DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My muse is not only ADD but is apparently quite naughty, too. Thanks to the always wonderful Debbie for the beta and the ever-patient Rachel for listening and then prodding me along.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To darandkerry[at]yahoo.com
Good Things Come in Small Packages
"What have you got, Ash?" Scribbs asked curiously as she came up from behind an unsuspecting Ash. Tossing a copy of a traffic ticket that would place their suspect in the vicinity of the murder they were investigating onto her desk, she turned her full attention on her partner.
"Nothing," Ash replied nervously and stuffed what she'd been holding into an opened box, her face turning a deeper shade of crimson than when she'd first opened the package that had been packed inside the box addressed to her from an internet-order pharmacy. She cursed her decision to bring her post into work with her instead of taking the time to go back inside her flat and leave it there. Not waiting to open the box until she returned home hadn't been such a good idea, either. She'd just thought it would be beneficial to her to start using the product right away.
Scribbs grinned mischievously and shot forward like a goalkeeper angling toward a free kick, grabbing the box before Ash could close its cardboard flaps. Reaching inside, she rummaged around thick, brown packing paper, fumbled past an empty plastic container and finally gripped the item, smiling triumphantly as she pulled it free. A frown formed almost immediately, however, as she stared at it in confusion. Intermittent chuckles began to filter around the room, distracting her before she could figure out what it was she held in her hand, and Ash took full advantage of the embarrassing moment, snatching it cleanly from Scribbs's hand and quickly cramming it back into the box. Without a word, she took off for the ladies.
Scribbs just shrugged at her colleagues and turned to run after Ash.
"Ash?" Scribbs stuck her head into the ladies and called out, but no one answered. She glanced around and spotted a pair of black sensible shoes underneath the far cubicle and, with a quick peek over her shoulder, she stepped inside the room and walked over to stand in front of the closed cubicle door. "Ash, let me see."
"C'mon, Ash," Scribbs whined. "Everyone else already knows what it is." At least, it seemed that way to her, judging from the others' reactions.
There was a moment's pause and then Scribbs heard the sound of the latch being thrown open. She stepped back and waited, smiling to herself when the door finally began to move. Ash stepped free from the cubicle and thrust the box into her partner's waiting hands.
"It's a mistake, Scribbs. I ordered one of those hand grip exercise things. You know, the one with the two handles and a tight spring?" She raised her hand and went through the motion of squeezing the imaginary handles together.
Scribbs half-nodded and reached into the box, more interested in what Ash had actually received than what she'd ordered. Pulling out a bright fuchsia silicon contraption, she turned it over in her hand, first running her fingers along the length of one smooth side and then down the other, stopping on an end that was prominently flared. "It's a sex toy!" Scribbs exclaimed, not able to keep her fingers from lightly caressing the broader end.
"I know it's a sex toy, Scribbs, but I ordered hand grips!" Ash proclaimed defensively and quite loudly. It had taken Ash several minutes to realize that the hot pink gadget wasn't the hand exerciser she'd thought she'd ordered. She'd just figured it was a more heavy duty variety and, when she'd finally managed to wrap her hand around the thing, she hadn't been able to make it budge and had erroneously come to the conclusion that it was faulty. That was when she'd turned the opened package over and read from its label.
Scribbs just grinned and walked over to the sink, setting the sex toy down flat on the counter so that she could dig around inside the box. "Where are the straps?" she asked when she came up empty.
Ash moved closer and looked down at the brightly colored misorder, studying it with more interest than she'd like to admit. "Apparently, it's strapless." Very apparent if one analyzed the two equal length extensions and their different styled 'ends'.
Scribbs abandoned her search for straps and picked up the sex toy's discarded container that had fallen free when she was rooting around inside the box. "Unique contoured shape to fit perfectly and reach the required areas," she read from its label, a smile threatening to burst onto her face. "100 percent silicon, waterproof and, according to the product information, the Infinity," she chuckled, "has a 3 speed vibrating bullet." Her smile broke free along with a loud bark of laughter. "Guess you'll definitely be packing now, Ash."
