Chapter 1: Chapter 01
A sigh is just a sigh Chapter 01
The front door swung open and Jane stormed in. Maura barely managed not to spill her tea on the iPad.
Jane yanked open the fridge’s door and stuck her face close to the racks, fishing for anything edible. “New condo’s great but geez you should’ve seen the traffic to get here, absolutely insane.”
Maura, now fully recovered from the fright, shook her head. “Had you stayed here, you wouldn’t have the need to face peak hour traffic.”
“I rather be stuck in traffic than face Ma every morning and why don’t you ever have something… yummy in there?” Jane shut the fridge door and headed for the cupboards.
“Angela does not come in every morning.” Maura closed the iPad and followed Jane with her eyes as she drank her tea.
“Since when? Oh goodie, cookies! Nice.” Jane found a cookie packed in one of the cupboards, took a couple and headed for the coffee machine. She put one in her mouth and held it with her teeth as she prepared the coffee.
“Please don’t fill my kitchen with crumbles?”
“I mon’t, mon’t morrm.” Jane turned to Maura and wiggled her eyebrows, her eyes sparkling.
Maura shook her head, a grin masked by a mock disgust face.
Jane took her mug filled with coffee to the kitchen island. A shower of crumbs fell on the immaculate counter top as she bit the cookie. “Oops!”. Two deep dimples appear on her cheeks.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I miss you.” said Maura, shrugging before taking another sip of her coffee.
“What do you mean you miss me? You see me at work every day.”
“Yes, I do. But I miss…” Maura’s hand swept the air between them. “Your morning visits. Since you have the new condo, you don’t come around anymore in the mornings and it’s just not the same starting the day without you here.” Maura’s eyes lingered on Jane’s, her face lit by a sincere, heartfelt smile.
The silence stretched laden with Maura’s unfiltered and surprising comment, until Jane broke the contact and took a bite of the cookie. “Hm, this is so good…”
“Your mother made them yesterday.”
“Shh, don’t summon the devil”. Jane’s dimples reappeared, and Maura smiled again.
“What’s gotten into you?”
Maura tilted her head, her eyes wide.
“That…” Jane pointed at Maura’s face.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“I dunno. You are looking at me… funny.”
“What do you mean by ‘funny’?”
“You know, like… I don’t know! Do I have crumbs on my face?” Jane wiped her lips and chin.
Maura shook her head, still smiling. “You are so adorable.”
Jane’s hand holding the coffee stopped mid air. “OK, What’s gotten into you this morning? What is in that mug?”
“It’s organic white tea, loaded with antioxidants. Very good for the cardiovasc—“
“I am not adorable.” Jane’s frown looked more like a sulk, and Maura sighed, her head tilted slightly, her lips stretched wide.
Jane left the mug on the counter. “Whoa! What was that?”
“That big sigh?”
Maura frowned and looked down for a beat, and then at Jane again. She smiling riding a short shrug. “It is strange. One sighs to relief frustration or correct the pace of breathing, but I’m not frustrated. On the contrary…”
“Well, you sounded like Pepé le Pew.”
“Pepé le who?”
Jane shook her head. “Oh come on, don’t tell me you don’t know Pepé le Pew, the french skunk that… oh never mind. What’s gotten into you?”
“How does the song go? Oh, yes!” Maura started singing. “You must remember this. A kiss is still a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh…”
“What are you now? Ingrid Bergman?”
“You mean Dooley Wilson? He sang the song, not—“
“Yeah, whatever. You are freaking me out, Maura.”
“Why? Is it so rare to see me happy?”
“Happy to see me?”
And at that precise moment, their phones rang -almost in unison.
Jane got her phone from her belt, her eyes wide open under her frown, not taking her eyes from an amused Maura.
Jane covered the phone’s microphone. “This conversation is not over.”
Maura took her coat and hooked her bag in the crook of her elbow, smiled at Jane and headed out. Jane followed, her eyes suspicious and trained on Maura airy steps.
* * *
Crime Scene - Somewhere in Boston
As they left the parked car and were approaching the crime scene, Maura hummed the song from Casablanca.
Jane looked around and scooted closer to Maura. “I mean it, seriously. What’s up with you?”
Maura stopped, turned her head and looked square into Jane’s eyes. “I already told you. I was really happy to have you home for breakfast. It’s been 18 days since your last morning visit”.
Jane stood agape as Maura shook her head, oblivious, and walked off towards the scene. In a few strides she caught up with her but before she could say anything, Korsak came to meet them.
“Morning, Maura. You look nice this morning.”
Maura beamed. “Why, thank you, Vince. It is such a lovely morning, isn’t it? What do we have?”
Korsak raised his eyebrows and glanced at Jane questioningly . She shrug in the most studied nonchalant way, but dropped her eyes and bit her lips.
“Gunshot victim inside, male, no signs of forced entry. Nobody saw anything. The usual in this neighbourhood”
“So who called it in?” asked Jane.
He pointed at a woman sitting on the ground with her head between her hands. He then started walking towards the house.
“Cristina Gómez, his girlfriend. She says she found him like this when she came home after her night shift.”
Maura slipped her gloves on and knelt next to the victim.
“Uh. Loads of brownish stains…” Jane winked at Korsak, but Maura was not paying attention as she checked the body and surrounding area.
“I see a gun shot wound to the chest.”
“Is that the cause of death?”
“I need to run more tests but it is quite likely, given the size and position of the entry point.” She inspected the back of the deceased. “There is no exit wound.”
“What was the time of death, Maura?” asked Korsak.
Jane looked at him, then at Maura, with her mouth open.
“7:18? Not 7:15, or 7:19”
Maura lifted the victim’s left arm. The glass on his watch was broken and the hands had stopped at 7:18.
“When he was shot, he fell backwards and hit his wrist on the shelves there. I can see the glass from here. In any case, his body temperature is only 93 degrees, which means he may have died between 2 and 3 hours ago. It’s 9:35 now, so it matches.”
Korsak and Jane nodded in appreciation.
“So, guy gets shot at 7 am and there are no witnesses and nobody saw anything. In 2015, when everyone owns a phone with a camera in it?” Jane sighed.
“Now that is a sigh of frustration.” said Maura, without looking up.
Korsak frowned and looked at Jane.
“Don’t ask.” she mouthed.
* * *
BPD - Medical Examiner Office
The morgue was quiet for a weekday morning. Maura was taking notes next to the examination table when Jane walked in.
“You wanted to see me?” said Jane.
Maura beamed at Jane. “Hello Jane. I thought you would be out all day?”
“Just came back. I’m waiting for the girlfriend. What do we have?”
“Rather interesting tattoos and then, the most curious thing.”
“Another Pepé le Pew sighing attack?”
Maura tilted her head and shook it, but smiled anyway.
“No, Jane. Here, look.” She touched Jane’s arm, not quite guiding her, and let go almost immediately when Jane tensed up. She pursed her lips briefly and turned to the victim. She gently removed the sheet covering the body. His entire torso was covered with tattoos, so intricate that it was hard to take it all in in one go.
“We have taken pictures and have started comparing them to the ones in our database.”
“Gang affiliation? Nah. Don’t answer. I’ll wait… Very. Patiently.” Jane grinned widely but Maura ignored her, as she pointed at a spot just below the clavicle.
“This is the most curious thing.” A small puncture wound emerged between the ink patterns.
“That’s too small for a bullet.” said Jane.
“It is indeed. It’s not deep, either, but it seems to have been made roughly at the same time as the gunshot wound.”
“So what do we need to look for? A sharp pointy thing?”
Maura was about to say ‘yes’ but stopped. “Oh, I see. Funny, but actually, yes. And I’ll even help you: it is not a pen, too small for that. Didn’t hit any vital organs, or do any real damage.”
“And how is this wound relevant?”
“That, Detective, is for you to find out. Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
“Are you asking me on a date, Dr. Isles?” Jane cocky smile faded almost instantly when she saw Maura’s reaction. She was batting her eyelids as if that would clarify Jane’s question.
When Jane realised Maura was not going to answer, she spoke again. “Joke? le Sigh? Pepé le Pew?”
Maura did not seem any closer to understand Jane’s question. The eyelid batting had stopped, and she was now frowning slightly, her eyes clouded by an evident confusion.
“Oh, forget it. I don’t know why I even said that.” She cleared her throat and rearranged her belt. “Dinner. Yeah, well, I was going to go to the Dirty Robber but… um.. yeah, yes, of course. But only if you don’t force me watch afterwards some mushy chick flick.”
“I’ll do my best, I promise.”
“No waxing or nail polishing either.”
“Why would anyone want to wax after dinner?”
“Well, you never know. Is Ma going to be there?”
“Your mother is going out with Ron and when she does, she never comes home afterwards.”
Jane winced. “Way too much information.”
Maura laughed. “See you at 7?”
Jane nodded and left the morgue, only to stop right outside the door. She looked inside, and saw Maura mouthing something and bobbing her head. She got back, closer to the door, and heard Maura softly singing the familiar Casablanca tune again.
“A kiss is still a kiss… A sigh is just a sigh..”
Jane narrowed her eyes. A frown started to form but then dissolved as she continued to watch Maura being so happy and carefree over a dead body. Her phone beeped, startling her. Instinctively tried to duck out of Maura’s line of sight, but it was too late. Their eyes met through the glass pane, and Maura smiled one of those smiles again. Jane raised an open palm as she answered the message. She hurried away, with Maura’s eyes and smile still trained on her.
* * *
BPD - Visitor’s Room
The young but weathered woman cowered in her chair opposite Jane and Korsak. Her eyes were dry, but her hands kept ringing a small fluffy baby’s toy.
“We are sorry for your loss, Ms. Gómez”, said Jane. “We need to ask you a few questions, and I know it’s not easy. Did you boyfriend have any enemies?”
A silent snort preceded a small nod. “Many. He was a… tough man.”
“What did he do for a living?”
“This and that. He never said.”
“He supported you?"
