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Part 12: Still Just Plain Maggie

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Maggie’s awake. Sort of. But she stubbornly refuses to open her eyes. She doesn’t need to, to know that it’s far too early to be conscious. The birds aren’t even up yet. Plus, she wants to savour this sensation of being entirely relaxed, of being so tenderly held and treasured and warmed by Jocelyn’s supple body nestled in closely behind hers. And maybe even drift back to sleep for another hour or so before it’s her turn to have to go home and get ready for court.

She smiles contentedly in the early dawn half-light: She was dreaming, she remembers. About something pleasant and quite comforting. But those images are rapidly being replaced by suggestion and arousal and a giddy realization that she is waking up, again, for the second morning in a row, wrapped in the arms of the brilliant and beautiful Jocelyn Knight. And she can’t help but grin. At the delightfully unexpected surprise of this prickly QC enjoying a good cuddle. At the tender passion of their lovemaking. At the twists and turns of life. At the curl of longing deep in her abdomen. At the overwhelming exhilaration that emanates from her very being.

This is where she belongs. She is as certain of it now as she was during that wet and wonderful October weekend in London. When she and Jocelyn sat, shoulders and hips pressed together, in the rear of a black cab. When, back at the flat, Jocelyn took her proffered hand, drew their bodies close, and led them in no dance Maggie had ever experienced then or since. When they finally gave up navigating furniture and fell, laughing, in a tangled heap onto the sofa. When she realized that she had fallen in love. Hard.

Maggie’s lived and loved well. She’s done her best to embrace life. Claim it, even. Take full advantage of opportunities and adventures, both professional and personal. No regrets. That’s just who she is, thanks largely to her supportive factory worker father and a nurturing community of labour and feminist activists of which she’s been a part since she was at university in Manchester.

But she’s known for such a long time, at least since that London weekend, and probably well before it, that she and this enigmatic barrister just fit together. Like her favourite line in the Replansky poem Jocelyn had copied for her: she knew back then that she had touched a mind that fitted hers, as bodies fit, angle to curve. And her mind throbbed to feel the pulsing of that wit. She knew it then. She tried to make herself forget. But the heart always knows the truth.

Jocelyn shifts temptingly behind her, kissing the nape of her neck, lips forming a soft, sleepy smile on Maggie’s bare shoulder as she traces enticing little curly cues across Maggie’s tummy. In response, she sighs in deep contentment but, still refusing wakefulness, subdues Jocelyn’s wandering fingers with her own, pinning that wayward arm more tightly around her waist.

They lay like that for who knows how long, breathing nearly in concert, Jocelyn’s breasts rising and falling rhythmically against Maggie’s back. And she’s almost drifted off to sleep again when she hears and feels, in some corner of her hazy, barely conscious brain, Jocelyn kiss her shoulder, roll over to get up, quickly visit the en suite, and then head downstairs.

And in the end, despite her best efforts, it’s not Maggie’s brain that finally wakes up, but her bladder, triggered by water running through pipes as Jocelyn begins her morning routine down in the kitchen.

Resigned to the call of nature, Maggie burrows her nose into a luxuriously plump pillow that smells mostly of Jocelyn’s lavender shampoo, but also faintly of their joining, brackish and musky and heavenly. She exhales an audible groan and then, in one determined effort, hoists herself out of the safe, toasty cocoon of Jocelyn’s bed.

She groggily puts one arm, then the other into yesterday’s shirt. She holds the front closed as she pads across the elegant brown and blue Persian rug to the bathroom, noting as she goes the sunrise just peeking out from under the floor-length claret drapes that, Maggie confirms once she’s finished her business in the loo, pull back to reveal the French doors to a balcony she’s only ever seen from the outside.

The view from the little crack she makes in the curtain panels is spectacular, a pink, blue, and orange dawn rising low beyond Harbour Cliff, and she abandons it only to fish around under the bed for knickers and pants, hastily discarded during last night’s adventures. It won’t do now to continue in her current state of undress.

