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.
FEEDBACK: To Demeter94[at]yahoo.de
SERIES: Film Noir Series
Cindy had made a quick phone call before they left, all the warning her fellow group members would get. "It's a matter of trust," she'd told Lindsay. It went both ways, Lindsay thought, long over being uncomfortable about where this was going. Her job was on the line ever since she'd let Cindy go that night.
She was also aware that Cindy might hope for help on their 'missions'. Lindsay wasn't ready to look the other way with anything clearly illegal, but some of her cases had left her frustrated enough to be open for alternative sources, so to speak.
Cindy parked the car and handed Lindsay the keys back.
"Would you mind?" Lindsay asked, refering to the blindfold.
"We're almost there. Don't worry, I won't let you fall."
Lindsay chuckled. "I count on it."
As they reached the bottom of the stairs, she heard voices from the hallway, silenced all of a sudden as if someone had hit a switch.
"Careful, there's the threshold," Cindy whispered. Without seeing them, Lindsay could feel the looks on her as the heavy door fell shut. She finally ripped off the cloth. "Well. Good evening, ladies--" For a second, she was caught off guard. The presence of Mila and Alex was to be expected. She didn't know the tall brunette who was appraising her openly, or the African American woman who looked slightly concerned.
There was one attendant for this meeting though that Lindsay had seen before.
"Jill!" she said, baffled. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Hi, Lindsay." Jill smiled, but there was a hint of defiance to her voice. "Following my conscience, I guess. Same as you."
"I'm not--" Lindsay stopped again when she realized what she was about to say would probably be not welcomed in this circle. She still couldn't get over Assistant DA Bernhardt being a part of this... whatever 'this' meant in detail. Anyway, she was here to find out.
"I see you know each other," Cindy said a tad too cheerful. "You've met Alex and Mila. Claire and Petra, this is my friend Lindsay."
Petra snorted at the description while Claire reached out her hand in greeting. This was getting more interesting by the minute. "Nice to meet y'all," Lindsay said. "What are we here for?"
"Are you crazy?" Petra didn't raise her voice yet, but Cindy could tell that she was about to.
"You're meaning what exactly?"
"Damn it, Cindy! You were not supposed to tell her anything about James. I'm not even talking about screwing up the mission. If they find out, Jill is going to lose her job, and more than that. We all are."
"They're friends." Cindy shrugged, unwilling to deal with Petra's accusations. "I'm not worried."
"Well, I am. Listen, honey--" Her voice grew softer on the endearment. "I know, the last job was hard. Take a break if you need to, but don't throw away everything we've worked for."
"I am not," Cindy said irritably. "What's the matter with you?"
Petra stepped close, gently touching her cheek "Be careful. She's trouble."
"Why is everybody telling me that? I'm all grown up. I know what I'm doing. Goodnight, Petra. Don't be late tomorrow." She turned to leave, her angry steps echoing on the plain concrete.
Most of the time, the two of them were on the same page, except for a small period of time when Cindy had harbored an unrequited crush on Petra. At that time, Petra was still grieving for her wife who'd been murdered, gunned down on their wedding day. Cindy had accepted that and moved on. What had changed?
Cindy lay curled up against her side, an arm around her waist. Lindsay brushed her hand over soft red strands, the motion relaxing Cindy, but not her as her mind was still reeling with the information she'd gotten tonight.
She'd warned them to be careful with Cody James. His father was not only rich, he played golf with judges and politicians. Lindsay was willing to help. If there was dirt to be found on the younger James, she was determined to do just that. Also, she believed Mila's story, but it would be hell to prove.
Worse, she thought, if she could find Cindy, then any other cop could, too. She simply wasn't willing to let go again. Any time soon. Or ever.
"Please promise me you're not going to take some foolish risk."
Like the last time. Lindsay had heard many opinions. Some had cheered the group that was brave enough to reach where the law obviously couldn't. The more conservative voices in the city damned them as criminals, and technically they were. Even if morally was another story, maybe.
