All things Rizzoli and Isles belong to Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, and other entities. I'm altering their realities for fun, not profit, as I own nothing and have the credit report to prove it.
"This isn't anything like a snipe hunt, is it?" Maura asked doubtfully. "And aren't we too old to be doing this?
"Not according to Ma," Jane answered. "What do you know about snipe hunts anyway?"
"I've never had a successful one."
Jane bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. "Just go with it, ok? It's one of our weird family traditions, like the goofy Christmas pajamas."
"Are there rules?"
"Sure. If Frankie gets too close, feel free to physically encourage him to leave. He always lets somebody else do the hard work and tries to swoop in to collect the goodies."
"I thought they were eggs." Maura was confused for a moment, then brightened. "The connection between eggs and Easter is quite old. They represent rebirth, and were originally colored red, the color of life. The ornate decorations popular in Eastern European traditions are primarily a result of the ornate art in Orthodox churches."
"Great. The ones you're looking for are either plastic, which have something inside, or real dyed eggs."
"We won't be eating them, will we?"
"I'm not sure that's safe."
"No one's ever gotten sick," Jane reassured her. "They aren't out for long. And you have to eat at least one or Ma will be offended."
"All right," Maura agreed dubuiosly.
Jane reached over and squeezed Maura's hand gently. "It'll be fun," she reassured as she pulled up in front of her parents' home.
Frankie waited on the couch, but their parents were nowhere in sight. "They're out hidin' the eggs," he reported.
"All right." Jane sat beside him to wait, and after a few moments, Maura joined them.
Frank and Angela came in from the back yard minutes later, and gave each of them a basket. Jane saw the camera and groaned.
"You can stop that right now, missy, especially since you didn't go to church with us."
"I went last week," Jane protested, "and I went on Friday."
"You should have been there today," Angela said firmly.
"Next year," Jane promised offhandedly in an attempt to silence her mother, while Maura made a mental note. "Let's go."
"Be nice to Maura," Frank cautioned both of them, and handed Maura a new basket. Frankie's and Jane's baskets were obviously old.
They filed out the back door, and Frank said, "Go!"
Frankie and Jane were off like a shot, headed for classic hiding spots. Maura hesitated, and both senior Rizzolis pushed her a little. Frank followed each of them for a brief time to get photos.
While Jane and Frankie butted heads, Maura carefully surveyed the yard. The first egg she spotted was foil wrapped, and she oohed quietly while picking it up. Her methodical search netted better results than the other participants, and after 20 minutes and a small shoving match between the siblings, everyone trooped indoors.
Frank counted the eggs in each basket, and when he finished, presented Maura a large sugar egg with a big smile. "You won," he reported, and gave Maura her prize.
"Hey," Frankie and Jane protested in unison.
The egg was open at one end, and Maura raised it to look inside at the pastoral scene decorating the interior. "It's beautiful. Thank you so much."
"All right, hand over the eggs and get out of here for a few minutes so I can finish getting dinner ready," Angela ordered.
"Are you sure you don't want help?"
"I'm sure, Maura, but thank you for offering," Angela answered with a look toward her daughter.
Jane rolled her eyes. "C'mon, let's see what you found," she told Maura, and pulled her from the kitchen.
Maura followed Jane out, and put her basket on the coffee table before sitting on the sofa. She raised the egg again, and carefully examined it for several minutes before carefully placing it in the basket with her others.
Jane and Frankie both sat with their baskets on their laps, sorting wrapped chocolate from plastic eggs before opening them to see what they held. Most had jellybeans, gumballs, or small chocolates wrapped in foil. A few had coins.
Jane realized that Maura was watching them, and put Maura's basket in her lap. "You're supposed to be checking out what you found," she instructed, and put her arm around Maura's waist. "Show me what you got," Jane grinned.
Maura looked at the brightly colored objects and smiled. Like Frankie and Jane, she finished with a collection of sugary goodness and a few dollar coins. She was about to sample one of the chocolates when Jane stopped her. "House rule, no chocolate until after dinner." She rolled her eyes again. "Ma's afraid it'll ruin your appetite."
"It does smell delicious."
"Frank!" Angela called, and he left the kids to help Angela in the kitchen.
After dinner, when four sets of leftovers were packed into color coded containers and the dishes were done, Frank distributed baskets of candy to everyone. Maura stared at hers, while Frankie and Jane went through theirs and began swapping treats. Angela snapped a few more photos. Maura looked at Frank and Angela with a beatific smile. "Thank you so much. This has been a lovely day."
"You're welcome," Frank answered with a smile. He liked Maura, and could tell she was good for his daughter. He was glad to introduce her to the family traditions he hoped to someday teach his grandchildren. He smacked Frankie's hand, reaching across Jane to take a tidbit from Maura's basket. "You got plenty."
The five of them visited for a few hours before Maura and Jane collected their things to leave. As always, there were hugs at the door, and a reminder to come for dinner during the week.
Most of the things went into the back seat, but Maura held onto her prize. As they pulled away, Jane asked, "What'd you think?"
"I think it's sweet that your parents encourage you to participate in these rituals."
"They expect you to be part of them, too."
"It was fun," Maura answered, smiling as she recalled searching the yard.
"You never had an Easter egg hunt before?"
"No. As I've told you, my parents weren't particularly religious, nor did they wish to participate in the crass commercialization of any holiday."
"I hope you're gettin' used to it, because we have stuff like this all the time."
"Memorial Day cookout. All the family and most of the neighbors will be there." Jane shuddered a little. "Beer is required for that one. Lots of beer."
"You'll see," Jane said with a tight smile.
"I'm sure it will be fine." Maura looked at the sugar egg again, noting how the crystals sparkled each time they passed a streetlight. It was simple science, the refracted and reflected light from the large cubical grains of sugar, and it was something more, too: A reminder that families are chosen as much as made, and held together by bonds of attraction, just like the delicate thing she guarded against Jane's not quite reckless driving.