The shrug was almost imperceptible. “He brought money in, sometimes. Sometimes he brought food. He sometimes gave me presents, like this.” The woman took her hand to her neck and retrieved a think golden chain with a large cross hanging from it. “I did what I could with whatever he gave me. Abuela takes care of the feeding of the baby and the napkins, but she doesn’t have much money, she makes do with a small pension. My late grandfather was in the Army until he retired, and died shortly after that.”
“Who do you think would have wanted your boyfriend dead, Miss Hernandez?”
“He knew lots of people. People feared him. I didn’t like his friends and I didn't want them in my house. I was afraid for my baby.”
“You have a son?”
“A small baby, he’ll be 8 months tomorrow.”
Korsak raised his eyebrows and shook his head at Jane.
“You didn’t have a baby with you the day your boyfriend…”
“No. He was with Abuela Maria. She’s my grannie. She stays with him sometimes. My baby doesn’t sleep well, cries a lot and makes… made Julio very nervous.”
“So where were you the morning of the shooting, between 6 and 8?
“I was at a friend, looking after her kids. He called me at 5:30. Waited until I got somebody to cover for me, then I went to the house. Left at 7:20, got there just before 8.”
Korsak jotted down on his pad. “So you are not working right now?”
“I lost my job when I felt pregnant.”
“We need all the names and addresses of people that knew Julio and you think could have a reason to see him hurt.” said Jane. “Can you do that?” Jane gave her a legal pad and pen.
After ten minutes, she gave them a long list which kept them occupied for the rest of the morning.
* * *
Somewhere in Boston
Jane and Korsak walked into the car repair shop and flashed their badges. They found they guy everyone called Samurai standing beside a battered wooden desk. He was a huge black man, much taller than Jane; his muscular shoulders were as broad as his immense belly. His hair was tied up in a bun on the upper part of his head. On the table Jane saw a few unopened trays of Japanese food. A shiny pair of engraved metal chopsticks rested next to the tray with nigiri.
“So you are the famous Samurai. You are the talk of the hood, you know.” said Jane. “And nice chopsticks you have there. Go well with the name.”
“I’m a popular guy, what can I do. And you came down here to comment on my chopsticks? I’m busy. What do you want?”
“You know Julio Rivera?”
“What if do?”
“He is dead, and people say you two did not have a romance going.”
“El Pendejo is dead?” Samurai seemed surprised, but it also seemed he didn’t care. “So what. One less bastard walking the earth. Why are you telling me?”
“Where were you Monday morning between 5 and 7:30?
“Anybody with you?”
“My companion for the night was gone when I woke up, the bitch. She took my money and mother’s necklace with her. Let me find her and…”
“So you were alone.” Jane took out a pair of latex gloves out of her pocket. “Do you mind if we take a look at your chopsticks?”
“Get outta here. I ain’t giving you my prized chopsticks. Nobody touches them but me.”
Samurai and his chopsticks ended up in BPD; Samurai with Korsak in the interrogation room, and the chopsticks inside an evidence bag in Jane’s hand, down at the morgue.
Maura was busy typing on her laptop, which closed as Jane walked in her office.
“Look what I found.” Jane waved the evidence plastic bag. “Are they the right size?”
Maura examined the bag and shrugged as she got up. “We’ll have to measure them and compared them against the wound. And even if it is a match, we must still check for traces of blood, and…”
“Yawn, Maura. You can be such a killjoy sometimes, I had to lots of fun busting this guys’ chops…ticks.”
The joke went lost on Maura.
“I’m hungry. What are you making for dinner?”
“Oh, it’s a surprise.”
“Fine. Be like that. I'm going up to have more fun with background checks. See you at two sighs to seven.” said Jane as she turned around and left.
She didn’t see the soft, lingering smile in Maura’s face, or glow and affection in her eyes as they followed her until she disappeared behind the wall.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
A sigh is just a sigh
At 7:05 Jane walked in Maura’s house waving a bottle of wine. “Swap you this for a beer. I need one. What a day.” Jane stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the table set with candles and Maura’s treasured fine china.. “Whoa. What’s the occasion?”
“Us. Here’s your beer.” Maura gave Jane the bottle and went back to the check the oven.
Jane followed Maura with tiny sharp eyes. Her lips moved as if to say something, but instead she let go of Maura and took a swig from the bottle.
“Food is ready, whenever you want.” Maura took a dish out of the oven, placed it on the table and removed the thin foil covering it.
“Oh, are those gnocchi? Yum!” Jane’s finger made a beeline for the sauce but Maura swatted it with her oven glove. “Have you washed your hands?”
“Yes. Of course.” Jane headed for the sink, opened the tap and lathered her hands. “See? This is how I did it.” The grin was emphasized by a wiggle of her eyebrows. When she finally sat at the table she saw the breadbasket. “Garlic bread? Double yummy. Good thing I won’t be kissing anyone tonight.”
“Oh, but it’s very light; just a hint of garlic to flavor it. Give me your plate. How was your day?”
“You know, black samurais that look like sumo wrestlers and own a fine pair of chopsticks. The usual.”
“What about the murder weapon?”
“Yeah, there’s that. Korsak said that the guy has motive enough to kill Julio Rivera ten times over and he doesn’t have an alibi. But even if the chopsticks match with the wound and Rivera’s blood is on them, that stab didn't kill him. Maura, these gnocchi are so good!”
Maura smiled satisfied, and as she sat back on the chair, she exhaled softly.
“Are you sighing again?”
“I did not. I exhaled.”
“And the difference is?”
Maura pursed her lips. “Well, sighing is usually related to a need to express frustration, where exhaling is construed as a mere physical response to adjust one’s breathing.”
Jane wiped her lips with the napkin, placed it on the table and flattened it slowly with her hand. "But this morning you did sigh and you said you were content. Now you make the same noise and but this time you are exhaling. So which one is it?”
“Should I sigh with frustration now so you can hear the difference?”
“Come on, seriously, what’s with you today?”
Maura got up and started clearing the table. “Would you like some tiramisu?”
“No, I want to know-- What? Wait, yes, of course I want tiramisu and you changed the topic?”
Maura stopped briefly and reflected on the comment as if it were an equation. “You are right. I did.” Her brow cleared. “I particularly like this tiramisu, the mascarpone they use makes all the difference.”
Jane trotted behind Maura carrying the wine glasses. She left them on the counter top as Maura was heading back towards the table with an empty tray. “Maura? Hello? Anyone home?”
“I’m here. Could you please get the tiramisu out of the refrigerator? It’s on a medium sized foil tray with the white lid.”
Jane did as ordered.
“Now get a couple of plates and pastry forks and bring them to the table.”
Maura left the tray on the countertop and stood next to Jane, her index finder targeting Jane’s hand from afar. “Those are not pastry forks.”
Jane inspected the forks in her hand. “They have spiky things and a handle, so they are forks by definition. Forks are good enough to eat anything with them.”
Maura stretched in front of Jane and got two smaller forks from the drawer. “Forks don’t have spiky things, they have tines. And they are smaller and have a special shape so you can slice as well as carry the food to your mouth.”
“You don’t need to slice tiramisu, Maura. Look,” Jane pierced the tiramisu with the fork. “See? No slicing. Just slide the fork in and come to mama.” She lifted the forkful to her mouth. “Hm. This is so good, yum.”
“Glad you haven’t used your fingers.” Maura mumbled as she took the tray with the tiramisu, plates and forks to the table.
The tiramisu was soon just a memory. Maura stretched her back, and sighed as she leaned back on the chair. “Hm, that was nice. Let’s have some coffee.”
“There!” Jane pointed her index finger at Maura. “That was a sigh. Third one in one day? And that was not frustration. Can’t be, not after that amazing tiramisu.”
Maura’s brow tightened. Her head bent slightly to the right, the new angle providing clarity on Jane’s comment. “You are right. I can't recall having sighed much before. Maybe it is that I haven’t done yoga in over a week and my breathing patterns are disrupted. Or maybe it is that I feel relaxed and happy.”
“You have been happy many times, but you never sighed before.”
“Yes, but I am particularly happy today. First, you come over for breakfast even though now you live on the other side of the station. Now we’re having a nice dinner, just the two of us.”
“But we have dinner all the time!”
Maura got up and turned on the coffee machine while Jane cleared the table.
“When was the last time you and I spent an evening alone, at my house?” said Maura as she started filling the second cup.
“Well, um. There was that day we watched Thelma and Louise… Wait! I came here with pizza to celebrate the day I got my new apartment.”
“True. How long ago was Thelma and Louise? Four months. And you got your apartment over two weeks weeks ago.”
Maura handed Jane a mug and headed for the large couch.
“Wait, are you counting?”
Maura shrugged and settled in on the couch. Jane joined her, a knee over the couch, facing Maura.
“You are counting. Why are you counting?”
“I wasn’t aware I was counting…”
“But you are… Why?”
“I don’t know!”
“Hm. I think it’s… odd. Even for you.”
“What is it odd? That I am counting the days or that I miss you?”
“Both? I mean, we see each other every day and we spend so much time together…”
“We do. You, me, and also Angela, Frankie, Vince. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I love them. It is very nice to have a proper family at last.”
“So what’s the problem then?”
Maura shifted on her seat and pulled her legs up on the couch. As she did, their knees ended up resting together. Maura looked down at them, completely still for a minute. Then she buried her face behind the coffee mug.
Maura shrugged, shaking her face slowly, lost in thought.
“You know you can tell me anything, right?”
“Yeah, except that I don’t know what to say.”
“How about what are you thinking about?”
“It’s curious. I never thought any of it until now. Maybe it has to do with production of oxytocin.”
“Say what? Which toxin?”
“No, not a toxin. Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus. Some call it the “bonding hormone”. I recently read an article in the Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health that suggested that this hormone evokes feelings of contentment, decreased anxiety, and feelings of security and calmness when in the company of the mate. Having you close again, in the intimacy of my own home, makes me feel content, calm and secure. That might be what my sighing expressed.”
Jane stared at Maura in silence for a few moments. Twice her lips moved as if to formulate a question, but no sound came out. Maura was busy setting her empty mug on the coffee table when Jane finally spoke.
