Here it is, everybody! My next In Plain Sight story. Basically it takes place directly after their little talk on the roof. Stan isn't leaving the office, and Mary and Marshall are still partners. I've already written out several chapters of this story, and I'm very excited about it. I hope everyone reading will be, too. So read on and enjoy the first chapter of Release.
Disclaimer: Not mine!
"A friend is one who knows us, but wants us anyway."
- Fr. Jerome Cummings.
"This, what we have, it's indefinable, and up until now nothing's ever come along to jeopardize that."
"Marshall, you're my best friend. You're my only friend. I mean, forget friend, you're - you know."
"I know. I love that. But that's the problem."
"Because you're getting married."
"Yeah. I'm getting married. I love Abigail deeply, and because I do that's why I need you to do something for me."
"I need you to release me. I need to be free enough to have a life with Abigail, and I need you to be okay enough for that to happen, because if you call I'll come. Every time."
"Well, I don't know a lot these days. All I know is that more than anything in the whole world, I want you to be happy. So, I'm going to say this once and only once: I want you to marry Abigail. She makes you happy. I like her and I like you together. I know, I hide it well."
"Yeah. Okay. So, shall we get on with the rest of our lives?"
Mary sighed as she stood in her living room, a bottle of wine in her hand and the glass on the coffee table behind her. After everything that had transpired in the past few days: her father's death and subsequent funeral, the talk with Marshall that was currently running rampant in her mind, Brandi's pregnancy… she had needed a break. Jinx and Brandi were at Jinx's apartment, and they had insisted on taking Norah with them for the night, sensing that Mary desperately needed a break. Mary was deeply reluctant to let Norah go, but now that she was alone with a bottle of wine, she could finally focus on herself and the mess that had become her life. Grief over her father's death mixed with grief for what she and Marshall could never have.
Suddenly she flung the bottle across the room, and it landed against the wall, shattering into a million pieces. A slight satisfaction crept through her, followed quickly by misery. Why couldn't she have said what she really felt? She had been doing that all of her life. Why was it so fucking hard to do with Marshall? He had laid it out on the line so many times. All she had to do was open her mouth.
I hate her.
Don't marry her.
I think I love you, too.
Every time she saw him, those words sprang to her mind and the tip of her tongue. But they never made it past her lips. Why not? If he knew, if he really knew, he would want her, too. Wouldn't he?
It was that unspoken question that made her hesitate. If she told him how she truly felt about him, no sarcasm, no mockery, would he still feel the same? Or would he just give her that sympathetic look and try to let her down as easily as he possibly could? He had Abigail, after all, and she was perfect. She was sweet, beautiful, graceful, never cursed, and his family probably adored her. What was she? Awkward, abrasive, harsh, insensitive at times… Abigail was the girl next door, the perfect type for Marshall. And what was she?
His partner. The woman he worked with, who had his back every goddamn day and had protected him with her life on more than one occasion. But at the end of the day, he went to his home, to Abigail, and she went to her own home. Without him.
And now, she would never have him.
A knock on the front door interrupted her self-incrimination. She contemplated not answering it, until she realized exactly who was knocking.
With a groan, she made her way to the front door, hesitating only briefly before she unlocked it and pulled it open.
Leaned against the doorframe, Marshall watched her with an unreadable expression.
Mary looked him over, slightly confused by his presence. It was late. Shouldn't he have been at home with Abigail? "What are you doing here?"
He didn't answer. Instead he leaned closer to her, so that she could smell the whiskey on him. His eyes, normally a shade of cerulean, were almost slate now, and their intensity burned Mary.
Before she could complete that thought, he closed the distance between them. His arm snaked around her, pulling her firmly against his chest. Then, before she could voice a protest, his lips were on hers, hot and probing. It wasn't the first time they had kissed, but it was the first time it had ever felt like this.
A small voice screamed at her to stop him. He was drunk and clearly not thinking straight. But that small voice of reason was quickly drowned out by a much louder voice that begged her to continue.
Marshall sensed her willingness to continue, so he pushed her into the house and kicked the door shut with his foot, all without breaking the kiss. Then he managed to pull his jacket off and kick his shoes off.
She was bewildered at the new, dominant Marshall, but she had no will to stop him. It didn't matter that he was her best friend, or that he was engaged to Abigail. He was there, with her, and if he didn't want to be, he wouldn't be. But he was. Her hands came up and ran through his thick hair as she parted her lips, allowing him access.
He took her invitation, tasting the dark recesses of her mouth. She had been drinking as well, and the whiskey and wine collided together as their tongues dueled for dominance.
Somewhere along the path to her bedroom, they both lost their shirts, and Mary gasped when the backs of her legs hit the foot of the bed. She fell backward onto the mattress, pulling Marshall down with her as well.
Tonight, there would be no regrets, she decided as his lips claimed hers again. No blame, no guilt, nothing.
The next morning, Mary awoke to a splitting headache and an incredibly dry mouth. She blinked slowly and shifted her hips. What had she done last night? Then her foggy mind registered a strong arm draped lazily over her, and her breath caught when she saw Marshall's sleeping face.
What had they done?
Moving as carefully as she could, she slipped out from under him and pushed herself out of the bed. Then she quickly dressed and pulled on a pair of sneakers. She could go get breakfast, then rescue Norah from her mom and sister. By the time she got home, Marshall would be gone, and hopefully they could get on with their lives without making a big deal out of this. Yes, that was what she needed to do.
