Last chapter! And it comes with a massive, sugary fluff warning...:)
Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing, it really means a lot. Hope you enjoy this last one.
'Ma'. Jane groaned as she stretched out on her sofa. 'Stop. Please. You're wearing me out just watching you'.
'So turn on the TV. You can watch a chat show instead'.
'Janie, you have a hole in your shoulder'.
Jane looked down at her right shoulder, now padded with bandages and supported with a sling. Her mother was right. Somewhere, underneath all the gauze and the antiseptic film, was a neat bullet-sized hole.
But that didn't explain why her mother was getting the hoover out.
'Ma, I've been home, what...half an hour? You've already done my washing up and tidied away my laundry. Which didn't need doing. And now you're going to hoover?'
But Angela was not to be put off.
'This place is a tip, Janie, and you won't recover properly with all this clutter everywhere'.
Jane's eyebrows shot up, and she looked at her mother in frank amazement.
'I like my clutter exactly the way it is. I won't be able to find stuff if you tidy it away'.
'You never know who might call in, especially with you being sick and all, and it would be real embarrassing if visitors were to find this place looking like...well. This'.
'There's nothing wrong with it. And anyway, I'm not sick. Just...walking wounded'.
'Hmm'. Angela rolled her eyes as she switched on the hoover, and Jane just caught her next words before they were drowned out by the whine of the machine. 'Think it would be easier on everyone if you weren't walking'.
Slumping back into the cushions, Jane sighed deeply and closed her eyes. She was a terrible patient, and would be the first to say so. But she was also sore - although she would never have admitted that to anyone, least of all her mother - and she ached all over, a throbbing, dull ache that seemed to radiate out from her shoulder and reach all the way down to her toes. She knew Angela meant well, but all she really wanted was a hot bath and her own bed.
When Jane had come round in hospital, the first thing that she had thought of had been Maura. Even before Frost, and even before Frankie, both of whom had been with her that night. And, once she had ascertained that both Frost and Frankie were fine, it was Maura that occupied her mind almost all the time. She had quickly found out that Angela and Tommy had both spoken to her girlfriend to let her know what had happened, and to start with she had been a bit pissed off. She hadn't wanted to worry Maura when there was nothing that the other woman could do, and she had known how much Maura would worry. And the stubborn, proud part of her hadn't wanted Maura to see her weak. She hadn't wanted Maura to think of her as wounded and fragile.
That wasn't who she was.
But when she had finally managed to speak to Maura, on her second day in hospital, she had felt so overwhelmed that she could barely speak. She hated to appear vulnerable, but suddenly that was exactly how she felt, and she didn't have the energy to hide it. All she had wanted was for Maura to be there with her and hold her while she cried - and not tell anyone afterwards. Hearing Maura's voice had helped soothe her as it always did, but, this time, the voice alone hadn't been enough.
She had missed Maura desperately ever since she had left Paris almost four months ago...but never more so than that moment. And, after that phone conversation, every time she thought about Maura she had wanted to cry again.
She had blamed her pain meds.
She had also initially blamed her medication when, after having had her dressing changed on her fourth and last afternoon in hospital - she had been told that she would be discharged the following morning, and she had never been so relieved - the nurse had left her room and, on her way out, had held the door open for someone else to enter...a visitor that had turned out to be Maura. Jane had been totally convinced that it was a morphine-induced hallucination, and it was only the very real feel of Maura's lips on hers that had eventually persuaded her otherwise.
Normally, Jane hated surprises. But this one, she thought, had been pretty much perfect.
After Jane had finally accepted that she wasn't just dreaming, Maura had told her, in between kisses, that she had decided to book herself a flight after she had spoken to Angela and Tommy on the morning after Jane had been shot. She couldn't, she said, have stayed in Paris, worrying and fretting and not being able to be with Jane when she most needed her. And, just then, Jane had been too high on pure happiness and pain-killing drugs to ask many questions.
Jane opened her eyes. She had been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn't even noticed that the hoover had stopped, and she looked over at her mother. Angela was now standing in the tidied kitchen area, balancing a casserole dish in each hand. And judging by the questioning look on her face, she wanted Jane to make some sort of decision.
Jane closed her eyes again.
'Chicken and mushroom bake?'
'Right hand, then'.
Jane laughed, but quickly stopped as she knocked against the back of the sofa and sent a spasm shooting down her right arm. 'Thanks, Ma'.
There was blessed quiet for a few moments while Angela busied herself with the oven, and Jane found herself thinking about Maura again, smiling as she reminded herself, for the hundredth time since she had woken up that morning with Maura lying beside her on the hospital bed, that her girlfriend was actually here. But, now that she was a bit more with it, she also realised that they would need to talk. She was beginning to feel a creeping guilt that Maura had evidently dropped everything and flown halfway around the world just to be with her, and she needed to know, for her own peace of mind, what arrangements Maura had made for the pâtisserie. What she had done with Coco. And how long she was planning on staying.