"I promise," Cindy said, not for the first time.
"Someone died." She hadn't meant to say it out loud.
"I know. And it's never going to happen again."
Lindsay just tightened her arms around her, but secretly, she wondered. How can you be so sure?
Petra, ever observant, hadn't let her down and seen it when Cody tried to slip the content of the vial into her drink. Cindy had taken another random glass from the counter and thrown the liquid at him while Petra used the commotion to disappear with the tainted one.
Cody sputtered and swore, "What the hell did you do that for, bitch?"
"We're going to find out what exactly it is and where you got it from, and then you can kiss your grants byebye," she shot back at him. "Don't... get too comfortable, Cody."
"You have no--"
She quickly disappeared in the crowd, back in the car in under five minutes.
"Good job, Red." Petra grinned as she hit the gas pedal. "We have more than enough for a sample. Off to part two?"
In the backseat, Cindy quickly ditched the wig and glasses and changed into plain black clothes. She hid her hair under a cap, aware of Petra studying her in the mirror. "What?"
"I don't know, that librarian look was kind of hot."
Cindy rolled her eyes. "I'd suggest you keep your eyes on the road. We're not done yet."
Lindsay suppressed a yawn as she was stepping through the entrance of the library that had been closed this morning. She didn't want to be here. It was her job to find murderers; this had nothing to do with it.
Still, the sight that greeted her made her shake her head in frustration. "Damn it." Her partner gave her a curious look, but she didn't care to elaborate. So much for promises.
It was impressive nonetheless black and white copied 'Wanted' posters with a picture of Cody James covered large parts of the walls and the counter. Underneath the photograph it said, 'date rapist'.
"It's the same handwriting," Jacobi observed.
"What makes you say that?" Lindsay snapped. "The other guy was tied to a tree."
"Well." Her partner shrugged. "The symbolism is pretty much the same. We find who did the decoration in here, we'll have Livingston's murderer."
She stared at the picture of the smiling student, once again wondering what was behind Cindy's anger. She hadn't yet dared to ask, but after this, Lindsay supposed that Cindy owed her some answers. "It's ridiculous," she said tiredly. "We don't even know if there's been a murder."
Jacobi gave her a quizzical look. "Our boss certainly thinks so. You don't?"
"I don't know what to think," she said, and it was at least half the truth.
The girls were clearly in a celebratory mood. Jill wasn't there, but all the others had gathered around the pool table, laughing and cheering.
After a long day of construing lies to her boss and partner, Lindsay didn't quite share the humor. She stalked over to where Cindy was standing with her friends, toasting to their success. She could call in backup and have all of them arrested.
Hopefully, they'd been careful enough not to have left any traces. Cindy was a breathtaking sight in the red dress, her hair coming down in soft waves past her shoulders, with the easy and carefree smile that didn't go well with a woman who was only a few steps away from prison.
When Cindy turned to smile at her without the slightest trace of guilt, disappointment got the better of her. "Can we talk?" she asked, earning a hostile glare from Petra.
"Can't you see she's busy?"
"Petra," Claire said warningly.
The smile was gone from Cindy's face and she rolled her eyes. "I can speak for myself. Come on."
Under the watchful eyes of her friends, she led Lindsay into the back room of the bar. "We won't be too long."
"So," Cindy said as they were alone in the half dark room, laughter and music floating over to them from the main room. "Got anything for us on James? It would be helpful."
"God, Cindy! What were you thinking?"
Cindy had expected Lindsay to be somewhat upset, but the way she found herself facing the wall the next moment was... unsettling. "Hey!"
"I can't trust you!" Lindsay whispered harshly, the raw pain in her voice almost making Cindy regret she hadn't told her about all of their plans. "You are so righteous, but look at what you've done. I'm a Homicide detective, but now I have to sit in on a task force that is dealing with vandalism, because they still think you guys killed Livingston."
