fandom The Closer
pairing Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson/Captain Sharon Raydor
original characters Katie Morgan: Sharon’s non-biological daughter who lives with her while attending college. Matt Morgan: Sharon’s 16-year-old non-biological son who still lives in Florida with his mother. Donna Morgan: Sharon’s ex and Katie and Matt’s biological mother.
spoilers A little bit 6.13 and 6.14 (the recent Christmas episodes)
spoilers My fic Subdue (Prologue | 1 |2 |3 |4 | 5 | 6), this is a continuation in that universe
disclaimers I do not own The Closer or Kyra Sedgwick or Mary McDonnell. BUMMER. I claim no ownership and I make no money off of my fanfiction.
AN I’ve been overdosing on High Society on You Tube, so if Sharon sounds a little bit like Dot Emerson that’s why. Also major props to HS for putting me in snark mode.
summary Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and Captain Sharon Raydor can probably never be friends but they’ve worked out a loving relationship quite nicely. Brenda is beginning to get nervous about telling her parents that she’s divorcing Fritz and has moved in with Sharon. Hilarity inevitably ensues.
Phase 1: Sharon and Brenda learn to keep their phones separated
(aka Gabriel has to get the images out of his head)
Sharon groaned sleepily and picked up the ringing phone. “Captain Raydor.”
“Captain… Raydor?” Gabriel sounded stunned.
Sharon’s eyes widened, suddenly feeling very awake. She looked down at the phone to see that it wasn’t hers. “Whoops.” She elbowed Brenda awake, “it’s for you.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Sharon.” Brenda griped, grabbing the phone.
“If you didn’t leave your phone all over the damn place this wouldn’t happen!” Sharon said pointedly.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Sargeant Gabriel.”
Brenda rubbed her eyes tiredly and put the phone to her ear. “Hello Sargeant, can I call you back in just a few minutes?” She asked sweetly.
“Take your time… I have some images to erase from my brain.”
Brenda flipped her phone closed. “Our phones look nothing alike.”
“I was half asleep! Maybe if you’d left your phone on the dresser where I told you to put it-”
Brenda interrupted her in annoyance, “where you told me to put it,” she mocked, “you’re always micromanaging everything and everyone. A place for everything and everything in its place. How can anyone live like that?!”
“It’s my apartment. If you don’t like it you can go back to your house.” Sharon growled. Suddenly Sharon’s phone rang on the bedside table and Brenda instinctively picked it up. “Drop it.” Sharon snapped.
Brenda looked down to see that she’d just done the same thing. She blushed, “honest mistake…”
Sharon took the phone from her and stood up to take the call in the kitchen. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“Sometimes…” Brenda grumbled, pulling the covers over her head.
Phase 2: Chief Pope learns to deal with their relationship – albeit unwillingly.
(aka it’s good for the environment)
It had barely taken a day and a half since Sharon picked up Brenda’s phone for the two to be summoned to Chief Pope’s office.
The two women sat in front of his desk, innocently waiting for him to speak.
“So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. You’re divorcing Agent Howard… to start a relationship with Sharon Raydor.” Pope gestured to Sharon. Brenda looked over at her and Sharon smiled.
Brenda smiled back and then nodded at Pope, “such as it is.”
“You realize this is going to complicate things considerably.” Pope furrowed his brow.
“Oh, no, actually, Chief, I looked it up in the handbook and cross-departmental relationships are perfectly acceptable. Our departments aren’t even on the same floor. Our cases only overlap once or twice a year.” Sharon grinned.
“And we can carpool to work.” Brenda smirked, “it’s good for the environment.”
“It’s a conflict of interest to have couples working together at all.” Pope objected.
“Forgive me, Chief, wasn’t Agent Howard the FBI liaison and he frequently assisted Brenda on her cases?”
“It’s different!” Pope insisted.
“Because I’m a woman?”
“Yes! No. No, because Agent Howard was cooperating on the investigation, yours and Chief Johnson’s cases would be at cross purposes.”
“Will, believe you me, Captain Raydor is no nicer now that we’re dating.” Brenda threaded her fingers through Sharon’s.
Sharon gave Brenda’s hand a squeeze. “And Chief Johnson is still a gigantic pain in my ass.”
“So, really nothing’s changed.” Brenda scoffed.
“Nothing’s cha-…” Pope stuttered and cleared his throat, “alright. You two can get back to work. We’ll talk more about this later.”
They got up from their seats still holding hands. Once out in the corridor and alone Brenda kissed Sharon’s cheek. Sharon let go of her hand to pull a Reese’s out of her pocket. She held it up to Brenda, “go get ‘em, tiger.”
“That’s why I love you.” Brenda grinned, accepting the candy and placing a quick kiss to her lips. “I’ll see you at home.”
Brenda walked into the murder room still finishing the Reese’s. She dropped the wrapper in the waste basket by the white board.
“You know, Chief, if I’d known you were attracted to self-important, pretentious bitches I would’ve set you up with my ex-wife.” Provenza said.
“Which one?” Flynn questioned.
“Any of them, the alimony is killing me!”
“Thank you for the thought, Lieutenant, but I’ve only got eyes for one self-important bitch in particular.” Brenda grinned, “now let’s try to focus on finding the identity of our John Doe.”
