Chapter 1: At a Loss
Waverly got the message that her uncle had passed away a week ago. She was in Wyoming with Champ. She decided to travel with him on the rodeo circuit as he tried to keep his bull riding career alive. He wasn’t a great bull rider, but he was an even worse boyfriend. Waverly lost track of the amount of times she had caught him cheating on her. This made it even easier to leave him once she got the letter telling her of her uncle’s passing. She and Champ didn’t break up, but she made it clear she was not going to rejoin him on tour. She was going home for the funeral and did not plan on leaving anytime soon. Her family needed her.
Waverly arrived in Purgatory the day of the funeral. She was picked up by her sister and they drove to the Earp Ranch. That was where they were having the funeral and where Waverly would be living. Her older sister, Wynonna, and her were always close. Wynonna always protected her when they were kids. Their father was a cruel man who drank too much and took his anger out on the girls. He died when Waverly was six and Wynonna was twelve. He was driving drunk after a particularly heavy night of drinking and wrapped his truck around a pole. That left both girls if the care of their Aunt Gus and Uncle Curtis. Curtis ran the farm after Ward’s death, but the girls went to live with Gus and Curtis at their place in town. Waverly left home when she was eighteen to move in with her high school boyfriend Champ. They left purgatory three years later to travel the rodeo circuit. It has been three years since she has been home. Her sister and her texted and facetimed every day, but it wasn’t the same. It was sad why she came home, but she couldn’t hide the love and excitement when she saw her sister waiting for her at the airport.
“How was your flight Waves?” Wynonna asks as they load Waverly’s bags in the car.
“As good as any six-hour flight can be.” Waverly jokes. “But seriously, how are you and Gus holding up?”
“Honestly, it was really crappy in the beginning. But it gets a little easier every day. It helps to still work on the farm. The man used to ride my ass but I have to admit, he taught me a lot about life on that farm.”
“Yeah, well he was the best.” Waverly says.
“Waves, I know you and him were really close. You don’t have to hide your grief. Especially from me.” Wynonna says, placing a comforting hand on Waverly’s knee. Wynonna wasn’t a hugger, and she is driving, but Waverly understands the intent.
Waverly smiles a little as the tears begin to fall. “I should have been here Nonna. I should have been with him.”
“There was nothing anyone could do. No one could save him. Trust me, the ranch hands tried. But they don’t call it Sudden Cardiac Death for nothing.” Wynonna says, squeezing her hand.
“Yeah I guess you are right.” Waverly concedes, wiping the tears on her face. “Wait. You are sober?!”
“Waves?” Wynonna clutches her chest with her free hand in mock outrage. “Of course, I am sober… or at least I am until we get back to the house and I don’t have to drive anymore.”
“That’s what I thought.” Waverly smiles a little. “Some things never change.”
They reach Earp Ranch within the hour and are greeted by their aunt Gus, who is sitting on the porch. As soon as she is close enough, Waverly launches herself into her aunt’s arms. They eventually make it inside and Gus sets about making a small brunch. People would be arriving in the early afternoon for the funeral. Although, it was more of a celebration of life. Waverly catches up with Gus as Wynonna starts to get her drink on.
“Hey, there are a couple people that want to say hello.” Gus says, pointing outside the front window. Waverly immediately recognizes the two men standing outside. She bolts out the front door and is once again launching herself into familiar arms. Shorty hugs her with a fierceness and swings her around with the momentum.
“Howdy Little Ma’am!” He says with a huge smile and a laugh. Waverly squeaks when he puts her down and she gives Nedley a tight hug too. She missed them so much and she can see it reflected back to her. They are family as far as she is concerned.
“We wanted to give you a little while to settle in before we introduced you to everyone.” Shorty says with a small smile.
They walk over to a table where all the ranch hands are eating snacks and drinking water. Nedley goes about introducing them. She waves to Pete, he has been working for Curtis since Waverly was fifteen. She greets Doc kindly, having met him briefly before she left with Champ. Nedley then introduces her to Dolls. He is quiet, but polite and offers her his condolences.
“Where is Haught?” Shorty asks, noticing the absence of their final ranch hand.
“In the stables, I think. Just got back from a ride around the fence, checking for any damage after the wind from last night.” Pete says.
“Alright.” Shorty says. “But Haught better be ready by the time people start showing up. I don’t want to see anyone working today, ya hear?”
Everyone nods in agreement and Shorty seems content with the response.
Shorty walks Waverly over to the house and they talk. “So, are Haught and Dolls the only newbies?” Waverly asks.
“We had another one, Carl. But he couldn’t keep up with the work.” Shorty says. “But I have to warn you, your sister has taken a liking to Haught.”
“Of course she has.” Waverly says with a small chuckle. Wynonna always had a think for rancher boys. Especially the ones that knew their shit.
The service is nice. It is sad, but also a bit comforting. Waverly reunites with old friends and townsfolk and makes small talk. She definitely could work a room with ease. She was definitely the least socially awkward of the Earp sisters. She spots Wynonna a couple of times, no longer even close to sober. Waverly is talking with Gus and a family friend when she sees Wynonna trip. She flinches and cringes, awaiting the sound of Wynonna’s body impacting the hardwood floor. But it doesn’t come. Waverly looks to see someone had caught Wynonna and is holding her steady. A tall, redhead has one of Wynonna’s arms slung over her shoulders and has her left arm supporting Wynonna at the waist. Gus notices Waverly’s attention is elsewhere and sees what has got her attention.
“That’s Nicole. I am pretty sure she is the only reason your sister is still vertical most nights. She really takes care of your sister. They have become good friends.” Gus says. Waverly observes as the redhead gives Wynonna a small smirk before moving her to the front porch.
Waverly brings her attention back, “Well I am glad she has a friend, and a good one. God knows she doesn’t have many good ones.”
“True.” Gus agrees.
“Excuse me. I better see if she is okay.” Waverly excuses herself and walks towards the front porch. She is stopped a few times but eventually makes it outside to find a very drunk Wynonna leaning on the railing next to the redhead.
“Wave!” Wynonna exclaims as her eyes focus on Waverly. “Nicole, this is my baby sister Waverly.”
The red head laughs and hands Wynonna a bottle of water. She gives her a look that says drink that, before turning her attention to Waverly. The redhead extends her right hand out to Waverly, left hand still steadying Wynonna. “I have been meaning to introduce myself. I’m Nicole. Nicole Haught. I believe I missed the introductions when you arrived earlier. My apologies.”
“Not a problem, Waverly Earp. Pleasure to meet you.” Waverly shakes her hand.
“The pleasure is mine Ma’am.” Nicole says. Gus calls for her and she looks up. “If you will excuse me.” Nicole releases Wynonna and walks over to Gus. Gus smiles at Nicole and places a hand on her back as she introduces Nicole to a member of the town city council.
Waverly looks away from Nicole and back at her sister. “You okay there?”
“Oh yeah. I am fine. Haughtstuff is taking good care of me. Who knew she would be the most useful hire Curtis ever made.” Wynonna comments.
Then it clicks in Waverly’s head. Haught. Nicole Haught. She is the other ranch hand. Wow. Okay.
The service is nearing an end, but Waverly is already at her end. She can only take so much of people’s pity and bad small talk. Wynonna passed out hours ago and Nicole and Dolls had to carry her upstairs to her room. Waverly needs some air and heads out to the front porch. She leans on the railing and looks out at the ranch. It’s beautiful at night. She notices a figure near one of the paddocks. The curve of the hips tells her it’s female and the fiery red hair tells her its Nicole. She walks up and kicks a rock unnecessarily, hoping to give her position away as to not startle the woman. Nicole doesn’t turn to look at her until Waverly is standing next to her. “You okay?” Waverly asks.
“I should be asking you that.” Nicole responds. “But yeah, I’m fine. Just needed some air. How are you doing?”
“As well as can be expected I guess. I love my uncle and I miss him already, but he wouldn't be too happy if I dwelled too much on it.” Waverly says. She looks over Nicole and takes her in. She looks to be about five foot nine. She has her hair in a tight french braid and it wearing little to no makeup. But she looks stunning. She has on a black and grey flannel shirt, a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of flats. It’s simple and adheres to Gus’ rule of the service being super casual. Waverly finds Nicole to be extremely beautiful and has to shake her head to clear the thoughts. What the hell Waves?
“That makes sense. I didn’t know your uncle very long, but he was extremely kind to me and struck me as a profoundly good man.” Nicole says.
“How long have you been working here?” Waverly asks.
“Just under a year and a half. Nedley brought me out here to help with a barn repair job one time. Your uncle was kind enough to hire me full time after he saw the work I did and figured out I had just gotten out of school.”
“School?” Waverly asks.
“Yeah, I just finished getting my bachelors degrees.”
“Degrees?” Waverly questions, emphasizing the s that indicated multiple degrees.
“Yup. But enough about me. I have heard quite a lot about you from everyone. Curtis gushed about you all the time. I now believe what people were saying.” Nicole deflects.
“Oh God. I hope only the good things.” Waverly blushes.
“All good. I promise.” Nicole says as she offers Waverly a kind smile.
“So, what exactly have you heard about me?” Waverly asks. But before Nicole can answer, Gus is calling Waverly back to the house.
“Some other time I guess.” Nicole says with a nod of her head. Waverly smiles at her before heading back to the house.
Earp Ranch was an interesting place. It was originally a horse breeding farm. But Curtis expanded it once he started running it. They still breed horses. But now, they also train horses and even have a small herd of cattle. They even grow some crops during season. Waverly wakes up the morning after the funeral and it takes her a moment to realize where she is. She is in her old room. It was completely plain besides the furniture. Waverly had five or six boxes with her stuff in the corner of the room. She should unpack them today. She decides to get some coffee first, so she heads downstairs. She is the only one down there. Wynonna would probably be asleep for several more hours considering it was only eight. Waverly makes some coffee and drinks it on the front porch. As she does, she watches the ranch hands work. Shorty and Nedley are moving the cattle, checking for issues. Pete is washing down the work truck with Doc. Nicole and Dolls emerge from the side lot some time later. They are both on horseback and are leading a stubborn horse, trying to get it into one of the paddocks. Each of them has a line and are trying to keep the horse under control. Both of their horses struggling to keep the other at bay. Nicole yells something at Dolls right before his line snaps. The bucking horse feels the release and uses it to its advantage. Nicole seems to anticipate the horses next move, because the next thing Waverly knows, Nicole is jumping down from her horse and trying to pull the horse into the paddock herself. She quickly ties down the end of her line to the metal gate of the paddock. The horse tries the struggle but it is no match for the gate. Nicole whistles and her horse comes to her. The mustang (not wanting the other horse near it) moves into the paddock to avoid it. Once the mustang is inside and the gate shuts, Nicole pulls out a knife and cuts the line, allowing the horse to be free in the small paddock. Nicole jogs over to Dolls and checks to make sure he is okay before removing her gloves. She shakes her head but just returns her hands to her gloves and gets back to work.
“That fucking bronco. Been giving us trouble for weeks.” Wynonna says, startling Waverly.
“Damn Wynonna. Wear a bell.” Waverly says as she tries to calm her rapid heart rate.
“What were you saying about the horse?” Waverly asks.
“It’s a total asshole. A friend of Curtis’ gave it to Nicole when they decided they didn’t stand a chance of breaking it. Curtis suggested Nicole, hoping she could do it. They agreed, if she could do it, she could keep him. He has been in the east field for the last four weeks. She hasn’t had the time to work with him yet.” Wynonna states sleepily. “I guess we will see.” She says as she walks back inside to go back to sleep.
Weeks pass and work continues on the ranch as normal. Everyone knows what they have to do and everything goes smoothly. Waverly has been home for four weeks now. She starts every day with her next step in her unpacking process. Today is the end. By the evening, Waverly has her room mostly unpacked and is satisfied it will do for now. Wynonna comes up the stairs and to her room.
“Wow, Wave. You got that done quick.” She says as she looks around the room.
“Yup. Wanted to get it over with. Now I can actually start working.” Waverly states proudly.
“Only you would work really hard, just to finish quicker so you can do more work.” Wynonna says, taking a swig from a bottle. “I just came up to remind you that we have the all hands on deck dinner tomorrow night. Curtis enforced it and it would be weird not to keep it going.”
They hear Dolls calling for Wynonna downstairs. Waverly heads down stairs just in time to hear Dolls enter the house.
“Wynonna. You got a first aid kit in here that has gauze? We need more than the stuff that is in the one outside.” He says calmly.
“What? Why do you need gauze?” Wynonna asks before Waverly can.
“Just a little rope burn. Not a big deal.” He says. “So? Gauze?”
Waverly stands up and grabs the first aid kit from the closet, but she doesn’t give it to Dolls. “I would like to see this little rope burn for myself. Been awhile since I got my hands dirty.” Waverly says suspiciously. Dolls doesn’t argue, but he looks a slight bit nervous as he leads Waverly and the extra first aid kit to one of the ranch hand cabins. Each ranch hand had their own little cabin. They enter one to find Nicole sitting on the bed with Nedley sitting on a stool by her side. He has her hand in his and the floor around them is a mess with first aid supplies. Nicole looks up and sees Waverly. Her head immediately falls.
“Damn Dolls, what happened to being discreet?” She says dryly. Not able to completely make the pain in her voice.
Waverly ignores the comment and step closer to Nicole. She sees the so called little rope burns and glares at Dolls. Nicole’s hands were a mess. The rope had gone in deep and the swelling and bleeding was pretty intense. The burns wrapped around both of her hands, but her left got the brunt of it. Her right hand would probably heal fine in a couple days if left untouched. Nedley stands from the stool and offers it to Waverly. She sits down and opens up the first aid kit.
“Heal up kid. I want you healthy. I don’t care if that means taking the whole day off tomorrow.” Nedley says. “Shorty agrees, you are banned from working with that horse or any ropes for at least a week.” Nicole goes to protest but gets a look from Waverly that tells her not to start. She resigns to nod her head as Dolls and Nedley leave the cabin.
Waverly looks at Nicole’s hand holding them at the fingertips as to not touch the angry lacerations. “God Nicole. What the hell were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I have a job to do and a lot of work to get done. I don’t have time to be injured.” Nicole says with a pout.
“Nicole this started weeks ago. Why did you let it get so bad? It had to hurt. Why ignore it?” Waverly asks as she looks Nicole’s hands over.
“I told you why Ma’am.”
“That answer isn’t good enough for me on the account of the fact that it is total bullshit. And please, for the love of god Nicole, call me Waverly.“
Waverly has come to know Nicole over the last couple weeks. She is wicked smart and fast on her feet. She is insightful and incredibly caring and observant. Something she is not: stupid. There is more to this that Nicole hasn’t said. Waverly thinks about all of this as she cleans the wrounds. She wraps them up properly, making sure not to restrict circulation and hands Nicole some painkillers that she refuses.
“Nicole? Can I ask you something?”
“Why is a college educated girl like yourself working as a ranch hand in Purgatory?”
Nicole sits and contemplates her thoughts before speaking. “I went to college on scholarship. So I really couldn’t find an excuse not to go. But my love has always been with the simple life. I couldn’t handle doing a job where I sit at a desk and do paperwork every day. I would much rather work my ass off all day in the heat, but do a job like this every day. It is just the type of person I am I guess.” Nicole says with a shrug.
“What were you on scholarship for?” Waverly asks.
“Competitive shooting.” Nicole answers.
“And what did you study?”
“I have a degree in Agricultural Systems Management and a degree in Animal Sciences.” Nicole says in a modest tone. “It is one of the reasons your uncle hired me. I had been helping him update the ranch and how it works.”
Waverly looks surprised. “You have two college degrees and still decided to work here. Wow.”
“It felt right, being here. Plus your uncle was a very persuasive man.” Nicole says with a small smile. But that smile falls almost as quickly as it came. “Waverly why do you keep asking me why I am here? Do you have a problem with me being here or…?”
“No! No. It’s not that.” Waverly says quickly. “I just want to understand. And I think part of me does.”
“Okay then.” Nicole says with a little bit of hesitation. She looks down at her bandaged hand. “Thank you. For… um… taking care of this. It really wasn’t necessary.”
“It was no problem. But I agree, you need to take it easy for the next couple of days.”
“Waverly.” Nicole starts to argue.
“Nicole. Don’t make me order you to as your boss.”
“Well what other way would you tell me?
“How about as your friend.” Waverly offers. “Nicole. Take it easy.”
Nicole looks stressed and won’t look up at Waverly. She fidgets with her bandage a bit, weighing her words, before speaking. “I will take it easy Ma’am.” Nicole finally says with some formality. “Thank you again.” Nicole stands and cleans up the mess. She walks Waverly to the door of the cabin and bids her goodnight.
Waverly walks back to the house, engrossed in her thoughts. There was a shift in Nicole. The woman who is always so warm and friendly completely shifted when Waverly mentioned them being friends. Nicole has been so kind to her since returning home. She is always so helpful and sweet. Did Nicole not like Waverly? Did she do something wrong? Waverly shakes the thoughts from her head as she enters the house. She sits on the couch where her sister is drinking straight from the Whiskey bottle.
“Nicole won’t be working on the mustang for the next couple days.” She says to her sister.
“Why?” Wynonna asks, mildly surprised. “She isn’t one to give up so easily.”
“She f’ed up her hands pretty bad.” Waverly comments in explanation.
“Ha of course she did. Guess she is on planning duties again.”
“Planning duties?” Waverly asks.
“She is redesigning the east barn. Wants to turn it into a legitimate stable so we can hold more horses and work on them more efficiently. Curtis had her working on it before he died. They used to work all day and then spend their nights drawing up blueprints and plans.”
“You alright Waves?
“Yeah, I think so.” She says. “I just can’t really get a read on her.”
“Haughtstuff? Yeah, she is different. But she is a good person. There are not enough good people in this hell hole town.” Wynonna comments bitterly.
“Yeah. I am just going to go upstairs, finish up and go to bed. Let me know if you need anything.
Waverly wakes up the next morning with a pounding headache. She bypasses waking Wynonna and goes straight for coffee. She drinks her coffee on the porch, as she does every morning. She watches Nicole and Dolls ride their horses around the different paddocks, checking on the cattle and horses. She can’t really figure out what happened last night with Nicole. She doesn’t know what caused the shift in the redhead’s demeanor. By the time she is finished, Nicole is riding out to the east barn (after being scolded by Shorty for working). Waverly doesn’t see Nicole for the rest of the day and Nicole even missed the mandatory all hands dinner. Wynonna apparently excused her for personal reasons. When Waverly asks why, everyone seems to know the answer, but no one says anything. Well, everyone except Waverly. She tries to let it go, but she can’t. Shorty notices her discomfort and does his best to console her. He pulls her aside after dinner and they sit on the steps that lead upstairs.
“Waverly dear, it isn’t our story to tell. Haught has some… personal things to sort out as of late. She hasn’t had a lot of privacy in the matter thus far, so we are doing our best to give her as much privacy as possible.” He says, patting her knee.
“I don’t even know what that means.” Waverly protests.
“Then ask Haught. She is the only witness that can truly give you the full picture. “
Nicole is working out in the east barn everyday now and has been for the last week. Waverly has been toying with what Shorty said since that night. She decides she wants to know and heads out to the east barn. She is taken completely off guard. Nicole has transformed the old, run down barn into a workshop. There are blueprints and papers on the walls. The lights are dim and there are large tables that are covered with papers. There is a huge workbench that is covered with tools. There is a stereo system on a makeshift shelf on the wall. There is country music playing loud and thus, Nicole doesn’t notice Waverly’s presence. Waverly taps Nicole on the shoulder and Waverly swears Nicole jumps a foot into the air.
“Shit! Waverly!” Nicole clutches a hand to her chest.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I guess the music didn’t help my entrance.” Waverly apologizes.
“It’s alright. I’m just a little jumpy.” Nicole shakes her hand and that easy smile spreads on her face. “Did you need me for something or…?”
“Well, I actually wanted to see what you are working on in here. Wynonna told me it was something you worked on with Curtis. Wanted to see it for myself.”
“Oh, yeah. Of course. Well, do you want me to give you the rundown?” Nicole asks.
“Sure.” Waverly says with a grateful smile.
Nicole leads her to various blueprints and papers. Explaining the plans and how each part ties into the next part. It was a brilliant plan and would definitely increase efficiency a lot. Nicole had estimates for supplies, a detailed timeline and a bunch of samples. Waverly was completely engulfed in it all. It was very uncle Curtis, but with a modern twist.
“Nicole, this is amazing.” Waverly praises as her eyes wander the various papers and samples.
“Thank you, but I cant take all the credit. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without your uncle. He had the original idea to renovate this place.” Nicole says, her respect for Curtis obvious in how she spoke of him.
“Yeah… well um… do you need any help?” Waverly asks. “I mean, if you want an extra set of hands, I would love to help you work on it.”
Nicole seems to think about it for a moment before responding, “That would be nice. But you are my boss and I don’t want you to feel obligated to help. But if you want to, I would love the help.”
“Great. What time do you start in the morning?” Waverly asks.
“Dawn.” Nicole says with a smile and a soft chuckle. “But you can just come in whenever you are free.”
Waverly laughs. “How about I come in later, but I’ll bring breakfast?”
Thanks for reading!
Waverly walks in the next morning at 8:30 am with breakfast in hand. She has two breakfast burritos in a bag and a cup of coffee. Nicole has her music playing as she measures several beams that stretch across the barn. She is up on a ladder, so she sees Waverly come in and she gives her a dimpled smile.
