|Beckett comes back|
As he walked to his car, Beckett took notice of the time. He obviously didn't want to leave her too long. Just long enough to make her sweat a bit, and wonder what might happen next. An hour or so was just about right. Gave him enough time to stop at home, and take care of a few things, before he needed to return.
He made his way to the patrol car, hastily parked crooked at the curb, and saw her brother racing down the street toward the deli. It made sense that someone must have seen him arrive, sirens blaring, and notified the priest that something important was happening at the location. The last thing he needed, was for Kevin to interfere. It had been obvious to him from day one, that as her big brother, he was prone to spoil her rotten, and regularly overlook her manipulative behavior. He wondered if the rest of the brothers were the same way. He had only heard her mention the oldest, Patrick, in less than endearing terms. He assumed that the elder brother must be the one to hold her to some kind of accountability, but he wasn't sure of the others. Crazy as he was about her, and there was no denying she was constantly in his thoughts, he simply wasn't going to allow her free reign to walk all over him. It just wasn't part of his dom personality. If this relationship was to continue, he needed to deal with his lovely, little brat
"Sheriff, is everything alright? Is Maureen okay?" Out of breath, Kevin's words came out in huffing little pauses.
"She's perfectly fine, Father. It was a false alarm...of sorts."
The priest made a face. "Of sorts? I'm not sure what you mean."
Beckett leaned on the car, and crossed his arms. Given a choice, he'd rather not have people know what she had done. It would be harder to let it go unpunished if large numbers of people were aware of her conscious law breaking. But he reasoned that her brother would be unwilling to leave it at that, so he explained. "It seems Maureen devised a novel way to have me come see her, so she called 911, and claimed that someone had broken in, and had robbed and assaulted her. I raced straight over, fearing the worse. Now, don't get me wrong. I was extremely relieved to find her safe and sound. Greatly so. But the fact that she knowingly called in a false report is a problem legal wise that I'm going to have to deal with."
Fr. Kevin turned several shades of pink, bearing an uncanny resemblance to his sister when she was embarrassed. "I am most heartily sorry, Sheriff. If there are any fines that need to be paid, let me know, and I'll take care of it. Do you think she'll have to go to court over this."
"I'm trying to avoid that, Father. The less people that know of this indiscretion, the better. I can't make any promises, but I'll see what I can do."
Kevin stuck out his hand for Beckett to shake. "Thank you, Sheriff. You have no idea how much I appreciate your help with this...unfortunate situation. Maureen means well...she really does. It's just that she...doesn't think things out before jumping into them." He paused, not sure he wanted to continue. "And she was pretty darn broken up over the two of you parting ways. I know that doesn't excuse her behavior, but I felt you should know." He wrung his hands, obviously uncomfortable about talking behind her back.
"I appreciate your honesty, Father. I have to admit to some misery myself. I'm not clear as to how this will all work out, but I do care for Maureen."
"That's good to know, Ted. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a little chat with her right now."
Beckett grabbed the priest's arm, stopping him from continuing upstairs. "If you don't mind, Fr. Kevin, I'd prefer to handle this myself. The less people involved... the better for Maureen." He looked the man in the eye, and let the threat of prosecution hang there. He was pretty sure her big brother would not approve of his methods to reign in his little sister, and for a second, he thought that the priest might ignore him. But slowly, he nodded his agreement.
"If it means that Maureen can avoid being arrested, than I'm behind you, Sheriff. Sometimes I'd just like to shake that girl. I don't know how I'd begin to explain her going to jail to the rest of the family." He turned back toward the direction of the rectory, but added before leaving. "I'm trusting you with my sister's welfare, Beckett, something I don't take lightly. Please don't make me regret it."
"You have my word, Father." He watched the priest walk all the way to the church before climbing into the patrol car, and heading home.
She wasn't sure what hurt more. Her arms were achy from being pulled around back, but mostly from her banging them against the slats of the chair, trying to get loose. Her ass was numb from slouching in the wooden seat, and twice, she had almost tipped over sideways in an attempt to free herself. And the damn metal cuffs were beginning to rub the sore skin around her wrists raw. But it was the humiliation that made her blush. Caused the heat to gather at her forehead, and work itself down to her toes.