Phase Three: How Chief Delk thinks the whole thing should be handled
(aka in your face)
Los Angeles Police Chief Tommy Delk sat behind his desk while Chief Pope paced in front of it. “I think it’ll be fine.” Delk shrugged. “It’s not like we’re dealing with two men or anything.”
“That was a joke, Will, calm down.” Delk pointed to the chair, “sit down, you’re making me dizzy.”
Pope sighed heavily and sank into the chair. “I read the chapter in the handbook about dating and it would only be an issue if they were in the same department. No harm no foul.” Delk watched Pope for a moment and sighed, “this is because you used to date Chief Johnson, isn’t it?”
“First she found herself a man with more hair and now she found herself a man with a lot more hair and a bigger dick.” Delk laughed.
Pope looked up at him and narrowed his eyes, “that’s not funny.”
“Hey come on, Captain Raydor’s a good cop. I’m sure they’ll be fine. If nothing else we’ll have front row seats to a great fight if they break up.” Delk grinned.
“If? Oh god…” Pope bit his lip.
“Okay, well, there’s one thing about this whole issue that I think needs to be addressed.” Delk said and Pope perked up. “Yes, I think this is a great way to set the tone for my entire career as Chief. If I mess this up it’ll be devastating for me. I think we should publicly announce our support.”
“Our support?” Pope demanded.
“You know, the whole police force. Everyone likes Chief Johnson and maybe they’ll like Captain Raydor by association now…” Delk caught sight of Pope’s blanched features. “Oh, come on, Will, we can’t just ignore this.”
“We can’t? This is California! We passed prop eight! Of course we can just ignore it!”
“This is my decision, Will.” Delk shook his head, “and I can’t make all my decisions with your ego in mind, sorry, buddy.”
Brenda was already seated in Chief Delk’s office when Sharon arrived. Sharon had been nervous as hell ever since Delk had called her to set up this meeting and her anxiety doubled upon seeing Brenda.
“Thank you for coming, Captain Raydor, please have a seat.” Delk gestured to the chair beside Brenda. Sharon glanced behind them to see Pope standing at the back wall with his arms crossed across his chest.
Sharon took the seat and crossed her legs. “Thank you, Chief.” She said.
“It has come to my attention that you two have entered into a sexual relationship.” Delk stated matter-of-factly. “Is this true?”
The two women nodded hesitantly.
“Try that again with a little more gusto!” Delk insisted.
“Yes, sir,” Sharon nodded. “It’s true.”
“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s my dilemma. Yes, the handbook doesn’t say you can’t date but personally the fact that you’re of different ranks concerns me.” Delk admitted.
Brenda and Sharon’s faces fell.
“Which is why I’ve decided to promote you to Deputy Chief, Sharon.” Delk grinned.
“What?!” Brenda demanded, standing from her chair. Sharon stood too, a smile plastered across her face.
“You’d rather be demoted?” Delk snickered.
Sharon leaned toward Brenda and whispered in her ear, “in your face.”
Phase Four: Fritz finds out Brenda left him for a woman and that doesn’t go very well
(aka I thought you were in Washington!)
Brenda and Sharon sat on the bed in Brenda’s house. Brenda had assessed the things that Fritz had left in the house, he’d left most of the furniture and he’d arranged to leave Joel with Brenda. He’d taken his clothes and his baseball memorabilla but the house looked deceptively the same.
Joel rubbed his head incessantly against Sharon. Sharon petted him a little, trying to encourage him as little as possible. “He likes you.” Brenda smiled as she packed more clothes into a suitcase.
“I’m a dog person.” Sharon said. Joel mewed and batted at her hand for stopping petting him.
“I don’t think he’s going to give you a choice.” Brenda set the bag down. “Sharon, can we discuss the possibility of moving in here together? There’s another bedroom for Katie and we could convert the study for Matt.”
Sharon shook her head, “I like my apartment. I like the pool and the hot tub and the gym.”
“Oh yes, the hot tub…” Brenda grinned remembering the hot tub.
“Do you really need me here for this?” Sharon looked at her watch, “I really only get one day off a week, if I’m lucky, and I’m in the middle of a very good book.”
“I’ll be done in a minute. I just want to get the things that are important to me. I’m not going to bother with the furniture, the realtor likes to use it for the open house.” Brenda went into the bathroom to check for important items.
Sharon got up from the bed, Joel mewed and watched her expectantly. “Don’t look at me like that… I’ll be back…” She took a few steps and looked back at him, “alright, you’re cute. Please stop looking at me like that…”
Both Sharon and Joel looked up expectantly when the front door rattled and opened. Joel jumped from the bed and ran out of the room. Sharon pulled her gun from her purse and held it up, she glanced back in the direction of the bathroom, it was silent.
Sharon inched out of the room and as soon as she stepped out she looked down the barrel of her gun at Fritz. “Whoa!” He laughed nervously, putting up his hands.
She lowered her weapon, her heart still pounding, “Agent Howard. I thought you were in Washington…”
“What the hell are you doing in my house?” Fritz demanded.
“Fritz?!” Brenda ran out from the bathroom. “I thought you were in Washington!”
“Yeah, apparently.” Fritz blew out a frustrated breath. “What is Captain Raydor doing in our house?”
“Deputy Chief Raydor, actually.” Sharon corrected, Fritz turned to stare at her. “Which is not an important detail right now… I’ll see you at home, Brenda.”
