This for our continuing series. Googlemouth and I are having a blast writing these stories out. This one follows after "A Little Peace". We do have plans to continue this series.
The characters are not ours. They belong to the very talented Tess and the powers that be over at Turner (aka TNT).
Reviews make us happy and keep us writing. ;-)
Angela Rizzoli had gone all-out for this week's family dinner. She had made a beautiful salad involving almonds, grapefruit sections, and a little goat cheese, which just awaited the sweet vinaigrette she had put together to make it complete. The French chicken dish, chicken cordon bleu, was made and warming, and the sauce had been simmering all day, steaming the windows and enriching the house and even the front walk with its heavenly aroma. In keeping with the theme, she had made the garlic French loaf while cleaning up the kitchen. The baba au rhum had been bought at a bakery. Angela could probably have made it herself, but she wanted first to see and taste the expected outcome, so she had something to shoot for. Moreover, all the work was done. She would not have to enlist the assistance of reluctant husband or offspring. The weekend before her birthday, Ma was determined to get in one final guilt trip: See what I do for you?She expected good presents this year, or at least some mention of the fact that they knew how much they needed her.
Frank snuck into the kitchen and snagged a sliced vegetable from off the salad, earning himself a slap with a potholder as he grinned mischievously. Of course, he had to retaliate. No wife of his could get away with cooking and slapping him with a pot holder without expecting to be hugged from behind and kissed on the neck, especially not a week before her birthday. "Dinner smells great, Ang. So do you." Part of her present, he'd already decided, was that he was going to be telling her more of what was on his mind, and he was starting early.
"Get a room," called Frank Junior as he entered the house, passing by the pictures and sketches of himself and his siblings in the hallway. "Hi, Pop. Ma, you look pretty. What am I doing, rolling out the gnocchi? Making the bread?"
"No, I finished everything myself, and it's not gnocchi tonight. We're having French. I wanted you to just come enjoy yourself today." Angela smiled back at her eldest son. He was such a good boy. She wished he had found a job that wasn't so dangerous, but at least he was gainfully and honorably employed, helping keep the city safe, and he looked good in his uniform. Like a young Frank, but with a bit more of her eyes and mouth. As a child he'd looked more like her; funny how kids grew and changed. Tommy still looked more like her, and always had.
Janie had always looked exactly like her father. The only evidence of her in Jane was the scratchy voice they shared, the one that kept Jane from wanting to sing out in children's choir at church. Even as a little girl, she'd sounded like a four-pack-a-day smoker. At five years old, Frank had talked her into letting Jane quit church choir. She remembered exactly what he'd said to convince her, too. "Janie's voice isn't right for church music, Angela. She'd be better off in a blues bar."She had conceded the point.
Enough of that. There was a table to set. "Frank, would you put the place mats and the plates? Frankie, get the silverware. When the girls get here, they can put out the glasses. No, on second thought, I'll get those. Janie's always dropping things."
"Jane hasn't dropped a glass since junior high," Frank protested, "when you asked her when she was going to tell you about that boy she was kissing behind the gym. Just don't ask her embarrassing questions when she's handling glass." But Angela was already on task, and the three of them worked in concert despite their bickering. Frank would set out a place mat, dinner plate, and salad bowl, while Frankie followed him with a paper napkin and silverware (just one fork, and you had to lick it and keep it if there was pie for dessert), and Angela came along behind with a wine glass and a water glass for each plate.
They finished the job, stopped, and stared at it, then at each other. "This is usually where I say thanks for taking all day with it, now the gnocchi will be cold, let's sit down," Angela said nervously, then laughed. "I don't know what to do when there's no gnocchi, and we get everything done before everybody's even here!"