Maybe she had set her expectations too high. In her head, the whole scene was a romantic fantasy, and although in some instances, handcuffs could seem erotic, in her case, it only reminded her that she had screwed up. Big time. She fretted over the idea that he might actually arrest her. Really haul her ass down to the station and book her. Fingerprint her. Take that awful profile photo with one of those little name things. How would she ever explain all this to Kevin? Or the rest of the family? She'd be mortified to have them know that she was goofy enough over some man that she did something illegal. They were sure to make all kinds of nasty comments, especially after the incident in Boston that had cost her a job she loved. And all that didn't even begin to cover her feelings for Beckett. She'd just want to curl up and die while he locked her in a cell, anger and disappointment painted across his face.
Tears of self pity burned in the corners of her eyes, and she worked at not letting them build up, and run down her cheeks. That would be the ultimate embarrassment. He'd return to find her face covered with runny mascara and snot. What the hell was the matter with her anyway? Why couldn't she just fall for regular guys who actually cared for her back? She had set her sights on Ted Beckett from the first moment she had met him in the kitchen of the rectory, and discovering that he was engaged to someone else hadn't slowed her down a bit. She had flirted outrageously, using any excuse to spend time with him. So when that horrible McCreedy woman suddenly disappeared, it was as if God were answering her private, pleading prayers.
Now the whole thing had turned into a disaster, and her tears refused to stay put. She guessed he'd probably return soon, and want answers. What in the hell could she say to him that wouldn't make her sound like a stupid, blathering idiot? She doubted at this point that her lame excuses about it being all his fault would get her anywhere. He was certainly to blame for not being upfront. That was a fact. But she was the one who had run off in the middle of the night. She was the one who had broken into a locked room. She was the one who called 911 instead of just phoning him, and apologizing like a normal person. The best she could hope for now was to avoid arrest, and not embarrass her family any further.
There was a noise at the door down the stairs, and she heard a key in the lock. She prayed that it was Beckett, and not her brother, both of whom she had given keys. She'd die a thousand deaths if Kevin found her in this position. No way would she be able to make him understand, and the embarrassing confrontation with Ted that was sure to happen, would make everything a million times worse. The less people that knew of her stupidity and humiliation, the better.
She thought about calling out for help, but decided that silence was her best option, and when Ted's dark head appeared at the top of the stairs, she was hugely relieved. He didn't utter a word, but instead bent down to greet the dog, whose traitorous tail wagging and hand slobbering greatly annoyed her. She noticed he had changed clothes, and that his hair was still damp. Realizing that he had gone home, to leisurely shower and change, while she sat there in absolute misery, sparked an ember of anger. She quickly worked at wiping her runny nose and tear stained face in the sleeve of her sweater, hoping to hide any sign of surrender.
He wasn't sure what to expect when he returned to her apartment. They hadn't been together long enough for him to anticipate her moods or reactions. If he had to take a guess, he figured she'd still be spitting mad, so the appearance of her teary face and red nose almost shook his resolve. He focused his attention on the dog, giving her the opportunity to think about his arrival, and speak first.
It took a few moments, but she gave in. Through gritted teeth, she mumbled, "You either arrest me, or let me go right this minute. This is police brutality, Beckett. I know my rights."
He pulled up the other kitchen chair in front of her, and sat on it backwards, facing her. "I have no intention of arresting you. Would hate to see your poor brother stuck with the unfortunate job of having to come bail you out. How embarrassing for him." He propped his arms on the chair back, and continued, "I'll let you go...shortly. After we've had a little chat."
"Then... you can just go to hell, Mr. Asshole. Because there is no way I'm speaking to you...ever
again." Her voice came out raspy and strained, caused by a combination of her earlier yelling and the recent sobbing.
Sighing, Beckett rose, and wandered over to the fridge. Digging around, he pulled out a bottle of water, an apple, and a drinking straw from the drawer under the counter. He unscrewed the top, stuck the straw in the opening, and put it near her lips. "Drink some."
"Fuck you, Beckett. I don't want anything from you. Just let me go, and then get out the hell of my apartment."
He narrowed his eyes, and lowered the tone of his voice. "I said drink some. You're obviously thirsty."
She blinked, and her cheeks flushed, but she put her lips to the straw, and took a sip.
