Fandom: Coyote Ugly
Pairing: Rachel/Violet (Jersey)
Archiving: This’ll be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm. If anyone else wants it, just ask.
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters. Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer have that right, and I don’t intend to infringe upon it. This is just for fun, and I’m not making any profit.
Author’s Note: I took a different tone in this one than I normally use. It’s from Violet’s point of view. It hasn’t been beta’d, so all mistakes are mine. Feedback is much appreciated, no matter what the flavor. I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com.
A little over a year after I left, I found myself back again. Just like the first time, with Lil hauling cases of beer down to the storage room and the sun beating down on me relentlessly, and me more than a little nervous. I guess I shouldn’t have been. In so many ways, I didn’t have nearly as much to lose this time. My dream was up and running, paying for the much nicer apartment I had in a neighborhood ten times better than the one I’d left. Songs were flowing through me like honey, or at least they had been, and I had enough of them on reserve to last me at least another year. But, despite all that, it seemed that maybe I did have something to lose, something far more precious than the evasive trails of my dreams, or else I wouldn’t have been searching for it. This time, I had myself to lose, and what made it scary is that sometimes, it didn’t seem like such a bad thing.
“What’cha doing up there, Jersey?”
I looked down to see Lil looking back up at me, one slim hand at her eyes in a futile attempt to block out the sun. She looked the same as she always had, bare arms tanned and toned, flat stomach hugged tightly by a shirt that did little more than accentuate all the attributes she had to show, and leather pants that had to be hot as hell. But, this time, there was a smile on her face and not a scowl, and I had to remember that I’d won this intimidating woman over just to keep myself from hightailing it out of there, tail between my legs.
“Heard through the grapevine you were one girl short,” I said instead, surprised at how calm my voice sounded despite my apprehension. Or, maybe I wasn’t apprehensive at all. I couldn’t tell any more. Somewhere along the line, I’d lost touch with my emotions, and nothing I did seemed to help me find them. “Thought you might be willing to give me a shot at my old job.”
I could tell she was surprised, but she didn’t say anything for a long moment, just stood there, squinting up at me. Then, with a shallow nod, she said roughly, “Yeah, maybe. Get your pretty little ass down here. It’s time I took a break anyway.”
It was a lot cooler in the darkened confines of the storage room, and I could feel the sweat drying at the small of my back. It was an odd feeling, made me want to reach back and scratch at the skin there, but I held back even if part of my mind couldn’t let go of the slight irritation. Lil had popped open a couple of beers, steam drifting in a small little column from the opened lip of the bottles, and I took one gratefully. It was ice cold, almost searing against my tongue, but I loved it. I loved anything that made me feel.
“You got something you want to tell me, Jersey?” Lil asked gruffly, ending the silence that had sprung up between us, and in some way, I was a little sad. It had been nice just sitting there, enjoying the cool air and the cold beer, not thinking about anything more than the way my shirt was sticking to my back.
I didn’t want to tell her about it, but explanations were in order, I supposed. After all, I had just waltzed back into her life with no warning, making requests and offering little about the why of it. “I was happy here, Lil, and I’m not happy now. I want to see if I can be again.”
She nodded at all, an accepting look on her face, and for a minute, I thought it was going to be enough. But then she took a short swig of her beer, the bottle dangling loosely between the second and third finger of her right hand, and looked at me, smirking. “What’s not to be happy about, Jersey? You’ve got your dream job and your dream boy. What’s dancing around on a bar for a house full of drunks gonna do for you?”
I was going to have to tell her. “Kevin and I aren’t together anymore, and lately, I can’t write for shit.”
She nodded, a contemplative look on her face, beer bottle held so nonchalantly that I was just waiting for it to slip through her fingers and crash to the floor. It never did, of course, because Lil knew exactly what she was doing. “Tell me more,” she said simply, the antithesis of tactful.
But, I’d gone over it in my head a thousand times, and the words were easy, rehearsed. “We were going to get married, then one day I came home to find our next door neighbor sucking him off in the hallway. So, I threw him out, he begged me to stay, but I didn’t care enough to work it out.”
