
"Well, yeah. I mean I already told you this, didn't I?"
"The general parameters. I never asked for names. I didn't want to know."
"Don't ask don't tell. Good policy. OK then, let's just move on," Jo suggested, reaching for Blair's breast.
"Hold on there, stud," Blair ordered, slapping the hand away. "I've now decided I want to know."
Jo knew that tone all too well. She sighed. "All right. I only went all the way with a couple of guys. Rick and I never----well you know why. Him being gay and all."
"Please specify the males with whom you actually did have intercourse." Blair instructed.
"Geez, Blair, you make it sound like that nature show on tree frogs. The only one you would have known was Sam Hall."
"You slept with Sam Hall?" Blair exclaimed. "You never told us that."
"C'mon, the guy was a 30 year old teacher. He wasn't going to be hanging around if he wasn't getting any."
Blair paused. "So how did you decide?" she asked.
"Decide what?" Jo was really hoping this conversation would end soon.
"Decide which you liked better."
"Men or women?"
"Oh boy. Do we really need to rake this all up? Suffice to say; I really, really like what I have now."
"I simply want to understand. Since I don't have any direct experience," Blair noted.
Jo could tell Blair was serious. "OK. I always thought I might be attracted to girls. And there was never any question that I was attracted to you."
"That's a given," Blair interjected. "Take a number."
"Right. On the other hand, I didn't want to completely rule out the idea that I could be with a man. After all the world tells us we should be straight. So I did a little controlled experimentation. But by the time I left Langley, I had pretty much come down on the Sapphic side of the fence. Things just felt right."
"Controlled experimentation. I see."
There was silence. After a moment Jo asked, "Does that bother you?"
Blair looked away. "A little. I mean I've always accepted that I'm meant to be with you, a woman, pretty much on faith. I didn't have a chance to do a science project."
Jo caught her breath. Yikes. What to say to that? "Blair, the fact that I'm your first and only lover is an incredible gift and one I dearly wish I could have given to you. But I can't. I'm sorry."
Blair gave a thin smile and ruffled Jo's hair. "I know. Don't worry about it. I guess it's my fate to go to my grave never knowing the intimate touch of a man." She rolled over on her side, with her back to Jo. "Good night sweetheart. Pleasant dreams."
Jo sat up and stared at the wall. Pleasant dreams? Not likely.
"She really said she was going to her grave, untouched? That's kind of morbid."
"No kidding, Nat. I was up all night thinking about it. It's like I've condemned her to some medieval chastity belt. The whole thing creeps me out. Here, let me take her," Jo offered, reaching for the infant whom Natalie had just finished burping. "Hey TJ, do you need a new diaper? I think you do."
Jo deposited TJ on a portable changing table, which Natalie had set up in her study. The child erupted in baby giggles and squeals. "She's sure a happy kid, isn't she?" Jo proffered.
"She certainly is," Natalie agreed. "Just like her mom." Jo and Natalie had volunteered to babysit Tootie's four month old daughter for the afternoon in Natalie's apartment, while Jeff took Tootie to a movie. Blair and her mother were at 'The Nutcracker' with Bailey.
Jo finished changing TJ and put her in her porta crib. A few minutes later the baby was asleep. Natalie and Jo retired to the living room couch and turned on both the baby monitor and the Jets game. "I don't know Nat," Jo said somberly. "Sometimes it hits me how much Blair has given up to be with me. Her life is nothing like she expected. And I'm sure her married friends give her a hard time, flaunting their husbands and kids, pitying the poor dyke, who, now that I think about it, may not have even seen an adult penis in the flesh."
"Is that possible!?" Natalie gasped. "Good god. No, wait a minute, she took art classes. But maybe not an erect one .wow." Natalie shook her head to clear the thought. "Anyway Jo, why worry about that stuff? Blair loves you. That's all that matters."
"I know. It's just that ."
"What?" Natalie asked with concern. She had rarely seen Jo so upset.
"I don't want her to have any regrets. I can't stand the idea that she might have regrets," Jo declared, gazing at the TV screen, eyes suspiciously moist.
"Hmm." Natalie pondered for a moment. "Well then give her a freebie."