Jane sat in the truck, hands tightly gripping the steering wheel as she took in a few calming breaths. The drive from the cabin back home had taken less time than they thought, and there had been plenty of time for both of them to shower and change before heading to her parents' house. I'm really impressed Maura could cover that bite mark up on her cleavage. I was never that good with makeup. She was looking over at the woman in the passenger's seat who was patiently waiting to see what the detective would do now that they had arrived. She looks amazing in that dress, very summery. What's it called? A sun dress? Whatever, it looks great, even with the makeup to cover up the bite marks. She was still looking at Maura, a frown creasing her features. I really have to be careful with her. She bruises like a piece of fruit.
Dark brown eyes ran down Maura's features to each spot she knew a bite mark was concealed by clothing of makeup. I wonder if they hurt? God, I hope not. The last thing I want to do is hurt her. Pop always said that… oh shit, right. We need to go inside. Okay, I can do this. I can totally do this. This isn't the first time Maura's come to family dinner night with me. Oh man, I've been staring at her this whole time. Subtle, Janie…nice. She closed her eyes, wincing as she ran through all the ways this could all go so horribly wrong. Just be cool, Rizzoli. Be yourself. NO! No, no, no, no, no… don't be yourself. Be Detective Jane Rizzoli. She opened her eyes again, her detective's mask starting to fall into place. Just for a few hours, then we can go home and be us again.
Maura appeared utterly calm as she checked her reflection in the compact which she pulled from her purse. "I can't see it at all," she said as Jane frowned, "and I can barely feel it. Just a little reminder that you were there, and I don't think anyone will see it if they're not looking for it. Which they won't, Jane, if you don't look for it yourself." She paused. "Which means I should have worn something different, and I'm sorry about that, but just try to avoid looking at my cleavage in general, if you're really serious about keeping this to ourselves. I'll try to make that a little easier at the precinct than it's been today."
"We have to go in. Ma'll be pissed if we're late." Jane smiled weakly. "She's really excited we made it back in time for dinner. Remember, we were at conference in New York. Just deflect any questions about the trip to me. I don't want you lying for me. Okay?" She reached across the seat to place a hand atop Maura's pulling the smaller woman closer to her. "I love you," her eyes softened, the detective mask slipping away as if it had never been there. "I think this is going to be hard, so, if we have to leave early, we will. I still have to drop the truck back off and grab the car, and that's a good excuse to leave whenever we can't take it anymore." She leaned forward, placing a gentle but firm kiss on her girlfriend's lips. "Are you ready to do this?"
The almost professional demeanor that Maura had worn slipped a little as Jane softened for her, and she accepted that sweet kiss before offering a few back. "I'm ready. I'll do my best tonight, and I hope that I don't misstep. If they play detective and pull this out of you, though, I'll do whatever you need to make it easier for you to bear whatever the consequences become." She gave Jane one more squeeze of the hand, one more kiss on the corner of her mouth for luck. "Let's go be family."
The house smelled amazing, and Jane couldn't help but smile. Her mother was an amazing cook. "Ma?" She called out as she walked down the hallway.
"In here," came the answer form the dining room.
Oh great, the gang's all here. Jane's eyes ran around the table to greet each of her family members before walking over to kiss Frank on the cheek, give Frankie a little shove hello, and hug her mother. "Sorry we took so long. It was a long drive back."
Maura followed suit, a few steps behind Jane, by offering handshakes or hugs, as each Rizzoli's body language indicated preference.
"You drove? I thought you would take a plane." Angela motioned for the women to sit. "Maura, I'm so glad you could make it. I saw this on that food station, and I just had to give it a try. I figure you're the only person we know who can tell me if I got it even close to right!" She stood up to give the doctor a welcoming hug. "Oh, and your dress is beautiful! Where did you get it?"
"It's from Loro Piana. I bought it in New York." A few months ago, she did not add, but in preparation for this season. "Isn't it fun? I thought I'd try it out on a friendly audience before attempting to wear it out somewhere." She gave a little turn to allow Angela to enjoy the entire view. "Isn't the cut nice? I think you'd look lovely in something like it. We have similar..." No, don't say it. "Measurements." They delved into girl talk for a bit, comparing figures. Angela seemed pleased with the way it was going; Maura was very good at making people understand the sincerity of her compliments.
