“Just slide it through your fingers.”
“No, don’t jerk. Use smooth strokes.”
“Here. Let me show you.”
“You’re going to show me?”
“So you can see how to do it just right.”
Waverly wraps one arm around Nicole and slides her other hand down her arm until it’s resting on top of Nicole’s.
When she draws back, the stick glides effortlessly through Nicole’s fingers, striking the cue ball with a loud crack. The balls scatter across the table, and when the dust settles, both a stripe and solid have been pocketed.
“Good job, baby!” Waverly claps and squeals and throws her arms around Nicole. “I knew you’d get it!”
Nicole leans her pool cue against the railing and wraps her own arms around Waverly’s waist, framing her against the table.
“You’re a good teacher,” she says with a smirk, leaning down to kiss behind Waverly’s ear. She smiles when Waverly shivers against her.
Nicole huffs out a soft laugh against Waverly’s ear and then pulls away when the fake vomiting starts up behind them.
“Hiiiii, Wynonnaaaa,” she drawls, downing one of the shots Wynonna has just brought to the table with her.
“You two should get a room,” Wynonna grumbles, taking her own shot. Waverly waggles her eyebrows at her sister from behind Nicole’s back and then moves to grab the third shot. “Ew. No. On second thought, you should get two rooms. In different buildings. Separately. Not together.”
“Nic just sank two on the break,” Waverly says proudly, taking a sip of her beer. “We’ll have her earning her keep in no time.”
“Hey…” Nicole whines and Wynonna snorts, pushing a fresh longneck toward her.
“’Bout time she does,” she deadpans. She waits until Nicole is just about to take a drink before slugging her in the shoulder with a wink.
“Maybe it’s time to test out your teaching skills,” Nicole grumbles, rubbing her shoulder. “Are you ready to play against me in a game?” she asks Waverly, her dimple showing.
“Oh, baby,” Waverly sing-songs, patting Nicole’s cheek smugly. “There’s no way you’re ready to play against me. Maybe we can have you start practicing against ol’ Cecil.” Waverly nods her head at the slightly above middle-aged man sitting alone in the corner by the juke box, scratching his stubbly chin while he downs another beer.
“Is that so,” Nicole says flatly, setting her beer down and folding her arms across her chest.
“Aw, don’t take it personally, Haughtpants.” Wynonna grins and smacks her on the ass playfully. “Wave practically grew up in this bar. She’s the only one that can beat even me.”
“So you’re saying…” Nicole looks back and forth between the two smug sisters, “…that I have no chance in hell of winning a game against Waverly.”
“Sorry, Officer Haughtie,” Wynonna says, stuffing a handful of peanuts in her mouth. “But, no.”
“Hmm. And what about you?” Nicole asks, trailing a finger along Waverly’s jaw. “You feel the same way?”
“Nic. Baby. You know I love you, but…” A smirk turns up the corners of Waverly’s lips and her eyes twinkle. “Wynonna’s right. You’ve got more of a shot making out with Jeremy than you do at beating me in a game of pool.”
There’s a moment of silence while Nicole takes a long pull from her beer. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand and chews on her lip as she taps her palm against the table.
“Well, then. Baby. Maybe it’s time for you to put your money where your mouth is.”
“LA LA LA LA LA,” Wynonna yells, covering her ears with her hands. “I don’t want to hear anything about where her mouth has been.”
“You, too, Earp,” Nicole says, raising an eyebrow pointedly.
“Whoa now, Haughtsauce.” Wynonna wags a scolding finger. “Just because you think I have a top-shelf ass doesn’t mean you can start propositioning me in front of my sister.”
Waverly rolls her eyes at Wynonna and turns her attention back to Nicole, resting a hand on her bare forearm, just under the cuff of her rolled up sleeve.
“You’re learning quickly, Nicole,” she says, her voice dripping with sweetness. “But don’t let your wounded pride write checks your Haught ass can’t cash,” she finishes with a giggle.