"A freebie. Allow Blair to be with a man one time. Just to say she did. Let her get it out of her system."
"You want me to let Blair cheat on me?" Jo asked incredulously.
"It's not cheating if you approve it in advance. Christmas is coming. Consider it a gift," Natalie suggested.
"Yeah. It would be a lot better than the last minute stuff you normally come up with. Face it Jo, you're a terrible shopper. This would save you the effort."
"You're insane," Jo sputtered.
"Maybe. And I'm mostly kidding. But when you think about it, the idea has a certain appeal. It would let you put whatever crazy doubts you have to rest. You could stop feeling guilty about somehow depriving Blair of some key life experience. And last but not least, you wouldn't have to gift wrap. It bears considering," Natalie declaimed.
Jo thought about it. "I do hate to gift wrap," she admitted. She bit her lip. "As nutty as it sounds, Nat, you may be on to something. But how would I do it? Where would I get a man for Blair?"
"The Neiman Marcus catalog?" Natalie suggested.
"Ha Ha. No I'm serious. It can't be some professional escort. She would never go for that. It has to be someone classy. Someone she would like to be seen with. So he obviously has to be good looking. And someone rich. We don't want her money to be an issue." Jo warmed to the subject. "He would have to be single. She wouldn't approve of stealing anyone's husband or boyfriend. Though the guy has to be good in bed. I mean the whole point is to give her a positive experience. But responsible, he has to be responsible. And we would have to get some kind of health testrule out HIV or STDs, that kind of thing. Natalie, do you have a pen and paper? I should make a list."
"Straight, rich, good looking, unattached, healthy, sexually adept, responsible male. No problem. They're a dime a dozen," Natalie said sarcastically. "Could you get a two-fer while you're at it?"
Jo was pondering her list over coffee late the next morning when the doorbell to the brownstone rang. Bella started barking and chasing her tail. "Chill, girl. You know, going ballistic before the bell rings would be a more helpful warning. Who the hell is out in this mess?" The city was in the middle of a nasty sleet storm. "I'll get it Esther," she called out to the housekeeper.
Jo opened to door to Boots St. Clair-Perlmutter, holding the hand of a crying toddler. "Boots? Um Hi. Uh, come on in."
"Thank you Jo," Boots said. "We appreciate it. The weather is quite unpleasant. Is Blair here?"
"No she's at work."
"Oh work, of course. That should have occurred to me."
"Yeah she goes pretty much every day, Boots. Work's funny that way. Anyway, let me take your coats. Hey Frankie," Jo addressed the wailing eighteen month old. "You know what? I think I have some trucks for you."
The crying stopped. "Twucks?"
"Yeah, trucks." Jo opened the door of the hall closet, hung up the coats and pulled out a bag. She led the boy into the living room where she emptied dozens of toy cars and trucks onto the rug. Boots' first born, Francis St. Clair-Perlmutter, also known as Frank, yelped with delight, sat down and immediately started smashing the vehicles together, all thoughts of cold or discomfort forgotten.
"Here Boots, take a seat. Can I get you some tea? How about something for Frank? What are you two doing wandering around the West Side in this storm?
"That would be lovely Jo. I'm extremely sorry to trouble you. We had some time to kill between Frank's Tai Bo for Toddlers and Kiddie Karate classes and I wanted to show Blair the guest list for the Foundation's Christmas party. So I decided to be impetuous. I should have called."
"No problem. Oh hi Esther," Jo addressed the somewhat stern looking woman who had just come into the room. "Do you mind making some tea for Mrs. St. Clair-Perlmutter? And a cup of hot chocolate for her son. Put it in a sippy cup. Thanks a lot."
"Of course Lieutenant Polniaczek," Esther replied, heading for the kitchen.
"Why Jo," Boots commented. "Instructing the servants, specifying sippy cups. You're becoming tres domestique."
"Esther's not a servant," Jo said. "She's a certified, licensed, medically-trained caregiver. Blair made us hire her after I got hurt," she added, somewhat resentfully.
"Ah yes. The unfortunate incident. Well you look good. The face is completely healed and the limp is much less noticeable. When do you go back on active duty?" Boots inquired.