She smirks with a snort, imagining the headline: “Echo’s editor flashes Broadchurch from Latimer QC’s balcony.” Olly would have a field day with all his Tweeting and live blogging.

She buttons up her shirt while she’s at it and returns to the view, this time drawing back the curtains fully and sliding open the French doors to a beautiful June morning.

With the birdsong having begun now in earnest, and a light salty breeze playing in her unkempt hair, she gives herself permission to wander among the carefully curated collection of Jocelyn’s inner sanctum. There are books, of course, several shelves of them, all (quite predictably) in alphabetical order within their sections. There’s some poetry, but mostly fiction in a wide variety of surprising genres. Who knew, for example, that Jocelyn liked Victorian-era historical romance? And there’s even a small section of lesbian erotica. Well, well! Grinning broadly, she files that information away for future reference.

Several well-tended tropical plants are nestled into various nooks, and the Persian rug is absolutely stunning, as is the wood planked floor underneath it. A framed picture of teenage Jocelyn laughing with Veronica is perched on the tall oak dresser, and there’s a beautiful antique steamer trunk at the foot of the bed. The artwork on the walls is sparse, muted, but somehow perfectly attuned to this quiet, peaceful space in which the aesthetic star is undoubtedly the view out the east-facing wall of floor-to-ceiling windows.

At the bedside table, Maggie leans down to take a closer look at the small, framed picture of (maybe ten year-old?) Jocelyn on the boat with her dad, who’s proudly helping her display for the camera a fish almost as long as Jocelyn was tall. Behind that black and white photo is a larger one, in colour, of the whole family of three taken at Jocelyn’s graduation from Oxford.

Stacked here, too, clearly meant for bedtime reading, are Naomi Replansky’s Collected Poems underneath the volume of Charlotte Mew’s poetry that Maggie had given her. Little more than a week ago now.

She grins as her heartbeat hastens, surprised by how important it is to her that Jocelyn seems to have appreciated the weighty significance of that gift. She looks forward to sharing much more of her favorite poet’s work with Jocelyn and imagines them both snuggling on the couch, Jocelyn’s head on her shoulder, an arm flung across her waist. Listening. Breathing. Together.

On the shelf underneath are a few American novels: Kate Chopin is here, as is Edith Wharton. What is less predictable is the presence of a couple of Alice Walker’s books and more than a few by Toni Morrison. Full of little surprises, her precious barrister. They could start their own mini book club; Maggie hasn’t read a few of these in quite awhile, and some not at all.

She resists the urge to open the bedside table’s drawer to see what Jocelyn keeps in there. Because while casual inspection of visible artifacts is one thing, a clear violation of Jocelyn’s privacy is quite another. The drawer stays closed. For now.

Maggie perches instead on Jocelyn’s side of the bed. (Is it too early yet to decide whose side is whose? This is the side Jocelyn obviously prefers, given that her bedside table is here. This is also the side nearest the wall of windows.) So Maggie lands here, flicking her hair out of her eyes and lifting the two volumes of poetry from off the top of the nightstand.

Still relatively new to Replansky, Maggie is hungry for more. Plus, she wants to read that poem again, the one that Jocelyn copied for her and sent along with an invitation to meet up on their bench. How far they’ve come, together. In just two days. In a lifetime. So quickly. Yet not quickly at all. 

But while adjusting her grip on the book of Mew’s poems with the intention of returning it to the top of the little table, Jocelyn’s bookmark, an envelope, falls out and onto the floor.

“Shit,” she whispers, bending to pick it up, fearing she’s lost Jocelyn’s place. Then she realizes with a start that it’s her letter, the last one she ever wrote to Jocelyn fifteen years ago.

“Oh, my god,” she utters in frank astonishment, turning the envelope over in her hands.

Maggie is genuinely moved that Jocelyn’s obviously been using this ancient artifact, seemingly from another lifetime, to mark her place in Maggie’s favourite book of poetry. For fuck’s sake, she thinks not for the first time, she really does adore this perplexing and daft woman. And the more Maggie pieces together how Jocelyn’s mind works, excavates her gentle, squishy center, the more fiercely she loves her. And longs to know more.

