DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a follow up to Sanguine and probably doesn't really make much sense if you've not read it. the_girl_20 wondered what might happen next, and my poor plotbunnied little brain wrote it for her.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Lesley Mitchell
Jill deliberately delayed leaving the Hall. First in her office, checking her email and messages, before resolutely gathering her coat and bag, and then in the ladies room, stopping to make some mostly unnecessary repairs to her understated make up and resettling her suit once more. Before she let herself leave the harshness of the too brightly lit room, she had searched her face for any trace that might cause concern from the ever observant Inspector Boxer or Claire's mother hen instincts, and lead to questions she felt entirely unprepared to answer. And there were few things that Jill hated more than being unprepared.
As she walked up the steps to the warmly lit, slightly misted windows of Joe's she spotted Lindsay, alone in a booth under one of the blue neon signs, communing with a cocktail glass. Or more likely, she mused, having seen her friend like this more than once before, catching forty winks when she thought no one was looking. The divorce had been harder on the tall cop than she liked to admit, but Jill had managed, one evening over a bottle of wine, to prise the fact that she no longer slept as well as she had before out of a somewhat tipsy Lindsay.
With the lateness of the hour, she was able to place her drink order while she was removing her coat prior to slipping quietly onto the smooth green vinyl of the bench seat across from her friend. It was only the clatter of the ice cubes when the friendly waitress placed it on the table before her that alerted the other woman to her presence at all.
"Claire had to go." She made the obvious statement to give Lindsay a moment to rediscover her place in the world.
"Yeah," Lindsay replied, stifling a yawn. "She stayed as long as she could, but Ed's on night shifts at the moment, and she said something about not wanting to push her luck with the sitter. She did tell me to say 'well done, you', though."
Jill blushed and took a swig of her drink.
"Hey, you deserve it."
"Denise used all your research and took all the credit. Doesn't stop it being your work. And your victories. So, what kept you?"
"Oh, er, Denise needed me." Even to her own ears, her casual tone sounded forced.
"What? What more could she possibly want from you, today?"
"Checking scheduling, what else I had on my desk at the moment. Nothing big."
"You mean nothing that couldn't have wai..." She trailed off, and looked more closely at the blonde seated across the table.
"What?" Jill found herself desperately trying to meet Lindsay's eyes, and project her best simulation of sincerity.
"You're lying. You're lying to me. Was it Hanson? Oh, please. Tell me it wasn't Hanson."
Suddenly, Jill found herself more than capable of looking Lindsay square in the eye.
"I have not seen Hanson North since he left the courtroom with his tail between his legs," she said with absolute honesty.
"Well, that's a relief. You can do so much better than that arrogant SOB."
"I know. I know," said Jill, hoping that this topic would keep Lindsay busy for long enough that she'd forget her previous line of questioning. The shortcomings of Hanson North and why he was so very wrong for Jill were a subject that Lindsay could, and had, ranted about for hours at a time, on previous occasions.
"Good. He really doesn't deserve to get laid after you whupped his ass, three days in a row."
"No. No, absolutely not."
"You're agreeing with me." The laser glare was back, stronger than before. "You never agree with me about Hanson. You always just sit there and nod patiently and wait for me to run out of steam."
Jill was caught now. Trapped like a small furry animal in the headlights of an oncoming truck. A small part of her brain that could still think analytically knew she had seen any number of suspects in this very same position, and every one of them had caved eventually to Lindsay's interrogation technique.
"And, tonight... Tonight, I agree with you. I have just spent the past three days in a courtroom with him."
"Yes," said Lindsay, her drawl intensifying as she concentrated. "But that's not why."
The more innocent she tried to look, the more the need to confess bubbled within her.
"You're trying to throw me off the scent. Something happened. Spill!"
"It's nothing, really. No big deal."
"OK. You said that Denise nee..." There was a moment of silence, and Jill was able to watch with a morbid fascination as her friend joined the dots. "Oh my god. Seriously?"
"It's OK. Really," said Jill, making the weakest rebuttal of her career.
"Denise? You know that's like, sexual harassment? Tell me everything."
Jill picked up her glass, to find nothing but ice cubes.
"I need another drink."
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