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.

Start Your Engines
By Aubz


Part 1

"Come on, just think of it. A weekend away from the city, halfway across the country…you and me alone in a tent having to occupy the long nights…" Cindy wrapped her fingers in the collar of Jill's jacket, pulling the woman closer. "I mean, it can get pretty cold, even for the middle of summer. Campfires at night to keep us warm…"

Jill gulped, trying to focus her mind anywhere except for the redhead in front of her. "While that does sound fine and dandy, I know nothing about NASCAR," she stated, moving the slim fingers gripping her jacket so they were now intertwined with her own. "And possibly going to a NASCAR race means I should know something about it."

"Forty-three cars, they go in a circle and you watch them. It really isn't that hard to understand," she smiled, leaning up to place a soft kiss on the blonde's lips. "I can walk you through it."

"Cindy, I don't know…"

"Look, we both need this freaking time away, okay? I know you will never admit it, but we do. I mean, Lindsay is even taking off time to go off on a weekend with Pete, and Claire and Ed are going up North…I had to spend six hours on the phone with my cousin to talk him into giving me his two tickets."


"A quick flight, and then a weekend of relaxation…possibly a sunburn."

"You strike a hard bargain, Thomas. Besides the prospect of time with you, what else does this weekend offer?"

"Well, there is the constant amusement of thousands of drunken rednecks. There is this little place just about a mile down the road from where we would be camping that has an arcade and go-karts and a waterslide," she said, starting to walk down the stairs in front of the hall. "We would fly into Detroit Metro, my cousin would pick us up and we would spend Thursday night at his house, and then he would let us use his car and tent and everything, because I told him it's better than letting it all go to waste. Plus, he loves and adores me, so it was only fair he gave me the tickets."

Jill sighed, putting her arm around Cindy's waist as they reached the diner. The two women silently joined Lindsay and Claire at the counter. "So, what are you two lovebirds planning for your long weekend?" Lindsay smiled, watching the two of them. "Anything that will make us jealous?"

"A NASCAR race up in Michigan," Cindy said, not giving Jill time to give an answer. "Jill has already agreed to go; she just doesn't know it yet."

"Do you even know anything about NASCAR? You never talk about it," Claire mentioned, smiling at the two youngest women in their group, who currently were smiling sweetly at each other.

"My dad used to watch it all the time and I've been to a few races. Honestly, camping for the weekend at a race track is more for the experience and memories than it is to actually go to the race," Cindy replied, finally tearing her gaze away from Jill.

"Well, I think you two will have a blast," Lindsay said, looking down at her watch. "I have to go. I will talk to you three on Tuesday." She vacated her seat and left the diner.

"She's smitten," Cindy said, moving the salad around on her plate. "I think it will be fun, Jill, you'll like it. I hope," she added, smiling at her girlfriend. "Our first vacation together."

Jill looked doubtfully at the redhead before turning her gaze to where she had helped the woman spread out the tent. "Are you sure you actually know how to put this up?"

"Yes. Now you can sit down over by the fire pit if you would like, because I don't think you'll be much help little miss 'Oh-God-It's-Sunlight!'" she replied, laughing. "I got this. Go take a walk around the campground. People are nice, say hi, if the ones that are right at the bottom of the hill ask why they haven't seen you around, tell them you're friends with little Cindy Thomas."

"You're not little, and I thought you said you have been to a few races."

"I have been to a few. I've been coming out here since I was a baby though. You never asked for specifics," she smiled up at Jill, her hands still fussing with the tent poles.

Jill nodded, turning to venture off around the quiet campground. When she returned almost a half an hour later, she was shocked to see Cindy had the tent up and the makings of a fire going. "You used to run around here in just a diaper? How cute," she said, sitting on the ground next to the redhead. She openly laughed as a blush crept its way up Cindy's neck and cheeks.

"God, remind me next time to not let you out of my sight," she mumbled, poking the fire with a stick.

"Where did my chipper lady go?" Jill asked, holding Cindy to her.

The redhead was quiet for a moment before looking into Jill's eyes. "This is the first time I've been out here since my dad died. And I am really glad it's with you," she whispered.

"Has anyone ever sat down with you and actually asked you about how you feel? How losing him affected you? I noticed when you were shot that your mom and step-dad didn't really stick around," she said, kissing the top of Cindy's head.

"Well, I wasn't dead, so they could go back to their lives," she replied, leaning into Jill's arms as the sun slowly went down. "No one has ever actually asked me that, and sometimes I am kinda glad. Because I have no idea how to answer it. I mean, what is the right answer when someone asks you how you feel about your dad just being taken from you so quickly?"