She remembers like it was yesterday addressing this envelope, borrowing a stamp from the stash at work (because she hadn’t been able to get to the post office), and walking several blocks out of her way in the cold, grey January drizzle to the collection box by the café on the pier. Just so no one at the office would see the envelope in that day’s stack of outgoing post and ask her about it. Because she knew she wouldn’t be able to answer without dissolving into a rush of fresh tears. Again. And it wouldn’t have done then, particularly when she was still so new to Broadchurch (and a woman in a man’s job, to boot), to completely lose it at work. Over a broken heart, of all things.

The black ink, she notes, is a bit faded with age, the stiff white linen paper is rather yellowed, and one corner has got a bit folded, but otherwise, except for having been opened (although, somehow, not torn in the process), it looks just the same as when she sent it on its way to Jocelyn’s flat in Farringdon.

Almost without thinking about it, but holding her breath nonetheless, Maggie lifts the flap to draw out the letter inside. Her letter. It’s strange to see her handwriting of so many years ago on this slightly yellowed page. While she vividly recalls the agony of writing the many drafts that preceded this last version, she barely remembers what she did finally communicate to Jocelyn. Except that she just wanted to talk to her.

But she never heard back. No return of the two phone calls to the flat, no response to the message she left with Jocelyn’s clerk. No reply to this letter. Just silence. For eight fucking years. And even then it was Maggie who made the phone call. To tell Jocelyn about Veronica being admitted to hospital, to tell her to come home.

With rapid, shallow breaths and a wrench in her gut, she reads her own handwritten words:

 

22 January 2000

 

Dear Jocelyn,

You’ll never know how many drafts I’ve gone through to get to this point. I am a writer, but I find myself rendered inarticulate. There are so many things I want to say, to ask.

I don’t know what happened. I can imagine. I can guess. But I don’t know.

Did I do something to put you off? I’ve perseverated over every moment, every conversation. All the old insecurities of youth have come back to me: I’m not smart enough, not sophisticated enough, not posh enough. Not attractive enough.

Or are you afraid? Of us. Of what people would say, of what being with me would mean. For you. For your career. Are you afraid of me? I’m just plain Maggie. Who loves you. There, I’ve written it down.

We could make it work. Together.

I’ve called the flat. Twice. I’ve left a message with your clerk. This is the last you will hear from me. I have no interest in making myself ridiculous.

Please talk to me. Please be in touch. Please return my calls. Please let me love you.

M

 

And just like that, Maggie’s right back in that moment of desperately unmitigated grief. She knows now. Jocelyn had confirmed it last night: She had been afraid. And confused as hell. Goddamn her for making Maggie doubt her own heart. And for forcing her into making the same demand fifteen years later: Just let me love you.

But Maggie should’ve tried harder, gotten on a train, gone to London, stormed the castle gates. But she didn’t. Because she was proud. Humiliated. Heartbroken. And fucking angry. She knew Jocelyn had lied to her that New Year’s Day. She fucking knew it. But she didn’t speak up. She just let her walk away, out of her life.

“Good morning, my love,” Jocelyn calls, arriving just at that moment with a tray laden with breakfast necessities. Pushing open the bedroom door with her hip, she explains, “I heard you up and about, and I remember you liked tea in the morning. But then I thought, maybe you prefer coffee these days? So I brought both. And,” she adds triumphantly while setting the tray down at the foot of the bed, “I remembered your e-cig!”

But Maggie is furious. Again. At Jocelyn. At herself. At the both of them for being so unbelievably stupid. And for wasting so much fucking time.

As she shifts her body, almost as if mired in quicksand, to turn toward Jocelyn, the empty envelope in her lap flutters to the floor, which prompts Jocelyn to realize what Maggie’s holding in her shaking hand.

