Mother Knows Best

Chapter 4

Sorry for the delay guys but Fran and I were fighting. I wanted her to tell the story one way and she kept reminding me that it was her story to tell. So after many battles where I repeatedly got my butt kicked, I finally waved the white flag and sat down to do things her way. I have learned my lesson. Sorry Fran, it won't happen again.

All errors are my own and I still don't own Criminal Minds.

When you realize you've made a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm. ~Dan Heist

One of the rarely talked about perks of being a mom is that you spend the early stages of your children's lives in this perpetual state of being right. Don't touch the stove, it's hot. Right. Eat your vegetables, they're good for you. Right again.

So when the time comes and you have to admit that you don't have all the answers, when you're forced to concede that mother doesn't always know best and that sometimes you're just flat-out dead wrong, the stark reality of those truths can be hard to swallow.

And with a son who refused to speak to her and a future daughter-in-law who was MIA the only thing that kept Fran Morgan from choking on her own misguided decisions was that she was too busy plotting her escape.

Not that she would call herself a hostage or anything. Perhaps a more fitting description of her current situation could be likened to a detainee under house arrest. A house arrest monitored by six FBI agents.

When a guilt-ridden Fran attempted to follow Penelope she was immediately intercepted by JJ who gently yet firmly advised her to allow the young woman time alone to gather her thoughts.

When she tried to duck out the backdoor under the pretense of emptying the kitchen trash can, Emily suddenly appeared and deliberately positioned her body between Fran and the door.

For one nervy moment she considered tackling the young agent like Derek used to tackle his opponents on the football field but a quick once-over of Emily's taut trim body made her think better of it. After all having to limp down the aisle with a broken hip and a walker was not the look she was going for on her son's eventual wedding day.

She just couldn't catch a break. At every turn someone would pop up like some all-knowing prison guard and lead Fran away from the main exits. Even her dear daughters were of no help.

Sarah, the elder just looked on in embarrassment and Desiree (that girl had no loyalty) actually took pleasure in crying out, "Stop her! She's making a break for it!"

Twenty excruciatingly-long minutes had passed since Penelope had marched out the front door, down the concrete steps and onto the street. Where she was headed was anybody's guess but Fran was determined to find her and make things right. She not only owed the young woman an apology but also an explanation.

Derek, unbeknownst to him, provided just the diversion she needed to steal away from the group.

Although the neighborhood was safer than it had ever been, he still worried about Penelope walking the streets alone. His teammates, while understanding his concerns, argued that someone other than Derek (but definitely not his mother) should go after her. And Derek, stubborn as ever, argued back.

Recognizing this as the lucky break she needed, Fran snuck into the kitchen and set her eyes on the prize. The door with its sunflower embroidered curtain was the only thing that stood between her and freedom.

Careful to stay out of the sightline of the others, including her snitch of a daughter, she skillfully maneuvered past the bar stools and around the island making sure to avoid the notoriously squeaky floor tile at its base. Just a few more steps, a twist of the knob and she'd be home free.

"Going somewhere?"

The rich timber of the voice coming from behind her stopped her dead in her tracks.

"The Lord is testing me, there's no other explanation."

Fighting the urge to bang her head against the wall, Fran turned to face the man who had been making her heart go pitter-patter all evening long.

With his arms crossed and with the tell-tale bulge of his revolver under his sports jacket, he looked like a prison warden who had just caught his inmate trying to scale the wall.

"Agent Rossi, I was just about to let in the cat." She didn't have a cat but he didn't know that.

"Am I going to have to fit you for an electronic ankle bracelet?"

Wisely choosing to plead the fifth on that one, Fran watched as his long strides made fast work of the distance between them.

At just shy of 6-feet, Rossi wasn't the tallest of men but he still towered over her 5-feet 4 inch frame. The close proximity of their bodies had a strange effect on her making her feel both unnerved and excited by his presence.

Holy Moses, he smelled good. She was a sucker for good cologne and his was woodsy and potent and thoroughly masculine. It took all of her willpower not to bury her face in his neck and...

Pull it together, Frannie. Now is not the time for your inner hussy to come out and play.

"Agent Rossi…"

"Dave. Call me Dave."

"Dave, you seem to be a reasonable man..."

The noise he made, a cross between a snort and a laugh, did little to boost her confidence.

"And as a reasonable man you have to believe me when I tell you that it was not my intention to hurt anyone. All I was trying to do was to help fate along by gently encouraging…

"You mean forcing."

"Semantics…but for the sake of argument we'll go with your word. All I was trying to do was to help fate along by gently forcing the youngsters to see what even a blind man can - that they belong together."

"Don't get me wrong I get it…I messed up but my baby boy has been through a lot and he deserves to be happy and from what he's told me about Penelope she deserves a happy ending too. But unless you help me, I can't fix what I broke. Can't we just pretend that when you came looking for me I was already out the door?"

"I'll help but only on one condition."

Looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary, he stepped impossibly closer until the wool of his jacket lightly brushed the silk of her blouse.

"Have dinner with me. I'll be back next month for a book signing and I'd like to see you again."

"He'd kill us."

"He'd have to catch us first."

It had been almost a year since Fran had been on a date – not for the lack of offers mind you- but more so because she couldn't help but compare every man to her first and only love.

Most of them were nice enough and handsome enough but still they always came up short in one way or another. But something told her that Dave might be different.

"I don't know…I mean I want to but I think I'm in enough trouble as it is."

"Don't think of it as a date but as two new friends getting together for a good meal. Besides what Derek doesn't know won't hurt him…or me."

The last bit was said under his breath but Fran caught it anyway. Her sweet giggle reaffirmed to Rossi that emasculation by castration just might be worth the risk to get to know this beautiful woman.

"Well since you put it that way, my answer is yes."

"Good, I'll call you." Reaching up with one hand he gently brushed a wayward curl behind her ear. It was as silky as it looked.

"Five minutes…you get a five minute head start and then I'm releasing the hounds."

As he walked away she couldn't help but admire his well-fitting jeans or rather what was under those well-fitting jeans. The Italian Stallion, that's what Penelope called him. Maybe one day soon she'd find out if his nickname was well-earned.

TBC

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