"Is there a right answer?"

"Good question," she whispered, staring into the fire. The sun had finally set and Jill watched the flames dance on Cindy's face. Around the campground, the smell of burning wood rose from the ground, and as the two lovers sat in silence, Jill finally noticed that the young redhead was crying.

"You know, when my dad died, I thought that I would never get to be as happy as I was when he was around. I vowed I would never forget him, and now, all these years later, things about him are just these vague flashes of him. Every day that passes, he slips away a little more, and as much as you try to hold on, everything will keep on slipping away. Nothing is sacred anymore, and nothing is true," Jill whispered, looking into the fire, her hand reaching over to hold tightly to Cindy's.

Cindy let a laugh escape her lips. "I didn't know you could actually get wise. Can I trust you to not get mad at me, while we have these campfire confessions going?"

"I won't get mad," she said, readjusting how she was sitting so Cindy could lean against her.

"For the longest time, and even in the time I have been with you, to me, you just seemed…well…a bitch," she said, resting her head back on Jill's shoulder.

"I have no idea if that is an insult or a compliment," she smiled, gently beginning to massage Cindy's shoulders, her hands slowly dipping forward, rubbing her chest through the thin fabric of her shirt. "I mean, whichever one it is, I guess is understandable," she whispered, her hands moving from her chest to her waist, slowly pushing the shirt up. "Maybe we should turn in for the night."

Cindy nodded; making sure the fire was low enough to ignore it for the night. She slowly crawled into the tent, Jill close behind. Closing them in, Jill immediately went to work, her lips connecting with Cindy's pulse point and sucking gently. The redhead squirmed, a grin on her face, as Jill's hands roamed freely over her torso, pushing the shirt up so they could splay over the soft skin. "Fuck me," Cindy mumbled, lifting her hips off of the sleeping bags. "Now."

"Gladly," she said, leaving a trail of kisses from her lover's neck, over the fabric of the shirt and bit down on Cindy's jeans, managing to unbutton and unzip them without the use of her hands. As she removed the pants with one hand, her other moved aside Cindy's underwear, letting her fingers slide roughly into the redhead. Cindy's back arched, a low moan escaping her lips when she realized that she was giving Jill the freedom to be as rough with her as the blonde wanted, and she was loving every minute of it as she moaned with each hard thrust of Jill's hand.

As her fingers sped up, each moan from Cindy's mouth gained in volume and intensity, slowly accumulating in the sudden whine and then quietness around them as Cindy's body shook violently. Jill sat back, pleased with herself for making her lover come so hard, so fast. Cindy finally recovered and pulled Jill down on top of her, kissing her passionately. "I love you," Cindy panted, still holding tightly to Jill, whose right hand still had three of its fingers pushed deep into the woman.

Jill crawled out of the tent and smiled as she saw Cindy sitting next to the fire, one hand holding a stick, poking the hot coals around, the other clenched around a bottle of beer. "What time is it?" she asked, joining the redhead, stopping to grab a beer for herself along the way.

"A little after three," she whispered. "Listen."

Jill sat next to her, listening to the silence. "What am I listening for?"

"Nothing. It's quiet, and peaceful. Something you never get in the city. I remember when I was younger, my dad would sit with me in this exact spot, and he would tell me all these stories about when he was a kid, and I would just listen to him and the silence," she said, looking at Jill, the fire lighting up a small area of ground. "When you said the memories fade…how long after death do they start to fade?"

Jill couldn't ignore the sadness in her lover's voice. "Just because they faded for me doesn't mean they have to fade for you," she replied, resting her forehead against Cindy's.

A shiver ran down Cindy's spine as there was a light breeze. She poked at the fire again, sending a small shower of hot ash with the wind. She grabbed the bucket of water next to the pit and doused the fire, watching the last coals burn out before silently heading back into the tent, Jill following quietly. The redhead situated herself under the blankets, waiting for Jill to follow before grabbing the blonde woman's arm and pulling it tightly around her. "I don't want the memories to leave," she whispered, closing her eyes tightly.

Instead of trying to think of the right words to say, Jill held the redhead as close as she could, gently resting her head on the side of Cindy's, kissing her cheek lightly. As she heard the redhead drift off to sleep, her eyes remained open. She normally avoided talking about her past, and especially anything involving her dad, but for the first time in her life it felt right to let the reporter in on everything. Cindy rolled over and gently curled herself into Jill's arms, bringing a smile to the blonde's face.