Once she was dressed and had her keys in hand, she finally glanced back at the bed. Marshall had shifted onto his back with his arm thrown over the spot where she had laid a few minutes before. He looked relaxed and content, but when he woke up, she wasn't sure he would feel the same way. But what if he did? All of her life, she had refused to be a home wrecker, the other woman. She never slept with married or attached men for that reason. But now she had broken that rule, because Marshall was happy and engaged. Had she just ruined that, and consequently, their friendship? How could she live with herself?
Sighing, she tore her gaze away from Marshall's sleeping face and walked out of her bedroom.
"I'm sorry, Marshall."
As she tried not to think about the previous night, Mary drove to her mother's apartment, where Jinx and Brandi were taking care of Norah. She loved her family, even though there were times when she wanted to kill them. They were her family, after all. But she didn't feel comfortable leaving Norah with anyone for an extended amount of time, and truthfully, she desperately needed the distraction. She needed her little girl.
Finally arriving at her mother's home, she jumped out of her car and hurried to the door.
Brandi was on the couch with Norah when her sister barged into the house, and she gave her older sister an amused look. "You okay?"
Carefully sitting up, Brandi moved Norah to her almost non-existent lap. "Did you miss her that much?"
"Yeah." It was easier than saying that she had just left her sleeping partner alone in her bed.
Seeing her mother, Norah squealed and babbled happily.
With a quiet sigh, Mary crossed the floor and lifted her little daughter into her arms. Norah happily snuggled against her mother, and Mary looked at her younger sister. "How are you feeling, Squish?"
Brandi absently placed a hand on her swollen belly. "Okay. But this baby likes to try and bruise my ribs."
Mary laughed softly and ran her thumb along Norah's cheek. "Norah did that to me, too."
"I don't know how you did it," Brandi said theatrically as she stretched out on the couch cushions and flung her arm over her eyes.
"I didn't have a choice." But that wasn't the truth. She did have a choice. She just didn't have it in her to do anything but carry her baby to term, which of course couldn't even happen as it was supposed to. Norah had made her arrival almost two months early, much to Mary's chagrin. She didn't remember much about the delivery, but the first time she touched Norah, she knew that she wanted to keep her. Norah was hers and hers alone. She had been since her mother first knew about her, even if her mother didn't know.
Now Brandi was going to be a mother as well, and Mary was still reeling from the news.
She could hear Jinx moving around in the kitchen, singing something to herself. Mary blanched and grabbed Norah's diaper bag. "I'm going to get out of here, Squish. Thanks for watching Nor for me."
"I love watching her, Mary." Brandi rubbed her swollen belly absently. "It's good practice."
"I'm sure." She gave her little sister a smile. "See you later, Squish."
Slinging Norah's diaper bag over her shoulder, Mary walked out of the house and back to her car. Norah babbled and chewed on her fingers as her mother placed her carefully in her carseat and fastened her in. Once she was securely in her seat, Mary closed the back door and got into the driver's seat.
She had a lot of thinking to do.
Marshall awoke to a pounding in his head and a terrible taste in his mouth. He reached out, expecting to pull Abigail into his arms. But all his hand found was an expanse of cool, empty nothingness. He frowned and slowly opened his eyes, squinting against the natural sunlight. He wasn't in his bedroom.
Where the hell was he?
Cautiously he sat up, and the room spun around him. He swallowed hard as he finally recognized his surroundings. He was in Mary's bedroom. What the hell was he doing there?
Breathe, he told himself. Maybe he had just gotten drunk and shown up at Mary's, and she had let him sleep in her bed. It had happened before, except when it had happened, she had made him sleep on her couch. How had he wound up in her bed, and where had she slept?
He pushed the covers back and breathed unevenly when he realized that he wasn't wearing any clothing.
With a gasp, he closed his eyes as the memories slammed into his throbbing head. His lips on Mary's, her hands on his body, their breaths mingling together…
Groaning, he stumbled out of his bed and searched for his clothes. Once he was dressed, he yanked his shoes on. Mary was nowhere in the house, and he didn't know whether to be sad or relieved about that. He had no idea what he was going to say to her. All he knew was that he needed to get home to Abigail and sort through the mess in his head.
He took care to lock up Mary's home before he walked out. His truck was nowhere to be seen, and he didn't have his cell phone. Finally he gave up and began walking, the pounding in his head steadily worsening with each step he took.
When he finally made it home, he was highly surprised to find Abigail still sleeping in their bed. As quietly as he could managed, he took a brief shower before crawling into bed with his fiancé. He rested his head on the pillow and pulled her firmly against his chest.
What the hell was he going to do?
By the time Mary arrived at home with Norah, she was not sure how she felt finding the house empty. She put Norah's diaper bag down by the door, then set Norah on the floor. She had baby proofed her entire home long before Norah was even able to lift her own head. Perfectly convinced that she was safe, she had no problem letting her little girl crawl around on her own.
She wandered into the bedroom, in case Marshall was sleeping. He wasn't there. The bed was messy, and all of his clothes were gone. He must have woken up and went back home. She was unsure how she felt about all of that. Despite everything her head told her, her heart wanted him. But she could never have him, or so she thought.
With a soft sigh, she left the bedroom and went to find her baby girl. Norah was pushing herself up away from the floor, and she giggled and cooed when her mother came into her line of vision.
Smiling sadly, Mary sat down in front of her daughter and pulled her into her lap. Norah happily snuggled into her mother and babbled softly.
Mary kissed Norah's head softly and held her close.
"Everything is going to be okay, Bug. I promise."
She just didn't know how it would.
To Be Continued...