“That why you can’t write?” she asked, eyes narrowing astutely.
It was a question I’d asked myself over and over, and always, the answer was the same. “I don’t think so. Things had been different for a while before that. I just… I don’t know… I wasn’t feeling anything.”
An understatement, really. I don’t know what happened between Kevin and I. It was perfect for so long. He was perfect, with his handsome smiling face always there to make me feel better, and his support and love making the words write themselves. But after a while, I realized it wasn’t enough. How could it not be, I’d ask myself. Honestly, what more could I want than what I had? Everyone said they were jealous… Gloria with her mundane suburban housewife life back in Jersey said I was living and dream, so I didn’t understand why it felt like a nightmare. I had everything I’d ever wanted, didn’t I? I thought for a while that maybe I was just ungrateful, but decided that couldn’t be it. How could being unhappy mean I was ungrateful? It just meant something was missing.
It was probably my fault Kevin ended up with the neighbor on her knees. I’d been drawing away from him for a while, been distant and cold. At least, that’s what he’d yelled at me as he stuffed his clothes into a duffel bag and slammed out of the apartment, and I guess I had to agree with him. It didn’t matter enough for me to fight him over it.
I must have gotten lost in my thoughts, because it wasn’t until I heard the sound of glass breaking that I managed to refocus. Lil was standing over by the trashcan, and I had to look down to make sure that I wasn’t the one who had caused the crash. But, it must have been her throwing away her empty bottle, because I still had mine.
She sniffed, narrowed her eyes, then nodded. “When you wanna start?”
It was just like I remembered. Everything, down to the very smell of the place, was exactly the same, and even among the throng of people pushing their way toward the bar, I finally felt calm. I don’t know why. My initial stint as a bartender at Coyote Ugly had been rather tumultuous, and after my dad caught me in here and freaked and I left, I thought it was for good. I even resisted Lil’s entreaties to return, caught up in a ‘going straight’ fervor, I guess. I’d forgotten how free I felt here, how raw and exposed and alive. Everything moved at a breakneck speed and nothing was pre-determined, and I liked it.
When Lil grabbed the bull horn and reintroduced me, everybody cheered like I was their long lost sister come home, and I couldn’t help but smile. Cammie was plastered to me like an octopus, all soft girl kisses on the cheek and breathless welcome backs, and Rachel was down at the other end of the bar glaring at me like she was trying to mentally plot the best time to shank me. It felt like I’d come home, and before I even had time to breathe, I was pouring Johnny Walker like I’d never left.
By closing time, I was soaked in alcohol, as sore as if I’d run a marathon, and something akin to happy. We’d almost finished cleaning up, and for reasons which still elude me, Lil had taken Cammie to the back to help her do inventory, leaving me up front and alone with Rachel. At first, we didn’t say anything, and I didn’t mind. I wasn’t terrified of Rachel any more, but I didn’t exactly know how to go about mindless chatter with her either. So naturally, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard her voice, coming from only inches behind me, low and reticent.
“Glad to have you back, Jersey,” she said gruffly, looking sullenly down at the floor as if mad at herself for saying it in the first place. It was everything I could do not to grin. There she was, bristly as hell and all bad ass attitude dressed head to toe in black leather, and suddenly I was vividly reminded of Grumpy the Care Bear. All glower and bad attitude, but when it came down to it, just as soft and cuddly as the rest of them. The thought made me giggle, and I guess she figured I was laughing at her, because she just scowled even harder, dark eyes narrowing.
Covering my mouth with my hand until I could get myself in control, I still managed to say soberly, “I’m glad to be back, Rachel.”
And then, I did the strangest thing. Without even thinking about it past the initial spark of the idea, I stepped up to her, wrapped one arm around her waist, and kissed her. I don’t mean a quick little kiss, which is probably what I’d have been aiming for if my half-cocked plan had been thought through to resolution. No, I full out kissed her, with my tongue against hers and our breasts pressed hard together, and I liked it. Liked it so much that I didn’t stop, until she pulled away from me, lips all red and swollen and utterly delectable.
