Googlemouth and I teamed up for this one. I cannot stress how much I enjoy our collaborations, and I'm very thankful that Googlemouth is gracious enough to allow me to write with them.
Please enjoy; don't forget to reviews.
As always, the characters aren't ours.
"Would you just look at those two?" Charlotte Isles leaned over to whisper in her husband's ear. "I cannot believe they let those kind of people into the club. I mean, really, Arthur, what are they thinking?"
"Well, I'm not a mind reader, Charlotte, but I'd venture a guess and say those two are thinking about each other," Arthur Isles deadpanned just before taking a sip of his cabernet.
"Clearly," Mrs. Isles hissed, "And you know that is not what I meant." She gave a huff of exasperation at her husband's apparent indifference to the situation. "Lesbians in our club. They'll just let anyone in these days."
The couple watched the two women in question. From the corner booth where they were seated, they could only see the back of one blonde and one brunette female. But, it was clear the women were on a date. The brunette's right hand held the blonde's left, and they occasionally fed each other bits of food or would steal a kiss.
The lesbian couple faced the broad window that overlooked the harbor the yacht club called home, and they seemed oblivious to anyone but each other.
"I think what they do in their private life is none of our concern, dear."
"But, think of what it's doing to our club's reputation, Arthur. We are nothing if our reputation goes down the drain. We must all take responsibility for what each of us does to maintain the integrity of the club."
"Is that so? How are we to do that, exactly? We would have to police everyone at all times." Mr. Isles tilted his head to the side as a thought occurred to him. "Tell me, is our entire club sneaking into their bedroom? Is that how you know they're ruining our integrity?" He continued to deadpan as he went on. "I was never notified of this. What have you neglected to tell me, Charlotte? Is that where you go when you tell me you're off to get your nails done?" He swished the wine around in his glass. "I just cannot keep up with all the new code words these days."
"I would hit you, but I don't want to make a scene."
"They're kissing again. Arthur, someone needs to say something."
"I'd say I need another glass of wine."
"Why don't you go talk to them?"
"Why? They're on their way over."
"No, the servers."
"Oh, honestly, Arthur."
The blonde's back was to the Isles couple, but Charlotte's disapproving eye (and Arthur's amused barely-glance) could make out some of the darker woman's features, as she was half-facing them. Hard angles, sharp edges, whipcord thin. She was built like a fashion model, yet her attire was not reflective of such a profession. It was actually not too bad, Charlotte had to admit privately, though clearly it was off the rack. The smaller one seemed to be instructing the taller one in the use of various cutlery, judging by the very discreet nods and gestures, and the way the brunette's hand would hesitate over a utensil, then correct itself and pick up another one.
In fact, that was exactly what was happening. Maura had ordered them very small tasting portions from most of the menu so Jane could get used to a wide variety of different foods she'd probably never encountered, as well as the utensils used to eat them. Very softly she gave instruction on exactly how to hold the soup spoon, softly enough that even their server didn't hear them when filling their water glasses. "Tilt the bowl of the spoon away from yourself. If soup were the main course, you could get away with tilting your soup bowl away from yourself, too, but not towards yourself, and never when soup isn't the main course. It's considered better to leave a little in the bowl than to appear greedy. Sip from the side of the spoon rather than putting the whole thing in your mouth. Also, if you're not sure of how to eat something, move very slowly. It gives you time to look at what others are doing," her voice lowered even further as she slowed herself down, demonstrating the appeal as she explained it, "and it makes you look restrained, refined, and... extremely sexy."
"Yeah, I'm seeing that." Jane's eyes followed Maura's hands. "If you keep that up, I'm never going to learn anything. You're too distracting, Maur." She leaned forward, a hair's breadth away from the other woman. "Are you the main course?"
Maura remembered to set down her soup spoon before leaning forward to allow her lover to taste her lips once again. "I'm not on the menu," she murmured just before the kiss connected, "but you might be able to persuade me to provide a special dessert sampling, since you're such a frequent and honored patron." Then the kiss, sweet and tender and too short by all accounts save the one keeping score from the corner booth. "Later. Right now, drink your soup." Her voice returned to instructional mode, though not without little sensuous grace notes beneath her very warm smile. "This is a small bowl, so just a few spoonsful should be enough, and then the waitstaff will come. They always serve from the left with the left hand, then remove used dishes from the right with the right hand, so you'll always know where they're going to be and which way to lean away from them when you see them coming."
"Later?" Jane grumbled. "Okay, that's good to know. Man, everything is so backwards for me. Sometimes I really hate being left handed. The glasses are in weird places. The silverware is backwards. Well, I mean, it's not backwards but, you know what I mean. And, this fork thing you want me to do… you know, with the prongs down, how do you pick anything up." She let out a frustrated groan. "Next time we go out, we're getting pizza. You know what? Forget that. We're ordering in, and I'm having dessert first." The brunette shot a mischievous side glance at her partner.
"No, Charlotte." He glanced at the dessert tray the server was holding. "I'll have the crème brulee, thank you. Dear, what would you like?"
"For them to go away," she mumbled under her breath before addressing the server. "I'll have the raspberry chocolate cheesecake, thank you."