The sounds of the campgrounds surrounding theirs coming to life reminded Jill that they still had three days of just themselves. The sky outside was beginning to lighten with the early morning light, and Jill slowly climbed out of the tent, grabbing her backpack on the way out of the tent, and took a seat in the damp grass around the fire pit. Digging around and pulling out the small photo album, she used one hand to wipe a tear away. Instinctively she flipped to the middle of the album, her fingers running over the picture. "Is that your dad?" Cindy's voice was close to her ear, and she jumped when the redhead placed a hand on her back.

Jill turned her tear-filled eyes to look at Cindy. "Yeah," she whispered. "It was taken at a carnival when I was six. It's my favorite picture of us."

Cindy looked at the picture carefully. "My brain is always working, you know? So when I was sleeping, I was thinking…"

"That doesn't shock me."

The redhead playfully nudged Jill. "My point is, that I was thinking about memories, and I realized that we have two separate sets about our dads. One is the part of us that remembers every single father-daughter activity that we experienced with them. Those are the ones that every day we try so hard to cling to and never let them slip away, which just makes them disappear faster. The others are the ones where we remember how they were our best friends, our partners through thick and thin."

Jill turned her body so she could watch the woman. It still amazed her how wise Cindy could sound.

"Those memories were built the same way that we would build them with our friends growing up. Each moment gets a chapter in our minds. When something happens in the relationship with that person, if it is good, the chapter is added to the archives, but if it is bad, then we can erase that chapter and start new. Over the past year, I have had chapter after chapter added to my mind with you, Claire and Lindsay. And since we started seeing each other, it's just grown from there," she said, looking more at the sky than Jill.

"You need to learn to shut your mind down at night," Jill said, the smile on her face reaching into her voice.

"It scares me, Jill, all of this. Being with you and falling in love with you. I mean, I have heard everything that has happened with you and Luke, and you seemed so happy in that relationship, so what happens if we get too deep into this and then one of us fucks up, huh? What happens then?"

The color drained from Jill's face at the seriousness of the question. "This is supposed to be a stress-free relaxation weekend, Cindy. Do we have to get into this here?"

"Jill, if we don't get into it now, we never will. I actually have the energy and courage to let all this out, please don't brush it off," she whispered, laying on her back so she could look at the morning sky without having to strain her neck. "What happens when one of us fucks up?"

Jill leaned back, mimicking her lover's pose on the ground. "I am not going to sit here and try to explain to you what happened in my head to make me hurt Luke like that, and then think I could hide it from him, because I don't even know what I was thinking. What I can tell you, Cindy, is that I am trying with everything I have in me to not mess this up with you, and not because I don't want to get hurt, but because I don't think I could live with myself if I ever caused you any pain," she whispered.

"What makes me different than Luke? I am someone who would give up everything for you…"

"Luke was right when he told me I was never one hundred percent in that relationship. I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved him…"

"Were you thinking about me when you were still with him? Thinking about making me one of your secrets, like Hanson?"

The tone of the questions made Jill sit up sharply. "What the hell kind of question is that?" she asked, not able to hide the anger in her voice.

"Strike the second one, then. Answer the first," she said, also sitting up, gently reaching over and taking Jill's hand in hers. "I didn't mean that the way it came out, Jill, I really didn't. It's just been something that has been in my mind for so long…I mean, just tell me that while you were with Luke, all those looks at me, the smiles, the concern, tell me I imagined it and I will forever drop the subject."

The blonde woman looked closely at Cindy before taking a breath. "After I say this, we drop the subject completely, okay?" Cindy nodded. "At first, the concern was there because you became like a little sister to Lindsay and I, a daughter to Claire. You just always seemed so immature, and then as time went on…I realized that I was falling in love with you, but I was no where near ready to admit that to anyone yet, not even myself. Then when you were shot, that just did it. I knew, when you asked me to stay, that I never wanted to be without you and only you."

Cindy stared at Jill for a moment, wondering if she could even form a coherent word. Realizing she couldn't, she almost threw herself onto the blonde woman as their lips collided, sending them back onto the ground. Jill was shocked with the passion in that one kiss; it was almost as if every single pent up emotion the redhead had in her life was being released. Jill hungrily kissed the woman back, holding her close, frowning slightly when Cindy pulled away. The blonde woman stayed on her back, staring at the sky, almost dazed.

"If being that honest gets that kind of reaction, I think I like it," she whispered, resting her fingers on her lower lip, still tingling slightly from where Cindy had lovingly bit on it.

To Be Continued

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