“Lil’s coming back,” she rasped when I lunged for her again, glittering black eyes looking at me speculatively. “Let’s get out of here.”
I followed her with a whoop of excitement, shivering slightly in the cool early morning air, filled with a sense of excitement at the unknown. Whatever else was going to happen, I’d definitely done something unexpected, something I’d never done before, and the rush was exhilarating. I took a moment to think about it, to examine some of the various outcomes that went hand-in-hand with my choice of action, but didn’t worry about it too much. For a minute, I wondered if I’d wanted Rachel before, back when I was new to the big city and intimidated by everything in it, especially her. I figured I probably had, or else my subconscious wouldn’t have prompted me to make a move. I didn’t know what it meant, or what it said about me and my life, but I was going to go with it. From the firm grip Rachel had on my hand, I surmised she was going with it as well. In fact, taking an opportunity and running with it had never seemed so literal a statement before as it did following along after her.
She took us to her apartment, pressed me into the corner of the elevator and kissed me all the way to her floor, leaving me breathless and weak and honestly quite surprised. I’d never really kissed another girl, having apparently decided to jump feet first into my first femme affair, and was unprepared for the eroticism of it. Rachel was all lithe muscles and overwhelming appeal, with curves that matched my own and lips softer than melted butter.
It was a good thing her place wasn’t far down the hall, because I’m not sure we would have made it. I guess the best thing about it was that Rachel didn’t ask questions. She took things at face value and made the most of them, didn’t bother me with worrisome why’s and ask for me to dissect my feelings. Hell, she didn’t talk much at all, other than rough whispered commands and pleas, compliments and requests. At the very least, we made it into her apartment before she made me cum the first time, but not by much. I guess I’d figured it would be different with a girl, all champagne and roses and candlelight. It wasn’t. It was sweat and searing wet heat and by the time she was finished with me, I’d experienced it all.
“I don’t usually smoke.”
They were the first real words she’d said to me since her initial welcome back at the bar. Everything else had been spun from a web of sex and desire, and those things didn’t count. She’d rolled up so she was sitting on the edge of the bed, naked back marred by the bright red trails of my nails. A quick rustle through a bedside table had produced a pack of cigarettes that had seen better days months ago, and a lighter she had to thump against her palm to make work. Her hair was a tangled snarl, and in a fit of intimacy, I had the nearly unbearable urge to run my fingers through it, to straighten it out.
“You want one?”
She still hadn’t turned around, and I was beginning to get sleepy and nervous. Soon, repercussions were going to hit and I was going to have to take care of the mess I’d made. It seemed unfair that they’d follow on the heels of such pleasure, but that was the way things worked.
When I didn’t answer, she leaned back, settling gingerly against the headboard, and I had to suppress the urge to giggle. I’d bet anything her back was tender, and some part of me was proud. I’d caused that. I’d marked her.
“No,” I finally said, though my answer came two minutes too late. She’d already put the cigarettes away, was stubbing her half-smoked one out in an ancient green glass ashtray she’d unearthed from somewhere.
She nodded in reply, dark eyes watching me with the intensity of a hawk. “Why are you here?” she asked after what seemed like forever, words curious and not condescending, polite despite their relative inelegance.
I took time to think it over, not wanting to ramble through a line of bullshit just to ease any awkwardness. “I don’t know,” I finally admitted, it the best answer I could come up with.
She didn’t seem phased. Just nodded again, like it was an everyday occurrence with her, like people fell into her bed without reason all the time. Maybe they did. She was hot as hell, and well worth the trip, or so I’d just learned.
“You gonna stay?”
Again, she didn’t sound rude. Just figuring out how to plan her day, I supposed, and I gave that question as much contemplation as I had the last.
“I’d like to,” I answered slowly, a bit surprised myself at the conclusion I’d reached.
Like before, there was calm acceptance. “Let’s take a shower then,” she said, rolling smoothly out of bed, apparently unconcerned with her nakedness. I did the only thing I could do… I followed.