"Coffee as well, for both of us." Mr. Isles waited until the server was out of range before addressing his wife. "Charlotte, they are clearly having a nice meal alone together. Why would you want to spoil that? Now, why don't you let those young women have their evening so we may have ours? Tomorrow we're scheduled to see Maura, and I'd rather we not be fighting when we arrive at her home. We've been out of the country for over three months, and I'd very much like to know what she's been doing while we've been away without having to deal with you telling her how awful you think our local yacht club has become." Though his voice was low, his meaning was clear. He was quickly growing tired of his wife's preoccupation with the couple in front of them.
For a brief moment, Mrs. Isles spun her wedding band as she considered what her husband had said. "I sound homophobic, don't I?"
"You know, I'm really not. It's just that, well, that brunette… Arthur, its clear those clothes are off-the-rack, and the blonde is clearly higher class. I think we're starting to bring riffraff in, and I just don't think…"
"Riffraff? Honestly, dear." He grunted. "You are homophobic. I've known that since you met Sally and Hannah Cristen, the two professors who team teach several psychology courses at the college."
"Oh, please, Arthur. They were simply distasteful and so crass."
"They barely spoke to you, dear. You simply didn't like the fact they were a married couple." He gave a small shrug. "Facts are facts. I see no reason to stray from them."
"You seem to be making assumptions. You know how I feel about postulating."
"I'm theorizing based on empirical evidence and years of careful, consistent observation."
"You're sleeping in the guest room tonight."
The married couple quieted as the desserts were set in front of them.
At their table, Maura chuckled softly, agreeing with most of Jane's suggestions. She did feel compelled to point out, however, "Actually, as a left-handed person, you have an advantage. Forks go in the left hand, spoons and knives in the right, which is the way you eat normally, for the most part. All but the spoons." As the two finished their soup, the bowls and spoons were removed, making way for the salad course. Again, the servings were tiny, though the dishes were full-sized, as Maura had requested before they even arrived. More instruction followed, some of it hands-on as the doctor took especial care to guide Jane's fingers into the correct positions. It was an excuse to touch the detective, as they both knew, but also incentive for Jane to pay attention and not get too impatient. At some question from Jane, Maura lifted one shoulder in an elegant, almost European shrug. It was a gesture she'd picked up from her mother in early childhood without realizing it.
"I guess this would be a bad time to point out that being a south paw is handy in a fire fight, huh?" Jane sighed as she allowed the doctor to guide her hands.
Mr. Isles stiffened perceptibly as he happened to see the blonde shrug. "Dear, perhaps we should leave and pick up this conversation at home?"
"I'm not leaving until I've at least seen who, exactly, those two are. I want to know with whom we're dealing." Mrs. Isles finished her dessert.
"I fear this will end poorly," Arthur mumbled behind his coffee cup before taking a sip. "I thought we had agreed to leave those two women alone."
"We have done no such thing. You are the one who insists on not making certain our reputation is untainted. I, however, happen to care about the good name of our club. After all, what organizations we belong to say a great deal about the type of people we are, don't you think?"
"Oh, yes," he sighed. Since seeing the shrug, he had continued to watch the gestures of the smaller woman at the table in front of them. With each passing moment, he became more and more agitated. "Though, I believe we could simply trust in the counsel's good judgment."
"Isn't Rebecca Oliver the counsel president now?" Mrs. Isles made a disapproving clicking sound. "Didn't you say recently she didn't know…"
"Yes, I'm afraid I did." He slowly set his cup down on the saucer. "Dear, where are you going?"
"To give them a proper welcome, of course." With an air of determination, Mrs. Isles began to slide out of the corner booth they had been occupying.
"Please, Charlotte, let's just go home and get ready to see Maura."
His pleas went unanswered as his wife made her way quickly to the table by the window.
The server cleared the salad bowls and brought the couple their fish course, clearing away the used salad things. A secondary server topped off their water glasses. Neither spoke, though both women murmured their gratitude, which marked them as patrons that would be appreciated in the future. Maura reminded Jane of a prior experience with fish and suggested with a teasing undertone that this time, the detective might wish to copy her motions a little more closely. She assisted again with those light touches, most of which were instructional, but so tender. She loved showing Jane new things. It wasn't a common occurrence for her girlfriend to be hesitant or off balance, and while she didn't necessarily enjoy the detective's discomfort, she did like knowing that Jane was having to pay attention to nuances as she underwent the sort of hyper-awareness that always accompanied these little trips outside her comfort zone. Maura also enjoyed knowing that soon Jane wouldn't be off balance in these situations at all. Helping her achieve confidence with a different segment of the population was the least she, Maura, could do after Jane had helped her so much in dealing with Jane's world.
"Remove the head with the fish knife. This one. Oh, that was very deft. Now the tail, and remember, it goes to the side. Cut along the spinal ridge to remove the dorsal fins, then slit the belly and push the skin to the top... Have you been practicing? You're doing this very well," Maura complimented, looking surprised and quite pleased.
"No," Jane frowned with concentration. "I'm just a quick learner."
From behind them, a voice floated into their conversation. "You must be new here. We haven't met before. I'm Mrs. Charlotte Isles, and this my husband, Dr. Arthur Isles."