Jane sat on her couch, gun clutched tightly in her grasp. Tonight held the potential to be another restless night spent as a sentry on guard, waiting for nothing.
Her boogieman was long dead, but it didn’t stop her from dreaming about him. About others like him.
The murder, the rape, the missing children…then there was the loneliness when she came home. She did what she did to save others from heartache, but who was ever here to save her from hers?
There was a reason cops were known to eat their gun in the middle of the night.
Jane sharply exhaled. The energy from today was pent up inside her, coiled tight and ready to explode.
Looking down the barrel of a gun, realizing the finiteness of mortality, would do that to someone.
Her face and body still throbbed from today’s earlier altercation. Her left cheek showcased a road rash; Maura would freak about the gnash cut clear through her eyebrow being so close to her eye.
Another reason she felt so high strung. That woman knew how to push her buttons like no other. She was light and pure and kind, and on nights like these, Jane just wanted to tear her apart. Make her feel what Jane felt. The guttural, raw ache from being so close to something strong enough to tear her rip her open at the seams.
That’s what Jane felt every day she saw Maura’s smile, like she was being torn apart from the inside out. But if Jane hooked in her claws, Maura would have little chance of coming out on the other side whole.
She wasn’t like Jane. She hadn’t stared down the promise of death; she hadn’t seen the inevitability of something doomed to fall apart.
Yeah, Maura saw bodies in various stages of death and decay nearly every day, but somehow, she was still sweet and pure, innocent in a way Jane didn’t think existed in this world. Part of Jane wanted to protect her and keep her that way.
The other part just could not stop thinking about how Maura’s skin would feel under her fingers. What it would be like to consume her the way she’d been consuming Jane’s every thought.
Jane knew she shouldn’t do this, whatever it was that she set in motion thirty minutes ago by way of text message: Come over. It’s urgent.
But she hadn’t been able to stop herself. With every warning sign going off in her head, she had pressed send and waited. Barely a minute passed before the response came without question: I’ll be right there.
Maura, genius as she was, knew not to respond to Jane’s texts with a call. She also knew Jane would never put her in danger, never hurt her, never allow anyone to hurt her.
But tonight…Jane was afraid Maura had underestimated her. Whatever happened next could hurt Maura, and yet, Jane had absolutely no plans to put a stop to it.
A light tap of fingers sounded against the front door. Placing her gun back onto the coffee table, she rose to answer it. There was no question as to who was waiting on the other side; the sound of that knock could only signal one person.
Jane pulled the door open. There, wearing a matching pajama set, stood another one of her boogiemen.
“Hey,” she greeted evenly.
“Oh, Jane,” the woman answered, shuffling inside. “Your eye. Did you get that looked at? You really should have gotten stitches—”
“I’m fine, Maura.”
“Is that why you called me to come over here tonight? Because you’re fine?”
She hated when Maura did that. When she got straight to the point simply because she knew Jane would let her get away with it. When she stood there with her hand on her hip, head cocked, looking like something ready to be devoured.
Shaking her head, she backed toward the kitchen. “Sorry. Had a rough day. Want a beer?”
Maura looked confused. “I don’t mean to be rude, Jane, but you made it sound like an emergency. Is everything alright?”
“Can’t a woman just want to see her best friend?”
“Well, yes, but usually with a little forewarning. It’s almost midnight,” she said.
Jane ignored the concern. Popping the cap on her beer, she made her way to the couch. She sat on the middle cushion, giving Maura little option to put space between them.
As predicted, Maura still sat closer than friendship dictated. Their thighs pressed together, and Jane could smell the light floral of Maura’s expensive shampoo and the heat rolling from her skin.
They’d done this a million times. Sat here pressed side to side, watching commercials roll across the television screen while they chatted about nothing in particular.
Tonight was different, though. Jane had no intention of letting Maura leave with a yawn as she had all those other nights. She had no intention of going another day without feeling Maura beneath her, around her. Inside her.
“I’m sorry you had a bad day,” Maura said after a minute. “Korsak filled me in.”
“My new partner sucks,” she answered, followed by a deep pull of her beer. A drop of amber liquid fell from the rim and landed on her chest, instantly coloring her white tank top. She scoffed dryly. “Everything sucks.”