Don't look at Maura's cleavage. Don't look at her cleavage. Do. Not. Look. At. Her. Cleavage. Jane slowly turned to her brother. "Sup, Frankie?"
"Nada. You get it?" Frankie took a long sip of his tea as he tried not to smirk at his sister.
"Yeah, I got what I needed," Jane replied as she turned back to the scene of her mother chatting with her girlfriend.
"So, Doc," Frank inserted as he broke in on the girls, correcting himself to first-name usage at a look from the woman in question. "Sorry. Maura. How was New York?"
A swift glance towards Jane confirmed that she was indeed able to overlook, if not overhear completely accurately. It was sort of amazing how unperturbed she looked. "It was a very productive trip. I feel enriched, educated, and enlightened."
Frank smiled approvingly as he noted, "Bonus points for the alliteration. What? I passed English class in high school."
"I'm not surprised in the least," Maura replied, though Angela did seem to be, "just as I'm not surprised when Jane or Frank Junior say things that indicate they're not just pretty faces. They get their intelligence from the two of you."
"Pretty? Hey, I'm handsome. Janie can be 'pretty', and call me Frankie," the youngest Rizzoli present shot back.
"Really? Can we not talk about who is pretty and who isn't? I mean, come on," Jane gave a furtive glance toward the honey blonde, "we all know who'd win that competition anyway."
"Ma." Frankie said with a definitive air as he crossed his arms.
"Okay, flattery will get you everywhere," Angela beamed. "Maura, why don't you have a seat? Janie, come help me bring the stuff to the table?"
"Man, why me? Why can't Frankie help?" Jane reluctantly stood up, giving her brother a dirty look.
"Because we have company," Angela replied, trying to convey some sort of message with her eyes. "Frank, can you come open the bottle of wine for me?"
"Guest? Maura?" Jane glanced backwards. "She's mine… um," she shook her head, "My friend."
"Jane," Angela's voice held no room for argument, "come help your mother."
"Fine." The oldest Rizzoli child followed her mother into the kitchen, shoulders slumped. Just before entering the room behind her father, she turned, made a motion with her hand – pointing from her eyes to Frankie's – she mouthed 'I'm watching you' before she entered the kitchen.
Maura had held her tongue as Angela began with the bossing, but when the parents and Jane spirited off to the dining room, she watched them go for a moment, then turned towards Frankie. "All right, they're gone. Go ahead. Quietly."
Frankie leaned forward to keep his voice down. "Okay, seriously, where did you and Jane go? I know you guys have the truck, and there's no way Jane drove the truck all the way up to New York."
"Out of town," Maura replied with literal truth, since the cabin was not actually within incorporated city limits, "but that's all I'm authorized to say at this point. And I really did help her with your mother's birthday present."
"I didn't ask," Frankie leaned back, sizing up the doctor. "You went out of town? Okay, I buy that since I know Joe's been here all weekend, but Jane only takes that truck one place that I can think of, and it fits the timeline if you were telling the truth on the phone and just got back into town." He narrowed his eyes as he ran his tongue across the back of his teeth in thought. "Did Jane take you to the cabin?"
Maura hesitated for only an instant. "I can't say that she did." Every word was given equal weight, none emphasized, but that effectively creates its own emphasis on 'say'.
"You can," Frankie countered as she sipped at his tea in thought, "but Jane probably wouldn't like it if you did. Am I right?" He sighed. "Man, you two are ridiculous." With a roll of his eyes, he grabbed pulled a piece of ice from his glass to crunch on it.
He knew. She knew that he knew, or at the very least, had suspected for a long time. She wouldn't be telling him anything new. Still, she had promised to try her best to keep this new development in Jane's life away from her family until Jane was willing to face their reactions, whatever those reactions might be. Maura refused to sigh, but she could do the WASP lip pursing with the best of the Boston Brahmins, having learned it from them. "I don't know what you mean by that. Could you elucidate?"
