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.
I'm Just No Good At Giving Relief
Cindy had dated a few girls in college. She had visited the student LGBT group at Berkeley for a class article and her first girlfriend had been in the student office: Ashley, all dark hair and darker eyes, a sophomore and a transplant from the east coast. She'd had a nasal Boston twist to her words as she'd shaken Cindy's hand and uttered rapidly how awh ya and weah havin' a time heah, why don't ya join us? And so Cindy had stayed for the small pre-Thanksgiving party and had ended up with Ashley's phone number.
They'd lasted a few months, and then she'd gone with some boy who was all hands and no technique. Going into her junior year she met Danielle whom everybody called Danny, and she'd had dark hair too. About the time Cindy met brown-eyed Fiona her senior year, she had twigged to a pattern in her dating, and so knew the moment she set eyes on brunette sex bomb Lindsay Boxer that she was in trouble.
At the moment, she was in more literal trouble as she cooled her heels in the precinct's lockup, the victim of a nosy neighbor who'd caught her snooping.
"You get arrested a lot," said Lindsay as she unlocked the cage in the bullpen. "There are better ways to get my attention, you know."
"None involving handcuffs, I'm sure," said Cindy, somehow sounding rueful about it.
Lindsay frowned a little at Cindy's tone. "Next time, just call instead of breaking and entering." She handed Cindy her coat and purse.
"If I called you, you wouldn't let me break and enter, and then how would I find out about our suspect's prescription for dilaudid?" asked Cindy.
"First of all, he's not our suspect, he's my suspect. And second, you let me worry about the finding on this one. If he had come home and found you snooping, he probably would have shot you. Stay out of other people's private property, you got it?" Lindsay escorted her to the doors. "Please. I'm asking you to be more careful, as a favor to me and my skyrocketing blood pressure."
Cindy mock-saluted. "Not to worry, inspector. I've learned my lesson. No more investigation. This time."
Lindsay scowled at her. "I mean it. Cuse is dangerous, and he's definitely armed. He isn't someone you can sweet-talk into letting you go. And I can't be there all the time to bail you out. I'll arrest you myself if it means keeping you out of trouble."
"On what charge?" Cindy demanded.
"How about the trespassing you committed less than two hours ago? Don't worry, I'll think of something."
This time she sounded genuinely irritated; Cindy checked her natural impulse to quip right back and took in the tension in Lindsay's frame. Her eyes widened fractionally. "You're really mad at me."
"What tipped you off?" Lindsay grumbled. "And don't you dare look at me all surprised. I ask you not to do dangerous things and you do them all the time. What else am I supposed to be but mad at you?" She stiffarmed open the bullpen door and pointed out with her free hand.
"Lindsay " Cindy paused in the open doorway, torn between trying for a genuine apology and getting mad in return.
"I'm busy, Miss Thomas. So if you're done wasting police resources, you can get back to your desk, where I expect you to stay until I close this case." Lindsay wouldn't even look at her, preferring to stare at the floor until Cindy was gone.
Cindy jerked in her chair. She stood, poking her head over her cubicle divider. "Yes?" she asked, somewhat testily.
Her editor leered over the top of his bifocals. "Article. Due in one hour."
"It'll be on your desk," said Cindy, and plopped back into her chair. She stared at the blinking cursor at the end of her unfinished paragraph. Four hundred words in and her article still lacked any cohesion or consistency of tone. She had actually caught herself typing out "Lindsay" before jabbing backspace in mortification. Unfortunately, she had had to replace the name with "Inspector Boxer" since the article was one of Lindsay's cases, and she had something of a fetish for the term. The badge, the gun, the jacketit was such a sexy cliché.
She dashed off a final paragraph, hardly the juicy conclusion she'd been hoping for, and printed out a copy for her editor. She slapped it on his desk and was almost back to her own when he called her name.
"This isn't the article we discussed," he said, waggling the paper at her.
"Well, I don't have the information I need to write the article you want. This is all I've been able to confirm," said Cindy.
"I thought Boxer was giving you the scoop on this one."
Cindy's jaw clenched involuntarily. "Inspector Boxer isn't releasing details to anyone, and the case isn't closed."
"Whatever it is, take this back and try again. We'll move Hsu into your spot. I want a complete article tomorrow." He turned his attention back to his own computer, effectively dismissing her.
Cindy marched to her desk, stuffed her laptop into her bag, and left the Register in a huff of bad temper.
Her temper managed to simmer overnight and carry over into a beautiful San Francisco morning. She felt tight and awkward during her daily run, unable to establish a rhythm, and came in after half an hour more frustrated than when she'd started. Even the morning commute conspired against her by forcing a detour with a traffic accident at a busy intersection. She was twenty minutes late to work, but at least her editor seemed to sense that he wouldn't get anything out of her by pressuring her and let her stew in silence.
