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.

Let's See How Far We've Come
By Misty Flores


"… Okay," Cindy Thomas began, when she opened her apartment door and discovered an unusually sopping wet Jill Bernhardt standing just outside in her hallway, holding onto a leash so tightly her knuckles were white. "You're going to explain this, right?"

Her previously detailed plans for the day which included a grocery store run, the dry cleaners, and getting a good run in dashed from her mind the moment Jill Bernhardt; sexy, classy, elegant attorney, reached up and plucked a dirty leaf out of her hair.

"I need your help," Jill said, and unceremoniously thrust the fisted leash out to her.

Martha, Lindsay's better half, leapt up from her well practice sit, wagged her tail gamely, tongue lolling out happily as she moved from Jill's side to butt her head just under Cindy's outstretched palm. Her paws were muddy with dirt, and Cindy was thankful she had on the ripped, abused, old pair of jeans she wore on the days she planned to run errands when the overgrown puppy wrapped her front legs around her thighs, leaving muddy streaks in her wake.

Cindy scratched Martha's ears obediently. "Did you two go running in a swamp?"

Pushing past her, the lawyer hobbled her way inside, shrugging off the dirty track jacket she was wearing. "No, we went walking by the port. She saw a seagull. I was ill-prepared."

The mental image that suddenly incurred, of Jill suddenly yanked off her feet by an overeager Martha caused a sudden choke. One look from an obviously not pleased Jill Bernhardt squashed it.

"Sorry." She straightened her features. "And you came here why?"

"Because that… dog," Jill managed, pointing at the happy tail-wagging slobbery overgrown pup, "Likes you. And you were closer than Claire. And I need a shower." The blonde bombshell paused, glanced around the tiny apartment, and then pointed toward the only hallway she saw. "That way?"

Slightly thunderstruck, Cindy closed the door and shrugged. "Sure."

Immediately, Jill headed in that direction, yanking off her t-shirt as she went, leaving behind puddled splotches.

To the soundtrack of water falling and a naked woman splashing, Cindy Thomas led Martha the Bird Chaser into the kitchen, wiping off the muddy paws and a damp coat with an old dish towel and pouring a Tupperware full of Brita Filtered water, which she drank up greedily.

Ten minutes later, after a short stint with Cindy's blow dryer, and a few moments running a mop over her floor, they were happily settled on Cindy's Ikea couch, Martha's head on her lap, watching 'The Dog Whisperer'.

"I borrowed some clothes. Hope that's okay."

Tossing a glance back in the direction of Jill's voice, Cindy discovered her damp friend in a too tight t-shirt with the words 'sorry' typed over it, no bra on underneath, and a pair of old college boxer shorts that belonged to her last boyfriend, Eddie.

The sight was at the very least distracting, in a pornographic kind of way. Of course the t-shirt would be snug, considering Cindy was just smaller in general and didn't have the curves that Jill had. Or her awesome breasts. Which were very very prominent thanks to the thin cotton and the damp, erect nipples pressed against the fabric.

"It's tight," she managed. Jill's brow arched, and immediately Cindy snapped her head back to the television, flushing at her hormonal reaction. "I mean, that's fine." She swallowed, which was harder than it should have been, and made a show rubbing Martha's head with her fingers. "Did you hang your clothes up to dry?"

Settling in beside her in the small space that Martha hadn't spread out on, Jill sighed, scrubbing at her hair with the towel she carried. "On the shower rack. You don't have a dryer in this place, do you?"

"Yes, but you couldn't pay me to go down there," Cindy responded automatically. "It's in the basement, down these windy steps and this swinging flickering light bulb. It's tailor made for a scene from a bad horror film."

"You would know." Jill eyed the wall next to the television, littered with Cindy's collection of DVDs. "Quite the fan of the genre, aren't you?"

"Oh, are you kidding? I love it." Looking away from Cesar Milan grappling with a pitbull, Cindy couldn't resist a smile. "I'm the ultimate horror movie junkie. Mostly the psychological thrillers though. I'm not into the gore-porn."

"Great," Jill said, and couldn't appear less interested if she tried. Squirming in place, she brushed her thigh against Cindy as she tried to make herself more comfortable. "Sorry for barging in on you like this. I didn't know where else to go."

