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Seven weeks of suffocation. For all I know about murder and death, I have no clue how I’ve gotten by this long without air. Every single place in my life that was previously a safe space is now a device of torture.
At work I’m surrounded by all things Maura. The setting is great for keeping the talk of Reggie away, yet it only allows me to hone in, focus on, all of the things that I love so much about Maura. Even as my resentment toward her mounts.
At home I’m bereft. My time is my own and that time is empty and meaningless. Food tastes like chalk and the programming on television seems especially inane.
Staring into my light beer I’m screaming on the inside. The Dirty Robber had been the last frontier, the last place I had to hide from life outside of the force. But for the first time ever I’m regretting closing this case, catching this perp.
“Let’s go grab a drink and celebrate,” Korsak suggested.
It was a proposition I just couldn’t turn down.
“I’m in,” Frost also agreed. “Perfect timing, doc, we’re grabbing a drink to celebrate putting away another bad guy. You coming?”
I couldn’t look. I was afraid that either Maura would read acceptance or rejection on my face. Both emotions skitter across my brain with equal intensity. Instead, I focused on shutting down my computer and stacking my files into neat piles. A cluttered desk….
“I don’t know,” Maura hedged. “Reggie is supposed to pick me up.”
“Bring her along,” Korsak intones with glee. “It’ll give me a chance to pick her brain about some ideas I’ve had.”
“Well…If you’re all sure.”
Not all of us.
“Of course we’re sure.”
And that’s when it happened. Frost caught me. He caught me staring mindlessly into my pen cup and in an instant his cop brain connected every single last dot in my life. I cursed mentally that I allowed myself to be caught by yet another person. I’d done so well over the passed few years and in an instant the number of people who knew my ugly secret had increased to two. My only hope is that just like Ma, he’ll never try to talk about it.
That’s how we all ended up at a table. A vulnerable ass table with my back toward the door so that there is enough space for Reggie.
“Anyone want another around?”
Forget waiting for everyone’s response. I’ll get them all another whether they like it or not because if they’re drinking they won’t notice that I’m really not. I’m more careful about drinking in public. I go to the bar with the boys for a while after our shift. I make the jokes, discuss the cases, pick up a tab or two, then make my exit. I prefer to do my wallowing in private. It would only take a modicum of kindness for me to spill my very life force across the scared bar top and leave it there for every other patron to see.
“Jane, let me give you a hand with those,” Reggie calls after me.
“I can handle it, thanks.” I never break stride as I move away from that horrible table. When I make it to the bar though, she’s right there with me.
“Hey, I wanted to speak with you alone for a minute.”
Please say your thinking of breaking up with Maura.
I keep my eyes trained on the bar. “What about?”
“Well, Maura’s birthday is coming up and I wanted to do something really special.”
Christ almighty! Maura’s birthday? That’s my gig. I make her birthday special. Now that’s the golden girl Reggie’s job I suppose.
“Hey, Janie. What can I get you and your sister?”
“My what?” I look at Murray with contempt. “You know my entire family, Murray. Including my two brothers. In all this time have you ever heard of a sister Rizzoli? Huh?” I’m getting loud, but I can’t help myself, this look alike shit with Reggie is wearing thin.
“I’m sorry, Jane. It’s just you both look so much alike with the height and the hair and all. Is she your cousin or something?”
This night is slowly turning into a nightmarish hell-scape.
“No, there’s no relation,” Reggie interjects. I’m sure she glean my pure contempt at the very idea that we’re related. “Can we get four more beers and a white wine please?”
“Sure thing.” Murray eagerly scurries away.
“And a double whiskey!” I call after him. Forget being careful, I need to be numb.
“Don’t sweat it, Jane, I get that look alike stuff all the time.”
I look at her incredulously. I don’t remember infiltrating her life like she’s done mine. Who could possibly be getting us mixed up?
“You’re a celebrity around these parts,” she says obviously picking up on my train of thought. “You wouldn’t believe the women that were throwing themselves at me after you took out the strangler.”
“Yeah, well I’m no celebrity.”
“I beg to differ. You’ve saved countless lives. That makes you both a hero and celebrity in my book.”
She slaps down a fifty-dollar bill before scooping up half the drinks.
God damn it does she have to be nice too?!
“I’ll call you about Maura’s birthday.”
Downing the whiskey to leave the glass on the bar I make my way back to the table. A hand on my elbow stops me before I can make it back.
“Hey, there, Jane. Long time no see.”
“Kurt? Hey!” I look down at my hands. “I’d hug if I didn’t have my hands full.”
Kurt Kaplin used to work for Boston PD before he got transferred to another precinct that needed some help. Good enough cop and handsome as hell, but dumb as a post. He has those dark and strapping good looks of trashy romance novel fodder.
“I see you got your hands full there. Come see me later.”
I doubt I see him later. We used to flirt regularly, but never dated. Whenever I’d think it was time to actually follow through he’d say something so spectacularly stupid that I’d be repulsed. Looking at him now though, I’m wondering if he’s not just what I need.
I ignore the round of thanks I get for the drinks. They should thank Reggie, but I’m sure as hell not offering up that information. My mind is on other things, namely, Kurt. Another reason why we never hooked up? I’ve heard about his…sexual proclivities. If memory serves he likes it rough, at least in comparison to what the average woman is looking for. I can play that game but it’s never much been my thing. Rough play usually has an emotional component that I’ve never been in a position to entertain. I’m especially not in that position now, but a few hours to forget may be just what I need.
In a flash I down my beer and head back for another.
“Don’t you think you should slow down, Jane,” Maura whispers.
“I can handle myself, thanks.”
I don’t have time for her concern right now. It’s her caring and concern that got us to this place, made me fall in love with her. No, I don’t need concern tonight, I need reckless abandon.
What I love most about men is they’re easy. In no time I got Kurt to ditch his friends and buy me a few more drinks. I can feel eyes on me from across the bar. I know who they belong to and it only spurs me on.
“You know, I can give you a lift home if don’t want to drive,” he offers.
“Just let me grab my jacket.”
The table has erupted with laughter in my absence. Its good to see they’ve all missed me.
“I’ve had one too many, Kurt’s giving me a life home,” I inform the table.
I avoid eye contact with both Maura and Frost.
“Ohhhh Janie,” Korsak says with great amusement. I love how oblivious he can be.
“We can give you a ride home, Jane. It’s no problem.”
Reggie places a hand over Maura’s. “I think she’ll be fine with her gentleman friend, babe,” she smiles.
“Yeah, babe, I’ll be fine. Night everyone.”
I’m happy for the quick escape into the night.
In short order we’re back at my disgusting apartment. Kurt doesn’t notice nor does he care as his tongue fills my mouth and his large hands grope my body. I lead us through to the bedroom and my clothes are roughly pulled from my body leaving me exposed and naked to his roaming eyes.
With little to no preamble his hardness is being shoved into me far before I’m ready and the stinging sensation clears some of the fog from my whiskey addled brain.
This is what I wanted, what I needed. I’m so focused on his blistering pace that I can’t think about Maura. With his hands around my neck Reggie is nothing more than a figment of my imagination.
This man bruises and batters my body for the better portion of the night and when he zips up and takes his leave I’m nothing but grateful. I don’t want his affection and I don’t need his care. For all I know about myself as I’m left in the darkness, sleep pulling me into the abyss, I’m terrified of where I’ll end up.
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