Well, well...you're just full of surprises aren't you, darlin'. The corner of his mouth turned up, and he pulled the bottle away from her mouth and placed it on the table. Taking a bite of the apple, he swallowed, and resumed the conversation. "Now, I'd like to uncuff you. But I need you to promise that you're going to behave like a sane, mature adult. No cheap shots, verbal... or otherwise. Are we clear, sugar?" He took another bite, and watched her face.
She said nothing, but nodded her head. Beckett left his chair, went behind hers, and slipping the key into the lock, slid the handcuffs off her wrist, rubbing them as he did so. Maureen pulled her arms away from him, and wrapped them around her middle. Her body language was undoubtedly frosty, but she was staying put, so he took that as a good sign. He sat back down, and offered her a bite of the apple, which she vigorously refused with a shake of her head. He shrugged, and went on. "Now that we're nice and calm, maybe you can explain what possessed you to call 911 with a horrible lie."
She turned her head, and refused to look at him. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. You hadn't called me in over two weeks. I guess...I...um... just wanted to get your attention."
"Well, that you did. So now that you have it, Maureen, what is you want from me?" He used his hand to turn her chin toward him, so that she was forced to look at him directly .
She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out, and when she finally spoke, her words surprised him. "I ...I need to use the bathroom. Can I get up?"
He tried not smile, but her deference to his command of the situation pleased him. Now, that was damn sweet, sugar. He nodded his approval, and she escaped behind the beaded curtain to the tiny bathroom. He kept his back turned to allow her privacy, but could hear the water in the sink running for several minutes. When she returned, her face was scrubbed clean and pink, and her composure was set in place. She took her spot across from him, and folded her hands in her lap.
Not wanting to loose the momentum of the situation, he leaned forward and took her hands in his. "I'm very sorry, Maureen, that I didn't tell you about the Red Room before that day. We hadn't been together very long, and it's not...well...something you just drop on someone without an explanation. I truly regret that you were frightened by the things...the equipment... you saw."
She took her hands away, but he pulled them right back, this time holding them with a firmer grip. She blushed, but left them there. "For your information, I wasn't "frightened" by the junk in there.
I'm not a child, you know. I've...seen things."
He worked at not smiling, as to do so would put her on the defensive. But he was pretty sure the floggers and chains in the Red Room must have scared the shit out of her. "Okay, you weren't afraid. I believe you. Then why did you run off with no explanation? No note. No text. Not even a 'Drop dead, Beckett.' Nothing. Just left me to worry about your well being." At this point, it made no sense to bring up the fact that she had evaded his privacy, and picked a locked door in his home. That whole discussion could wait for another time.
As he remained calm, her confidence returned. "It was those awful pictures. They freaked me out."
He wasn't expecting that. "You mean the paintings?"
"Of course, the paintings! I assume you're artist?" There was no ignoring the emotion in her tone. The artwork had bothered her.
"I am. And this bothers you why? Honestly, I think it's some of my best stuff."
"That's my point!" She suddenly jumped up from the chair, and began pacing the floor. "They're very...intimate. Like you were able to see inside those women's soul. All of them. It freaks me out."
He wasn't prepared for that particular reaction, and it threw him off his game. He hadn't expected her to feel the emotion of his work, and he wasn't sure how to react. Most people never saw beyond the basic subject matter, and it both shocked and impressed him that she did. "Freaked you out bad enough to run off? That seems extreme."
"You don't understand! There were six of them! All different women! And then you said you...you wanted to paint me. I don't want to be the next tied up lady on that wall in that room. I just can't be number seven. I can't."
It was Beckett's turn to pace. He wandered back and forth, weighing his words, and finally stood in front of her. "Look, Mo. It's can't be news to you that I've been with other women. For God's sake, I was engaged to someone else when we met. Those other women...the ones I painted...we had a different type of...relationship. And they're long gone. No longer part of my life. When I was with you...it was only you. But I'm not gong to stand here and apologize for, or justify, my life before you were part of it. My past is simply my past, as your is yours. Can't you just accept that?"
She leaned back on the sink, her green eyes locked onto his. "So...you don't want to paint me...like that?"
