Author's Note: The wait is over, thank you all for the reviews!
"Okay, so finally, can I ask what happened at the end of the night after you left the bar? And don't even try to leave out a single detail, because I'll find out about it." Susie, someone she was just about ready to call a friend, waved a finger in her direction.
A deep inhale wasn't enough to ward off the persistence of her coworker. They were slowly closing in on the first day back after a three day break, which, to Maura, felt like a small vacation, and she was eager to finish up for the day. She already knew she didn't want to share the details about the smoothie shop because she was still trying to find time to unravel that in her own head. "Nothing. Nothing happened."
Susie dropped her clipboard with a loud clatter to the table top. "What? So your incredibly gorgeous date came to your rescue, got punched in the face, and then subdued him with basically one hand in the most graceful, and sexiest way, in front of everyone and nothing else happened after you left?"
"First of all, we were not on a date. Secondly, I had no idea Joey would hit her and thank goodness she's so perfectly trained because she knew how to take the blow to her jaw. I mean, I saw her the next morning and the swelling was just about gone. And thirdly, her friend she works with in New York showed up as soon as we walked out and after a very awkward introduction we parted ways so she could catch up with him… It all happened rather quickly."
"Wait, you saw her the next morning?"
Maura silently cursed herself for letting that slip. "Yes, we ran into each other at the smoothie bar I jog to a few times a week. She was with her brother." She tried to explain it off as being mundane and a small interaction when in reality it was still floating in the back of Maura's head in a box just waiting to be unpacked.
"So what was so awkward about her friend?"
Maura knew she was fishing it out of her and kept falling for the bait every time. "Oh, he was a very nice man and you could tell they care a great deal for one another and have been very close friends for a while. He initially felt bad for interrupting our date, even though it was not actually a date. And once it was explained to him-"
"Who explained it to him?"
"Well, I did." Maura waited a pause to see if Susie was going to interrupt with another question. "Then I said I was going to head home in order to allow them time to catch up with one another and just left…"
"Hm…" Her coworker tapped an index finger against her chin. "That's boring."
"Well, it's what happened. I'm sorry to bore you. It is not like that between Jane and I." Quickly, Maura turned away as if she was checking something on her computer screen but really wanted nothing more than to suddenly avoid the scrutinizing gaze next to her as a small prickle of heat crawled up her chest.
"Do you date women too? Or just men? Because that would help clear this all up."
Maura spun to face her. She tried and failed miserably to hide the uncertainty etched all over her features. "I have never dated a woman before..." No actual words were able to come out after that. Just a string of unintelligible words. She felt little to no relief when Susie began changing the subject.
"So have you seen Detective Grant at all today?" Come to think of it, she had not. With a shake of her head to indicate her response, Susie continued. "That's because he has been suspended for sixty days and his return to the department is in question even still after that."
"Well, I suppose that seems fair if that's what they decided to sentence him with." She was more or less surprised at this, but curious about who would have made the call to inform his superiors over the events. She then quickly hoped he didn't assume it would have been her or Jane that reported him.
"I can't believe you guys dated." The lab tech, who was maybe five or six years younger than Maura, huffed a laugh after her statement.
"Susie, I am not sure what Detective Grant has shared with the station and nor do I care all that much." Maura prepared her lungs before setting the record straight. "Though I may have referred to him and I being involved in a way was simply to point out that an attempt was being made by him to charm me onto his good graces. We had not even kissed, except for a couple times on the cheek, and had been on four dates - twice to the Dirty Robber to which one of those I am pretty sure he just followed me, lunch during a work day at Boston Joe's, and then I was his date to the high school reunion. Which I only said yes to because I went to an all girls boarding school and was wildly curious about what a public school looked like. Plus, that's where I met Jane." Maura felt an odd sensation in her body that caused her to immediately stop talking as soon as she mentioned her name. She didn't mean to keep talking in what felt like a dream-like state and was certain her younger coworker was hanging onto every word. "Strangely enough, ever since the reunion I have run into Jane on three separate occasions."
"Hm…" Susie lifted an eyebrow in her direction.
"...What?" The silence was causing Maura's skin to blush a deep and noticeable shade of pink.
"Nothing. Just, maybe not as boring as I thought." She ticked the same eyebrow before walking away.
The Senior Criminologist didn't have time to dwell on what her colleague said as the notification of test results came in and she wanted to update her last report of the day.
After finalizing and preparing the documents for the Medical Examiner, she collected her belongings and left for the evening. Her whole drive home was spent flipping through the radio to try and rid herself of the "hmm" noise Susie had made that was currently playing on repeat in her head. Figuring she would unpack that thought when she got home, Maura decided to delay the inevitable for just a few minutes and made several quick turns in the opposite direction.