"Yeah, I could explain, but I'd rather keep my family jewels intact," he leaned back in his chair. "I'm pretty sure Jane would beat the crap out of me if I outed her before she decided to out herself, not that it matters. I mean, we all know." He shrugged. "Well, okay, Ma doesn't know. But, Pop and I kind of figured. She lets you do all kinds of things she's never let anyone else get away with. Plus, I caught her necking with Susan Schmitt in the 6th grade." He chuckled at the memory. "But, whatever… if she took you to the cabin," he let the chair fall back to the ground, "which I'm pretty sure she did, then that means she finally grew a pair and asked you out." He nodded, mostly to himself. "Bout time if you ask me."
Again, Maura's lips twitched, but this time the pursing looked more like amusement than disapproval or flat shut-down. "Young people aren't all able to self-analyze well enough to be clear about their needs or identities. Studies indicate that an overwhelming majority of teens, preteens, and even younger children engage in sexual or sensual experimentation with their age-mates of both genders. I'm sure that if Jane had stumbled upon you in a similar situation with one of your male playmates as a child, she would never try to make you feel self-conscious by telling you she'd caught you, nor would she ever tell anyone else about such a private thing if she did discover it. Knowing how close you are and how much you love your sister, I feel confident that you've been similarly discreet about whatever you saw, or thought you saw. Especially within your very Catholic family and in the workplace that you share." Mutually assured destruction was as good a reason as any for Frankie to keep his own counsel, for now.
She paused to let that sink in for a moment before going on. "Jane is my best friend in all the world. I've never had one before." This was news, she knew. Jane would never have told her family just how socially outside Maura had always been. "Sometimes I overstep. I take liberties that I don't realize are liberties, because I don't really know what's different between a friend and a best friend. Your sister is very kind in allowing my missteps to rest for a while before informing me that that's what they are, so that I'm a little removed from the moment and won't feel rejected right away." All true. She didn't even have to think back further than a few days to remember the latest occasion in which she had been given that gentle correction. Maura took a moment to consider how to continue, hands drawing together briefly to warm one another. "As for the truck, did you know that if a vehicle isn't used for a long time, the parts will lock together and make it impossible to drive? It did seem a little reluctant at first, but now that it's been driven a little, it should be fine for another few weeks."
"I know better. I drive the truck every weekend. That's how I know Janie had it this weekend," he shook his head. "You're good at deflection, Maura. I'd hate to have to interrogate you." He snorted, sounding very much like his sister. "Look, when you talk to Janie about this, and I know you will, you tell her I said I think it's a good match and that Pop and I have her back whenever she decides to tell Ma." He groaned. "Speaking of, it looks like she's trying to set us up, so do me a favor and tell her you're starting to see someone so she'll stop while we're all ahead. Jane's already giving me dirty looks, and Ma just started." He raised an eyebrow, waiting for Maura to agree to say something to his mother.
For an extended moment it appeared that Maura would yet again have a perfectly non-gay explanation or deflection for everything Frankie kept trying to say. Then a moment of guilt stole across her face, and it was all over. "You don't test well, but when you do pass your detective's examination, you're going to be as good as your sister someday. I'm glad you're so insightful." She walked up and put her arms around the tall man's shoulders, drawing him down for a hug that only Angela Rizzoli's give-me-grandchildren hopes, or the potentially jealous girlfriend for whom Maura hadn't accounted, could misconstrue as anything but filial. "You're a good man, Frankie. A good brother. I wish I'd had one like you."
"No, you really don't," came a voice from behind the doctor. "He's a pain most of the time, and sometimes he tries to make moves on your best friend which," Jane said, her words become more and more piercing as spoke while placing serving dishes on the table, "is strictly forbidden according to the Sibling Code of Conduct."
Frankie held his hands out and to the side in a show of a classic 'hand check' move. Face losing its color, he said weakly, "I'm innocent!"
