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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Alison for the beta!

By Demeter


Returning to the living room Lindsay stopped cold at the sight.

Standing on the chair barefoot Cindy was just adding the last ornament to the Christmas tree, the tiny angel sitting on top. She regarded her work with a critical and cute-as-hell frown. Lindsay walked closer, tempted to run her hand over a bare calf, but she held it out to Cindy instead who stepped down from the chair.

Lindsay embraced her from behind. In a teasing mood she said, "You could have just waited for me. I wouldn't have needed that chair."

Over her shoulder Cindy sent her a mock-glare. "In your dreams. Not even in those boots." She looked back at the tree, frowning again. "I don't think it's completely straight," she said with a sigh.

"No, but that's kind of appropriate, don't you think?"

"That is..." Any critical statement was lost in the laughter at the unintended pun. For Lindsay, as she pondered the significance of Cindy Thomas decorating her Christmas tree, with an ornament just over twenty-five years old, there were a whole lot of different emotions lingering under the surface, carrying memories with them.

She hadn't bothered with a tree since Tom had moved out; she had worked through every holiday since then, and through most before.

The angel had seen better days, too, its bright silver dress had dulled, one wing sporting a tiny crack that one couldn't see from the distance, but she knew was there. It made you want to protect it. Silly.

Lindsay remembered how her mother had bought it when she was ten years old, how she had been staring in awe at the delicate, shiny figurine. Happier days in the Boxer household, when her parents were probably having problems already, but neither she or her younger sister Cat had noticed any of it. Or maybe that was really the last time everyone had been happy. How could she have known? She hadn't seen her own marriage crumble until it was too late to try and save it.

Then came the first year after her father had moved out. Fast forward. The first time she and Cat had pretended to be in a holiday mood for their mother's sake who was already sick.

The one time they didn't see each other at all, because neither of them could pretend any longer.

The early years with Tom, she'd still had hope that her fate was in her own hands. It didn't last long, and it was hard to tell what had really been the last straw. There was the year when they had thought there's be a baby crawling under the Christmas tree, but there wasn't. Melissa Paquin's body had been found two weeks later.

Next Christmas found her working a double shift, coming home to the lonely, but intimate setting of her attic. She'd fallen asleep over grisly crime scene pictures and woken with a stiff neck to the sound of church bells. It was almost obscene to think that the old box had been sitting close to pictures and articles of brutal murders. Sorry, Mom. I'll do better.

Maybe she would have invited her father this year, if things had turned out differently. She blinked away tears, aware of the lingering trace of guilt that would always be there. She'd see Cat and the girls this year instead of just call. You never know if there is a second chance. Cat was divorced, too. They both hadn't done so well in that department, except Lindsay's sister did a kick-ass job raising her two daughters. The only family she had left.

Every 26th though, she, Jill and Claire had set aside a few hours to spend together, her family of the heart. This year, Cindy would be introduced to the tradition, and that wasn't the only change.

It was a good moment for the angel figurine to make a reappearance; like a good luck charm.

Time to count her blessings alongside of the losses. She hadn't done so bad lately.

"Do you want me to get up there again? Or do you want to prove you can really reach that top on those heels?"

She dropped a kiss to Cindy's neck, holding her just a little bit tighter. "No, it's good."

"Really?" Cindy turned in her arms, her worried gaze an interrogation technique as effective as Lindsay had ever mustered. "Everything okay?"

"Yes," Lindsay whispered. "It's perfect."

The End

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