Maura eyed the coffee table. A couple of empty beer bottles, candy wrappers, and her gun littered the surface. “You can talk to me about anything, Jane. You know that, right?”
Jane rolled her eyes. “I’m not gonna blow my brains out, Maura.”
Maura swallowed loudly; they sat so closely to one another that Jane could hear it. She instantly regretted her crassness.
“I worry about you,” Maura finally said, barely above a whisper.
She studied Maura’s face. Concern colored her features. Fear. Jane hated to be the one that hurt her like this.
It wasn’t fair that Maura was always the one hurt. Or that Jane was always the one doing the hurting.
But there was no healing if there was no wound.
Jane picked at the edge of the label on her beer. “You wanna know what I worry about, Maur?”
She watched Maura nod from the corner of her eye. It wasn’t often that she shared these parts of herself, so it was no surprise when Maura got antsy at the silence. “Yes,” she answered aloud.
Maura would openly take on Jane’s darkest demon, listen to her darkest thought. It took every ounce of courage left in her body to look Maura in the face. She looked so open, so pure.
Maura lightly touched her arm. “Jane?”
She was so patient, gentle.
“I’m worried that I can’t control myself anymore,” Jane finally said, all gravelly and low. “That I’m going to ruin everything. Worse, that I’ll ruin everything and won’t care that I did it.”
“I’ll be here to help you pick up the pieces, Jane. I’ll be right here. You don’t have to go through any of this alone,” Maura said.
Her voice was soft and low; it made Jane want to cry.
She squeezed her eyes tightly closed, then opened them again. The last thing she thought she’d be was sad when she tore their friendship apart.
No, she expected to feel angry with herself. Disappointed for giving in, too. Guilty, maybe, which actually proved to be the first thing she felt.
It flooded her the moment she invited Maura over here tonight, knowing it was like taking a lamb to the slaughter.
Tonight wasn’t fair, really. She already knew Maura would give in to her. She knew Maura would give her anything she asked for, including this. She knew it. She had always known it.
But she had never acted on it. Not until now. Not until she had no fight left in her to hold back, to keep these feelings locked away to spare Maura the pain of their inevitable destruction.
“When I was on my back, staring down the barrel of that gun today, I could only think about one thing, Maura. One thing,” she said finally, holding up her pointer. “How fucking cruel would it be for me to die before I’ve had the chance to kiss you?”
She watched Maura flush, breathe faster. Her lips parted but words didn’t form.
Emboldened by her near-death and admission, Jane laid her palm high atop the soft thigh pressed against hers. She could feel the muscles tense beneath her grip. “How cruel would it be to die before I had the chance to touch you?”
Maura looked like she was struggling to stay upright. “Jane…I don’t know what to say.”
“Say that you want this too,” Jane prodded. “Say that it hasn’t all been in my head.”
“Of course it hasn’t been in your head,” she breathed. “Of course it hasn’t.”
Jane watched Maura lick her lips. Those shiny, beaconing lips.
“I think about you,” Jane admitted. “At night when I should be falling asleep. What would it be like to wake up next to you? Hold you?” Shifting her body, she turned so that they were both in the same small space of couch, cornered. “Do you ever think about me like that, Maura?”
The clock ticked away the seconds in the distance.
“Yes,” Maura admitted softly. “All the time.”
Jane pushed her luck, stalling the inescapable. “What else do you think about?”
Maura’s hazel eyes flicked between her own, measuring out the appropriate response.
“I’ve certainly thought about this moment too many times to count,” Maura finally answered. “How we’d breach the subject. Who’d eventually bring this,” she pointed between them, “up first.”
“Why didn’t you?” Jane lowly challenged.
Dropping her eyes, Maura shook her head. “I’m not brave like you, Jane.”
“Maybe I’m not brave,” she countered. “Maybe I’m destructive.”
“Does this feel destructive to you?”
“In a way,” she said.
Maura could read between the lines. She knew Jane, sometimes even knew Jane better than she knew herself.