Jocelyn’s lips form a small ‘o,’ and her eyes are wide, but there is no sound as she looks from the fallen envelope to the paper in Maggie’s hands to the top of the nightstand to the books on the bed and then back again at Maggie, quickly piecing together how she must’ve discovered the letter.

Bollocks. This is twice in less than forty-eight hours that Jocelyn’s inadvertently left out something quite personal for Maggie to find. It’s not that she was hiding it. Particularly. She’d planned to tell her about never having read it, but having kept it anyway. She just hadn’t imagined they’d get to it so soon.

“I wasn’t snooping,” Maggie preemptively clarifies, “I wouldn’t do that.”

Jocelyn nods, understanding, anticipating, thinking about what to say, how to respond.

“I wanted to reread that poem you sent me, and it fell out of…” Maggie gestures to the book of Mew’s poems and then holds up the letter. Her letter. She shakes her head in disbelief, “I think I managed somehow to convince myself you never received it.” She exhales heavily, shaking her head in frustrated regret, “I should’ve tried harder. Gone to London. Confronted you in person.”

Inhaling, preparing, Jocelyn makes the short journey over to where Maggie’s sitting on the side of the bed.

“You know as well as I do that I’d have been furious if you’d done that,” Jocelyn calmly responds as she sits, “And even less likely to hear anything you might have had to say.”

It doesn’t seem appropriate to touch Maggie just now. To caress her. Wrap her into a tight hug and never let her go. Although that’s precisely what Jocelyn wants to do. But she’s still navigating her way through all of this, wants to respect Maggie’s boundaries. So she settles on the bed beside her, within arms’ reach, just far enough away to let her take the lead. When she’s ready.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Maggie almost whispers, a little sob catching at the back of her throat.

“It wouldn’t have mattered,” Jocelyn admits, although not without her own share of remorse, “I wasn’t ready.” She gestures to the letter still in Maggie’s hands. “I didn’t even open it until last week.”

Hearing this information for the first time, Maggie inhales sharply through her nose, lips pursed, ready to pounce, to berate and demand. She can feel her eyes glinting in anger. 

But then, just as quickly as her anger flared, she lets it go. She’s not sure why. It might be because she knows Jocelyn’s likely already given herself far worse than Maggie could ever mete out. And giving her a bollocking right now wouldn’t make Maggie feel any better in any case. What good would it do to put either of them through it all again?

So she glances down at the envelope that’s landed flap side up on the floor. That’s why it wasn’t torn, Maggie suddenly realizes. Old glue dries. Gives way. And because she hadn’t ever read the letter, Jocelyn didn’t know back then that Maggie had loved her.

“Why?” Maggie asks softly, still looking down at the envelope, remembering how quickly hopeful exhilaration had turned to devastating grief. When she learned Jocelyn had gone back to London. Without saying goodbye.

“You know why: I was afraid. Terrified.” Shaking her head, Jocelyn turns to the sea, to that exquisite sunrise, looking for answers. “I think some part of me knew that if I heard your voice, saw you again, gave you the chance to present one of your barnstorming speeches (Maggie can’t help but grin here; her speeches, like Jocelyn’s, are the stuff of legend.)—even in a letter, that I wouldn’t be able to pretend anymore that I hadn’t fallen in love with you.”

“But you kept it!” Maggie waves the letter in frustration, trying for an explanation. “And my scarf, too!”

“They reminded me of you,” Jocelyn acknowledges with a simple shrug, “of who I was when I was with you. You, our time together,” Jocelyn’s voice catches as she murmurs, finally confessing out loud, “It was the happiest six months of my life.”

At that news, Maggie finally, for the first time this morning, looks directly at Jocelyn, into her eyes. She is so powerfully drawn in by those vast pools of blue, and longing swirls deep in her core as she reaches for Jocelyn’s hand, twining their fingers in silent gratitude for this revelation, this admission: Maggie hadn’t imagined the strength of their connection, even back then! Those months spent getting to know Jocelyn, falling in love with her, had also been among the happiest of Maggie’s life.

