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Vol. 1: Benign
She’d grown so accustomed to the habit that her reaction was kneejerk; thought, guilt…suppression.
Jane didn’t even hesitate, being disturbed in the middle of the night was commonplace in her line of work. Well, middle of the night was a bit of a stretch. A heavy workload rarely led to an early night, so when she got the chance to turn in at 10 P.M. she was loath to miss the opportunity.
“Oh, please, no.”
“We don’t have a new case,” Maura laughed. “Relax.”
“Thank God,” Jane moaned in relief. She was up to the task, but a woman needed a break every now and then.
“If we don’t have a case then you’re only calling for one thing.”
“You make it sound lascivious when you say it like that.”
“Lascivious? Maura, this is my voice. It just…sounds like this no matter what I say.”
“True enough,” Maura conceded. “And what, pray tell, is it that you assume I’m calling for?”
“No assumptions, Doctor. This is the conclusion of several years of data collection.”
“You can’t sleep.”
There is a long pause before, “I’m neither confirming nor denying the accuracy of your hypothesis.”
“Not necessary,” Jane rejoined around a yawn.
“I’m sorry to wake you. I honestly didn’t think you would be in bed this early.”
“This double homicide has worn out it’s welcome.”
“I wish there was more I could do to help. I think that’s why I’m so wired. The techs are handling the last of the labs so there’s nothing for me to do. But you should get some rest—”
“No, no, I’m up now and frankly getting too much sleep would do more harm than good.”
“I could offer statistical evidence to counter that, however, I’ve witnesses you with both eight and five hours of sleep and you do perform better with fewer hours of rest. I’ve often wondered if it’s more psychological than physical. Attaching an imperative, like the necessity of more sleep and the welfare of the victims, causes the chemicals in your brain to—”
Jane interrupted again saying, “Maura, it’s late, I’m in bed, please…no chemicals.”
“Sorry. Although some chemicals belong in the bedroom.”
“I feel something gross coming on.”
“It doesn’t take much imagination to glean what I’m alluding to.”
Maura’s laugh was muffled for a moment, the rustling of sheets able to be heard in the background. Curiosity peaked, Jane asked, “What are you doing?”
“Taking off my shirt. It’s warm tonight, but I’m too lazy to adjust the AC. I let you talk me out of getting that Nest system, which I could have controlled from my phone…”
The rest of Maura’s complaint fell to the rear of her consciousness. Jane must have been more exhausted than she thought. That was the only reasonable explanation as the mental image of Maura naked from the waste up, save for one of her expensive, lacy bras, gave her a guilty thrill.
“I wish you were here.”
Maura had Jane’s attention back immediately. “What?”
“If you were in the guest room I could text you and have you turn it on,” Maura clarified.
“Oh, right.” Jane’s laugh was stilted as she added, “In your dreams, lazy bones.”
Again, Jane’s thoughts meandered. This wasn’t the first time she’d thought of Maura in a decidedly inappropriate manner. She’d grown so accustomed to the habit that her reaction was knee-jerk; thought, guilt…suppression.
“Is yours on?”
Jane asked for clarity even as she chided her imagination for somehow getting the best of her once again.
“Your air conditioner, Jane. Are you sure you’re all right? I should let you get back to sleep.”
Sleep was no longer an option. Jane reassured Maura she was of sound body, even as the verdict was still out on her traitorous mind.
“All I’m going to do is toss and turn all night anyway. If I didn’t need to take out a small business loan, I’d get the mattress you have.”
“It wasn’t that expensive,” Maura defended.
“No? I got a peek at the receipt when they delivered it. I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the price or an account number.”
“You’re just exaggerating now.”
Jane could tell from Maura’s tone that she’d had enough of the teasing. Maura had thick skin, able to handle ribs and insults from anyone with enviable grace. She tended to rankle under any scrutiny of her finances. Jane tried to steer clear of the topic except on the rare occasion.
“It wouldn’t be the same without you here anyway,” Jane admitted. She rolled her eyes in the darkness.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Maura didn’t wait for a reply before revealing, “I sleep better when you’re here too.”
Jane only had the briefest moment to revel in the happiness of that revelation before Maura continued. “Anyone really. Studies show that people sleep better in pairs. Did you know that twins…”
Again, Jane checked out, her head spinning from soaring so high only to be yanked back to earth so suddenly.
“Despite that fact, you are my favorite sleeping partner.”
Jane was dizzy.
Maura sounded sheepish saying, “Yes.” After a beat adding, “You don’t snore and even though I’m positive you suffer from ADHD, you are practically motionless in sleep.”
Jane wondered at Maura’s newfound ability to use humor as a tool to alleviate discomfort.
“Oh, I see. You just like me because I keep the bed warm.”
This time its Maura that yawns.
“Looks like it’s finally catching up with you.”
“I think you’re right.”
Jane listens as Maura finds a comfortable position, sighing in contentment.
“Bring me breakfast?” Jane tries.
“It’ll be healthy.”
“Okay. Night, Jane.”
Jane lay with her phone pressed to her ear long after the line had been disconnected. It’s silly, but she can almost hear Maura’s rhythmic breathing across the broken line.
For just a moment Jane forgets. When the thought comes she feels no guilt, and for once she doesn’t suppress a thing.
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