DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. Popular belongs to Ryan Murphy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The version of Sam used in this story comes from another embarrassingly long Brooke/Sam saga I wrote a while ago called Just a Little Insight. But you donít have to read that to get this. I just used Sam becauseÖ itís Sam. And Carly Pope is hot.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Sneak
By Misty Flores

 

PROLOGUE

Lindsay Boxer

Things had changed, and she hadn't meant them too.

Things didn't sneak up on Lindsay, but this … thing had. Lindsay counted on Cindy now. It was a weakness that, in those dark moments when she found herself alone and unable to stop her brain from sneaking in a coherent, introspective thought, she discovered she hated.

It wasn't just Cindy's extreme resourcefulness; her ability to look at something everyone had already looked at ten thousand times and discover something everyone else had missed. It was in her eagerness, her dogged determination to find a solution, get the bad guy, solve the crime. Her energy and her passion actually matched Lindsay's; and that was new. Instead of telling her to step back, take a break, to just not THINK, Cindy was the best kind of enabler. She found leads; she literally couldn't stop. In her obsession, Lindsay discovered Cindy understood her in a way no one had.

She also finally understood just how god-damn frustrating it could be to try and rein a person like that in.

And still, she earned Lindsay's respect, and she had done it the hard way. Pushing past scathing glares and angry quips and threats of arrest and obstruction, Cindy won her place in the 'club' that hadn't wanted her, and now Lindsay couldn't imagine it without her.

That notion brought with it so much fear, because despite herself, Lindsay was falling in love, and God-dammit, she just couldn't handle that.

Not with Cindy. Not now.

 

Cindy Thomas

If you asked Cindy Thomas, it had never happened. She was living in a grand state of denial, where she lived and breathed her job, and never once thought of what did or did not occur one late night when it was just her and Lindsay and her friend inexplicably straddled her lap and proceeded to give her the most acute set of metaphoric blue balls ever.

Cindy had a problem. She was a nosy busy body, and she knew the only reason she could get away with it was because she just happened to be a CUTE nosy busybody. For that, she thanked her parents. As a child she had been extremely annoying and asked way too many questions, and thankfully her father found it damned endearing and encouraged it. This won her no friends in junior high. In high school, however, she developed the tiniest bit of a censor, and some pretty awesome breasts. Her hair mellowed out, thanks to the introduction to hair products. She was little and petite and just cute enough to be interesting, maybe even sexy, with the right stylist. People found her less annoying with the awesome breasts and the hair.

It wasn't conceit that brought up Cindy's assessment of her characteristics, but rather, a taste for the logical. She loved to dream, but was all too aware that in her job – what she needed were facts. She knew what she had to work with, and what she had was a stubborn streak and that damned 'cute' factor that made people want to pat her on the head and call her 'kid'.

She had learned to live with it. Whenever Jill crossed her arms and squinted and snarked about 'Backstreet Boys' or 'N'Sync' she just rolled her eyes and changed the subject. Claire seemed a little more thoughtful about it, but that was because Claire had to deal with two kids who kept insisting they were almost teenagers and Claire had no choice but to humor them. Still, nothing was as annoying as when Lindsay Boxer made some crack about her age. That made Cindy Thomas nearly homicidal.

"God, you're young," she'd hear, and it would cause the most embarrassed flush, which she couldn't even hide because being a redhead meant you had incredibly pale skin that showed the slightest blotch. She wasn't a kid. She was a damned good member of the club and she worked hard to be in good standing. She worked hard to be counted on, and she was NOT A KID.

Okay, maybe she wasn't ever going to be sexy in that sultry bombshell way that Jill had, but she was damned attractive.

Still, as frustrated as it made her, Cindy supposed there was some sort of security in that, because it meant her crush could stay nice and manageable and one-sided.

Having Lindsay Boxer grind into her, stick her tongue in her mouth and her hands down her shirt had shattered that to all hell.