“But I... I’m not your mate…”
“Not in a sexual way, that’s correct. But everything else we had. Have…”
Jane expected Maura to say more, but she didn’t. After a few moments, she tapped her thighs.
“Where is that single malt scotch I gave you?”
“Where you left it last time. Bring me a glass too, please?”
When Jane was back on the couch, the silence hung between them thick, almost visible. She scratched her hair slowly.
“I don’t get it.”
“What don’t you understand?”
“Any of it?”
“Not sure I do understand it myself, although I’m sure it’s nothing important.”
Jane’s eyebrows stretched up and out. “I swear, you could have fooled me. You have been pulling a Pepé le Pew all day, and then you talk about bonding toxins and missing me even when I see you every day. You tell me you see me as your mate. Oh, and you told me I’m adorable. Not sure what to make of it.”
Maura let out a hearty laugh.
“But it’s true, isn’t it? You are adorable, my friend. But that’s not the point.”
“And the point is?”
Maura threw her free hand in the air. “I don’t know, Jane. All I know is that I seem to have missed your presence here. You are part of—“
“Part of the furniture? Nice.”
“Part of this house. Part of me. And that part, although constant at work, feels empty now when I’m at home. There is Angela, of course, and she keeps me company and—“
“Ugh, how can you—“
“Jane! Your mother is nice.”
“Only because she is not your mom.”
“I wish you’d get on better with her. Then you’d be living here.”
“You wanted me to live with you as in… for good?”
“Of course, but that is not the point.”
“And this keeps getting better and better…”
Maura looked down at her glass, took a sip and then stayed quiet, looking ahead but not focusing on anything.
“Oh, come on Maura, I didn’t mean it in a bad way… And you can’t bail out now.”
“Not bailing out.”
“So what it is then? Should I come over more often?”
“Not if you don’t feel like it.”
“But I like being here. Your TV is bigger than mine, your cooking is as good as your coffee, and you never run out of my favorite beer.”
“Is that all I am to you?”
“Of course not. Come on, Maur.” Jane’s hand landed on Maura’s thigh, squeezed it lightly and stayed there. Maura let out a big sigh.
“Whoa. That was the mother of them all!”
Maura let out a heartfelt laugh.
“Wait a second. All I did was to crack a bad joke and then pat you on the knee, and you sigh like that? What the hell?”
“It feels nice. I miss that. And that’s not my knee. That’s my vastus medialis”
“You miss me touching you?”
“I meant the warmth of a casual touch. I can’t remember last time anyone had a tender gesture like that towards me.”
“You need a boyfriend, stat”
“No, Jane, I need you.”
“And I don’t even know why I said that.” mumbled Maura, hiding her nose in her glass.
Jane’s hand on Maura’s leg twitched, as if it was debating whether to stay or leave. Maura covered it with hers.
“But it does feel nice, doesn’t it?” Maura squeezed Jane’s hand lightly.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, Jane.” Maura retrieved her hand.
They sat for a long time, drinking the wine, in complete silence.
Until Maura sighed again.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Author’s Note: Thanks for the kudos! Don't forget to drop a line, I really love to hear feedback :)
Rizzles - A sigh is just a sigh
Jane and Korsak got a search warrant for Samurai’s workshop and house. They found three guns, but none of the same caliber as the murder weapon. No gun meant no suspect, so now they were back at the station and also back to square one.
“It’s not back square one, Korsak” Jane said, “Maybe Maura found Julio’s DNA in Samurai’s chopsticks. Maybe the wound pattern is a match too.”
“True, but circumstantial. Samurai said he practices shooting everyday at the range and it checks. Maybe we should talk again to the girlfriend?” said Korsak, reclining on his chair and waving a donut.
“Yeah. We have nothing and nobody else connecting Julio Rivera to the world. Maybe once the shock wears off, she remembers a recent concrete threat or something.”
Jane’s phone beeped. “It’s Maura. She has the results from the chopsticks and Samurais’ GRS test.” She swiveled her chair and reached for a large brown paper bag on the floor. She stuck her hand inside and took out a bouquet of flowers.
“Don’t even think of asking, Korsak.”
Five minutes later she found Maura in her overly decorated office, standing by her desk and reviewing papers.
“Good morning, Jane.” Maura turned around, waving the papers. “I have the— Nice bouquet. New admirer?”
“They are for you.”
Maura smiled, but her eyes jumped from the flowers to Jane with a silent but clear ‘Why’.
Jane shrugged. “To say thanks for putting up with me.” Jane let herself fall on the light blue couch. She looked at it first, and then tapped on it. “This is so much better than the awful chair that—“
“My Rashid chair was nice.”
“This one is actually comfie… even if it is baby blue. And I’m sorry.”
“It’s not baby blue. It’s pale turquoise. Really? Are you also sorry to see the Rashid go?”
“Not that. Last night, all that you said, you had stuff going on and I- I didn’t know how to help or what to do, but dinner was great and the movie after too and…” Jane’s words trailed of, mixed in somewhere in the fabric of the couch she was so intent on rubbing.
Maura stayed quiet, sensing
Jane continued drawing lines and circles over the baby blue or whatever-coloured fabric. “And you are right. I didn’t know I missed all that too …”
Maura sighed silently.
“Seriously?” said Jane, her head jerking up.
“I told you, you are adorable. Thank you, Jane.” Maura’s smile lingered on until Jane let her eyes drop to her lap. She found a steady point on her knees, leant on it and stood up. “So, about those results…”
“You want the bad news, or the other bad news?”
“Great. There we go, back to square one.”
“The chopstick pattern does not coincide with the wound.”
“What? Is it rounder that the round entry hole?”
“Smaller. In any case, there was no DNA on them.”
“A-ha! I knew it. They are for show. Big Samurai boy eats sushi with his hands.”
“There was no human DNA, and no gunpowder residue in his hands either.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be fun if it were that easy, right?”
“Although there is something else you might want to see. Come with me.” Maura placed her hand on Jane’s back and gently guided her to the lab.
“Look what we found masked by all the ink.”
Jane leaned over the body. Maura pointed at a spot over his left pectoral muscle.
“Bulging breasts with blue nipples?”
“Next to that particular drawing.”
“I don’t see anything.”
“Here. Look at the pattern. They are lacerations on his skin consistent with fingernail marks. It looks like he’s been recently scratched on the chest, neck and shoulder, and the pattern coincides with a small hand.”
“Could be, but I’ve seen marks like this all too often on sex offenders and abusive men.”
“You mean he was hitting his girlfriend and she defended herself?”
Jane tilted her head and raised her eyebrows. “That’s something you should ask her.”
Jane grinned. “You’re the best, Maur. You rescued me from square one”.
The kiss on Maura’s cheek was so light and fast that Maura stood immobile for a while after Jane had left, touching her skin as if to determine whether it had happened at all.
The sigh came much later; soft, silent, and riding a warm and intense longing smile.
* * * *
Abuela Maria's apartment
Jane and Korsak surveyed the small apartment belonging to Cristina’s grandmother. It was old and shabby but very clean and tidy. Cristina was alone, but the place screamed baby: napkins, changing table, toys and a lone pacifier hanging from a chair.
“Miss Gómez, we found some scratch marks on your boyfriends chest, shoulder and neck. Was he hitting you?”
Cristina Gómez looked down at her hands. She eventually nodded. “Please, don’t tell my Abuela. She doesn’t know. It’s over.”
“You haven’t reported it to the police.” The question was unnecessary.
“You don’t bring the police home when you live with Julio Rivera.”
Korsak shook his head. “You should have told us.”
“You didn’t ask, and I don’t see what that has to do with his murder.”
“Every detail is important, Miss Gómez. Where were you between 6 and 8 am the day of the murder?”
“You don’t think I kill him, do you? I wasn’t even there until I called you!”
“We are not saying you did, but we need to know everything. So, where were you?”
“I told you the other day. I spent the night at a friend’s house across town. She is very sick and has 3 kids. Julio called me in the middle of the night, when he got home. He told me that if I didn't go home he’d—“ She bit her lips. “He never liked it when I wasn’t home when he got there, but I had to, you know… Anyway, after he called, it took me a while to find a neighbor to look after the kids. I left after 7, before 7:30, I can’t remember. I got there and…” She swallowed and closed her eyes tight, but did not shed a tear. “I called you when I found him…”
“We are going to need your friend’s name and address. Did you boyfriend ever hit your grandmother or child?”
“We need your help discarding your fingerprints from all the ones found at the… in your house. We need you to come down to the station with us.” said Korsak.
“Are you arresting me?”
“No, we are not arresting you, Miss Gómez. It’s routine.”
“Ok. Let me call my Abuela and tell her.”
“Where is she?”
“She went to the park with my baby boy.”
* * * *
Boston Police Department
“Jane, Korsak, you better come and see this.” called Nina from her desk.
“Please tell me they are good news?” said Jane.
“Found just over $7,000 in Cristina Gomez’s bank account. Last deposit was the day before the murder. Not sure whether it is relevant, but for someone who doesn’t work, it is a lot of money. Also got the list of calls made from and to her phone. Julio Rivera called her at 4:53 that morning.”
“She was telling the truth.” said Jane.
“And her alibi checks out.” said Korsak, checking his phone. “Frankie just texted me from her friend’s house. The kids told him that nanny Cristina often goes there to look after them and stays the night.”
“Why would she stay with him if she had money and a grandmother with an apartment of her own?” asked Nina.
“She would have lost sanctuary for her baby.” said Jane. “Anything else?”
“No, I’m sorry. There is no video surveillance in this block, so I can’t help you there.”
“Thanks, Nina. I’m going to see Maura. She said she might have the results by now.”
Jane found Maura hard at work with a male mannequin and all sort of CSI-like gadgets around the room. Long red rods were lying on the floor.
“I have a theory. I’ve been troubled by the entry wound. The angle is odd. I want to check where the shot came from while I wait for the GSR results. Stand over there, please, and hold this rod.”
Jane did as requested.
Jane lowered the rod but it was still too high.
“OK, bend your knee.”