"It's fine," Cindy replied. "Besides, you, sopping wet? With Martha? Priceless."

"Don't tell Lindsay I accidently dunked her dog. She said that if anything happened to her she was going to shoot me. With her gun."

Cindy's smile was quick, gone in an instant. Truthfully, she had been surprised when Jill had offered to take Martha off Lindsay's hands while the Inspector took the weekend off to go have hot hetero sex with the new boyfriend. Cindy suspected the request had come from the fact that Jill was offended more than anything else. She hadn't been asked, not even after Claire said she couldn't, and Cindy replied that her place didn't allow dogs. It had actually kind of adorable, to see Jill get progressively redder as Lindsay began talking about boarding and subjecting herself to asking Tom.

"Excuse me?!" Jill had erupted, making them all jump. "What about me?"

The resulting exchange had been almost painful to witness, with Lindsay sputtering about Jill not being a dog person and Jill ranting about not being trusted, and somehow conning a still insecure Lindsay into allowing her to take the pooch for the weekend.

One day later, Jill was nearly naked and damp and both animal and the in-over-her-head dog-sitter were sandwiching Cindy on the couch.

"Your secret is safe with me," she responded automatically, shifting when she glanced over at Jill again and automatically looked to her pointy chest. Her eyes once again went to the television.

"That's good," Jill said, "Because if you hadn't said that, I would have had to resort to blackmail."

The sentence came so far out of left field, Cindy blinked in surprise. "What?"

"I did some scrounging in your room." A rather impish smile was now growing on Jill's face. "I couldn't find a shirt, and just happened to open that second drawer in the nightstand by your bed."

A sudden flush of horror shivered down Cindy's spine. Immediately, she locked eyes with her suddenly smug friend. "You didn't."

"I did." Jill grinned sunnily, curling into the couch to face her friend and her increasingly red cheeks. "Cindy Thomas, I'm impressed."

Her cheeks were burning. Cindy Thomas told herself she would not sink into the floor and die. She was an adult. She could handle this. "I'm a healthy young woman reaching my sexual peak," she managed hotly. "I have nothing to be ashamed about."

"You've got a strap-on!" Jill squealed, no longer able to contain herself. "And a vibrator! AND LUBE!"

"Oh, God." Cindy flopped over, hiding her face in Martha's fur.

"Chocolate flavored lube!'

"I'm not ashamed!" Cindy barked into the dog's nape. Martha licked her arm. Raising her head, she bolstered her courage and faced Jill's stare head on. "I like sex. I'm in my twenties. I'm secure enough with myself to understand that a good orgasm is a healthy release."

"Uhuh." Jill smilled wickedly. "And the strap-on?"

Flushing for what seemed like the fiftieth time since Jill had actually sat on the couch, Cindy closed her eyes against Martha's neck. "Sometimes I like to fuck girls," she mumbled into the fur.

"I knew it!"

The glee that Jill was getting out of this was almost sadistic. Cindy managed to open one eye to toss a good glare to her half dressed sexy friend who was now bouncing up and down on the couch. In a wet t-shirt with no bra on.

"Yes." Her tone was dry. "Hooray for your gaydar. Can you stop with …" Her fingers pointed idly to the moving bits on Jill's chest. "It's a tiny bit distracting."

Jill glanced down, and her smile only widened. "Oh." Of course Jill Bernhardt WOULD be proud of her naked tata-s in the face of the suddenly Bi-Cindy's embarrassment. "So you like to fuck girls, huh?"

This was it. There would be no end of it. Jill's interest was piqued, and because the counselor was like a dog with a bone, she wouldn't let it go. It was now time for the conversation that always happened when friends found out Cindy hopped fences.

Pushing herself up, Cindy blew out her breath and prepared herself. "Yes. I hear I'm very good at it."

"Since when?"

"Since college," she replied, resigned. "My first girlfriend's name was Mandy. She took me to a sex shop on our first anniversary and picked out a beginner's model."

"Ah. Cause I was gonna say." Jill's colored eyes floated to the hallway. "The one I saw was a little impressive for 'My First Strap-On'."

"I graduated."

"I bet you did." Jill's mouth became a flat line, considering this new bit of information. "What's it like?"