“You aren’t going to do anything I don’t already want,” Maura countered. “Being with you isn’t going to break me. It’s the being without that’s almost ruined me.”
The admission spun Jane on her head. Here she was, thinking she was saving Maura by keeping her at arm’s length. Saving her from the heartache of loving someone like Jane. Brash, headstrong, and willing to put her life on the line for justice.
In her mind, she was saving Maura from a lifetime of hurt. She was saving Maura from becoming a widow by forty-five and empty by fifty.
In reality, she had been destroying them both.
“Jane,” Maura breathed. She cupped Jane’s cheek with her hand. It was a question; an answer.
Jane’s resolve dissolved at the soft touch. She closed the small space lingering between them, and their lips crushed together with a fervor that made Jane’s skin feel like it was on fire. Everywhere Maura touched her, kissed her, felt like an inferno.
Nothing in her life had ever compared to this moment. This taste, this touch, this feeling.
Her hands went underneath the sides of Maura’s shirt, while Maura curled her hands around Jane’s face, tangled them in her hair.
They separated when Jane tugged at the hem of Maura’s blouse. Jane was almost afraid to meet Maura’s gaze, but she realized that this woman was still Maura despite what they were about to do. She was still Maura, the woman who never judged her, never hurt her.
Her hazel eyes were bright and held no questions. Jane knew Maura understood the implications of this. She knew Maura understood that this was going to change them forever.
Pushing away Jane’s hands, Maura grabbed the hem of her own blouse and pulled it over her head, presumably to save her buttons from Jane’s fumbling. And in her haste to get to Jane in the middle of the night, she hadn’t put on a bra. Jane’s mouth went slack at the sight.
Her breasts were firm and round, begging for hands to support them. Jane ran her hands up Maura’s soft skin, stopping just short of their destination.
“Wow,” she breathed. “You’re beautiful.”
Maura bashfully demurred her eyes. “Thank you.”
Jane ran her thumbs lightly across the dusky rose of Maura’s nipples, watching them harden beneath her touch. A flush of color raced across the pale skin of her chest as Jane’s touch roamed.
After a moment, she flicked her eyes up to Maura’s. “Are you scared?”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Maura answered plainly. “It’s you, Jane. I trust you.”
“You sure you really wanna trust me?”
“I’d trust you with my life.”
The way she said it, with obvious finality, made Jane’s heart race. She’d always felt responsible for Maura’s safety in a way, but this was entirely different. This was mind, body, soul, wrapped up into this act they were about to do.
And yet, Maura still trusted her with all of it. Wanted her to have all of it.
Maura tilted her head. “Did you call me over with the intention of doing this tonight?”
“Yes,” she admitted quietly.
“Good,” she said. Her voice was low, a rumble that went straight to Jane’s center.
Maura covered Jane’s hands with her own and guided them upwards, molded those scarred hands around her soft breasts.
“Touch me, Jane,” she continued. “I want this too.”
Jane stopped thinking and started doing. She crushed their mouths together, lips on lips, tongue meeting tongue. Maura tasted exactly how Jane thought she would: sweet, light, and unsullied by darkness.
Jane abruptly realized that she wasn’t going to be destroying anything tonight. Her hands weren’t going to leave stains upon Maura’s skin; her pain wasn’t going to seep into Maura’s soul.
Maura was here to heal her. Here to let Jane take what she needed.
Here to save her.
Jane’s teeth and lips nipped and roamed down the soft column of Maura’s neck. She needed to taste her, consume her in order to feel the light.
They moved so Maura was lying on her back on the couch, Jane hovering above her. She watched the breath leave Maura’s lips in short bursts, the pulse in her neck beat furiously against her skin.
“What would you do if I told you that I loved you?” Jane asked.
“I’d tell you that I love you, too.”
Jane’s brow shot up. “Simple as that?”
“I’d hardly say it’s been simple,” Maura countered.
“You know what I mean,” she sighed.
Maura pulled her in for another kiss. When they separated, Jane was left gasping. “What took us so long?” she asked.
“Self-preservation,” Maura offered. “Self-sabotage.”
“Both,” Jane continued. “But I don’t want that anymore. I want you.”
“Then have me, Jane. I’m yours,” she admitted.