“Coward!” Brenda called after her.
“I have to sit down.” Fritz felt around for the couch and then sank into it. “Captain. Sharon. Raydor?” He demanded. “You hate her, you fight all the time!”
“It’s always been very passionate. There’s an intensity behind it. It’s… you don’t really want to hear about it and that was all rhetorical…” Brenda sighed, “I thought we already moved past talking about it and just moved into angry silence.”
“Fine,” he threw his hands up in defeat, “we’ll have it your way. I just came back to finalize some things at the FBI and to take a final walk through the house again.”
“I can wait in the car.” Brenda offered.
“No, no. I’m leaving. If there’s anything of mine still here, mail it to me.” Fritz stormed out of the house.
Joel rubbed against Brenda’s ankles and Brenda bent down to pick him up. “Well, that went about as well as could be expected, huh?” Brenda thought for a moment and then took out her phone and called Sharon.
“Miss me already?” Sharon smirked.
“You realize you drove me over here, right?” Brenda put a hand on her hip.
“You can’t walk? It’s only about thirty blocks.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Just get back here.” Brenda snapped, flipping her phone shut.
Sharon picked Brenda up and pointed the car back downtown towards her apartment building. “Did I tell you Provenza offered to set me up with one of his ex-wives?”
“No, you didn’t…” Sharon shook her head.
“He probably has one for you, too, we could double date.”
Sharon laughed. She was silent for a moment before asking, “do you want to talk about Fritz?”
Brenda shook her head, “no, thank you.”
“Well, I’m here for you if you do.” Sharon reached over and squeezed Brenda’s hand.
“I know… thank you.”
“Detective Sanchez, I need you to set up a protection detail, I don’t want anyone stepping foot into that neighborhood without me knowing about it.” Brenda instructed.
“Yes, Chief.” Sanchez stood to follow his orders.
Brenda was about to tell Tao what to do when her text message alert went off. She flipped the phone open and waited a moment as the picture downloaded. “Oh hell.”
“What is it, Chief?” Flynn asked, craning his neck.
“They already repainted her door to say Deputy Chief Raydor.” Brenda shoved the phone into her pocket. “She is going to be even more insufferable than usual.”
Phase Five: Breaking the news to Clay and Willie Rae
(aka am I speaking Farsi and everyone’s been too polite to tell me?)
Katie had moved out to Los Angeles right after she graduated so that she could start the head-start program by taking a few of her general education classes during the summer. Katie felt immediately at home with Sharon and Brenda, considering she’d spent most of her life living with Sharon and Donna. It was Sharon and Brenda who had taken about a week to really adjust.
Sharon Raydor was lounging on her couch, reading a book while Katie sat in a chair, typing away on her laptop. The door opened and Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson entered like a sudden southern whirlwind.
Sharon and Katie glanced up but soon looked back to their respective activities.
"I've been thinking about it. It's been four months since I've been living here with you. I should tell my parents." Brenda said.
Sharon shrugged, "there's really no rush or need. No skin off of my nose."
"It's just that daddy had another cardiac episode and this just isn't a good time." Brenda insisted.
Sharon looked up and furrowed her brow in confusion, "so don't tell him."
"Sharon, you're too important to me, I have to tell them. You're right."
"I'm right? Well, I'll take it any way I can get it but I didn't say that. I honestly don't care if you never tell your parents. My dad still thinks Donna and I were roommates. That was a lost cause though, he doesn't believe in gay people… or jews."
"Don't worry, Sharon, I'll invite them over and I'll tell them then." Brenda patted Sharon on the shoulder and retreated into the kitchen.
"Katie, honey, am I speaking Farsi and everyone's just been too polite to tell me?"
Katie looked up and sighed, "you know how she gets... maybe you can continue the crazy in the kitchen? I'm trying to write a paper."
"You do have a bedroom."
"Sharon, we're out of Reese's, I'm going to go pick some up." Brenda announced, picking up her purse again.
"Darling, there's a whole bag in the nightstand in the bedroom." Sharon said offhandedly.
"Why is it in the bedroom?" Katie looked up.
"It's a long story that you wouldn't like." Sharon smirked.
"Alright. I get it. I'm going to my room." Katie picked up her computer and disappeared down the hall.
Brenda came back in with a Reese's in hand. Sharon took her by the shoulders and guided her to the couch, "you sit." Brenda sighed and stretched out on the couch, Sharon sidled up to her. "Now, why all this sudden need to tell your parents about us?"
"Because they're coming for a visit and I haven't told them Fritz moved to Washington."
"How have you not told them you’ve gotten divorced? Your mother calls you all the time, what do you two talk about?"
“I don’t ask you what you and your mother talk about.” Brenda said defiantly.
“My mother’s dead.”
Brenda narrowed her eyes, “I feel like I knew that… it’s just that I love you and I want my parents to love you, too."
"Your parents do love me. Your mother and I got along famously. She showed me how to make that marshmallow, sweet potato thing."
"Yeah, which you burnt..."
"It's supposed to be a little burnt, it's in the picture." Sharon protested.
"Well, regardless... I want them to be happy for me. I tell them about the divorce and they'll be disappointed because they liked Fritz and they'll think I'm pitiful and I'm sure my mama will make some very disparaging comments about my age."