“Good morning!” Nicole says over the music. It isn’t super loud, but she is also 10 feet in the air.
“Hey. Breakfast?” Waverly asks with a smile. She raises the contents in her hands.
“Depends. What is it?” Nicole playfully counters, a smirk on her lips.
“Yum!” Nicole beams as she releases the tape measure back so it rolls back up. She descends the ladder and approaches the table where Waverly has placed a burrito rolled up in tinfoil.
“Thank you.” Nicole says as she unwraps the tinfoil and bites into the burrito. She moans and looks at Waverly. “This is amazing! What is in this?”
“Secret recipe. Would have to kill you if I told you.” Waverly jokes.
Nicole laughs, but then looks like she has an epiphany. She bolts over to a desk that has a coffee maker and some other stuff on it. She opens a drawer and pulls out a red packet. She walks back over to her burrito and Waverly. She rips the packet open and pours some on her burrito. She takes a bite with the sauce and gives an even more exaggerated moan.
“What is that?” Waverly asks, indicating the red packet.
“Taco sauce. Want some?”
“Is it like hot sauce or something?”
“Not really. It is a tiny bit hot and a tiny bit spicy. But really, it just enhances the flavors. Most don’t notice the heat or spice too much.” Nicole explains. “I love this stuff.”
Waverly eyes the red sauce suspiciously but still takes the packet from Nicole. She adds a small amount to her own burrito and takes a bite. Her eyes widen as the sauce reaches her taste buds.
“Holy shit! That’s amazing!” Waverly says.
“Right?!” Nicole exclaims. “It’s the best!”
Waverly pours some more on her burrito and takes aggressive bites. Nicole laughs at Waverly and shakes her head. She can’t stop herself from thinking about how cute Waverly is. They keep eating, passing the taco sauce back and forth, until the only thing that remains is a pile of tinfoil wrappings.
“So…” Waverly starts. “What are we doing today?”
“Well, I finished measuring the support beams in here this morning. The one on the left is strong and will be good to go. Just needs to be treated. But the beams on the right and center will have to be replaced. I was planning on going to the lumber and hardware store. I need to pick up two replacement beams, some metal reinforcements, and a lot of wood treatment. Want to tag along?”
“Yes. I would love… like… like to.” Waverly stutters. Trying to hold back her excitement.
“Alright. Wanna meet me at the house in ten minutes? I got to go pull my truck around.” Nicole asks.
“Sure.” Waverly agrees. She grabs her almost empty cup of coffee and heads out of the barn.
Nicole watches Waverly literally skip out of sight. She groans and lets her face fall into her hands. What the hell are you doing Haught? She is straight. She is in a relationship. She is your friend’s sister. And she is your boss. Nicole groans once more. She shakes out her limbs and takes a deep breath. “Okay.” She says as she walks out of the barn and to the back lot.
“Nice truck.” Waverly comments as she hops in to the cab of Nicole’s Ram 3500 pickup truck.
“Thanks.” Nicole responds. “Your Uncle convinced me to buy it after I had to give up my Chevy. Poor thing was with me for over 200,000 miles.” Waverly smiles. “Anyways, you can choose the music. You can use the radio or my phone is plugged into the auxiliary input.”
Waverly grabs Nicole’s phone (knowing radio stations were few and far between). She looks through Nicole’s music and is surprised by the variety. She has a lot of music and some from every genre. Waverly decided on a song that has been her favorite for years. As “What Ifs (feat. Lauren Alaina)” comes on, Waverly smiles. The song is upbeat and fun. Nicole turns up the volume and they both start to sing along.
You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don't need you?
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up?
You say what if I break your heart in two, then what?
Waverly is singing, but she can hear Nicole softly singing too. Its sweet and she can tell Nicole isn’t super confident in her voice.
Well I hear you girl, I feel you girl, but not so fast
Before you make your mind up, I gotta ask
What if I was made for you and you were made for me?
What if this is it, what if it's meant to be?
What if I ain't one of them fools just playin' some game?
What if I just pull you close, what if I lean in?
And the stars line up, and it's our last first kiss
What if one of these days, baby, I go and change your name?
What if I loved all these what ifs away?
She notices Nicole’s fingers twitching on the steering wheel (almost like playing an air guitar). Wonder what that’s all about?
What if the sky falls (sky falls)
Or the sun stops burnin'?
We could worry about them what ifs 'til the world stops turnin'?
Or I could kiss you (you should kiss me)
What if you liked it? (bet I'd like it)
Well we ain't never gonna know unless we try it
Maybe she plays the guitar, or she just can’t sit still…
What if I was made for you and you were made for me?
What if this is it, what if it's meant to be?
What if I ain't one of them fools just playin' some game?
What if I just pull you close, what if I lean in?
And the stars line up, and it's our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby, I go and change your name?
What if I loved all these what ifs away?
The song continues to play and Waverly is sad when it ends. She turns down the volume as another song begins to play. She turns to look at Nicole. “Do you play guitar?”
Nicole looks at Waverly with a quizzical look before returning her eyes to the road.
“Sorry, I just noticed your finger moving during the song… nevermind…” Waverly stammered and bows her head.
“No Waverly, it’s okay. Yes, I do play a little guitar. Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting that question.” Nicole reassures with a hopeful smile. “Most people aren’t observant enough to notice little things like that.”
“I pride myself as being observant.” Waverly says with a smug grin.
Nicole laughs and they continue the rest of the ride in a comfortable silence. Just listening to the music.
“Nicole! Hey!” Michelle York exclaims as Waverly and Nicole enter the lumber and hardware store (The Warehouse).
“Hey.” Nicole responds. She smiles at Michelle, but doesn’t match her overly excited tone.
Michelle leans over the counter towards the two women (purposefully showing off her cleavage as she does). Waverly is stunned. Michelle and Wynonna had been in the same graduating class from Purgatory High. She knew Michelle fairly well. She is the twin sister of Pete York, homecoming queen her senior year, a cheerleader (like Waverly), and had never given Waverly the vibe that she was into chicks. But Michelle’s body language was sending flirty signals at Nicole a mile a minute. It kinda ticks Waverly off a little. She doesn’t know why.
“Oh, hey Waverly.” Michelle says after she and Nicole approach the counter. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Yeah, just got back into town. How are you doing Michelle? Still engaged to Frank, or did you actually tie the knot?” Waverly responded with fake kindness.
Michelle laughs with equal fakeness. “Frank? Nope. We were getting ready to walk the aisle. But then I realized he wasn’t what I wanted.” She looks Nicole up and down. “Since then, I have been enjoying life and figuring out what I want.” She raises her eyes to meet Nicole’s. “Soooo, what can I do for you Nicole? Been too long since you came in and visited me.”
Nicole gives a small, uncomfortable laugh as she pulls out a piece of paper from her pocket. “Need a few things for a project.”
Michelle grabs the list from Nicole’s hands like its money and scans over it. “Well, I can get you everything on here today, except the wood treatment. We don’t carry that much in stock. I can order it for you and it will probably take two or three weeks for it to get here.”
“Okay, that’s fine. We will just buy your in-stock for now and order the rest.” Nicole says.
Michelle looks at the computer to her left and starts placing the order for an ungodly amount of wood treatment. She types in the information and starts to make small talk with Nicole like Waverly still isn’t there. “So Nicole. How's that man of yours doing?”
Nicole laughs. “He's good. A little grumpy that I am hardly ever home. But what can ya do?”
Michelle laughs loudly. “I understand why he can’t survive time away from you.” She removes her eyes from the screen to give Nicole a flirty look.
Nicole doesn’t notice the look. She just looks over the list she stole back from Michelle. “Always waiting for me to feed him when I get home. Sometimes I wonder why I keep him around.” Nicole says sarcastically.
“He is quite the handsome boy.”
“He's honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the only man I will ever need in my life.” Nicole says, smiling.
Waverly is in utter shock. She could have sworn Nicole was a lesb-. Wait. Nicole isn’t wearing a wedding ring. Although that isn’t uncommon in ranch work. Wow. She isn’t single?
Michelle’s next question rips Waverly from her thoughts. “But seriously, how’s the little guy doing? He seems to be bigger every time I see him.”
Waverly's eyes widen impossibly more. She has a kid?!
“What?” Nicole asks, looking down at Waverly. Shit! Did I say that out loud? “No.” Nicole laughs, understanding Waverly’s confusion. Nicole pulls out her phone and shows Waverly a picture of a German Shepard puppy. “This is Jethro. My dog.”
Waverly relaxes and she hopes her blush isn’t as red as it feels. “Oh.” She laughs. “Got it.”
Nicole looks down at her with a quizzical look but can’t say anything more before Michelle is butting in once again.
“Alright. Well this stuff should be delivered here sometime in the next three weeks. I just need your phone number, email, billing address, etc. on this sheet.”
Nicole takes a pen from the counter and begins filling out the order form. She seems unaware of Michelle’s wandering eyes. Nicole finishes filling out the information and hands the sheet back to Michelle with a smile. Michelle fumbles with the pen and it falls to the floor. Nicole bends over to retrieve it, giving Michelle a great view of Nicole’s ass. Waverly is fuming. She doesn’t know why, but she is. Michelle is eyeing Nicole like she is a piece of meat. And she hates it. Nicole stands up and places the pen on the counter. “Thanks for the help, Michelle. We better get those beams loaded up and get going.” Nicole says, giving a smile before heading to the loading dock. Michelle can’t hide her disappointment, but that doesn’t stop her from eyeing Nicole’s ass as she walks away.
THANKS FOR READING!
“That was… weird.” Waverly comments as they load the final beam into the back of Nicole’s truck.
“What was?” Nicole inquires, grabbing straps to secure everything for the ride home.
“I could have sworn Michelle was strait. Never got a gay vibe off of her.” Waverly says, thinking about what she just witnessed makes her stomach turn.
“I don’t follow.” Nicole says, confused.
“Nicole, she was totally flirting with you. You can’t tell me you didn’t notice.” Waverly says in disbelief.
“Oh, trust me, I noticed. But just because she flirts with me, doesn’t make her gay.” Nicole says, pulling down on a tie. “It is pretty common for straight women to flirt with me. I seem to draw them in with my outward lesbianism.” Nicole says with a sarcastic smile. “It isn’t uncommon for small town girls like Michelle to try and dip their toe in the water. It has been explained to me that it is like scratching an itch.”
Waverly is shocked by Nicole’s candor. She doesn’t know how to respond. Before she can figure it out, Nicole is pulling the last tie down, using her body weight for leverage. “Alright, good to go. Need anything else while we are in town?“ Nicole asks a still dumbfounded Waverly. Waverly shakes her head and they both hop into the truck. They drive back with music playing in the background. Waverly starts asking questions as soon as they are out of the parking lot.
“Wait so this happens to you a lot?” Waverly asks.
“Not a lot. But often enough to know the difference.” Nicole responds, blushing a bit.
“And is this only for you, or does this happen to other lesbians?”
“Um it isn’t just me, but it seems to happen more to me than any of my other gay friends. Not sure why though.”
“So, you just ignore the flirting like it isn’t happening?”
“I try to be polite about it, but not lead them on. Better that way. Dating straight girls only ends in disappointment and heartbreak.” Nicole comments, still looking at the road. She says it nonchalantly, but Waverly knows it has deeper meaning than Nicole is letting on. There is a long pause before Nicole speaks again. “So, you have a rodeo star of a boyfriend from what I hear. I am sure that is exciting.”
“Ha, um. Sure, I guess. We have been together since high school. I wouldn’t call him a rodeo star, but yeah, he is on the circuit.” Waverly says.
“Well, it must have been nice. Traveling the country with someone you love. It makes sense why you left Purgatory.”
“I guess. I have been with Champ for so long now. It feels like I was a completely different person when I decided to leave home.” Waverly admits.
“I could understand that. Things happen in life and they change you. Sometimes, for the better. Some times, not so much.” Nicole says. She tries to make it sound light, but Waverly can hear the hidden emotions behind the statement.
“So, what about you?” Waverly directs the subject away from her. “Got someone special?”
Nicole laughs. She knows Waverly is deflecting, but she let her. “Just my dog Jethro. Broke up with my last girlfriend a few months back.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Waverly says.
“Don’t be. I broke things off, it was better that way. I am not the right person for her.” Nicole says.
“And why do you say that?” Waverly asks.
Nicole hesitates and Waverly notices how Nicole tenses for a moment before speaking, “I am someone who is… better off alone.”
Waverly doesn’t know how to respond, so she just responds with, “I’m sure you just haven’t found the right person yet.”
Nicole laughs and the topic of conversation changes. The rest of the car ride is fun and filled with bad pop songs and a pit stop at a burger joint.
“Wynonna! This is so not okay!” Waverly barks.
Wynonna covers her head with a couch pillow, trying to simultaneously block the light and the sound of Waverly’s yelling. She groans.
“Do you have any idea how close you were to getting arrested… again?! If Nicole and I hadn’t been driving by, that deputy would have thrown you in jail!”
“Wy… maybe you should go up to bed. I think it will be beneficial for both of you to talk about this in the morning.” Nicole says, voice at a normal volume.
“Thanks, Haughtsave.” Wynonna says as she gets up and heads up to her room.
“Don’t thank me Earp. I am royally pissed at you too. I am just biding my time. You could have been killed. That was stupid. I don’t want to go to anymore funerals.” Nicole says calmly, but her voice falters a bit on the last sentence.
Even in her drunken state, Wynonna sees and hears it. She looks at her friend and looks remorseful. “I’m sorry. I wouldn’t… I… sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. Just don’t do it again. Don’t put your sister through that. Don’t make her go through losing you. I am not your parent, I am not here to lecture you. I am your friend and as soon as you are sober enough, I am going to kick your ass.” Nicole says, trying to regain complete composure.
Wynonna nods and kisses her sister on the head before leaving for her room. Once she is gone and the sound of her bedroom door closing echoes in the house, Waverly lets out a long breath.
“I am sorry if I overstepped.” Nicole says, turning to Waverly. “Before you came back, it was just me here with her. Gus can only be here so much. I know she is your sister and…”
“Nicole. It’s okay. I get it.” Waverly reassures. “And you didn’t overstep. You are right, nothing I was saying to her was being absorbed. It was going in one ear and out the other.”
“I am sorry. You know, that you have to deal with this.” Nicole said sincerely.
“My sister doing stupid things isn’t new. I guess I just haven’t been home in a long time and I forgot how much it scares me. Like I drive fast and so does my sister. But she could have died today.”
“Yeah. The deputy told me she was driving over one hundred miles per hour when he caught up to her. If he hadn’t pulled her over, she never would have made the turn at the end of the hill. She would have gone over the rail and down the cliff side.”
“I can’t believe she did it. I think the only positive to come out of this is that she wasn’t drunk driving. She waited to drink until the deputy had her get out of the vehicle. Not that that is much better.”
“Do you think your sister would ever drive drunk? Even after everything that happened with your daddy?” Nicole asks tentatively.
“No, no I don’t.” Waverly says, bowing her head to hide the tears that threaten to fall. “But that doesn’t stop me from worrying and being scared.”
“Hey.” Nicole says, her voice soft and soothing. She steps to Waverly and Waverly steps to her, clashing into Nicole’s chest. She begins to sob, fisting her hands in Nicole’s shirt. Nicole wraps her arms around Waverly, hoping to provide comfort. Nicole leads them over to the couch as Waverly’s legs start to fail her. Nicole sits down, allowing Waverly to curl up into her. Eventually, Waverly’s sobs subside and she begins to fall asleep. Nicole waits for as long as she can, not wanting to disturb the brunette’s slumber. But she has to get to bed herself, having an early start tomorrow. She slides out from under the sleeping Waverly, covering her with a blanket before leaving.
“So, are you from Ohio?” Waverly asks, pointing at Nicole’s Ohio State University t-shirt.
Nicole laughs, “Ha, no. I am from a town about forty five minutes west of Purgatory. Ohio was my first choice only because they offered me the best scholarship.”
“Oh really? So it you are so close to home now, why work here?” Waverly asks.
“It’s a long story and it still isn’t finished yet.” Nicole responds, trying to remain emotionless from her spot on the roof. They are replacing some roofing (or rather, Nicole is working on the roof and Waverly is keeping her company). “Hand me that hammer and clamp?” They had been working together for about a month now and have grown close. Well, as close as Nicole will allow. She is reluctant to talk much about her past.
Waverly grabs the requested items and hands them to Nicole. “We are on a roof Nicole. This is going to take hours. I get it if you don’t want to tell me, but don’t make that lame excuse.”
“I’m sorry Waverly. The story is just really fucked up. I wouldn’t want you to think about me differently because of it.” Nicole responds, conflicting emotions on her face.
“Trust me. I can handle it. But only if you feel comfortable telling me.”
Nicole takes a deep breath and looks up from the roofing materials in her hands. She makes eye contact with Waverly and (for the first time) Nicole isn’t trying to mask the pain that lays behind them. Nicole takes another deep breath. "Okay Waves. But don't say I didn't warn you."
“My father was not a good man. He was a horrible person and an even worse father and husband. He used to hit my mom. I didn’t even realize it was happening until I was almost done with high school. That was when he started hitting me and my brother. I got a scholarship for school, so I went to Ohio. I ran away from what he was doing to me. I thought, maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad for my mom and my brother Chris. I talked to my mom on the phone every day. She told me he had stopped and that life was going good. I should have known it was all lies. But I know part of me was so scared of him, I wanted to believe it was true. So, I came home after four years of college. That was almost two years ago. I had the plan to help out on the family farm. But what I found was… horrible. Things had gotten much worse. He had gotten worse. The night after I returned home. He shot my mother in the head with his shotgun. Chris and I tried to fight him off, but he was stronger. He shot Chris in the abdomen and me in the arm, before we escaped. We didn’t get far though. We were only just outside of our driveway when Chris fell to the ground. He uh… he died in my arms. The police showed up and eventually shot my father when he refused to surrender. He lived. After that, I was stuck in a hospital for weeks. After I was discharged, I had some lawyers of my parent’s estate sell off everything and I moved to Purgatory. Your uncle offered me work and a place to live. And now, here I am.”
Waverly just sits there in shock for a moment. She doesn’t know what to say. She can feel tears welling in her eyes but she refuses to let them fall.
“I get it if you think… if you don’t want to be around me. This is a bit much. I get it.” Nicole says sadly.
The sadness in Nicole’s voice breaks Waverly’s daze. “Nicole. Of course not.” She moves a few feet (carefully) and sits next to Nicole. “I would never judge you for being a victim.”
“Waverly, I left my mother and brother with a man who eventually killed them. I was a coward.” Nicole says.
“You were a kid. You were a seventeen-year-old girl. Of course you ran. And I bet your mom was the one who pushed you into leaving, didn’t she?” Waverly argues, trying to console Nicole in any way she can.
Nicole nods her head in affirmation. Her mom begged her to go to school away from home. To escape.
“Nicole. Please look at me.” Waverly asks, a soothing hand placed on one of Nicole’s fidgeting ones. Nicole looks up at her, sadness and regret flood her eyes. It breaks Waverly’s heart. “You did the best you could do. But you can’t blame yourself for any of it. Your father’s sins are not yours to bear.”
“It is hard not to, especially now.” Nicole responds, squeezing Waverly’s hand.
“Why is that?”
“Because my father’s trial is in progress. He is on trial for murdering my mom and Chris and trying to murder me. Along with a lot of other charges.”
Now everything is starting to make sense. Nicole’s periodic absences, her unease when they go into town, and her hesitance when talking about her past. Waverley feels her own guilt bubbling in her chest. She was so angry with Nicole for shutting her out, so upset that everyone else seem to know something she didn’t. But now she knows what everyone was hiding. And now she understands why.
“There are several major news stations covering the trial. Every time I leave Purgatory, cameramen and reporters follow me. They all want interviews and pictures. They even showed up to my brother’s and mother’s funeral. Fucking vultures. Some even question whether or not my father is innocent. Some think I set him up.” Nicole says bitterly.
“Why would anyone think you would set him up for murdering your family?” Waverly asks.
“Because I hate his guts. Some think I just went crazy after all the years of beatings.” Nicole remarks with a joyless and harsh laugh.
“I am so sorry Nicole.”
“I don’t want pity Waverly.” Nicole says.
“That’s not what this is. I see how much pain you are in. And I see that you push people away so that they don’t have to feel the pain too. But, I am sorry I didn’t realize it. And I am sorry you have to go through this. No one should ever have to.” Waverly says, holding Nicole’s hand in hers tightly.
“Thank you.” Nicole whispers.
“I broke up with Champ.” Waverly declares out of nowhere one morning. She just walks in with breakfast in hand and says it.
“Good morning to you too?” Nicole says, confused.
“Sorry, I know that was random. But yeah, I did it.”
“Why are you sorry?” Waverly asks.
“Because you just broke up with your longtime boyfriend.” Nicole sys, as if it is obvious.
“Yeah well it was a long time coming.”
“What pushed you to take the plunge?” Nicole asks curiously.
“Well.” Waverly rolls her eyes. “A girlfriend of another bull rider on the circuit sent me a photo she took of Champ from last month. He is in bed with a rodeo vender. This isn’t the first time he has been caught cheating. But now, it is just so easy to say it is over. I am starting a new life here and it feels good. I finally feel like I am being me. I am not being Champ’s girlfriend or Wynonna’s sister or the normal Earp. I’m just, Waverly. It is freeing.”
