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Chapter Six

JANE

There was still a lot of internal cringing on her behalf for the terrible attempt at asking Maura on a date. She wasn't even sure if the other woman had understood, and it certainly didn't help that she asked her co-worker to join them. However, now she stood in Maura's kitchen, swishing a glass of wine dangerously close to the edge. She never realized how much she disliked the taste of the drink until she was propped against the island in this woman's Beacon Hill home swirling the liquid without ever taking a second sip.

Since Jane's fail at asking the woman out on a proper date, Maura, in a way, flipped the tables around on the security professional. She had given the option of meeting up later in the evening, or since she was already there and if she didn't mind, Jane could just follow her home and they could leave from there. Maura had quickly explained she badly needed a shower and change of clothes in order to get rid of the deco smell from the morgue that often adheres to her. An awkward agreement to the latter had followed and these were now becoming the longest minutes of her life.

To occupy her time, she practiced taking sips of wine that didn't leave her with a distasteful look on her face and looking at the selection of artwork and paintings Maura had placed all throughout her home. Halfway through the glass, a clicking of heels approached her in hurried steps, speeding the beat of her heart to match their pace. Hand frozen mid-sip, Jane let the offering of wine slowly make its way to the counter before she took in the woman who just rounded the corner. Fresh and glowing, her skin still a light shade of pink from what must have been a hot shower. Jane suddenly felt the need to fan herself as the temperature in the room had definitely climbed. She looked sensational in whatever high end designer plum colored dress that was currently forming to her body like a second skin, Jane had noticed, as Maura nervously stood in her own threshold.

The Italian woman let her gaze rake up the sight in front of her and landed on her eyes - warm hazel drew her in before she let them fall over the golden hair framing the scientist's face. It was almost impossible for Jane to hold back the words on the tip of her tongue. "Maura," She tried desperately to not let her already low voice drop even more. You're gorgeous. Oh my God, you're the most stunning woman I have ever set eyes on, Jane thought to herself. A faint and dreamy smile escaped her lips and was then gone in a flash. "You, um.. You look beautiful. Pretty dress… And the shoes..." Immediately, she wanted to face palm herself and then wondered if Maura could see the look she failed to shake from her features as she snapped her mouth closed.

Luckily, the forensic scientist did not seem to pick up on Jane's embarrassment. "Well thank you, I wasn't sure what you had in mind so I just picked a simple casual dress that was suitable for all endeavors." She smiled. Her attempt at a joke, Jane thought. It was adorable.

"I'm not sure if you had your heart set on the Dirty Robber…" The brunette shyly began before clearing her throat. "But would you maybe want to go someplace else?" The look that washed over Maura's face wasn't one that Jane had catalogued yet. "We can totally go there if you'd prefer. As long as I have your company I really don't mind-"

"Oh,no, I'm so sorry," Maura anxiously tried to clear the air. "I am actually a little relieved. I'd love to venture elsewhere. A lot of the guests at the Robber will be colleagues of mine that I have seen all week and the chance to step away has presented itself and I-"

"Say no more." Jane put a hand up in kind gesture. "I know just the place." Of course, she suggested she drove and even opened the door for Maura with a surprise evident on the woman's face.

The drive was relatively quiet to begin with, save for the slow jazz trickling from the speakers. Jane was impressed Maura had yet to ask where they were going but just allowed her to lead them to wherever it was.

"So no siblings, right?"

"No. How could you tell?"

Jane huffed a confident laugh. "I notice things." She was referring to the lack of family photos on the walls of Maura's home replaced by small sculptures and all different types of framed work.

She gave a thoughtful noise before continuing. "No, and I'm not particularly close with my parents either. I grew up fiercely independent and even asked them to send me to boarding school when I was child. They visit maybe once or twice a year or I go to wherever they are at the time. My mother is an art collector and dealer and lives all over Europe while my father is an anthropologist and lives with tribes of people for weeks at a time to learn their culture and how they have adapted to living in the twenty-first century without most of them never seeing real civilization."

"So your father is basically, like, Indiana Jones?"

"I am not sure who he is."

Jane gave an extra hard pump to the brakes at the stoplight. "What?"