Or it would have, if Cindy Thomas dwelled on it. Which she didn't.

She didn't think of it at all.

 

Lindsay Boxer

She could have slept with Cindy.

The opportunity had been there, on the tail end of one of those particularly long days that had become so frequent lately.

She had been tired, a little drunk and that reckless feeling, combined with the close proximity of a suddenly intoxicating little redhead with doe eyes who couldn't do subtle if her life depended on her, made it all too easy to kill what little inhibition she had.

Listening to Cindy ramble on, one hand buried in Martha's fur, the other curving along the pale, elegant curve of the reporter's nape, Lindsay had been caught up in the moment. There was no Claire to stare with reproach (because Claire had a bit of a protective streak when it came to the young reporter, and she knew as well as Lindsay did that she was in no shape to mess with a heart that open). There was no Jill to eye them warily (because Jill knew her better than anyone and understood that a person with genuine good character and idealism both fascinated and repulsed her, and ultimately, won her over. I.E: Tom).

At three in the morning, things were frighteningly uncomplicated, and there was nothing but the simple occurrence that Lindsay really wanted to shut Cindy up.

So she did.

She didn't ask Cindy for permission. She knew Cindy would kiss her back. She knew the moment that she methodically pulled the wine glass out of Cindy's fingers and straddled the smaller woman on that couch that Cindy would never say no. With black locks tenting the younger woman's face, Lindsay ignored the brief look of shock and lowered her head, capturing wine soaked lips hungrily.

Cindy was a good kisser. Lindsay knew she would be. She caught up quickly, and without apology or hesitation opened her mouth, grabbed hold of hips astride her and bucked into the curve of her hips.

Cindy's palms pressed possessively against her waist, one palm moving up instinctively to dip under Lindsay's shirt, spreading over sensitive skin. Her lips moved passionately against Lindsay's, gently but firmly probing with her tongue, never giving an inch, pushing back every time Lindsay pushed forward, a rhythmic duel. She knew what to do with a woman, Lindsay could taste it, could feel it, in how Cindy handled her.

The fact that it was going to be fantastic sex on a night she desperately needed that kind of relief was enough reason to get more frantic; pulling buttons out of holes, sinking teeth into that soft, sensitive skin just under Cindy's jaw.

If Lindsay had kept going with what she herself initiated, she would have had a damned good one night stand.

She knew it. She expected it.

What she didn't expect was the burst of actual emotion that overtook her when she paused long enough to stare into colored eyes. She didn't expect her heart to actually fucking flutter the moment Cindy breathed her name into her ear. She didn't expect to get so wet so fast, to want this so badly, to care so much that it was Cindy she was kissing.

She panicked. Tearing her mouth away, she scrambled off Cindy's lap, pushing the younger woman's hands away like they had seared her.

 

PART I.

Sam McPherson was on assignment from Los Angeles, doing a piece on (what else) the San Francisco Pride parade. Cindy's editor, a gruff man who lived on stereotypes, asked bluntly during a staff meeting who played for their own team, and Jake, a big ole' queen himself, had actually pointed to her. Overwhelmed by the sudden attention of her colleagues (some surprised, some bored, some amused and a couple interested), Cindy found herself making it clear that her fence swung both ways. Which of course, her editor didn't give a crap about – he just wanted a babysitter for the Times girl.

"Thomas!" he barked, entirely too loudly considering the room itself wasn't that big. "You're sticking with McPherson on this. We can do a companion piece for the paper."

"I have a deadline," she pointed out. "And Grant is already covering the Pride parade."

"You can do both." He was dismissive. Apparently she was a mutant and had the ability to be in two places at once. "Let's go. Back to work."

"Hi," Sam McPherson said, offering an apologetic wave as she weaved her way to her. "Sorry."

"For what?" Cindy asked, sliding her purse on and crossing her arms, pained smile crossing her lips. "Blowing the doors off my closet or the babysitting?"

"Well, technically neither were my fault," she pointed out helpfully. "But I'll buy you a coffee."