Relentlessly, Maura squeezed those broad shoulders one more time before stepping back, winking in such a way as to remain unobserved by anyone else. "Down, girl," she murmured, just barely audibly as she set a trivet under the place where the final serving dish would be set, free hand stroking Jane's forearm in reassurance. "Frankie wasn't making inappropriate advances on me. In point of fact, I'm the one who initiated contact. You know better than anyone else that contact can be platonic."
Jane's eyes followed Maura's hand until it dropped back to the doctor's side. Slowly, her gaze ran up, stopping briefly at the covered bite mark before moving up to meet Maura's eyes. "Yeah," Does she have any idea what that kind of touching does to me? Oh man, I just want to… Her eyes filled with desire leaving no question of what she was thinking. Maybe we can fake an emergency call? She glanced around to find a reason to leave, and her eyes fell behind the doctor to her seated doctor. Crap.
"You know, I can go in the other room and call you from my cell if you need an excuse to get out of here," Frankie said, a smirk firmly planted on his face. "If I were you, Janie, I don't know how long I'd last." He chuckled, chomping down on another ice cube as he watched the show.
"I… you… what?" Suddenly confused, she looked back to the honey blonde for help.
Maura did permit herself a sigh this time, indicating an acknowledged lack of control over the situation on her own part. "Truck," she said by way of explanation, knowing that with just that little information, the justifiably admired detective would put together the rest of the conversation she'd just had with Frankie.
"Truck?" The detective scowled as she watched Maura nod in the affirmative. Slowly, she set the last serving dish down as she glared at her brother. "Truck?" She asked him.
"Yup, truck… and Susan Schmitt." He winked at her.
"Susan… well, shit." She ran a hand through her hair, causing it to fall in her face. "I should have figured on that." With a heavy sigh, Jane sat down at her place at the table. "Ma and Pop?"
"Pop," Frankie said, eyes twinkling with something between humor and concern. "Ma, not so much."
"Oh man," Jane put her face in her hands. "And?"
"Maura knows," Frankie said as he stood up. "I'm going to get a refill. You want anything?"
"A shot of whiskey?" Jane sighed as she looked up. "A one-way ticket to Canada?"
"Cup of coffee coming right up," he said as he headed to the kitchen, patting Maura on the arm in a friendly fashion on the way out of the dining room.
Maura's hand covered Frankie's for a moment while it was still in reach, but unlike what she did with Jane, hers did not follow his as he moved away from her. She recounted the conversation for Jane almost word for word, concluding, "So as you can see, I was doing admirably well for someone who didn't realize that Frankie already had the information for which he was pumping me." Accidentally, she used the slang absolutely correctly. "You specifically instructed me not to lie, but I was starting to consider it. Not for my own sake, but because I know you aren't ready for this."
"Damn, he's going to make a good detective one of these days," Jane mumbled to herself as she chewed on the edge of her thumb in thought. "He won't say anything, Maura. He never did about Susan either. I just… I think I owe him a beer."
Maura nodded agreement, but held onto further commentary.
"No beer until after dinner," Angela came out with the final entrée in her hands. "Okay, everyone, have a seat. Maura, I can't wait for you to try this. It looks like it came out okay. What do you think?" She set the large platter down and then took her seat beside the head of the table. "Frank, Frankie, come on. Dinner's going to get cold!"
"It looks and smells delicious," Maura replied. "I happen to love chicken cordon bleu, and I've been looking forward to this ever since Jane mentioned that you were giving it a try. I'm sure your culinary skill is more than up to the challenge."
Angela gave a beaming smile to the doctor. "You're a dear!"
"Right behind you, Ma," Frankie came in carrying a glass of tea and cup of coffee. "Here you go, sis. Just how you like it: a little coffee with your sugar." He handed it to her and then took his place.
"Thanks," Jane looked down at the cup as if it could tell her what to expect next.