“Okay, this is definitely happening now,” Nicole says, her nostrils flaring. “I bet both of you that I can win a game of pool against Waverly.”
“It’s your funeral,” Wynonna snorts. “I could always use a new bottle of Masterson’s 10 Year Rye.”
“That’s a hundred dollar bottle of whiskey!” Nicole splutters, her eyes bulging.
“Hey, this was your brilliant idea, Haughtmess.”
“Fine,” Nicole says, refusing to back down now. “Masterson’s it is. But if I win, you have to clean out the refrigerator at the station. Some of those old takeout containers have been in there for over a month, and Nedley made me do it last time.”
“Gross.” Wynonna wrinkles her nose and downs another shot. “Good thing I won’t have to worry about it.”
“We’ll see about that.” Nicole takes a step closer to Waverly, settling between her knees and planting her hands on the high back of the stool on either side of Waverly’s shoulders. “And what about you, hmm? What are your terms?” she asks, her voice low as she lets her lips hover just inches from Waverly’s.
“Nic…” Waverly breathes, moving forward to kiss her and whining when Nicole pulls back out of her reach. “Are you sure you want to do this? I’m not going to take it easy on you just because you’re trying to distract me.”
“I’m doing no such thing,” Nicole says, taking a step back. “Now tell me, Waverly Earp. What. Are. Your. Terms.”
“You asked for it, Nicole Haught,” Waverly says with a cocky grin, mischief flashing in her eyes and spreading over her entire face. “When I win, you have to do anything I say.”
She reaches out and grabs Nicole by the collar, dragging her forward and kissing her roughly, all teeth and tongue and fire, until Wynonna groans and throws a handful of peanuts at them. Waverly laughs and flattens her hand against Nicole’s chest, shoving her away.
“Anything,” she says again, reaching out to pat Nicole’s cheek once more for emphasis.
Nicole stands there in a daze for a long moment, her knees a little wobbly and her eyes glazed over, before she finally licks her lips and answers in a shaky voice.
“Deal.” She clears her throat, trying to pull herself together. “But the same goes for you when you lose.”
“This oughta be good,” Wynonna says with glee, rubbing her hands together. “We’re gonna need more shots!” She hops off of her stool and swaggers back over to the bar, leaving Nicole and Waverly alone for the moment.
“So…” Nicole starts, a little awkwardly. “Should we flip to see who breaks, or…?”
“Oh, sweetie,” Waverly giggles. “I’ll let you break. It’s the least I can do.”
Nicole’s smile is tight, but she nods and fishes a couple of quarters out of the pocket of her jeans, moving over to the table and slipping them into the coin-operated mechanism in order to retrieve the pair of balls she’d pocketed right before all of this started.
“Here. I’ll do that since you’re breaking,” Waverly says, taking the wooden rack out of Nicole’s hands and gathering up the rest of the scattered balls.
Nicole wanders over to help Wynonna carry the two trays full of shots and beers while Waverly prepares the table.
“You have no idea what you just got yourself into, Haught,” Wynonna says, shaking her head as they both do a shot.
“We’ll see,” Nicole says with a shrug before taking a long pull of her beer chaser. Wynonna thinks she sees something flash across her face, but it’s gone before she can say anything and Nicole is already chalking her cue, preparing to break.
Waverly pushes up on her toes to kiss Nicole on the cheek and pulls away with a smug grin.
“A kiss for luck,” she says, slipping her hand into Nicole’s back pocket and giving a playful squeeze. “You’re gonna need it, baby.”
“Mmhmm,” Nicole hums, barely paying attention. She’s completely focused on the table now and steps away from Waverly to set up her break.
She places the cue ball in the kitchen, adjusting it a couple of times before she gets it exactly where she wants it, then wraps her fingers around the rail and slips her cue between her index and middle finger, letting it rest against the rail for stability.