Jocelyn affectionately rubs her thumb across the back of Maggie’s hand, squeezing her fingers gently. “I regretted lying to you the second after I did it,” she continues, “I wanted so badly to take back the words, to kiss you again. Anything to get that feeling back. That feeling I didn’t know then was love…” She shakes her head, annoyed at herself, at her lack of self-awareness back then. “But a memory is all I could have. And still keep my career. I couldn’t have both.”

“You never even tried,” Maggie gently reproaches.

“I saw what happened to others, Maggie,” she defends herself, shaking her head. “Colleagues, friends, who broke the rules. The Inns of Court are hard places to navigate.

Maggie counters, working to understand, “But you were already a silk when we met.”

Jocelyn shrugs, conceding. “Maybe it wasn’t as logical as I thought at the time.”

Maggie raises her eyebrows in admonishment, encouraging self-reflection and truthfulness. Now, of all times.

Probably wasn’t,” Jocelyn grants, “but it made sense to me then. And there’s nothing I can do about it now. Except apologize again—and I am sorry. You’ll never know how much.” 

“Well,” Maggie begrudgingly acknowledges, “I think we both know there’s blame to share: I let myself down by not trying hard enough. To make you talk to me. I was just so fucking angry with you.”

“And I was selfish. I thought it was my heart alone that I was risking. It didn’t even occur to me then that you’d fallen in love with me,” Jocelyn says, gesturing to the letter, acknowledging Maggie’s truth of so many years ago.

“How could you not have known?” Maggie queries disbelievingly.

Jocelyn sighs. A deep, eloquent breath. Of admission. Of self-recrimination. Ready to let go of the final secret she’s been holding onto: she never thought herself worthy of Maggie Radcliffe.

“I’m not easy to love, Maggie. I told you, remember? That day on the boat all those years ago: I’m not good at caring for other people. Thinking of other people. And you’re...”

Jocelyn has to stop, look out to the sea in search of what to say. Of how to explain. There aren’t enough words. And the words there are, are not good enough.

But Maggie finishes her sentence for her, indicating the letter still in her left hand: “I’m just me, Jocelyn. ‘Just plain Maggie.’”

“But, you’re not!” Jocelyn blurts out before continuing more thoughtfully. Deliberately. “You were—you are—such a dynamic person. Energetic. Always fighting to make things right, advocating for people. For justice.”

“So do you, Jocelyn,” Maggie reminds her with a slight chuckle, “That’s literally your job.”

“But you’re always so sure of yourself. Entirely unafraid. You just trust and leap. And you’re so outgoing; people feel comfortable with you. That’s a real gift.”

And then pale blue meets slate grey as Jocelyn reaches up to caress that strong jawline, to run a finger along Maggie’s bottom lip. “So, you see: not ‘just plain Maggie,’” she whispers while Maggie kisses her fingertips, “You’re my clever journalist, my funny, smart, beautiful Maggie.”

Jocelyn shakes her head, continuing, “And I couldn’t believe the dazzling, daring new editor of the Echo wanted to be my friend. I’m still trying to wrap my ahead around why you’re still here. After all this time. So, the idea that you could love me never even crossed my mind.”

Maggie can’t speak, for how much she’s feeling all at once. Disbelief and empathy. Aching sorrow. For all the misunderstanding, all the years they’ve lost. Yearning and passion and love. For this fierce and courageous barrister. One of the best in Britain. Who, despite her extraordinary professional successes, doesn’t actually think very much of herself. Lil had been right after all.

At that, Maggie does the only thing that makes sense. She uses her fingers to gently tilt Jocelyn’s chin up and then leans in to cement a firm, reassuring kiss on those lips. Because she can now.

“Do you think I didn’t feel the same about you?” Maggie whispers. But then she interrupts herself to take the opportunity for mirthful respite, reminding her, “I mean, you’re hardly ‘outgoing,’ but…”

Jocelyn splutters, always so appreciative of Maggie’s impeccable comic timing. And Maggie chuckles. She delights in making Jocelyn laugh, hearing the hesitant beginning of a throaty rumble that, if Maggie’s quip lands just right, erupts into pure joy accompanied by a stunning grin that sets Jocelyn’s entire face alight. Like now.