“Yes, milady.” Jane dropped a knee to the ground. “Ok, bring the sword. I’m ready to be your knight.”
“There! Don’t move.” Maura came over to Jane and measured the height from the floor to of the end of the long rod. “Just as I suspected.”
“If you are not going to name me knightress, care to at least share your hypothesis? Can I stand up now?”
“Oh, yes, of course. The shot was fired by someone short. 4’11 or 4’12.”
“Too high for somebody sitting down, too low for somebody of Cristina’s height. Could it be that the shooter fired from the hip?”
“Could, but two shots were fired. One hit the ceiling. Can’t be certain if it was the first or second shot, but someone who shoots from the hip should have not missed at such close range.”
“So somebody short fired the gun. A kid?”
“Any short person. Hope it helps.” said Maura, as her phone beeped. “We have the results on the GRS test. She is clean.”
Jane grunted. “And back to square one.”
“Not necessarily. You now know more about the shooter. Go out and find him. Or her.”
“Her? Her! You are right. Oh, I owe you.” Jane was beaming. “But why are you so serious?” What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong. I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.”
“I am, and go, find the killer”
Jane left the room looking over shoulder, but Maura had her back to the door.
EXTERIOR - VICTIM’S GIRLFRIEND APARTMENT
Jane drove in silence while Korsak narrated anecdotes about the bar. When he heard no reply to his laughter, he turned to her.
“Is everything ok?”
Jane waved her hand. “Yeah, of course. Sorry, what were you saying about the cadet and the florist?”
“Never mind. We’re here.”
Jane’s phone beeped.
“It’s Maura. Cristina’s results came through. She’s clean.”
They walked to Abuela Maria’s apartment. This time they heard a baby crying inside. Cristina Gómez opened the door. She was holding their baby.
“Can we come in?”
“Yes, please, Excuse the mess, but my baby has thrown up and abuela went to the shops.”
“We spoke to your friend. She confirmed you were there, as you said. Also, the tests came through and you are cleared, but we found something else that we found strange. You have a fairly large amount of money in your bank account. You led us to believe that you lost your job and were relying to the little money your boyfriend gave you.”
Cristina Gómez bit her lips.
“Why did you lie? Who gave you that money?” asked Jane.
“Please don’t say anything to abuela. She doesn’t know anything. She thinks I’m still working at the 7-Eleven, on the night shift.”
“So where does the money come from? Did any of Julio’s enemies give it to you?
“No! Of course not. I got it from… clients. I have… had a few… regular clients. House calls.”
“You are a sex worker?”
Cristina winced. “I’m… just a mother with a small baby to feed. I tried, but couldn’t fnd a regular job. A few months ago I met this woman, friend of a friend, and she told me how much money she makes with a few clients. I tried it, and…” Cristina shrugged as she rocked the baby. “Julio found out and… He didn’t like it. I promised I would quit, and I did, so that’s when I started baby-sitting.”
The sound of a key on the door startled her. “Please don’t say anything.”
Abuela Maria walked in aided by cane. She was carrying a large bag with groceries.
Jane looked at Korsak. Abuela Maria was about 4’11, and two knitting needles were sticking out of her large handbag.
* * *
DIRTY ROBBER - Early Evening
“So, Abuela Maria, huh?” said Frankie.
“Yup. She confessed immediately.” said Jane. “That woman is almost 80 years old, you should have seen her. She had a black eye and two broken ribs courtesy of Julio Garcia, and was still walking about as if nothing had happened. She had told Cristina that she had fallen. It turns out that last week the bastard had gone to her apartment, looking for Cristina. She stood up to him and he beat her. Told her that the next time she stood up to him, she’d kill her. Never said a word to her granddaughter, but instead she took matters into her own hands.”
Nina and Frankie were hanging from Jane’s every word.
“Where did she get the gun from?” asked Nina.
Korsak answered. “She found it on the table when she got to his house, although her plan was to stab him to death with her needles when he slept.”
Jane continued. “She tried, but she didn’t have enough strength or aim, so all she did was wake him up. She ran from the room as she could and saw the gun.”
“She knew how to shoot? What about the kickback?” Frankie asked.
“Oh yes, she knew. Her husband was in the Army, he taught her. So when the stabbing woke him up, she couldn’t run fast enough. She got the gun, leaned against the wall and fired. The kickback would have at least dislocated her shoulder, if not knock her right over, saved by the wall.
“First shot hit the ceiling but as he got closer, she fired the second shot and hit him.” Korsak lifted his hand and mimicked the firing gesture.
“And nobody would suspect a little old lady with a walking stick and knitting needles. Of course nobody saw anything.” Frankie shook his head.
“She should have gone to the police after he beat her.” said Angela.
“Ma, this is a case we’re discussing, you’re not supposed to—“
“Bring you a fresh round? And I didn’t hear… much, I promise.”
Korsak nodded, smiling behind his glass. “Well, They don’t like us too much. She said cops never helped them out before. So sad.”
“It wasn’t defense if he wasn’t attacking her. She attacked him.” Nina said.
“Yeah, but her life was in danger. So….”
“Vince, where’s Maura?” Jane asked Korsak.
He shrugged, so Jane typed a quick message.
A minute later Jane’s phone beeped.
“Sorry guys, but I need to go now. See you tomorrow.”
“Jane, wait up.” said Korsak.
“Are you ok? Is Maura ok?”
Jane sighed and shrugged.
“See you tomorrow!” Jane left, her steps peppered by a little more speed than usual.
"What are you doing here?" said Maura when she saw Jane walk through the front door.
"Why didn't you come to the Robber? We were all there."
Maura shrugged and closed her book. She seemed perfectly comfortable, snug under a blanket, the fire going, glass of wine in her hand and a book on her lap. Jazz was playing on the background.
"Have you eaten?" said Maura.
Jane wiggled her eyebrows. "Liquid diet at the Robber. Of the brewed variety."
"Grab a glass, I have a bottle of wine here. And cheese and crackers."
Jane did as told, and sat next to Maura. "What's wrong? And don't say nothing."
"Had a hard day. And nothing is wrong."
"Oh, you are bragging that you can now lie without breaking into hives."
"I did have a hard day. I am relaxing."
"Your days are hard every day, Maur. I'm a detective, and I have detected the following:" Jane opened her hand and touched the tip of the index finger with the other hand. "First, you are all smiley and happy and content and sigh all the time". She then touched the tip of the middle finger. "Then, you get all serious all of a sudden." She moved onto the tip of the ring finger. "Now you are holed up at home after telling me you don't see enough of me." She finally touched the tip of the pinky. "And then you lie to me saying nothing is wrong. It don't add up."
"Doesn't add up."
"A-ha! You see, you said it."
"Ha. Very funny." Maura sat up on the couch, keeping the blanket over her legs.
"Come on, Maura. You know you can talk to me, even if I don't like talking, right?"
"I do. I am just not sure what good it'll do talking about it."
Jane grinned. "Good. Baby steps. About what?"
"Oh come on. Hm, this cheese is so good. It'll be even better on a pizza."
Maura pursed her lips and kept quiet.
"Come ON! Don't be like that. Seriously, you always ends up telling me stuff. You told me about your father. It took you 6 years, but you did."
"I suppose you are right."
"I'm always right. What was I right about this time?"
"Maybe I should find a boyfriend."
"Well, what's stopping you?"
"I don't want a boyfriend. I-"
"I know. Let's get you a dog!" Jane clapped. "A nice fluffy, cuddly lap dog that fits in your handbag when—"
"No?" said Jane. "Not a dog? Sure? Ok then, a cat. Nah. You are not a cat lady. A grey african parrot. That's it. You can train it to talk science-speak and—"
"I want you."
Jane startled as if Maura had just fired a gun. She blinked and swallowed as her brow knitted and quivered.
"Joke, right?" Jane's voice marched out dragging its feet, as if aware of the precipice that it was about to plunge into.
Maura wasn't laughing.
Jane finished her wine in one go.
"See? That is why I didn't want to say anything. Now you are upset. Maybe you'll even go now and come around even less." Maura sat up and rearranged the blanket, wrapping it neatly under her thighs.
The answer came slow, from afar.
"Not going anywhere."
The silence rolled in and wrapped them tight, shutting out the world outside the couch.
Maura's thin voice shattered it like a thunder. "They say if you have to ask, then you already have the answer."
"You didn't ask anything."
"I didn't have to. I know the answer."
Jane inhaled and her lips moved, but her mouth closed again. Her eyes searched the room. They inspected the fire, the table, her hands, the ceiling. Anything but Maura.
"Wha… Um.. Wh… How can it…?"
Maura inhaled and let out a strong, drawn out sigh.
"Does it matter?" Maura replied to her lap, where her fingers had found a lose thread wool that only she could see.
"Of course it does."
"Hey, I'm the detective. I ask the questions."
"I am the Chief Medical Examiner. I ask a lot of questions too, you know."
"You feel lonely? That's it, isn't it?"
Maura shook her head, attempting a sketch of a smile that soon died.
"Yes, I feel lonely in a way, but no. It's not that. You are intelligent enough to know it."
Jane ignored that last remark, her eyes frantically searching for a hold.
"The toxins. Those pesky things that—"
"There may be that, yes, but in this case, science does not have the answer. The right question may not even be 'why'. I've known you for years, so why now? is a more apropriate question."
"I have a few more questions than that particular one, but yeah, good start as any."
Maura looked at Jane. "Why do you find it so surprising?"
"That you… want me? Well, you don't like women, for a start."
"I don't like all men. Just some of them."
"You know what I mean."
"I thought about it."
"You thought about being with women?"
"Oh yes, of course. Many times."
"And now you tell me?"
"You never asked. It never came up."
"Whatcha mean 'it never came up' We talked about it."
"You talked about it, years and years ago, when we had that case of the dead lesbian. We discussed it just as we discussed what it would be like to be an dentist or an accountant or dreaming of killing someone."
"It's not the same. That was hypothetical. This is not. Or is it?"
Maura sighed silently and shook her head before taking a sip of her wine.