"Either way you're still five years younger than me."
"Yes, that is a comfort."
"I thought it would be." Sharon nodded; she stroked Brenda's cheek, "are you mixing medications again?"
Brenda snorted and pushed Sharon's hand away and pouted. "You know I can't resist you when you're being neurotic." Sharon purred leaning in to kiss Brenda's neck.
Brenda slipped her eyes shut. Her lips parted in a silent moan as Sharon continued along her collarbone. "Let's slip into the shower and then get dirty all over again..."
"Mmm... sounds good to me..." Just then, as if the powers that be refused to let Sharon get laid this week, her cell phone went off. “Oh damnit.”
“Don’t answer it.” Brenda whispered.
“Like you’d ever let me talk you out of answering your phone.” Sharon smirked.
“It’s different, my job’s important.” Brenda snarked defiantly.
“I’ll let you live this time.” Sharon said pointedly, she pulled out her phone and put it to her ear, “Chief Raydor.”
“Chief Raydor…” Brenda repeated in a higher pitched voice as she walking into the bedroom and then through to the ensuite bathroom. She started the water running for a bath and stripped out of her clothes.
It had been a long day at the end of a very long week. Sharon and Brenda had been keeping almost completely opposite schedules. Brenda was beginning to go a little crazy; Sharon seemed so infuriatingly calm. It was driving Brenda even crazier.
Sharon came into the room shoving a file into her purse. “I have to go out to-” She stopped short upon seeing Brenda sliding into the bathtub. “Is the water nice?”
Brenda slipped her eyes shut, “it’s heavenly.” Brenda pulled down the shower head and slipped it under the water.
“You horrible tease!” Sharon protested. “Wait for me.”
“Don’t know how long you’ll be…” Brenda shrugged, turning the showerhead on and let a soft moan escape her lips.
“You suck.” Sharon smirked. “When I get home, no matter what time it is… I am going to fuck you so hard.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Raydor.”
Sharon startled awake with a surprised gasp, shooting straight up, when Brenda dropped the bag on her desk. Sharon groaned and looked at the clock on her desk. “No, no, no!”
“Oh yes, yes, yes.” Brenda smirked. “You worked all night long. I brought you a change of clothes. And I really missed that fucking you were supposed to give me last night.”
“No, I just laid my head down for a minute, it was only three thirty.” Sharon pouted.
“Well, it’s eight now.”
Sharon stood up with a groan, “why do murders happen in the daytime so infrequently?”
“Yeah, well, all I can say is it’s a good thing I took care of myself in the bath because I was sorely disappointed when I woke up in the morning.”
Sharon walked up to the office door and swiftly locked it. She grabbed Brenda by the waist and pushed her up against the desk. Brenda purred, “I love it when you’re forceful.”
Sharon grunted and pulled Brenda’s skirt up around her waist and twirled her around. One hand on Brenda’s back pushed her down to the desk top and the other trailed finger nails over Brenda’s ass. Sharon wasted no time thrusting three fingers into Brenda.
Brenda’s hips rocked forward and slammed against the desk. Sharon used the weight of her body to deepen her thrusts. Brenda moaned, her hipbones ached from slamming repeatedly into the desk but the way her fingers were pushing into her most sensitive spot was sending jolts of lust through her body.
Brenda gripped the edge of Sharon’s desk, her torso rocking into the desk blotter and toppling over Sharon’s cup of writing utensils.
Brenda had waited an agonizing nine days for this fucking and she was disappointed in herself when her orgasm started building so early. Despite trying to keep her orgasm at bay it built in the pit of her stomach until she bit down on a powerful orgasm.
Sharon kept Brenda pushed down against the desk as she continued to thrust through the orgasm. Finally Brenda collapsed onto the desk in exhaustion and uttered incoherent pleas to stop. Sharon acquiesced and slid her fingers out.
Sharon crossed around to the front of the desk. She wiped her fingers off on a tissue and tossed it in the wastebucket.
Brenda’s forehead glistened with a thin layer of sweat and her bangs were clumped together and falling into her eyes. Sharon pulled open the top drawer and held up a KitKat bar. Brenda furrowed her brow, “a KitKat bar? I want a Reese’s.”
“You had a two pack in there yesterday! We’re only supposed to have Reese’s after sex!” Brenda protested.
“I had low blood sugar last night. I’d been up for twenty-two hours.” Sharon smirked. “So, if you don’t want the KitKat…”
Brenda snatched the chocolate from Sharon and straightened up. Her hips were sore and her thigh muscles tightened as she stood with a soft groan.
There was a knock on the door. “Chief?”
Sharon walked up to the door, unlocked it and opened it just enough to stick her head out, “how can I help you, Detective?” She asked one of her underlings.
“You have visitors waiting for you in the break room.”
“Thank you,” she smiled reservedly, “please tell them that I’ll be right out.” She shut the door again and relocked it.
Brenda had smoothed down her skirt again and had settled in Sharon’s chair to eat her candy. Sharon opened the bag, “let’s see what you brought me.” She pulled out a brown skirt and a navy blue blouse. “Tell me this is a joke.”
“What?” Brenda shrugged.
