New York State Of Mind or How To Marry A Millionaire (A Peekskill Wedding)
"Are you sitting down?" Blair Warner squealed into her Blackberry, out of breath and gasping for air. She had been jumping around in excitement for at least 20 minutes.
On the other end of the phone, Lt. Jo Polniazcek, was scowling and holding the iPhone away from her ear as the yelling was hurting her ears.e
"What? What? What?" Jo asked as she held the iPhone in one hand and tried to keep a grasp onto her hotdog in the other.
"Have you heard the news this afternoon?" Blair said, now breathing deeply as she held her pink diamond studded Blackberry.
Jo took a large bite of her hotdog, and replied with her mouth full of food, "Er...naw...radio off...late lunch...whatsup?"
Blair rolled her eyes and knew what Jo was doing, eating junk food on the grimy streets on NYC, and washing it down with sludgy coffee, "Jo! It's all over Channel 23 News! Andy did it! Andy just announced it!"
"Whatcha watching that crap for? I told you not to watch that channel; they're totally down on the NYPD. Bunch of liberal bleeding hearts...sorry Blair...what's the scoop? Andy who? Ya mean little Dr. Moffat called? He still whining about losing at poker with me and Willis?" Jo said as she finished chewing and swallowing the dog.
"Not Andy Moffat, silly, Andy Cuomo! Anyways, it's a dream come true, dearest Jo!" Blair said with all seriousness.
Jo looked at the iPhone, and stared at the beautiful picture of Blair Warner in her Eastland graduation gown and cap (the picture she chose for Blair's contact info was her fave) and sighed, "Tiara's are back in again?"
"Silly girl, they never left. No, they just announced it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the law passed in senate! We can get married, my little Pooh Bear!" Blair said with excitement.
Jo's face fell slightly and she could see that Drummond was watching her from the car so she turned around and whispered into the phone, "We'll talk about this when I get home, ok? And hey and don't call me 'pooh bear while I'm on shift."
"Are you not happy?" Blair asked, confused.
"I'm over the moon about it Princess Pooh Bear, but I'm at work so I can't really get into it." Jo said with a blush.
Blair laughed, "Oh Jo, Sir Wills has to be happy for us! Come on home soon...kisses...love you!"
Before Jo could balk at Blair's silly use of Willis' name, she had already hung up the phone and was most likely texting Bailey and anyone else in the NY area. She sighed and pocketed her iPhone. Jo took a deep breath in and out before she attempted to go back to the squad car.
Once she was behind the wheel of the police cruiser, she relaxed a little.
"So how's the little wife?" Willis asked with a chuckle. He was wolfing down his third cruller, and sipping his coffee with relish.
Jo glared at him, "Ug...don't use that word!" She didn't mean it to come out so angry but she was still reeling from the news. The day had actually come and there she had been eating greasy food on the streets of Manhattan as a Lieutenant of the NYPD, with her partner of 10 years, Willis Drummond sitting in the car, getting older and paunchier.
Willis looked at Jo and laughed, "What? What did I say? Tell me so I can say it again!"
"Nothing…nothing. Ah…it's just they passed the law for same sex marriage. Blair called to give me the news." Jo said with a shrug as she started the car.
Willis started to laugh, "Oh sweet Jesus...you gonna get married...ha...oh my...I'm sorry to laugh Jo but now you have to ask Blair for her hand! Oh my...the ring and all the
sweet talk, on one knee...oh I wish I had a hidden camera!"
Jo groaned, "Shut it, Drummond! Let's just get back to the precinct and get this shift over with."
Willis chuckled and patted his round paunch, "Ah, Jo, married life will agree with you, it does for me and Robin."
Jo put the car in gear and as she turned into traffic, she glanced at the now chubby if not happy Willis Drummond, "Yeah that's what I'm shooting for, Wills."
They drove thru the streets of Manhattan in silence. Willis chuckled every once and awhile, mostly when they drove past bridal boutiques and such.
Once they reached the Manhattan precinct, Willis looked at Jo and shrugged apologetically, "Is everything okay with you and Blair? I mean, if I upset you in anyway...I'm sorry, Jo."
Jo sighed and smiled at her partner, "It's not you, bud. It's just on my present salary; I don't think I can do good by Blair. She will expect a big fat Manhattan wedding and dude, I ain't got the cash flow right now. Everything is locked into that early retirement. Maybe Blair's forgotten that. You know, me teaching at Langley and Eastland is a big deal to Blair but the pay sucks."
Willis frowned, "Dude, she's got her own money right?"
Jo nodded, "Well, yeah, but it's my..."
Willis interrupted her, "...not buts, dude. If she wants a big fancy shindig, then let her pay for it. Come on,buddy, you only get to marry the right one once."
Jo smiled, "Unless it's your brother Arnold. Ain't he on wife number five?"
"Six, but hey, that's not the norm. Look at me and Robin, 15 years and still holding on." Willis said with a grin.
Jo frowned, "It ain't that I don't have the dough, it's just the principle. I want to make Blair happy and it's frustrating that she will have to pay for her own happiness.
"She loves you, dude, before you ever had anything. So suck it up and ask the chick to marry you." Willis said with a wink.