“That’s… that’s not how I showed you, Nic…” Waverly says, confusion furrowing her brow as Nicole lines up for her shot.
Nicole turns and looks directly at Waverly as she draws her cue back. She never once breaks eye contact as she snaps her arm forward, putting the full weight of her body behind her thrust. The tip of her cue connects squarely with the cue ball, driving through it as it rockets forward and crashes into the rest of the balls, resulting in an explosive break.
“What…” Waverly and Wynonna both gasp in unison, their jaws hanging open.
Nicole just shrugs with an evil grin.
“I’ve found that I have more control, and therefore more power behind my break, if I do it this way.”
“Oh, shit…” Wynonna mutters, downing another shot while Waverly continues to gape, speechless.
By the time the balls have begun to settle, two solids and one stripe have dropped and Nicole’s eyes are still locked with Waverly’s.
“Look, babe,” she says innocently, returning the kiss on the cheek. “I sunk three this time. The practice is already paying off.”
She saunters around the end of the able, purposely adding a little extra sway to her hips, knowing full well that Waverly is watching her. Splaying her hand on the felt, Nicole tucks her thumb in close to her forefinger.
Waverly stumbles back a couple of steps until she’s leaned against her stool, swallowing dryly and then shooting her whiskey to wet her lips.
“What is happening right now?” she croaks, looking at Wynonna.
“Babygirl,” Wynonna says, watching as Nicole easily slots her cue in the bridge she formed for it and makes a smooth stroke that sends the cue ball toward the 4-ball, pocketing it in the far corner. “We just got sharked.”
“Shitsticks…” Waverly mumbles.
“Oh, what are you complaining about?” Wynonna shoves at her shoulder. “We’re both about to get fucked, but at least you’re gonna enjoy it. I’ll be sorting through month-old Chinese food while your ginger pop-tart is making you scream.”
All Waverly can do is groan and hide her face in her hands.
Sinking her previous shot had given Nicole a nice advantage, but she’d unfortunately left herself with a less than desirable lay for her next one. Having no balls near open pockets and no real shot overall, she chooses instead to play defensively. Lining up a bank shot, she hits the cue ball with left-english, sending it toward the side rail. The heavy spin shoots it off sharply in another direction on the rebound, where it gently strikes one of Nicole’s solids and follows it closely. The cue ball stops less than an inch from it, settling directly behind another one as well.
Waverly’s boxed in, and it’s going to make any shot she might try to take extremely difficult.
“Daaaaaamn…” Wynonna lets out a low whistle as Nicole comes back over to the table and sips her beer. “That was a low blow there, Haughtcakes.”
“Didn’t have much choice,” Nicole shrugs. “It was either that or risk scratching. Can’t have that now, can we?” She winks at Waverly, and adds sweetly, “Oh. I think it’s your shot now, babe.”
Waverly glares at her and then slides off of her stool and grabs her cue. She stalks around the table a couple of times, checking the angles from this way and that.
“You know you’re gonna pay for that, right?” Wynonna slings an arm over the back of her stool, assuming her signature slouch. “For all of this, actually.”
“Technically…” Nicole does another shot and quirks an eyebrow. “I’m not the one that’s gonna be paying up.”
“Bullshit.” Wynonna flicks a peanut at her. “You and I both know she’s eventually gonna end up making you pay. No way you’re getting away with this.”
“Sometimes it’s worth it,” Nicole says with a smirk.
“Gross, dude. That’s my sister.” Wynonna kicks at her under the table. “Damn, girl. You’ve got some balls, though. Pulling this off.”
“Not as many as Waverly does,” she grins, taking a drink of her beer while she watches Waverly still circling the table.
She eventually settles on taking a stab at a bank shot, but the angle is precarious, and she ends up faulting when the cue ball grazes one of Nicole’s solids.
“Mother-fudging…” Waverly tries to mutter it under breath, but she’s too focused on her error and she’s been drinking and she’s definitely frustrated. Instead of a mumble, she barks it out sharply and the other two can hear it all the way at the table.