Somehow, it was surprising that Jill was asking her. While Cindy didn't like to focus too much on Jill's sometimes intensely public sex life, all her known affairs (and there were a few of them) had been men. Still, someone with Jill's free sexuality would have had to… It just would have made sense… the way she and Lindsay acted sometimes…

"Um, what?" Cindy asked, when she felt her eyes crossing.

"What's it like?" Jill repeated, leaning forward, suddenly intense. "You know -"

"You mean you don't know."

At her pointed look, at the very least, Jill seemed to shrug in defeat. "Well, I've dabbled. Can't say I've ever… you know… implemented instruments."

Ah. Clearing her throat, Cindy suddenly felt incredibly self conscious. Shoulders straightening, she smiled at her friend and tried to explain it. "It's … nice," she finally managed. "There's something primal about it but it's still… absurdly intimate. Sometimes you just want to see their face, you know? Really get as deep inside as you can and kiss the reaction. Find a rhythm… it's just hot. To feel a woman come apart in your hands."

Maybe she said too much. Jill's eyes were now on her hands, and Cindy suddenly felt silly. "And you know… sometimes you just want to grab someone, put them over a desk and slam into them. Then the strap on helps."

They descended into an awkward silence, as Cesar Milan gave the camera parting advice and then hugged a Chihuahua, and Martha dug her paws into Cindy's thigh, releasing a sigh and settling the soft muzzle over her lap.

"Let's do it."

"Excuse me?" she said immediately, head jerking to Jill as the woman stared at her, suddenly calmly resolute. "Let's do what?"

"You know… the sex. With the strap-on." Jill pointed helpfully toward the hallway.

Apparently she had really sold the idea. "Uh," she managed thickly. "No?"

"Yes," Jill insisted. "Come on, you haven't stopped staring at my breasts since I walked in here."

"Because they're on parade!"


"So we're friends," Cindy sputtered.

"Which is the best reason to let you fuck me. Plus, you told me you'd be good at it."

God-DAMMIT. Jill was a lawyer.

"No, Jill," she said firmly, and felt her body rebel at the idea. Between her thighs, she was suddenly throbbing, and she was very much aware that it was her very own version of a boner. She launched to her feet. "I'm not about being some sort of experimental teacher in the art of the dildo."

By all logic, Cindy really shouldn't have been panicking as much as she was, because Jill was obviously kidding. Or crazy. Or serious, in which case, Cindy still shouldn't have panicked because Jill was about the casual sex, and she was hot and usually a hot woman propositioning her would have been flattering and not so damned insulting.

But it was.

"Why are you so upset?" Jill sounded genuinely puzzled, which infuriated her more.

"Because I'm not amped on being your replacement fuck buddy just because Lindsay's got a boyfriend now."

Okay. That was too much. That was really too much. She knew it the moment she said it, and the anger melted away for something much worse: horror, embarrassment, and deep regret.

She saw something in Jill's eyes, something wounded and hurt, and she knew it was a bad, bad sign when Jill glanced away, and pushed off the couch.

"Jill," she began, thick and morose. "I didn't…"

"My clothes should be drier now." Jill's voice was flat. "I should go. Can you grab Martha's leash for me?"


The other woman brushed past her, knocking into her shoulder and never looking back.

Martha glanced up at her, over the couch with a curious doggy stare.


She had been to Jill's new apartment once, to help her move in. She remembered Jill in an over-sized men's work shirt that had to have belonged to Luke, and she remembered thinking that the blonde friend looked dead sexy in it.

She remembered also keeping that thought to herself, as she got a mild headache from the black sharpie she had been given, keeping out of the way as Lindsay and Jill spoke in low whispers and intimate touches that comprised their fuzzy friendship.

Lindsay falling in love so fast and so hard was awkward to watch, particularly because Cindy suspected the mad rush for the relationship was some odd rebound thing from Tom. Still, it appeared to be genuine, and for that Cindy was happy for her. The complicated Inspector needed a bit of happiness and a good night in bed from someone who wasn't Tom.

Hesitating, she glanced at the buzzer marked 'J. Bernhardt' and with a heavy breath in, pressed down hard.

"Hello?" came the tinny, familiar voice.

Leaning forward, feeling awkward, Cindy cleared her throat. "It's Cindy. Can I come up?"