But her luck changed around lunchtime as one of her sources called in a tip. Cindy almost didn't call Lindsay out of spiteteach her to dismiss Cindy from the precinctbut she sucked it up in the name of justice. Lindsay's phone went to voicemail; Cindy gathered up her bag and jacket as she left a message. "It's me. A guy I know at the Church Street shelter where Cuse's sister works called me. He said that Perdita Cuse is coming in for her shift soon. I'm heading over there to question her. Do not worry, there will be plenty of people around and I doubt Cuse will show himself in broad daylight. I'll let you know what I turn up. Because I like to share." She snapped her phone shut with a little more vigor than necessary.
The homeless shelter was relatively uncrowded during the day. A polite desk worker pointed Cindy towards the right office, calling after her, "I think she's in with someone. Just knock and go right in, though."
It was enough to give Cindy pause; she stopped just shy of the doorknob as she heard raised voices inside the office. One a woman, probably Perdita Cuse, and the other an angry man's rumble. Cindy fumbled for her phone and speed-dialed Lindsay. This time she answered, sounding slightly less annoyed than the day before, but still distant.
"Look, this is not my fault so don't get mad, but I think Marley Cuse is here at the shelter," Cindy whispered.
"Get out of there," said Lindsay instantly. "Wait outside for me. Understand? I'm a block away from your location."
A gunshot preempted Cindy's response; she shrieked involuntarily at the noise and began to hustle away.
"Cindy? What was that? Are you all right?"
"Oh my god, I think Cuse just shot his sister," Cindy hissed into her phone. She heard Perdita's office door open behind her, turned to see Cuse sticking his head out. "Oh shit, he heard me." She abandoned any further thoughts of running as Cuse brought a large revolver to bear on her. Her hands automatically went up in the air.
"Hang up the phone and don't take another step," said Cuse, his calm voice in vivid contrast to the blood spattering his shirtfront.
Cindy heard feet pattering over concrete floor and her heart leaped to see Lindsay and Jacobi swing around the corner.
"Stop right where you are, Marley," said Lindsay, her gaze dialed in to the suspect. She refused to make eye contact with Cindy.
"Shoot me, I shoot the girl," said Marley without missing a beat. Cindy could see he was half-in and half-out of the doorway while she was directly in everyone's line of fire. To her right, Lindsay and Jacobi were inching closer.
"Then you'll still be shot. And the girl might survive, but we will make sure that you are dead," Lindsay gritted out. "On the other hand, if you put the gun down, we can talk. We can talk about the difference between the possibility of parole and the death penalty. The building is surrounded, Marley." She was barely five feet away from Cindy now, Jacobi just behind her.
The emergency exit at the far end of the hall clicked open, revealing a pair of uniforms. Marley took a step out of the office to turn in that direction, his gun momentarily swinging away from Cindy.
In rapid succession, Lindsay dove on her and dragged her clear to the floor while Jacobi took the shot. The weapon discharge was painfully loud in the cramped hallway but Cindy couldn't cover her ears, pinned down as she was by Lindsay's weight. She heard a dull thud somewhere behind her, Jacobi calling "Clear!" and the heavy rustling of officers converging on their position. Then Lindsay was letting her up, pulling her to her feet and holding her steady. Somewhat dazed, she heard Lindsay ask her if she was okay.
"What?" asked Cindy, staring at Marley Cuse's body. There were two bloody holes in his chest, but she could only recall hearing one shot.
Lindsay grabbed her cheek, a little roughly. "Cindy! Are you okay?"
Cindy blinked, shifted her focus to Lindsay, and felt the world realign. "Yeah. I'm fine. Are you okay? And can I say, I love your timing?"
Lindsay didn't respond, instead dragging Cindy out of the shelter and onto the sidewalk, where a line of officers kept the handful of gawkers and shelter occupants at bay. Cindy shook herself free only to have Lindsay get right in her face. "What the hell is wrong with you, coming to see the suspect's sister? Did you not hear me tell you that Cuse was armed and dangerous? Did you not hear me ask you to stay at your desk?"
"Ask me? You practically ordered me before you kicked me out of the station!" Cindy snapped.
"Do you know how lucky you were that Jacobi and I were already on our way here? What if Cuse had taken you hostage? What if he had killed you?"
Cindy felt nearly light-headed with anger and adrenaline. "I was following a lead! You walk into situations way worse than this all the time when you chase down a lead."
"Because that is my goddamn job," Lindsay shouted, turning more than a few heads. "You are a civilian. There is no story so important that you can't wait for me to check things first. If you had gotten hurt today, I"
Jacobi interrupted her as he came out of the shelter, inserting himself between the inspector and the reporter. "What's going on out here?" he asked, the words mild but with a sharply warning undertone.
