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Not the Surprise She Was Expecting
Ever since the disaster that was her twenty-first birthday party, Blair had taken great pains to ensure that she was surprised with exactly the right kind of party from then on. No more old ladies with ukuleles and Jo dressed in a rabbit suit, although the latter had at least been good for a laugh, from that moment on she'd been determined to have nothing but sophistication and elegance surround the celebration of her birth. That was why she really couldn't understand how she'd ended up here, in a police cell, when she should have been out painting the city a subtle shade of rose.
As always, it had been Jo's fault. Just as it had been twenty years earlier, when they'd been hauled into the slammer for underage drinking, and her life had been irrevocably changed. It was as if the woman had been put on the planet with the sole intention of disrupting Blair's perfectly, perfect life, and forcing her to associated with the underbelly of society.
"Wha'cha in for?" Her cell-mate asked, a thick plume of smoke escaping her lips with each guttural sound, and marking her as a definite member of said underbelly.
"It's all a misunderstanding," Blair assured her. "I shouldn't be here."
"Me either." The woman stepped closer. "The cops set me up."
"You too?" Blair had no idea the police were so corrupt, but if they could arrest 'Blair Warner' there was no telling how low they'd stoop. "Was it a dark haired detective by the name of Bonner?"
"Warner!" Was shouted from outside the cell, and before Blair could say a proper farewell to her companion, she was ushered into a tiny interview room and left to wait.
Ten minutes later a tense and aggrieved looking Jo entered the room and took her place on the opposite side of the table. "Blair."
Blair was on her feet in seconds. "Don't you 'Blair' me, Jo Polniaczek, get me out of here!"
"That's Detective Bonner," Jo corrected. "Now sit down before you wear a hole in the lino."
"I will not -"
"Sit!" Blair sat. "You've got two choices here Blair, you can tell me the truth, or you can spend the rest of your life locked up."
"I want to see my lawyer."
"Ain't gonna happen." The last thing Jo needed was for some overpriced Harvard boy to come along and spoil things. "Spill."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Blair said honestly.
"Sure you do, Princess, now you can either tell me now, or later, but believe you me, you're gonna tell me everything." Jo had perfected her interview technique by watching hour after hour of Hill Street Blues, and she could already tell that Blair was weakening. "Who's Dickie McSweeney?"
"Dickie? Is he in some kind of trouble?"
"I'll ask the questions."
"Really, Jo, there's no need for that tone." She crossed her arms and sent a silent 'turn blue' in Jo's direction.
"I'm askin' ya for the last time; who's Dickie McSweeney?"
The fire in Jo's eyes was all too familiar and Blair decided that she'd better do what she was told; she could make Jo pay for it later. "He's a member of the board."
"Of Warner Industries?"
"Of course." Blair rolled her eyes as the foolishness of the impoverished. "He took over the post last year when his father passed on."
"His old man croaked? Was it natural causes?"
"He had a heart-attack on the ninth tee."
It could have been chemically induced but, for the moment, Jo was willing to let it slide. "Go on."
"That's it. Old Mr. McSweeney died and Dickie took his place." The death notice had been in the New York Times, so Blair really didn't understand Jo's scepticism.
"And now you're marrying him," Jo sighed.
"And now I'm..." Blair stopped in mid-repeat. "Marrying him? Him who?"
"Blair McSweeney?" She pulled an unbecoming face. "Mrs. Dickie McSweeney? Are you mad? That's almost as bad as Blair Polniaczek." There was a second's pause. "Not that I ever tried out the name."
"Come on, Blair, I know you two are getting hitched." Jo leaned across the desk, in her best intimidation pose. "Nat and Tootie told me everything."
"Then they're obviously deranged."
"How about the manager of the Russian Tea Room, is he nuts too? Only he's pretty sure the Warner/McSweeney party will be having their big wingding at his place in a few hours."
"The Tea Room." Blair's excitement quickly waned. "That was meant to be a surprise," she chastised. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to arrange for other people to arrange the perfect surprise?"
"You trying to tell me you didn't know nothing about this party?"
"Of course I knew about it! It's my surprise birthday party, I practically organised the whole thing."
Jo had worked on fraud cases that were less complex. "So Dickie is surprising you with a wedding for your birthday, that you organised?"
"I'm not marrying Dickie." For the first time Blair realised that even if she were marrying Dickie, which she wasn't, it still wasn't a police affair. "Why am I here?"
"To answer questions."
"About a wedding I'm not having?"
"That's it, I'm not saying another word until I see my lawyer." Blair made a zipping motion across her mouth before throwing away the imaginary key. "Not a word."
Jo waited five minutes.
"I'll be late for my party if you don't hurry up!"
"I thought you weren't talking?"
Blair scowled and went back to giving Jo the silent treatment.
"So how long have you and Dickie been dating?"
"We're not dating!" Blair cursed her own inability to keep quiet. "He has hair coming out of his ears."
That piece of information gave Jo pause. She knew Blair wasn't the superficial snob she appeared to be, but she wasn't Mother Teresa either, and hairy lugs weren't something she'd contemplate outside of royalty. "Is he a Duke or something?"
"No." That was it. Blair didn't plan to say another word to Jo for as long as they both lived. She didn't care how difficult it made their reunions, or how much flack she took from the others. That was it!
"So you're really not gettin' married?"
Blair shook her head in the negative.
"Nat and Tootie lied to me?"
Blair nodded; she'd sort out Nat and Dorothy later.
"I haven't lost ya?"
Blair wasn't quite sure she knew a head movement that would adequately answer that question; mainly because she wasn't quite sure what the question meant. "Lost me?"
Jo shrugged. "To someone else."
"You had me arrested and hauled into a smelly police cell because you thought you were losing me to someone else?"
Jo waved goodbye to her pension. "Yeah."
"That," said Blair, "is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me." She waited a moment for a look of hope to light Jo's face. "I'm going to kill you."
True to her words, Blair practically jumped from her chair, her hands encircling Jo's throat in a choking position, that rapidly changed to enable her to bring the other woman's lips to within kissing distance of her own.
"But first..." As Blair lips met Jo's, she decided that being truly surprised on her birthday wasn't such a bad thing after all.
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