“Nicole just laughs lightly at the smile spreading on Waverly’s face and gives her a quick hug before they start their day of work.
“Hey, I won’t be here tomorrow. So, I guess you get the day off from me.” Nicole tries to joke.
“Why, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Waverly begins to panic.
“Waves, relax. I just have some meetings with the prosecutors of my father’s trial. It is in my home town, so I will be gone until the evening.” Nicole reassures.
“Oh, okay.” Waverly takes a relieved breath. “Do you want me to come with you, since I apparently have the day off too.”
“I wouldn’t want to drag you…”
“Nicole. I want to be there for you, if you want me there. If you don’t, I get it. But don’t shut me out, please.” Waverly says firmly
“Okay.” Nicole closes her eyes and looks at Waverly. “I would really appreciate it if you come with me.”
Nicole is standing, screwing supports. It is late, but it is supposed to start raining soon and they wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any leaks. When the first clap of thunder sounds off. Waverly jumps and accidently bumps into Nicole. Nicole grabs Waverly, trying to steady her. To her surprise, Waverly takes this opportunity to hug herself tightly to Nicole. Nicole holds her close, hoping to provide some sort of comfort.
“Sorry.” Waverly mumbles from where her face is hidden in Nicole’s shirt.
“For this. I didn’t mean to… uh. It’s just, storms kinda freak me out. Especially thunder storms. Always have.” Waverly responds sheepishly. She goes to reluctantly pull herself away but Nicole holds her there.
“You are allowed to be afraid Waverly. Never apologize for being afraid and showing it. Especially with me. I won’t ever judge you or turn you away.” Nicole says. “Plus, I used to be afraid of tight spaces, still am, a little.”
Waverly giggles and nuzzles into Nicole. “Damn, Wynonna isn’t even home tonight. She went with Gus to a tradeshow. They won’t be back for a few more days.” Waverly says regretfully.
“Well, you could always keep me company. I wouldn’t mind if you stayed with me. It would be safer for you to not be all alone in the house.” Nicole offers. “But only, only if you are comfortable with that. I could sleep on the floor.”
“I have a better idea. Would you mind coming to stay with me in the house? It has more room and a TV. We could watch movies and eat junk food and stuff. It’s not like we can get any work done with the storm going on.” Waverly asks, hopeful.
“Sure. Just, let me go over to my cabin and grabs some of my stuff?” Nicole asks.
They are both soaked to the bone by the time they make it to the house. They are both giggling and red faced and Waverly keeps slipping. Nicole holds her hand, making sure she doesn’t fall. They both change into dry clothes and end up on the couch. They start watching cheesy romantic comedies (The Proposal, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, etc.). Nicole sits on the couch, her feet tucked under her. Waverly says across the couch, her head, using Nicole as a pillow. They laugh and cry through the movies. They make jokes about the horrible one liners and all the cliché things the characters say. They are almost done with the second movie when the power goes out.
“The storm must have knocked out the power.” Waverly says as she jumps up. The power going out startled her.
“Yeah, probably. Do you know where the circuit breaker is?” Nicole asks, rubbing the back of her neck with her hand.
“Um, I think it is in the closet under the stairs. Let me grab a flashlight.” Waverly responds. She gets up to grab a flashlight and meets Nicole back at the couch with one in hand. They walk over to the closet and Nicole opens the door. Waverly shines the light into the dark closet, looking for the circuit breaker box.
“Hey, mind shining the beam over there a little?” Nicole asks, pointing to the back corner of the wall. Waverly does and the box comes into view. “Dammit.” Nicole mutters.
“What?” Waverly asks.
Nicole takes a few steps inside and opens up the box. It is a mess of wires and broken switches. Waverly does her best to keep the light steady so Nicole can see. “This is a mess. I am not even sure if this thing was working before the power went out.” She comments. Nicole does her best to reset and trip the breaker but there is no electrical response. She huffs, closing the box up, before getting out of the closet. Waverly closes the closet door behind her and hands Nicole the flashlight.
“I have some candles in the kitchen. I’ll be right back.” Waverly says, using her phone as a flashlight.
“Okay, be careful.”
After twenty minutes of placing and lighting candles, Nicole and Waverly have the living room adequately lit. They sit on the floor and play cards for a while.
“So, where did you learn to play Gin?” Nicole asks as she deals another game.
“Curtis taught me actually. Wynonna and I used to play when we were kids.” Waverly responds, looking down at her cards. “How did you learn to play?”
“Uh…” Nicole ducks her head and tries to hide her blush. “It’s uh… kinda embarrassing story actually. Now that I think about it at least.”
Waverly looks up at her and smiles. “Color me intrigued. Spill it Nic.”
Nicole tries to hide how her blush goes even redder when she hears Waverly call her by the nickname. Thank god for the storm and the resulting power outage. She thought. “Well, I was in my first year of college and my roommates threw a party. They were all playing drinking games and stuff. It was fun and I met a lot of cool people. Eventually, we started playing strip poker. I was good, like really good. A girl I liked was playing too. She sucked at poker. Eventually, I called it quits, taking pity on them. I went to grab a drink and the girl I liked followed me. She suggested we play Gin instead, but the stakes were the same. So that’s how I learned how to play.”
“So, she taught you and you got the girl?” Waverly asks, giggling.
Nicole starts to laugh. “Hell no. She beat my ass at that game. And no, I didn’t “get the girl”. Her boyfriend was a football player and I didn’t like her enough to get my ass kicked by an All-State left tackle. But after that night, I forced my roommate to play with me. I wasn’t losing like that ever again.” Nicole says, trying and failing to repress her bubbling laughter.
Waverly laughs too. She gets an idea. “Hey, have you ever played truth, dare or drink?”
“Yeah, a couple times.” Nicole responds.
“Wanna play?” Waverly asks.
“Favorite book?” Waverly asks.
“The Giver or The Outsiders.” Nicole responds. “Truth, Dare or Drink?”
“What’s a childish thing you still do?” Nicole asks.
“I still use a yellow ducky night light in the bathroom because I am afraid of the dark.” Waverly admits.”
“Waves, we should just call this game Truth or Drink. Neither of us are doing dares. It is hard to do any when the power is out.” Nicole says, laughing.
“This is true, but I am not complaining.” Waverly says, taking a drink from the bottle of whiskey on the ground. They had been at this for almost two hours and both women are loving it. They are learning so much about each other and the stories being told have brought them to tears because of the uncontrollable laughter. “Okay, okay. Um… Have you ever cheated or been cheated on?” Waverly asks.
“No.” I guess I have been lucky that way. That violation of trust, especially if I truly loved the person… I don’t know if I could get passed that.” Nicole answers honestly.
“What do most of your friends think about you that is totally untrue?” Nicole asks, changing the subject. She knows Champ cheating on Waverly is kinda a sore subject.
“Hmm.” Waverly thinks. “Maybe that I am happy and bubbly all the time. I was always the small-town girl growing up. I have the patented smile and wave down so well I can do it in my sleep.”
“So, you’re not happy?” Nicole asks, concerned.
“No!” Waverly curses herself for raising her voice. “I mean yes! I- I mean…” She takes a deep breath. “I am happy most of the time. I genuinely love life and its adventures. But no one can be happy all the time. But that is what is expected of me.”
“Well…” Nicole places a comforting hand on Waverly’s knee. “You don’t have to pretend with me.” Nicole looks up at the ceiling. “God, Waverly. I would never ask you to be something you are not.” She looks back down to meet Waverly’s gaze. “They aren’t worth your time if they don’t care enough to see beyond all the fake stuff.”
“Thank you.” Waverly says, scooting over so she is right next to Nicole. Waverly curls into Nicole’s side, the cold air biting at her nerves. Nicole pulls a blanket towards them and they bask in the warmth.
At some point, they both fall asleep and are only woken up when a loud crash sounds off. They both jolt awake, still clutching each other.
“Shit!” Nicole says, seeing what caused the loud sound.
A broken tree branch broke through one of the front windows of the house. The wind must have blown it into the house. Nicole jumps up. “Stay here! I have some building materials outside! We have to patch that window!” Nicole shouts as she throws her still wet jacket on and bolts out the door.
Waverly jumps up and grabs the tree branch. She throws it back outside and goes to grab some towels. The water is already invading the house. Nicole returns a minute or so later. She is forced to stand outside and cover the window with wood planks and a tarp. The storm rages on around her as she works. Waverly watches from inside as Nicole does her best to patch the window section in these conditions. The wind and the almost freezing temperatures are not helping. She can see Nicole’s entire body shivering as she works. After forty minutes of hard work, Nicole has patched up the section and secured it. Waverly has the water mostly cleaned up inside and has towels laid out to handle the rest. When Nicole comes inside, she looks blue. Like literally, her skin is colored a pale blue color. Waverly grabs another dry towel and wraps it around Nicole’s tall form. Her wet clothes, however, wouldn’t allow her to get warm. Waverly leads her upstairs and into her room, having to bear a large amount of Nicole’s weight.
“Nicole. Take your shirt and pants off.” Waverly commands, hoping her voice stays firm.
“W- what” Nicole stutters in confusion, her teeth chattering as she tries to speak and simultaneously fight the shivering. “Why?” Nicole speech starts to slur and she looks like she might pass out.
“Take your clothes off.” Waverly says again, her panic for Nicole’s health rising as the redheads breathing starts to become shallower and her body begins to sway. “Your clothes are soaking wet and freezing. You can’t get warm.”
Nicole seems to only be comprehending half of what Waverly is saying, but does as she is told. She lifts her arms up and tries to get her sopping wet shirt off. But then she gets stuck.
Waverly who is trying (emphasis on the word trying) to avert her eyes sees Nicole struggle. She has to stifle a small laugh until she remembers this is possibly life threatening. “Oh, jeez. Let me help you.” She says, moving to help Nicole with the removal of the offending garment. “I got you.”
Once they get the shirt off, Waverly motions for Nicole’s pants. Nicole starts to unbutton her pants but her frozen fingers can’t seem to manage it. Waverly does her best to help, trying to ignore the awkwardness. Thank god Nicole is barely conscious. She thinks before chastising herself. That is horrible.
Waverly pulls Nicole’s pants down and leads her over to her bed. She is almost to the bed when Nicole’s body gives out. If it wasn’t for Waverly’s grip on her, she would have fallen to the floor. Waverly manages to get Nicole into the bed and under the covers. She shivers violently still and Waverly is in pain just watching it. She gets her phone out and looks up hypothermia. She feels her panic rise impossibly higher as she reads. If she warms Nicole up too fast, she could go into hypothermic shock (which could kill her). But if she doesn’t warm her up fast enough, she will have severe hypothermia (which could also kill her). Waverly covers the bed with as many blankets as possible, hoping the added layers will help. It is only then that Waverly realizes Nicole is in her bed. Her bed. Wow.
“Calm down Waverly. Relax.” Waverly whispers to herself as she paces the room.
“Waves.” Nicole whispers in her half-conscious state.
Waverly turns to see that it was indeed Nicole who spoke and not just her imagination.
“Waves.” Nicole whispers again, but this time, it is almost a sleepy whimper.
“Hey.” Waverly says, approaching the bed quickly and crouching next to the bed. “It’s okay.”
“Cold.” Nicole whimpers, her shivering still quite violent.
“I know you are. It’s okay. You will warm up soon.” Waverly says in a soothing voice, although it sounds like she is trying to convince herself more than Nicole.
“No.” Nicole says, fighting to stay conscious. “You.”
It is only at Nicole’s words that Waverly notices she is also really cold. Not nearly to the extent of Nicole, but she was still cold from the chill and the lack of heat. She involuntarily shivers. “Can I join you?” She asks Nicole. Another thing she read. Body heat is the most effective way to combat hypothermia in emergency situations that don’t allow for medical attention.
“P-please.” Nicole moves to make room on the bed. “You are going to get sick too.”
Of course, Nicole is worrying about her when she herself is half way to death. Waverly really wants to face palm herself. God, this woman is something else. Waverly hesitates for a few moments but the cold eventually wins out. She strips off her shirt and sweat pants, climbing into the bed immediately after. There are a few inches between them, neither one wanting to make the other one uncomfortable. Waverly takes Nicole’s hand between hers and feels how cold Nicole still is. That is all the motivation she needed because a moment later, she is pulling Nicole into her own body. Nicole feels like a block of ice. Once Nicole gets the first feeling of warmth from Waverly, she instinctually pushes herself closer, not conscious enough to realize the awkwardness of the situation. Both women, clad in their bras and underwear, pressing their bodies together for warmth. No big deal.
Waverly holds Nicole as close as possible to her, hoping the contact helps. After about twenty minutes, Waverly can see the visible changes in Nicole already. She is no longer shivering violently, her skin is starting to turn back to its normal coloring, and she seems to be having an easier time staying conscious.
“I’m sorry.” Nicole says, breaking the silence.
“For what?” Waverly asks, still holding Nicole close and relishing in it all.
“For this. In my less compromised consciousness, I can see how awkward this probably is for you.” Nicole says.
Nicole moves to pull away but Waverly pulls her closer again. “It is perfectly fine Nic.” It’s completely perfect. “I am just happy you seem to be doing a little better.
“If you want, I think I am okay to go back downstairs and sleep on the couch.” Nicole offers.
“Like hell. You aren’t going anywhere. You are still cold, plus, if the cold doesn’t kill you, that couch will. Wynonna calls it the back crippler.” Waverly says. She doesn’t want Nicole to leave. Having her here gives Waverly a weird sense of comfort that she hasn’t felt in years… or maybe ever.
Nicole nods her head and seems to fall asleep, her body finally giving up the fight. Waverly soon follows, exhaustion getting the better of both of them.
Waverly wakes up the next morning, alone. She blindly reaches her hand around the bed but finds it empty. She opens her eyes and confirms Nicole is no longer in the room. She gets up, trying to suppress the sadness she feels. She gets dressed and walks down stairs. Still, Nicole is nowhere to be found. A sound from outside draws her attention. She walks into the living room to find out what the loud clanking sounds are. What she finds is a very sweaty Nicole, standing on a ladder, fixing her busted window.
“What time did you start working on this?” Waverly asks, startling Nicole. “Sorry.” She throws Nicole an apologetic smile.
“I woke up once the rain had stopped. Couldn’t fall back asleep. So I decided to come down and fix this up before the storms return this afternoon.” Nicole says.
“Thank you.” Waverly says. She looks over Nicole. “How are you feeling? You were in pretty rough shape last night.”
“Sorry about that. I needed to get this window patched up before the storm flooded your house. But I underestimated the temperature and the storm. Thank you for taking care of me. I appreciate it.” Nicole pauses, almost as if she is trying to remember the original question. “Oh, and I am feeling better. It still feels like my lungs are thawing out every time I breath, but besides that, I am all good.”
“Well that is good. I am glad.” Waverly says, smiling. She is a little concerned Nicole isn’t being completely honest about her health, but she lets the matter drop.
“By the way, your power is back on.” Nicole comments as she descends the ladder. “And now, your window is fixed.” Waverly looks at the window. It looks good as new. Obviously, Nicole’s attention to detail is not limited to the work on the barn. “I got a spare piece of glass from our supplies from the barn.”
“But it is for the barn?”
“We can just pick up another pane of glass next time we go into town. No big deal.” Nicole says, calming Waverly’s concern. She turns to look back outside. “I am going to go check on the guys outside, make sure their cabin held up in the storm. Do you need anything before I go?”
“Go check on them please. Thank you, Nicole. For everything.”
“My pleasure, Ma’am.” Nicole says, letting her southern drawl slip out with a tip of her hat.
Waverly laughs and begins her daily routine.
“C’mon Haught. You gotta play!” Wynonna pleads as she drags Nicole into the living room.
“Earp, why?” Nicole pouts.
“Because. We need four players and we only have three.” Wynonna explains.
“Why can’t you get Waverly to play?” Nicole whines as Wynonna pushes her to sit down on the ground.
Wynonna scowls. “She is on her computer, video chatting that rodeo clown of a boyfriend of hers.”
“Oh.” Is all Nicole says as Wynonna takes a seat. She could have sworn Waverly had broken up with him. She feels guilty enough as it is with regards to her lack of control around Waverly. But she is no homewrecker. She feels a little sick to her stomach. She decides to push these thoughts away for now and try and enjoy their night.
Doc and Dolls sit across from her and Wynonna as they begin to play the game.
“Babe. It is not what it looks like.” Champs says.
“Then what is it Champ? Because the picture clearly shows you, naked, in a bed with Lindsey Hart.” Waverly’s voice takes on a new tone of anger. “Actually the photo also show that she is naked too and you are on top of her, kissing her.”
“Babe. It’s not like that. She came on to me. It wasn’t a thing though. It was just a meaningless fuck to break up some tension. I still love you. You are still my girl.” Champ says, as if it meant nothing and Waverly is still his property.
“Champ! You having sex with someone else is not meaningless. And I am not your girl or your anything. I broke up with you Champ. We are done. We have been done for weeks. You need to stop calling me and texting me and sending me stuff. We are done.” Waverly bites out.
“Waves, babe. Don’t be-“ Champ’s voice is cut off when Waverly ends the facetime video call and shuts her laptop.
Waverly had joined the other’s downstairs, sitting down next to Nicole (who makes an effort to maintain some distance from Waverly). Waverly notices this, and can’t help the pang of hurt she feels in her chest. She decides to let it drop and they all begin to play a different game.
“Never have I ever had a one night stand.” Dolls says.
Wynonna, Doc and Nicole all take sips from their drinks (indicating they had). Everyone had started out with beer, but eventually, Nicole and Wynonna had switched to some harder alcohol. Wynonna is drinking whiskey, occasionally sharing with Doc. Nicole is drinking tequila. Throughout the night, Waverly continues to try and get closer to Nicole, wanting to feel the comfort she has gotten so used to over the last couple months. But every time she got close, Nicole found an excuse to move away or just down right got up and left the room for harder alcohol. Waverly eventually gave up and resided to sit a few feet away from Nicole. But, she can’t help the jealous feeling she gets when Nicole allows Wynonna to lean all over her.
They continue to go around, drinking and laughing when people admit to thing they have done. After a few more rounds, Waverly is feeling a little bitter (and the alcohol isn’t helping).
“Never have I ever kissed a woman.” Waverly says.
Everyone else in the room drinks. When Waverly sees her sister drink, she is in utter shock.
“Babygirl. Don’t act so surprised. I did spend some time in Europe.” Wynonna says nonchalantly.
“I don’t believe you.” Waverly says, still not completely able to process this. Her sister isn’t shy about talking about her sex life. Far from it. But she has never mentioned women.
“I don’t discriminate. Plus, the ripped jeans and leather is a real turn on to the ladies. Nicole snorts into her drink, earning a scowl from both Earp sisters (For different reasons). “Do you disagree Haughtstuff?” Wynonna challenges.
“I plead the fifth Earp.” Nicole says, trying to deflect the conversation away from herself.
“There is none of that shit in this game! You know the rules.” Wynonna points out.
“Fine. I am sure that works for some women.”
“Some women? Really Haught? Don’t act like you aren’t into this vibe. I have seen the women you pick up.” Wynonna says, indicating to their bar adventures that ended up with Nicole not coming home until the morning.
“Ever wonder why it only lasted one night?” Nicole counters, taking a sip from Wynonna’s whiskey bottle. She smirks and narrowly dodges Wynonna’s jab.
“You know you into it Haughtpants. Don’t lie.” Everyone is so focused on the best friends to notice the redness in Waverly’s face. She is having a really hard time hiding the raging jealousy. Her sister is all over Nicole and Nicole is allowing it. And they are almost flirting with one another. Waverly knows it is harmless and just something they do. But knowing that doesn’t change the hurt and anger she feels. Nicole is avoiding her, barely even looking at her. They were fine a few hours ago. Waverly doesn’t even know what she did to deserve this.
“Sorry Earp. I grew out of the bad girl phase. But if this is your way of saying you are hoping I am into you, I am flattered.” Nicole quips, knowing this isn’t the case, but wanting to get Wynonna off her back.
“Touché” Wynonna says, smiling at her friend. “Okay, my turn. “Never have I ever fought with someone over a guy or girl.”
Doc and Waverly both drink. Nicole has a feeling that the next time they play this game, she will have to drink too.
“Never have I ever died my hair.” Nicole says, pushing the thoughts away.
Wynonna and Waverly both drink.
Dolls takes his turn. “Never have I ever been in handcuffs.”
Wynonna and Nicole both drink. “And not in a sexual way.” Dolls adds. Both women drink again.
“I would love to hear how you both ended up in handcuffs.” Doc says.
“I was arrested a few times while I was in high school.” Wynona says nonchalantly.
“They put me in cuffs after my dad killed my family. Spent two hours in the back of the cop car before they un-cuffed me and took me to the hospital.” Nicole says, matching Wynonna’s tone.
“Wow, Haughtshit. That fucking bites.” Wynonna says.
“Totally.” Nicole says with a laugh (easily hiding her emotions).
After a few hours, they all tire and head to bed. Nicole’s cabin was damaged during the storms, so she has to stay at the main house until it is repaired. Waverly had insisted they both sleep in her bed (citing the couch and its deadly lack of cushioning or comfort). So that has been the arrangement for the last week. Doc and Dolls go to their cabins after they say their goodbyes. Wynonna heads up to bed, but not without Nicole’s help. After putting Wynonna to bed, Nicole returns back downstairs and starts to clean up the empty bottles. She walks into the kitchen to toss them into the bin. She is met with a very troubled Waverly.
