Emily Gilmore was already halfway across the foyer, heels clicking against the tile floor when she was startled by the loud bang of the door slamming in her wake. She took a deep, steeling breath and failed to suppress the shudder that passed through her body before mounting the stairs.
Richard Gilmore emerged from his study just in time to see her retreating form as she rounded the landing and headed up to the second floor at breakneck pace. Both curious and concerned as to the current cause of his wife's displeasure he followed, the text book he had been reading in consideration for his upcoming course still in his hand.
As he approached their bedroom he heard muffled comments and the banging of drawers from within. "Emily?" he called, somewhat tentatively as he entered the room.
There was no answer, but the irate complaints punctuated by slamming cabinets could now be heard from the adjoining bathroom. He placed the book on the nightstand and crossed the room, still debating the relative wisdom of seeking out the exact nature of Emily's ire.
Now barefoot she exited quietly but quickly from the bathroom running squarely into her husband's solid chest. He reached out instinctively to steady her and as they locked eyes he was immediately struck with the fire he saw burning there.
"Richard!" she exclaimed. "You scared me half to death. What the hell are you doing here?"
Assessing her level of anger he replied somewhat playfully, "I live here. Or have you forgotten?"
"Of course I haven't forgotten," she bit back as she attempted to subtly pull away from his grasp. "I just didn't realize you were home already."
Richard held fast to her arms. He was torn. Emily was clearly irritated with something or someone, but the intensity that radiated from her when she was angry had always excited him. As long as he wasn't the target of her fury he might be able to redirect that energy. "Actually dinner was quite boring. I wish you had been there to help keep the conversation flowing. Even I can't bear to discuss Post-Keynesian Economics for two and a half hours straight. Your presence was sorely missed, my dear." He pulled her closer and leaned in for a kiss.
"Don't!" She replied tensely and planted both hands against his chest.
Clearly his wife was more upset than he originally thought. "Emily, what's the matter?"
The sudden tenderness in his voice caught her off guard. "Nothing," she answered though the harshness in her tone betrayed her.
Whatever it was that happened clearly had troubled his wife more than he initially realized. He took a moment to study her more closely. Her expression seemed more infuriated than sad or hurt, but he knew the later emotions often took longer surface in her. He also noticed the odd angle at which she was holding her hands. Only the base of her palms was actually touching his shirt and her fingers were held back away from him, curled down.
He reached up to take one of her hands in his to examine more closely. Emily took the opportunity to pull away from him and storm back into the bathroom; Richard was hot on her heels. Steam was rising from the sink where hot water had clearly been running the entire time. She thrust her hands into the stream of water. In the brighter light of bathroom he could see that her finger tips were a bright blue. Emily squirted a generous amount of hand soap into her palms, picked up a previously discarded fingernail brush and began to scrub.
"It won't come off. No matter what I do, it just won't come off," she stated.
Richard leaned in and gazed over his wife's shoulder, noticing how she slightly tensed when he came close to her. "So, Lady Macbeth, what did you do at the Sudbury's anyway? Is this some new after dinner activity?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" Emily replied dryly as she shut off the taps and stepped away from him. She reached for a bottle of fingernail polish and a wad of cotton balls.
"How can you stand there with electric blue fingers and accuse me of being ridiculous?" He protested, slowly becoming annoyed with her anger toward him. "Just where were you anyway? You were on your way home hours ago."
"Oh, so now you care?" she demanded.
"Of course I care. When we spoke on the telephone you said you were on the way home. That was over three hours ago."
Now rubbing her fingertips with the nail polish remover, Emily took a deep breath and paused just as she was about to answer him. She just couldn't bring herself to tell her husband she had been arrested. "I was with Lorelai and Christopher." It wasn't a lie exactly. She had been with them for the last forty-five minutes, though it had seemed longer. The whole ordeal felt like it had taken forever though it had only been a few hours. She was still not sure which had been worse, the time at the police station or the time spent enduring her daughter's gleeful mocking. While the former was over, she was certain the later would continue for years to come.
Now he was puzzled on several levels. Richard decided to begin with the obvious question. "What were you doing with Lorelai and Christopher?"
She turned and tossed the used cotton balls in the waste basket. There was a bit of ink on them, but she couldn't see that her fingers looked any less blue. Taking the time to recap the bottle of remover and put it in the cabinet under her sink, she tried to settle her nerves. She walked past Richard to the other side of the room, turned on the water in the shower and answered him as nonchalantly as possible. "They gave me a ride home."