He raised his shoulders in a sign of resignation. "No. Not if you don't want me to. But I was kinda hoping you'd keep an open mind." He stepped in front of her, and leaning in, trapped her with his arms against the counter. "So darlin'...either you want to try this again...or you don't. No games. No running away. If you want me to go, just say so. I'll be on my way, out of your life, and we'll both forget about the whole 911 thing."
It was hard to think straight with him so close. She'd be crazy not to stand her ground. Insist that he
get rid of those not so gentle reminders of the women who came before her. Shame him into dismantling that awful room piece by piece. Demand a solid commitment. But she knew in her heart that he'd agree to none of them. If she had a single brain cell left in her head, she'd show the arrogant son of bitch right to the door. Move on, and try and forget him. But the thought of never seeing him again, never hearing him laugh, or never touching his hair, made her physically ill. And so, despite every sensible thought that her brain could produce, she put her arms around his neck. "I don't want you to go, but I'm not sure how to start over."
He smiled, his eyes never leaving hers, as he began to open the buttons on her sweater. "Well, that's easy enough, love. We work on the making up part first."
|Decision time for Maureen|
As he shoveled the several inches of freshly fallen snow off the church stairs, Fr. Kevin O'Kenney wondered if he'd ever have a moment of peace again. The first few months of this assignment were like a long lost dream. Holy Family was a small parish in a small town. There were no hassles that usually came with a large demanding congregation. No attached school to cause financial burdens he'd need to solve. And as a bonus, it came with a comfortable little rectory he shared with no one. It should have been perfect.
But then his gardener had been murdered on the church's front lawn, followed by the man's wife, in a suspicious fire, a few weeks later. There had been that whole awful thing with crazy Tessa Peppers that ended with him getting shot. Finally, there had been the money left in the confessional that had almost gotten both he and his sister killed. It was just too much to comprehend. And now, he worried that his baby sister would be hauled off to jail for a stupid prank she should have known better than to try. He was beginning to feel like Job in the Old Testament.
He propped the shovel against the church's door, and walked down the street toward the deli. He was nearly there when he noticed the Sheriff's black Mustang parked in front, covered with a thick blanket of snow. It was obvious that the car had been parked there since the night before, and he deduced that Beckett and his sister had worked through their differences. It made him feel guilty that he had most surely compromised his sister's morality for the sake of saving the family from the embarrassment and trouble of her arrest. But the fact was, the two of them seemed to actually care about each other, and he was sure they would have probably worked their way back together eventually. He'd let God worry about his sister's path, as he had enough trouble managing his own.
Wishing to avoid another awkward moment, he decided against a morning visit, and made his way back to the rectory for some well deserved breakfast.
It was nearly 10:00AM before Fr. Kevin finally sat down to eat. On his walk back to the church, he had noticed that the over hang above the church entrance seemed weighted down by the heavy snow, and hoping to avoid any expensive damage, he decided he needed to clear it off before he did anything else. It had taken almost two hours, and by the time he had finished, he was completely exhausted, and near starving. He had gone all out for his meal, cooking both bacon and sausage, as well as a stack of pancakes, and several scrambled eggs. Now, settled with the newspaper, a huge cup of coffee, and the pile of food, he planned on an hour of peace and quiet.
So when he heard a car pull up in front of the rectory, and picked up the sound of loud voices in the midst of an argument, he did his best to ignore it. But it was impossible to ignore the repeated banging on his front door, and the incessant ringing of the bell, and so shoving himself away from the table in a less than charitable mood, he went to investigate.
Through the front windows he could make out a figure of a man in a suit and top coat standing on his doorstep, but the glass was too frosty to allow for a clear view. For a second, a shot of fear ran up his spine, remembering the figure of Marzano standing at his feet while his goons beat the crap out of him. But the man on his stoop looked taller and younger than the supposed mob boss, so Kevin pushed aside his apprehension, and opened the door.
Upon seeing his visitor, the shocked priest would have traded back for Marzano. For a second, he was speechless, and the guest, impatient with waiting, barked at him first.
"Well, don't just stand there gawking, you big dope! Grab these bags and invite me in."
As he stared wide eyed at his oldest brother, Kevin picked up the suitcases, and finally found his tongue. "This is sure a surprise, Patrick. I didn't... expect you. What are you doing here in Dollyville?"
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