“Waverly? Are you okay?” Nicole asks tentatively, making sure to keep a few feet away.
Waverly just stands there for a moment, stewing in her anger, frustration and hurt. But then she goes off. “How can you ask me that?! You have been avoiding me all night! You won’t let me get near you! You won’t, even now, look me in the eyes! And I don’t even know why! So no! Nicole! I am not okay!” Waverly yells.
“Waverly…” Nicole says calmly, trying to keep her own emotions in check.
“No! Don’t ‘Waverly’ me! I want you to tell me what I did to deserve this kind of treatment!” Waverly fires back, fury growing. “I thought we were at the very least friends. But I also thought we were more than that Nicole!”
“How?!” Nicole’s emotions are on full display now and she can’t reel them in. “How do you expect us to be more or even be friends when you are still with Champ?! Waverly! You can’t treat me like something more than a friend, but then date someone else! I am not going to be some homewrecker! That is not who I am! I can’t do that! I won’t do that!”
“What the fuck are you talking about Nicole?! I am not still dating Champ! I broke up with him weeks ago!” Waverly fires back.
“That’s not what your sister says! And considering you video chatted with him tonight and he is always calling and texting you! That doesn’t sound very broken up to me Waverly!” Nicole yells. Thank god Wynonna is passed out in bed, otherwise, the yelling surely would have woken her up by now.
“Nicole! I-“ Waverly is cut off by Nicole speaking again.
“Look Waverly, you don’t have to explain your relationship to me or justify it. You are my employer and it is none of my business. It is my fault for getting signals mixed. I am tired and I have to work tomorrow. I am going to sleep.” Nicole can't hide the hurt when she says the last few sentences. “Goodnight Ma’am.” Nicole walks out of the kitchen and heads for the couch. She lays down and pulls a blanket over herself.
Waverly is in utter shock. She isn’t angry anymore, but a wave of guilt washes over her to take its place. Nicole thinks she is still dating Champ and thinks Waverly used her. Waverly lets her face fall into her hands as a silent tear falls down her face. She shouldn’t be surprised Nicole noticed Champ’s constant calls and texts. And Waverly has to admit, her and Champ broke up and got back together several times (something she had told Nicole). God I am such an idiot! She berates herself. She ultimately decides to let Nicole and herself cool down for the night and heads to her room.
Waverley spends most the night fighting to fall asleep. Although the alcohol helps, the bed still feels empty without Nicole. Waverly isn’t even embarrassed to admit that after only a week, she has become accustomed to having Nicole there. She tosses and turns all night, until her body finally gives up and exhaustion takes her.
Waverley wakes up with a bad taste in her mouth. She realizes that her buzz and the altercation with Nicole caused her to forget to brush her teeth the night prior. She stumbles into the bathroom and spends the next 15 minutes thoroughly cleaning her mouth out. After washing her face and changing into some normal clothes, Waverly makes her way downstairs.
“Good morning Wynonna.” Waverly grumbles as she makes her way to the coffee machine.
“Wow, rough night? I swear you didn’t drink that much?” Wynonna comments.
“Didn’t sleep well.” Waverly comments. She looks over to see the couch is empty and there is no trace of its former occupant. “Have you seen Nicole yet this morning?”
“I saw her briefly when I woke up. She was also in a shitty mood, but that was probably due to the fact that she fell asleep on the couch last night.” Wynonna comments. “When I saw her, she was preparing to start working with the mustang.”
“What?” Waverly asks. “Why?”
“Her hands are healed Waves. I guess she decided it was time to literally get back on the horse.” Wynonna chuckles at her own bad joke.
Waverly shakes her head, grabs her coffee and heads for the front porch.
Dolls inspects Nicole as she prepares the ropes they plan on using.
“Are you going to keep staring at me or you just going to ask the damn question you have in your head?” Nicole spits out. She looks up and sees the shocked expression on Dolls’ face. “Sorry man. Rough night. I am a little short on sleep and apparently very short tempered.” Nicole has always prided herself as a cool-headed person.
“It’s fine. I am just wondering why you decided to start this process today. Your hands have been healed for weeks. Why start working with the mustang again?”
“Curtis thought I could break this horse. I can do it. I just got distracted by other things. Everything just kinda came back into perspective for me. That’s all.” Nicole says.
Dolls doesn’t believe her for a second, but he decides to let the matter drop, knowing Nicole will talk about it when she’s ready.
Nicole has been at it for hours. She has had the help of Doc or Dolls periodically throughout the day, but she eventually sends them away. She decided to take a break and eat a snack. She sits on the railing of the paddock, pulls out an apple from her bag and takes a bite. The sound draws the attention of the young mustang. He slowly makes his way closer to Nicole, still not trusting her.
Nicole laughs, “So you don’t trust me enough to ride you, but now you’re going to come over here and try to eat my food?” Her sarcasm has no effect on the horse. She gives another humorless laugh before taking another bite of the apple. She looks in the horse’s eyes and then back down at the half-eaten apple. With a huff, she tosses the apple in the direction of the horse. It eats the apple within a minute and looks up to Nicole for more. She raises her hands to show that they are empty. “Sorry, that’s all I got.” The horse makes a sound of indignation before turning around and trotting over to the other side of the paddock. “Asshole.” Nicole mutters under her breath.
“I know and I am sorry.” Waverly says from behind Nicole.
Nicole startles at the sound of her voice and barely keeps herself from falling off the railing. “Shit Waverly. You scared the crap out of me.” Nicole shakes her head and readjusts so she is no longer in danger of falling. She remembers what had happened right before Waverly startled her. “And you’re not an asshole. I was talking to the horse.”
“Mind if I join you?” Waverly asks tentatively.
Nicole reaches a hand down and helps Waverly climb up to the top rail. They sit in silence for several minutes, just watching the dark horse trot around the ringed enclosure. “I am sorry Nicole.” Waverly says once she can’t bear the silence anymore.
“Waverly, I told you. You don’t have t-“ Nicole is cut off by Waverly’s voice.
“Please just let me finish Nicole. I just want to say everything and get it all out there.” Waverly interrupts. Nicole wordlessly nods her head and Waverly continues. “I want to start by saying I am sorry. I am sorry that you thought I was using you. I did break up with Champ that day I told you. I really did. But he is having a hard time letting me go. I didn’t realize you noticed his texts, and calls. If I had, I would have explained that I broke up with him and he is still trying to get back together with me. I have told him a hundred times him and I are over Nicole. He just cant accept that. But I have. I am done with Champ. I did tell Wynonna that we broke up, but she probably assumed we just got back together like we used to do. But I set her straight and told her him and I will never get back together again. He and I are over. And…” Waverly takes a deep breath. “I care about you. And I know you care about me. I am just hoping what has happened doesn’t change that.”
“I am not going to pretend what happened doesn’t change anything. It did Waverly, at least, it did for me. I am not saying I don’t care about you, because I do. Of course I do. I just don’t really know what this all means.” Nicole says honestly. She looks over at Waverly (who looks like someone kicked her puppy). She wraps an arm around Waverly’s shoulders in invitation. Waverly immediately scoots over and leans into Nicole’s side, her head on Nicole’s shoulder. Nicole holds her close and they sit in a comfortable silence, watching the land before them.
The storm came in hard that night. Waverly fell asleep, only to be woken up by the loud clap of thunder a few hours later. After thirty minutes of trying to fall back asleep, she gives up and walks out of her room. She makes her way down the stairs and gets a drink of water from the kitchen. After finishing the glass she poured, she moves into the living room and looks down at Nicole. She is sleeping on the couch, one pillow under her head and another is held in her arms. Waverly wishes, more than anything, to be that pillow. She decided to risk it. She pulls Nicole’s pillow from her arms and climbs into her embrace to replace it. Nicole cracks her eyes open and looks at Waverly with sleepy eyes. “Waves? You okay?” She rasps, her voice thick with sleep.
Waverly doesn’t respond with words, rather, she grabs Nicole’s hands and snakes them around her own body. Nicole pulls her closer and holds her tight, feeling Waverly begin to relax at the touch.
Nicole wakes up an hour later. She still has Waverly in her arms, but the small brunette has flipped so her face is now pressed into Nicole’s chest. Nicole smiles at the sight, but then a sharp pain in her back wipes the smile from her face. This couch is literally the worst. She decides it would be best to put Waverly back in her own bed. She lifts herself off the couch, which was a little more difficult with the added weight of Waverly in her arms. Nicole carries her up the stairs and into her bedroom. She lightly places Waverly down on the bed before she moves to leave the room.
“New.” Waverly whines when she feels Nicole start to pull away. She is still half asleep but she manages to fist her hands in Nicole’s shirt. “Pwease don’t leave me.” Waverly whimpers in a soft voice.
Nicole’s heart melts and she can’t help the small smile that crosses her features. She leans down and places a soft kiss to Waverly’s forehead. “I need to go to the bathroom Waves.”
“Will you come back?” Waverly asks, hands still not releasing Nicole.
“If you want me too.” Nicole responds.
“I want you.” Waverly replies.
“Then I will be back.”
Waverly seems to accept this and drops her hands from Nicole’s shirt. She burrows into the sheets and twists herself into a blanket burrito. Nicole huffs to stifle her laughter and exits the room. She enters the bathroom at the end of the hall and closes the door behind her. She doesn’t really need to pee, she just needs to get herself under control. She splashes some water on her face and runs her hands through her hair. She looks in the mirror for another moment before exiting the bathroom and going back to Waverly’s room.
Waking up in Nicole’s arms is Waverly’s new favorite thing to do. It sounds cheesy, but it is so true. Nicole feels like home. Waverly stirs a bit, burrowing closer into Nicole. The motion alerts Nicole that Waverly is awake.
“Morning.” Nicole says.
“Shhh if you don’t get up, it isn’t real.” Waverly whispers, nuzzling into Nicole.
Nicole laughs and the sound warms Waverly’s heart. She would do anything to hear that sound everyday. “Although that sounds nice, I have work. Actually boss, I have to go to work for you.”
“I can think of a few other things you could do to me that would be much more fun.” Waverly mumbles.
“What?” Nicole asks, she couldn’t hear her.
“Nothing. I was just saying it is cozy and warm in here.” Waverly says with a smile. She moves up so she can see Nicole’s face. “So, are you going to work on the mustang today?”
“Yeah. That’s the plan. We are at an impasse with the barn until the materials we ordered come in. That is going to take another two or three weeks at least.” Nicole says.
“I have to admit, I am missing working with you every day. I don’t really know what to do with myself.” Waverly says flirtatiously.
“I am sure you can figure something out.” Nicole replies, matching her tone. They lay there like that, Waverly looks down at Nicole’s lips and then back up at her eyes. She is a half a second from leaning in to kiss the redhead when Nicole moves away and gets out of bed. “I better get going. I have a lot of stuff to do today. Plus, I won’t be here tomorrow so I need to prepare for that as well.”
“Oh yeah, your father’s trial continues tomorrow, right? Are you okay?” Waverly asks.
“I am fine. I just want it to be over. I have been meeting with lawyers and prosecutors and even the district attorney. I just want it over.” Nicole pauses. “Oh, and thank you for going with me the other day. I know it was really boring for you, but it meant a lot to have someone there with me.”
“I wanted to be there for you Nic. It was no problem.” Waverly went that day with Nicole. They spoke with different lawyers and prosecutors about the case and Nicole’s options. Waverly held her hand as Nicole explained some details of the incident or talked about how her father was before. She is brought out of her reverie when Nicole moves to the desk and grabs some clothes for the day. “So what about tomorrow? Are you going alone?”
Nicole rubs the back of her neck nervously. “I… uh… No. Your sister has made a habit of coming with me.” She looks at Waverly and then down at her feet. “You can come too… if… if you want.” Nicole takes a deep breath and looks back up at Waverly. “I would like you to come, if you want to be there.”
“Of course I will be there.” Waverly says, getting out of the bed and moving to hug Nicole.
Nicole lets out a shaky breath and relaxes into the embrace.
“You ready to go?” Wynonna asks, sitting on the couch.
“Yeah, just about.” Nicole says, grabbing her wallet and keys. She turn to face Wynonna. “Let’s go.”
They walk outside and meet up with Waverly (who is standing near the truck, talking with Dolls). Waverly smiles when the two women get close. She says goodbye to Dolls and hugs Nicole when she gets close enough. “Ready?” She asks the redhead.
“I am now.” Nicole replies with a small smile. The three women get into Nicole’s truck and drive out of Purgatory. The radio is playing softly as Nicole drives with both hands tightly gripped on the wheel. Wynonna is in the passenger seat, watching the land around them change as they leave Purgatory in the dust. Waverly focuses on Nicole. On how her hands seem to remain tight on the wheel. How her posture is rigidly straight. Waverly wants to say something, but she knows there isn’t anything she could say to make this situation any better.
After 40 minutes of driving, Waverly sees them. The reporters. They are all lined up on the side of the road. Nicole rolls up all the windows and checks that her sunglasses are up on her face. Wynonna seems to do the same. Waverly watches as they start taking pictures of them as they drive past, calling for Nicole and asking her questions. They ignore them and continue driving. They make it to the court house and park. A security guards meets them at their car and escorts them to the courtroom, fighting off the throngs of reporters with cameras and microphones. Waverly Walks in between Nicole and Wynonna, ducking her head slightly as to not be blinded by the flashes. She grips on to Nicole’s hand tight as they walk, her sister walking on her other side, never breaking contact. Nicole doesn’t even acknowledge the reporters and she doesn’t speak a word until they are in the court room.
She turns to Waverly. “Are you okay?” She asks, full of concern.
“I should be asking you that.” She responds, but this doesn’t seem to temper her worry. “I am okay Nic. I promise. I am here for you.”
Nicole nods slowly before turning to look at the court room. She looks over to Wynonna, who nods. “Let’s take our seats. It should start soon.” Nicole says. They take seats in the second row on the right side. This way, they are sitting on the side of the prosecution and far away from where Nicole’s father will sit, but close enough if the prosecutors need her.
“Are you testifying today?” Wynonna asks.
“I don’t know. The prosecution does not plan to call me to the stand, but the defense attorney could. I don’t know what it would gain.” Nicole responds.
Before any more can be said, the prisoner is brought into the court room. Waverly doesn’t miss how Nicole’s grip on her hand tightens when the man enters. He scans the room with his eyes until they land on his daughter. He smirks at her, making her involuntarily shudder. He smiles and then sits down in his seat at the defense table. The whole courtroom rises as the judge is introduced. Once everyone is seated, the judge calls on the prosecutor to speak.
“Your honor. I am the prosecutor for the State in the case of the people versus Andrew Haught. The defendant, Andrew Haught, is charged with two counts of murder in the first degree, one count of attempted murder in the first degree, three counts of assault and battery, child abuse charges are pending, assault of a police officer and resisting arrest.” The prosecutor states.
“How does the defendant plead?” The judge asks.
“Not guilty your honor.” The defense attorney says.
After three hours of testimony and evidence exploration, the judge calls a recess. After the lunch recess, they file back into the court room and the trial proceeds.
The defense attorney speaks, “Your honor, the defense would like to call the defendant’s daughter Nicole Haught, to the stand.”
Nicole stiffens in her seat and Waverly holds on to her hand tightly. Wynonna places a hand on Nicole’s knee, both sisters trying to ground her.
“Objection your honor.” The prosecutor exclaims. “Relevance?”
“I think it is completely relevant to call the only witness of the alleged crime to the stand, your honor.” The defense attorney argues.
“Overruled.” The judge says, although he doesn’t seem pleased himself.
Defense Attorney: Ms. Haught. Do you know who I am? Because I certainly remember you.
Judge: Overruled. Move it along Mr. Jacobs [the defense attorney]
DA: Ms. Haught?
N: Yes. I remember you. You are a friend of my father’s.
DA: Yes I am. I remember going to your birthday parties when you were young, I remember being at your competitions as well. I always remember your father being there as well. Would you say your father was supportive of you as a child?
DA: Now why would you conclude that? You do not deny your father was a presence in your life. He never missed a competition, or an awards ceremony. I believe he was even the person who taught you how to shoot. Who taught you the skill that got you a full ride scholarship to one of the best schools in the country.
N: My father did teach me how to shoot. And yes, he didn’t miss my competitions. But he was never there to support me. He was there to make sure I didn’t screw up. Any mistake he saw, he would beat me for later that day. I am pretty sure sometimes he would just make up mistakes so he had another excuse to beat the crap out of me. [harsh chuckle]
DA: You really hate your father, don’t you Ms. Haught?
DA: Your honor, it is a simple question.
J: Please answer the question Ms. Haught. [turns attention to DA] tread lightly Mr. Jacobs.
N: Hate is a strong word, but yes. I do. I guess that is what happens when you watch a man beat your mother and sibling for years. I guess that is only solidified when he eventually murders them and tries to murder you.
DA: Your honor.
J: You opened this question up Mr. Jacobs
DA: [refocuses] Ms. Haught. Would you categorize yourself as a good shot?
N: Excuse me?
DA: Let me be clearer. Are you a halfway decent shot with a firearm?
N: I guess. I went to school because of it.
DA: [pulls a piece of paper from the table and starts to read] Nicole Haught: Member of the Colligate All-American Teams for three years. Two national titles. One international title. Placed forth in the World Rifle Championship her sophomore year and third her senior year. [he turns to face Nicole] So, Ms. Haught. You are a recognized international champion and as far as everyone is concerned, you are the third best shooter for your age in the world. Don’t you think that qualifies you as a good marksman?
N: On some levels. Yes. On others, no.
DA: Please explain. Because it is my knowledge that you are a good marksman. [his condescending tone frustrating and daring Nicole to bite]
N: There is a big difference between shooting a competition rifle in that situation vs general marksmanship.
DA: Are you saying you can’t hit a target outside of a competition scenario? Or with a different weapon?
N: No, I am just saying it is different. [doesn’t take the bait]
DA: Okay, but you are a good shot. So let me ask you: isn’t it completely possible you shot and killed your family with your father’s shotgun and framed him for it? You can shoot a dime off a ledge from 50 feet. Surely a shotgun at close range would be within your skill set.
N: What?! No!
P: OBJECTION YOUR HONOR!
Nicole sees both Wynonna and Waverly stand up, anger clear in Wynonna’s features. Nicole looks at her father who is smirking at her.
DA: [before the judge can scold him] Withdrawn your honor. Nothing further. [turns to look at the prosecutor after winking at Nicole] Your witness.
It takes the courtroom a moment to settle before the judge silences the murmuring. The prosecutor stands and looks at Nicole.
P: Nicole, did you kill your mother and brother?
P: I didn’t think so. [he turns to the judge] I have no more questions for this witness your honor.
J: You may step down Ms. Haught.
By the time they get back to Earp Ranch, they are all emotionally and physically exhausted. Wynonna walks directly inside and comes back out with a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of tequila. Nicole walked over to her cabin immediately after stopping the truck. She returns a little bit after Wynonna, carrying a plastic case in her hand. They all walk in silence to the empty field behind the cabins. Nicole places the case on the ground and opens it up to reveal the rifle inside. Wynonna pulls out the revolver what was dubbed Peacemaker a few generations back. It was their great-great grandfather Wyatt Earp’s gun. The redhead pulls out the rifle and inserts a loaded magazine. She gets into a prone position on the ground and aims down towards the old fence line. There are rocks stacked along the area. Nicole takes a shot and hits a rock off its perch. Then another. She stands and holds the rifle, taking two more shots and hitting her marks. She pulls away, turning the safety on and removing the magazine. Wynonna takes a swig from her bottle before taking her turn. She takes eight shots in rapid succession, hitting all but one of her targets.
“You want to try?” Nicole asks Waverly as she hands her the bottle of tequila (motioning to her rifle). “I saw the pictures of you and Curtis from when you were younger. He told me stories about you and your sawed off shotgun.”
Waverly just shakes her head and pulls Nicole into her embrace. Nicole doesn’t fight it, but she also doesn’t reciprocate it. She just clutches the bottle in her hands and stands there. After an hour of shooting and drinking, Waverly decides the combination is no longer safe and returns Nicole’s rifle to her cabin. She put Peacemaker back in the safe and joins Wynonna and Nicole in the living room. Doc and Dolls come in some time later and join in with the drinking.
Nicole does it discretely, but Waverly notices that Nicole had stopped drinking several hours ago (favoring water). After a few more hours, Nicole is carrying Wynonna to her room and Dolls is helping Doll back to his cabin. When Nicole finally returns downstairs, she looks like she might pass out.
“Hey.” Waverly says in a hushed and soothing tone. “What is going on in your head?”
“Am I a monster?” Nicole asks softly.
“What?” Waverly asks, a little thrown by the question. “No, Nicole. You are not a monster.”
“Then how can people think I could do that? That I could kill the only people that ever loved me…”
“No one actually thinks that Nicole. They are just trying to spin it that way in an attempt to try and deflect attention away from your father. They are trying to disprove the prosecution’s theories about reasonable doubt.” Waverly says, grabbing on to Nicole’s hand and bringing it to her lips.
“I know… but…” Nicole trails off.
“I know you know all of that. So do you want to tell me what is really bothering you?” Waverly asks knowingly. Holding Nicole’s hand to her mouth and kissing it lightly between sentences and resting her lips on it when not speaking.