“First of all, you never mix McQueen and Chanel, second of all, this is a warm brown skirt and the shirt is cool, third and most importantly I am wearing black peep toes, I cannot wear this outfit with black peep toes.” Sharon dropped the clothing back into the bag, “have you learned nothing from me?”
Brenda pouted, “brown and blue go together… I didn’t remember which shoes you were wearing.”
“Well, dear, it was a nice thought. Why didn’t you just grab one of my suits?” Sharon tucked the bag under her desk.
Brenda stood up, “you’d’ve killed me if I’d wrinkled any of your suits.”
“It’s kind of cute how you think I wouldn’t mind you wrinkling a three-hundred dollar blouse.” Sharon smiled.
“That blouse cost you three-hundred dollars?” Brenda demanded incredulously.
Sharon grabbed a fistful of Brenda’s sweater and pulled her close. Brenda smiled against Sharon’s lips and she parted her lips for her. Sharon deepened the kiss, massaging Brenda’s scalp as they kissed.
They broke apart slowly. Sharon smiled, “thank you for waking me and for the clothing and for having the single sexiest ass on this or any other coast.”
Brenda bit gently down on Sharon’s bottom lip. “Any time.”
Sharon unlocked and opened the door and let Brenda leave first. They were about to part ways in the corridor when Clay and Willie Rae Johnson approached them. “There they are!” Willie Rae grinned and embraced her daughter.
Brenda hugged her back, too stunned to do anything else. “Mama! Daddy… I… wasn’t expecting you for a week…”
“Well, it’s the darnedest thing, the airline overbooked the flight we were scheduled on and they offered us a bump up to first class on last night’s red eye.” Willie Rae explained.
“Best night’s sleep I’ve ever gotten, those first class seats are heaven,” Clay grinned. “Brenda Leigh, sweetheart, you look fantastic.”
“How did you… find me down here?” Brenda laughed nervously.
“We went up to your office and that nice Lieutenant Provenza told me you weren’t there but that you might be down here to see Captain Raydor,” Willie Rae’s smile was as wide as ever, “oh, I’m sorry, Deputy Chief Raydor, congratulations.”
“I told you, call me Sharon, Mrs. Johnson.” Sharon smiled, trying to inch down the hallway.
“Oh listen to all that Mrs. Johnson stuff, we’re Clay and Willie Rae to any friend of Brenda Leigh’s.” Willie Rae took Sharon’s hands. Sharon wanted to pull away from the contact, having always been uncomfortable with anyone entering uninvited into her personal space. “You’ll join us for dinner, I’m going to make Brenda Leigh’s favorites.”
“Fried chicken, biscuits and chicken gravy, black-eyed peas, french cut string beans and mashed potatoes with sour cream.” Sharon grinned, glancing at Brenda. “It’s very tempting but my daughter’s living with me now and-”
“Bring her along, there’ll be plenty of food.” Clay insisted.
Willie Rae nodded her agreement, “the more the merrier! Would your husband like to join us?”
“I’m not married.”
“Mama, don’t pry. There’ll be plenty of time to grill her over dinner.”
“Willie Rae, it’s really a tempting offer-” Sharon attempted, once again, to pull away from the enthusiastic Georgians. She could just smell the scent of burnt LAPD coffee wafting from the pot that was no more than two yards away. She really needed a cup of coffee before she could even hope to deal with the sunny, optimistic Johnsons.
“Oh, Sharon, if you don’t come over for dinner I’m never sharing my Reese’s cups with you again.” Brenda threatened through a saccharine smile.
“You’re bluffing…” Sharon gritted through an equally syrupy smile.
“I’ll be over at eight.”
Clay laughed, “listen to you, eight o’clock, we’re gonna be eating at six on the dot.”
“That might be tough, Katie’s class doesn’t get out until six and she doesn’t get home until six thirty.” Sharon insisted.
“Can you get to Brenda Leigh’s house by seven?”
“I can try…” Sharon finally freed her hands from Willie Rae’s unrelenting grasp.
“Try hard.” Brenda said pointedly. “Mama, why don’t I take y’all back to the house and you can get unpacked.”
Brenda led her parents over to the elevator to take them downstairs to the parking garage and Sharon let out a silent sigh of relief and staggered over the coffee.
“Chief, the ballistics report came back.” One of Sharon’s sargeants approached with a manilla folder.
Sharon poured cream into her coffee and reached for a sugar packet, “read it to me,” she instructed as she stirred the coffee.
Brenda unlocked the house and stepped in. It had been over a month since the last time she’d set foot inside, the realtor had cleaned everything up from the last open house and it looked much the way Brenda had left it.
The house looked sparse and hardly lived in and Brenda’s throat tightened. Maybe they wouldn’t notice.
“Brenda Leigh, the house looks so clean!” Willie Rae announced with surprise as they walked in.
Clay laughed, “almost as if you don’t live here, Princess.” He patted her shoulder, “I’m only kidding, it looks great.”
“Thanks…” Brenda accepted the compliment with a fake smile, considering they wouldn’t say that if they’d seen the sorry state she left Sharon’s bedroom in that morning. Actually, she’d probably get a stern talking to from Sharon ‘a place for everything’ Raydor – she would cross that bridge when she arrived at it.
“So, what’s Fritz up to today?” Willie Rae asked.
“Wouldn’t you know it? He’s in Washington, DC right now, mama, he’s working out there.” Step one of Brenda’s multi-step plan was in motion.