"I should probably tell you I don't really understand or comprehend a lot of pop culture references."

She considered this and it made sense. A few blocks later she was pulling up to a parking spot in front of a quaint restaurant that was long and narrow. There were large silver and black letters that expanded the entire side of the building that read VINCE clearly and bold enough to capture anyone's attention from a few blocks away. The brunette hurried from the driver seat and to the passenger side to open Maura's door. The smaller woman smiled a shy thank you as she reached her hand out to steady the step up to the higher than normal curb. Her hands were incredibly soft and Jane felt herself melt only a little while opening the front door of the familiar place.

The dining area had round tables with two to four seats and along the walls were back to back booths expanding down the length of the establishment. Bright shades of red sparked warmth in both of them and helped to ease some lingering nervousness. Jane gave her name to the hostess at the front of the restaurant and with a serious nod, the woman clad all in black led them to a private table near the kitchen. "The chef will be right out."

Jane wanted to pull Maura's chair out for her but relented and slowly slid into her own chair, folding the napkin over her lap. "The chef takes the orders directly here?"

A widening grin crossed the brunette's lips. "Sometimes…" She allowed her voice to fade out.

"I also noticed the host didn't leave us menus?"

Jane did her best not to let the chuckle escape her chest. This place was nostalgic for her, and she hadn't been back in years. Vince was an old family friend and used to coach the little league team that all the Rizzolis played on as kids. Jane looked to him as an uncle, of sorts. He had been associated with her family for so long that even her parents had been going to the restaurant ever since Vince's father opened it the year before they got married. Before she had a chance to gather a reasonable answer for Maura, a cheerful clamour began swinging through the kitchen door.

"Jane Rizzoli, it's been too long since you have shown your face!"

The voice made her spring from her chair and into the older man's open arms. "Missed you too, Korsak!"

"And what have you done to my manners?" He turned to Maura and reached a steady hand out to her. "I am Vince Korsak, an old family friend of the Rizzolis."

"Pleased to meet you, Vince, I'm Maura Isles."

Jane watched Korsak's eyes warm approvingly. "And Miss Isles, what can I get you to drink? Wine? Red?"

"That would be lovely, thank you," she smiled at him.

"Might I recommend a pinot noir I have recently come to enjoy?"

"Certainly, I'd be happy to try."
He turned to face Jane with a disapproving glare. "She's way too polite for you, Rizzoli. You better not mess this date up." His stern stare crumbled as she batted him away playfully. "A Pilsner on the way for you. New brewery opened up a few blocks down and brought in a bunch to sample a while back and now we can't keep it in stock quick enough. I always save a few for special company, however." Korsak squeezed her shoulder and went back through the way he came.

"I'm sorry… I should have figured he would just assume we were on date. I'll set the record straight with him when he's back with our drinks." While trying to hide her blushing cheeks, she was unable to read the look in Maura's eyes.

"This place is lovely…" She tried to appease some of the hovering tension.

"Yeah," Jane piped up, sitting upright in the chair and no longer avoiding eye contact. "A lot of my firsts were celebrated here."

"Your firsts?"

She smiled as she dug back through her memories. "First time my little league team won the championship we all celebrated here. First time I ran the Boston Marathon without quitting. First time I got my first cast off a broken arm. When I first heard about my recruitment to Cavanaugh Security. The first time I got promoted within the ranks…"

"Any first dates?" Maura chimed in.

Jane felt another blush spreading. "Um… No, not… er.." She stammered.

"So I'm the first?" Her voice was barely audible due to it shaking with nervousness.

Between trying to determine just how serious her question was and the change in her demeanor, Jane didn't get a chance to answer as Korsak was back dropping their drinks off and telling them what all of the specials were along with the fresh catches from the morning to see what tickled their taste buds. Maura chose a seafood dish that Jane had no idea about, and Jane ordered the usual for herself, which was always their signature burger.

"Now, any questions before I leave you two to eat in peace?"