“Waverly, that man, that monster… he is my father. I don’t want to become him. I- I… I cant become him. I cant bear the thought of hurting people. O-of hurting you or Wynonna.” Nicole feels the tears that start to fall from her eyes.
Waverly uses her free hand to wipe them away. “Being what he is, it is not genetic Nicole. He is fueled by hate and anger. That is what created him into the monster he is. But that isn’t you. I promise.” She leans up on her toes and kisses Nicole on the cheek.
Nicole pulls away slightly and shakes her head. “I-I don’t want you to… because you feel sorry for me Waves.”
“That is not what this is Nic.” She leans up again and places a kiss in the same spot. “I just want you to know, I am here for you. Always. During the hard times and the easy ones.”
"Waverly. I want you... You know I do. But this-this isn't the way I want to do it." Nicole struggles to get the words out, but takes a deep cleansing breath. She takes a step back, putting some space in between them. "Plus, there has been a lot of alcohol consumed tonight."
"I know for a fact you stopped drinking hours ago Nic. And I am not drunk thanks to the goodly Earp constitution." Waaverly takes a step towards Nicole, removing the space between them once again. She takes Nicole's hand in hers. "I want you, now and forever."
Nicole bites the inside of her cheek. She thinks for a moment before speaking. "We have waited this long Waves. It won't kill us to wait another. If you wake up tomorrow and go through a normal day. A day where I am juatworking on the farm and you are running it. If you go through a normal day with no extra emotions or liquid courage, and you still want me..." Nicole takes a deep breath. "Then I will be all for this. But please, not tonight. Not like this."
Waverly looks down at her feet, trying to hold off the tears. She know Nicole isn't rejecting her. She knows that. But it doesn't make it hurt any less. She finally looks up at Nicole. "Will you still come up stairs and sleep with me? I-I don't like sleeping without you anymore." Waverly asks, voice full of vulnerability.
"Nicole smiles down at her, although a bit sadly. "Of course Waves." She wraps the smaller brunette around the shoulders and they walk up to Waverly's bedroom together.
“Haught, that horse is going to kick you off so quick you aren’t even going to see the ground coming.” Wynonna says from the other side of the paddock railing.
“Shut up Wynonna!” Nicole says, getting on the horse quickly and grabbing the rope tightly. The horse bucks and struggles to kick her off. After almost twenty minutes of struggling, the horse begins to relax. In turn, so does Nicole.
“Wow, I’m impressed Haught. He seems to be taking to you well considering the condition you got him in.” Wynonna admits.
“Breaking horses and doing it right is important. You want them trained, obedient and under control, but at the same time, you don’t want to break their spirits.” Nicole says, giving the horse some directional instruction.
“Speaking of breaking spirits, how are you doing with your father’s trial?” Wynonna asks, taking a swig from a bottle that magically appeared. It had been three days since Nicole’s father’s trial began, three days since his defense attorney tore her a new one, three days since her and Waverly had that talk.
“I honestly haven’t thought much about it.” Nicole says. “I have been just trying to dive into my work here, you know? Focus on the things I can control.”
“Yeah, I noticed. You haven’t slept at the house since that night. I swear, you sleeping in the barn is not safe. Aren’t you freezing in there?” Wynonna comments. She isn’t wrong. Nicole hasn’t slept at the house since that night. The bad part is she hasn’t really talked to Waverly since that night either. They have seen each other in passing or from across the way, but they haven’t really had a chance to really talk.
“Yeah, haven’t been getting much sleep. And I haven’t been working in the barn all night. I have been using my off hours to fix up the damage to my cabin.” Nicole says.
“Fixing your cabin is something you could do during your on hours.” Wynonna says knowingly. “Something else besides sleep you avoiding?”
“What? No.” Nicole answers too quickly. And she means it. She isn’t trying to avoid Waverly. She just…
“Look Haught, I have eyes. I know you have the haughts for my baby sister.”
“Wynonna…” Nicole starts but is interrupted.
“Look Nicole, I don’t know how Waverly feels, but I do know you like her.” Wynonna deadpans.
“I’m not good enough for her Wynonna. You can’t deny that. I am messed up and I have a lot of baggage. I shouldn’t be getting involved with anyone, let alone my boss/best friend’s sister.” Nicole says, giving the horse a light pat on the neck. “Waverly is amazing. She really is. And I would be lucky to have her in my life. But she wouldn’t be lucky to have me. It isn’t fair of me to push my feelings on her.” Nicole was being completely genuine. Waverly hadn’t approached her since that night. Nicole had just assumed after the second night that Waverly (as she had feared) only wanted her out of sympathy and pity. Or she was just another straight girl infatuated with the idea of being with another woman. Waverly probably changed her mind and Nicole couldn’t fault her for it. “I would never ask her to be something she is not.”
Wynonna regards Nicole carefully for a moment before nodding. “I appreciate that Nicole. I do. Look, as far as I’m aware, Wave is straight. So I’m sorry. But I won’t forget how you are putting her first. It means a lot because not a lot of people have done that for her in her life. That includes me sometimes. I hope friendship is enough for you. I know Waves would be sad to see you go and so would the rest of us. But I would understand if it is not.”
“I think I can do friends. At least, I hope I can.” Nicole says. “But in the spirit of being honest, I have to tell you something.”
“I got offered a job a few towns over. It is a temporary gig, just for a few weeks in the off season.”
“We are in the off season now Nicole.” Wynonna says.
“I know. I would have to report there at the beginning of the week.” Nicole says, looking down at the horse. “The guy is a friend of Pete’s and he offered me the job while his farm hand is out with a broken leg. I was thinking it would be nice to get away for a little bit.”
“From Waverly?” Wynonna asks, not really surprised.
“From everything. From the trial. From the reporters. From feelings I shouldn’t be having for Waverly. Look Wynonna. Your sister is great. She really is. And I want to be a good friend to her. But I think I just need a few weeks to lick my wounds and detox from everything. I would be back in three weeks, long before the season starts. I don’t have much to do around here right now.”
“Fine, go.” Wynonna says, trying her best to hide the hurt she is feeling. She knows it isn’t personal, but that doesn’t make her friend leaving (even temporarily) any easier.
“Nicole, I get it. I really do. I have been there. I just don’t want you to go. But I know it is probably what you need.” Wynonna looks Nicole dead in the eyes. “So go. Take your time. Think of it as a vacation (considering you haven’t taken one since you started working here).
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE LEFT?!” Waverly exclaims.
“Wave. The job is only temporary. I think she just needed some time away. You know. Figure out her feelings and how the people in her life fit into their proper place.” Wynonna says with her hands up, trying to pacify the smaller Earp’s anger.
“What does that even mean? Why couldn’t she do that here? What do you mean ‘how people fit into her life’?” Waverly asks, trying to calm down enough to absorb what her sister is saying.
Wynonna wants to just tell her sister the whole truth. But she won’t betray Nicole’s trust. “Look, she just needs some time away. We all need that sometimes. But we are going to visit her once a week until she comes back. She is only going to be gone two and a half weeks.”
“Wynonna, I know you are holding something back. Tell me. What is going on with Nicole?” Waverly presses.
“Waves, you’re her friend. And your friend just needs a little vacation from everything going on in her life.” Wynonna says, too focused on how to change the subject to notice how Waverly’s face dropped.
Everything starts to click inside Waverly’s brain. Shit! She thinks. Nicole thinks I changed my mind! Waverly begins to feel the panic rise inside her. Waverly hadn’t been avoiding Nicole. She just had been genuinely busy. And when Nicole didn’t come home at night… Waverly just let that and her own fear and anxiety get to her. And now she is paying for it. Fuck!
“Your right.” Waverly finally says. She doesn’t feel like eating right now. All she wants to do is talk to Nicole. But she can’t do that. So instead, she just wants a drink.
Waverly makes it up to her bedroom around one in the morning. She stayed up far too late drinking with her sister and Doc. She learned later that night that when Nicole left that morning, she had taken the mustang with her. Apparently the ranch she was working on had a lot of open space for her to work with the horse. Waverly changes into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. She got into bed and turned out the light. It felt empty without Nicole. It had since the last night Nicole slept with her. Waverly grabs Nicole’s pillow and hugs it to her chest. Dammit.
Sunday couldn’t have come sooner. Nicole had been gone all week and Waverly was basically a useless wreck the whole week. She felt like crap, the thought of Nicole thinking she changed her mind… it had her sick to her stomach just to think about it.
“Wynonna! Let’s go!” Waverly calls from the truck. Pete is in the driver’s seat and Dolls is in the passenger seat. Waverly is in the back seat, waiting impatiently for her sister to get out there so they can leave.
“Relax Babygirl. Haught isn’t expecting us there until two anyways.” Wynonna says as she walks to the truck and climbs in next to her sister.
Pete just chuckles, starting the truck and pulling out of Earp Ranch. Dolls turns the music to a random radio station and looks out the window and Wynonna pulls out her phone. Waverly doesn’t mean to eavesdrop. But when she sees that her sister is texting Nicole…
Wyn (1:15pm): We are on our way.
Haughtshit: Read 1:16pm
“That’s weird.” Wynonna says after a couple minutes with no response. “Nicole never leaves me on Read. She is always good about texting back.”
“Maybe she is just busy?” Waverly supplies.
“Probably.” Wynonna replies absently. They spend the rest of the drive in silence.
They pull into the ranch and Waverly immediately recognizes the place. This is Jones Ranch. Her ‘friend’ Stephanie’s family owns this place. The place is as high class as a ranch can get. They breed some of the best horses in the state. They have riders, trainers and other breeders from all over come here to work for them. Waverly remembers coming here a few times during high school, amazed by the shiny and clean machines, the well-kept property, the uniformed employees, and all the open space. They drive up to the main house and all get out as Mr. Jones (Steph’s father) exits the house and greets them.
“Afternoon Ms. Earp!” Addressing Wynonna. He notices Waverly and his smile grows. “Waverly. What a surprise to see you! It’s been too long. I didn’t know you were back in town.”
Waverly smiles back at Mr. Jones. Although his daughter was not Waverly’s favorite person, Mr. Jones had always been kind to her and she enjoyed seeing him when visiting. “It’s nice to see you again. Yup, came back to help out where I could at the ranch.”
“I was so sad to hear of your Uncle’s passing. I wouldn’t have this place if it wasn’t for him. Curtis helped me get this place off the ground all those years ago. He was surely a good man and will be missed.” Mr. Jones says kindly.
Wynonna cuts in, not one for much small talk. “Mr. Jones, this is Xavier Dolls (one of my ranch hands). And you already know Pete.”
“Gentlemen.” Mr. Jones greets. “Dolls? As in Nicole’s friend?”
“Yes Sir.” Dolls responds.
“She speaks very highly of you young man. If your half as good as she says you are, we will get along just fine.” Mr. Jones says with a smile. He was obviously fond of Nicole already.
“Speaking of our fiery redhead, where’s my girl at? Hope you aren’t working her too hard Jones.” Wynonna says, looking around for her friend.
Mr. Jones laughs. “She is out on the northern field I believe. I think Steph went out there to see what she was up to about a half hour ago. She has been working with that horse every second she isn’t working. That is a fine quarter horse she got there. He is quite the handful though. Doesn’t seem to warm to anyone besides Nicole.”
“Yeah, the horse was a gift from Curtis. That thing is practically married to Haught now.” Wynonna comments. “Mind if we drive out there?”
“Be my guest. Easiest way to get out there is to take the dirt access road over there. Should only be a couple miles down that way.” He says.
“Thank you Sir.” Dolls says.
“I am gonna hang back here and take a look around the place. You guys go ahead.” Pete says, walking into the house with Mr. Jones.
The three get back into the truck and drive down the access road towards to fields. When they arrive after a few minutes of driving, Waverly can see Nicole riding the mustang at high speed down the open field. Off to the side, Waverly sees Steph sitting on a blanket in the grass. Waverly and Wynonna both observe Nicole, who is in a Jones Ranch polo, a pair of slacks and her typical stetson. The form fitting uniform looks good on Nicole and they can even see Nicole’s smile from the distance. Nicole has the horse going at high speed and slows only slightly as they start doing maneuvers. After a couple hundred yards, Nicole slows the horse enough to turn around and bolt down the field in the opposite direction (unaware of the approaching vehicle. They all here the Yeeeee Haaaw that comes from Nicole as she rides down the field. She looks happy and it makes Waverly and Wynonna smile, even when it simultaneously feels like a punch in the gut.
They all get out of the truck and walk towards Steph. She gives them all a dirty look before plastering on her fake smile. “Well hello Earps…” She looks at Dolls. “And company.”
Waverly remembers why she doesn’t like Stephanie Jones. She is fake, mean and judgey (among other things). “Hey Steph.” Waverly says with her patented smile.
“We just came to see our girl.” Wynonna says, not even bothering to try with Steph. She has never liked the girl. Never. Even when her and Waverly were so called friends.
At this point, Nicole has noticed them and is trotting over to them, confusion on her face. “Hey guys? I thought you weren’t going to be here until two.” She turns to Wynonna. “I thought you said you would text me once you left so I could meet you at the front?”
“I did text you.” Wynonna says.
Nicole looks confused. She gets down off the horse and looks at Steph. “Oh, sorry Nicky. I saw the text message. But I just forgot to mention it. You were having such a good time riding.” Steph says with a flirtatious tone. As she speaks, she moves to Nicole’s side, placing both hands on Nicole’s right shoulder so her body is leaning slightly into Nicole’s side.
The sight makes both Earp girls’ blood boil (for different reasons). Waverly can’t stand the sight in general. It makes her want to punch Steph in her Botox filled face (more than she usually does). Steph is clearly coming on to Nicole and was laying the flirting on thick. Waverly never knew Steph was gay. She only dated guys when they were in high school (a lot of guys for that matter). So this was all very surprising. Steph’s hands roamed as she spoke, eventually landing on the top of Nicole’s chest. “Well, I will give you some time with your coworkers. See you back at the ranch Nicky.” And with that, Steph gets into the ATV off to the side and drives off (spooking Nicole’s horse in the process), although Nicole calms it with ease.
After Steph is gone, Nicole turns to look at her friends (looking a little dazed herself). She shakes her head twice before meeting their gaze. “So, want to head back to the cabins? Mr. Jones is letting me stay in one while I am here. I have beer in the fridge.”
“Sure.” Dolls says when it is clear the Earp girls are two stuck in thought to respond. With that, the three head to the truck as Nicole mounts her dark Quarter Horse.
Once the truck is on, they drive down the road slowly, Nicole riding next to them. The windows in the truck are rolled down and Waverly is leaning out of the back seat (Dolls and Wynonna in the front).
“What did you name him?” Waverly asks Nicole.
Nicole looks at her, a weird expression on her face. “Um… Romeo.” Nicole says a little off. Her voice sounds different, but the sounds of the horse and the truck don’t allow her to hear well.
“Romeo?” Waverly asks, curious about Nicole’s choice of name.
“Yeah. Well. He likes to show off. He has a huge heart. Sometimes he is an idiot. He is definitely a fighter… oh and he is a sucker for pretty girls.” Nicole says with a laugh.
Waverly smiles and looks at the horse. No longer a mustang, the horse fit Nicole perfectly. He is strong, yet lean (just like Nicole). Anyone with eyes can see the two have a connection. Plus, his spirit is a little wild and free. They are the perfect match.
“So you and Steph seem to be getting to know each other…” Waverly fishes.
Nicole laughs a little uncomfortably. “Um yeah. She has been around a lot. She seems like a very… special type of girl…” Nicole trails off. Luckily, they are at the main barn.
“I am going to go get Romeo squared away in the barn. My cabin is the first one on the left. I will meet you over there. The door is unlocked, make yourselves at home.” Nicole says, guiding Romeo into the barn.
“So, how are you liking it here Nicole?” Dolls asks between bites of his food.
“It’s nice here. I have to admit. But it sometimes feels more like a factory than a ranch.” Nicole says. She takes a sip of her beer.
“The uniforms must be nice though?” Dolls says.
“Yeah, they are, but I tend to gravitate towards my flannels and jeans. But I really can’t complain.” Nicole says.
“I’m surprised Jones hasn’t tried to recruit you yet.” Wynonna says, a little bitter.
Nicole laughs uncomfortably, trying to brush it off. She changes the subject. “So how’s it going back home?”
“Business as usual, just doing little things to get ready for the season.” Dolls says. “It will be nice to have some actual work to do this time next month.”
“Agreed.” Nicole says, clinking her beer bottle with Dolls’.
“So what’s up with you and ‘Little Miss Bitch’ Jones?” Wynonna asks.
“Wyn, she is not that bad. I might not know her as well as the rest of you. But she has been nothing but kind to me and her father is a really great man.”
Both Earp girls scoff and Dolls looks at them with a disapproving look.
“So is this your way of telling us you and her are a thing now?” Waverly asks trying to hide her bitterness.
“Steph and I are just friends. Actually she is the boss’s daughter. I have no reason to dislike her thus far.” Nicole says pointedly. Waverly getting upset and jealous is getting her a little frustrated. Waverly was the one who changed her mind. Does that mean Nicole can’t be with anyone else ever? And Nicole isn’t even interested in Steph. This is all just ridiculous and frustrating. Nicole stands and clears her plate.
By the time they are saying their goodbyes, they are all out in front of the main house. Wynonna fist bumps Nicole before walking away. Dolls waves to her from the truck. Wynonna makes her way to the truck, only to be intercepted by Mr. Jones.
“Enjoy your visit?” He asks.
“We did. Always good to see my employee flourishing in a foreign environment.” Wynonna responds with fake smile.
“I couldn’t agree more.” He pauses. “In the spirit of being professional. I just thought you should know. I offered Nicole a position here. Even offered to double her pay.”
“Well…” Wynonna says, calming herself down before she does something stupid. “That is mighty generous of you Mr. Jones.”
“Yeah, well good talent is worth it. You have a safe trip home now.” He says, walking away.
Nicole and Waverly stand awkwardly in silence for a moment.
“So, I guess this is goodbye, for now.” Nicole says.
“Waverly is having a hard time focusing on Nicole. All she can seem to notice is Steph staring at them from the porch steps. “Waves?” Nicole moves her hand in front of Waverly’s face to get her attention.
“Sorry. Just thinking…” Waverly trails off.
“Okay… well, I’ll see you later.” Nicole says awkwardly.
Waverly surges up, grabbing Nicole and hugging her tight. Nicole doesn’t seem to know what to do. Her hands awkwardly hover an inch away from Waverly’s hips. Waverly holds on tight, until she feels Nicole relax into the embrace after a few long moments of tension. Waverly leans up. “We really need to talk. I have a lot of things to say, but I want to make sure you want to hear it all. Waverly lets go and smiles at Nicole.
Nicole looks at her sadly. After a moment of reflection Nicole gives her a small smile and nods. Waverly turns on her heal and walks towards the waiting truck. She opens the door and jumps in. They drive off quickly, but not before Waverly gets a glimpse of Steph pulling Nicole in for a kiss. She turns around quickly, trying to stop the feeling of her heart breaking in her chest.
“Woah.” Nicole says, pushing Steph away from her enough to get some space in between them. “What the hell was that?”
“What? You didn’t like it?” Steph asks coyly, saddling up to Nicole once again.
“Steph, I’m here to work.” Nicole says, taking a step back.
“Steph takes a step forwards, closing the space between them once again. “That may be the reason you told my dad, but I don’t think that is the truth. I think the real reason for you coming here is to get over Waverly Earp.”
Nicole doesn’t respond, but takes another step back, leaning back a bit.
Steph closes the distance, wrapping her arms around Nicole’s neck and leaning up on her toes. She brushes Nicole’s lips with her own as she says, “I could help you with that.”
“God dammit!” Wynonna slams her door shut as she departed from the truck. The car ride home was silent, but now… Wynonna was a bomb.
“What?” Dolls asks.
“Jones is trying to poach Nicole from us! He offered her a full time position there! And doubled her salary!” Wynonna exclaims.
“You don’t really think Haught would go work for Jones do you?” Dolls says, watching as Pete retreats to his cabin.
“I saw Steph and Nicole kissing…” Waverly says softly.
“What?” Wynonna asks, she couldn’t hear her sister when she talked so softly.
“Steph kissed Nicole. I saw it as we left. They were kissing on her front porch the moment we started driving away.” Waverly says, her heart shattered.
“What?! No!” Wynonna exclaims. “This is not happening!”
Wynonna begins to pace in the dirt, creating a small dust cloud. “They can’t take her. She was only supposed to go for a few weeks!”
“And you let her go!” Waverly yells, pointing an accusing finger at her sister. She isn’t really angry at Wynonna, but she can’t hold all this in for another second.
“Excuse me?!” Wynonna asks, getting angrier.
“You let her go there and now she might not come back!”
“And why do you think she left?! Huh, Waverly?! Maybe because she couldn’t just stand around when you don’t have the same feelings she has?! She wanted some time! What was I supposed to do?! Tell her not to go?! Tie her up and lock her away?!” Wynonna yells. “I understand that you guys are friends, I get it! But she is my BEST friend Waverly! She is the only person who sticks around for me. She is the only one who understands how I feel and why I do the things I do! SHE is the only one that doesn’t judge me for all of it! I might lose my best friend over all of this! This doesn’t just affect you Waverly! And why should you care if she is kissing Steph?! She is a single, grown ass woman. She is young and smart and amazing! She deserves to be happy! Even if it’s with that bitch Stephanie Jones!” With that, Wynonna storms into the house, undoubtedly to get a bottle to drink.