There was a very pregnant pause, before the line disconnected and a sharp sound erupted from the door, unlocking it.

Jill opened the door before she knocked; wearing a severe expression and cold eyes that informed Cindy her friend hadn't forgotten their little eruption.

"I'm sorry," she began before she could chicken herself out of her apology. "I'm really really sorry - I don't know what came over me - okay I do but that doesn't excuse - I mean assuming that you and Lindsay - it so wasn't my business-"

"If you don't stop talking," Jill interrupted, chilly and annoyed. "I'm going to shut this door."

Cindy's mouth snapped shut immediately. In the silence that followed, Jill just stared, testing her sincerity. Beside her, Martha wagged her tail.

With a sigh, Jill opened the door wider, an unspoken invitation to come in.

After greeting Martha, Cindy followed Jill into the kitchen, where her friend appeared to be in the middle of pouring kibble into a bowl.

Unsure what to do, Cindy leaned against the fridge, folding her arms as she waited. Jill's movements were jerky, her face was expressionless, as she finally put the bowl on the tile and let Martha chow down.

Jill finally looked at her. "Look," she said, sounding resigned, hip leaning against the counter. "Maybe I took things a little too far. You were obviously uncomfortable… I went overboard with the teasing."

"Is that what it was, though?" Green eyes lifted, locked with Jill's. "I mean… seriously?"

The other woman chewed on her bottom lip, then looked away.

"Okay," Cindy sighed, and closed her eyes and winced, starting over. "Look, Jill. Here's the thing: I like you. I mean… I like everything about you. I like the fact that you're fabulous and bitchy and flawed and strong and sexy as hell. I think you're absolutely amazing and the way you get orgasmic over good chocolate? It's really hot." Jill finally glanced up. "But you're my friend. And I care a lot about you. And I couldn't ever… be that casual with you. If you and I … if we ever… it would mean something to me."

"You were pretty clear last night," Jill said, after a moment. "You don't want a fuck buddy."

An uncomfortable shudder went through her, but Cindy nodded. "You're right. I don't. If I wanted a fuck buddy I could find plenty of volunteers, but I wouldn't ever see you that way. Because of the feelings."

A wicked smile was slowly curling up Jill's mouth, so subtle Cindy nearly missed it. "Are you saying you respect me too much to have your wicked way with me?"

Cindy's mouth twitched. "I'm saying if you ever want me to fuck the living shit out of you, I will gladly do it, but on our terms, and with plenty of understanding that it was about us. Not…"

"Not Lindsay?" Jill asked pointedly.

Embarrassed, Cindy sucked in her breath and waited.

Lindsay's best friend was an absolutely intoxicating woman, and she looked completely sexy in her expensive sweats and her casual tank top, watching Martha chew on her kibble.

Suddenly, without warning, Jill pushed off the counter and moved toward her, grabbing hold of Cindy's hand along the way and pulling her through the kitchen and then the living room.

Unsure what was happening, Cindy allowed herself to be tugged, puzzled until Jill dragged her into the bedroom, closed the door, spun her around, and leaned down, pressing a very determined kiss on Cindy's lips.

A surge of unexpected emotion clogged in Cindy's throat, and it erupted as a moan, forcing her mouth open and allowing Jill's tongue to tangle with hers.

When they parted, she witnessed a blindingly gorgeous smile on moist lips, and slender fingers smoothing over her cheeks. Twinkling eyes looked adoring down on her as Jill whispered thickly, "You didn't happen to bring the strap-on, did you?"

"Um… no," Cindy responded, determined not to kick herself for not having the foresight to actually pack it. "But I'm kind of an All-American in this sort of thing - I don't need a dildo to rock your world."

"You might need better vocabulary," Jill responded. "That's a little cliché."

Pressing another long kiss against Jill's mouth, Cindy sank to her knees, and with a wicked smile of her own, slid fingers underneath the elastic band of Jill's underwear, underneath her sweats, and yanked down.

She smelled pungent arousal, and she grinned.

"Fine - revision," she began, mimicking her copy editor. "I don't need a dildo to fuck you."

With that, she leaned forward, and when Jill's knees nearly buckled, Cindy knew she was well on her way.

The End

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