Jane kissed her way across Maura’s stomach, past her navel, and to the edge of coarse blonde curls between her soft, pale thighs. Maura bent her knee and then dropped it toward the back of the couch, opening herself up fully, and it stole Jane’s breath away with how beautiful everything about this woman truly was.
A sudden urge to taste that pink, glistening heat overcame her. She readjusted herself so that she was settled between Maura’s legs.
“You’re so beautiful,” she revered from her new position.
Maura smiled in response, tangling her fingers softly in Jane’s curls. “You said that,” she replied. “And so are you.”
Jane covered her resulting, unexpected blush by burying her face between Maura’s thighs. When she made contact with her tongue, Maura emitted a low, moaning exhale that made a jolt of electricity run through Jane’s core.
She explored Maura slowly. After all this time, she didn’t want to rush this. She didn’t want it to ever end. Luckily, it was easy to get lost in Maura’s taste. In the sounds tumbling from her perfect lips, the way her usually deft fingers clawed at Jane’s scalp as she ached for more.
“Jane…” she breathed. “Please…”
Focusing her tongue on Maura’s erect and straining apex, Jane simultaneously pushed a finger inside of Maura, then two, loving the way Maura clenched around her digits. Loving how wet she was; how ready she was already.
She pulled back only briefly, looking up to memorize the absolutely breathtaking expression currently on Maura’s face. She looked so open, so soft and mesmerizing in her wantonness.
Blinking her eyes open, Maura’s brow wrinkled softly. “Jane?”
A question, an answer, a declaration—Maura managed to assign so many different meanings to the one-syllable word, differentiated only by the rising or falling lilt of her voice. She loved hearing Maura say it. Loved deciphering the meaning of it and responding accordingly.
“Sorry,” she admitted, noting how low her voice sounded. “I wanted to look at you for a second.”
Maura pulled at Jane’s arm. “Come up here then,” she softly demanded. “I want to see you too.”
Once she got resettled and they were eye to eye, Maura ran her fingers lightly down Jane’s cheek. “You really are exquisite. I’ve always thought so,” she admired. “And I’ve wanted to do this for so long.”
Again, Jane’s eyebrows jumped upward. “You have?”
Maura nodded. “Ever since…ever since that night you showed up at my house for the first time. We shared my guest room and when I woke up, I…I wondered what it would feel like to wake up next to you for the rest of my life.”
A lump burned painfully in Jane’s throat. She covered it by fiercely crashing their mouths together. Their lips gnashed, tongues tangled. It was desperate, like Jane was trying to draw out every ounce of strength that she could, knowing that Maura would give and give and give until Jane was strong enough for them both.
Maura tugged at the hem of Jane’s shirt until she leaned back and yanked it over her head. She moved to get right back to the pale throat in front of her, but Maura stopped her with a gentle press of her hand against Jane’s chest.
“It’s my turn to look,” she said in way of explanation.
Manicured fingers roamed upward on Jane’s skin, up until her thumbs skimmed across Jane’s nipples. The touch was soft, but intentional. Jane felt herself leaning forward for more contact as those deft fingers traced across every dip and ripple of her skin.
Maura lingered on Jane’s scar for only a moment, a reverent wisp of a thing, before wrapping her hands around Jane’s back and pulling her down so that they were bare flesh against bare flesh from the waist up for the very first time. The soft suppleness of Maura beneath her made the fire inside Jane turn into an inferno, melting away the darkness with the flames.
Their lips reunited in a feverous, desperate frenzy. Jane reached for any part of Maura she could touch: a hip, her shoulder, an arm, the smoothness of her stomach. She felt hands roaming across her body at the same time, but the overwhelmingness of it all kept her from pinpointing where, exactly, Maura was touching her. She only knew that it felt perfectly right and that she absolutely did not want it to stop. Didn’t want any of this to stop.
With a soft moan, Maura dropped open her legs as invitation for Jane to reach down between them. Her fingers, hesitant at first, parted Maura’s curls and exposed her wetness to the air. As her touch moved downwards, she watched the expression on Maura’s face morph. Her lips opened slightly, the faintest wrinkle of concentration formed between her eyes.