"Then tell them we didn't," Cindy argued, slightly breathless. As complicated as this situation was, she couldn't not be aware of the proximity, Lindsay's hands on her body. She was desperate. That they had in common.
"Just pray that none of you left any traces."
"Don't worry. We know how to do this."
Lindsay let her go, making Cindy feel oddly bereft. "That's what I'm afraid of," she said wryly. "You should go back. Before anyone thinks I'm ravishing you in a dark corner."
Cindy smiled. "I thought that was what you were doing?" she asked, straightening her dress again.
Lindsay watched her doing it, then she leaned close to kiss her. Several moments passed before they finally went back into the main room.
She got a little drunk that night which made it easier to face the facts; that she wasn't close to crossing any lines, because they had all been crossed already. Failing to arrest a suspect. Sleeping with said suspect. Wanting to do it over and over again.
Falling in love.
It was the killing blow, Lindsay reflected as she pulled Cindy close to her on the dancefloor. She could have lived with her own misgivings, maybe, if this had just been a curious affair. Now that it wasn't, there was only one way this story could end: Badly.
"What are you thinking?" Cindy whispered, muffled against her shoulder.
"I want to go home with you," she said.
"One more game," Cindy said, taking her hand and pulling her over to the pool table in the corner. Her eyes were sparkling.
"Alright then. One more game," Lindsay agreed.
They didn't go home after the game. Mila closed the door after the last guest, dimming the lights. She tossed the keys onto the counter. "Bring them to me tomorrow," she said. "And remember, cleaning staff comes at six."
Mila had also left the music on, so they kept dancing to the soft, jazzy tune.
"So I hear you've got something to celebrate today..."
She'd deal with the fallout of it tomorrow. Tonight might be the last time for a fantasy to share.
"You want to help me with that?"
Lindsay felt her breath catch; she loved it when Cindy's eyes turned this darker shade with a desire sparked merely by words and imagination. She planned to do much more than that. Unhurriedly, she ran her hands down Cindy's sides, smiling when her fingers brushed over a ticklish spot. Then she sat her right in front of her on the edge of the pool table, making Cindy giggle in delight.
"Just wait," she whispered, leaning in for a kiss as she pushed the skirt of Cindy's dress further up. Cindy reached out to pull her closer, wrapping her legs around Lindsay's waist, moaning softly when the gentle fingers underneath her skirt finally found their target.
Lindsay paused for a moment, catching her breath, feeling the warm pulse of her own arousal. You are driving me insane. And it's never been this good.
"Please," Cindy urged her on. "Lindsay."
It was so very tempting, but Lindsay was determined to draw this out as long as either of them was able to stand it. She straightened, gently easing Cindy down on the table, beginning the journey over her body all over again, drawing her closer to the edge.
"I thought you said celebrate, not torture," Cindy complained, but her voice was rich with the overtones of lust.
"Trust me," Lindsay said, running her fingertips over Cindy's calves, knees, up her thighs, making her shiver uncontrollably. Then she leaned in for a taste dizzying and intoxicating, her fingers gripping more tightly now.
One last game.
Cindy's next breath sounded like a sob.
"For Christ's sake, be more careful at least."
Lindsay looked at Jacobi in confusion. He sighed. "That girl coming out of your apartment? Cindy Jean?"
She just stared at him incredulously.
"I won't tell anyone, but don't think that they're not going to find out anyway." He shook his head in annoyance. "Is she worth losing everything?"
Lindsay leaned back against the seat with a sigh. "You don't understand."
"That's right, I don't."
"Thanks for the warning anyway."
"You're welcome, partner," Jacobi said. It sounded only a tiny bit sarcastic, and very worried.
Cindy was in tears when she called, making Lindsay think of all kinds of worst case scenarios. "What happend?" she asked, ready to drop everything and go find her distraught lover, consequences be damned.
"I thought I could trust you," Cindy cried. "You know damn well what happened. Why did you have to arrest Alex?"
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