She had been struck with a sudden urge to have Thai carry out from that new place on Boylston Street she had been meaning to try. For whatever reason, tonight seemed to be the perfect evening to do so. She knew it must have been predestined as there was a spot right out front, the perfect size for her Prius.
The restaurant itself was small and quaint, but very warm and inviting. Mosaic tile lined the floor and subtle black and white photographs adorned the walls. Each chair and even the booths were painted a matte black while each table had its own uniquely bright color in a high gloss finish that gave the place a more trendy upscale yet casual look. That was just her initial appearance, the initial smell however made Maura's mouth water as she approached the hostess that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. "Here to pick up an order?"
"I am here to place an order for carry out, I don't mind waiting." Maura politely responded to the young woman who led her to the back of the establishment, through the low murmur of conversation from the occupied tables and to a small waiting area with three cabaret tables where she promptly poured her a complimentary cup of jasmine tea and offered her the take out menu. "I will be back in just a few minutes to take your order."
Already in awe of this place, she perused the dishes and after a small internal debate, settled on the Pad Thai with tofu. Even the menu had a nice appeal to it and drew the eye in all the right directions. Happy with her choice she relayed the information to the hostess when she came back and paid for the meal. The young woman let her know her food would be in the expo window and she could leave back the way she came or through the door at the end of the room that led to a back patio and garden if she didn't want to have to walk back through the restaurant.
Maura tipped a thank you nod in her direction as she went back to her tea and only had a few short moments to gaze around the place before the young woman was back showing another guest to the waiting area.
As soon as her cup tapped the saucer, she looked up to find familiar, warm and chocolaty eyes staring at her. "We have got to stop meeting like this." The low and raspy voice greeted her, causing a rise of goose flesh over her arms.
"You sure do have good taste though," Maura began, then quickly and unceremoniously tried to cover up the unintended flirtatious tone in her voice. "Unless this was something your brother suggested..." A smile spread itself over her lips, mimicked by the woman across from her.
Jane grinned and looked away briefly before gathering her response. "Actually, it was his suggestion," she huffed a laugh. "You know, you two have quite a bit in common it seems."
"I suppose so." Maura offered. "However this is my first time here. Though I have heard good things about the food and have been meaning to try it."
"Well, let's hope it lives up to the hype. You just getting out of work?"
"Yes. Today seemed like a particularly long day as there was not much to do apart from awaiting test results and paperwork."
"Ah, yes that equates to a long and boring day. Hopefully the food makes up for it."
"I think you already did." Maura had no idea that was going to come out of her mouth and immediately felt her body rise in temperature. She watched Jane bite the inside of her cheek and look away with a deep set of dimples showing.
"Pad Thai with tofu in the window!" Someone from the kitchen called out and shattered the tension in the room.
Before Maura had a chance to stand, Jane distracted herself by reaching for the brown paper bag. "Enjoy," the brunette's husky voice tickled her ears once more, sending a shiver down her spine.
"I imagine I would. Will. I will." She needed to get out of there. Jane's closeness when handing her the bag was causing her head to spin. "Have a wonderful evening, Jane."
Dark eyes searched hers briefly before a smile accompanied, making them dance with mischief. "You too, Maura. I'm sure we will run into each other again soon…"
With her hands now full she had no way to hide the blush that crept up her neck, making her cheeks glow. "It certainly seems that way."
She decided to exit through the door at the end of the room and was presented with a patio full of brightly painted picnic benches surrounded by a garden of what appeared to be just a variety of wildflowers and ivy. There were only a few patrons outside and Maura felt the draw of the globe lights pull her into this little backyard setting in the middle of busy Boston. She felt taken away and quickly decided she would be eating her meal out here. As she was about to walk down the pavement to the empty gazebo, she felt a presence behind her.
Without thinking, she spun. "Would you like to join me for dinner?"
Instead of answering, Jane took the bag from her hands and asked for Maura to lead the way. The table in the wooden gazebo toward the back which had plenty of privacy and silently she took them in its direction. The presence of Jane behind her made her legs feel slightly numb, as if she nearly just floated to the picnic bench.
After unpacking their meals, Maura noticed there was one more container inside the take out bag. "Lunch for tomorrow?"
"No, it's actually for my mother."
"Oh my goodness, of course, please don't let me keep you from.."
"Maur, if I left perfectly fine company during the middle of dinner my mother would disown me as a Rizzoli. Highly serious offense."
A relieved laugh escaped Maura's breath. Jane went on to explain it was for her mother to try for the first time as she has never had Thai food before but was currently out for dinner with her father. Maura felt appeased by this and fell back into her dish. It was incredible. She immediately understood it's quick success and would absolutely be back.
"That's wonderful that your parents still go on dates."
"It's so strange, actually. But they're super happy all of a sudden and it made me nervous at first as if something was tragically wrong and they were treating each other like this because it was a last ditch effort… You know what, I think you get the gist."