For a second, she lost herself in admiration. Until this moment, she thought she’d seen the litany of expressions in Maura’s repertoire. But this…nothing prepared her for this.
The need to be closer overcame her. Jane pressed their mouths together, swallowing the following gasp and quickly eliciting another with her fingers.
She felt the tension building within Maura beneath her, knew that Maura was close, so she set an even, steady pattern, rubbing and sliding her fingers until Maura was nearly arched off the couch.
Maura dug her fingers into Jane’s back and arms. Anywhere she could reach, her hands left indentions on Jane’s skin. Marking Jane in a way only Jane could see. Only she could remember.
And then Maura was taut as a bow, gasping through a moan, flying within the comfort of Jane’s tethered arms.
Maura laid there, wordless and content in her afterglow, and Jane held her through it.
When she sat upright a few minutes later, Maura followed, and then somehow Maura was straddling her and kissing her in a way that stoked that flame inside her hotter than it’d ever been before.
“You’re killing me,” Jane rasped, hands gripping Maura’s hips.
“In French, an orgasm is sometimes referred to as le petite mort. The little death,” Maura explained.
Jane dryly husked, “Thanks for the lesson.”
“My pleasure,” Maura replied easily, now more than accustomed to the teasing volley between them.
Detangling herself from Jane’s hold, she sank to the floor between Jane’s legs, knees barely making a sound when they touched the hardwood.
“You don’t have to,” Jane hedged halfheartedly, something she always said after an awkward experience in her 20s.
The comment seemingly caught Maura off guard.
“You really think I don’t want to?” Maura moved upright on her knees so that she was the same height as Jane sitting on the couch. She cupped Jane’s cheeks, pulled her forward, and then pressed their lips together fiercely, dipping her tongue inside before pulling away. “I’ve been waiting to do this for years, Jane. I’ll only stop if you want me to.”
Maura smirked. “I didn’t think so.”
After getting resituated between Jane’s legs, Maura continued her upward massage of Jane’s thighs. As her hands moved higher, she pulled open Jane’s legs, inch by inch, until her knees were splayed outward.
While this was the point where Jane normally felt too exposed and vulnerable to enjoy herself, with Maura, she found herself eager and emboldened. She scooted closer to the edge of the couch and allowed her legs to fall open even more.
Maura’s mouth parted. Her eyes zoned in on the newly exposed flesh, and then flicked up to Jane’s face. “I was afraid this day would never come.”
She bit her cheek to hold back the overwhelming emotion coursing through her. Maura was the only person who ever caused her to feel everything so damn much. Fear, joy, lust, love…it was all right there under the surface for Maura, every second of every day, and she wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Not if it meant not feeling this for Maura. Not if it meant losing the one thing that made life worth living.
“Me too,” she rasped.
When Maura’s mouth made contact for the first time, followed by the first hot, wet stroke of her tongue, Jane involuntarily cried out into the silence of the room.
She clamped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry,” she murmured.
“You don’t have to hide yourself from me,” Maura softly reassured. “I want to know what makes you feel good. It’s sexy.”
“With this busted eye?” Jane scoffed. “I’m anything but sexy right now.”
“Every iteration of you is sexy to me, Jane. I can’t think of a single instance where I wasn’t attracted to you in some way.” Maura pressed a kiss to the inside of her knee. “In fact, I’ll show you just how sexy I think you are since you’re having such a hard time believing me despite knowing of my inability to lie.”
With a slackened mouth, Jane watched Maura press open-mouthed kisses up her thighs, alternating as she moved closer and closer to her destination.
When that perfect mouth finally, finally made contact, Jane nearly lurched forward off the couch. Again, Maura teased her with a flick of her tongue, immediately drawing another gasp from Jane’s lips.
After watching Maura and doing those things to Maura and all those things Maura had already done to her, Jane was regretfully close. She closed her eyes and pressed her head back against the couch. Allowed herself to enjoy the moment. Enjoy being here, right now, with the woman she loved.
Loved. Yes, she loved Maura. She’d loved Maura for years but was too afraid to say anything for fear of losing this…thing they had before it ever really got started.