"Cuse?" Lindsay asked instead.
Jacobi shook his head.
Lindsay seemed to back down somewhat. "Okay. I'm gonna take Miss Thomas home and get her statement."
Before Cindy could protest, Lindsay had manhandled her through the crowd and to Cindy's car. "If you think I'm letting you drive Maggie, you've got another think coming," said Cindy, folding her arms.
"Give me the keys and get in the damn car," Lindsay growled. For the first time, Cindy registered how truly angry Lindsay was. She pursed her lips, but handed over her keys, hoping to get Lindsay to open up and move past her tired you're-a-civilian line. She was angry about something more than just Cindy's interference, and during the short but silent ride to her apartment, she tried to figure out what was so different about this case. Other than the near-hostage situation.
Lindsay stomped up the stairs in Cindy's building, long legs propelling her up and forward at a rate Cindy found hard to match. It was almost as if Lindsay were running from her. She finally caught up right at her apartment door, where Lindsay was letting herself in with Cindy's keys. "Did you bring me here for my statement, or to put me under house arrest?" she demanded.
"Shut up," said Lindsay, and kissed her. She drove Cindy through the open door, kicked it shut behind them, and pressed Cindy against the wall with her body. Cindy could feel the solid outline of Lindsay's badge pressing into her waist, Lindsay's hands pushing up her shirt, Lindsay's hot mouth sucking at her neck. Her shock gave way to a wave of arousal; her arms snaked around the taller woman's neck as her body sank into Lindsay's.
Lindsay kissed her again, hard and just a little desperate. Cindy opened her mouth, felt Lindsay thrust her tongue inside and met her halfway until she couldn't breathe. "Mmf, Linz, Linz," she said.
"What?" asked Lindsay, already fumbling with the buttons of Cindy's vest.
"Bedroom," said Cindy, motioning slightly with her head.
"Bedroom," Lindsay agreed huskily, letting Cindy tug her in the right direction. She got the vest off, waited a moment as Cindy pushed off her jacket, then stripped off Cindy's shirt in one quick move. She pulled her own shirt over her head as she felt Cindy tugging at her belt buckle. "Wait, wait, wait." She yanked her holster off first, laid it gently aside. Cindy went right back to her belt but Lindsay gathered Cindy up in her arms, pulled her flush against her body, leaned down and kissed her. They drifted slowly until Cindy felt the back of her thighs hit something; they were at the couch. Before she could register the heated gleam in Lindsay's eyes, she felt herself tumbling backwards onto the cushions. Lindsay tugged off Cindy's shoes and pants, quickly shucked her own, and crawled up Cindy's body before rejoining her in a kiss.
Cindy felt a knee press up against her core and arched into the sensation, her arousal deepening. She ran her hands up Lindsay's back, feeling the deceptive strength of her. A snap and twist and she was pulling off Lindsay's bra, flinging it away. Lindsay braced herself over Cindy with one hand, raked the other down Cindy's torso to her underwear. She dug under the elastic and yanked it down, sending it join her bra. Cindy inhaled sharply as Lindsay's fingers ran down the length of her labia, up again to rub her clit. "Yes, yes," she gasped, and then Lindsay was inside her, two fingers curling up and making her hips snap frantically. She wanted to make it last, but Lindsay was relentless, bending down to bite one nipple as her hand drove Cindy closer and closer to the brink. She couldn't stop gasping, her breathy yeses and oh gods devolving into ragged panting.
She bucked up under Lindsay as she came, every muscle clenching tight, and then she was a boneless mess. Lindsay collapsed on top of her, swallowing her mouth up in another kiss.
They never did make it to the bedroom.
"I'm still mad at you," said Lindsay. She stroked Cindy's arm idly, unable to summon the energy to do much more. She was stretched out along Cindy's couch, the other woman pulled up against the length of her body. Her right arm curled under Cindy's neck and lay across her chest; the other draped languidly over Cindy's hip. Long moments after her last orgasm, she had managed to pull a knitted afghan off the back of the couch and cover the both of them, though her feet stuck out a little at the end.
"I'm still mad at you," said Cindy in return. She tried to look over her shoulder. "But if this is how you get it out of your system, feel free to get mad at me all you like."
Lindsay gave her a nudge with one leg. "This was not me being mad. This was me being relieved that we survived the day." She let out a long yawn.
"Linz, for what it's worth, I'm sorry I put you in that position," said Cindy. She covered Lindsay's hands with her own, let their fingers interlace. "I promise it won't happen again."
"Good promise," said Lindsay. She managed to drop a kiss onto the top of Cindy's head.
"But you have to promise never to yell at me in public again," Cindy continued.
"I think I can manage that." She felt Cindy relax completely. After a few minutes they were both asleep.
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