“On second thought,” Wynonna says over the top of her beer mug, “it had better be worth it.”
Nicole just laughs and saunters over to the table, stopping behind Waverly and letting her hands fall to her hips while her chin rests on top of her head. Waverly instinctively melts back into Nicole, momentarily forgetting her aggravation.
Until Nicole reminds her.
“That was unfortunate,” she breathes into Waverly’s ear as she reaches around her to grab the cue ball. Waverly twists out of her grasp and shoves at her shoulder, making Nicole chuckle. “Don’t worry, baby,” she says, dropping a quick peck to her cheek before walking around to the head of the table. “You’ll get ‘em next time.”
“You’re lucky we’re in public right now,” Waverly grumbles and jabs a finger in Nicole’s direction. Nicole just laughs as she stomps back over to the table and snatches a shot glass out of Wynonna’s hand and downs it.
Nicole rolls the cue ball between her fingers while she considers where to place it for her next shot. Now that she’s not trapped behind a bunch of stripes, she has a couple of options open to her. Eventually, the 5-ball near the side pocket and the 2-ball farther down the table near the opposite corner pocket both catch her eye.
Her lips curl up slowly as she begins to formulate a plan. After a moment of calculations, she places the cue ball in one corner of the kitchen and lines herself up with the 5-ball. She glances over at the table, casually checking to make sure Wynonna and Waverly are both watching, and she’s pleased to find Waverly staring at her with her cheeks tinged pink and her mouth slightly open.
Making a show of leaning over the table, the tank top under her open buttondown hanging low, Nicole rests her cue in the cradle between her thumb and index finger and is sure to flex her arm a little unnecessarily as she draws it back and snaps it forward again, striking the cue ball with precise english.
The muted gasp she hears coming from the table is not lost on her.
The cue ball darts forward, clipping the side of the 5-ball and nudging it into the side pocket before the spin ricochets it back across the table where it strikes the 2-ball and drops it in the corner pocket.
“Are you shitting me?!”
Nicole pretends she doesn’t hear it, keeping her face turned toward the table in order to hide her laughing. She follows the cue ball to the other end of the table and her grin turns to a frown when she sees that she’s not left with much to work with. Waverly still has six balls on the table, and they’re all in her way. There’s not even a good defensive shot she can take this time, so she settles for making a respectable attempt at a tough bank shot, but isn’t particularly surprised when the angle is a bit off and her 3-ball knocks back and forth between the two railings a couple of times like a game of pinball.
“Go get ‘em, babygirl!” Wynonna shouts! “Show her what it means to be an Earp!” She gives Waverly an encouraging shove toward the pool table and she stumbles forward a step. Nicole’s hands are immediately on her arms, steadying her. She leads Waverly the rest of the way to the table, her arm still slung over her shoulders.
“You heard her, babe,” she says resting her cheek on the top of Waverly’s head. “Make me proud.”
“I’ll make you something,” Waverly mutters as she chalks her cue and surveys the table, deciding where to start.
Rather than returning to the table with Wynonna, Nicole leans against her stick instead, watching Waverly move with rapt attention. She sets up for a quick and easy shot on one of the side pockets, and Nicole can’t help but notice the way her crop top rides a little higher up her torso every time she drops into her stance to slide the cue through her fingers.
Her girlfriend may be small – some might even say petite – but she’s all tanned skin and toned muscles and defined abs. God, those abs. She’s a coiled spring, ready to strike at a moment’s notice, and she packs quite the punch. Nicole lets herself get completely lost in every move, every ripple, every flex while she works, concentration setting heavily across her brow.
Waverly sinks two more balls with no issues, and Nicole’s mouth gets dryer and dryer with each shot, suddenly thinking of a number of other things they could be doing on this pool table. She shakes her head out of fantasyland as Waverly sets up for her third shot. She shoots the cue ball at the 9-ball, sending the stripe in a perfect line toward the corner pocket. But before it falls, the rebound of the cue ball inadvertently knocks the 6-ball into the side pocket first.