"Yes, I can understand from your perspective how that would cause a great deal of questioning on your behalf." Maura almost moaned through another bite. She thought she was going to have plenty of leftovers but was just about done with the last bite.
"Ever since my Pop did a job for someone at the precinct, his life has turned around greatly. He's getting jobs left and right, my littlest brother Tommy has stepped up and taken on a lot of responsibilities in the company… It's incredible to see. Definitely not what I left when I was recruited to Cavanaugh and moved to New York."
"Oh! I never made the association! Rizzoli and Sons Plumbing. That's your father's business? Of course." Maura sounded uncharacteristically dumbfounded. "I wonder who else he did a job for after I convinced my town-home committee in Beacon Hill to contract him to replace all of the units with copper plumbing."
"He was doing a job at the Dirty Robber when I met him and he went to lengths to talk about the way a lot of plumbers cut corners and it made the job almost impossible for a real hard worker to come out and do it right like it should have been done the first time. I admired his work ethic and could tell he was truly passionate about it."
Jane sunk back onto the bench with an elated look. "I can't believe it…"
"Believe what? I assure I have no reason to lie. I actually break out into hives if I even attempt to be dishonest…"
"You're truly an amazing woman, Maura Isles." Jane's voice cracked with an emotion that Maura felt through her whole body. She had no scientific way to describe it.
The next few days had passed by as blur. Tuesday morning she found out she was a candidate for the Chief Medical Examiner position as Dr. Pike announced his departure at the end of the year so he can pursue his dream of being an inventor of sorts. Maura had spent that luncheon preparing his evidence for trial the following day and missed everyone's reactions as he drunkenly admitted the only one even remotely capable of taking his place would be her. That was all too soon relayed to the next person and the next until Wednesday afternoon she was getting a call from Governor Kelly to set up a meeting in a week to have a chat, as she so eloquently explained over the phone.
On top of being blindsided with what was turning out to be her dream promotion, a triple homicide also crowded her plate and occupied the remainder of whatever time she thought she had the past few days. The department being down one detective meant a few more caseloads per officer. Though it had only a few days into the change, tensions were riding high. At this point, a weekend was hardly in sight even though it was Friday afternoon.
"Susie, I know it's last minute, but if you don't have any previous engagements, would you like to grab a drink when we wrap up here?" Maura had promised herself a glass of wine at the bar tonight to fully close up the week before going home and decided to extend the offer to her colleague.
"Oh thank you so much for the offer, Maura. But my girlfriend and I are making dinner tonight. Normally it's not such a huge deal, but we are finally going to make homemade pasta together and we've been pretty excited."
"Well that is incredibly sweet, Susie. It sounds like a lovely way to spend the evening."
They changed from their scrubs and washed up before clocking out for the weekend. Maura was slowly falling into a robotic mode as she completed these daily tasks. Even the ride in the elevator seemed to have crawled the two floors up to the main level. Their heels clicked across the linoleum and a burst of air greeted the women as they emerged from the double set of doors. The three steps took them to sidewalk level and they turned to bid a good weekend to one another.
Before Maura could address Susie, movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention.
Jane was leaning against a bike stand, her hair dancing in the slow August breeze. She had a very thin black leather jacket over a perfectly white v-neck t-shirt that made her exposed Italian skin appear even more olive in tone and dark jeans faded in all the right spots that showed years of comfort. She tore her sunglasses off and stuck them on the crown of her head into the ravenous waves surrounding her. "I wasn't sure if you had plans…" Her smokey voice reached Maura's ears with a tremble. "But we haven't run into each other in a few days and I have been going to random places all over the city in an effort to catch you. Showing up here… kinda feels like it's cheating." She was now standing in front of the two women. "Would you ladies like to grab some dinner tonight?" All three of them knew Jane only extended the offer to Susie out of sheer politeness.
"Wow…" Was the only thing Susie was able to get out of her mouth at first. It was low and lasted for about fifteen seconds as if the word was laced into a deep exhale that deflated the rest of her body. "I mean, I have plans. I need to go home and see my girlfriend. Right away." She turned so only Maura could hear her low whisper, "Dr. Isles, you best enjoy tonight. I am sure there will be nothing boring about it at all." Neither of them missed the playful grin before she spun on her heel and left.
Jane shrugged her shoulders at the strange reply from Maura's coworker. "In that case…" She positioned herself squarely in front of the shorter woman. "I hope it's okay that I stopped by, I feel a little weird now. I'm not sure why but I just kinda wanted to see you… That sounds strange. I'm sorry. Normally I am a lot more composed than I am now but I…"
Maura reached out and placed a hand over the Italian's arm with a gentle squeeze. "Jane, I'd love to have dinner with you this evening."