Her evasiveness and nonanswers were beginning to concern him. "Why did you need a ride home? What happened to the car?"
"What are you worried about, Richard? Me or the car?" she challenged.
Her attempt to start an argument with him rather than tell him what was going on really worried him. "Emily, what happened?" his tone was once again gentle as he reached up to caress her cheek.
"Don't." She retreated from his touch again and found herself backed up against the shower door. "I need to take a shower. I've got jail grime all over me," she blurted out.
"You've got WHAT all over you?" he asked incredulously.
"Jail grime, alright! Jail grime! I've got JAIL GRIME all over me." She snapped.
"Why on earth were you at a jail?" he questioned.
"Richard, please," She requested, "I just feel dirty. I need to take a shower."
He was becoming more alarmed by the moment. "Emily? What went on tonight?"
Recognizing the worry etched in her husband's face, she resigned herself to spending a bit more time covered in jail grime, and turned off the shower. She then took a deep breath and launched into her story, "As soon as I hung up with you, I was pulled over, supposedly for talking on the cell phone. Which by the way, did you know is illegal now? It's simply ridiculous. I mean you see people doing all sorts of things while driving… drinking coffee, eating hamburgers, putting on make-up, even reading, but do they pull those people over? No! I was driving perfectly safely, both eyes on the road. Me, they pull over and then this pathetic excuse for a policeman demanded that I take a breathalyzer test. When I refused to put that disgusting contraption in my mouth, he arrested me. I mean, really, how do I know where that thing's been or even the last time it was cleaned? The very idea that I'd --"
"You should have called me," he interrupted, clearly feeling guilty for not being there to help her.
"Well that would have been just wonderful. You, sitting there at dinner with the dean only to be interrupted by a phone call from the Hartford Police informing you that your wife is in jail. Do you want the man to think you're married to some kind of criminal? I called Lorelai. I'd much rather deal with her gloating and mocking than be responsible for your public embarrassment."
"The important thing is that you're okay. You are okay, aren't you?" he asked still a bit concerned.
She held up her blue fingers, "I was fingerprinted, they took my picture -- a mug shot -- I have a mug shot now, and they took my shoes. I had to walk around that filthy disgusting police station barefoot."
Richard shook his head at his wife's outrage at being barefoot and suppressed a smile. He wasn't completely successful. Now that he knew she wasn't harmed, he was beginning to find her indignation rather amusing. "It's good that Lorelai was able to come and pick you up. How did Christopher figure into this debacle?" he asked both out of curiosity and in an effort to change the subject.
Her eyes lit up momentarily. "That's actually the only good part of this entire evening. They were on a date."
"Really," he replied with a nod. He was not yet willing to be quite as happy as Emily clearly was by this development, but he was still pleased. They had been down this road before after all. "I'll call Charlie Davenport first thing in the morning. We'll hit them with everything from false arrest to police brutality, they'll drop all the charges, and you'll be telling this as an amusing cocktail party anecdote in no time," he assured her.
"I most certainly will not be telling anyone about this nightmare, ever!" she assured him, "and I don't see how you could find any humor in it either." She turned her back to him and restarted the shower. "I expected this type of behavior from Lorelai, but not from you."
"Come now, my dear. You must admit the very idea of you being arrested does have an aura of the absurd about it," he teased as his arms snaked around her. "My wife, the jailbird."
Her hands reached down to stop his. "Don't even think about it." Her voice took on a dangerously low note as her back stiffened.
Undeterred, he leaned in and nuzzled her temple.
She pulled his hands away from her and turned around to face him fists clenched at her sides, her back ramrod straight. "Richard Gilmore, if you think that's going to work on me tonight, you are seriously mistaken," she growled, her voice dropping even lower. "Now, get out of here so I can take a shower." She emphasized her commanding tone by pushing him toward the door.
"I could help you wash off that jail grime you complained about," he offered lightheartedly as he allowed himself to be guided out of the room. "You know I'm good with all those hard to reach places."
Her only reply was to close the bathroom door in his face and turn the lock.
Richard readied for bed and settled himself down to peruse the text still under consideration as he waited for his wife. His mind however was not focused on the book. She emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam three quarters of an hour later clad in her favorite fluffy white bathrobe, her hair still damp, and her skin glowing an angry pink from the nearly scalding water and extended scrubbing it had undergone. He rose from the bed and retrieved the snifter of cognac he had poured for her earlier, his own already empty.
