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.
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When the sound of the shower came on in the bathroom, Lindsay slumped on the side of the bed, idly wondering if she'd manage to stay awake long enough for Cindy to return. She didn't have the best of feelings about this motel, but it would have to do for the night. She couldn't have gone another mile, and Cindy was equally as tired. They'd survive. Maybe splurge on a better location in the next city.
She was about to lie down when the scream jolted her out of her musings. Cindy. The notion of an imminent danger had her react instantly. Gun drawn, Lindsay yanked the door open, half-fearing a scenario out of 'Psycho'.
Cindy was standing on the rim of the bathtub, wearing nothing but a tiny towel that didn't cover much. She seemed unharmed, as far as Lindsay could see.
"What the... Oh." Lindsay lowered her gun when she realized that there was indeed an intruder, but not of the human kind, and none that would be impressed by the sight of a police-issued service weapon.
"Could you please...?" Cindy's voice was shaky. Lindsay realized that her friend expected her to do something about the situation. Also, she couldn't take the risk that Cindy might slip and break a limb in this place.
"Hey, no problem." Lindsay forced a smile as she reached for the tissue box and grabbed a few, advancing on the multiple-legged predator. Her stomach was churning a bit, but hell if she'd admit that now. If she'd been at home, the ugly bug would have certainly found the other end of her vacuum cleaner. Well, if she'd been at home, there wouldn't have been any cockroaches. Ew. Damn it. Lindsay looked at the tissue box again. She wouldn't have minded using all of them, but she couldn't possibly make Cindy Thomas think that she was a wuss. No way.
"Okay," she said after her mission was accomplished, washing her hands and hoping it didn't look frantic. "All safe now. You can come down."
Lindsay reached out a hand to Cindy who finally dared to set her feet on the ground again, but nearly lost her balance in the progress. It was... Convenient, that Lindsay had to catch her.
"Is it really dead?"
"Do you want me to shoot it to make sure?"
Cindy laughed, and in Lindsay's opinion, that made up for the lingering queasiness she was feeling.
"Wow," Cindy breathed. "Thanks. You're definitely my hero."
Those words coming from her, and nothing between them but a flimsy towel, clearly made the battle with the monster bug worth-while, Lindsay thought contentedly. "Glad to be of service. Um... I think you're okay on your own now?" Not that she was in a hurry to let go. Not at all. It was so much easier to be honest to oneself when far away from home. Barely stifling a sigh, Lindsay stepped back and was about to leave the room when her gaze fell onto a spot near the ceiling. That moment, she decided that they were not going to spend the night here. "Come to think of it, you can dress in the bedroom. I'll find someone downstairs to give us our money back."
Cindy had followed her gaze, jumping when she saw what Lindsay had noticed. "No argument from me," she said, shuddering as she took in the dark stains on the tile. "But where are we gonna go?"
Lindsay shrugged. "Don't worry. I'll think of something."
Neither of them had thought that slight emergencies might happen this soon, but they were well prepared for spending a night in the car. Lindsay had thought that she might fall asleep the moment she'd bring her body into a horizontal position. However, when she'd finally achieved that goal, she couldn't seem to settle down.
Maybe it was the unpleasant conversation with the clerk who hadn't given back the money until threatened with an inspection from the health department. Maybe there was the point that parking like this wasn't exactly the safest way to spend the night. Then again, she wasn't all that worried. Just wondering.
"I'm so embarrassed," Cindy stated sleepily. "I kind of... overreacted, didn't I?"
"It's fine. You've got me for these things." Lindsay stopped to consider her words, their implications, the possible revelations in them, and she found that she wasn't sorry.
Cindy chuckled softly. "Yeah," she simply said.
There was silence for a moment, easy and companionable. Lindsay thought about the odds of finding herself here, in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a car with Cindy. It seemed unreal. It felt right.
"Why are we here?" she asked.
"Bugs? You remember?"
"No, I meant... Come on. You know what I meant. You said you were going to write a book, but I haven't seen you write a single line since that last email to Jill. What happened?" It was probably not the best possible moment to bring up the subject, but Lindsay felt an inexplicable urgency to answer those questions. Maybe she had already gone way ahead in her mind. She needed confirmation. Or a reality check.
Cindy turned to her in the half-dark. "Maybe I just wanted to spend more time with you."
"We spend time together all the time," Lindsay said quickly, annoyed that her voice had gone a pitch higher. Nerves. Right.
"But that's mostly work, and if it's not, Jill and Claire are around most of the time. Not that I mind, it's great. I just wanted... Are you tired of me already?" There was a hint of fear behind the spite.
"No, no, not at all." The distance of a few inches between them seemed painfully far all of a sudden, but Lindsay had no idea how to bridge it. She wanted to say how much she'd been enjoying this time, flat tires and bugs included, because she got to be with Cindy. That she'd said yes in the first place because of an irrational hope. Or was it, irrational? "Just curious, that's all."
"Okay." Cindy seemed satisfied with that explanation, which was kind of disappointing. She yawned behind her hand. "Where are we going next?"
"Wherever we find the next Starbucks and a hotel that has at least three stars?"
"I like that idea," Cindy murmured, pulling the blanket up higher. "Good night, Lindsay."
It wasn't quite a Starbucks, but they got some decent coffee and breakfast to go at a diner early the next morning. There were still a few stars out, the air clear and crisp, hinting at a beautiful day to come.
They had breakfast mostly in silence. Cindy was still sleepy, half-leaning against Lindsay as she sipped her coffee. Lately, Lindsay thought, they had all been beautiful days. Something was changing between them, slowly, undeniably. She just wished she'd have the courage to go that one step further.
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