Cammie figured it out first. I think if I’d had to guess, I would have said Lil would’ve been the one, but Cammie and Rachel had been working together for so long that I suppose any deviation from the routine caught her attention. The variation puzzled her, I suppose, because she got this speculative gleam in her eye and I could almost see her mentally adding two and two together. When she put together the fact that we’d been gone when she and Lil returned from doing inventory, the scratches and bite marks I hadn’t completely been able to hide, and whatever it was she’d discerned from looking at Rachel for a good thirty seconds before making her pronouncement, Cammie had her answer.
“Oh, my God. You guys slept together.”
She said it almost as if she were amused and not shocked, but then I remembered that Cammie had a history of swinging from both sides of the fence so it all kind of made sense. Rachel just rolled her eyes and gave a noncommittal grunt, Lil chimed in with an, “Oh shit”, and I tried to have the good grace to look embarrassed. I actually was a little embarrassed, so that probably helped. I was still trying to move past the slight moment of awkwardness I’d endured earlier, when I’d woken up to find myself wrapped around Rachel as tightly as a glove, still slightly damp hair having soaked through her pillow leaving me lying in a cold, wet mess. She’d still been asleep, but in the process of trying to detach myself from the puzzle of limbs I’d created, I woke her up. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a soft kiss and a, “See you at work,” wasn’t really it, and knowing that she was watching me as I struggled back into my clothes had done everything but make me graceful.
The whole way home, I tried to figure out what it meant, but I was clueless. See you at work, see you at work, see you at work just circled round and round in my brain, but it wasn’t as if I could divine any greater meaning from the words than the one she’d imparted. There were no questions, no promises, and no recriminations, and I didn’t know where that left me. Maybe if I’d taken the time to plan out whatever the hell it was I’d obviously decided to do, then I wouldn’t have felt so unstable, so… I don’t know… vulnerable. As it was, I was falling headfirst into the revelation stage without even knowing what I was revealing, and I didn’t like it.
I know Lil wanted to talk to me about it. I could see it in her eyes, a mixture of curiosity and dire consequences, but she was too much of the businesswoman to indulge herself before getting all the prep work done, and by the time she’d finished, I was already knee deep in customers. No way was she going to interrupt me, not when I was making her money, but I knew the interrogation was coming. It would be me, of course, because between Rachel and myself, I was obviously the weakest and Lil was going to separate me from the pack and eat me for lunch. I could only hope I didn’t get fired.
When Cammie pulled me up on the bar to dance that night, I think she got a little extra kick out it, hands roaming places they’d never ventured before. There was a wicked glint in her eye, and I knew she was just teasing with me, but I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable. With her down between my legs doing Lord only knows what to the delight of a bar full of screaming voyeuristic customers, I felt like I had a bright blinking neon sign on my belly with an arrow pointing down, with “Great Big Lesbo” flashing in pink and green, proclaiming my recent carnal activities to the world at large and letting them in on a secret I hadn’t known I was keeping. When she tried to pull me up there again later that night, I refused to go.
Just as soon as the last customer stumbled out of the door around 3:30 that morning, Lil shot me a look, pointed, and said, “You. Office,” like I was some kind of juvenile delinquent caught smoking in the bathroom. But I went, and slumped down into a chair and folded my hands primly in my lap and waited. She left me in there for a few minutes, all alone to think about what was coming, and I’d concocted all kinds of elaborate scenarios in my mind by the time she finally did get there, all of them ending with me throwing myself at her feet for mercy, sobs tearing past my throat. It was maybe a little melodramatic, but in a sick kind of way, I enjoyed it.
Instead of the accusations and anger I’d expected, all I got was a look of concern. “You alright, Jersey?” she asked, head tilted to the side and eyebrows puckered in worry, and for a minute I thought I was going to break down in tears. I didn’t, of course, because I didn’t know what I would have been crying about anyway, but she looked like she was ready to console and I was tempted to let her.
Instead, I sat up, tried to look something other than pathetic, and said, “I’m fine. Are you okay?”
She laughed at that, even though I hadn’t meant it to be funny when I said it. I could see where it was in hindsight, but at the time, I was all routine polite manners and perfect answers.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied, still grinning. “You wanna tell me what’s going on with you and Rachel?”