"I should have been back a month ago. But the Department said that I had to take leave until the end of the year. Some idiotic psych requirement. It's stupid. Like I'm going to go all postal just because I got thrown off a six story building. "
Boots blinked. "How presumptuous of them. You know, Frank has shown some interest in law enforcement work. Perhaps you could discuss it with him someday."
"As soon as he's able to form a sentence, I'll be happy to," Jo laughed. "Do you want to be a policeman Frank?" she queried, getting down on the floor and helping the boy push the Tonka bulldozer towards an alarmed Bella, who backed away rapidly.
"Pleece. Gun. Bang. Shoot. Bang, bang," Frank replied, pointing his finger and thumb at Jo with enthusiasm.
"Whoa, Frankie, we'll have to work on firearms protocol," Jo observed. "Where'd he get that from?" she asked Boots.
"Oh, he and Howard lie on the couch together and watch these terrible television programs. I try to curtail them but they both seem to enjoy it so much, I don't have the heart."
Jo got up as Esther brought in the tea and chocolate. "You know Boots, I have to give you credit. For someone who seemed to really want a girl, you're handling a son pretty well. Teaching him martial arts, letting him watch cop shows, not objecting to him playing on the floor."
"I happen to know how much Blair paid for that rug. It's an entirely suitable venue. But you're right; it's one of the universe's little jokes. Frank was supposed to be Frances Louise St. Clair-Perlmutter, named after my grandmother, Gamma Gamma, class of 1933. I had her pinafores and Mary Janes already purchased; her place in Miss Collier's dancing school already assured. Instead, I get Frank, who lives for balls, trucks, and anything that can possibly be turned into a weapon." Boots sighed, "Ah well, we mothers must adapt, as I hope you and Blair will find out someday."
Jo stiffened, as she handed Frank his sippy cup. "You know, Boots, I would really appreciate it if you didn't give Blair any more grief about having kids. With my job and now me getting hurt, we just haven't made any decisions yet. I don't want her friends making her feel bad about that, or, for that matter, about anything else," Jo declared fiercely.
"Jo, it is never my intention to make Blair feel in any way inadequate," Boots protested.
Jo raised an eyebrow.
"Well sometimes it is," Boots admitted, "but not about anything important. We have our little rivalry but you must know that Warnsie is one of the mainstays of my life." Boots looked at Jo, quizzically. "What brought this on? You've never worried about protecting Blair from me before." Under all of her affectations, Boots was a surprisingly shrewd woman.
Jo sighed. "I don't know. I'm just really bothered by the idea of Blair or her life choices being criticized by a bunch of useless, spoiled, high society parasites. Um, no offence."
"None taken. I see. Well, I'm not saying there haven't been a few small minded comments, but Jo, don't underestimate what an intriguing couple you are."
"Yes. The rich sheltered ice princess being swept off her feet by the dark brooding barbarian. It's classic."
"Boots, what kind of trash have you been reading?"
"I enjoy an occasional historical romance," Boots admitted. "Anyway Jo, you should know that most of Blair's friends are quite fascinated by your relationship. People aren't disgusted; they're envious. One only has to spend a few minutes in your company to realize that you two enjoy a rich physical life."
Jo blanched. "OK there, Boots. We can change the subject now. Um thanks."
"All right," Boot said, with a gleam in her eye that Jo found highly disturbing. "Frank and I should be getting on anyway. He must prepare for his match. If he can take down that repellant Brodsky child, he'll move up to the dojo for two year olds."
Looking at Frank gleefully recreating a multi-car pileup, Jo opined, "The Brodsky kid is toast." She escorted Boots and her son to the door and retrieved the St Clair-Perlmutter coats.
"Oh Jo," Boots exclaimed. "I nearly omitted mentioning the most important thing I meant to tell Blair. We're going to have a special guest at the Christmas party. He says he's an old friend of hers."
"Congressman Chad Broxton. Do you know him?"
Chad? The object of Blair's unhealthy obsession? The man she described as her first love? A purportedly great kisser? "Oh yeah, I know him."
"Well, tell Blair that he'll be attending. He told me he was looking forward to it immensely."
"I will," Jo replied, mental gears grinding. "Hey Boots," she added. "Did we just bond? "
"I think we did," Boots conceded.