“That’s too bad. Will he be back while we’re here?”
“I really don’t know, mama. It’s hard to say.”
Sharon finished up her report on the shooting around one o’clock. She’d found in favor of the police officer, she usually did, most cops fired with good reason. Of all the hassle she got for doing her job she never got a thank you for coming to the right conclusion.
She left a couple of her detectives and a lieutenant who hadn’t been with her the night before to man the department and told them to call her if there was anything they needed her to come back for.
She made good time getting home and she dragged herself into her bedroom. She cringed upon seeing the mess. Brenda’s clothes were all over the floor from where she’d torn through them to pick an outfit. On the other side of the room, there were several of Sharon’s shirts and skirts and pants on the floor. Sharon gathered up her own clothes and put them on hangers or folded them lovingly.
She climbed into the bed, took off her glasses, kicked a clump of Brenda’s sweaters off the bed and set her phone for an hour and a half nap.
After she got up she changed into her swimsuit and went down to the pool to take some laps in the chilly pool. The cold was a wonderful shock to her system and all combined she felt extremely refreshed.
She showered and dressed in the McQueen blouse and a pair of McQueen jeans, paired with her leopard print Louboutins. She spent the rest of the afternoon reading until she went to pick Katie up at the college.
“Sharon, hey, what’s up? Everything okay?” Katie asked with concern.
“Yeah, everything’s fine, Brenda’s parents arrived early and we have to go have dinner.” Sharon led the way to the car where it was idling in the pick up area.
“How did I get roped into this?” Katie threw her backpack into the back and buckled up.
“Because I got roped into it and misery loves company.” Sharon said as she got in. She leaned over and kissed Katie’s cheek, “and because you love me.”
Katie laughed, “always gotta use that against me…”
It turned out that Sharon’s instinct to get an earlier start was a good one because they didn’t make it to Brenda’s until 6:49. Brenda answered the door, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure her parents were both still in the kitchen and gave Sharon a quick kiss.
“All day long I mentally begged for someone to die so I could get out of here…” she whispered.
Sharon held up a hand, “before you ask, yes, that does make you a bad person.”
Brenda smirked, “I wasn’t going to ask, but thank you for those words of assurance.”
Sharon gave Brenda’s shoulder a squeeze, “you’ll be fine, darling.”
Brenda looked down at Sharon’s casual clothing. “Now… tell me, please, why the navy blue and brown didn’t work but you can put the navy blue with those leopard shoes?”
“If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Katie snorted as she passed them and entered the house.
“Well, come on,” Brenda sighed, “mama and daddy are just finishing up setting everything out. They’ll want to meet Katie.”
Clay came out to the living room, “you made it with time to spare.” He smiled at Sharon, “everything’s all set.”
As they all sat down at the table Willie Rae bustled around trying to serve the dinner guests. “Mama, sit down, it’s okay.”
Brenda sat at the head of the table, Willie Rae and Clay on one side and Sharon and Katie on the other. “Katie, would y’all like to say grace?” Willie Rae smiled.
“Me? Uh, okay…” Katie looked up to see Willie Rae and Clay with eyes closed and hands clasped. Brenda and Sharon both bowed their heads. Katie was used to only saying grace at Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Thank you, God, for the food we are about to receive. A gezunt ahf dein kop. Amen.”
“Oh, you’re Jewish and it’s so nice that you speak Yiddish.” Willie Rae smiled.
“I know other Yiddish phrases.” Katie grinned.
“Almost none of which are appropriate for the dinner table,” Sharon cautioned, miming zipping and locking her lips.
“Katie, tell us about yourself.” Willie Rae said as she speared string beans with her fork. “We have a granddaughter about your age. You’re taking summer courses?”
“I’m in the headstart program at Southern California Institute of Architecture so I can graduate early.” Katie said shyly.
“That is so wonderful. Our Charlie’s taking a year off because she doesn’t know what she wants to do but we don’t really think she’s going to go to college if she takes too much time off.” Clay explained. “We should put the two of you in touch. Maybe you could be as close as your mother and Brenda Leigh.”
Katie grinned and stifled a giggle, “oh, I doubt it… but I’m sure it would be very nice to talk with her, I’d be delighted.”
“You must be very proud of Katie,” Clay complimented Sharon, “she’s a lovely young woman, very polite.”
Sharon smiled at her daughter, she squeezed her hand, “sometimes I wonder how someone so sweet and polite grew up in a house with me. She’s always been a sweetheart, I’ve never worried about her. When she was little she used to put on little plays with her brother.”
Katie laughed embarrassedly, “I would like to take this opportunity to remind Sharon that if any pictures from before high school come out that I do have that embarrassing photo from her Academy graduation in my backpack to use as revenge.”
“You call her Sharon?” Willie Rae tilted her head with confusion.
“I’m not Katie’s biological mother.” Sharon explained calmly.
“Is she your foster daughter then?”
“Mama, please, just let Sharon enjoy her dinner.” Brenda interrupted, knowing that this conversation was headed in the direction of Sharon admitting her sexuality.
“I’m just asking her a question, Brenda Leigh.” Willie Rae sighed.
“I was in a relationship with her mother for most of Katie’s formative years.” Sharon admitted. Brenda held her breath as she looked over to Willie Rae and Clay to see their reactions.