"No, I won't, Scribbs, because I'm sending it back." The tips of her ears looked like they'd been set on fire.
If possible, Scribbs's grin grew even larger. "You can't."
"I most certainly can," Ash replied adamantly. "They made a mistake!"
Scribbs pointed to the bold black print emblazoned on the front of the empty pink package. "Please note, due to the nature of this product, once opened, it cannot be returned," Scribbs read, verbatim, the company's strongly worded policy concerning their product. "So, you going to give it a go?" she teased, her eyebrows moving comically up and down.
"What?" Ash squawked in protest a little too strongly in Scribbs's opinion as her eyes grew as large as the teacups they'd sipped from when they'd interviewed their murder victim's widow earlier in the week. "Certainly not, Scribbs!" Her gaze locked on the strap-on apparatus and she licked her suddenly too dry lips.
Scribbs noted the not-so-subtle 'lick' as well as the bead of perspiration that had formed above Ash's brow and focused on something that would force her partner to reconsider her strong anti-sex-toy usage stance. "That's a lot of money to just toss into a wardrobe and forget about, Ash."
Ash instantly perked up at the mention of money. "What do you mean? The hand grips only listed for £4.86." Too much to throw away, in Ash's opinion, but she'd just have to learn to live with it.
"They didn't bill you for the hand grips, Ash," Scribbs reported as she read from the attached invoice and watched her partner sigh in relief. She waited only a couple of seconds to drop her bomb. "They charged you for the Infinity strapless strap-on," Scribbs continued and was only able to count to one before Ash exploded.
"What!?!" Ash grabbed the receipt from her partner's hand and quickly scrolled down to the bottom line and the total charged to her credit card. "£59.99! But I didn't order a strap-on!" Accidentally posting someone else's order to her address was one thing but transposing digits and/or numbers and charging her for something she didn't order was another matter entirely.
"True, but you've got one now," Scribbs stated the obvious, attempting to make light of things with a slight shrug. "You may as well try it out." Just the thought that Ash might actually try the sex toy sent shivers up and down her spine, even if her partner wouldn't use it in the manner it was designed or come anywhere near reaching its full potential.
Ash stared down at the counter and the brightly colored strap-on, Scribbs's suggestion tempering her anger and replacing it with a curiosity she hadn't experienced since one of her schoolmates from Lady Margaret's had slipped a glow-in-the-dark purple dildo into her locker along with a note suggesting that if she used the sex toy, she might not be quite so uptight and rigid. "Well, I did pay for it," she said rather meekly as she reached out to touch it.
"That is a lot of money, Ash. It would be a shame to let it go to waste," Scribbs continued to prod her partner, but made sure to keep her tone light and steady. "Maybe you could even find someone who'd be willing to give it a go with you." Me! Me!, Scribbs screamed silently inside her head; outwardly, she offered a reassuring smile.
Ash almost knocked the strap-on off the counter. "What do you mean?" she asked, fairly certain she knew as to what Scribbs had been referring and, being more than a little paranoid at the moment, to whom as well.
Scribbs innocently gestured to the sex toy. "You know, find someone to use the other " she paused and flitted her hand around in a circle, "hand grip." She stuffed her floundering hand in her pocket and lifted her shoulders in a poorly attempted shrug. "I wouldn't mind helping out."
"Helping out?" Ash's head snapped up and the strap-on went flying into the sink. She hurried to retrieve it before it could come in contact with what she was certain was a multitude of germs. "You're offering to " she let her sentence trail off as she snatched up the sex toy and pulled a couple of paper towels free from their dispenser.
"Help out?" Scribbs finished her partner's question. "Yes, I'm willing," she clarified before Ash could send the strap-on toward the cubicles.