I’d known it was coming, and had spent the whole shift coming up with just the right answer. “I don’t really know,” was what came out of my mouth instead, some part of me apparently deciding to be honest.
That elicited another chuckle, and I almost told her I was glad I could offer such amusement, but I didn’t. I remembered Lil and her rules for working at the bar, and I didn’t want to give her any reason to think about how I would’ve broken one if only she’d had the foresight to make it.
“Fair enough,” she conceded, then leaned forward with a serious look in her eyes, and I knew I was about to get the lecture part of our little talk. “Whatever you decide it is, it doesn’t interfere with your job here or you’re gone, got it. Same goes for Rachel, but she already knows that.”
It seemed like that was all of it, and I felt fairly relieved. After all, it could have been so much worse. But then, she leaned forward even more, and it was all I could do not to cringe back. “And, I’m only gonna tell you this once, Jersey… Rachel’s not as tough as she looks. Hurt her, and I’ll take it personally.”
Hurt her? Hurt Rachel? I wondered if we knew the same girl and could only come to the conclusion that Lil had some vested interest in Rachel’s well-being that I couldn’t begin to fathom. But, laser blue eyes were cutting into me, waiting on my affirmation that I’d treat Rachel’s sensibilities like the delicate flowers they apparently were, so I wasn’t about to argue the point. Instead I just nodded yes and fled the scene.
Of course, I ran smack into Rachel as soon as I left the office, probably because she was the last person I wanted to see at that moment. Nearly knocked her down, which I think came as a surprise to both of us, and had to grab her by the arm to steady her. Talk about role-reversal… but maybe there was some reason it was predestined to happen, because as I reached out for her, fingers wrapping firmly around her forearm, she seemed somehow fragile. I mean, take away the glower and the attitude, and she wasn’t so different from me. Just a girl, and kind of a scrawny one at that. She was also a whole wide world of new possibilities for me, and I was probably putting more on her shoulders than she could manage to carry, but I decided in that split second that she was my lifeline.
“You okay?” she asked, even white teeth nibbling nervously at her lower lip, the two words asking a multitude of things. The collision, my meeting with Lil, the day before… I think she was asking about all of them, and leaving it up to me to pick which question I answered.
I didn’t give it a lot of thought, undoubtedly because not thinking had been working out so well for me. Instead, I smiled and said, “Yeah, I’m fine. You wanna go get something to eat when we get finished here?”
She looked confused for a minute, probably because she hadn’t expected the offer, but after a second, gave me a guarded nod. “I think I’d like that,” she rasped, because with a voice like hers, you couldn’t do much other than that, and then she smiled back. It was at that moment, I think, that I became infatuated.
Infatuation aside, I still didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Were we dating, screwing, going to start a knitting circle? Well, so we weren’t going to start a knitting circle. I at least knew that, but to tell the truth, it wasn’t much. It was difficult to quantify what was going on though, and Rachel wasn’t helping matters much. We went to breakfast that morning and she asked me questions and listened to the whole sorry tale of what had happened with Kevin and about how I couldn’t write, and just nodded and looked interested and paid for the food when the ticket came.
When we left the restaurant, she walked me back to my apartment even though we had to hike ten blocks and take the subway, only to leave me with a soul-stealing kiss and a muttered, “I think you need to take things slow,” in the hallway outside my door.
After that… I guess I can cop to it. We were dating. We’d go out for breakfast almost every morning after our shift, then sometimes, she’d show me around the city. She’d grown up there, and knew all the places I never could have found even if I’d lived there another ten years. We fed pigeons and ducked in small, out of the way shops, and after a few weeks, she took me to see her old neighborhood. She was Irish, which I wouldn’t have guessed. Lil closed the bar down on Mondays, meaning it was pretty much the only night we could be together somewhere other than work, so for a couple of weeks, we’d venture down there and sit at a pub she’d always gone to ‘back in the day’, toss back Guinness, NewCastle, Bass… whatever was on tap, and watch the show. Sometimes it was dancing, sometimes a band, but whatever we ended up doing, I enjoyed it.