"What changed?" finally said Jane. "Me moving to a new condo? It doesn't make any sense."
"I honestly don't know. And I don't think it's just one thing. Maybe not having you here all the time was the trigger, but I can't be certain. There are too many variables in the equation."
"Jane don't do equations."
"I may have discarded what now feels like obvious evidence, like in that case of the pantyhose killer where we all thought, including me, that the profile belonged to a man with—"
"What do you mean? What does this mean?" pleaded Jane, now searching for Maura's elusive eyes.
"It doesn't have to mean anything. I'll get over it, whatever it is." Maura head was hanging low, her eyes shut.
"Do you want to get over it?"
Maura smiled. "Not really, but I have no choice. We have no choice. I value our friendship too much. I shouldn't have said anything."
Jane's silence made Maura snort quietly, her shoulders as tight as her facial expression.
"Maura?" Jane's voice was strained, wary. "Are you in love with me?"
Maura lifted her glass. She gazed into it as if the amber were an oracle. She took a sip and swirled the wine in her mouth. She swallowed it slowly.
"Maybe I've been in love with you for a long time and only now I woke up to it."
Jane lowered her head, her eyebrows shooting up, eyes boring on Maura. Maura caught the gesture but didn't meet Jane's stare.
"I don't know why you seem so surprised, Jane. We do have a unique relationship and I'm not the only one to see it. It has always been about you and me - until recently, at least. Men came and went. No matter what happened, we had… have… this connection that... A very intense connection."
She made a motion to have another sip but stopped, lowering her arm. "I mean, if you were a man, there is no doubt I would have fallen for you years ago. We would even be married by now."
"But I'm not a man, and we're not even lesbians."
"Labels. I hope that one day we won't have the need for them."
"You know what I mean. And don't throw at me some study or other of how flexible all that is. I like men."
"Right. You love red meat. Nice juicy steaks. Have you ever tried ostrich meat?"
"What? No. Ostrich, yuck. Big nasty bird."
"Ostrich meat is redder than veal. It's strong, tender, juicy, and extraordinarily tasty. You are missing out on something really good. And with a touch of cranberry sauce it's—"
"Oh… I don't think it's the same."
"I like strong people. I love it when I feel protected, supported, cared for. Love it when I can care and protect. When I feel valued, and respected, admired. I expect and value implicit trust. I enjoy beauty. I enjoy the fine things in life but love discovering the magic of simple, everyday things too."
Maura finally lifted her head and looked straight into Jane's eyes; she looked calm, secure, relaxed.
"You are strong. You make me feel protected, supported, cared for. I trust you implicitly and you trust me with your life. I love it that you have let me in, and let me care for you -even when you protest. You have taught me the value of simple, everyday things. I'm a better person because of you. And look at you: you are gorgeous. How can I not be in love with you? And why should I keep trying to find that in men just because they are men. Why should I settle for far less when I have already found everything that I want? When I already found someone that is everything to me? Is it just because of our gender?"
Jane was holding her breath. When Maura went quiet, she exhaled, her eyes glossy, lips trembling.
"I- hm." The words escaped her mouth but barely made a sound. Jane stayed quiet after that for a while, looking at the leftover wine in her glass.
"I don't.. I- but gender does count, doesn't it?" said Jane quietly, the words as uncertain as her eyes.
Maura leaned forward and reached for Jane's hand.
"Sometimes..." she whispered.
Jane stared at Maura's hand enveloping hers. Her back straightened up a bit but she didn't take her hand away. Her eyes followed Maura's slender, manicured fingers as they caressed the back of her trembling hand. She swallowed and blinked twice.
Maura left her glass on the table and slowly took Jane's glass from her hand. She settled it gently on the table, but the contact with the wooden coaster sounded like a thud. Maura's hands covered both of Jane's hands as her eyes searched for Jane's. They met, serene hazel on terrified brown.
Maura smiled softly, caressing with her eyes every line, every curve of Jane's face.
"Can I kiss you?" whispered Maura, holding Jane's eyes with hers.
Jane swallowed, her thin eyebrows curving up on the bridge of her nose. She then blinked while holding her breath. Brown eyes became black with a thin line of late autumn specs all around, as Maura's face got closer and closer.
Maura's lips reached Jane's. It was just a faint contact. A feather touch. No pressure. It wasn't even a kiss. Maura moved slightly and her lips caressed Jane's. I was still not a kiss; just a shy mingling of wine, warmth, velvet, until Jane sighed.
Then it happened.
Maura's lips gently trapped Jane's lower lip, moulding to it with certainty. Her right left Jane's and landed on the warm, sculpted cheekbone. Her lips pressed again, daring but still holding back all they had to offer.
It was Maura who ended the kiss, but they remained just as close. Lips were now out of reach but brought closer by their warm breath. Eventually, Maura's hand left Jane's face and reached for her back. She enveloped Jane in an embrace like all the sighs in the world brought together, as the muted sax of Ben Webster wrapped them both.
Author's note: So here we are... A kiss is worth a thousand words. How will Jane react?
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
A sigh is just a sigh
If you have to ask, then you already know the answer.
Maura didn't ask Jane how she was. When the music died down, she broke the embrace but still held Jane's hand in hers.
Jane finally opened her eyes but not made contact with Maura's. When the silence had stretched so thin that it was about to snap, Jane spoke.
"I'm really hungry."
Maura's eyes flew open.
"You are… hungry."
And with that single, common word, Jane met Maura's eyes. They were smiling tenderly but the pupils were fully dilated, framed by eyebrows pushing up and towards each other creating tiny creases in her forehead.
Maura let go of Jane's hand and reached for her phone. Once she found the food delivery app, she went to the past orders sections and chose a pizza, half-half vegetarian and pepperoni with Gorgonzola cheese.
"Half-half pizza." Maura said, skipping the question because she knew that Jane would want that.
Jane nodded smiling, bringing out her deep dimples.
The only sound in the room was the faint hissing and crackling of the fire. Maura placed the order, left the phone on the coffee table and got up to add a log to the fireplace, meticulously poking the ambers to revive it. When she turned back to the couch she realized that Jane was staring at her. The brown eyes followed her as she walked back and sat on the couch, and stayed trained on her. Maura flattened an invisible wrinkle in her trousers, and when that was done, she reached for the bottle of wine and topped up both glasses. She handed one to Jane and sat back, swirling the wine in her glass. Jane was still staring.
"You are making me nervous, staring like that." said Maura.
"Because being kissed, by you, like that didn't make me nervous." The reply was playful, but it was also a door to acknowledge what had just happened.
"I'm sorry… I didn't—"
"Don't apologize. It didn't make me nervous."
Maura turned to Jane, eyes begging for an explanation.
Jane smiled softly and shrugged almost imperceptibly. "Nervous is not the word I'd use." Her eyes slid down Maura's face until they found Maura's lips. Her brow tensed and the smile faded. She then took a deep breath, exhaled audibly and threw her head back on the couch, covering her head with her hands. After scratching her hair a few times, she let her palms drop on her lap, then turned her head sideways and met Maura's gaze. Her eyes were narrow, her forehead creased, her lips tight. It was back to the silent staring.
"Are you upset?" finally asked Maura.
"Upset? Why? No! Did I even tell you the story when Pa took me, Frankie and Tommy to Canobie Lake Park when I was 10?"
Maura shook her head, squinting.
"Have you ever been to Canobie?"
"I— No, Never."
"They have this really old wooden rollercoaster, the Yankee Cannonball. I actually thought it was lame because it's slow and all it does is go up and down. It was my first time on a rollercoaster. My stomach flipped and turned like mad. I couldn't breathe. The ride is only one minute but the first time it felt like it went on forever." Jane smiled and looked down.
"You didn't like it."
"I went back four times, until I ran out of pocket money and Pa dragged me out of there."
Maura's smile started in her eyes, and slowly made its way down to her lips.
"That's what I am right now. I'm 10 and I'm staring at the Yankee Cannoball." Jane's gaze bore into Maura, then dropped to the couch. Her hand reached out and touched Maura's fingertips.
Maura let her hand still, watching as Jane grazed her fingertips lightly.
"Thank god Ma is out. Just imagine if she had to walk in now."
The doorbell rang, making them both almost jump from the couch.
"Pizza. I'll get it." Maura left the couch, and Jane traced the spot where Maura's hand was until moments ago. She then shook her head, rubbed her face and went to join Maura in the kitchen.
When Maura opened the box, Jane winced.
"But you like pepperoni and cheese, and my vegetables don't even touch your side!"
Jane leaned on the counter, her arms crossed over each other. "I'm not that hungry, actually."
Maura closed the lid and turned to Jane. "We are not going to talk about it, are we?"
Jane dropped her head. When her face re-emerged from the cascade of unruly dark hair, she smiled apologetically. "I don't know what to say. I don't even know if there is anything I can say. Maybe that I'm… surprised. But then again, I'm not, and that surprises me. I can't really explain it. How did you learn to kiss like that?"
Maura's conceited smile dispelled the cloud in her eyes and Jane frowned.
"Oh. Don't give me that look, Maura. And why are you laughing now?"
"Because of this, look at us," said Maura.
"What? Standing over smelly pizza and discussing how well you best friend can kiss?" Jane shrugged. "Normal. Do you have any more wine?"
"Trying to get drunk?"
"Are you driving home?"
"Then you can't have any more wine. Or you can stay in the guest room and have another glass."
"I have no clean clothes."
"Yes, you do. Upstairs, in the usual place."
"I- Hm. Fine. Pour me a glass."
Maura shook her head as she went over to the wine rack and chose a light, easy wine. She took the wine opener and started cutting the foil.
"You are staring again."
"And so? Look at you. One day you are sighing non-stop, the next you tell me… well, you know, and then, wham!"
"Your choice of vocabulary is daring." Maura shook her head amused, and went towards the couch with the new bottle.
Jane followed. "You left me speechless, what can I say."
"You can tell me how you actually feel about all of this. Here is your wine."
"Thanks. Do I need to?"
"Maybe I do need to hear it."