"We're not going to make a habit of it, are we?"
"Not in a million years. Toodles," Boots chirped as she closed the door behind her.
"Nat, this could be the perfect solution," Jo exclaimed excitedly into the phone. "I did some research. He just broke up with a long time girlfriend and is currently unattached. We know he's rich, good looking and from a good family. And his medical records were released during the campaign. Totally clean."
"Jo," Natalie interjected, "wait a minute."
"What's even better is that you know that Blair had a real thing for him," Jo went on. "So there's already sexual chemistry. Now how do I ask him? Oh like he'd say no. He'd be insane. Who would say no to being with Blair? Should I write him a letter or just call him up?" Jo was talking faster and faster.
"Jo," Natalie pressed.
"But maybe asking him in advance is too tacky, a little too 'Indecent Proposal'. I could just set the stage and let nature takes its course. That might be classier."
"Polniaczek, listen!" Natalie yelled into the phone.
"What?" Jo gritted out.
"I changed my mind. I really don't think this is a good idea," Natalie announced.
"What do you mean? You were the one who said it would solve things. Make me feel better," Jo protested.
"Well, I made a mistake. Jo, Blair and I have very different views of sex. For me it's fun, natural, a part of ordinary life. For her it's like, I don't know, a precious jewel. Something you don't just toss around. I think we have to respect that."
"Well I don't," Jo snapped. "I need to give her this chance. She has to see that she has a choice," she insisted with a hint of desperation.
The line was silent for a moment. "Jo," Natalie asked softly. "Are you all right? Are you still talking to the police psychologist?"
"I quit after a month," Jo confessed. "It was the same old, same old. Oooh, it must have been really scary to get thrown off a roof. Zounds, I need to realize that a terrible thing happened. Gee, I should announce to everybody how awful it was. Blah blah blah. It was tedious. I'm fine. Anyway what does that have to do with me getting Blair the perfect Christmas gift, Chad Broxton, her ideal man?"
"Nothing, I guess. But I still think you should reconsider this plan."
"Well you're wrong," Jo declared emphatically. "Trust me; this is exactly what Blair wants."
"OK, Jo, if you say so," Natalie said, more than a little troubled.
"Dr. Gropper called," Blair announced at the dinner table. "She asked you to call her back."
Jo toyed with her salmon. "Yeah, yeah."
"I really think you should."
"Blair, we've been over this. I did the requirement. There's no point in talking about it any more. I just want to move on and go back to work."
"You know, Jo, for someone with a counseling background, you are woefully ignorant about the benefits of therapy," Blair huffed.
"Hey, that's because I know real problems when I see them. I don't have a problem. And unlike your family, Polniaczeks do not get off on blathering to strangers about every little bump in the road."
"Blathering to strangers. Is that what you call it? The Foundation is sponsoring National Mental Health Awareness Month. Remind me to feature you in our newsletter."
"Can we just change the subject? How about the Christmas party? You must be sort of excited to see Chad Broxton again."
Blair smiled that little half smile that always turned Jo's insides to mush. "You know, I have to confess that I am looking forward to it. He made me so loopy back in school. It'll be interesting to deal with him as an adult. So much has changed."
Jo took a deep breath. "Um, Blair, if you'd rather not tell him about us, you don't have to. I won't be offended."
Blair looked at her like she was from Mars. "Pardon me?"
"I'm just saying. You don't have to go into detail about our relationship if you don't want to."
"Why wouldn't I want to? And anyway, of the two hundred guests, about one hundred and eighty were at our commitment ceremony. It's bound to come up."
"Not necessarily. He's a man, a politician and a millionaire. He'll talk about himself until the cows come home. Asking about our lives won't even register on his radar. Anyway, it might be fun to get a little revenge."
"Yeah. Flirt with him. Turn on the old Warner charm. Get him all hot and bothered. And then drop the bombshell."
"Jo, that's so manipulative, calculating, almost cruel."
"I knew you'd like it."
Blair laughed. "Well I'll think about it. But I did have one other fun notion."
"As you know, the party is at the Plaza. I reserved a suite so that we can stay over after the festivities. A little romantic getaway only twenty blocks from home. Esther will dogsit."