“That’s rough, buddy,” Nicole says before she can stop herself.
“Did you just…” Waverly whirls around to face her and Nicole can see something flash in her eyes. “Okay, Prince Zuko. Let’s see who’s laughing when you’re sleeping on the couch tonight.”
“I know you play for the other team now, sis,” Wynonna shouts, drawing their attention. “But I don’t think that’s supposed to apply to contests like this.”
“If it makes you feel any better,” Nicole says, leaning in close with a smirk, “there’s something in the break room fridge that smells so bad I can’t even stand to open the door all the way.”
Waverly’s jaw flexes, but even she can’t stop the way the corners of her lips twitch.
Nicole winks and turns back to the table, frowning when she sees what she’s left with. Her only remaining ball is the elusive 3-ball from earlier. It’s even situated nicely right by one of the corner pockets. And the cue ball is only a few feet away.
But both of Waverly’s remaining stripes are right between them.
She studies the table, fully aware that Waverly is chewing on her lip and watching her the entire time. She holds her cue out in front of her, looking down the shaft like the barrel of a gun, aiming it at the far railing as if measuring an angle. She swings it around and checks a couple of different options, and when she finally settles on the best position, she moves to set up for her shot.
Nicole hears Waverly gasp behind her, and she grins, knowing that she’s staring at her ass while she leans low over the table to stabilize her cue. The muscles in her forearms ripple as she grips the handle and uses her wrist to draw it back just right. With a final, steadying breath, she thrusts forward, striking the cue ball and sending it scooting across the table in the opposite direction of the 3-ball.
It strikes the far railing near the first diamond from the pocket and rebounds sharply, immediately hitting the mirrored diamond on the railing just opposite, directly on the other side of the pocket. The cue ball travels the entire length of the table back toward Nicole, beginning to slow as it hits the third rail, also on the first diamond from the pocket. Before it can complete the circuit on the fourth rail, though, it finally cuts across the edge of the 3-ball, sinking it neatly before coming to rest harmlessly against the bumper on the rail directly in front of Nicole.
“Unfuckingbelievable,” Waverly breathes, nearly dropping her cue.
Nicole beams, dimple on full display, unable to contain herself. All she has left is the 8-ball, and she’s got a shot that’s perfectly lined up along the side rail. Unfortunately, it’s not an entirely simple shot because Nicole is right-handed, and even with her long, lanky limbs, leaning over the entire table to post up is going to be awkward.
Waverly crosses her arms, raising an eyebrow that clearly conveys the what are you going to do now? without need for words.
A slow, devious smirk spreads over Nicole’s face as she walks around to the rail, standing on the wrong side for her to set up for a conventional shot. Instead, she flips the cue around behind her back and leans her hip heavily against the table. Waverly’s eyes go wide as she splays her hand in the same technique she typically uses for every other shot and lines the cue up like she normally would.
“Oooooo, lookit Haughtshot!” Wynonna slurs to no one in particular as Nicole’s long arms work easily behind her to pull the cue back, preparing to strike.
At the last minute, Nicole looks up at Waverly, locking eyes again.
“8-ball. Corner pocket,” she says, continuing to watch Waverly’s face as she strokes forward, just barely nudging the cue ball enough to send it into the black ball. It walks along the rail and drops in the pocket and for a moment, the only sound either of them can hear is the hollow echo of it rolling along the chute to the ball collection area in the belly of the table.
“I… I don’t…” Waverly stutters, resting her cue against the edge of the table. “What even just happened?” she asks, incredulous.
“What just happened,” Nicole says, setting her own cue down and moving around the table to where Waverly is standing, still in shock. She uses her entire body to pin Waverly against the table and nips once at her neck before murmuring in her ear. “Is now you have to do anything I say.”