But all of that could wait until after lasagne. Hospital food, Jane had discovered, left a lot to be desired and, even though she was tired, she was also suddenly starving.
Checking her watch, she wondered how much longer her girlfriend would be. Maura had ruefully explained that only flight she had been able to get on at late notice was one that connected in London, and that her suitcase, unfortunately, had remained in London when she had flown on to Boston. But she had received a call from Air France that morning to confirm that it had now arrived, and so, with Tommy busy at work, Frankie had offered to drive her to to the airport to collect it. Jane had wanted to go with them, unwilling to let Maura out of her sight for even a couple of hours, and it had only been Maura's firm promise to be as quick as possible, combined with a sudden lightheaded feeling of queasiness as she had climbed out of the car at her apartment, that had persuaded her to stay.
Just as she was about to ask Angela whether she would have time for that bath before the dinner was ready, the front door opened and Frankie staggered in, lugging the biggest suitcase that Jane had ever seen. She had thought that maybe - hopefully - the fact that Maura had brought a suitcase meant that she would be staying longer than a few days. But, judging by the size of it, Maura was planning on moving in.
'Glad she's staying with you and not me'. Frankie grinned as he indicated the suitcase, now sat in the middle of Jane's living area, and Maura shrugged unconcernedly as she closed the front door and kicked off her heels.
'I wasn't exactly thinking straight when I packed'.
'Hmm'. Jane smiled wickedly as she reached out her good hand for Maura. 'You got more heels like that in there?'
'Three pairs. Plus two pairs of sneakers and some winter boots - I didn't know how cold it would be over here'.
Jane chuckled, and was about to join Frankie in teasing Maura some more when Angela called from the kitchen.
No one bothered sitting at the table to eat. Jane, now quite happy to play on invalid status, claimed pride of place on the sofa along with control of the remote and, she decided, the mix of her Ma's lasagne, baseball, and Maura next to her was the closest to heaven that she would ever get. She could have done with being able to use both hands, but, since the bullet had got Maura here, she thought that she had better not complain too much. She grinned as she thought of the look on the guy's face if he ever realised that, by shooting her, he had actually done her a favour.
After they had eaten, and after Angela and Maura between them had cleared everything away, Jane stretched out on the sofa again, and closed her eyes as Frankie and her mother prepared to leave. She heard goodbyes being said, heard hugs being exchanged, and waved her hand in the vague direction of her front door as a goodbye to her brother. She didn't get off quite so easily with Angela, however, who came over to the sofa to ruffle her hair as she had done when Jane was small. Then, finally, she heard the front door close, heard her mother's voice receding down the stairs, and felt the movement at the other end of the sofa as Maura sat back down.
It had been nice having her mother and brother there. But now, she was more than ready for some time alone with Maura. She didn't count the previous night in the hospital when Maura had refused to leave her bedside. And although it could have felt slightly strange - it was, after all, the first time that she and Maura had been physically together for four months - she just felt comfortable. Natural.
It felt completely right.
'You must be tired'.
Jane opened one eye, and looked over to where Maura was sitting. She was tired. Very tired. But there were some things that couldn't wait.
'Yeah'. She nodded, and reached out her hand. 'But not so tired that you need to sit all the way up there'.
Maura chuckled as she took Jane's hand, and moved to kneel on the floor by Jane's end of the sofa. Jane closed her eye again, and almost purred as she felt Maura's fingers tracing the lines of her face - over her brows, down her nose, round her cheekbones, over her lips. There had been so many times when she had ached to feel that touch. And now she could, whenever she wanted.
'Hmmm'. Jane kissed Maura's fingers as they passed over her lips again, and then reached out with her good arm to pull Maura's head down for the deep, slow kiss that she had been dreaming about for weeks. Maura's lips on hers were so soft, familiar and exciting at the same time, and Jane felt her skin begin to tingle, felt her body begin to throb lightly - and this time, the ache wasn't coming from her shoulder.
Despite her tiredness, and despite her injury, this was the first thing that couldn't wait.
'Jane...' Maura pulled back, her breathing coming hard and her darkening eyes dancing. 'You're injured. You have a hole in your shoulder'.
'Umm-hmm'. Jane nodded lazily as she tucked a stray strand of Maura's honey-blonde hair back behind her ear. 'Ma kindly reminded me of that, too. But this arm's fine'.
She waved her left hand.
'And there's nothing wrong with my mouth, either'.