“Seriously, though: You are rather impressive, you know. Stubbornly fearless in your own, quiet way. Intriguing. Inscrutable. Absolutely brilliant.” Maggie pauses to twine their fingers again, squeezing gently to punctuate her point, “And gorgeous on top of all that.”

She lifts their hands together to kiss the back of Jocelyn’s, warm lips on silky skin. “And that day on the boat? I couldn’t believe I got to be there with you—once I stopped worrying I was gonna throw up and humiliate myself.”

Jocelyn barks a single staccato laugh while Maggie continues, “I couldn’t stop looking at you. It felt so special, so intimate.”

“I’ve never taken anyone else out,” Jocelyn confesses.

“Never?” Maggie asks, astonished.

“No,” Jocelyn confirms, “not before or since. But I wanted to be the first to show you my home, my beautiful Broadchurch, from out at sea. It was so important to me that I do that for you. I didn’t know why at the time.”

“See?” Maggie cajoles, eyes flooding with the honour, the wonder, of being held in such high esteem by this incredible woman, “You are good at caring for people.” Maggie leans in to whisper provocatively into Jocelyn’s ear, “In fact, you’ve taken quite excellent care of me these last two nights.”

At that, Jocelyn blushes. Quite thoroughly. Before joining Maggie in a joyous, carefree guffaw. Because for all her dreaming and scheming over the years, she had wildly underestimated how much she would delight in learning the intricacies of Maggie’s body: running urgent, inquisitive hands over bare skin, licking and sucking those nipples into firm peaks, tangling her fingers into that soft triangle of hair. Actually being the cause of such uninhibited, exuberant pleasure. And then fitting their bodies together, her head on Maggie’s shoulder, her arm thrown over her hips, laying quietly, sated, listening to their breathing return to normal.

And while Jocelyn’s cheeks flush bright pink, Maggie’s insides tremble. She knows in her bones that she will never tire of sharing this intimacy, this vulnerable part of Jocelyn that no one else gets to see. And she treasures the giving, knowing how precious it is, how ferociously Jocelyn guards her privacy.

In silent adoration punctuated by a crooked grin, Maggie plucks a stray wisp of hair out of Jocelyn’s eyelash and affectionately fingers the curls behind her ear, leaning in for another kiss, deeper this time, asking for more with a gentle tug on the front of Jocelyn’s robe to pull their bodies closer together.

Jocelyn’s lips part eagerly, and Maggie meets them with equal fervour, searching and hungry as they lean into each other.

“What say you,” Jocelyn asks into Maggie’s ear, peppering her cheek and neck with short kisses, “to breakfast on the balcony?”

Maggie exhales a weighty sigh, resisting the temptation to pull Jocelyn back into bed. “I have to go home, get ready for work.”

Glancing at the small digital display of the alarm clock behind Maggie on the bedside table, Jocelyn counters, “It’s just gone six. We’ve time yet.”

Absolutely refusing to give up Maggie to the world even one second before she has to, Jocelyn quite calculatingly, with a raised eyebrow and enticing smirk, displays the full length of her slim body as she rises and lifts the tray from where she left it at the end of the bed.

“Come,” she coaxes with a tilt of her head, leading the way through the already-open French door, “it’s gorgeous out here. I want to show you.”

Maggie smiles longingly as she watches those hips swing erotically under silk and satin. What an unexpected delight to see her favourite barrister flirt so brazenly!

With a little snicker and her own quick glance at the clock, she decides Jocelyn is right: there’s time enough yet. It’s only a five-minute drive home, and all she needs to do once she gets there is pop into the shower. So, unwilling to resist such an enticing invitation, Maggie follows her best friend, her lover, out into the beautiful spring morning.

“I’m afraid your coffee’s cold now, but the tea’s still fairly hot,” says Jocelyn, pouring two steaming mugs and handing one to Maggie, who nods in silent gratitude and heads for the railing to take in the indescribable view.