Waverly is in complete shock. She stands there for a moment before shaking her head and walking towards the half-finished stable she and Nicole have been working on. She needs to clear her head. Dolls just stands there in shock. He is frozen in place, even after both Earp girls have vacated the vicinity.
Wynonna walks into the barn and sits next to her sister. Neither look at each other, they just sit in silence for a while.
“I owe you an apology.” Waverly breaks the silence.
“Yeah, so do I.” Wynonna says. “That sucked.”
“Wave, be honest with me: Do you think I should have told her to stay?” Wynonna asks.
Waverly shakes her head. “No Nonna, you did the right thing by letting her go.”
After a beat, Wynonna breaks the silence once again. “You think she is going to leave us?”
Waverly’s stomach ties in knots at the thought and she flinches because there is a possibility she may become physically ill. “I hope not.”
A week and a half later, Wynonna and Waverly get into the truck and drive towards the Jones property. Waverly looks out the window and thinks about the last ten days. They sucked. Waverly and Wynonna both couldn't decide how they felt. Part of them wanted time to pass faster, so they could get the answers they needed. And then part of the wanted time to slow down, so they could avoid the possible unpleasant things to come. But they got neither. You can't control time and it passed at its regular pace.
They pull up to the main house and lower the horse trailer ramp they are towing. Once they finish, they look up to see a very smug Stephanie Jones staring at them from her front porch. Waverly bites her tongue as she gives Steph her fake smile and wave. Steph responds with equal fakeness. She stands tall and begins to walk down towards them.
“Hello Waverly.” Steph says, ignoring Wynonna’s presence completely.
“Afternoon Steph.” Waverly responds
Before Steph can say what she has on the tip of her tongue, Mr. Jones comes walking towards them. “Earps. It's nice to see you again.” Mr. Jones greets with a smile and a handshake to both women.
“So, where's our girl?” Wynonna asks (hiding the timid nature of the question well. Is she still our girl?).
“She was just finishing up her packing when I left her. You are more than welcome to go help her.” He offers, gesturing in the direction of her cabin.
“Oh, it's okay Daddy. They don't have to. I was with Nicole last night and we almost finished packing her stuff up completely. She is probably just doing some last finishing touches.” Steph says in a faux innocent tone.
“Well we will go help her carry her bags then.” Wynonna insists, walking towards the cabin. “Thank you for your hospitality Mr. Jones.”
They walk up to Nicole's cabin and see Romeo tied to the post outside. Waverly approaches the horse and allows him to get re-acquainted with her. Her sister does the same. Romeo, a lot like Nicole, is more than what meets the eye. He is strong and powerful on the exterior and alienated himself solely on his appearance. But when you meet him and actually interact with him, his is a big softy. He has rough edges, but he is overall a sweet and affectionate horse. They hear movement inside and decide to walk in.
They knock on the doorframe as they walk in to find Nicole lying face down on the bed.
“Steph, please just leave me alone. I really can't have this conversation again.” Nicole's voice is muffled slightly by the sheets.
“And what conversation would that be Haught?” Wynonna asks irritated, realizing Nicole thought they were Steph.
Nicole pops her head up and turns to look at the Earp girls. She groans and lets her face fall back into the sheets.
“Well ‘hello’ to you too.” Waverly says mockingly.
Nicole groans. “Tired. Didn't sleep. Five more minutes.” Nicole whines. Both Earp sisters move towards her and lay down on the bed next to her (although they are laying face up).
After a minute of silence, Wynonna speaks up. “So Haught, Steph keeping you up all night every night?”
Nicole groans. “I don't want to talk about her or anything.”
As if on cue, Steph comes barreling into the cabin. She stops short, looking down at the bed. Her eyes narrow at the Earps but quickly return to her fake happy self. “Hey, wanted to make sure you didn't leave without saying a proper goodbye.”
Nicole looked up at her, standing up from the bed and brushing the wrinkles in her pants. She helps both girls off the bed and they all walk outside.
Wynonna and Waverly stand off to the side as Steph approaches Nicole (who is standing near Romeo’s head). As Steph gets closer, Romeo starts to get antsy. Clearly, he is not a fan of hers.
“That horse clearly has better taste than his human.” Wynonna jokes to her sister. Waverly grumbles in response, but she can't fight the smile that spreads across her face. She wants to laugh, but has enough self-control not to.
Nicole calms Romeo and leads him a few steps away from Steph. Steph, who is glaring daggers at Romeo, keeps her distance as they all start to walk towards the truck and trailer.
“Rom.” Nicole clicks her tongue and leads the horse into the trailer. She secures him and locked the trailer up. She walks over to the group.
“Well, I guess we will be seeing you around Waverly.” Mr. Jones says.
“Yup, looks like it.” Waverly responds with a small smile.
“It was nice seeing you girls.” He responds, effectively dismissing the girls. They exchange a look with each other, and then with Nicole before going to the truck. Mr. Jones turns his attention to Nicole. “You think about my offer?”
“I have.” Nicole smiles at him, but looks out at the land around them a moment later as she speaks. “Right now, I need to get all my ducks in a row. All due respect, I don't think working here, right now, will help me achieve that goal. But I really appreciate the offer Sir. You have a lovely ranch here and one of the best programs in the state. So, thank you for giving me the experience. I learned a lot in the short time I have been here. But… I'm happy at the Earp Ranch, for now at least. I think it's where I need to be for the moment.”
Mr. Jones nods his head and hands Nicole her pay envelope. “Well the offer is always open.” He gives her a firm handshake and smiles at her before moving back towards the house.
Nicole looks at Steph, who is looking at her with a weird look. “What?”
“I don't get you Nicky.” Steph says. She takes a step towards Nicole and pulls her close by her belt loops. Nicole leans her shoulders back, adding more space between their faces. “You had an opportunity and you wasted it.”
“Are you talking about your father’s job offer? Or are you talking about your offer to sleep with me just to hurt Waverly?” Nicole asks bitterly.
Both, but my offer was about helping you with your…” Steph skims a finger along Nicole’s jaw line. “... little crush issue.”
Nicole looks at her in disbelief. “Steph, you only wanted me because you think Waverly cares for me. Well I hate to tell you this, but your wrong. Waverly doesn't have feelings for me. And was I hurt? Yes. But not hurt enough to try and ‘get back at her’ for being honest about how she feels. And just to be clear…” Nicole gently shoves Steph away from her. “... for the last time, keep your hands to yourself. Your father is a good man and I would hate to have to tell the sheriff about the Jones’ daughter sexually harassing someone.” Nicole nods her head and dips her stetson. “Now you have a good day, Ma’am.” And she walks away. She gets into the back of the trailer with Romeo and bangs on the trailer door twice. Wynonna hits the gas and drives them off and away from Jones Ranch.
They arrive back to the Earp ranch and Nicole goes about settling Romeo (who seems pleased to be home). On her way back from the barn, Nedley and Shorty both stop her.
“Glad to have you back.” Nedley says.
“Yeah, wasn’t sure if you were coming back based on what was happening.” Shorty adds.
Nicole looks at them quizzically. “What do you mean?”
“Wynonna and Waverly said you got offered a nice position there. Said it paid good and you were considering it. Even told me to ask around to find a possible replacement.” Nedley supplies.
Nicole's face morphs from confusion to anger. “What?? Why would I…” Nicole looks up towards the main house and sees both Earp women watching her from the porch. She turns back to look at the two men. “Excuse me gentlemen.”
They both nod and watch as Nicole makes her way over to the house. She is almost there when Dolls catches her by the arm and pulls her to a stop. “Haught. Don’t do something you might regret.”
“I already have. I should have kept my mouth shut! I shouldn’t have told Wynonna anything! I shouldn't have told her about my feelings! And all of you! You all made a decision that I was considering an offer… without even asking me about it?! That’s the issue here. I couldn’t care less about all of this. I’m angry because no one talked to me about it Dolls! You all just made a snap judgement!” Nicole is furious. “And you are my friend and coworker! You should have talked to me! You should have asked me!” Nicole's voice is loud enough that the Earp sisters can hear her, but she doesn’t care. “This affects my ability to do my job and how the team will work with me. You know better than anyone what the consequences of that can be. By not talking about this with me and jumping to a conclusion, you put doubt in the mind of every person on the team. Now, tell me that isn’t a problem. Tell me I shouldn’t be upset.”
Dolls is silent for a long moment before responding. “Haught…” The regret in his voice answers her. He knows she has a right to be upset. But he wants to try and explain.
She doesn’t give him the chance. “You know what Xavier. I’m exhausted. I have had one of the most stressful two weeks of my life and I can’t deal with this right now. I have tomorrow off. I will see you in two days. Nicole walks away and towards her cabin. She doesn’t even look back at the Earp girls.
“Shit.” Wynonna mutters as she watches Nicole storm towards them after a short conversation with Nedley and Shorty.
Waverly nods, seeing the same thing. They are about to stand up but then Dolls intercepts Nicole before she gets to the house. They hear the whole conversation, Nicole’s tone making both of their bloods run cold. After Nicole is done talking, Nicole walks towards her cabin, leaving a stunned Dolls just standing there.
“Shit.” Wynonna repeats. “I need to go talk to her.” Wynonna stands.
“I do too… but I think I should probably wait and let her cool off.” Waverly says.
“Isn’t waiting around and not talking to her what got you into this mess in the first place.” Wynonna asks.
Waverly reflects for a moment before nodding and standing. They walk over to Nicole’s cabin just in time to see her take a large swig from a bottle of tequila. When they are close enough, Wynonna speaks. “Haught. Can we talk?”
Nicole turns her head, eyes aflame with irritation. “Depends. Are you here to talk to me as my friend or as my boss?”
“I’m… We are here to talk to you as both.” Wynonna says.
Nicole scoffs and takes another swig from her bottle, but doesn’t object.
“Okay… well I guess I should start by asking you about your time working for Jones…” Wynonna starts, not really sure if this is the right thing to start with.
It wasn’t. Nicole laughs bitterly. “Really?”
“Nicole…” Waverly starts.
“Don’t. Please don’t Waverly. You both are standing here, claiming to be my friends, but you didn’t have the decency to even ask me? To talk to me before making a decision? Are you serious?” Nicole’s voice is low and dripping with hurt and anger. “At the very least, a coworker would have had a discussion with me first.”
“And what was I supposed to say?! ‘Hey Haught, heard Jones was offering you a great job and a shit load of money to do it. Plus, I know you got a thing going with his daughter and all and that place is really swanky.’ I couldn’t blame you for taking that job! How could I ask you to stay?! No one would stay when offered that!” Wynonna yells.
“I DID! I stayed!” Nicole finally yells, losing her temper. “You should have come to me! Called me! Send me a text! Fuck! Sent me a message by carrier pigeon for fucks sake! If you had, I would have told you I wasn’t even considering the job! I would have told you I had no interest in working for Jones! I would have told you there is no thing between me and Stephanie Jones! I would have told you how this job and this ranch and the legacy Curtis left you means more to me than any job! But you didn’t talk to me! Instead, you started looking for a replacement! You put the safety and productivity of this team in jeopardy Wynonna! You made me doubt not only myself, but my job security here at Earp Ranch.” She takes another chug from her bottle and waits for Wynonna to respond.
Wynonna doesn’t respond right away and spends a solid thirty seconds examining her shoes. Nicole utilizes that pause to drink from the bottle and stare daggers at Wynonna. “Nic. Look.” Wynonna says, still looking down at her feet. “I was just trying to get ready in the event of you leaving. I am not used to loyalty or people sticking around.” Waverly feels that one like a punch to the heart. “But, I’m sorry for not talking to you first.”
Nicole seems to let her next words simmer before speaking, no longer yelling. “If you had asked me, I would have told you. I didn’t even know Jones told you about it, otherwise, I would have talked to you.” Nicole takes a deep breath and looks at both of the sisters. “I’m drunk and not in a good place at the moment. I don’t want to say anything I will regret. Goodnight ladies.” And with that Nicole walks into her cabin and closes the door.
Waverly wakes up the next morning with a lump in her throat. She doesn’t remember falling asleep, but she does remember crying into Nicole’s hoodie. She couldn’t and can’t stop thinking about last night. She remembers the look in Nicole’s eyes, the betrayal and hurt that was trying to hide behind anger. She feels horrible and she isn’t really sure how to fix it. She decides to get up and greet the day. By the time she is down stairs, Waverly can see all the farmhands at work outside. Nicole is even out there, but she isn’t working and is carrying a large bag over her shoulder. She is talking with Shorty, Nedley and Dolls about something, conversation casual and all are smiling. Then they are getting back to work and Nicole is attaching the bag to Romeo’s saddle. Nicole hoists herself up and gets comfortable. Nedley approaches her and gives her leg a soft pat as he says something to her. Nicole leans down to hear him better and nods her head when he is finished. Nicole and Romeo take off.
“Any idea where she is going?” Wynonna asks, appearing out of nowhere and startling her sister.
“Dammit Wynonna, wear a bell.” Waverly scolds, placing a hand to her chest. “And no, I don’t know where she is going.“
“Well, the guys will know.” Wynonna says, walking out towards the working men. Waverly follows her, cup of coffee in hand. “Morning Gentlemen.” Wynonna says as she approaches Nedley and Shorty. Dolls is a few feet away, but his back is turned to them.
“Good morning ladies.” Shorty says. “Something we can help you with?”
“Just wondering where my redheaded employee is off to, that’s all.” Wynonna responds coolly.
“It’s her day off.” Dolls says, still not turning around.
“I know. Doesn’t stop me from being curious.” Wynonna retorts, annoyed Dolls isn’t giving her the answer she wants.
“Wynonna…” Shorty warns but it falls on deaf ears.
“What is your problem Dolls.” Wynonna bites out harshly.
He slowly turns around to face her. “I don’t have a problem with you.”
“Sure, seems like you do.” Wynonna retorts.
He pauses for a moment. “This place is a family Wynonna. Your uncle made sure of that. All of us are here because we didn’t belong or fit in anywhere else. This place is a sanctuary and a home for us.” His voice is low and his face is stoic as ever. “Nicole found a home here. The woman never felt like she belonged anywhere because her daddy used to kick the crap out of her family and when she left she had to hide it. But she finally found a place where she felt like she belonged, your uncle made that happen. The same way he did for us. But now, she feels uncomfortable being here. She now feels like she doesn’t belong here. She doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere. So yes, I have a problem. But it’s not with you. It’s with all of us. Every single one of us played a part in this and it is fucking horrible.” He pauses and bites the inside of his cheek. “And the worst part, it was so much easier when she was angry. Because it is truly heartbreaking to see her rebuild those walls, put on that fake smile and act like she isn’t upset. It is so much worse to find her drunk and sad at three in the morning when I went to go check on her. It is so much worse to know this could all have been avoided if we all just fucking talked to her.” He looks at all of them. “I am just as much to blame as everyone else, but there is a difference. He turns to Nedley. “You are the closest thing to a real father she has ever had and I know you regard her as yours.” He turns to Shorty. “You and Curtis trained her and spent more time with her than any of us. You were the first person she told about what happened to her family.” He looks at Doc (who has his head bowed under his hat) from across the barn. “Holiday over there used to drive Nicole to and from court before she told Wynonna.” He rounds on the Earp girls. “Wynonna, she is your best friend and probably cares about you more than anyone possibly could. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be so hurt by what you did. And Waverly, I don’t know what exactly is going on between you and Haught, and honestly, I don’t think either of you know either. But we all know you care for each other.” Dolls looks at all of them. “She is my best friend and partner and I refuse to lose her over this. I don’t know how we fix this, but we are going to do our best to try.”
Everyone is silent, no one moves. It is several minutes before anyone does anything besides breathing. Waverly is the first to break, moving into the barn further and starting to saddle up Echo. Waverly hasn’t ridden in months [Oh god years!], but she can’t really find it in herself to care. She gets up and on the beautiful Appaloosa and rode out of the barn. She rides for almost forty minutes before picking up horse tracks that are most likely Romeo’s. She just hopes she is right because she follows them. She rides for another fifteen minutes before she sees a small fire to the side of the trail. She slows her pace and approaches with caution. She recognizes Romeo standing near the fire and relaxes a bit. Now that she is closer, she can see the tent that is constructed to the left and the single figure standing near the fire. She recognizes Nicole's silhouette immediately. It will be dark in the next hour and the light and fire combination gives Nicole’s body a shimmering quality.
Nicole hears something approaching her from behind and noticed how Romeo acted a few moments earlier. Something is there. She reaches down and (as discretely as possible) pulls the pistol that is holstered at her side. She pulls the weapon and spins, pointing it at the moving object approaching.
“Shit! Nicole! It’s me!” Waverly says, holding her hands up with the reigns still in hand. Echo stops at the motion as well.
Nicole squints and then lowers the gun with a deep exhale. “Dammit Waverly. I could have shot you. What the hell are you doing out here. I thought you were some animal.” Nicole holsters the gun and turns back towards the fire.
Waverly dismounts Echo and leads her over to where Romeo is standing. After she has the horse set up, she moves to stand next to Nicole. “I am here because I need to talk to you. I feel like I haven’t really done that in weeks.”
“Did it ever occur to you that I am out here, in nature, so I don’t have to talk and can just… be?” Nicole asks, although it is more of a statement.
“You don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to. But I need to. I need you to listen to what I have to say and if, by the end, you still don’t want to talk, I will leave or do whatever you want.” Waverly says, not caring how her voice sounds so close to pleading.
Nicole pauses for a moment before looking away from the fire and at Waverly. She then moves to the other side of the fire (where there are a few logs) and sits down. She takes another deep breath. “Okay.”
Waverly moves around the fire and sits on a log a foot away from Nicole. She takes a deep breath. “Okay. So, I have a lot to say, but I want to start with I’m sorry. And this is just a general ‘I’m sorry for everything’.” Waverly notices how Nicole doesn’t react and continues. “Look, Wynonna and I never would have replaced you. Especially without talking to you. I think we just let our insecurities get the better of us. I know that doesn’t make it better, but I just had to say that we never meant to hurt you. But I am more concerned with us.”
Waverly takes a deep breath and sees how Nicole’s hands fidget slightly. She is trying to keep herself in check.
“Look, I got jealous okay. I saw you kissing Steph and I kinda lost it. And the thought of you being with her…” Waverly stumbles. “It makes me sick to my stomach.”
“Steph kissed me, that one time. I pushed her off and spent the rest of my stay there fending off her advances. But she didn’t actually want me. She wanted the hot lesbian cowgirl. She thought by sleeping with me, she could mess with you. But that is beside the point. Waverly, you don’t get to reject me and then get jealous and possessive when I move on.” Nicole says evenly.
“I know.” Waverly admits. “But Nic, I didn’t mean to reject you. I really didn’t. I want this. I want you. And at the time… I let my fear stop me from telling you. The idea of telling you I wanted you and opening myself up like that… the whole thing scares me.”
“I scare you?”
“Yes. More than anything else in this world. I am scared of getting hurt. I am scared of opening up again. But most of all, I’m scared I will lose you. I don’t think I could be with you, only for you to be ripped away from me. I can’t lose you Nicole. I can’t. And maybe I have fucked this up so much and you no longer want to be with me. And I could recover from that, as long as you don’t leave. As long as I still get to have you in my life. Even if it is just as friends.” Waverly stops talking. After a whole minute of silence, the tension cracks Waverly. “Please say something. I know I said you didn’t have to, but I need you to say something.”
“I don’t want an apology.” Nicole says softly. “I am equally at fault for a lot of this. That’s why I am out here. I’m angry and frustrated, but more at myself than anyone else. I didn’t want to take it out on all of you like I did last night.” Nicole pauses for a moment, smiling lightly. “Normally when a woman tells you that you scare her, it’s a red light telling you to ‘get the fuck away’.” Nicole chuckles lightly, still looking at the fire. “But I owe you an apology as well.” She looks up and meets Waverly’s eyes. “I should have asked you about it, instead of assuming. I guess that was my own insecurities rearing their ugly head. And I left to try and avoid and deal with my feelings. So, I’m sorry Waverly. Truly, I am.”
“So, what does that mean for us?” Waverly asks.
Nicole chuckles lightly and clasps her hands together. “Why don’t we try this again. Waverly, do you want to be with me?”
Waverly stands and walks over to Nicole. She sits down next to Nicole on the log so their thighs and shoulders are touching. She takes one of Nicole’s hands in hers and holds it.
“Yes. I do. I want to be with you Nicole.” Waverly says with a watery smile. “D-do you want to be with me?”
Nicole smiles and turns her head to look at Waverly. “Yes, I do. I have since the moment I met you.”
Waverly smiles wide and a single tear falls down her cheek. “Good.”
Nicole smiles wider. “Good.” Nicole leans in and feels electricity spark inside her as her lips make contact with Waverly’s.
The kiss is light and only lasts a few seconds before Waverly pulls away. She looks at Nicole, who still has her eyes shut. It takes Nicole another moment to recover before she opens her eyes.
“Yeah.” Nicole agrees.
“So are we…? Did we just…?” Waverly stumbles, trying to slow her thoughts.
“Um…” Nicole stands, holding out a hand to help Waverly up.