Jo punched Willis in the arm, and in turn, Willis called her a dyke with a bike. All was well with the cops once more. They grinned at each other, and went their separate ways.
After her shift was over, Jo showered in the locker room and donned her civvies: jeans and a hoodie, with runners. She put her gun in a locked box and sauntered out of the station, uncertain still about Blair's phone call.
The evening was warm, and she was tired but when she saw her beautiful 1978 Kawasaki motorcycle, she smiled. She shoved her helmet on and mounted the bike. Sighing, she revved her up and took off.
First she had to make one stop before going home to face the gay music. This would be a very important stop.
Meanwhile, Blair Warner was having her third gin and tonic of the evening. After talking to Jo, she had texted Bailey but she must have been still in class at NYU because she didn't text back. Natalie was in London working the Royal Wedding, and Tootie was in L.A filming a new comercial, so she was rather at a loss. Mrs. Garrett might answer her phone but lately she was getting more tired in the late afternoon and her memory was not as sharp then. After considering calling a variety of people, she decided to wait for Jo.
Blair became worried after her second drink. She just assumed Jo would be as happy as she was. Blair had helped fund Cuomo's campaign based on his views of gay marriage. Jo knew that, despite the fact that she had become more conservative over the years. Blair always thought Jo would continue to race around on her motorcycle, tilting at windmills right up into her sunset years, but that wasn't the case. The NYPD seemed to tarnish Jo's idealistic views of old and now she wasn't any different than any other veteran on the force. That saddened Blair so she was thrilled when Jo was given the option to retire early and teach Criminal Justice at Langley next year. It fit into Blair's plans to retire from the DA's office for good and get back to teaching Art History at Eastland. Jo even agreed to teach a criminology class at Eastland for the seniors as an option class. Lastly, the house they had built in Peekskill was just sitting there, waiting for the happy couple to return.
Sighing, she sat on the couch with her drink. Every once and awhile Blair tried to recall the first time she and Jo had really understood that there was more to their friendship than friendship. That she in fact was in love with the former Bronx native. She recalled when Jo showed up at Eastland back in September of 1980, all full of herself...full of piss and vinegar, Grandpa Warner would have said.
When did she realize that Jo was the one for her? She thought about how she felt when Jo tried to elope with Eddie. That stirred something in her, but at the time she figured it was concern over Jo becoming another statistic in the vast world of teen marriages and divorces. Blair truly ignored the jealous feelings she had and was content to just get Jo back at school with her.
Their relationship was fuelled with the constant barbs being thrown at each other, like a fencing match. She enjoyed it, was amused by Jo, attracted as well...but when did she really know it was time to toss away the possibility of a normal life and decide that a life of being stigmatized was a better option for her and run towards Jo with both barrels blazing.
She thought about when they graduated Eastland, and how proud she was of Jo for being the valedictorian. How excited she was when Jo agreed to go to Langley.
Then when Blair refused to join Gamma Gamma sorority because deep down, she couldn't imagine being apart from the silly thug. True, she hated the fact that Jo had basically squatted in her room those first days at Langley but it was because she got caught up in the idea of college life. She wasn't thinking about Jo at all then.
When she came to her senses, she was once again living over a kitchen at age 18 with her oldest friends, and Jo.
She wondered if maybe it was after Jo's short romance with that rich Langley senior named Bill, or was it possibly that time she dated the photography instructor, Sam?
Was it a sudden panic attack, or just plain self realization that made Blair finally come to terms with her feelings for Jo. All those wasted days and nights sparring with Jo instead of finding comfort in her Neanderthal arms. She thought about that day, the day she revealed the secret so many years ago to Natalie Green and how Natalie had told them how she saw it. Nat had read them pretty well and it was Nat's story that she found most fascinating.
"Where's Blair?" Natalie Green asked no one in particular while she sorted pasta in barrels.
Jo was busy writing in the books, making sure that Edna's Edibles was staying in the black. She looked up at Natalie and shrugged, "She said she was going into the city after class, something about something, I dunno, I wasn't paying attention. The minute she talks shopping I slip into a coma."
Natalie laughed, "You should have that checked out, Jo."
Jo chuckled and continued working the figures in the accounting book.
"You know Nat, I heard in my Poli-Sci class today that vinyl records are gonna fade out in time. Can ya believe that?" Jo said as she closed the books and leaned back to stretch.
Natalie shook her head, "No way, Jo. No one, not even the man can get between me and my Rick Springfield albums!"
"I'm just sayin', maybe it's time to get into something new like those compacted disks." Jo replied.
"Oh yeah, just like the whole 8 track conspiracy back in '78. Who wants to listen to music on a metal coaster? That's just so wrong. Vinyl was made for music. Oh, and it's compact Disc with a 'C'." Natalie said with a smile.
Jo shrugged, "Whatever, they cost way too much. Highway robbery!"
"You just told me to go out and buy one!" Natalie exclaimed.
Jo winked, "Well yeah, what do you think I am an imbecile?"
With that said, suddenly Blair entered the store laden down with packages, "Oh Jo, you are so much more than that, really!" Blair laughed as she flourished the bags into the store.