Her own mug in hand, Jocelyn joins her, leaning gently into Maggie’s warmth as they break their fast together in contented silence. They stand like that, supported by each other and the balcony railing, watching the last of the fishing boats leave Broadchurch harbour. Across the footpath, just above their secluded picnic spot of only two evenings ago, a pair of gulls is perched on the back of their bench. A ground squirrel seems to have found something quite intriguing at the base of the garden gate, the wildflowers dotting the cliff are swaying rhythmically in the soft salty breeze, and the new day’s sun is dancing specks of gold in Jocelyn’s hair.

“What?” Jocelyn asks after a few minutes, realizing that Maggie is staring at her.

“It is gorgeous out here.”

Looking away with a shy smile, Jocelyn shakes her head reproachfully, “I meant the view.”

“That’s lovely, too, of course,” Maggie jokes, wrapping her free arm around Jocelyn’s waist, underneath her robe, as Jocelyn sinks contentedly into the embrace.

“I was also thinking of that weekend I spent at yours in London. Do you remember? That ride back to the flat?” Maggie laughs, recalling the gentle way Jocelyn’s fingers wrapped around her arm as they waited for a black cab, their bodies pressed together in the backseat.

Jocelyn smiles softly, her head on Maggie’s shoulder, “I’ll never forget it.”

“I wanted so badly for you to kiss me that night,” Maggie reminisces, taking a sip of her tea.

“I almost did,” Jocelyn confirms, recalling fondly that split second in which she boldly ignored her instinct to hide behind her cup of tea and, taking Maggie’s proffered hand, drew her close to lead her aimlessly around the living room in the flat. Her hand resting in the gentle arc of Maggie’s strong, slender back, fingers clasped lightly together. Maggie’s body, soft and warm, under hers when they finally tumbled, laughing, onto the sofa. Noses almost touching, Maggie’s breath hot on her neck. The fringe of wavy blonde hair on Maggie’s forehead. Cheeks flushed, eyes gleaming. Jocelyn longed in that instant to kiss that dazzling smile, to feel the easy curve of Maggie’s parted lips under her own. That close, she could see the fine laugh lines around those clear, blue eyes, which seemed somehow to peer directly into her soul.

Maggie saw her that night. Really saw her. In a way that no other person had before or since. But instead of giving in to it, of recognizing it for what it was, Jocelyn returned to the safety of her tea. And Maggie went home to Broadchurch the next morning.

“You took very good care of me that weekend, too,” Maggie smiles softly into Jocelyn’s hair, hugging her more tightly. “That was when I knew I’d fallen in love with you.”

“See, Maggie,” Jocelyn exclaims with renewed frustration as she steps backward and just out of reach, “that’s what I mean: You’re always so sure of yourself. 

She roughly puts her half-empty mug down onto the little table and begins to fretfully finger the collar of her satin copper-coloured pyjama top as she turns her face to sea. “But I didn’t figure it out, put a name to how you make me feel, until years after that. That day you bumped into me outside the bookshop on the High Street. Do you remember?”

“Yes!” Maggie cackles, throwing her head back, “I felt like a fucking idiot.”

“I hadn’t seen you in such a long time. I don’t know how many years.”

“Five or six at least,” Maggie responds without malice or bitterness. Simply information.

“And you were so beautiful. Just radiating confidence and conviction. You took my breath away.”

Slammed it out of you, more like,” Maggie chortles as she places her own mug down on the table and pushes her hair out of her eyes, remembering the force with which she quite accidentally ran into Jocelyn coming out of the bookstore that day.

“And since then, I’ve known I love you. I wanted to tell you. I just didn’t know how. 

Jocelyn steps again into Maggie’s waiting arms, affectionately kissing her cheek before wrapping both arms around her waist, pressing their bodies more closely together to whisper into her ear, “It actually hurts to love you this much.”