Waverly accepts the hand and rises to her feet. Nicole, in one sharp motion, pulls Waverly into her and connects their lips. This kiss is different, it is more hungry and needy. It heats up like the nearby fire and sends both women into a frenzy. Neither wanting to break the contact, they kiss until they need to break away for air. Waverly nuzzles into Nicole, allowing the taller redhead to rest her chin on the top of her head.
After a moment a silence, where the only sounds are of their breathing and the crackle of the fire, Nicole speaks. “So are you planning on staying here tonight? If not, I can escort you back to the ranch.”
“Do you want me to stay? Because I really want to stay.” Waverly says against Nicole’s chest.
“I would love for you to stay.” Nicole says with a soft laugh.
Waverly tightens her grip around Nicole, pulling herself impossibly closer.
“There is so much we still need to talk about, but I’m happy with where we are at the moment.” Waverly says.
Nicole smiles and shifts a little. “Yeah, me too.” She looks down at Waverly. “I can’t believe you aren’t overheating.”
“I get cold. Four blankets or bust.” Waverly counters with a cute pout.
“Okay, but then why am I laying on top of you, in addition to the four blankets?” Nicole asks, amused by the smaller woman.
“Bonus blanket.” Waverly says with a smirk. She runs her hand up Nicole’s bare back until she reaches the hem on Nicole’s sports bra. A part of her wants the article of clothing to disappear so she can feel all of Nicole pressing into her, but she knows it is a little too soon. Her nerves buzz with the idea, excitement and fear warring for dominance.
“What are you thinking about?” Nicole asks, noticing the shift as Waverly got lost in her thoughts.
“You… and me… and how it would be if we were both naked.” Waverly says, her eyes darkening at the honesty of the statement.
Nicole visibly gulps and tempers down the heat that is building up inside her. “Well, I just… I think we should wait. You know. Wait until we are in an actual bed (not in a flimsy tent) and not in the middle of the fields.”
Waverly’s soft hands run back down Nicole’s back, stopping at the hem on Nicole’s underwear. “I agree.” Waverly allows her fingers to toy with the hem a bit (something she notices gets a reaction from Nicole). “But that doesn’t mean I will stop imagining what it will be like.” With a suggestive look, Waverly leans her head up and meets Nicole’s lips. Nicole hums in agreement and dips her head down so Waverly can relax her neck as they continue to kiss. They continue to kiss, tongues slipping in a dance that seems so foreign, but also so familiar.
They ride back the next morning with smiles on their faces. When they arrive at the ranch’s main barn, they both spot Wynonna (who is standing on the porch of the main house. After situating the horses and putting the gear away, both women walk towards the house. Waverly takes the few steps up and kisses her sister on the cheek before walking inside without a word.
Wynonna looks at Nicole for a long moment, searching for the anger that is no longer present. She looks away and out towards the fields. Dolls was right. It is a whole lot easier to handle when Nicole is angry. Sad Nicole is way worse. As if I needed another reminder that I was a total asshole!
Nicole decides she should start this off. “Can we just skip the sappy apologies and all the emotional bullshit? Can we just admit we were both asses and move on?”
Wynonna smiles a bit and nods, still not meeting Nicole’s gaze. “You know me so well.”
“That’s why we are friends.” Nicole says with conviction. “This doesn’t change that. Sorry for being an ass.”
“Sorry for being an ass.” Wynonna repeats. They both nod, finally meeting each other’s gaze. They hug lightly before Nicole hops down the porch steps and walks towards her cabin.
“Hey cowgirl.” Waverly says in a teasing tone.
“Hey beautiful. What’s up?” Nicole says from her seat on top of the saddle.
“Not a lot. Wynonna is taking a nap in the house so I thought I would come out and see how you were doing? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.”
“Waves, we woke up next to each other this morning.” Nicole teases, leaning down with an outstretched hand. Waverly takes the offered hand and allows Nicole to hoist her up into the saddle. Waverly pats Romeo lightly and wraps her arms around Nicole from behind.
“What are we doing?” Waverly asks with a giggle.
“Enjoying the moment.” Nicole says with a smile. “Plus I have to go walk the fence and check for holes so I’m taking you with me.” Waverly laughs and buries her face into the back of Nicole’s shirt.
They are almost done with the walk through when they hear a vehicle off in the distance. Another moment passes and the large SUV comes into view. Nicole grumbles and tightens her grip on the reigns. That is Mr. Jones' SUV. “We should get back. Jones is driving towards the ranch.”
“Yeah let’s go.” Waverly agrees.
With that Nicole gets Romeo going and they run back to the ranch.
They have just arrived when Mr. Jones and Steph step out of the SUV. Waverly hops down from Romeo and Nicole does the same. As they do, Wynonna exits the house with Dolls in tow.
“To what do we owe the pleasure Jones?” Wynonna says with fake friendliness. She doesn’t want Jones on her land or anywhere near them. It has been a few weeks since the incident with Nicole and things are going well. She doesn’t want that jeopardized.
“Just wanted a moment of Nicole’s time to chat, that’s all.” Mr. Jones says.
“I fail to see why that couldn’t be done over the phone.” Dolls says politely, although its implications aren’t subtle.
“True, except Nicole hasn’t returned any of my calls. Plus, we wanted to see her again. She is missed back home.” Steph says, eyeing Nicole like she is a piece of meat.
“My apologies. Phone has been acting up.” Nicole lies. Waverly stands next to Nicole, leaning into her slightly as she fights the urge to punch Steph in her Botox filled face.
“Well, I was just hoping you would be open to discussing the sale of your American Quarter there.” Mr. Jones says, gesturing to Romeo (who is shifting uncomfortably next to Nicole). Romeo is not shy about his feelings towards Steph. Nicole could laugh at the memory of Romeo trying to bite Steph when she tried to pet him during her time at Jones Ranch.
“I’m sorry Mr. Jones. But like I said before when we discussed the matter. My horse isn’t for sale.” Nicole says politely.
“Well, I hope you still wouldn’t mind if I took a look at how he rides. You have him trained well and I would appreciate the opportunity to see him in action.” Jones continues, still smiling.
Nicole hesitates and looks to Wynonna. Wynonna, who is studying Jones, turns and gives a small nod.
“Sure, I guess.” Nicole says leading Romeo away and getting into the saddle. The others follow her behind, except Waverly (who walks at her side with a hand resting on Romeo’s side as they walk).
Once in the field, Nicole turns to Jones. “Anything in particular you want to see?”
“A couple strides at top speed and a few maneuvers, if you would be so kind.” He says with a dip of his head.
Nicole nods and plucks her stetson from her head. She leans down and places it on Waverly. “Mind holding on to that for me.”
Waverly smiles, feeling the spark of electricity that flows through her when their fingers brush. “Of course.”
After a half an hour of demonstrating Romeo and his training, Jones seems satisfied. They walk back and Dolls opens up a paddock to allow Nicole and Romeo in. They are all standing idly around the outside of the railing as Nicole trots Romeo around the paddock, allowing him to cool down from the intense exercise properly.
Nicole and Waverly are too preoccupied with caring for Romeo that they don’t notice when Steph pulls out a plastic bag with a bag of crackers inside. Steph’s phone rings and she moves to answer it, forgetting her snack and bag completely. A gust of wind blows the bag into the paddock. Steph realizes, but then decides she doesn’t feel like grabbing it. It floats in and flies towards Romeo.
Wynonna watches the next few moments as if they are happening in slow motion. Nicole notices the bag a half a second before it is too late. She leans down and shoves Waverly away, knowing Romeo is going to spook. Unfortunately, this position made her unbalanced and when Romeo rears, Nicole can’t do much to stop it. He rears up and a strangled neigh escapes him as he backs away, trying to shake the bag that has now hit him in the face, blocking his vision.
Waverly staggers back and Wynonna grabs her and (literally) pulls her over the paddock rail with the help of Dolls. Nicole lets go of the reigns and grips Romeo by the mane and neck. He comes down and bucks again.
Waverly gasps and grips her sisters arm tightly as she sees Nicole’s left foot slip from the stirrup.
Nicole feels her foot slip and she does her best to keep her hold steady. Romeo steps back and bumps the rail of the paddock, thus spooking him further. He bucks and rears again and this time, Nicole’s grip is not strong enough. Her left hand slips and her right follows almost immediately after. She falls back and feels her foot depart from the stirrup. The next thing she feels is the pain that shoots up and down her spine as her body makes contact with the paddock railing.
Wynonna and Waverly are holding each other back as Dolls jumps the rail and runs to Nicole’s side. She hasn’t said anything or moved since making contact with the railing and then the ground.
“Shorty! Nedley! Doc!” Dolls yells. He is crouched near Nicole’s head, thus blocking anyone’s view of her. Nedley comes charging out faster than anyone can ever remember before. He opens the paddock gate and runs to Nicole’s other side while Doc and Shorty go about calming Romeo. Pete comes out and silently pulls a stunned Mr. Jones and a stupefied Steph away from the scene (directing them to their vehicle and saying he will contact them when there is news.
“Call a bus!” Dolls shouts.
“A what?” Doc asks, confused.
“Call a damn ambulance Holiday!” Dolls snaps, tossing him a cell phone.
Waverly and Wynonna slowly move towards the other side of the paddock (closer to where Nicole is. Waverly clutches Wynonna’s hand tightly, hoping.
They reach the fallen woman just in time to hear Dolls whisper down at her. “Nicole. Look at me. I need you to focus on me okay.”
Nicole doesn’t move, but blinks hard in an affirmative.
“Okay. Good.” Dolls lightly touches Nicole’s toes, pinching them through the boots. “Can you feel that?”
“Yes.” Nicole croaks out with pain etched into her tone. “It hurts.”
“I know, but it’s a good sign.” Dolls says. He lightly squeezes Nicole’s hands. “How about that?”
“Yes. I can feel your hand.” Nicole says softly, still not daring to move.
There are sirens in the distance that can be heard faintly over the wind. Waverly crouches next to Nedley. She places a light hand on Nicole’s, but doesn’t dare to do anything else.
Romeo, who is now calmed down walks over to his fallen master. Shorty tries to pull him back, but the horse is just as stubborn as his rider. Wynonna waves Shorty off and allows the horse to come close. He stops at her head and bows his own to sniff her face. He licks her lightly and stays there until the ambulance is driving up and Shorty (with the help of Doc) is pulling Romeo out of the paddock so the paramedics can work.
They come quickly and work as Dolls relays them the pertinent information. After rolling her on to a spinal board and attaching a collar to her neck (effectively immobilizing her), the ambulance is loaded and drives away with lights and sirens.
“I need to be there Wynonna.” Waverly speaks for the first time. She has tears in her eyes, ever since they started immobilizing Nicole.
“So do I Babygirl. We will follow the ambulance. Let’s go.”
With that, the Earp girls and Nedley drive to the hospital behind the ambulance.
Inside the ambulance…
“Mr. Dolls, is there anything else we should know about this situation?” A paramedic asks.
“Not that I am aware of.” Dolls says honestly.
The paramedic nods and continues to check over Nicole.
“Nicole. My name is Tim. I need to ask you some questions to check your alertness and assess any possible head injuries during our ride. Is that okay with you?” He asks kindly.
“Sure.” Nicole mumbles. The C spine collar making it slightly more difficult to talk.
“Okay, that good. Let’s start with your full name and date of birth…” He begins.
They sit in the waiting room and… well… wait.
It is excruciating and Waverly can’t seem to sit still. She had had Nicole’s phone in her pocket when they left and now holds it tightly in her hands. She taps it awake and looks at Nicole’s lock screen. It is a picture of them. Actually, it’s a candid picture of them that Shorty had taken a few days earlier. Nicole is standing behind Waverly with her arms around her. Her eyes are closed and she has a content and happy smile on her lips as she kisses Waverly’s cheek. Waverly is blushing like a tomato, a wide smile on her face as her eyes too, are closed. Romeo stands behind them, his head resting on Nicole’s shoulder.
Waverly tears up again as she looks at the phone. The photo…
She is about to burst into tears once again when a doctor comes out. “Nicole Haught!” He calls out.
“That’s us!” Wynonna says to him as Nedley, Doc, Dolls and Waverly join her near the doctor.
“Okay well I can only permit family to see her…” He says.
They all look at him expectantly.
“We are all she has left of her family Sir.” Nedley says and the rest nod in agreement.
The doctor hesitates for a moment before looking down at his clipboard. “Okay, well would any of you happen to be a Mrs. Gus McCready?”
As if on cue, Gus comes through the doors. “What the holy hell is going on here?” Gus asks, obviously pissed yet concerned.
“And you are?” The doctor asks as Gus approaches them.
“Gus McCready and if you check your file, I am Nicole Haught’s next of kin.” Gus says, trying to keep the emotions tempered.
The doctor sighs and begins…
“Ms. Haught was very lucky. We took a CT scan and an MRI when she was admitted. Those results (alongside our other tests) confirmed her injuries. She definitely has a concussion and a herniated disk on her T3 vertebrae. She also has a fairly large amount of bruising. We believe the herniated disk is correctable and we want to try nonsurgical methods of treatment before we consider surgery. The herniation is causing her some pain and numbness in her lower extremities, but we hope some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce the pain by un-pinching the nerve that the disk is on.” The doctor says.
Wynonna is ready to ask more questions but Gus speaks first. “What are your thoughts on her concussion?”
“Well, we initially diagnosed it as a grade two but we re-diagnosed her to a grade three after further testing. She seemed to have some confusion and complaints of some worrying symptoms.” The doctor looks down at his clip board and reads. “Confusion, blurred vision, minor slurring of speech and some sensitivity to light and noise.” He looks up. “We do not believe these symptoms will persists and we are already seeing some start to fade. But we would rather be conservative and treat her as a grade three, rather than a grade two. Luckily, she didn’t lose consciousness and seems relatively calm.”
“Okay, so what is her treatment as a whole. What do we need to know and what are we supposed to make sure she does?” Gus asks, still focused.
“Well, bed rest will be her best friend. I have spent enough time with her to know she won’t like it, but at the end of the day, it is the only way she will get better. Her concussion requires it and so does her spinal injury. I will have a prescription for some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ready for her when she is discharged. She just needs to take it easy.” He says.
“Can we see her?” Waverly asks, speaking for the first time.
“Yes, we are moving her to a new room after she finishes another MRI in about ten minutes. I will have someone come out and get you then.” He says with a nod.
“Thank you Doctor.” Gus says and the man walks back through the double doors.
Gus turns to the group. “What the bloody hell happened?”
“Steph spooked Nicole’s horse.” Wynonna says, simmering with anger.
“Intentionally?” Gus asks.
“Undetermined.” Wynonna says. “Not that it matters. Steph has been sexually harassing Nicole for weeks. She deserves to get her nose broken at the very least.”
“Wynonna! We will not resort to violence.” Gus scolds.
“Gus…” Wynonna goes to argue but Waverly’s voice stops her.
“Nonna, please.” Waverly feels tears welling in her eyes. “Not now. Please.”
Wynonna, immediately switching gears, moves to her sister and wraps her in her arms. The embrace is tight and Waverly continues to cry into her sister’s shoulder (still clutching Nicole’s phone in her hand).
Gus notices Waverly’s reaction, looking at Doc, Dolls and Nedley questioningly. After seeing their faces, she nods in understanding. Champ had been hurt worse than this being a fucking idiot at the rodeo, but Waverly had never reacted like this. Gus knows. She can’t believe she didn’t see it sooner… Her niece is in love with Nicole Haught.
They all stand and allow a nurse to guide them down the hall to Nicole’s hospital room. Upon first glance, Nicole looks completely normal. Beyond a little bruise on her right hand, she looks unharmed. But upon further inspection, one would notice the brace on Nicole’s back and the cooling packs underneath her.
Waverly takes Nicole’s hand in her own carefully, not wanting to hurt the woman. Fortunately and unfortunately, Nicole is out cold.
The doctor had said she would be for about an hour (they wanted to give her body a little time to recover).
Doc, Dolls, Nedley and Gus all decide to go get some coffee and some food from the food court, leaving the Earp sisters with an unconscious Nicole.
After several minutes of silence, Waverly sniffles, drawing Wynonna’s attention.
“I didn’t tell her.” Waverly whispers, looking down at her hands as they hold Nicole’s.
Wynonna strains to hear her sister, but does hear her.
“Tell her what? Waves, I don’t understand.” Wynonna says, her voice soft and comforting, but also confused.
Waverly looks at her sister. “Wynonna, I love her.”
Wynonna smiles. “I know Babygirl. I love her too. The girl is family.”
“No, Nonna.” Waverly takes a deep breath. “Like, I love her… as in… I’m in love with her.”
Wynonna stares at her sister for a long moment and then turns her head to look at Nicole. Waverly can practically see her sister connecting the dots in her head.
“Oh. Um…” Wynonna fails to find the right words for what she wants to say.
Waverly feels white hot panic fill her as she observes her sister’s flustered state. She shifts uncomfortably and feels more tears falling down her face. She bows her head, waiting for Wynonna to start yelling or tell her how wrong she is.
But it never comes…
Wynonna sees how her sister reacts and tries to back pedal. “Wave. No, it’s not a bad thing. I promise. I am just trying to wrap my head around everything.” Wynonna places what she hopes to be a comforting hand on Waverly’s shoulder. “Look, I don’t care who you love. As long as your happy and they are good to you. That’s all that matters to me.”
Waverly hiccups and Wynonna smiles, kissing her sister lightly on the forehead.
There is a pause as they both let the information sink in.
“So you knew she liked you, all this time?” Wynonna asks.
Waverly laughs, wiping some tears from her cheeks. She looks down at Nicole’s face. “Not in the beginning, no. Actually, I thought she hated me because she was always avoiding me. Took me a long time to realize she like me but didn’t want to involve me in her chaotic life. She was trying to keep her feelings hidden. But after I started working with her on the stable… let’s just say she didn’t try and hide her feelings for me… and I didn’t want her too. I realized I had feelings for her soon after, but I fought them. But then I realized that life didn’t feel right with her not around. Not waking up next to her in the morning, not going to sleep with her every night.” Waverly stops, allowing herself another look at Nicole before turning to meet her sister’s eyes. I basically told her I wanted her, tried to kiss her that night after her father’s trial. She turned me down and basically asked me to sleep on it. Then I didn’t talk to her much after and she thought I had changed my mind… so she left. Then, after all the craziness happened. I went after her and we talked. Like really talked.”
Waverly stops talking and returns her gaze to Nicole.
“So? Are you together?” Wynonna asks.
Waverly smiles a bit. “Yeah, yeah we are. But now I have all these regrets, because she is hurt and she pushed me out of the way and protected me and I didn’t tell her I love her and I worry she won’t believe me if I say it now.” Waverly says, smile fading as her rambling begins.
“Then show her.” Wynonna says simply.
Waverly looks at her in confusion so Wynonna continues.
“Show her how you feel. Actions always speak louder than words. That way, when you do say it, she will believe you (because she has seen it for herself).”
“You have always been so bad at relationship advice. What happened?” Waverly jokes.
Wynonna laughs and elbows her sister lightly. “Hey. But seriously, Babygirl. Don’t let this one run away. She is worth the effort and I know you are too.”
Mr. Jones shows up a few hours later to Nicole’s room. He knocks on the door lightly, not wanting to Wake anyone who may be asleep. Wynonna looks up at the same time as Gus and Nedley (Dolls and Doc were talked into going home and Waverly and Nicole are still asleep).
Gus bolts out of her chair and pushes Mr. Jones out of the room before Wynonna can let loose on him (not that he doesn’t deserve it).
“What in bloody hell are you doing here Chris.” Gus asks with a glare that could kill.
“I just wanted to check up on Nicole.” He says defensively.
“That’s bull. Most people that come to the hospital to check up on someone bring flowers or something.” She looks down at the envelope sticking out of Mr. Jones’ pocket. “Not an envelope of cash that looks to be around the amount you would be willing to pay for her horse. Let me guess, you would say you were trying to help her, get her some quick cash to help with medical bills? I really thought you were better than that Chris.”
“Gus, business is…” He starts.
“She is going to be fine, no thanks to you or your daughter! Thanks for asking!” Gus whisper shouts, anger rising.
“It was an accident Gus!” He matches her tone.
“Chris, you ain’t no idiot. That girl of yours has been around horses all her life! Even if those animals dislike her as much as she dislikes them, she still knew that bag would spook the horse! Don’t give me some bullshit excuse about anything contrary. I’m warning you Chris! We are on friendly terms in respect of Curtis. But so help me…”
Mr. Jones doesn’t listen and begins to try and excuse Steph’s actions. “Gus…”
Before he can finish, Gus slaps him across the face and motions for the security guard at the end of the hall to come over. Once the guard is standing there, Gus speaks, her glare at the man strong. “I warned you Chris.” She turns to the security guard. “Please escort Mr. Jones out of the building. He is not welcome here at the patient’s family’s request.”
The guard nods and leads a stunned Chris Jones to the elevator.
Once Gus is confident they are gone, she returns to Nicole’s room and takes a seat across from Wynonna.
“We will not resort to violence.” Wynonna quotes Gus with a sarcastic smirk.
“Shut it Wynonna.” Gus bites out.
It takes Nicole a few hours longer to wake up than expected. This concerns not only Waverly, but the hospital staff as well. But everyone sighs in relief when Nicole’s eyes flutter open (squinting at the bright lights).
“Nicole. My name is Doctor Marks. We met yesterday when you were brought in. Do you recollect that?” The doctor asks, shining a penlight in Nicole’s eyes. He turns to a nurse, who is writing notes in Nicole’s chart. “Pupillary response is slightly sluggish, but still falls within normal range.”