"Hey Blair, you are late for your shift." Natalie said with a anxious smile. The pasta could wait, now the fireworks would begin. Jo hated when any of them were late for shifts at Mrs. G's expense.
"Just by a few, Natalie!" Blair said with a happy smile. She put the bags down, mostly on top of Jo's work which made the young brunette fume…slightly.
"Do you mind?" Jo said, annoyed but she looked amused too. Natalie found that weird.
"I come bearing gifts, ladies!" Blair said as she began to take items out of the bags.
Tootie came into the store and was ecstatic that Blair had returned. "Oh girl, tell me you got what I think you got!"
Blair grinned and kept removing smaller bags from the bigger bags. Jo sighed and stood up. Curious, she peeked into the many bags, "Anything other than boring designer crap?"
"Oh my silly Jo, if you only knew!" Blair challenged. She gave Jo a wink which irritated her more.
"I will know in a second once you get it all off the table I was working on, Princess!" Jo retorted, put off, but at the same time, amused by Blair's odd ball ways.
"Wait until you get a load of this, my little Gear Box!" Blair said triumphantly as she took out a large CD Boom Box out of the biggest bag that was by her feet.
"Holy crap, Blair, that's a compact disc player! Jo and I were just talking about them!" Natalie said, clearly impressed that Blair was actually in the same century as the rest of them.
"It's the latest fad! Look I even got these musical metal coasters to go along with it!" Blair said with a sing song voice.
Tootie barged in, looking at the CD's in desperation, "Come on, Whitney, be here girl!"
"Not to worry, Tootie, I bought that new Whitney Houston Disc for you. See Jo, I used the word 'disc' properly! Are you not impressed?" Blair said, blissfully aware that Jo was watching her in awe, or dismay…it was hard to tell sometimes.
Jo smiled, "Nice work, Princess. But the real judge will be on the other kinds of music you bought, let's have a look."
They all dived into the plastic bags and took out CD after CD, looking for signs of musical taste.
Jo grinned when she held up a copy of 'Born in the USA' by Bruce Springsteen, "Fantastic, Blondie, pure brilliance! How'd you know my cassette was busted?"
Blair beamed, "I'm not telling!"
Natalie stared at both girls with a gaping mouth. What the hell? What was happening here? She turned her head quickly and looked over at Tootie, who was happily oblivious to it all. "Dammit, Tootie Ramsey, can you get back into snoop mode, please?" Natalie thought with irritation.
"Thanks Blair, I really appreciate you buying this for me!" Tootie said happily.
Natalie rolled her eyes and scanned the other CD's on the table..."Def Lepard, Quiet Riot...AC/DC? Who were these albums for...surely not..."
"Hey Pyromania...Highway To Hell...awesome Blair." Jo said with a smile.
"Really? I mean, really Blair? You bought all these CD's for Jo?" Natalie exclaimed.
Blair stared at Natalie as if she just noticed her in the shop, "Oh hi Natalie, here I got this just for you!" Blair shoved a CD into Natalie's hands.
Natalie looked down and saw the quirky face of Peter Frampton staring up at her, "Uh...thanks Blair!" Natalie said as she tossed the CD aside.
"Peter Frampton? What the hell, did she not know about her long time love affair with Rick Springfield? Obviously, Blair knew little about what Nat Green was into these days, but very into what Jo Polniazcek was into." Natalie thought in annoyance.
She didn't hear the start of the conversation as she was immersed in her own self thoughts, and was startled to see Mrs. Garrett standing at the table with them.
"Oh Blair, I love Sinatra and they have him in these little round coasters!" Edna said with a swoon. "Sheesh, hold it together, Mrs. G!", Nat thought with irritation.
"I'm going to let Jo set up the CC..." Blair started.
"...CD..." Jo interrupted.
"...CD player in our room. Then we can take turns listening to music, just like we did at Eastland on Natalie's old record player!" Blair gushed.
Natalie squirmed with embarrassment. "What the hell? Okay, I gotta clear my head. It's the frigging twilight zone in here."
"I'm just going to get some air; I'll meet you all upstairs." Natalie said with a sigh. She wandered out of the store and stood on the main street of Peekskill. Something was going on and she was angry that she hadn't seen it before. Well, she had but when she broached the subject with her best friend, Tootie, she was always shot her down in her place. "Just because they are getting along you assume they are involved? That's very shallow of you, Nat!" Tootie had exclaimed in anger one day when Natalie had started the whole Jo/Blair thing again.
It rang true for Nat, mainly because since the day she met Jo, she assumed the girl was gay. When Blair and Jo began their years of bantering, Natalie assumed it was some kind of 80's foreplay. But today, it just seemed like the fates were throwing her a bone and if she didn't run with it; she might lose the momentum of something bigger. Again she'd wait it out and look for more evidence before once again presenting the facts to Tootie. She sighed and re-entered the store, feeling a little more like herself.