“I am not putting that in my mouth.”
“Come on. You’ll like it. I promise.”
“This is not what I was expecting…” Waverly pouts, looking up at Nicole.
“A deal’s a deal, baby,” Nicole smirks down at her. “Now open up.”
Waverly pulls away slightly, frowning.
“Why did you even let me teach you in the first place? Just to make a fool of me?” The hurt in her voice is obvious and Nicole rests back on her heels.
“Of course not, Waves.” She smiles at Waverly. “You were just so excited to teach me.”
Waverly continues to frown, her brow furrowed, and Nicole’s heart lurches a little in her chest.
“Besides,” she says, reaching out to smooth the pad of her thumb over the creases in Waverly’s forehead. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an ulterior motive.” She leans down and kisses her softly. “You were draping yourself all over me, and it was really hot,” she whispers, grinning into the kiss.
Waverly pushes her back on her haunches, and Nicole nearly loses her balance. She places a hand on Waverly’s knee to steady herself.
“I was going to tell you that I already knew how to play. But you didn’t exactly give me a chance.” She lets her thumb start rubbing little circles on Waverly’s knee. “You just started putting your hands on me, and I had no desire to make you stop.”
She waggles her eyebrows a little and Waverly finally relents, grinning back at her and sliding her hand up Nicole’s arm. She stops when she reaches her bicep, giving it a little squeeze before cocking her head to the side curiously.
“How do you know how to play like that? That’s not just casual skill.” Nicole can see Waverly is clearly impressed and she blushes a little as she shrugs.
“My grandparents had a table in their basement when I was growing up. Grandpa used to play with my mom all the time, and then they both taught me and Hayley.”
“That’s a lot nicer than learning because you grew up in a bar,” Waverly admits, a little embarrassed.
“Hey,” Nic says, squeezing her knee. “You were there with Curtis. And Gus. And Shorty was your family, too. It’s not really so different.”
“Yeah,” Waverly says, chewing on her lip for a moment. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. It wasn’t that bad.” She smiles at that and sits up to kiss Nicole again. “Well, I hope you enjoyed that while it lasted,” she says, poking Nicole in the ribs. “You might have won this round because you caught me by surprise. But that’s not happening again.”
“Oh, really now?” Nicole quirks an eyebrow.
“Yes, really,” Waverly insists.
“You know, Icarus. That kind of attitude is what got you into this situation in the first place.” Waverly sticks her tongue out and Nicole narrows her eyes. “Which brings us back to where we started. I believe it’s time for you to eat your words.” She taps Waverly’s jaw. “Now open up, baby.”
Waverly whines, but eventually gives in, opening her mouth and sticking out her tongue like a kid at the doctor.
Nicole smirks down at her and gently places the purple object on her tongue.
Waverly takes it in her mouth and immediately makes a face trying not to gag.
Nicole just laughs as she pops an orange one in her own mouth.
“How can you eat these?” Waverly’s face is all scrunched up, and Nicole thinks it’s adorable.
“Excuse me, but Sour Jelly Babies are the best candy in the entire world. This was the only way I could ever get you to try one.”
“Did you have to give me a grape one? Yuck.” She’s doing her best to chew the sour gummy without letting it touch her tongue.
“That’s not grape,” Nicole laughs, eating another. “It’s blackcurrant.”
“YUCK,” Waverly says again.
“Baby. The blackcurrant ones are so good.” She digs another purple one out and eats it herself.
Waverly’s jaw finally locks up and she flips Nicole off.
“I hate you,” she seethes through her clenched teeth.
Nicole leans forward, licking the sour sugar off of Waverly’s lips before threading her fingers into her hair and kissing her deeply.
“No, you don’t, Waverly Earp,” she breathes into Waverly’s mouth, tipping her backward gently until she’s settled on top of her on the bed.
“No, I don’t, Nicole Haught,” Waverly murmurs before putting her mouth to much better use.