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.

The Good Pinot Noir Digression of 2007
By Liz Estrada


"I'm sorry. I don't see what's so great about this guy," Jill announced, her words curvy and black cherry scented as she spoke into her wine glass. "Wire in the Blood… shuh… more like crazy out the ass."

From the other end of the sofa, Lindsay snickered, but couldn't not defend one of her BBC detective heroes. "Tony's a genius. For genius, you put up with some crazy."

"Ah. Classic law enforcement trade-off."

"Exactly," Lindsay agreed, with a 'nuff said head tilt as she reached for the nearly depleted bottle of Marcassin.

While the gifted wack-job on screen engaged in his thirty-seventh loony monologue, Jill's eyes rolled, fluttered, and focused at last on the sane reality of Lindsay's slow, deft hands. Two glasses in and she was pouring number three like steady freddie, while Jill, working on her own fourth, was almost sideways. Forty-five degrees, maybe, and sliding on a happy, grape-slickened grade toward her best friend.

"Know what, Linz?" Jill began, as her smile took root and sprouted words. "I'd watch you over him. Any. Day. Of the week. And twice in HD. You should have your own TV show."

Lindsay snorted dismissively as she tucked her legs and bare feet back under the shared blanket. She felt certain that, had she been as smart as the fictional Dr. Tony Hill, she could have caught Kiss-Me-Not years ago, and the thought made her shoulders sag a little, her eyes deaden. That case, the one that ruined her marriage and drove her slightly around the bend, was the ulnar nerve of her ego – the not-funny funny bone papered over with a flimsy layer of scar tissue. She knew Jill hadn't meant to touch it; she was paying her a sweet if drunken compliment while taking a subtle swipe at Inspector Boxer's precious Brit mysteries, which were never Jill's cup of tea. In concession, she shut off the TiVo, vowing to watch Dr. Hill and D.I. Fielding close their case at a later date.

"Thank you," Lindsay eventually replied. If Jill noticed her hesitation, at least she didn't seem inclined to question her about it. "You're a great big lying liar, Jill Bernhardt, but I appreciate the flattery, anyhow."

"It's not flattery, and I am trying to cut back on the fibbing," Jill claimed, even as she reflected on all the people she had lied to that week alone. Luke… Denise… Hanson… mostly about each other, mostly to keep relations with each from shaking apart. She used lies like mortar between bricks, holding her home and career together with a loose mix of cement, sand and good intentions. Her friendships were the only constructs in her life that stood solidly on their own, steel-framed and seismically sound. Lindsay, in particular, offered that kind of judgment-free security, where whatever dumb-assed thing Jill said or did was placed in context, usually accepted, and always forgiven. Lindsay truly was a good egg, and the kind of person Jill never thought she would have in her life, let alone be able to keep.

"Not with you, though," Jill said, amending her denial. She slouched down and prodded Lindsay's hip with her toe. "I don't have to lie to you at all, so I don't have to cut back."

"Right," Lindsay agreed, also thinking of Luke, Denise Kwon, and (sourly) Hanson North. "But then, I'm just your easygoing - "

"No! You did not just call yourself 'easygoing.' No freaking way."

"- best friend, not your vicious, cutthroat boss. And we're not sleeping together. Being honest with me should be easier."

"Well, we've… napped together… occasionally. That was pretty easy going." Jill waggled her eyebrows and wiggled her toes until her foot was half burrowed under her friend's thigh. "And we've always played that above board, totally honest. I should get points for that, right?"

As Jill's foot continued to try and tunnel up into her lap, Lindsay's eyes widened and she shifted her legs to block any further friskiness. "You better rein it in, girl."

"What?" The blonde was all innocence, rocking slightly and grinning.

Jill's 'Britney circa 1999' coquetry was met with Lindsay's impatient disbelief. "You know what, now knock it off."

"Whyyyy?" Jill sighed. In that bibulous breath, the ingénue act vanished and Jill semi-lucidly laid out a case for what Lindsay referred to as one of their 'sporadic digressions.'

"Okay, the movie was boring, but this Pinot Noir is awesome, excellent choice. So, you're still not seeing anybody, and I know that you must miss sex because you're really fantastic in bed, and, strangely, my life is mostly really good these days and I want you to feel good, too, because I love you a reallyreally lot and I hate it when you're unhappy. Plus, even though I'm a little drunk right now, I'm kinda slutty even when I'm sober and I just generally want to kiss you many, many times and I don't see why you would suddenly have a problem with that."

Lindsay wanted to frown sternly, but her eyes and mouth couldn't quite manage it. She hung her head and a thick, loose spiral of black hair fell across her face. "Luke," she said simply. "Cute doctor. Co-habitant of your current address. Like you said, you've got a good ride going with him and I don't want to help you wreck it."

"Hey. We've never wrecked anything before. I think that, after all these years, we may even qualify for some sort of safe driver discount." Jill sat up, emptied her wine glass and carefully set it on the floor. "And I'm sorry, sweetie, but this time, it's almost entirely your fault. You're just ludicrously beautiful tonight. You should have uglied down before inviting me over. Pigtails. Fake zits. Something… god… help a girl out."

With a grace that belied her immodest blood alcohol level, Jill closed the distance between them, combed back Lindsay's errant hair, cupped the back of her head and braked to a smooth stop just shy of any soft contact. Idling at the familiar intersection of Friends and Benefits, they would wait for mutual confirmation that the light was green.

Lindsay's mouth was slowly curving upward by the time she met Jill's eyes. "I guess I forgot how strongly a good bottle of wine affects you," she said, the drawl a little thick, the smile a bit shy.

Green. Totally green. Greener than Al Gore. Jill leaned in and trailed a whisper along her cheek. "Bullshit. You never forget anything."