Sometimes she felt like a time traveler, making her way thru a labyrinth of untruths and innuendo, with the eye of the prize just before the time tunnel would whip her away and she would have to start all over again. Maybe she needed to stop reading all those sci-fi manuscripts that Tootie's brother Marshall had sent her as an apology for the car accident they were in years ago. He sent her boxes of neatly typed manuscripts every Christmas, never letting on to Tootie or the others that he was the sender. Nat kept the secret, and enjoyed the stories all the same. She would write to him and let him know which stories were good and which were trash. He'd write back and tell her he would try harder next time. It wasn't until years later that she discovered he was the writer of each manuscript and that his manuscripts were now novels being sold in Barns and Nobles!
Upstairs, Jo was working on getting the CD boom box to work. Once all the wires were placed in the right order, Tootie asked if she could play her CD first. Blair conceded when Jo shrugged and gave Blair a dazzling smile.
"Go ahead, Toots, play away!" Blair said.
Jo put the CD in the tray and pressed play. The whirring sounds of the small metal disc was fascinating to Jo. She wondered where the needle was exactly until she remembered that her professor said it was some kind of laser. Laser...she chuckled...just like Star Trek, she thought amused.
Soon, Whitney Houston, the 80's icon, was blaring from the two large speakers. Tootie's swayed and began singing in a loud voice the words to the songs. Jo looked over at Blair and shrugged. Blair grinned, seemly happy that she gave her friends something fun they could share.
No one even mentioned money, which was a relief to Blair. "If they only knew how much it all cost at the Sony Store in Manhattan!" she thought wearily.
"You Give Good Love to Meeeeeeeeee!" Tootie sang on the top her lungs.
Natalie finally made her way upstairs and could hear Tootie butchering a Houston hit. She entered the room and could see Tootie singing into her hairbrush while Jo and Blair were whispering to each other as they held a CD case.
"Yikes! That's quite the song, Tootie." Natalie said in a neutral tone. She glanced at the others and lifted an eye brow.
"What's that?" Nat asked, curious to see Blair and Jo liking the same thing in music.
Jo looked up and had a guilty expression on her face, while Blair just beamed at Natalie.
"Air Supply...I just love their music!" Blair responded.
Jo shrugged, "It's okay for elevator music."
Natalie chuckled, that was her old Jo! "Really, Air Supply? What songs do they have on that CD that has both of you so enamored?"
Blair frowned, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Natalie shrugged, "Just a figure of speech, Blair, chill out. Come on, after seeing all those metal head albums, you picked up a soft rock album? Why?"
It was Jo's turn to scowl, "Blair bought it for herself, is that okay?"
Natalie looked over at Tootie who was still belting out the Whitney Houston ballads, ignorant to the conversation.
"Sorry! I didn't know it was so personal. Anyways, please put us all out of our misery and put something better on or I may become homicidal!" Natalie said irritably.
Jo laughed as she watched young Tootie Ramsey singing into a pink hair brush, "Yeah, she has a point. Let's play something else, huh?"
Blair pressed the pause button on the song Tootie was singing. She looked around and crossed her arms, "Hey I was getting to the good part!"
Natalie walked over and put a friendly arm around Tootie's shoulders, "I'm sure you were, if there ever had been one, I'm sure you would have topped it. Let's let Blair have a go at the toaster box, huh?"
Blair fumbled with the CD case and tried to open it up with the plastic coating trapping the case in a strangle hold.
Jo grabbed it and tried to get the wrapper off, "Jeez, they make it harder to get out than a pack of smokes!"
Blair looked at Jo with suspicion, "When have you ever smoked?
Jo ripped the plastic off and smiled, "The Young Diablo's had a Cuban Cigar ring and we all gave them a try. I'm more of a Colt Wine Dipped cigarillo fan myself, but they tasted damn good just the same. Ah, there you go, here's your elevator music, Princess."
Blair took the CD and put it clumsily into the tray, "Now here is some nice music!"
"You used to smoke, you know, with The Group, remember?" Tootie said distastefully to Blair.
"That was an initiation, and I hated it. Just ask Sue Ann!" Blair responded touchily.
"She would but she's too busy being a big wig in NY, huh?" Jo said with sigh. She knew Sue Ann was just some silly gopher at her corporate job but she kept it to herself. She made some kind of promise with the inane woman and wasn't sure why she upheld the lie for the three former Eastlanders, but a promise was a promise.
The first song began to float through the room. 'Girl, you're ev'ry woman in the world to me, you're my fantasy, you're my reality' began to waft thru the air and Blair smiled at Jo.
Natalie noticed this right away and realized something big was happening. She was a committed investigative reporter, and this would be a huge coup if Jo and Blair were, say, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. But no one would ever believe this...even with Polaroid's. Oh, Polaroids! She would borrow Mrs. G's camera and catch the two Langley sophomores in some kind of lovers embrace.
Once the novelty of the music gave way, Tootie thanked Blair again for the CD and left the room to study her algebra in peace and quiet of the living room. Jo stacked her CD's by her bedside table and smiled. "Thanks Blair. Hope they don't die out like eight tracks."
Blair gave Jo dreamy smile and flapped her hands at the brunette, "I have it on good authority that these coasters are the only thing people will listen to in twenty years!"
Jo shrugged and looked around the room, startled to see Natalie staring at her. "Yes, Nat? Can I help you with something?"