They were quiet for a moment before Willie Rae said, “Clay and I saw that movie with that redhead, The Kids Are Alright, did you see that movie?”
“I did, actually.” Sharon smiled.
“I missed it.” Brenda chimed.
“That’s a pity, Brenda Leigh, it was very good. We took Charlie to go see it.” Clay added.
“I was really glad at the end when the two women-”
“Spoiler warnin, mama.” Brenda protested. “I might want to see it at some point.”
“Oh, sorry, dear.” Willie Rae apologized with a smile. Brenda was in awe at how well they took that, though, she hadn’t admitted anything herself yet.
“So, when did you say you expected Fritz to come home?” Clay asked.
Sharon’s eyes widened and she looked to Brenda. “Oh, look at that, I forgot to open the wine. Sharon, would you assist me?”
Sharon pushed out from the table, “be glad to.” Once in the kitchen Brenda looked panicked. “What on earth did you do all day? How did you not tell them you got divorced?”
“Would you keep your voice down?” Brenda furrowed her brow, “honestly, Mama did most of the talking… Maybe you could tell them?”
“Fat chance.” Sharon scoffed, “not after what you did to my Ferragamo this morning.”
“I don’t even know what that means.” Brenda pouted.
“I’ll give you some pointers. ‘Mama,’” Sharon started, “’Fritz and I are taking a break.’ And when she asks how long you say indefinitely.”
“You’re no help.” Brenda snorted. “Alright, let’s get back out there.”
Sharon cleared her throat. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Brenda furrowed her brow and leaned in to kiss Sharon. “Thank you for that, but I meant the wine.”
“Oh!” Brenda grabbed it from the refrigerator. “Will you grab some glasses?”
Brenda and Sharon reentered the dining room. The rest of dinner went somewhat routinely, Clay and Willie Rae asked everyone questions about how they were doing, they told Katie a little more about Charlie and Brenda chickened out telling them about the divorce.
Sharon watched the coffee perking as Katie helped Willie Rae and Brenda with the dishes. “Katie,” Sharon put a hand on her shoulder, “why don’t you and I go see what Mr. Johnson is up to and let Brenda and Mrs. Johnson talk, hm?”
Brenda gritted her teeth, she could have killed Sharon for giving her this perfect opening to tell her mother. “Is there something we should talk about, Brenda Leigh?” Willie Rae asked with concern.
“Uh, yes, mama, there is…” Brenda put down the dishtowel. “It’s about Fritz and me…”
“He’s not coming back, is he?” Willie Rae watched Brenda’s face.
Brenda’s mouth fell open. She shook her head, “no… he isn’t…”
“Oh sweetheart,” Willie Rae hugged her, “is there someone else?”
Brenda bit the inside of her lip, “yes, there is.”
“Oh, Brenda Leigh, don’t let that discourage you. According to Oprah it’s a very common thing and it’s certainly not your fault, dear.”
Brenda pulled back from the hug. “No, mama, the thing is… it is my fault… I met someone else…”
“Is he good to you?”
“It’s Sharon.” Brenda admitted before she could lose her nerve. Willie Rae stood stunned. “I’ve been living with her…” When Willie Rae still didn’t move Brenda grabbed a wine glass, “would you like another glass of wine?”
“No,” Willie Rae shook her head, “how long have you been living with her?”
“Um… a little over four months…”
“Four months?” Willie Rae demanded. Tears sprang to her eyes, “Brenda Leigh, how could you do this to me?”
“Mama, please don’t be upset,” Brenda pleaded, her own lip quivering as she watched her mother cry.
“Forty-six years and you still can’t open up to me! You’ve been shutting me out ever since you learned to crawl, I’ve been nothing but supportive and encouraging of anything and everything you’ve done and you still felt you couldn’t tell me?”
“Mama, you voted for Bush twice!”
“Brenda Leigh, I’ll have you know I voted for Obama this last time around. Just because you don’t bother to ask me anything doesn’t mean there isn’t more to me than you think. How about I promise not to judge you if you promise not to always expect the worst of me?”
“Mama, I don’t expect the worst of you, I love you. Sit with me, we’ll talk about this.”
“Now you want to talk. Maybe I don’t want to talk about it.” Willie Rae wiped her eyes. “Can you finish up these dishes?”
Brenda nodded weakly. Willie Rae fled the room. After a few moments of silence in the kitchen Clay came in. “What did you do to your mother?”
“Daddy, please…” Brenda wiped her own eyes. “Don’t give me a hard time, just go be there for mama…”
Clay furrowed his brow and left the kitchen. Sharon walked in after Clay stormed past her to the guest room after Willie Rae. Sharon leaned against the doorframe, “sounded like that went well.” She said sarcastically.
“It actually went better than you’d think.” Brenda laughed weakly through her tears.
“Katie has to get to bed so she can get up for class tomorrow. I can drive her home and come back, if you’d like.” Sharon whispered, gently wiping tears from Brenda’s cheeks.
Brenda bit her lip, “I’m conflicted. I want you here with me more than anything… more than I’ve ever wanted you before…”
“But your parents…” Sharon nodded, “that’s okay, too.”
“I want you to come back.” Brenda said softly, “I want you here.”
“Provided neither of us get called in.” Sharon smiled.