Jane smiled as she heard Maura's breath catch in her throat and, with her own heart beginning to pound, leaned closer again.
'Which means I can still do this...' She kissed Maura again, capturing those sweet-tasting lips with her own. 'And this...' Her left hand brushed over Maura's breast, and she gasped into the kiss as she felt Maura's nipple already hard underneath her top. 'And this...'
This time, the gasp came from Maura as Jane's hand moved down her stomach and round her hip, but it was prevented from going any further by the way that Maura was kneeling. And, Jane decided, there was only one way to fix that. Gently breaking the kiss and sitting up, she swung her legs over the sofa and took Maura's hand, tugging her to her feet.
The sofa probably wouldn't have been very comfortable anyway.
Jane had wanted this for so long. She had thought about it, dreamed about it, fantasised about it, but none of her imaginings had even come close to the reality of having Maura there, with her. And she took it slowly. With her shoulder, she didn't really have a choice, but she found herself wanting to savour every second. She wanted to kiss every inch of Maura's skin, feel every curve with her fingers as Maura sat on the bed in front of her while she knelt on the floor. She lingered over hard, rosy nipples that begged to be teased. She took her time working down Maura's stomach, marvelling at the softness of Maura's skin and ignoring Maura's gasped, half-hearted protests that they should maybe wait until Jane's shoulder was at least a bit better. She was languid in moving her lips down Maura's thighs, waiting until Maura had stopped protesting and was instead begging Jane not to tease her any more, before finally pushing Maura back and slipping her fingers into the wet, throbbing heat in between Maura's legs. Even then, she tried to control herself. She wanted to explore. She wanted to bring Maura to the brink, and then bring her back again to hear her moan and whimper in anticipation. She wanted to know the feel of Maura against her face, wanted to feel Maura tighten around her fingers as she worked the hard bundle of nerves with her tongue. She wanted to memorise everything, because she had no idea how long she would have this for...but she had never forgotten the taste of Maura.
Honey and lavender.
Then, Maura was so gentle. Jane could tell that she was worried about hurting her, but with Maura's fingers working their magic on other parts of her body, her shoulder was the last thing she was thinking about. Even in Paris, she didn't think that she had felt the kind of sensations that flooded through her now - sensations that were better than any pain medication. Maura's hands on her breasts, on her stomach, and round her hips. Maura's fingers slipping in between her legs, teasing her where she needed it most before moving down to the tops of her thighs, and then back up, a darting tongue flicking her nipple as two fingers slipped inside her. And as her bedroom disappeared in a kind of sensual haze, Jane had the absurd thought that they really should put this on prescription.
Afterwards, she found herself wondering just how she had managed nearly four months without this. Without Maura.
She felt the mattress shift as Maura propped herself up on her elbow, and shifted on her back so that she could see her...and felt her breath catching her throat again. She loved everything about Maura. But the other woman's smile was probably the thing that she loved most of all.
Had she ever told her that?
'I love your smile'. She reached up to trace it with her good hand, and felt a little tingle run down her arm as Maura caught her fingers and kissed them, tenderly, one by one.
'I love you'.
They had said it before. She had heard Maura tell her before. But somehow, it had never sounded like that. And she could no longer ignore the niggling feelings of guilt and shame that Maura was here for her, when really there was no need. Her injury wasn't that serious...and she couldn't help feeling like she had somehow taken advantage. Maura, clearly, would do anything for her. And suddenly she felt terrible that she hadn't made more effort to reassure Maura herself, instead of letting everything go down the phone. She should have been stronger - and she shouldn't have allowed Maura to upend everything, just for her.
'Maura, I'm sorry'. She didn't know what else to say, but took a deep breath regardless. 'I...'
She was stopped by Maura's finger over her lips.
'You have nothing to be sorry for'.
'I do', Jane mumbled against Maura's hand. 'You came all the way here for me, and there was no need to. I should have told you I was fine instead of bawling down the phone like a baby, and now you've left the pâtisserie and Coco and spent thousands of dollars on a plane ticket, and...'
'And all that was my choice'. Maura sounded firm, almost cross, and when Jane blinked up at her she saw that Maura did, indeed, look serious. 'I never told you I was coming, and besides, everything's taken care of'.
Jane reached up and lifted Maura's finger from her mouth.
'Amélie and Hélène between them. I told them to shorten the opening hours so that it's not too much for them - I've done that once before. And Pascal - you remember Pascal? From the bakery two doors down? He offered to help them out if they need anything. And I'll ring in every day, just to check, but I'm sure they'll be fine'.
It sounded so obvious. Yet Jane knew what it must have taken for Maura to leave the patisserie. And...
Maura's firm expression changed to a half-smile, half-grimace. 'Antoine'.
Jane looked at her, amazed. 'What, cheese guy?'