Natalie tucked her unwanted Peter Frampton CD under her bed and smiled, "Nope, just wondering what you and Blair are up to tonight."
Blair looked over at Jo and gave her a perplexed look. Jo stepped up and shook her head, "I dunno, Nat. Mrs G closed the store early so we thought maybe we'd take in a movie or something in town."
Natalie smiled, "How friendly of you two!"
Jo's face reddened and she marched over to the bedroom door and slammed it shut. It startled both Blair and Natalie. Blair hadn't seen that side of Jo in a long time and she wondered what set her off.
Natalie crossed her arms and stared down the older girl, who she once was very afraid of. "Did I hit a soft spot, Jo?"
"What is this all about? I bought that stupid machine to bring us together, not to cause a rumble!" Blair said harshly to Natalie.
Jo glanced at Blair, then back at Natalie. "Spill it, Green before I spill some of your nosey reporter blood all over Mrs. G's hardwood floor!" Jo was practically snarling.
"Jo! For God's sake, let's just tell her! There's no need to get violent. Nat is our friend, or at least last time I checked." Blair said quietly as she glared at Natalie.
Jo deflated a bit and her breathing softened. Natalie wasn't scared but just a little alarmed that her instincts were so correct and that she had just exposed something extremely private about two of her best friends. She wasn't feeling very reporter like anymore and she was beginning to feel a twang of guilt.
"Look, I'm sorry. I was in my reporter mode and you know how I get when I'm hot on the trail of a good mystery." Natalie said with a sigh.
Blair sat on her bed and looked up at Nat, "First, this isn't Scooby doo, its real life. Let's get that clear shall we?" Then Blair gave her full attention to Jo, "Should I tell her? I'm afraid you might break a gasket and I like your gaskets."
Jo sat down at her own bed and brooded. She wasn't in the mood to discuss anything with the prying Natalie, but if Blair wanted to tell the tale, she knew she couldn't stop her. She sighed, closed her eyes for a split second then opened them to look at the beauty before her that was her princess.
Natalie, in turn, sat on her own bed and looked at Blair. "So?"
Blair smiled and looked up at the poster of The New Yorker that had been with them since 1980. She began her tale...
"So Nat, do you recall that summer at The Poconos where you and Tootie worked for your Uncle?" Blair started.
Natalie grinned, "Of course, that's where Tootie and I met Art Jackson aka Mr. JazzBeau! What about it?"
Jo rolled her eyes, "You didn't wonder why Blair and I were there, together, for a whole week. Without dates?"
Natalie's eyes lit up and she shook her head in disbelief, "You guys were together then, already?"
Blair smiled shyly, "Well, actually, that was our first trip together. It just seemed like the right time. I mean, right after our first year at Langley, it didn't take long for us to finally connect on a personal level."
Jo grinned in spite of her irritation at Nat, "She means when we hooked up. I think it was around the time I broke up with Sam, I took it hard but I knew something wasn't right with it all. Then Blair dumped ole Cliff and we just..."
Natalie raised an eye brow, "...you just did what?"
Blair looked annoyed, "We talked, Nat. We just talked, a lot. No fighting, no barbs, just talked about our failed love lives and soon we started to open up about other things and one thing led to another."
Jo sighed, "I finally admitted my crush on Blair since the first minute I laid eyes on her."
Blair smiled affectionately at Jo, "And I admitted that she had good reason to feel that way."
Jo frowned, "Blair!"
Blair shrugged and threw up her arms, "Okay okay, I admitted to some attraction on my end too. In fact, I think the night Harrison tried to have his way with Jo on the country club green was the turning point for me. I just looked at Jo that night, dress all torn and her beautiful face and hair ruined by that creep, and I knew...I wanted her on the green myself but I was going to get her there the proper way."
"Our first kiss was kinda awkward but we lived to tell the tale." Jo said.
"How could you have resisted Helen of Troy?" Blair countered.
"Heh...after my chat with Steve the silicon valley counselor, you're lucky we got that far!" Jo laughed.
"True, true...but if we survived that bump, I knew we were going to be okay." Blair said with a sigh.
Jo smiled, "So after that, we dated exclusively for, what would it be, Blair...like a year, then we decided the trip to the Poconos would be a nice way to...seal the deal on the whole thing."
Blair looked uncomfortable, "It's not what you think, Nat. It's not like we can get married or something. I mean, we got engaged, in our heads, and when we felt it was time to get married, we did a little ceremony one night alone after dinner and that was that. Jo has a ring she keeps on a chain around her neck and I have my ring meshed with another diamond ring so only the most discerning individual can tell it's a marital band."
Natalie smiled at the two women and stood up, "I think if you told everyone else, they'd be thrilled. George might make a scene, but everyone else would be cool."
Jo stood up and shook Nat's hand formally, "Yeah, we'll do that someday, but until we decide otherwise, keep a lid on it, okay? We plan to move in together next semester. We got a little fixer upper that me, my mom, my dad, Blair and Blair's mothers are gonna buy equally and we'll rent it. Kinda a wedding present."
Natalie grinned, "You told your parents?"