Oh my god, Jo thought. A reserved hotel room. This actually may work. "Uh, that sounds great. So what are you going to wear to the party?"
"What am I going to wear? Where did that come from?"
"I'm just curious. Now that I have some time on my hands, I'm taking more of an interest in fashion."
"Yeah right. Hence the Jets sweatpants at Mother's holiday tea. Well, I planned on donning traditional Christmas red."
"Blue, go with blue. Chad likes you in blue."
"I remember," Blair said. "Why do you?" she asked, puzzled.
"No reason, no reason at all," Jo replied, taking a bite of her fish.
"Doesn't the place look beautiful? Tootie enthused. "It's like a winter wonderland." The ballroom at the Plaza was particularly festive; its holiday decorations enhanced by the view through the picture windows of the thick snow coming down over Central Park. Tootie, Jeff, Natalie and her date, Dr. Aaron Goldman of Bar Harbor Maine, were sitting with Jo at a table by the dance floor.
"Winter wonderland," Jo repeated. "You better get used to it, Greene, you snowshoeing animal you."
"Natalie Greene on snowshoes. Not an image that ever really sprang to mind before," Tootie mused. "Well Nat, don't freeze to death or get eaten by a wolf. You have to be back in time for our Christmas Day open house so that you can see TJ's presents."
"No really, TJ's getting presents?" Jo laughed.
Jeff rolled his eyes. "We could re-erect the Berlin Wall with the boxes. Anyway, Natalie, your trip sounds really cool. Those old Adirondack trail cabins are supposed to be great."
"Aaron assures me that at the end of each day's trek, there'll be fireplaces, brandy and bearskin rugs. Right, doctor?" Natalie confirmed
"Absolutely," Dr. Goldman replied with a grin
Tootie's echoing smile evaporated as she spied Blair across the room, introducing Chad Broxton to a bevy of middle aged matrons. "Blair is certainly attending to the so-called special guest, isn't she? She's barely left his side all night." Natalie and Jo exchanged glances. "Did everyone else find him as pompous as I did?" Tootie continued. "I mean, he looks good, but he still has that annoying voice. And could he be any more condescending? Who voted for that blowhard anyway?"
"Oh I don't know, Tootie. He must have some appeal," Jo declared.
Tootie was about to reply when the music changed. "I love this song." She grabbed Jeff to dance and then stopped. "I'm sorry Jo. I forgot about your leg."
"Don't worry about it. You guys go ahead. I'll just scarf down my filet mignon." She waved her companions off to the dance floor and turned to her plate. "Why Jo, toute seul on such a festive occasion?" a voice interjected.
"Hello Boots. Yes, I'm currently all alone."
"Well that is a waste, given how dashing you look in your tux. What is it? An Armani?"
"I guess so. Blair got it for me."
"That Warnsie. She does have exquisite taste," Boots said meaningfully.
Jo's eyebrows rose. "Anyway," Boots added, "I have to run, but I wanted to alert you that I'm going to make a proposal to Blair that I really hope you'll consider."
"Yes, but I can't spoil the surprise," Boots demurred. "It is somewhat unconventional, almost bohemian, if you will. But in my view, quite appealing."
"No, no." Boots made a zipping motion across her lips. "I must not say more until you've had a chance to discuss it with Blair. A bientôt, Jo," she said with a wink as she turned away.
What the hell?
"They do look good together, don't they?" Jo observed, watching Blair and Chad glide across the ballroom floor.
"Jo," Natalie said. "I'm begging you. Please stop this."
"I can't. Hey, you haven't told Tootie about it have you?" she asked sharply.
"Gee, informing our deeply religious friend that the two of the godmothers who are supposed to be the moral guides to her precious baby daughter have been conspiring to pimp the third godmother to some overbearing guy we all loathe. Great idea. No, I haven't told Tootie."
"Good. Don't worry Nat; I know what I'm doing. Oh," Jo said, noticing that Natalie had her coat. "Are you and Aaron leaving now? Happy Hanukkah. I'll see you next week. "
Shaking her head, Natalie looked at her friend and embraced her tightly. "You be careful Polniaczek," she whispered into Jo's ear. "If you need a place to stay, the key is with the doorman and my couch is always open."