"But I told you. I'm surprised. It should be a big deal, right? I mean, it really, really never crossed my mind. Never thought of it until you said how you felt about me, and then… you know, the… hm… kiss stuff, but now…"
Maura raised an eyebrow and stared at Jane over the rim of her glass as she took a sip. "Now what?"
"Feels like we've done this before or something. I don't know."
"Aren't you afraid?", said Maura.
"Why? You are not a psychopath… murderer. And you have all your teeth. What should I be afraid of?"
Maura laughed. "Seriously, Jane. This can change things."
"What you said … I don't know, it's true. Wait. Are you afraid?"
"Depends. I don't want to lose you, and if I know I won't, then I'm not."
"You won't lose me; not for a kiss or for telling me what you told me."
Maura watched the wine go round and round inside her glass. "What if I want more?"
"What if I told you I wasn't happy when you stopped?" Jane's bravado hit her when she was not looking, making her press her lips tight and frown.
Maura's head sprung up. "You were not?"
"Why did you stop, anyway?"
"Because I… wanted much more, Jane. I still do." said Maura, as she reached out and touched Jane's curls. "I haven't felt this good in… I don't know if I ever felt like this before."
Jane's head remained still, but her eyes followed Maura's fingers.
"Must be all the toxin-thingies going all yeehaw and they are very contagious"
Maura laughed out loud, the hearty sound morphing into a tender smile that found an echo in Jane.
"You know," said Jane as she reached out and held Maura's hand, finally dropping her armour. "That what you said… it was beautiful. No one ever said anything like that to me. I don't think anyone has ever felt all that about me." Jane stared at Maura's fingers in between hers. She raised her hand and gently pressed it against her lips. Then she raised her head. "Does this make me gay? I don't feel any different."
Maura laughed but said nothing.
"What? No speech on labels and what studies say…?" said Jane.
"I wish the time would come where we don't need labels in boxes to clarify who we love. But if you want me to quote references, I can think of a few."
"Nah." Jane eyes fell to their linked hands and followed the trail of her thumb as she caressed Maura. "Your skin is so soft. And your hands, they look so fragile but they are strong. I never noticed before…"
"Friends don't give each other flowers to apologize, do they?" said Jane.
Maura pressed her lips, her shoulders giving just a tiny flicker highlighting the soft smile in her eyes.
"I couldn't tell you what all other friends do, but it's never happened to me before."
"I am a detective."
"Yes, that you are."
"So why didn't I detected this coming?"
Jane raised her head and inched closer with trepidation.
"Would you like it if I kissed you again?"
Jane blushed. Her lips opened but only the sound of her breath came out.
Maura leaned in, holding Jane's dark, tremulous gaze. She closed the distance and landed like a feather on Jane's trembling lips. The kiss remembered where it had stopped and continued as if never had. Jane fell into it and, for the first time, took control. Maura sighed against Jane's dexterous caress and the sound fueled Jane's determination. Her hand left the boundaries of Maura's knee and reached for the face, her neck. It plunged downwards, hungry, but stopped dead on its tracks when it reached the skin on the swell of Maura's breast, just beyond the low V of her top.
Jane's eyes stared at her fingers lingering on Maura's skin, panting as if she had hit a hurdle in the 100-meter race. Then her eyes moved up and found Maura's. Hazel was gone, replaced by a deep pool of wanting black and dread that soon turned into an invisible, reassuring nod.
Jane's eyes fell to her hand, and watched it go downwards and up until it hit the edge of the brassiere. It climbed over, fingers dizzy by the perfect storm rocking Maura. Her palm opened and landed still, feeling Maura's clear response pushing through layers of fabric against her hand. Jane closed her eyes, removing one sense and giving it all to her hand as it explored and got acquainted with the newness and awe of this new Maura.
Maura fell in, drowning in Jane's body lotion, her lips tracing every contour from ear to shoulder. The tempo went in crescendo, with Maura's own hand now mimicking Jane's, lips searching each other to find much more than a discrete, dry caress. As tongue touched lips, Maura stopped.
Jane ragged breath blocked any words, but her eyes said it all.
"Fast." Maura panted.
"But…" Jane found a whisper in between the rapid-fire breathing. "I thought… you…"
Maura leaned in and pressed her lips to Jane's firmly but tenderly, then withdrew again. She held Jane's confused eyes with the newfound calm in her own eyes. "I do. Trust me, I really do, but we had too much wine. It's late. It's all too new, and I don't want to wake up and see regret in your face, Jane. We can't come back from that."
Jane let her fingertips reach out for Maura's hand and traced the length of each one. "I don't do regret but yeah. This is way faster and taller than the Yankee Cannonball." Her eyes found Maura's and they painted a silent 'how can this be?'.
Maura shoulder shifted forward, her eyes smiling, and shook her head. A smile ignited her lips and lit her entire face up as she caressed the hair framing Jane's face.
"Am I really doing mushy here? With you?" said Jane, a glint in her eyes riding softly where words could not reach.
"Stranger things have happened, my friend."
They ended up heating the pizza. Maura surprised Jane with Mission Impossible 5 on the TV screen. Jane did not ask for permission to rest her head in Maura's lap and hug her legs or lace her fingers with Maura's. Maura didn't ask for permission to caress and cuddle Jane the entire length of the movie.
When the titles rolled in, Maura leaned forward and kissed Jane's cheek.
"Let's go to sleep. It's late."
They silently tied up the room. When they were done, Maura took Jane by her hand and led her to her room.
Jane looked at the huge double bed and then at Maura.
Maura let Jane's hand go and touched her cheek with her palm. "I just want to have you next to me tonight."
Jane pressed a smile between her lips and nodded. "But if I snore, don't wake me up."
Jane didn't snore, but Maura did sigh just before she fell asleep with Jane's hand pressing against her.
Author's note: Thanks for your comments and follows, it really helps to hear from you, and know you are there. :)
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Maura's eyes fluttered. As she shed sleep and focused on her surroundings she saw Jane lying on the bed next to her, propped on her elbow and head resting on her palm.
"Good morning." Jane's voice was as soft as her smile in her eyes.
"Hmm… morning. What time is it?"
Jane checked the phone lying in between them.
Maura's hand emerged from under the blankets and rubbed her eyes. Then she blinked a few times before focusing back on Jane. The smile wiped the remaining sleep in her.
"How long have you been watching me?"
Jane's shoulder flickered, her lips blocking the smile her eyes had painted on. Her hand reached out, reached a wayward bang covering Maura's eye and caressed it to the side. Then her fingers met skin. The caress drew her temple, her cheekbones, her jaw before going away.
"You see? No regrets." Jane nodded, her forehead clear, her lips wide under the spell of a smile that wouldn't leave her face.
Maura sighed deeply; a thin shiny veil covered her eyes.
"Come here." Jane said, opening her arms and welcoming Maura in them. When Maura's face was resting on Jane's shoulder, Jane touched her forehead with a light kiss.
"Thank you, Maur." Maura felt the low, husky whisper in Jane's chest.
"Why are you thanking me?"
"For kicking my ass." Jane grinned, her eyes locking in on Maura's lips.
"I need to brush my teeth." Maura said.
Jane leaned in and stopped just before the kiss happened. "Hm. No, you don't."
"Oh, you are mean."
Jane's peck happened so fast that Maura didn't have time to react. She only got to see Jane's face as she leaned back. Jane was grinning like a child who stuck her fingers in the birthday pie and then licked them before blowing the candles.
"Oh, no." Jane said when she saw Maura's smile.
"You have that 'you are adorable' face on again. Don't you dare say it."
"Oh, but you are!"
"Told you not to say it. I have a reputation to maintain, Maura."
"Right. So do I. People think I'm cold and reserved and proper." Maura said. The kiss that followed was not cold or reserved. But it was a proper kiss, and Jane fell into it, completely disarmed.
"We…hm… should get up." Maura managed to mumble between kisses.
"Yeah." One lost kiss found its way to Maura's lips. "Hey, do you think the light of day is going to turn us back to ole Jane and Maura, you know, the two best friends that work together and that's it?"
"Why do you say that?"
Jane shrugged. "I dunno. This is… nice, easy, but… it's kinda big thing. Aren't we supposed to be processing and stuff? Well, I don't do processing but, I dunno, you…?"
"Do I?" Maura laughed, then disentangled herself from Jane and sat up, stretching her arms, neck and shoulders. When all kinks were gone, she looked at Jane.
"You are right. We'll go downstairs now, and while you make coffee, I'll book us into the Sweat Lodge so we can have a few revelations."
"Funny. Hey, this is part of that, wasn't it?"
"What is part of what?"
"This…" Jane waved her hand between them. "This is what you learned about me, isn't it? I knew it! I knew you were not telling me the whole truth."
"Jane, I didn't lie to you."
"Half-truths don't count. Gotcha! And you kept it inside all this time?"
"I did think about you a lot at the sweat lodge, Jane, but I did not lie. In fact, I didn't grasp the meaning or the magnitude of it all until we started talking last night."
"Hm." Jane squinted and met open, clear eyes. "Ok. So what, you had a sighing revelation? That's way cheaper than a sweat lodge."
Maura shook her laugh away. "Yes, and two burning bushes after that. Come on, Jane, let's get moving. You can play detective back at the station." Maura leaned in, stole a quick peck and got out of bed. She dodged easily the pillow that Jane threw at her seconds later.
Half an hour later, Maura was sitting on one of the high chairs in the kitchen. She had just finished retouching her lip-gloss when Jane handed her a mug of coffee. Jane sat next to her, nursing her cup between her hands.
Maura glanced sideways as she was about to take a sip of her coffee.
"What is it, Jane?"
"You… you are different now."
"You seem taller."
"You are crouching and I'm not."
"You know what I mean!"
"I honestly don't, Jane, otherwise I wouldn't ask you."
Jane grunted. "I see you, but then it's like I've never seen you before."
"You never looked at a me like this before."
Jane smiled, her eyes briefly dropping down while the heat in her face subsided.
"Guess so." Jane took a deep breath and propped her forehead on her palm.