Jo laughed, "Well, yeah...I mean I did ask David for Blair's hand and princess here had a big heart to heart with my pop and ma. Madness, you bet, but we were serious and didn't care if our families knew. We needed the support so if we had concerns at Langley, we'd have our families behind us."
Before Natalie could ask, Blair piped in, "...yes, we told Mrs. Garrett...before anyone. Jo told her the night we returned home from the police station back all those years ago if you can believe it. I didn't say anything until I was sure we were going to make it work."
Natalie was standing by the door and she wondered if there was anything else they wanted to say but the couple stood quietly, glancing at the CD player and then at Nat.
"Keep it to yourself, okay Nat? We'll tell Tootie when she's older. We all kinda agreed along with her mom." Jo said quietly.
Blair nodded in agreement, smiled at Natalie and then started to look through her CD's while Jo shrugged and went over to Blair to give her a peck on the cheek before sitting down at her bed.
With nothing left to say, Nat left the room and wandered down to the living room. Tootie was engrossed in her algebra book and Mrs. G was out for the evening. There wasn't anything to do, so she put her jacket on and told Tootie she was going for a walk around town to get some inspiration for a story she was brewing. Tootie grunted and Nat left the store and walked for hours. She just didn't know what to think. She hoped the fates would look kindly onto Blair and Jo's relationship, because the world certainly wouldn't.
Jo finally arrived home, parking her cycle in the underground garage at their Manhattan apartment. She gave the motorbike a quick polish and wipe down before she covered it up with her blue tarp, and locked it in the caged area she rented. Blair kept her Porsche in another parking area, away from the cycles that made too much noise for the heiress.
Jo was apprehensive as she took the elevator up to the 28th floor of their massive apartment. She really did know this day would happen, but it still took her by surprise. Jo fiddled with her hair, now that it had been flattened by her helmet. She sighed and hoped she looked acceptable to her little pooh bear.
Jo opened the door and was greeted with a slightly tipsy Blair holding a gin & tonic in one hand, and a framed picture of Jo in her cop uniform in the other.
"Hey princess, what are you doing? Little early for a nightcap, ain't it?" Jo said with a slight chuckle, glad that maybe Blair was nervous too.
"I was worried. I haven't been able to get a hold of anyone with the good news, then I started looking at our old albums, and then I saw your police academy graduation picture on the mantle, then I needed a drink...well...you know the drill." Blair said in a sob.
Jo dropped her gun box, helmet and keys in the foyer basket and went up to Blair so she could give her an embrace. Blair let Jo hold her while she held out her arms with the picture and glass. "Come on Princess, let's have a cup of coffee and put that stupid picture of me back where it belongs, in the drawer by your side of the bed!"
Once things were put back in place, Jo made an espresso for Blair while she grabbed a can of Budweiser. They sat on the bar stools in the pristine kitchen and looked at each other, exhausted.
"So...whadda ya think Princess?" Jo said as she sipped her cold beer.
Blair smiled, "We've waited a long time for this, Mr. Good wrench. A real long time."
Jo shrugged, sighed and stood up, "Well, princess, that I know."
Blair watched Jo with curiosity as the seasoned police cop circled around Blair and turned rather quickly, whipping something out of her back pocket. Suddenly, Jo was on one knee and she had a small silver box pointed up at Blair. She flicked it open with her thumb, and a dazzling diamond ring radiated from the red velvet lining within.
Blair's eyes widened and she almost dropped her espresso cup on the counter. "Oh my God, Jo! When? Where?"
Jo grinned, "Will you marry me, Blair Warner?"
Blair looked at the ring and then at Jo's radiant face. She practically jumped into Jo's arms and skillfully grabbed the ring box while kissing Jo quickly on the lips. Jo held Blair close and knew the princess was giving the ring a close look before she would say anything. Blair pulled away and took the ring from the box, "Put it on my finger!"
Jo grinned and placed the diamond ring on Blair's finger, "Is that a yes?"
Blair held her hand in front of her face and took in the radiance of the huge engagement ring. The ring was expensive and elaborate but she had no idea how Jo had acquired such a ring. They had a shared account for years and although Jo did all the accounting, it was Blair's responsibility to keep tabs on their investments and allowances. A ring of this magnitude could never have been bought today after Blair called Jo on shift.
"Like I told you back in 1986, of course I will marry you Jo Polniaczek! I love you!" Blair sobbed and hugged the happy cop.
Jo was relieved. After leaving Willis and the precinct, Jo rushed over to the Bank of America to get into her personal safety deposit box that Blair had never knew about. Jo's dad had opened it for her back in 1980 once he got out of prison. It was there he began to put small amounts of cash in it, or the occasional savings bond for Jo's future. Once Jo graduated Langely, he gave her the keys and told her to keep it open, that maybe someday she might need it for something in the future. Jo balked at first because he was implying that she needed it to keep secrets from Blair but eventually as time progressed, she realized that real marriage between same sex couples may someday become a reality and that was when she began to squirrel away extra money that she'd make on the side fixing bikes, and cars since around 1990.