Cindy had been grumpy and annoyed, because at the moment Lindsay had left a voicemail on her cell phone demanding Cindy look up some lead about a gang presence in Chinatown. Although Cindy was still definitely not thinking about that thing that certainly did not happen close to three weeks ago, she still found herself avoiding having to be Lindsay's presence alone. That didn't stop her from her club obligations, and she really wanted to find the guys who shot the good Samaritan who was just trying to break up a fight outside of a local club. Still, she was human enough to feel a little bitter over the fact that at the moment she was being treated like a human Google.

And an assignment was an assignment.

For that reason, she put off the search for a half hour to have coffee with Sam McPherson.

It didn't hurt that Sam was dark-haired and gorgeous and didn't treat her like she was twelve years old. Ensconced in the darkness that occurred when one of your best friends was being stalked by a serial killer who liked to sew women's lips shut, Cindy found her company to be a welcome relief.

She was, Cindy found with some disappointment, in a long term relationship with a photojournalist turned segment producer for the Travel Channel, named Brooke McQueen, with whom she shared a sister oddly named 'Mac'. "Don't ask," Sam muttered, and Cindy found it hard not to.

Still, Sam must have seen the confusion in her eyes, because her shoulders slumped and tongue pressed against her teeth, she said quickly, "My mom and her Dad got married and fell in love and it was hell for us both."

"Oh." Cindy's eyes crossed slightly at the semantics of that. "I get it."

"Anyway – she's in London doing a piece, and I'm here. I'm actually more of a investigative reporter," Sam continued. "But you know what happens when everyone knows you're gay. Immediately anything that's gay is suddenly yours. You're buzzing," Sam told her glibly.

She was, indeed, buzzing. She hadn't stopped buzzing for the last half hour. At the moment, Cindy's blackberry was getting more of a work out than her vibrator.

It was, of course, Lindsay. Or Jill calling for Lindsay. Or Claire calling for Jill for Lindsay.

"Girlfriend?" Sam asked, smirk tilting up full lips as she smiled good-naturedly. "Boyfriend?"

Looking at Lindsay's name blinking at her from the blackberry, Cindy grimaced. "Neither," she admitted, determined not to feel wistful. "Just a friend. And a source."

"Do you need to get it?"

Warring with herself, Cindy glanced up at the dark brown eyes and then again at her buzzing blackberry. With a resigned sigh, she began apologetically, "Do you mind?" before lifting the phone to her ear. "Have you ever heard of texting? I've been in meetings all day."

"Where are you?" was Lindsay's clipped response.

"I'm at Papa Joe's."

"I'll be right there," snapped the bitter Inspector.

Glancing at Sam, Cindy began, "No, Lindsay-" but of course, bad ass Inspector Boxer had already jumped off the line.

"Dammit," she breathed. "I'm so sorry," she began to her gorgeous companion. "I'm working on this case-"

"No, it's fine." Sam looked suddenly intrigued. "What kind of case?"


Lindsay didn't know what made her more annoyed: the fact that she had actually had to call Cindy more than once to get a hold of her, or that Cindy not responding right away put all sorts of thoughts in her head that she knew were insane but didn't stop her from thinking them.

She was actually relieved when she heard Cindy's crappy greeting. Relieved. Up until that moment Lindsay had been fighting off images of Cindy in a ditch or in a serial killer's hands, and when the annoying reporter finally picked up after two unreturned voicemail messages, Lindsay had actually closed her eyes.

Then of course, she realized Cindy was just not returning her calls and that just pissed her off.

As if it wasn't enough she had the damned Kiss-Me-Not killer on her ass to worry about, or the homicide and the killer who had disappeared into the impenetrable Chinatown…

"I know that look," Claire muttered to her, so low Lindsay could barely hear her.

"What?" she snapped.

"You're clomping like a horse and looking ready to wring her neck," Claire continued. "Be nice."