Rachel was different outside work. I guess that’s pretty much a given with anybody, and it’s not as if she took up the conversational skills of a five-year-old on speed, but she could be pretty damn funny when she wanted to be, and always interesting. It took a while, but I was able to add up the verbal history with the physical one she showed me, combine it with the hours I spent just watching her, and ended up with a pretty good picture of just who Rachel was. She was a whole hell of a lot more than I ever would have guessed, and fleshing her out from the one dimensional girl I knew at the bar to the three dimensional person she was didn’t do a thing to help me figure out what I was doing.
It took me a month and a half to coax her back into my bed. Not that I begged or anything, but she’d gotten the notion that she needed to take things slow for my mental well-being, or something like that, and seemed to be stuck on the idea. By that time, I’d started writing again, and just about everything I turned out was all about longing and desire with a hint of sexual frustration thrown in just for fun. The producers ate it up. It signaled a new stage in my career, they said. I was dark and edgy. I didn’t bother to tell them the truth.
As soon as she gave in, we spent all our days divided between her apartment and mine. In a way, it was a good thing we both worked at the bar. The schedule would have been hell on a normal relationship, what with us getting in when other people were just waking up to get ready for work, and us heading off to work when people were getting off, but I kind of liked it. Maybe a deeper thinker than me would say the dark hides a multitude of sins, but that wasn’t it. It was more like we lived in our own special world, and kissing her goodnight just as the sun came up was one of the things I enjoyed most.
I guess I should have told my Dad about her before I showed up to his wedding rehearsal with her as my guest, but he seemed to take it okay. I mean, sure he was a bit dumbfounded at first, but he recovered like a champ, smiling and shaking her hand and introducing her around. Gloria thought I’d lost my mind, or at least that’s what she told me before asking me about a hundred embarrassing questions about our sex life that I’d still like to forget. It was kind of worth it, though, to see how jealous she looked when I answered some of them.
We danced together at the wedding reception, even though she swore I’d never get her out on the dance floor, and I took her capitulation as a sign that she was falling in love with me too. I mean, not only had she worn the simple black dress I’d told her looked beautiful on her, but she let me lead.
At the end of the month, she moved into my apartment.
Kevin came by one morning while I was in the shower. Rachel answered the door in her underwear because that was all she’d been wearing when the doorbell rang, and sometimes she didn’t seem to realize that propriety was a bigger issue in my apartment building than it had been in hers. He tried to force his way inside, which was when she decided to explain exactly why he wasn’t wanted there any more.
It made him angry, I guess, because he called her a dyke bitch. She broke his nose.
He must not have reported it to the police, probably too embarrassed that his ex-fiancee had a new girlfriend to do so, which was fine by me. Rachel didn’t have any more anger management classes she could attend anyway, and Lil would’ve been pissed if she had to cover Rach’s shift because she’d gotten herself thrown in county for a week. He’d dropped a card on the floor in the middle of the fight, and I read it later. It was full of ‘I’m sorrys’ and ‘We can work this out’, and it wasn’t until later that I realized the day he’d dropped by was the day we’d set as our tentative wedding date.
When I told that to Rachel, she cried. At first I thought she must have just been a little more hormonal than usual, but when we crawled into bed the next morning, she told me she loved me and that she was afraid I didn’t love her back. She was afraid she’d end up just like Kevin, flat on her ass in the hallway, looking up at the new person in my life. The prospect made me so sad, I started crying myself.
I guess I really do love her, because that’s what I told her and that’s what seems to make sense. So far, I’m nothing but happy, with music rushing through me, all sappy love songs, but that’s okay. We’re thinking about looking for a new place. The new one won’t have any memories but the ones we make in it, and I like the idea.
This weekend, we’re going to meet her family. I’m a little nervous, but she promises they’ll like me. Doesn’t really matter, I guess, because they’re stuck with me either way.
Sometimes I still can’t believe it, but I figure it has to be true. Hell, I’m even thinking scary words like forever, but I can’t tell her that just yet. No, I think that like everything else about this relationship, I’m just going to let things happen.
Planning’s a waste of time anyway.
|Harper||Coyote Ugly||Main Index|