Eventually she took the money and invested it under her mother's name until about 10 years ago when she figured she had enough to get a ring that would be a Blair Warner original. With a few key contacts at the precinct, she found a Swiss watch maker who owed her a few favors and he in turn sent her to the finest family jeweler in the Bronx. It was there that old Mr. Schulman and his daughter, Maria, designed Blair's engagement ring. It took over 10 years for Jo to pay it off and once it was hers to keep, she immediately put it in the safety deposit box. The only other human being who knew about the ring without really knowing about it was Natalie Green. Jo had left the key to Natalie in her will along with a letter that would have gone to Blair to explain. She was glad it turned out this way.
Now that Jo had fulfilled her end of the deal, it was now Blair's time to shine as visions of a huge NY wedding danced in Blair's head all night after she and Jo had celebrated under the sheets.
Jo returned to work as if nothing had happened. She figured people would find out eventually through the society papers or how ever the Warner's paraded their newly engaged women around. Jo called her mom, Rose to let her know she finally did it, popped the question for real to Blair. Her mom cried, and it made Jo a little weepy too. Jo called Charlie and he told her to be the best spouse she could be and to make the Polniaczek family proud.
After a few weeks, Jo began to wonder if Blair had told anyone about the official engagement, so one night after supper she went on Facebook to see what Blair was up to. She was surprised to see that Blair's relationship status still remained "it's complicated". Jo, a bit annoyed, called out to Blair, who was reading in her den and was asked to get her fifth avenue butt into Jo's study. Blair poked her head in and gave Jo a inquisitive look. She still had her reading glasses on and Jo smirked because Blair looked rather dorky with them on. "What is it? Something wrong with Mrs Garrett?"
Jo shook her head, "No, but I was just checking in on Facebook here and you haven't announced to the world that we are engaged to get married yet. What's up?"
Blair sighed at Jo, "Why would I post something like that on Facebook? I'm not like Natalie, who twitters on her silly iPhone every time she uses the washroom or combs her hair! I have a few samples of invitations I want you to look at, and then I thought we would see if there was an appropriate venue in Peekskill for us to get married it. I mean, that is where we met."
Jo felt a bit foolish and turned the computer monitor off, "Sorry honey, I just assumed you wanted a big old Manhattan wedding at the club...you know all blue blood stuff."
Blair eased her way into Jo's lap and put her arms around the brunettes neck, "Jo, I want this to be our dream wedding, meaning ours, not mine as a teenager! All I ask is that I get to wear the dress of my dreams, that you cannot see it until the day of the wedding and that you wear your dress blues. That would make me very proud."
Jo grinned and kissed Blair, "Whatever you want princess, just tell me where to go and I'll be at that alter waitin' for ya!"
Six months later, the big day arrived. Blair had been able to acquire the Peekskill Community Center for the reception and was able to use St George's Anglican church for the ceremony as long as they used a official justice of the peace for the ceremony. Blair hadn't cared one way or another, but she knew that Jo was still a strong Catholic and thought having the ceremony in a church would mend some wounds that Jo had with her faith.
Blair had convinced Natalie and Tootie to be bridesmaids when she told them they could pick out their own outfits. Bailey, of course, was Blair's maid of honor and Jo opted to have Willis Drummond as her best man. After some rearranging of traditional roles, Blair wanted her daddy, David Warner to bring her down the aisle while Jo chose to have her parents come down the aisle just before Blair and stand with her and Willis. Jo wanted to be at the altar , waiting for the woman she had waited 31 years to marry.
The ceremony went beautifully. Jo was beautiful and sweet in her full dress uniform, while Blair was truly a princess in her eggshell lace gown. Mrs. Garrett looked elegant and was under the watchful eye of Andrew Moffatt, his fiancé Kate and Beverly Ann Stickle. Nat and Toot had a blast, and roasted the happy couple big time during the reception. Willis was weepy when he described his long friendship with Jo and how proud he was of his partner and friend. The Warner's and the Polnieczek's debated about kids and it took Blair a full hour to convince both sides that kids 'were an option they'd look into after they returned to Peekskill'. Jo found it humorous to watch Blair argue like a lawyer with both sets of parents.
As the festivities died down, Jo found herself outside the community center, beer in hand, watching the clear NY skyline.
It was quiet in Peekskill, less hectic and the house they built here was cozier and more Jo's style than the huge Manhattan high-rise apartment they owned now. As she sipped her beer, she recalled that first kiss she shared with Blair, the one that told them they needed to think about their futures.
Shortly after Blair had given up on Cliff and then briefly considered running off with the male version of Jo to Alaska, Jo flirted with the thought of being with a rock and roll lounge singer. They were confused and juvenile in their romantic endeavors. Nat and Tootie seemed more solid in their dating pursuits, Jeff being the one for Tootie and Natalie seeing a nice young Langley wrestler for over a year before they broke up because he wanted to get married and Nat wasn't ready to leave Peekskill to live with him in Nebraska.
Jo had returned from a trip home to see her mom, and found the house empty. It was a Sunday, and the shop was closed. Mrs. G had left a note to say she was in Wisconsin until Tuesday to visit her long suffering sister, Beverly Ann. Natalie was in NY with her mother, and Tootie had decided to bunk with two of her study buddies back at Eastland to cram for finals like the four musketeers used to do back in the day. The only one home was Blair. She knew that because the blondes Porsche was sitting cozy in the driveway blocking Jo's access to the garage…again.