Emily moved to her dresser and opened the drawer containing her nightwear. She paused staring at the contents a moment then gazed down at her hands. Though lighter in color, her fingertips were still decidedly blue.
"Here, drink this," he offered, passing the glass into her field of vision.
She gave him a mildly appreciative nod and downed half the contents in one swallow, the warm burn from the alcohol on the interior of her body now matched the stinging of her skin on the exterior. "I still can't get over the nerve of that insolent, imbecilic officer hauling me off to jail like some common criminal. I don't know which was worse; him or the burly matron who stared at me through the bars as if I were going to attempt a jail break or stab someone with shiv or something, and there was this… this… woman in the cell next to me. I won't even tell you what she -- "
"Emily," he cut into his wife's rant, "it's over now. Try not to think about it anymore tonight."
She shuddered and looked down at her bare feet on the lush carpeting of their bedroom and shook her head. "I can still feel the grit of that dirty cement floor. I can not comprehend what harm they thought leaving me my shoes would have done. I mean they were Prada pumps, it's not as though I could have hung myself with the laces."
"Come now, it couldn't have been all that bad. Why not look at this as a life experience," he suggested.
"Being arrested is one experience I had planned to live my entire life without, thank you very much" she argued, gesturing widely with her free hand as her anger rose, "and how dare you say it couldn't have been all that bad. You have no idea what it was like." She swallowed the remainder of her cognac, slammed the snifter down on the top of her vanity with a bang and faced him arms crossed, lips tightly pursed.
Suddenly the image of numbers across Emily's chest popped into Richard's mind, and he was struck with the incongruous picture that must have been her mug shot. A grin spread across his face.
"Just what do you think you're smirking at?" she challenged her lips becoming impossibly thinner. "How can you possibly find this horrendous incident amusing?"
Richard lost the battle to contain his mirth and he chuckled long and low. "Come now, Emily, the notion of you spending time in the slammer must be considered comical?"
"The slammer!" she repeated, her tone horrified, eyebrows shooting up to her hairline.
"Would you prefer, the big house… the joint… the cooler?" he offered as he picked up the decanter he'd brought up with him earlier and moved towards her.
She didn't reply but she just starred at him, her mouth remained tight, although the harshness in her eyes began to soften.
"How about clink… joint… or pokey?" he teased, as he poured her some more cognac, put down the decanter and handed her the glass.
She shook her head at him. "What did you do, spend the entire time I was in the shower thinking these up?" she asked before taking a sip.
"Maybe," he conceded with a shrug. He grasped her upper arms gently and continued, "Don't worry, I'll handle everything in the morning and as soon as the ink fades from your lovely fingers," his left hand trailed down her arm and drew her hand to his mouth where he tenderly kissed her fingertips, "there will be nothing left of this incident to concern yourself with." Then, he leaned in and kissed her gently on the forehead.
She took a deep breath and gazed up into her husband's eyes. The look she saw there made her feel protected and loved.
He drew her over to the bed and they both sat on the edge. "Now, finish your cognac and we'll call it a night." He placed his arm around her shoulders and drew her closer.
She took another sip then handed him the glass. "I don't want anymore. Why don't you finish it?" she suggested.
Richard simply placed the glass on the nightstand and leaned back against the pillows pulling her back with him.
Emily relaxed for a moment, her head against his chest then tried to draw away from him. "My hair's still damp. You'll get your pajamas wet."
"I don't care," Richard replied holding tightly to her and maneuvering their legs onto the bed. "Just relax, Emily. If it gets too damp, I'll simply take it off." One hand stroked her back. The other combed through her hair, playing with the loose curls that formed when it was left unstyled. He kissed the top of her head.
"You'd like that too, wouldn't you?" Her voice was low and husky, and held that slight mocking tone that he adored.
"Any excuse to get naked with you, I enjoy," he quipped.
Emily yawned, the energy that had fueled her animated anger seeping away and allowing the emotional and physical exhaustion of her ordeal to take hold. "I should get up and get ready for bed," she declared sleepily.
"You're fine how you are. Just rest for a little while," he soothed.
"Okay," she agreed, "just for a little while."
Richard continued to gently stroke her back and hair as he felt sleep consume his wife. A short time later he drifted off himself.
Author's Notes: I'd like to thank UnaVitaSegreta, Melanie and Riska for their encouragement, suggestions, and wonderful beta assistance. Without them I would never have had the courage to post here. If any mistakes remain, they are all mine.