"Yes," Maura's voice was small, but playful. "Why the name just 'Vince' was there any particular reason?"
The older man chuckled and leaned forward. "Used to be called Vince's… That was until my second wife ran off with the apostrophe and the third wife got away with the 'S'. But in the end, it all worked out. I just wanted something to call mine."

"Don't listen to a word he says, Maura. He's a wise guy, this one." Jane smiled at her date and gave an elbow nudge to her family friend. "The real story is, Maur, he bought all the letters before buying the building and the rest of the name just wouldn't fit."

The two guffawed at one another while Maura spoke up. "I like that it's just called Vince. It's unique."

Korsak lifted a chin in Jane's direction. "Like I said, you better not screw this up with her, Janie." He mumbled for only the brunette to hear before turning back to the kitchen.

They began on their food right away, neither of them ever struggling to form conversation in between bites. After almost each mouthful, Maura, who had described herself as "quite the foodie", kept making comments about the dish saying things like "incredible depth" to which Jane smiled. Toward the end of the meal and the bottom of their drinks, their back and forth had slowed to a comfortable, easy silence. The blonde had placed her napkin on the table in a delicate manner and leaned in, tracing her finger across the rim of the wine glass. Jane watched with great detail for what she thought was hours - hypnotized by the motion. When finally being able to break the trance she looked up and the sight in front of her nearly squeezed all of the oxygen from her lungs.

It wasn't just Maura's proximity, but the penetrating gaze she had when capturing Jane's eyes that took her breath away. What were once golden, hazel eyes now had a captivating darkness luring her in. She felt herself leaning forward, no, being pulled closer to the woman across from her like a magnet. Everyone else in the restaurant disappeared and the sounds of the kitchen had faded out completely. Jane could nearly hear her heartbeat in these moments. She could hardly remember telling her brain to reach a finger out and lightly run it down the back of Maura's hand that appeared to be gripping the side of the table.

The booming voice of Vince Korsak was like an ice bath. He had come bearing a bottle of wine and a second beer, placing them on the table with a thump, and asking how they enjoyed their food. He told them to relax, enjoy their drinks, and some dessert would be on the way shortly.

This time, when faced with a break of silence, it was awkward and tense.

A few more seconds ticked by and they both started to speak at once, neither one hearing the other. To Jane, it had appeared as if Maura had a slightly pained face and she encouraged the woman to continue.

She bit her lip and sat ramrod straight in the dining chair. "I'm a little embarrassed with what I am about to say, but I desperately need to be honest. Not that I haven't been, I assure you..." she said hurriedly. "There's just... I feel I have been leaving something out…"

The pale and worried look that crossed Maura's face caused Jane to reach a hand out and cover the smaller, manicured one in front of her. "Take your time, Maur."

Allowing some low and steady breaths, she licked her lips, "I have never dated a woman before." She said it as if it was all one word then took a hefty sip of her wine.

"Oh." Jane followed suit and took a large chug of her beer and sat back. "Okay… This doesn't have to mean anything, Maura. Just friends. I genuinely enjoy your company and you're great to talk to and so much more interesting than anyone I've met."

"I, um…" Maura bit her lip. "I, ah, find myself very, very attracted to you."

Jane had no idea what to say and remained silent, wondering if Maura would open up a little more.

"I'm sorry if any of this is confusing. But I just thought you should know that…" The awkward, terrified, wide-eyed look on the woman's face told Jane she was waiting for some sort of response from her.

"That took a lot of courage to admit, Maur." Her voice croaked slightly. "I am glad you felt comfortable enough to tell me and…"

"I hope it doesn't change -" Jane caught Maura's eyes and it caused the nervous woman to relax slightly, though never having a chance to finish her thought.

Korsak was back with a very artistic and perfect-looking creme brulee. He placed the dish between the two of them, with one spoon, before disappearing behind the swinging door again. In a swift movement, Jane pinched the silverware in her grasp, dragging it confidently through the dessert and presenting the bite to Maura. Hazel eyes drifted from the spoon to the woman holding it and back again almost a dozen times. Readying to reel her hand back, the brunette felt a tender grip on her wrist that stopped the movement. Fingers still locked around the cuff of her sleeve, Jane felt the gentle tug indicating Maura was eager for the spoonful now.

