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Vol. 2: Intermediate.

It wouldn’t be until much later that Jane finally realized. It seized upon her slowly, deliberately. It left her no with place to hide.

Maura threw her head back with laughter and Jane was rapt. She eyed the cords and sinews of Maura’s neck. She never realized it’s length, it’s grace, it’s strength.

“You’re lying,” Maura accused.

Jane’s eyes sparkled with mirth. “I kid you not. My first kiss was in a confessional. We thought it was empty.” Jane took a sip of her beer as she waited for Maura’s fresh paroxysm of laughter to fade. “We were so keyed up that we didn’t even notice Father Crowley inside. To this day I don’t think I’ve completed all the Hail Marys and Our Fathers.”

Frankie called to them from their booth across the bar. Jane sent him a dismissive wave.

“Now your turn.”

Maura blushed, clearly taking a moment to measure her words. Jane followed Maura’s flush until it disappeared inside her blouse.

“Something tells me this is going to be a juicy one,” she predicted. Leaning closer, Jane was glad that Maura’s perch on a bar stool brought them practically face to face. “I showed you mine…” she prompted.

“Okay, but you can’t judge me.”

Jane sobered saying, “I would never judge you, Maur. Besides, my first kiss may have been a mortal sin, or blasphemy at the very least. I can’t see yours being much worse.”

“That would depend on who you ask, I suppose. Although my first kiss may have been a bit more benign by comparison. Well, intermediate, maybe,” she amended.

Jane touched her arm to ensure she had Maura’s full attention. “You don’t have to tell me if you really don’t want to.”

“No, reciprocity is fair play. I’m surprised we haven’t had this discussion sooner.”

Jane ignored Maura’s misuse of a common colloquialism, instead focusing on the realization that having never shared such a detail really was uncharacteristic of their relationship. She didn’t have much time to dwell on the implications as Maura took a final fortifying sip of wine and jumped right in.

“Well, you know I went to boarding school.”

Jane nodded not understanding the lead in.

“My first kiss was a practice kiss for what was to be my first real kiss. One of my classmates offered to help me…prepare, if you will.”

“Nothing uncommon about that.”

Jane nodded when her mother offered them refills. She was more thrilled than ever that the bar was uncharacteristically busy for a weeknight. Practically able to see the wheels turning in Maura’s head, it became clear that Jane was missing something.

“Is that it?” she pressed when it was clear that Maura wouldn’t continue without some prompting.

“Well…I guess it would be best that I clarify that it was an all-girls boarding school.”

Frankie appeared at Jane’s side suddenly. He jumped back as beer splattered across his shoes. Maura deftly grabbed the neck of the bottle, righting it before it shattered across the worn wood floor.

“Geez, Janie! What the hells the matter with you?”

Jane shook her head sending him a withering glare. “What?”

He took another step back. “You two have been hold up over here all night. What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just…we’ll be there in a minute.”

Frankie didn’t budge until Maura gave him a reassuring smile.

“Are you okay?” Maura asked when they were alone.

Jane slid a pile of soiled napkins to the rear of the counter. “Fine, I was just startled.”

“By him or by me?”

Korsak called for Maura and the moment seemed to pass. Resigned to the fact that now was no time for this conversation, Jane led the way and Maura followed. Totally disinterested, Jane only listened with half an ear as Korsak asked Maura a fact that he could have easily Googled himself. That had been Frost’s job and it was an unspoken agreement that no one would pick up his mantle. Any fact that Maura didn’t know would be quickly forgotten.

Jane wanted so much to dial in, to participate. She was suddenly hyper aware of Maura pressed next to her in the booth meant for four, but currently holding six. When she tried to turn her focus elsewhere it would land randomly, blurring into abstract shapes and colors.

When the guys started up on hockey talk, Jane leaned over so only Maura could hear asking, “How was it?”

Jane wanted to melt into the floor. She meant to say so many other things. It would have been appropriate to assure Maura that she didn’t care, tell her it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. Girls frequently practiced kissing with each other, or so she’d heard. There were many a placation she could have offered, but what came out was purely Freudian in nature.

Maura leaned back in an effort to see Jane’s face more clearly. She must have seen what she needed as she leaned back in saying, “It was the typical teenage fumbling.”

Jane felt an odd sense of disappointment. She wasn’t quite sure what she expected to hear, but the idea that kissing a woman could be as mundane as kissing a man just didn’t track.

