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 may form part of a larger, AU series that I am planning.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Claire said as Jill turned into a parking spot in front of a slightly ramshackle building. Jill turned the ignition off and sighed.
"Talk you into what? I'm the one who's making all the sacrifices," she complained, getting out of the car and squinting at the sign above the door of the building. It read 'Bay Area Dog Shelter'.
"Honey, please don't talk to a mother of two about sacrifices," Claire warned, following Jill towards the building. "You are gonna go in here and pick out a cute little fluffy bundle of fun to present to your girlfriend on her birthday. Meanwhile I am gonna have to be frisked on the way out to make sure I haven't stuffed a couple of 'em in my pockets."
"I still say that you could get one too. I'm sure the boys would love it if you did."
Claire eyed her sternly.
"The boys. The boys would love it for about five minutes. Then they'd get bored with it. Just like they did with the goldfish and the hamster and the rabbit. Except with a dog, I'd have to walk it and clean up after it and give it more to eat than lettuce." She shook her head firmly. "The boys can get a dog when the boys are old enough take responsibility for a dog."
Jill's walking speed had slowed considerably during Claire's rant and she was now almost at a standstill. Claire turned back to face her.
"We talked about this before we got in the car. I thought you were over your issues."
Jill stared at her wordlessly for a moment. Then she nodded her head.
"I am. I'm getting her a dog. She'll love it. She's always talking about the dogs she had as a kid and yes, I'm doing it."
Jill started walking again, with purpose this time, and Claire had to jog to catch up. She linked her arm through Jill's and pulled her to a more acceptable walking pace.
"OK, just make sure I don't end up adopting the whole damn lot of them!"
"Oh my Lord! They're adorable!" Claire almost shrieked after they had been shown through to the puppy enclosure.
Jill stood back warily as Claire kneeled down and was immediately set upon by a dozen balls of fluffy energy. They jumped and licked and scrambled over the top of each other to get some of the attention that Claire was doling out. A copper spaniel with floppy ears was tugging on the end of Claire's scarf, backing away with jerky jumping movements and shaking its head.
"Definitely not that one," Jill decided.
Chewing of clothing was not to be condoned. However, despite her reluctance, she found herself softening at the sight of so many big eyes and wagging tails. A tiny sneeze from by her feet drew her attention and she looked down to see a little dog looking back up at her. Jill was no expert in dog breeds so she made no attempt to guess what kind it was. But it was mostly brown, with flashes of white on its face and undersides. And it was sitting, well-behaved and quiet, while the rest of the brood were licking Claire to death.
Jill hunkered down. The puppy kept eye contact, tipping its head to the side in curiosity. Jill reached out and scratched the dog's ears, rewarded for her gesture by a gentle pressure as the puppy leaned into the contact, closing its eyes in pleasure.
"I want this one," Jill announced, surprising Claire with the suddenness of the decision.
"Honey, we've only been in here for five seconds and you haven't even played with them," Claire said, standing up and wiping dog hair and drool from her pants.
Jill's puppy chose that moment to put a paw on Jill's knee and rub its head against her arm, seeking more ear scratching. The action sealed the deal for Jill who, after taking a deep breath, scooped the puppy up into her arms and stood.
"This is the one," she said, firmly.
"OK, it's your decision."
"Can you I dunno, check him out a little? Make sure he's healthy?"
Claire narrowed her eyes.
"Just to reiterate our earlier conversation. I am not a vet."
"I know you're not a vet. But it's the same principle, isn't it? Just look at him for me and tell me he's healthy."
Claire sighed but held her arms out and took the puppy from Jill. She held it out at arms length and raised an eyebrow.
"OK, first off, you need to change the pronouns you're usin' for this little girl," she said, bringing the puppy into her chest and running her fingers through its short, fuzzy coat, checking the skin for irritations. The puppy allowed the intrusion with no sign of upset. Finally Claire held her up again, looking at her face.
"Well, she looks healthy to me. Her coat is glossy and well-groomed, her eyes are clear and her nose is wet. A perfectly healthy puppy in the eyes of a non-vet," Claire declared.
Jill accepted the puppy back from Claire, cradling it in her arms.
"And I completely trust this non-vet's opinion, so let's go."
Claire put a hand on Jill's elbow.