"Oh that's optimistic," Jo objected, punching her on the shoulder. "Have a great time and keep away from the moose."
"Moose, there are moose? Aaron never mentioned moose. Yo, Goldman," Natalie called out. "What's this about moose?" She left with a wave.
Jo turned back to watch Blair dance. The music stopped and she saw Chad bend over and kiss Blair's hand. She looked on as the blonde gave a little curtsy and gestured towards the bar, evidently asking for a drink. Chad nodded and left to honor the request.
Blair came up to her. "Come on, let's go to the ladies room," she said breathlessly. "I have to fill you in."
The two women entered the ornate facility. Blair quickly checked the stalls. They were alone. "You were right," Blair announced. "He doesn't seem to have a clue about us. Talk about egomania." Jo swallowed her retort. "I really think he's going to proposition me," Blair continued. "Isn't that wild? This is kind of exciting. So what should I do? I could lead him to the elevator and then say, 'Oh there's my life partner Jo. You have a ride home don't you?' Or we could sneak away now. Leave him standing at the bar. That has a sort of poetic justice to it, don't you think?"
Jo pulled the hotel room key from her pocket. "Or you could go with him," she said, placing the key in Blair's hand.
Blair recoiled. "What?"
"You have my permission to accept his offer. Merry Christmas, Princess, I hope you like your gift."
Blair stared at her, slack jawed. "My gift? You and Chad planned this?"
"Well not exactly. But I figured that he would um you know, make himself available. So my gift to you is um a free pass if you will." Jo was suddenly having trouble forming sentences.
"You want me to sleep with him?" Blair sputtered.
"What I want is for you to have everything you want," Jo replied. "Everything. And if Chad is someone you covet, then you should have him."
Blair blinked. "Covet? You think I covet Chad?"
"Well come on, you said he was your first love. He always got under your skin. And you looked so great together tonight. I just thought it would scratch some long standing itch."
Blair's eyes widened. "Itch. I see. You're right, Jo. I've definitely been waiting around for ten years to scratch some itch. And whatever you and I have been through, all we've meant to each other, well that was just marking time, until the man of my dreams came back to me. I'll see you later then, after I enjoy your gift." Blair stormed out of the lavatory, slamming the gilded door behind her.
Jo stared at the door for a moment and then bolted into the stall where she caused the filet mignon to make an encore appearance.
This definitely could have been planned better, Jo thought, shivering as she limped in her patent leather dress shoes through the snow covered paths of Central Park. After pulling herself together in ladies room, Jo had realized that her coat and her wallet were still in the hotel suite. Knocking on the door to ask Blair and Chad for their return had not seemed like a viable option. The snowstorm had made taxis impossible to find and anyone who could have given her a ride had already left. So Jo had decided to walk across the park to the brownstone, a decision she was now regretting as her teeth chattered and her leg throbbed.
She could hear the newscast now. 'The frozen body of Lieutenant Joanna Marie Polniaczek was found beside the Central Park Carousel this morning. She is survived by her parents and her long time companion, heiress Blair Warner. Miss Warner, who today announced her engagement to Congressman Chad Broxton ' Jo was shaken from her reverie by the clip clop of a horse carriage.
She turned to see a white horse in a red saddle blanket bearing down on her, steam coming from its nose and mouth. In the back of the carriage sat Blair Warner, wrapped in furs and wearing a white sable hat, snowflakes dancing around her golden locks. Jo caught her breath. It was like something out of 'Doctor Zhivago.'
"Idiot, idiot, idiot! Would you get the hell up here before you catch pneumonia, you retard." Blair expelled. Julie Christie, this was not.
"Retard? So much for National Mental Health Awareness Month," Jo muttered as she obeyed and climbed up onto the seat.
"Well I'm overwrought," Blair said, wrapping the furs around the brunette and pulling her close. "What were you thinking?" she asked, rubbing Jo's arms to warm her.
"I couldn't get a cab."
"I don't mean that. I mean about everything. What on earth possessed you to try to palm me off on Chad Broxton?"
Jo jerked her head at the driver.
"He's wearing head phones," Blair said, through clenched teeth. "I'm waiting."