“I will say that the practice kiss turned out to be better than the actual event,” Maura added.

Flushed with unreasonable happiness, Jane smiled. Before she could reply Tommy bombarded her with a line of questioning in regard to stats. Halfheartedly, she offered what she knew, which seemed to satisfy the table. She looked down at her beer surprised to find it empty before remembered that most of it was splattered across Frankie’s loafers.

Holding the bottle aloft she asked, “Come with me?”

Tommy called after them for another round. Any other night she’d call him to task for pitching in. How alcohol-free free beer cost more than regular beer she couldn’t quite figure. Her preoccupied mind, however, had all the drinks added to her tab without question.

“What happened to her?”

An uncharacteristic look of confusion crossed Maura’s countenance.

“The girl,” she said in almost a whisper, “the girl you kissed, what happened to her?”

“Oh, nothing. We were preparing for the annual coed dance with the brother school to our own. She got a boyfriend and a few months later graduated. We’re Facebook friends.”

Jane was both thrown and intrigued by Maura’s laze fair attitude about the situation. It prompted her to ask, “Has there been others?”

She tried her hardest to shy away from investigative mode. It was second nature after so many years on the force; one question led to one hundred others. Jane wouldn’t, however, interrogate her best friend. Knowing how fortunate she was that Maura chose to confide in her, Jane put a firm choke hold on her rampant curiosity.

“My, my, detective, aren’t we full of questions.”

Jane colored, thankful when Maura continued without further provocation.

“Once more in med school. My lab partner and I had more than a few drinks to celebrate passing finals and she imbibed a little too much. For some reason she thought it was appropriate to kiss me right before vomiting on my favorite throw. I tried not to take it personal.”

“You didn’t want to kiss her?”

Maura thought for a moment before saying, “Until the moment her tongue was in my mouth, I really hadn’t thought about it.”

“Was she pretty?”

“I suppose. Not really my type.”

“Your type of woman,” Jane said as if tasting the words, determining if she cared for the flavor. “Do you have a type?”

“I have to admit that it has crossed my mind.” She turned to Jane more fully. “You mean to tell me the thought of being with a woman never crossed your mind? Honestly?”

“Here you go, Janie.”

Jane sighed at the row of beers Angela placed before her. “Hold that thought.”

She used the time it took to deliver the drinks to contemplate how far she was willing to let the conversation go. Mind made up, she returned to find a handsome gentleman occupying the bar space she had just left vacant. Maura gracefully declined and sent him on his way.

“I know your type when it comes to men, and he was it. You want me to give you a minute?”

She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed, but the out she offered Maura was for both their benefit.

Maura shook her head, pulling Jane closer by the shirt. “I’m not in the mood for…that right now. You still haven’t answered my question.”

Jane groaned. “You’re not going to let me off the hook are you?

“No, ma’am.”

The air crackled around them as Maura waited for Jane’s reply.

Trusting Maura completely, and wanting to meet Maura’s show of trust head on, Jane admitted, “Okay, I may have thought about it once…or twice.”

Maura seemed unsurprised. “What would your type be?”

“I don’t have a type, per se.”

Glancing around their immediate surroundings, Maura pointed out a scantily clad, buxom, red head. “What about her?”

Following her gaze, Jane frowned. “No!”

“Really?”

“Too…obvious. She’s pretty, but way too made up. I prefer more subtly.”

“Okay.” Maura did another scan. “Her?”

“She’s not even trying. Too granola.”

Maura laughed. “Picky, aren’t we?”

“Well what about you?” Jane found a woman whose short hair and masculine clothes screamed lesbian from one hundred paces off.

“I knew that would be your assumption.”

“What?”

“I don’t believe in gender binaries.”

“Gender what—never mind.” Finding another, more feminine woman she pointed surreptitiously. “Her?”

Maura hedged.

“Now who’s picky?”

Maura laughed saying, “I would want someone who is the opposite of me looks wise. Not so much masculine, although a slight masculine flair is appreciated. Tall, dark, and androgynous,” she finished.

Jane was pensive for a few long moments. It wouldn’t be until much later that she finally realized. It seized upon her slowly, deliberately. It left her no with place to hide.

“Same here,” she replied much later. “If I were to be with a woman, she’d have to be my opposite.”


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