Maura nodded, unable to help giggling. 'He stopped by when I was packing, with an invitation to an evening tasting session that they were having at the fromagerie. And when I told him that I was going to be away for a couple of weeks, he offered to look after Coco'. She leaned back on the pillows. 'I think they'll get on very well, actually. You saw him - head to toe Lauren and Givenchy. He's almost as fashion conscious as she is'.
Jane couldn't help laughing. Not just at the thought of Antoine with the tortoise, but at the way Maura spoke about Coco as if she was actually human. It was funny, but kind of endearing at the same time.
And Maura had told Antoine that she would be away for a couple of weeks. Was that how long they had?
'Uh...' She wasn't sure that she wanted to know when Maura would be leaving. 'How long are you staying?'
'I booked a flight back two weeks from today'. Maura paused. 'But it's a flexible ticket'.
Jane tried to let it sink in. Two whole weeks. And a flexible ticket...which meant that Maura had wanted the chance to stay longer.
'Maura, I...' She paused, not quite sure how to say what she wanted to say. She didn't know how to put into words how grateful she was, how amazed she was that Maura would do this for her, and how she still, sometimes, couldn't quite believe that someone like Maura could love someone like her.
So she settled for something simple.
'I love you'.
The smile that Maura gave her in return could have lit up half the city, and Jane just smiled back, unable to do anything except bask in the glow.
'Oh!' Maura suddenly sat upright, making Jane jump. 'I almost forgot!'
Jane wrinkled her brow as Maura sprang off the bed and went to the suitcase that had been dragged into the bedroom by Frankie. Blinking, she watched as Maura unzipped the main compartment to reveal enough clothes to populate Jane's meagre closet twice over.
'You know, I don't think I even own that many clothes...' she began, but was silenced when Maura triumphantly held up a tupperware box.
It was only when Maura climbed back onto the bed and handed it over that Jane realised a patisserie box was nestled inside, and that Maura must have put it in the Tupperware to protect it and stop it getting squashed. Eagerly, she lifted it out, and paused for a moment to trace the flowing black script on the cream cardboard.
La Belle Epoque.
The same script that was on the business card that Maura had given her, all those months ago - and that she still carried in her wallet.
Her curiosity getting the better of her, Jane opened the box and almost laughed out loud in delight.
Maura shrugged, looking shyly pleased at Jane's reaction.
'I had made them for you coming to Paris, but since you couldn't make it...I thought I'd bring a bit of Paris to you'.
But Jane's mouth was already full of chewy meringue and violet ganache, despite the earlier lasagne and cannoli, and she had to swallow before she could reply.
'These are so great. And I wanna go back to Paris. When I get my leave reinstated we'll have to sort out my tickets'.
Jane paused mid-chew, and looked over at Maura. That really hadn't sounded very enthusiastic...
'What, you don't want me to come to Paris?'
Maura smiled. 'Of course I do. But...well, I was thinking that you might not have to'.
Jane swallowed. Hard.
'You said yourself that you couldn't find a decent macaron in Boston'. Maura shrugged, suddenly looking very interested in a stray thread on the pillowcase. 'Maybe it would be a good time to change that'.
It took a moment for Maura's meaning to register in Jane's shocked mind. When it did, she had never felt anything like it. Exhilaration, elation and a kind of amazed euphoria mixed together with total disbelief. She wasn't going to kid herself and pretend that she hadn't thought about it before. But she would never in a million years have actually asked Maura to do it. Now, though, it seemed that Maura was suggesting it.
Leaving Paris and moving to Boston.
'Paris'. Jane managed to squeak. 'The pâtisserie. It's your life, Maura'.
Something flashed across Maura's face - an acknowledgement, perhaps, that on one level Jane was right - before she finally stopped fiddling with the pillowcase and looked up at Jane.
'Not any more'.
Not any more.
'And anyway', Maura continued, a wry smile spreading across her face. 'It's just cake'.
'Just cake?' Jane repeated, looking at the half-eaten macaron in her hand.
'But we can maybe think about it'. Maura suddenly looked shy, a bit embarrassed. 'And of course I want you to come back to Paris. I had a whole ten days planned out'.
Jane nodded slowly, a wide smile spreading across her face. Whether or not it actually came off, the idea that Maura actually wanted to move, just to be with her, was so incredible. It was almost overwhelming.
'So'. Jane looked up at Maura, biting her bottom lip to stop her grin spreading too far and making her look like a total idiot. 'What's this Boston pâtisserie going to be called?'
Maura made no such effort to control her own delighted smile.
'I'm not sure'. Her tone of voice, however, indicated that she was fairly sure...but she pretended to think as she reached over to pluck a macaron out of the box.