The only difference now was that she knew she didn’t have to be afraid anymore. When it came to Maura, there was nothing to fear. Maura wouldn’t hurt her, wouldn’t willingly break her heart. She was stable and strong and beautiful and everything Jane ever wanted.
And here she was, at Jane’s apartment, being Jane’s.
Teetering on the precipice, Jane dared a glance downward. Maura was on her knees, intently focused on Jane—tasting her, touching her, driving out the darkness by stoking the flames hotter and hotter with each stroke of her finger and motion of her tongue.
Jane’s stomach clenched.
Though she desperately wanted this moment to keep going—wanted nothing more than to stay in this moment for all eternity—her rapid breaths, quivering muscles, and the burning pleasure fuzzing her vision were signs enough to know she was close.
She wrapped her fingers in Maura’s golden hair and held her in one spot, close and tight against her body. Ever adaptable, Maura continued, focusing in where Jane clearly wanted her.
And when she finally came undone, Maura was there to piece her back together with soft whispers and soft kisses against her thighs, her navel, her knees, and hands and chest and everywhere she could reach until Jane’s eyes opened again.
When Maura moved to the couch beside her, she pulled Maura’s legs across her own lap so that they were as close as possible without sacrificing the little comfort her old, worn out couch provided.
Jane glanced up to the idle screen on her television. One o’clock. They had to be at work in six hours. Five if they wanted to get a head start on figuring out who the hell did this to her face. She traced her finger across Maura’s exposed collarbone. “Will you stay here tonight?”
“I’m a little offended that you’d even consider letting me drive home at such an hour.”
Laughing softly at the teasing retort, Jane pressed another kiss to Maura’s waiting lips.
“I love you,” Jane admitted, barely above a whisper.
The declaration didn’t end the world. Didn’t send Maura running.
Instead, a huge smile bloomed across Maura’s face. “I love you too, Jane. I have for a very long time.”
Their fingers laced together on Maura’s lap.
“I’m sorry it took me so long,” Jane hedged.
“And I’m sorry I didn’t say anything sooner.”
Jane studied Maura for a moment. She might never know what she did to deserve Maura in this life, but she didn’t want to waste another moment by being without her. “Come on,” she said softly. “Let’s go to bed.”
They walked to the bedroom hand in hand. Maura crawled under the sheets first, exposing her back for Jane to curl around.
This all felt so right, so different than she expected it to feel.
“I love you,” she whispered once again against a crown of golden hair. “Tomorrow, I’ll still love you. I’m not going to pretend like this didn’t happen. Like it didn’t change everything.”
Maura pulled Jane’s arm around her waist until she was clutching Jane’s hand against her chest. “No hiding?”
“I’d never hide something like this. Someone like you,” she said. “I love you too much.”
Maura then turned in the embrace so that they faced one another. Her fingers outlined the structure of Jane’s face. “I love you too, Jane.”
It really was as simple as that.
Maura wiggled her legs between Jane’s, effectively intertwining them from the hips down. She pressed her cheek right above Jane’s breast.
“I’ve always wondered what this would feel like,” Maura admitted. “I never thought I’d get the chance.”
Jane held Maura tightly against her chest. She was small and light, phenomenal in the most radiant, brilliant ways.
“I love you, Maura. I love you and I…” she hesitated, then chuckled nervously. “I can’t stop saying it.”
Maura looked at Jane with such an intensity that it made her feel weak. “I don’t want you to stop,” she admitted. She pressed her lips against Jane’s, and they were suddenly consuming each other all over again.
After they kissed and touched and explored one another until their exhaustion demanded recognition, Maura curled back up into her spot against Jane’s chest. Jane stroked the skin on Maura’s shoulder until the telltale sign of even breaths confirmed she was asleep.
Jane tried to stay awake a little bit longer to pick apart the reality of all this; the joy she felt, the unadulterated bliss threating to burst out of her chest even now in the heaviness of her exhaustion.
But something about having Maura draped atop her body, keeping her safe and warm, was too much for her brain and body to handle.
She followed Maura into sleep only moments later.
And for the first time in the long time, she didn’t dream about the boogiemen.