Blair was in their shared bedroom, reading the latest trashy novel her mother had sent her. It was a break from her English Baroque Poetry term paper due in a few days and since no one was around, she didn't see the harm in it.
Dressed in a pair of Jo's baggy grey Langley sweatpants and wearing an old shapeless Eastland gym shirt that used to belong to Natalie, she looked like a normal college kid goofing off from school. Blair had assumed she had the house to herself until tonight when she would shower and redress in her usual fancy robe and slippers, the Blair Warner trademark lounge wear. So when Jo came barging into the room unexpectedly, Blair's defensives went up as she could see the odd look in Jo's face when she noticed what Blair was wearing.
"You're back early!" Blair said, visibly annoyed.
"Well, I didn't feel like riding in the rain, if that's okay with you. Thanks for leaving me a parking spot. Not! What the hell are you wearing? Are those my sweats? And isn't that Nat's old gym shirt from like 100 years ago? What do you do when we not here?" Jo was half amused and half infuriated, mainly because she wasn't welcomed home in the manner she would have liked to be welcomed.
Blair frowned, "I'm doing laundry and I had nothing to wear."
Jo raised an eyebrow, "You, Blair Warner, had nothing to wear? Have you forgotten that large tomb like thing over there called a closet that's full of lace, taffeta and crepe?"
"Just drop it, Jo, okay?" Blair finally said, conquered.
"Okay, sorry. How was your weekend?" Jo said indifferently as she placed her things on her bed.
Blair shrugged, "I'm almost done my term paper. I'm not that impressed with the baroque period."
Jo nodded, "I liked the Romantic period myself. The prose made more sense."
Blair smiled, "We did quite well in that joint project last year, didn't we? That was the sweetest 'A' I ever got!"
Jo grinned, "Yeah and it was easy too. I never realized that our two brains together could make something so intelligent."
Blair gave Jo an odd look and decided to pass on the barb she had tucked away as per usual. She gave Jo a long look and smiled at her. Sometimes, Jo was so beautiful.
Jo smiled back, wondering what Blair was thinking. Lately they had been getting along better, cooperating and spending a lot more time together socially. After their long feud over some miscommunication with a Helen of Troy contest and Jo being embarrassed by Blair, they had quietly made up with little fan fare.
They attended mixers together, and frequently went to Langley sporting events. Blair disliked football but enjoyed watching Basketball with Jo. They even played one on one a few times in the back drive way during lulls in the shop. Blair had a good aim but was a lousy dribbler. At one point, Jo wanted to just lay out her feelings to Blair but the timing was always off. Now she was alone with her and for once she was in a peculiar mood which meant whatever she said would be confusing to Blair, making it all more easy on Jo.
"Hey princess, penny for your thoughts?" Jo finally said, sitting on her own bed, watching the blonde with interest.
Blair knew she lingered too long on Jo and she sat on her bed and looked at the floor, "Nothing. You look good, Jo. I mean for someone who just drove a motorcycle for an hour."
Jo laughed, "Yeah and no bugs in my teeth, huh?"
Blair smiled, "Your teeth are perfect."
Jo, visibly uncomfortable, stood up and looked around aimlessly, "Look Blair, there is something I've been meaning to tell yeah and it's been five years now and I think maybe I should just say it before I lose my nerv."
Blair stared at her, saying nothing.
"Look Blair, it's been a wild ride, you know, me coming here to Peekskill, going to Eastland and now college. It's like a dream sometimes. I mean, yeah it's hard sometimes and money will always be tight, but I'm happy. And I know what I want now." Jo paused and looked at Blair with her pleading green eyes.
"Jo, don't say it please!" Blair said suddenly, getting up from the bed and approaching Jo.
"I gotta, Blair! Someone has to say it or we will miss the opportunity of a lifetime. I haven't come this far to have this big of a regret!" Jo said as she walked towards Blair.
"We can't Jo. It won't work." Blair said, now facing the brunette, staring into her green eyes.
"Princess, we can make anything work. Let's try, huh?" Jo whispered into Blair's ear.
The close proximity was the last straw for Blair. With a deep breath, Blair put her arms around Jo's neck and kissed her softly on the lips. Jo responded in kind and they kissed for what seemed hours.
They never looked back.
Jo finished her beer and left the can on a table. She scanned the room for her bride and saw Blair laughing it up with George Burnett and his girlfriend, Francesca. The song that brought back so many memories came booming over the loud speaker and it was Jo's turn to step up to the plate.
Jo straightened her dark blue tie, and donned her Lt's cap. She marched over to Blair and excused her from the conversation. "Can I have this dance, Mrs. Polniezcek?"
Blair beamed and took Jo's arm. "Of course, Mrs. Warner!" Jo rolled her eyes and Blair chuckled. Somethings never change.
They waltzed around the room looking a lot like Prince Charming and Cinderella. The song? Of course it was Every Woman In The World by Air Supply. Some tastes just never die either.