Maura settled her mug on the counter and turned to Jane. Her hands wrapped Jane's free hand.
"Jane, if you need time to think things through, I'll understand."
"Do you need time to think?"
"No, I do not, but I am fully aware that it was I who brought this all up. I can understand if this is too sudden for you."
"But that's the thing… It's like 'Ha! That's it!' Like the Yankee Cannonball, only better." Jane turned to Maura and looked at their joined hands, her thumb now caressing Maura's soft skin. Her eyes searched for Maura's again.
"You know… I can't stop thinking about what you told me yesterday, about what you wanted and found." A smile crept up, tentative at first. It then spread to her entire face, competing with a profound tenderness that had no words to express itself. "I could have said all that about me, if I were better with words and clever like you."
Maura gently pulled Jane's hands, bringing her closer slowly until their lips touched and held on. The touch became a kiss, and another…
"We are going to be late…" Maura breathed into Jane's lips.
"Yes, because now I have to take all your lip-gloss from my face."
Maura threw her head back in the wake of her clear, soft laugh. THe laughter died when she heard the handle on the backdoor turn.
Jane jumped out of her chair and turned her back to the door, furiously rubbing her lips.
"Morning, Maura. Oh, Janie, you are here. It's been a while, hasn't it?." Angela approached the kitchen and Jane walked around the island keeping her back still to Angela.
"Hi, Ma." said Jane without turning, rubbing her lips as discretely as she could.
Angela stopped and scrutinized the back of her daughter. "What exactly are you doing, Jane?"
Jane peeped over her shoulder and pointed at the door. "Well… I…. was going to…" She saw the paper towel holder and tore of a piece. "Get a napkin." She waved it and then wiped her mouth and chin with it.
Angela eyes bounced between Maura and Jane. "Something is going on in here. Am I interrupting anything?"
Maura lifted her mug and took a sip of her coffee, her hand steady, ignoring the jittery Jane standing in the far corner of the kitchen.
"Why would you say that, Angela?" Maura's question was casual but it made Jane's eyes fly wide open. She stared at Maura with eyebrows like two huge questions marks. Maura shifted her shoulder and smiled.
"Yes, Ma. You caught us running late. Isn't that right, Maura?" Jane said, without taking her frown away from Maura.
"But we still have time. I haven't finished my coffee yet." Maura smiled and took a sip.
"Maura!" Jane grunted, but Maura smiled into her mug.
"I raised three kids. I know when there is a broken vase being hidden." Angela shook her head and headed for the fridge.
"You are right, Angela. You nearly caught us kissing each other."
Jane froze -eyes and mouth open wide-, and stared at Maura as if she had grown a second head.
"Oh, funny, Maura," Angela said, shaking her head with a smile. "Anyway, let me get my lunch. I'm running late."
Jane waited until Angela opened the fridge and started searching inside. Then her arms flew about like a windmill, mouthing a string of unintelligible words at Maura.
Maura smiled mischievously and continued drinking her coffee.
"Okay, girls, must dash now. See you later at the Robber?"
"Sure Ma." Jane's eyes were boring through Maura. When the door closed behind Angela, she turned to Maura.
"What was that?" Jane hissed.
"When the truth is improbable, then there is nothing best to hide behind than the truth itself."
"It is not improbable. She nearly caught us kissing."
"We know that but Angela doesn't. She thought I was joking. It worked."
The sheer logic of it shut Jane up.
THE DIRTY ROBBER
Frankie was sitting at the bar, opposite his mother. His eyes followed her hands as she absentmindedly wiped a spot on the counter top that was clean to start off with. Her eyes were trained on something beyond his shoulders. He turned around and saw she was looking at Jane and Maura, sitting in one of the booths.
"What are you doing, Ma?"
"You are gonna wear off the varnish if you keep doing that." Korsak said, who had just joined them. "Why are you watching Jane and Maura?"
"Right." Frankie said to the neck of his bottle, just before he took a swig of his beer. He saw Korsak grin and grinned back.
"Something is going on with those two." Angela said.
Korsak looked at the booth where the two friends were sitting. Jane and Maura were leaning forward on the table between them. Jane had her face resting on her hand, elbow on the table, so her profile was obscured. Maura was nodding at her enthralled, then laughing. The laugh became a smile as Jane tilted her head even more. Jane said something and Maura seemed to sigh and them beam with a bright smile. They stayed like that for a while, smiling at each other but apparently neither of them was saying a word.
Jane dipped a potato skin in sauce and bit it. Maura pointed Jane's face and Jane touched the spot Maura was pointing at. Maura shook her head and pointed again. Jane kept touching her face until Maura stretched her arm and reached Jane's face. Her hand cradled Jane's cheek and her thumb wiped something to the side of Jane's mouth. The hand and thumb stayed there for a second longer than needed to presumably wipe whatever Jane had on her face.
Korsak's forehead furrowed.
Angela, who had also followed the interaction between her daughter and Maura, pursed her lips and looked at Korsak.
Frankie, who had in turn watched them both, turned around. Jane and Maura were smiling and laughing, seemingly oblivious to them or the rest of the world.
Angela looked at Korsak. Korsak looked at Frankie. Frankie looked at Angela.
"Fine, what's going on with those two?" Angela finally said.
"I'm not sure, but... Nah." Korsak said. "None of my business."
"This is your business," Angela said throwing her hands up in the air, "and that's my daughter. Of course it is our business."
"Ma, I don't know what you're on about, but they are not giving prizes to the nosiest bartender."
"I'm not nosy, am I? Vince?"
Korsak threw his palms in the air. "I'm not saying anything."
"Hm." Angela put the cloth aside and replaced Frankie's empty beer with a new one.
Maura's laughter drifted across the noisy room. Frankie turned around and looked at them.
"Ok, those two are really happy today, aren't they?"
"Well, Jane was oddly docile today when I asked her to go through a cold case. And she went down to the crime lab five times." said Vince.
"Vince, don't they look like…" Angela's question drowned in the suspicion in her eyes.
Korsak lifted his bushy eyebrows. He shrugged.
Angela frowned. "Hm. Nah. Can't be."
"You should have been a detective, Angela." Vince said with a smile in his eyes. "You never miss a thing."
"Thing is, this morning I went to fetch my lunch from Maura's fridge and Jane was acting all funny. Then Maura made a joke about me almost catching them kissing."
Frankie spat the beer he had just drank.
"Frankie! I just cleaned the counter top. Look at the mess you made!"
"Maura and Jane kissing? What the hell?" Frankie whispered, looking around him.
"I didn't say they were kissing. I said—"
"Yeah, yeah, I heard, Ma. C'mon, can't be. It's Maura and Jane we're talking about here."
Korsak's moustache twitched, barely hiding a knowing smile that stretched to his eyes. Frankie saw that, and also saw that he was looking again at Jane and Maura.
"Oh don't tell me, c'mon Vince! You think that Jane and Maura…?" Frankie turned around to look at them. They were smiling at each other but not saying anything.
"I knew it." Angela said. "They were up to something. But that?" Angela pursed her lips and peered at them through half-closed eyes. She saw Jane's coy smile. From afar Angela could have swore than Jane was actually blushing. Maura looked confident but her face was bright with a smile that wouldn't go away.
She turned to Korsak. "They look very happy, don't they?"
Korsak nodded. "About time, I'd say. It took them long enough."
"I wondered what happened… after all this time."
"You are right, Vince. It doesn't matter. I haven't seen Janie this happy in… well, forever. And this is all I've ever wanted for my daughter. For my girls."
Frankie turned around again to the booth and stared. Then the grin came, together with the little shake of his head.
Angela took the cloth and finished wiping the spoiled beer.
"I guess from now on I should knock on the door when I go to Maura's house." Her satisfied smile lit her entire face, and her chest expanded as if taking in all of her daughter's happiness.
. * * * .
"Should we go?" Jane pointed with her head towards the bar, where Angela, Frankie and Korsak were staring at them unabashedly.
Maura turned her head to the bar. Angela flashed a toothy grin and waved like the Queen of England.
"Your mother is acting strange."
"Bet you 5 bucks she thinks the same thing about us."
"But we haven't done anything. We're just having a drink, like we always do."
Jane triggered one eyebrow up, shooting a silent 'Really?' that left Maura speechless. Her brow cleared as the answer showed up in her eyes. Maura and Jane turned their heads to the bar.
Korsak smiled at them and nodded. Frankie raised his beer in cheers and smiled too. Angela waved again, grinning proudly.
"Yep. I'm sure that's what they think." Jane said.
Maura frowned briefly, as if trying to ascertain whether Jane was being serious or not. The glint in her eyes clarified the irony.
"Maura, would you like to come to my place? This is getting crowded."
Maura's face lit up. "Yes. I'd like that very much."
They got their coats and approached the bar. Angela opened the trapdoor and stood by Frankie on the public side of the bar.
"Janie." Frankie said, grinning, and raised his beer bottle again.
He looked at Maura -who was being hugged by Angela-, then back at Jane, and winked.
Jane slapped him on his shoulder and then turned to her mother.
"Okay. Alright, Ma. You'll see Maura later."
Angela planted a big fat kiss on Maura's cheek and released her before turning to Jane.
Before Jane could do anything, Angela had her in her arms.
"I am so happy for you, Janie. I just want you to be happy. You know that, don't you?"
Jane returned the hug, much to Angela's surprise.
Two minutes later they were outside on their way to their Jane's apartment.
"That was…" said Jane, juggling the keys in her hand.
They looked at each other and started laughing.
A sigh is just a sigh
Fenway Park. Jane’s apartment.
“Home sweet home.” Jane said.
Jane locked the door and left the keys on the hook by the entrance. She turned around to find Maura standing immobile, hands clutched together in front of her.
“What are you doing?”
Maura shifted her left shoulder. Her eyes were a symphony of trouble.
“When your mother hugged me, she told me that she is really happy that we are together.”
“She did…” Jane nodded thoughtfully, the question squashed by the weight of the revelation. “Is that why you were so quiet on the way here?”
“Well, Angela is assuming something that we have not explicitly agreed yet...”