Ash vigorously wiped off the strap-on, her gaze following the path of her hand as it traveled from one end to the other. "So you're suggesting that I engage one of the er, hand grips while you work the other one?"
"Yes, but only if you'd really like me to lend you a hand."
Ash bit down on her lip and avoided eye contact with her partner. "I don't know, Scribbs, lending a hand is a really big step and we've never even um, worked out together," she replied as she placed a towel on the counter and laid the sex toy on top of it. Reaching for the Infinity's empty package, she suddenly found it very fascinating. If she'd paid this much attention to it before she'd first opened it, she wouldn't be standing here now and talking to her partner about hand grips that weren't actually hand grips.
Scribbs eased a little closer, careful not to spook the other woman. "We've run together," she said softly, her mind scurrying about like a mouse fleeing a menacing cat to recall the times they'd been physically active on the job.
"Not the same thing, Scribbs. We were either chasing a suspect or running for our lives from a killer dog," Ash said, distracting herself by rereading the policy regarding the product's return and finding it unchanged.
"We've danced together," Scribbs fibbed, but only in the literal sense. When they'd been on the Sandra Foy murder case and were about to enter the Salsa Sensations dance club, Ash had pulled her close and directed her to close her eyes as Ash described the sensuous salsa. Later that night, when Scribbs had crawled into bed and fallen asleep, it hadn't been the utterly gorgeous Che Guevara Ash had spoken of so passionately that was pressed tightly against her and leading her around the streets of Spanish Harlem.
Ash picked up the empty carton and turned it over in her hand. "I danced with the boss, Scribbs, not you," she said as she fidgeted with its hard plastic cover and recalled the many sleepless nights she'd tossed and turned, wondering what would have happened if it had been Scribbs who'd walked in on her impromptu salsa solo instead of Sullivan.
Scribbs smiled brightly as a real and fairly recent event pushed itself to the surface of her memories. "You've held me underwater."
Ash's breath caught as she flashbacked to Scribbs's wet undergarments clinging to her like a second skin when her partner had crawled out of the tub at the Birch Grove Residential Home. "That was research," she managed to say, her timbre unsure and shaky. Research that had not only proven that a woman could indeed hold their victim underwater long enough to drown him, but also that Scribbs's nipples could be quite perky.
Scribbs hurried to the evening's next memorable event before Ash could stop her from listing any more of their 'workout' moments. "We've slept together, too."
"Slept, Scribbs; we only slept and we followed all my rules," Ash returned, a hint of disappointment coloring her tone as her voice continued to falter. Scribbs hadn't actually followed her no stray limbs rule, though. When Ash had awakened during the night, Scribbs was practically on top of her and she'd had to crawl out from under her partner and flee downstairs. When Scribbs had found her later, Ash had claimed to have had an epiphany about the case. Her eyes had been opened to so much more that night.
Scribbs closed the remaining distance between them and took a deep breath of courage. "And then there's this," she said softly as she reached out and gently grasped Ash's chin. Surprised by both the touch and nearness of her partner, Ash turned directly into Scribbs's waiting lips. Soft and gentle, tender and sweet, intense and passionate - everything each woman had imagined kissing one's true love would feel like. Neither wanted it to end but neither wanted to get caught making out in the toilet, either.
Gently nipping Ash's lower lip, Scribbs reluctantly pulled away. "And now we've kissed," she purred, her voice low and sultry. She watched as Ash slowly opened her eyes and worked to bring them into focus. With a teasing smile, Scribbs asked, "So, when do you think you'll be ready for me to lend you a hand?"
Ash stared at Scribbs's lips: so moist, so sweet, so near. "Now is good," she whispered as she blindly reached for the sex toy and tossed it into the box. Grabbing Scribbs by the hand, she pulled her from the room and then down the hall and out of the building.
Good things may come in small packages, but Ash preferred to believe that better things came in bigger ones. With her hands filled with both big and small, she planned to handle each with the utmost of care.
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