For the first time, Maura experienced a moment of confusion as to where to sit. Her spot had always been right beside Jane, and more than ever, she wanted to be there now. But Frankie's customary spot right beside Angela was next to the other seat at which there was a plate; the opposite side, where Jane was seated, had only one place set. What was more, Jane was so preoccupied with her coffee that she had apparently not even noticed.
Well, this was nothing unusual. She had been seated at many a dinner party in which she didn't know the people seated beside her, wasn't comfortable, or actively disliked them. This time, she would be seated next to Frank Senior and Frankie, two men whom she quite admired, liked, respected. She could count herself lucky, instead of sighing over not being grafted to Jane's side. At least the view across the table would be superlative. Maura took her seat right beside Frankie, as that crafty Mrs. Rizzoli had intended.
Angela gave a nod of approval as she watched Maura take a seat. "Okay, everyone has to tell me what you think." She began to pass plates. "Jane, are you alright? You look sick. Did you catch something on your trip?"
The concern in her mother's voice was not enough to pull her daughter from the young woman's internal thoughts. "Caught someone?" she mumbled as she absentmindedly took the passed dishes, served herself, and moved the plates along. Maura looks great. Frankie looks scared… as he should. If he so much as makes a single pass at her, I'll kill him. "Yeah, sure," she continued on, not really hearing what she was saying.
"You caught someone! Jane, did something happen in New York? Are we going to see you on the news again?" This time, Angela's excited voice broke Jane's internal thoughts.
"What? No… nothing happened. Why," confused, she looked to Maura for help, "would you think something happened in New York?"
Maura could have been listening a bit better. She'd spent the weekend in flats - well, no, in bare feet, predominantly - and tonight's heels weren't as comfortable as they usually felt. Beneath the table, she surreptitiously slipped them off and stretched out her feet and calves. "No, Mrs. Rizzoli, I don't think she caught anything in New York this weekend," she said smoothly as she took her turn with the salad serving. The honey blonde went on as she speared a forkful of salad, wanting to finish that before delving into the main dish. "I'm also pleased to say that Jane was able to stay safely away from violent criminals for the entire weekend. At least, during the time that I was in her company; and I didn't hear of anyone else talking about any incidents involving Jane."
She then passed the bowl to Frankie, who was doing his best to look like he had no idea Maura was hot 'Never let a girl come between you', he'd had as his policy all through life, thanks to one nearly-destroyed friendship in fifth grade. For a while now, he'd figured Maura as being off limits. Didn't stop a fellow from daydreaming once in a while, but he knew darned well to keep his eyes and thoughts to himself while she was right nearby, much less when his sister was in perfect position to catch him if he forgot himself. Besides, the visual hotness wasn't even what he had on his mind right then. Frankie had been told that Maura couldn't lie, but here she was, feeding his parents a line.
But wait, no, she wasn't. As he thought it all over, he realized with admiration that not a single word she'd spoken was untruthful, not to the smallest degree, as far as he could tell. Damn. If Jane couldn't hold onto this one, he was going to take a shot, or at least ask her for lessons in how to get his mother off his back. It was like she was a professional. Thank God she's on the side of the law. She'd make a criminal that nobody would ever catch.
"That's true," Jane nodded, eyes still deer-in-headlight wide. "it was a quiet weekend as far as that kind of weekend goes." She used her fork to poke at her food.
"Jane, don't lie to your mother. You just said you 'caught someone'. Now, you tell me what that meant." The older woman narrowed her eyes as she glanced from Jane to Maura. "Maura, were you with Jane all weekend?" She was clearly up to something, the wheels obviously turning.
Maura tilted her head to one side as she regarded Jane with a blend of affection, amusement, and just a little disappointment. Her own inability to lie was very organic. Jane's was astonishing. She could do it, but she was such an honest, good person that she royally sucked at it. Where did I get that phrase? Probably Jane."Yes, I was," she answered as easily as if Angela had asked her about the weather. Beside her, Frankie started shoveling salad into his mouth as well. He was good at eating, good at sitting quiet and letting his sister take pretty much all the heat at every family dinner. Classic middle child.