Jane took the gun holster off and locked it away. She unclipped the badge and then the phone; a meditated set of slow-motion actions meant to give her time to find the right words. When she turned back to Maura, she found eyes covered by a film of something in the ballpark of fear. Her hands found the straps of Maura’s bag and guided them off her arm. The bag ended up next to the keys.
Maura’s hands were now estranged from each other; Jane’s hands rescued them as her chest expanded, drawing in the energy required to deliver the words that fought to come out.
“Are we together, Maur?”
“Would you like us to be… together?”
Jane smiled softly, her eyes giving a tiny yes muddled with a shadow of a doubt.
Maura swallowed a metaphorical piece of cardboard.
“But?” The word got disentangled from the roof of her mouth, but barely.
Jane snorted. The smile came in between slow headshakes.
“I just keep thinking about what we were talking at back at the Robber. You seem so confident that the fact that we are so different in so many things is not gonna get in the way now, or that my mess and my habits won’t clash with yours… Or that we will not miss being with a man.“
“I can’t be certain of anything, except that I do not want to be with anyone else. And I tend to think that somehow we’ve been together for years, even if we never had sex.”
“The thought of having sex with me displeases you?” Maura asked softly.
Jane shrugged, her face a study of a non-verbal apology.
“No. Is not that! Although… so far all that we did was kiss.”
“I recall having your hands on my—“
“Ah, ah. Don’t say it. I know where I had my hands.”
“Seriously, though. What if we —you know— and we don’t...”
Maura considered Jane’s comment for a brief moment.
“Oh. You mean that we may find out that we are not sexually compatible. Or is it that you think we, or you, may not like sexual intimacy with another woman?”
The words “sex” and “intimacy” threw a tight noose around Prude Ole Jane and pulled.
“God, Maura…” Her eyes flew downwards, trying to hide the intense discomfort.
Maura jumped over the childish prudishness and caught Jane’s chin with her thumb and index finger, masterly guiding up a face that wouldn’t move.
“Look at me, Jane.”
Jane complied, as she would comply with anything Maura told her in that low, commanding voice. Hazel eyes ensured she had no armor to hide the nervousness behind.
Maura leaned closer –leaned up, actually , and went past her lips, her cheek, until she finally reached Jane’s ear. A deliberate, slow flicker of her tongue on the earlobe snatched Jane’s breath away.
“I don’t think that will be an issue...” Maura whispered and Jane, of course, shivered.
Maura leaned back and found Jane’s eyes, brown turning black. She held them with all tenderness of her smile until the line between Jane’s eyebrows disappeared. Maura’s hands reached out and landed on Jane’s side, just above her belt. Her hands moved up slowly until the thumb reached the underside of her breasts.
Maura smiled, took Jane’s hand and quietly led her away from the entrance hall, past the kitchen and the bathroom.
Once in the safe semi-darkness of the room, their profiles barely outlined by the streetlights, Maura held Jane as close as she could. The kiss came in measured steps of half an inch at a time, feeding the trembling that had taken over both of them.
The self-assured detective, that could shoot and hit the target with eyes closed, found her pulse wavering.
The medical examiner, who thought at one point in time she was good only with the dead, handled the very much alive woman in her arms with exquisite prowess, succeeding in maneuvering Jane into forgetting prudishness and doubts and time.
When a thousand kisses and caresses got dizzy and hungry for more, hands found themselves wrestling with belts and zippers and fabric.
The fluid motions suddenly tripped as Jane’s fumbled with Maura’s bra fastener.
“Let me.” Maura smiled to see Jane’s profound embarrassment mixed with melting desire.
Maura took a step back, finished removing her top as if she had all the time in the world. She unhooked her bra with a one-handed gesture, and slowly removed it until it was handing limp from her hand.
Jane’s brow knitted, her eyes hypnotized by the sight.
“Should I stop?” Maura said, her voice tremulous and barely above a whisper, unable to conceal the fear or the need to be touched. She waited for Jane to meet her eyes, to move, to breath. Finally, uncertain hands reached out, almost asking for permission, and drew feathers along those curves with tremulous fingertips. She exhaled, a torrent of emotions raking through her body, and took a step forward until their skins touched. The kiss that followed was deliberate, tender, and knowing. The kisses after that were mingled with stifled moans and soft laughter, as they fumbled and fell on the bed.
It didn’t take them much effort to know how to fit their bodies together as if they shared the same skin.
It didn’t take Maura much practice to learn the rules of the road. None of her medical training prepared her for the miracle of Jane’s accelerated heartbeat with just a tiny flicker of a finger. No painting masterpiece had her ever as enthralled as the sight of Jane’s eyes shut tight and perfect lips drawing a silent O. No sounds ever existed on the world until she heard the air exhaled as Jane arched her back and let go.
And nothing could have ever prepared her to withstand the tsunami of Jane’s first words.
“I want to touch you.” Jane whispered, and all the blood in Maura’s body rushed in a thousand different directions.
And when they had exhausted every inch of skin and every breath, the embrace took over washing them clean. Kisses were now like a soothing balm over burning and trembling skin.
And just like that, they ripped apart and erased six years of fighting the inexorable pull of their infinite chemistry and love.
Much later, when morning was beginning to push through, they drifted to sleep, just after a soft “I love you too” escaped from Jane’s lips and was echoed by Maura’s sigh.
Beacon Hill – A week later
“How can you possibly do that?” Maura asked, her eyes fixed on the chessboard in front of her.
“I can do what?” Jane took some more popcorn from the bowl, her eyes fixed on the TV screen.
“Beat me at chess while watching a game and eating, all at the same time.”
“That’s why you love me.” Jane leaned towards Maura, stole a kiss and grinned.
Maura laughed. “Fair enough. You can have my Queen. I’m going to get started with dinner.”
“Hm. The game is almost over…”
Maura stood up and started packing away the chess pieces.
“Does that mean you are going to help me cook?”
“Well… um… you are so much better than me at cooking and I would feel really bad to… crowd your space when you are—“
Maura lifted an eyebrow and shook her head.
“Oh, don’t be like that. I wash the dishes every night!” Jane retorted just as Maura had expected her to.
“The dishwasher does the dishes every night.” Maura pointed out.
Jane stretched a hand and brought Maura close, guiding her to her lap. She nuzzled her nose in Maura’s neck. Maura closed her eyes and tilted her head back.
“But you still have to wash the dishes.”
“Why don’t we order in? Japanese? No dishes.” The last words were mumbled against Maura’s lips.
“Don’t you want to know the final results of the game?” Maura whispered back.
“Hm… Who cares about the game…”
Maura laughed and yielded.
The knock on the backdoor made them jump. Maura made a motion to stand up but Jane brought her closer and kissed her.
“Fine. But look, isn’t my pout adorable?”
Maura shook her head trying to hide her smile, and went to the door. Angela stood outside, smiling.
“Hey sweetie. Are you busy? I saw lights and… I made this lasagna and thought that…”
“Come in, Ma. Lasagna is always welcome.” Jane stood up and went to meet her mother. The hug startled Angela.
Angela’s eyes darted around the room, assessing the situation.
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to intrude…”
“We hardly ever see you these days. We miss you. Don’t we, Jane?” Maura smiled and guided Angela in.
“Sometimes…” Jane shrugged, a mischievous but endearing smile absolving her.
“I can’t stay long anyway, Ron is picking me up. He’s taking me to this snazzy restaurant and then to the movies.”
Jane smiled. “Nice… I’m really glad for you, Ma.”
Angela’s face lit, her eyes moving from Jane to Maura and back to Jane.
“I’m also glad for you, Janie.” Angela motioned for a kiss on the cheek and Jane squirmed away, grinning mischievously but eyes shinning with love.
“So, lasagna it is, then.” Maura said as she took the tray from Angela’s hand.
“Okay girls, really need to run now. We will have family lunch tomorrow, won’t we?”
Maura linked her arm with Angela’s and walked with her to the door. When she came back to the kitchen she saw Jane leaning on the island and smiling softly. Maura walked up to her and pulled her into a hug.
“What’s that smile for?” Maura asked.
“It so strange. I never really had a conversation with Ma about…this. “ Jane gently squeezed Maura. “She can be noisy as hell, but she has never asked me a thing about us. She just knows.”
“I guess she figured it out that evening at the Robber.” Maura said, her hands idly roaming along Jane’s back.
“But we didn’t do anything that night. We were just talking.”
Maura laughed. “Non verbal clues are extremely powerful.”
“Do you think everyone knows? We are really careful at work.”
Maura laughed. “Oh. I am certain of it.”
“Dr. Isles, do you have irrefutable evidence that can support your case?”
“In fact I do. One of the lab techs told me yesterday that my girlfriend had come by.”
“No way. Poor guy, did you give him the “I’m Da Boss and you will talk to me with the appropriate respect” speech?”
Maura smiled and flickered her shoulder. “Well, I might have asked him who he was referring to, and clarified the appropriate etiquette.”
Jane laughed and shook her head.
“Well, Korsak confessed the other day that he had given up on the idea of us being together.”
“Vince said that? I didn’t know he felt that way.”
“Yeah, me neither. It’s like everybody knew except us. Do you regret that we haven’t done this sooner? You wouldn’t have fallen for the walking dead artist psychopath, or—“
“Oh, don’t remind me.” Maura scooted closer to Jane and kissed her as if she had all the time in the world. “I don’t regret anything, Jane. It happened when it was meant to happen.”
“Yeah, but… I mean… nothing has really changed. It just got better. Lots better.”
Jane’s phone beeped, just as she was about to kiss Maura. A second later, Maura’s phone echoed it.
“See? Nothing has changed.” Jane rolled her eyes and covered her phone. “Can we make a lasagna sandwich and take it with us?”
Maura laughed silently as they got ready to go.
After locking the front door, she saw Jane strutting towards the car. The sigh came in and lingered on as she hummed the lyrics of Casablanca’s famous song.
Hope you enjoyed this easy, light-hearted, angst-free short story. Thanks for sharing this with me! .
I would love to hear from you :)