Her mouth went dry watching this woman clear off the contents of the custard with a drag of her lips. A shudder rippled through Jane causing her to nearly drop the spoon. Maura relieved the Italian of the duty and offered up a bite with hooded eyes and a slightly open smile. Jane knew her already dark eyes had blackened even more as she licked her lips in a slow progression before wrapping them around the middle of the spoon and gliding back, her eyes never leaving Maura's.

If there was any question as to whether or not the scientist was attracted to her, it would have been answered by the heaving of the woman's chest as Jane swallowed her bite of the house made creme brulee.

Before they left, Korsak had come by again and chit-chatted for a little while before scooting them out of the front door. They promised to stop by again soon and continued back toward the car, Jane once again opening the door for Maura and offering a hand.

The ride was relatively quiet and much quicker than before. The security professional battled internal conflict for most of the drive and was slow in some of her responses to Maura. She had been conflicted between her feelings toward the woman and on the flip side, her inexperience in this area. She barely realized she was already pulling up to the blonde woman's house and opening the door for her.

Unsure of what to do with her hand as they strolled up the pathway, she settled it on the small of Maura's back, feeling the woman lean into her touch. As they reached the front door, she wanted nothing more than to lock their lips together in a smoldering embrace but thought it would best to take things a little slower.

Jane, instead, pressed a kiss to Maura's cheek, allowing it to hover over the area for a few extra seconds. "Good night, Maura." She smiled as she unwillingly pulled herself back. "I hope we can do this again soon... I, um.. I really enjoyed our time and look forward to the next…"

Maura beamed at her, giving her all the assurance she needed.


MAURA

Susie had taken a personal day on Monday and Maura wanted nothing more than to tell her or someone all about what happened on Friday evening. Instead she dove head first into work needing to keep her mind occupied on other topics so she didn't begin to daydream. The Governor had already called as soon as she clocked in wanting to schedule a meeting for the upcoming Wednesday and Maura's head was still spinning. It seemed like so much was happening at once and the scientist couldn't remember ever feeling so overwhelmed.

Once Tuesday morning rolled around, the two lab technicians had been too swamped with work as a double homicide had come in the night before and they were still in the process of getting some tests started. It didn't leave a whole lot of time for conversation and by the time the day was over, they had sleepily gone their separate ways.

Finally, there was a short lull in the lab on Wednesday afternoon, moments before Maura was due to leave to get to her meeting with the Governor, and she was finally able to gab to Susie about her date with Jane. She had had several days to understand her feelings more and knew without a doubt she was incredibly attracted to Jane.

Susie had ushered all of the other lab techs out of the room and told them all to grab a coffee. After checking the area and making sure the coast was clear, she pulled up a stool directly in front of Maura and begged her to spill her guts. She quickly re-told, in nearly perfect detail, the events of Friday evening and some bits and pieces of conversation they had.

"It's like I am just instantly drawn to her. And without my knowledge, my life has just gravitated toward her since she arrived back home."

"Even in science, you cannot avoid the inevitable." Susie had stated profoundly. "I think it's best to let gravity run its course."

A sigh of relief escaped the scientist's throat and she allowed the dreamy-like state to envelope her for just a brief period of time. "I didn't know I could be so mesmerized by every fiber of someone's person… But she makes feel alive, Susie. It's terrifying. And nothing makes sense, but it all makes sense. It's a beautiful paradox that I am falling into here." As she made a grand gesture to the space around her she caught sight of her watch and knew she needed to get on her way soon and slid off the stool, collecting her items.

"Sounds pretty serious, Dr. Isles," she used her professional tone.

"I hope so…"

"Did she kiss you?"

"On the cheek."

"On the cheek? Boring."

Maura placed her hand over the area as if it were still warm from Jane's lips. "I assure you there was nothing boring about it." She ticked an eyebrow at Susie, mocking her as she had done to her the other day, and slipping out of the back exit and toward the locker rooms.

What the scientist didn't see was as Susie turned to leave the other way, Jane stood outside the door with a bouquet of vibrant flowers in her hands and a sheepish look on her face before a slow smile spread from ear to ear.