Whirling, Lindsay gave both of her following friends an annoyed glare. "She didn't pick up her phone!"

"You never pick up your phone," Jill responded, brow arching into her forehead.

"And when you do you snap at her like she's committed a felony."

"She has," Lindsay reminded them both. "How many times have I come back and found her in that damned cage? You know what? I should just lock her in there."

Claire rolled her eyes. "That'd be helpful."

"She has a whole other job." Jill shivered in the crisp air. "It's not all dedicated to your cases."

"You coulda fooled me, the way I can't get rid of her," Lindsay grumbled. "And you know what? The fact that you two are defending her isn't making me feel any better about this."

The medical examiner and the ADA exchanged another glance, which only pissed her off more.

"And stop it with that." When Jill fought her smirk, she pointed an angry finger her way. "And with that. This is not endearing. It is not cute."

"Says you," Claire murmured, and Lindsay actually growled, as she grabbed hold of the diner door and yanked it open, looking for the telltale sign of a redhead in their usual spot.

She found her.

She didn't find her alone.

"Hi guys," Cindy said, offering an amiable, trembling smile as they came forward.

"Who is this?" Lindsay asked pointedly, nodding to the young brunette currently occupying the place in the booth beside Cindy.

"Um, guys? This is Sam McPherson."

Mouth dropping open, Lindsay glared with disbelief. "You didn't return my calls because you were having LUNCH?"

"Not exactly," the girl named Sam replied, which only annoyed Lindsay more, because really – who the hell was asking her? "She's babysitting me."

Glancing at Jill, Lindsay's hands went to her hips, eyes narrowing.

"Babysitting?"

"We're doing an assignment together," Cindy replied helpfully, bumping shoulders with the dark haired woman. "But Sam is an investigative reporter and she actually had some ideas about the murder-"

"She what?" Lindsay barked, suddenly stung. "We don't talk to reporters, Cindy."

"You talk to me."

"That's because you STALKED me until I had no other choice."

Cindy blinked, and Lindsay noticed an embarrassed glance to her new buddy. "This is Lindsay, by the way."

Sam McPherson licked her lips, and offered what Lindsay supposed would have been a charming smile, if she was in any mood to like her. "Hi. I'm sorry. I know I'm crashing your party-"

"Don't worry about it," Jill breathed, sliding into the open bench right after Claire, stretching out a hand in greeting. "I'm Jill."

"Claire," the other one said warmly.

"Nice to meet you."

Lindsay was apparently the only one who could do math. "Well this is great," she breathed, standing like an idiot because everyone already had a seat and the booth only seated four. "I'm fine, by the way. I like standing."

Four equally surprised expressions glanced her way, and as Cindy blanched and Jill actually smirked, Claire began to eye the diner. "There's a stool around here somewhere…"

"A stool!?"

That was met with a thick silence, before Sam suddenly rose. "You know what? I need to get back to the hotel to… do stuff, but… how about I call you?" That little gem of a sentence was directed toward Cindy, who in response pulled out a business card and handed it to the other girl.

"Sure thing," Cindy responded. "We'll …"

"Definitely," Sam said, and brown eyes shot a glance at her. Mouth twitching, Lindsay stared right back, making a point of flipping the leather of her jacket to reveal her gun. "Right. Nice to meet you…" Ducking her head, Sam weaved around her and headed to the door.

As soon as she was gone, Lindsay set determined brown eyes on her reporter. "Listen to me. We do not talk to reporters. We talk to you, and that's it. Do not bring her around anymore, and do not discuss this case with her. And when I call you? You answer your damned phone or call me back within the hour or I'm going to assume you're dead, and then I will be EXTREMELY pissed off when you are not. Do you understand?"

Not waiting for an answer, Lindsay sighed. Settling into the padded booth beside Cindy, she idly grabbed a menu and began to peruse it.

When no one spoke, she finally looked up.

There were three sets of glares all pointed in her direction.

"What?"

Part 2

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