"You're sure now? I mean she wasn't as lively as the others, she hung back maybe there's a reason for that. It could be that she wasn't treated well where she was before."
Jill smiled sadly.
"Then we'll just have to treat her well from now on and hope she forgets about the past."
Claire smiled back, and nodded.
"Let's get her home."
Lindsay Boxer closed the apartment door, leaned back against it and sighed, relieved to be home after a long, frustrating day. Some of her fatigue evaporated, however, when Jill stepped into the hallway. She was wearing an over-sized blue shirt. And not much else.
Jill moved in close, sliding her arms around Lindsay's waist.
"Happy birthday, Boxer," she whispered, before bringing their lips together in a languidly familiar kiss.
Lindsay pulled Jill closer and smiled against her cheek.
"I believe you wished me a happy birthday already. This morning. I remember it vividly," she said, her voice rich with humour.
"That's right, I forgot. And that's probably about your daily limit now, huh? You're getting on a bit and we don't want to put any unnecessary strain on your aged heart," she deadpanned.
Lindsay arched an eyebrow, sliding her hands up Jill's sides, underneath her shirt.
"You've been straining my heart for years, Bernhardt, no reason to stop now."
She pulled Jill back in for another kiss, but stopped just short of her lips when she heard a strange noise. A sort of tapping on the hardwood floor. She looked over Jill's shoulder just in time to see a puppy sit down with a bump and proceed to scratch at the red bow tied loosely around its neck. Lindsay's eyes widened. She looked back at Jill who was smiling indulgently.
"You you got me a dog?" Lindsay asked, not quite believing what appeared to be the case.
"Looks that way, huh?" Jill responded, bending down and holding her hand out to the puppy. "Here girl, come on, c'mere."
The puppy ambled over and allowed Jill to pick her up. She held her out to Lindsay.
Lindsay took the small, warm bundle into her arms. The puppy licked her chin.
"She likes you," Jill murmured, wrapping an arm around Lindsay's waist and leaning her head on her shoulder.
"I I can't believe you did this. I thought you said dogs were practice for the 'K' word."
"Let's not read too much into this 'kay?"
Lindsay kissed Jill's forehead.
"Thank you. She's adorable."
"They said she was a Border Collie."
Lindsay held the pup up so that they were face to face.
"What're we gonna call you?"
"You can decide over dinner, it's in the kitchen getting cold."
"You cooked?" Lindsay asked, surprised.
"No, but I did order in from your favourite takeout place," Jill said, pulling Lindsay in the direction of the kitchen. "C'mon, how long have we lived together? And you're still expecting Martha Stewart?"
Lindsay looked down at the puppy.
"Martha. She looks like a Martha, don't you think?"
"She looks like a dog. Who is not eating at the table with us. OK?"
Later that night, in the comfort of their bedroom, Lindsay kissed along Jill's collar bone, licking a path up to her earlobe which she took into her mouth and bit. Jill hissed at the dual sensations of pleasure and pain, arching up to increase the contact between their bodies. Lindsay's hand was on a slow, torturous journey south and had stalled on Jill's belly, fingers rubbing circles on the soft flesh there.
"God Lindsay ," Jill managed to gasp out as Lindsay finally reached her destination and agile fingers danced in well rehearsed patterns.
The dance came to an abrupt halt.
"Wh what is it?" Jill asked, panting.
"Shhh!" Lindsay said, placing a finger over Jill's lips.
A low whining could be heard coming from the hallway. Jill's taut body slumped onto the bed as Lindsay got up and went to the door. She opened it and bent down, Martha immediately scrambling into her arms.
"Hey little girl, were you scared out there all alone, huh?" she cooed.
"Lindsay," Jill began, warningly.
Lindsay walked over to the bed and flicked on a lamp, Jill knew instantly that she was going to be beaten. Two sets of big, brown eyes were looking at her imploringly.
She pointed at Lindsay.
"One night. That's it. She's not sleeping in here all the time."
Lindsay grinned and let Martha jump onto the bed, where she immediately snuggled into the warmth of Jill's body. Jill stroked her downy soft fur and sighed as Lindsay switched off the light and climbed back into bed.
"I mean it, Lindsay, this isn't going to become a habit."
Lindsay draped an arm over Jill's waist.
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