Frank, on the other hand, had the Protective Papa Bear look on his face that Maura had seen so often on Jane's when either of them sensed something about to go wrong. "Ang, come on. The girls just spent all weekend working, like they don't work hard enough during the regular week. They're probably exhausted. Let it go. They're both safe, happy, and back home. Isn't that what counts?"
"You know I always want our babies safe, happy, and at home," Angela replied, a small warning in her voice, "but I worry about you, Janie. Working all the time like that can't be good, and you drove there! I can't believe you girls made it there and back in time for dinner tonight. The gas must have cost a small fortune." She set down the last serving dish as if she hadn't said anything specifically significant.
Jane's salad suddenly looked very interesting. Don't make eye contact. That's how she gets you. If you make eye contact, you lose. Don't look up. Look at your plate. Don't look at Ma. Don't look Pop. Don't look at Frankie. Don't look at Maura. She looked up at Maura. Crap! Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap…. SHIT.
"Janie, sweetie, will you come help me with something in the kitchen?" Angela stood, picking up her glass as a way of finding an extra reason to retreat behind a closed door with her daughter. "It looks like you could use a coffee refill anyway."
Noooooooooooooooooo! "Uh, yeah, sure, Ma." She slowly stood, giving her family and girlfriend a pleading look. "I guess I'm going in the kitchen." She gulped and shrugged at the same time. Help me.
"Come to think of it," Frankie couldn't resist pointing out, "you must have made some good time driving. How'd you do it?" he asked Maura, knowing that his mother could hear.
Maura took the time she was slowly chewing her last bite of salad in which to do some impromptu math, then smiled as she came up with the answer and swallowed. "I promise, we didn't break any laws of traffic. We didn't call you this morning from the hotel. We called from much closer to home, where we spent last night when we got too tired to continue." Her explanation wasn't perfect. She couldn't say directly that they'd left the non-existent conference and started driving right when it was over instead of waiting till Sunday morning, but she hoped the implication was strong enough for Angela to fill in the lies herself so that she and Jane wouldn't have to utter them aloud. It might give Jane hives, knowing that Frankie would be able to interpret this in the manner in which it was meant, rather than the manner in which she hoped Angela would understand it, but at least the one person still in the dark would remain so for a little while longer. No need for diversions, distractions, smoke, and mirrors. Simple misdirection would do just fine.
Frankie choked on his food, sputtering as he gasped for breath. "Oh," he gasped, "my… God." His face turning red with each passing second, he pushed back from the table and held a hand up to keep people from rushing him.
"You okay, Frankie," Jane asked, calm in the fact of the sudden scene and grateful for what Maura had just done. Oh, you get an extra special treat for that one, Babe. Nice.
Quickly, Maura pushed Frankie's water glass closer to him, using the diversion as an opportunity for winking towards Jane. "Are you all right?" she asked, eyes still directed towards her, though she'd turned her face towards Frankie.
"Fankie!" Angela rushed to his side, patting his back and squatting next to him. "Are you okay? Can you breathe? Do you need a glass of water?"
"I'm fine, Ma," he said after the coughing finally subsided. "Something just went down the wrong pipe." He leaned forward, putting his forehead on the edge of the table. "I guess I just swallowed wrong… something I wasn't expecting." He sat up, giving his mother a reassure look. "Honest, I'll be okay."
Maura took a deep breath, releasing the sudden tension in her chest from laughter that threatened to erupt. Her face, however, remained serene. Yoga was good for her. Later, when Jane balked at returning to it, she must remember this moment as evidence for why they should both get up and get to class. "As long as you can still cough, you're safe. Talking confirms that there is no danger of choking," she said, mostly for Angela's benefit. Frank, who knew darned well what was going on between them, yet not where they'd spent the weekend, stood up to collect salad bowls so as to make room for the chicken dish, looking privately amused.