The first kiss after each period of platonic girfriendery was always a bit like lab work; mixing pecks, licks, erratic blasts of breath, groans and bites until the temperature reached some arbitrary melting point, which triggered the slide of one mouth across another until they bonded to form those familiar deep, slick, concentrated kisses that felt too intimate with other partners. The pull of greedy hands and persistent gravity eventually caused a collision of bodies, and the sight and smell and taste of skin revived memories of every time before, every bright occasion when this odd little experiential comet swept through their ordered system, leaving them slightly singed but undeniably warmer for seasons to come.

With her body naked and burning under Jill's hands and her hips rising to meet the attorney's artful tongue, Lindsay's brain responded to the unusual stress in the usual fashion - she started thinking too much. She imagined scenes of Luke hurting and Tom scowling and Hanson leering, of Jacobi embarrassed and Claire dumbstruck and (for some reason) Cindy being jealous. With variations on cast and theme, these scenarios plagued Lindsay every time she and Jill digressed in this manner, and the spike of tension never went unnoticed.

"Stay with me," Jill told her, nipping intently along thighs and stomach, squeezing her breasts until she gasped sharply, her eyes snapping open to find Jill smiling, ardent but patient. "Just you and me, Linz. Stay with me, okay?"

"Okay," Lindsay breathed, nodding. "Okay. Okay."

Jill kissed her way back to her previous engagement and, slowly but surely, Lindsay dissolved in this temporary solution where she could be touched by someone who - miraculously - loved her just as she was: obsessive, temperamental, private… loyal, generous, protective, she could hear Jill rebutting. Someone who would graciously leave her alone tonight, yet would still be there for her tomorrow and tomorrow, offering lunch or coffee or dubious fashion advice.

And, yes, someone who would – at sporadic intervals - pin her down and wrench loose a screaming, nails-cutting-into-the-leather-sofa, scaring the neighbors, baby, they can hear you on Alcatraz orgasm, because, as Claire would say, it's a damn shame to let a good cook go hungry.

Some time later, sated and dizzy, Lindsay silently began to drop out of orbit. Getting her breathing under control, focusing on various ceiling beams to recalibrate her blurred vision, and assuring herself that she hadn't lost any fingers or toes were all higher priorities than talking. She didn't need to say anything on Jill's account since the blonde was busy with her own cool-down protocols, mainly a damage check which involved trailing eyes and fingertips over Lindsay's fuselage.

"Nothing major," Jill announced from her observation post, stretched along the outside edge of both Lindsay and the couch. "Few teeth marks by the gecko, but those should fade in a couple of days."

"I don't remember you biting my ass," Lindsay rasped. "Whazzat for?"

"It deserved it!" Jill punctuated the accusation with a slap across Lindsay's inked right cheek.

"Oww! Dag, girl, what did my butt ever do to you?" There was mild annoyance in Lindsay's tone, and Jill apologized by kissing her shoulder, her throat, the back of her neck… good spots to make amends.

"I giggle like a moron every time I see those gecko car insurance commercials," she explained, "so now Luke thinks I have a lame sense of humor and tells everyone so and I secretly blame your secret tattoo."

"Right. Clearly, I was askin' for it."

"No, you were asking for it with a dull movie and a forty-dollar bottle of wine," Jill observed. "By the way, have you noticed that you have substantially more south in your mouth when you've gotten laid?"

Lindsay looked back over her shoulder. "Seriously?"

"Oh, yeah. And if I notice it, you know Claire and Cindy – especially Cindy – will, too."

"Gotcha. I'll try to tone it down." Lindsay paused. "Why especially Cindy?"

Jill rolled her eyes and gave her clueless cop one last squeeze before leaving the warm nest formed by blanket and couch and best friend. "God, you are so dense sometimes."

Lindsay rolled onto her back and watched Jill efficiently gather and re-apply her scattered clothes. "Shut-up. She's a kid."

"Well, you've rejected every man I've tried to foist on you. Cindy's not that young, and you're not that old," Jill said. "And I don't think you'd drive each other batty, like we probably would, if we ever… "

"Ugh. Don't, don't even say it."

"Tried to have a relationship!" Jill half-shouted, just to be contrary. Lindsay slammed her eyes shut, and Jill knelt by her side, softened her voice. "Honey, you're the best person I know, and I am possibly the world's worst girlfriend."

"That's kind of an overstatement, don'tcha think?" Lindsay asked.

Jill checked her watch. "Gee, I dunno. My kindhearted, upstanding doctor boyfriend is gonna be home in less than two hours, and if I don't get there first, catch a shower and fall into bed, he might wonder why I smell like pussy and can't walk straight."

After a fast blush, Lindsay grumpily ceded the point. "Yeah, okay. You're a horrible, lying cheater and I'm awesome and deserve to be happy."

"Awesome but anemic – Claire said so."

"Big mouth."

"Let's do a major protein lunch tomorrow, steak or barbecue or something," Jill said. "I have depositions all morning, but I'm good after about one-thirty, if you're not knee-deep in a case by then."

"For Lilly's ribs, I'll fake sick and walk off a crime scene," Lindsay claimed.

Fully dressed and absently scrolling through her cell phone messages, Jill leaned down and kissed Lindsay goodnight. "Liar," she said. "I love you."

"Love you, too," Lindsay responded, without any of the anxiety that usually accompanied those words. She listened to Jill's heels clicking across the floor, heard her pause at the door.

"I'm locking the handle," Jill informed her. "I know you gave me a key for the deadbolt, but I can't find it under all this junk in my purse, so lock up behind me, okay? Don't fall asleep."

"Uh-huh. 'night."

"See you tomorrow."

The End

Return to Women's Murder Club Fiction

Return to Main Page