Jo swallowed. "I didn't want you to die untouched. I wanted to give you the opportunity to be with a man, if that's what you wanted."
Blair looked at her, amazed. "Opportunity? You wanted to give me the opportunity?"
"Polniaczek, men have been trying to sleep with me since I was fourteen. I get an average of three offers a day. I don't need you to provide opportunities."
Blair closed her eyes for a second, trying to calm herself. "Jo, why do you think I was still a virgin when we got together? Why did I wait so long?"
"I don't know. Religious reasons, I guess."
"Religious reasons? You once slugged me because I doubted the existence of God. You're a lot more religious than I am. No, it's because I listened to my body."
"Yes. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy kissing and making out, but when it came time to put the cards on the table, my body would just shut down. It was telling me that whomever I was with wasn't the one," Blair explained.
"I'm sure your partners appreciated hearing that," Jo mused.
"Hey, whatever they got was gold. Anyway, when we got together my body didn't shut down. Quite the opposite in fact."
"I remember," Jo smiled.
"So I think that, for what ever reason, I'm hardwired to be with just one person. And, probably because of some horrible crime I committed in a past life, that person happens to be you."
"Oh. Well then, to paraphrase Lou Gehrig, I'm the luckiest woman on the face of the earth. I'm sorry Blair. It was stupid and offensive. But I meant well, really I did," Jo offered, with that catch in her voice that always turned Blair's insides to mush.
"I know you did sweetheart. And I guess I brought it on by delving into your sexual history. But that was simple curiosity. It didn't mean that I wanted to become a slut like you."
"Yes, slut. And once we get back to the hotel, I expect you to show me just how slutty you can be."
Jo nestled deeper into the furs. "Giddy up horsie," she urged.
"Opiate? I don't think I've ever heard of Opiate," Blair remarked, looking at the large bottle of perfume in her hands.
"I saw it on the Home Shopping Network," Jo explained. "It's like Opium, but cheaper."
"Wonderful," Blair replied, mentally consigning the bottle to the back of the closet where the singing socks and root beer-scented bath oils of holidays past resided.
It was Christmas morning, the week after the party, and Jo and Blair were opening presents around their tree. Jo sipped her coffee and regarded Bella growling and shaking her head as she attacked her large rawhide gift bone. "You know, there's something about a dog wearing a sweater with reindeer on it that just seems wrong. Unnatural."
"Nonsense, she looks fabulous," Blair avowed, adjusting the matching garment around her shoulders. She gasped. "Oh my lord, I completely forgot to tell you about Boots."
"Boots?" Jo asked warily.
"Yes. She's made the most astonishing request. I was initially stunned but once it sunk in, I realized how flattering it was."
"You'd have to agree, of course, but I would really like to do it."
"You would?" Jo choked out.
"Yes I would. It would be very meaningful."
Meaningful. Jo sighed. "All right, if it's really what you want, but I'm not dressing up as a pirate and no one is tying anybody up."
Blair stared. "What on earth are you talking about?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Boots asked us to be Frank's guardians if something happens to her and Howard."
"You're kidding!" Jo exclaimed.
"Yes, she said she couldn't think of anybody who could provide a better home. And then she said-- and I must say I got a little teary at this-- that even if we decided never to have children we were going to be wonderful parents to anyone who was in our life."
"Wow. Good on ya, Boots."
"So what's this about a pirate?"
"Never mind," Jo said quickly. "Um, I do have one more present for you." She pulled an envelope off the tree and handed it to her partner.
Blair opened it up. "Thursdays, 4:30, 785 Fifth Avenue," she read aloud. "I don't understand."
"My therapist appointment. I've decided to go back to Dr. Gropper. And, if you're willing, I want you to come too, sometimes. As much as it pains me to admit it, I'm not over what happened on that roof. Offering you up to Chad Broxton was kind of a clue that I may not be as OK as I thought."
"So you want me to be there when you talk about your darkest fears and deepest insecurities?"
Blair threw her arms around the brunette. "It's the best gift I've ever received," she murmured, eyes welling.
"Better than the Lamborghini you got when you were twenty one? Hard to believe."
"It's close, Polniaczek, but I think you win."
"I think I win too," Jo replied with a grin.
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