Sharon awoke at 4:30 because of all the time she’d spent napping the day before. She closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep but eventually found it impossible and ventured into the kitchen at five.
Sharon put on a pot of coffee and dug out the leftovers. She made a small plate of string beans and mashed potatoes. Willie Rae appeared in the doorway and Sharon jumped a little. “Mrs. Johnson, I can…”
Willie Rae smiled and tightened the tie on her robe. “Sharon, dear, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Willie Rae?”
“Apparently at least once more.” Sharon smiled.
“Do you mind if I join you, dear?” Willie Rae motioned to the chair.
“Of course.” Sharon nodded, the microwave beeped and she retrieved the plate. “Can I pour you a cup of coffee?”
“Oh, yes, please.”
Sharon silently poured two cups and handed one to Willie Rae, who accepted it with a ‘thank you, dear.’ She sipped her coffee in silence, not sure what to say to Willie Rae.
“What are you doing up so early?”
“Oh… I’ve had a very irregular schedule, I was up all last night and I napped too much yesterday.” Sharon explained.
“Brenda’s getting a taste of her own medicine now, hm? All those weird hours, long nights.”
Sharon nodded, “and I’m getting a taste of mine, too.”
“Are you close with your mother, Sharon?”
“My mother died when I was young, I don’t really remember her very well.”
“Your father then?”
Sharon shook her head, “he’s never really been a people person. He’s a very nice man and I do love with my whole heart but he doesn’t really understand human relationships.”
Willie Rae took Sharon’s hands again. Sharon bit her lip to keep from protesting. “Sharon, I want you to think of Clay and me as family. Brenda Leigh’s always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Clay and I both worked as telephone engineers in Atlanta and Brenda’s brother went into it too. We were all so stunned when Brenda Leigh announced she was going into the police. She’s a skinny girl, very pretty, I told her no one was going to take her seriously. I’m glad I was wrong. I’ve doubted a lot of her decisions but in the end she makes good ones. Sharon, I’m sure you’re a good decision.”
“Oh, Mrs-” Sharon caught herself, “Willie Rae, that really means a lot to me, thank you.”
“I don’t kid myself, I know Brenda Leigh won’t change, she’s not going to start opening up to me just because I cried at her once. But it does my heart good to know that she has someone she trusts.”
Sharon nodded, “she’s an enormous pain but it’s impossible not to love her.”
“That’s how I feel about her, too,” Willie Rae laughed, “that can be our little secret.”
Brenda opened the door to her room and saw Clay standing there. “Daddy…?”
“I was gonna knock. I didn’t want to wake you… I just thought… could we talk about this, please?” Brenda followed her father dutifully into the guest room where they sat on the couch. “Fritz is a good man.”
“Yes.” Brenda nodded, “he is. I didn’t deserve him, I fell in love with someone else.”
“Is this one for keeps?” He asked.
Brenda shrugged, “I don’t know. I hope so, of course, but life can be funny like that.”
“Obviously,” Clay said then matter-of-factly, “I would’ve preferred a man but since you’re not planning on having kids that doesn’t really make much difference… and it’s nice that Sharon has one of her own, Katie seems like a good kid.”
“Sharon’s got two, actually.” Brenda said, hoping to keep the conversation focused on the positives. “She has a son, too, Matt. They’re both really into sports, Katie plays soccer and lacrosse, Matt plays basketball and baseball. You’ll really like getting to know them.”
“Brenda Leigh, I love you. You know that?”
“I do, daddy,” Brenda’s eyes pricked with tears. He pulled her into his arms and hugged her.
“You really hurt your mother’s feelings. Mine too a little but your mother’s the one who calls you every couple of weeks. You divorced Fritz four months ago and you didn’t bother to tell us?”
“I just thought you’d be disappointed in me.” Brenda admitted with a sob after a moment of silence. “Marrying Fritz was the first thing you ever encouraged me to do and I was afraid to tell you and mama that I failed.”
Clay held her tightly. “Princess, we’re so proud of you. We love you.”
At times the week went by slowly and at others it went by at breakneck speed. Brenda and Willie Rae didn’t talk about their spat and Sharon didn’t tell Brenda about her heart to heart with Willie Rae.
Katie was out for the evening and Brenda and Sharon finally had some time alone. Sharon was lounging back in the ceramic, claw-footed bathtub. Brenda entered the bathroom with a glass of wine.
Sharon opened one eye to see Brenda. She furrowed her brow, “didn’t bring me one?”
“I’ll share.” Brenda promised, setting the glass down on the pedastal beside the tub as she undressed.
Sharon picked up the wine glass and took a swig. Brenda had opened the new bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that she’d picked up on her way home. Sharon approved of Brenda’s taste in wine.
Brenda slid into the bathtub, settling back against Sharon. Sharon handed Brenda the wine glass and then laid her head against Brenda’s, enjoying the serenity and quiet of alone time. Brenda took a sip of wine, she’d had a whole glass already as she was pouring it and her head was a little heavy.
“Sharon, something my father said…” Brenda drew small circles on Sharon’s hand. “Do you think we’ll last?”
“Do you think they’ll make me go back to being a Captain if we break up?”
Brenda snorted, “I’m serious. Do you think this could be forever?”
Sharon shook her head. “No. No way. I plan on killing you long before forever.”