“I know,” Maggie agrees, eagerly returning Jocelyn’s hug, “But a good hurt, yes? Like, my heart could burst right now with how deliriously happy I am. Here, with you.”

Jocelyn watches Maggie’s face, revelling in the way that joyful smile spreads so quickly to her eyes. She holds her breath while Maggie runs those long, strong fingers under her jaw and up her cheekbone. Maggie’s touch is tender and steady, and Jocelyn starts as Maggie’s fingers find the soft skin under her ear. The insistent tug in her core turns urgent as she leans forward to meet those warm, upturned lips.

But Jocelyn is grinning too broadly and, so, thoroughly fumbles their kiss.

“Oh, this is going to be fun,” Maggie chuckles, and Jocelyn can’t help but laugh out loud as she buries her face in Maggie’s neck, inhaling her citrus-y scent.

Just at that moment, though, in the bedroom, on the other side of Jocelyn’s bed, the alarm on Maggie’s phone goes off. Pale blue eloquently meets slate grey as they remember the work of the trial that must temporarily interrupt their journey back to each other.

“I set it for 6:45,” Maggie explains, knowing there is no more time this morning for all this dreamy dawdling. Not if she’s going to make it to court on time.

Reluctantly, Jocelyn releases her gentle hold on the front of Maggie’s shirt and steps away, out of reach. Reality calls.

“Go,” she says, scooping up both their mugs and setting them on the tray of breakfast necessities she brought up from the kitchen, “but do remember this,” she cautions, handing Maggie her e-cig.

“Ooh, thanks,” Maggie replies, sliding the e-cig into the pocket of her slacks. “Let me—” Maggie says as she leans to grab the tray.

“No,” Jocelyn jovially shoos her away, “I’ll take it when I go down.”

Are you sure, asks Maggie with her eyes, and Jocelyn insists with a soft smile.

Surrendering to the reality of having to temporarily leave the safety and comfort and enchantment of their new little world of two, Maggie unenthusiastically heads back through the French door and over to her side of the bed. She turns off the still-squawking alarm on her phone and then bends down to gather her socks and bra and to unplug her phone from the wall. Prepared to shove it all into her bag, which she left down by the front door, she gathers garments, charger, and phone into her right hand and heads for Jocelyn’s bedroom door.

Having followed Maggie in, Jocelyn, of course, has been taking full advantage of the opportunity just to watch Maggie move with such ease, such self-assurance, around the bedroom. It’s just like the other night, she reflects, when Maggie made carbonara for she and Ben. She never had to ask where anything was; she just seemed to know. Like that time she cooked them dinner in London. Jocelyn hadn’t even been home, and Maggie’d never been to the flat before, yet she’d managed to fix them an amazing risotto with salad and delicious wine.

This, Jocelyn is suddenly able to articulate, is part of why she loves Maggie Radcliffe so very much: her ability to be comfortable, confident, flexible. Adaptable. Spontaneous. To make something from nothing. Sometimes it’s food, to be sure, but more often it’s bigger, more important things. Like getting a prominent local politician to reverse her anti-drug position and save an addictions clinic, which, Jocelyn only recently learned, was what her fearless journalist had been up to on the day before the start of the Miller trial.

As Maggie nears the bedroom door, Jocelyn, who’s got that besotted smile playing on her lips again, intercepts her. Those pale blue eyes are smouldering sapphire now as Jocelyn asks, ardent hands pulling Maggie’s hips into hers, “I’ll see you later, yes?” 

“Yup,” Maggie confirms as she leans in for just one more kiss, “But if there’s a verdict today, it’ll be much later, I’m afraid.” Extracting herself from the temptation of Jocelyn’s dramatic pout, she waves as she heads for the door, “I’ll text you.”

“Better to call,” Jocelyn reminds her.

Maggie rolls her eyes at this senior QC’s continued unwillingness to embrace change, to enter the modern world of technological innovation. “I’ll call,” she confirms with a smirk.

“I love you,” Jocelyn calls from the doorframe as Maggie heads down the stairs.

“I love you, too!”