“I remember you.” Nicole says, voice hoarse. “Can I get some water, please?”
Another nurse steps forward and pours her a glass, allowing her to drink from a straw.
“Thank you.” Nicole says with a grateful smile to the nurse.
“Okay Nicole.” Doctor Marks says, drawing her attention back to him. “How are you feeling?”
“Well, I can move all my fingers and toes, so I feel pretty lucky at the moment.” Nicole says with a small smirk.
“Well I am glad to see your self-deprecating sense of humor wasn’t damaged.” He jokes. “In all seriousness though? How are you?”
“Well, everything is really sore and there is some sharp pain in my back and neck. But my head doesn’t feel as bad as it did yesterday.” Nicole says. She looks around the room. “Has my next of kin been notified?”
“Yes. You practically have your own army outside. I had to kick them out so I could do the required tests. As soon as we are done here, I will have a nurse let your wife and family know they can come back in.” He comments, looking down at her chart once more.
“Oh-um… I’m not married.” Nicole says, confused.
“Oh, my apologies. When you were brought in, you were wearing a ring on your right ring finger. I was made aware it was somewhat common for gay couples to wear their wedding rings on their right hands. My apologies. I will go have your visitors brought in.” He says. He writes down a few more notes before departing the room.
The final nurse looks at Nicole and smiles. “Okay, Ms. Haught. We should be able to get you discharged and released within the next two hours if that’s alright with you.”
“Please.” Nicole says, smiling at the idea of getting out of the hospital. She hates hospitals, always has.
The nurse smiles once more before leaving and allowing the others to enter.
Waverly and Wynonna help Nicole up the stairs to Waverly’s room. The stairs are not ideal, but the main house is closer to the driveway and it will make it easier for the Earp girls to keep an eye on her. Nicole doesn’t argue for long about it, knowing it is a losing battle.
“You know what Nicole. I think this is the first time I am helping you up the stairs, as opposed to the other way around.” Wynonna jokes as they reach the final step.
Nicole chuckles, but it comes out choppy as she tries to control her breathing. The movement isn’t helping her pain levels.
“Once we have you comfortable, you need to take your pills.” Waverly says, steering them towards her bedroom.
Nicole groans, but doesn’t argue.
“Waves, you don’t have to do this.” Nicole insists.
“I wanted to do it. And it’s not like you could cook for yourself.” Waverly fires back with a smirk.
“I don’t want to be a burden Waverly.” Nicole says, taking a bite of the dinner Waverly had brought up for her on a tray.
“You are not a burden Nicole. I want to take care of you. You spend your time taking care of everyone else. Me, Wynonna, I even see you helping out Shorty and Nedley with their daily work so they can be done before sunset. You deserve to be taken care of when you need it. Relax. Plus, if you hadn’t pushed me away when Romeo was spooked, I would have been in a similar condition. So, let me take care of you. Just relax, shut up, and let me.” Waverly says, cradling Nicole’s cheek in her palm.
“Okay. I will do my best.” Nicole says with a small smile, nestling her face in Waverly’s hand.
“Good. Plus, you being on bed rest means we have plenty of time to talk and stuff.” Waverly says with a smirk.
“Oh god.” Nicole groans in mock dismay.
By: Marianas Trench
When your tears are spent on your last pretense
And your tired eyes refuse to close and sleep in your defense.
When it's in your spine like you've walked for miles
And the only thing you want is just to be still for a while
If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
And I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
I'll be right beside you
When you're overwhelmed and you've lost your breath
When the space between the things you know is blurry nonetheless.
When you try to speak but you make no sound
And the words you want are out of reach but they've never been so loud
If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
And I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
I'll be right beside you
I will stay.
Nobody will break you,
Trust in me, trust in me.
Don't pull away
Trust in me, trust in me.
I'm just trying to keep this together,
Because I could do worse and you could do better
Tears are spent on your last pretense
And your tired eyes refuse to close and sleep in your defense.
If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
And I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
Nobody will break you
If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
And I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
Nobody will break you.
Waverly and Wynonna have been watching Nicole like hawks for two weeks now and Nicole is starting to go a little crazy. She doesn’t get to leave the room except to use the bathroom (the sisters insisting that she can eat her meals in bed and even set up a TV in Waverly’s room for entertainment. But Nicole isn’t the type of person that does well in these conditions. She admits, the time has given her the opportunity to get to know Waverly better and spend more time with her. But at the cost of her sanity…
After two weeks, the Earp girls are pulled away from caretaker duties to travel one town over to look at a group of horses they are considering. Nicole (secretly) was relieved to see them go. She loves them and their desire to take care of her and help. But she can only take so much.
Waverly leaves in the morning, telling Nicole to relax and stay in bed. Nicole hums, but doesn’t actually agree. Once the girl and their truck are out of sight, Nicole gets out of bed and stretches out. She has been doing mandatory physical therapy exercises since being released from the hospital but those do little to help with her need to move around. Nicole gets dressed in one of her flannels and a pair of jeans before carefully walking down the steps and out the front door of the house. She sees the guys working and makes a conscious effort to walk against the side of the barn (as to not alert them of her position). She spots Romeo in one of the outer paddocks and moves to stand at the rail. Her horse neighs in excitement and immediately moves to her, bumping his face into her affectionately. She smiles, running her hands along his long face and kissing his muzzle once.
“I missed you Buddy.” She whispers, laughing when Romeo snorts and rubs his face into her more.
“Ha, and I guess you missed me too.” Nicole says with a giggle.
Nicole moves over a few feet and opens up the paddock gate, moving inside and then shutting it behind her. She runs her hands along Romeo’s body, checking him over in a way that is soothing and reassuring to both of them. She checks his hoofs, paying extra attention to his fetlocks for any injuries that may have come from the incident a few weeks back. She breathes a sigh of relief once she completes her check of him and finds her is in great condition.
She picks up a curry comb from the supply box and begins to brush Romeo down lightly from his neck to his hind. She uses a few more brushes and takes some extra time to care for his loin area. Nicole can tell he hasn’t been saddled up in at least a week, but the area still needs to be taken care of properly. After picking his feet and giving him so much deserved praise, she wets an old towel and rubs him down once more.
She is just about done when Nedley comes up and leans on the rail. “How you doing kiddo?”
“Good. Better.” Nicole replies, not looking at Nedley purposefully.
“How’s your pain?” He asks.
“Not bad.” Nicole responds, cringing at her tone.
“Nicole, it’s just you and I here… and Romeo. You can tell me the truth Haught. It stays between us.”
Nicole takes a deep breath, closing her eyes briefly before turning to face Nedley. “Honestly, I don’t know. I know the girls mean well, but I haven’t been let out of the room, let alone the house, since coming home from the hospital. I know the doctors said I needed bedrest and I did. Do? I don’t know. But it feels so right being out here. Like, I dont feel the pain as much when I am out here with him. Come to think of it, I don’t feel it at all. It’s there and I know I will feel it later, but in these moments… it feels…”
“Like coming home. Comfortable.” Nedley supplies.
Nicole smiles softly and nods. “Yeah. That’s exactly how it feels.”
She pauses and frowns after a moment. “I feel like an idiot. I feel like I failed. I have been around horses my entire life and have come back from spooks much worse than Steph’s. But this one…”
“Nicole, I would like to tell you a story.” Nedley says in an uplifting tone.
She nods and he continues.
“So, there was a time when all I did was work, drink and smoke. I woke up in the morning and smoked a cigarette, then went out and worked my ass off all day. Then I would come home, smoke another cigarette and start drinking straight from the bottle. It started out harmless, but it escalated and it took Shorty coming down hard on me to get me to even realize it was a problem. But I still didn’t want to change. I felt there was no reason to. I felt alone and didn’t really care about myself. I told you some time ago that my wife and daughter died. You didn’t ask questions and I appreciated that. But now, I think it’s time I tell you.” Nedley pauses, looking around at the landscape surrounding them before returning his focus. “They died in a car accident about five years ago. My wife, Karen, was just driving my daughters Emma and Chrissy to school one morning when a semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into them at sixty miles per hour. My youngest, Chrissy, she survived with some minor injuries… My wife and my other daughter died on impact.”
“I’m sorry Sir.” Nicole says, looking at him with a mixture of sympathy and affection.
“Nicole, the truck had a dash camera that captured the whole thing. After watching the tapes, the cops noticed something going on in the back seat of my families car. Upon further inspection, you can see Emma, noticing the semi. She pushes Chrissy towards the other side of the back seat as far as she can and pulls her down to duck her head a second before the truck slams into them. My daughter, saw the danger, knew she couldn’t stop it, so her first instinct was to try and save someone she loved.” He looks at Nicole and watches her reaction as he continues. “I saw you do the same thing when the Jones girl spooked your horse. Your first instinct was to protect Waverly. You chose to save someone you cared about, knowing it would probably lead to your own injury and hurt. Point is, the day of the accident… that was the day I stopped smoking. I went cold turkey. And the drinking came to an end as well. I do occasionally enjoy a drink with a meal or in social gatherings, but not like I was. Every time I look at Chrissy, I see my oldest child’s sacrifice and bravery. She inspired me to be better. She was only fifteen at the time and she was a hell of a lot better of a person than I was. She still is. But it changed my perspective on things.”
“Haught, you chose Waverly. You chose her over yourself and I can tell by the look in your eyes that you would do it again. Even after all you have gone through, you wouldn’t hesitate. I also know you would do the same for Wynonna, Gus, Dolls and anyone else on this ranch. Hell, I think you would even to it for the Jones girl. Because that is the type of person you are. You didn’t fail because you are incompetent or stupid. You made a choice to push Waverly away and compromised your own position in the saddle. You knew it would happen and you did it always. That’s why you couldn’t control the situation. You saved her at your own personal cost. That makes you brave. That makes you honorable. It makes you a lot of things but none of those things are a failure.”
Nicole is silent for long moment, staring down at her hands. “My brother died in my arms… I-I couldn’t watch another person I love get hurt. Not if there was something I could do to stop it.”
“And?” Nedley asks.
“I would do it again.” Nicole says with conviction.
Nedley smiles and nods his head. “Like I said kid, you are not a failure. Better be careful, you are starting to look like a hero.
Trigger Warning: Non-con/Rape
Nicole is still standing in the paddock with Romeo and Nedley when the Earp girls return home. Nicole had been so engrossed with her conversation with Nedley, that she hadn’t even notice their arrival until she sees Waverly stomping towards them looking pissed.
“Oh boy.” Nicole says under her breath, causing Nedley to look behind him.
“Damn.” He mutters. “She looks pissed. I am so happy I’m not you right now.” He chuckles leaving towards the barn with a tip of his hat.
Nicole returns her attention to the angry woman approaching her (with an amused Wynonna in tow). She moves back, halfheartedly hiding behind Romeo.
The horse notices Waverly and moves towards her.
Dammit. “Traitor.” Nicole mumbles.
“What the hell are you doing out of bed.” Waverly questions in a dangerous tone. Nicole meets her gaze and God, if looks could kill.
“I- um I just came outside for a little while. You know, to stretch my legs and I brushed Rom and stuff.” Nicole says, doing her best to hide behind her horse (although he wasn’t making it easy for her).
“Nicole. Bed. Now.” Waverly says, pointing to the house with an extended arm.
Nicole hesitates, frozen in a state of fear and shock.
“Nicole. Now.” Waverly says again, this time firmer and a little harsher.
The redhead bows her head and exits the paddock (much to Romeo’s dismay) and starts to walk back to the house. Before she can get far, she feels Waverly grasp her hand and pull her to a stop in front of the smaller woman.
Waverly leans up and kisses Nicole. It is light, but there is so much feeling in it that Nicole almost chases her lips when they pull apart. Waverly giggles lightly and hugs Nicole, burying her face in the taller woman’s shoulder. “I know you might be tired of me taking care of you. And I know I am strict with you right now. But I just want you to get better and you won’t if I don’t harp on you about taking it easy.”
Nicole kisses Waverly on the head and tugs her to her side as they begin to walk back to the house once again.
“Is it weird?” Waverly asks, breaking the comfortable silence that had been filling the room for the last hour.
“Is what weird?” Nicole asks from her spot on the ground near the foot of the bed. These stretches are simple, but the injury is making her muscles tense and they are definitely not happy about it.
“That… you know… we haven’t…” Waverly leads, stumbling over her words.
Nicole is still stretching, a thin sheen of sweat covering her exposed skin as she relaxes from another stretch. “We haven’t what baby?”
“Had sex.” Waverly blurts out. Trying and failing to avert her eyes from Nicole’s glistening skin.
Taken completely off guard, Nicole loses her grip on her ankle and falls the few inches to the floor. A hard thump echoes in the room from the impact and is followed by Nicole’s groan. Her muscles complaining.
“Nic… is it weird? Because we had been together for a few weeks, even before your injury. But we didn’t…”
Nicole finally regains her composure and lifts herself from the ground with a grunt of exertion. She looks at Waverly, who looks worried and confused. By what? Nicole is not really sure.
Nicole sits down on the bed in front of Waverly and takes one of her hands in hers. “Waves. Where is this coming from?”
Waverly sighs and looks anywhere but Nicole, feeling embarrassed.
“Hey.” Nicole says softly, using her index finger to guide Waverly by the chin to look at her. “Talk to me. What’s going on in that big brain of yours?”
Waverly blushes hard and lets her back fall backwards into the mattress. She covers her burning face with her free hand and mumbles something Nicole can’t understand.
“What was that Babe?” She asks.
“I don’t know what I am doing.” Waverly says a little louder and little clearer.
Nicole pauses a moment and then shakes her head. “Okay… Waves, please sit up so I can look at you. C’mon, you don’t have to be embarrassed or anything. I just want to make sure I am understanding the issue.”
Waverly pauses for a long moment before removing her arms from her face and sitting back up.
Nicole smiles at her in a way that makes Waverly’s heart want to beat out of her chest. “Listen. I am not really 100% sure where this is coming from, but I have a guess. That being said…” Nicole takes Waverly’s hand in her own and brings it up so she can kiss the brunette’s knuckles softly. “You can talk to me about anything. You should never feel insecure or embarrassed about asking me anything, okay? This is new for you, I know that. That’s why this [motions between the two of them] is at your pace. I want you to be comfortable Waves and I won’t push you to do anything you are not ready for. But, to answer your question, we haven’t had sex yet because you never asked and timing was just not on our side. I didn’t ask because I was and am completely content with just getting to know you (the real you) before we became intimate.”
Waverly lets the information settle and nods her head slowly. “This is new to me. But… not just the whole dating a woman thing.” Waverly pauses and looks at Nicole with sad eyes. “I uh… I started dating Champ when I was thirteen. I was a freshman in high school and… well he wanted to be around me when no one else did. I was an Earp and that automatically made me an outcast. But Champ pursued me, kept asking me out for over a week before I finally said yes… I thought he was my savior. He made me popular and cool by being his girlfriend and it was almost instantaneous.” Waverly stops and her body shudders at the memories.
Nicole opens her arms (giving Waverly the invitation to crawl into her arms or deny it). Waverly takes it, wanting Nicole’s comfort when she explains what she is about to say next. She fears Nicole might leave her once she knows the truth, that she will treat her… differently. So, she takes a long moment to enjoy the embrace and the feeling on Nicole’s strong arms enveloping her in the warmth of her body.
“We went out on our first date a week after I accepted his offer and we actually had a decent time. Champ was nothing special intellectually, but he could be charming and funny when he wanted to be… or maybe that’s just what I told myself…” Waverly pauses and takes a deep breath as Nicole gives her a comforting and reassuring squeeze. “So, once we had finished our date (or at least I thought we had finished), he drove out towards the ranchlands. I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but didn’t want to ask and act like a pest. He stopped in an open field near his parent’s land and got out. He told me to follow and we ended up in the back of his pickup truck… There were ways he could have done it to make it comfortable and romantic, but he didn’t. He just pushed back some of the roping gear and started kissing me. He started to pull my clothes off, but I stopped him.” Waverly shudders and looks up at Nicole.
Nicole (who is a flaming ball of anger and fury internally) is sympathetic and soft on the outside. She doesn’t want to upset Waverly any more than she already is.
“When I told him I didn’t think I was ready, he gave me a look and said that I was his girlfriend and he was my boyfriend and this is what girls did to make their boyfriends happy. He asked me if I wanted to keep him happy and I just didn’t respond… I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I was just, frozen. He started kissing me again and unbuttoned his pants. He hiked up my dress and promised that he would make me feel good too. That I was doing what good girlfriends do…” Waverly loses her internal battle as a sob escapes her. “It hurt and I just… he… he didn’t…” Another sob escapes her and Nicole holds her tightly and Waverly burrows into Nicole’s chest impossibly deeper. “And once he was done, he just pulled up his pants and walked back to the driver’s seat. He drove me home without another word but proceeded to stick his tongue down my throat one last time before driving off like a bat out of hell.”
There is silence (aside from the sounds of Waverly’s muffled crying) and Waverly is too afraid to leave the safety of Nicole’s embrace. What if Nicole thinks I’m disgusting? What if she doesn’t want to be with me now? What if…? The thoughts flooding Waverly’s mind bring a fresh wave of sobs that shake her to her core.
Nicole stays silent and unmoving, taking in the information and allowing Waverly the time she needs to let all the emotions out. As she holds the sobbing woman, she contemplates all the ways she could murder Champ Hardy and get away with it. The boy-man was sixteen (almost seventeen) at the time. No matter what state they could have been in, it was rape. Even if Waverly had consented, it was rape. The fact that Waverly hadn’t consented, made it rape. He raped her… he did that and what’s worse is that he guilted her into believing it was okay. Nicole’s anger and pure rage towards the man battle for dominance over her concern and sympathy for the woman in her arms. But once Waverly’s tears begin to slow and quiet, the concern and love she feels wins out. She simply holds the woman and allows her to decide what move is next.
Nicole’s silence is killing Waverly, it allows her thoughts to run wild and they get worse and worse as she continues. “Nic-Nicole. Please say something.” Waverly whimpers through tears.
There is a long pause before Nicole speaks, her voice soft. “I don’t know what the right thing to say here is Waves. But, I want you to know it doesn’t change how I feel about you and I hope you know how much I wish saying I’m sorry would change things. I wish I could go back and make that never happen or take that pain away. But I can’t change the past. So, I need you to tell me what you need from me. Tell me what I can do for you. Anything.”
Waverly sobs again, this time in relief. She fists her hands in Nicole's tank top and cries into her chest as Nicole rubs cautious, yet comforting circles around Waverly’s back.
It takes almost twenty minutes for Waverly’s tears to subside to the occasional whimper. Nicole never stops comforting Waverly. She continues to rub circles and murmur quiet reassurances as the smaller woman descends into sad hiccups.
“Waves.” Nicole says softly, breaking the silence as delicately as she can. “How about we get you cleaned up, okay? If you’re okay with it, I think a shower or a bath would do you a world of good?”
Waverly nods her head, but tightens her grip has Nicole moves to get up. She whimpers again. “Please, please don’t leave.” She says in a panic.
Any other time, she would be embarrassed by the begging and pleadingly in her voice, but not today. She isn’t afraid to admit that she needs Nicole. The only thing she is afraid of is that she will leave and never come back.
Nicole smiles softly and whispers. “I’m not leaving you Waverly. Not until you send me away.”
Nicole stands up, bringing a curled up Waverly with her and carries her to the bathroom across the hall.
“Bath or shower?” Nicole asks, sitting Waverly on the closed toilet seat and bending down so she is below the brunette’s eye level. She holds both of Waverly’s hands in hers and waits patiently for a response.
“Bath… please.” Waverly says in between hiccups.
Nicole smiles softly at her and rises a few inches to kiss Waverly’s forehead. “Okay. I’ll get it ready, okay? You okay to sit for a minute or do you need anything else?”
“I’m okay here.” Waverly says, giving Nicole a small, sad smile.
Nicole kisses her head once more before turning around and starting the bath water. Waverly watches her, her full attention on Nicole as she moves around the bathroom with ease. She pulls out the soaps she knows are Waverly’s favorites and grabs a towel from the rack and lays in down next to the tub.
After the tub is full of bubbles and warm water, Nicole turns around and joins Waverly (squatting down again). “Okay. It’s good to go. I can give you some privacy if you want, go downstairs and make you something to eat while you soak?” Nicole wants to stay and be here for Waverly, but two things are stopping her. One. Waverly might want to be alone for a little bit. And two. She doesn’t want Waverly to feel uncomfortable being naked in front of Nicole and feel like Nicole is taking advantage of the situation. She leaves it up to Waverly, slightly hoping Waverly asks her to leave so she lessens the risk of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Waverly debates with herself for a long moment before looking at Nicole. “Will ya-you… Will you join me?” She asks so softly Nicole would have missed it if she wasn’t crouched right in front of the woman.
“I… um, if that’s what you want? But Waverly, you don’t have to. If you want, I can simply sit here and hold your hand until you are done? I don’t want to pressure you.” Nicole says with caution.
“I want you. I mean… I just need you Nic. But, the same goes for you. I don’t want you to if you don’t want to.” Waverly says, sounding a little stronger than before.
Nicole smiles softly at her and stands, bringing her up with her. “I am here Waves. For whatever you need.” Nicole helps Waverly out of her t-shirt (one of Nicole’s) and the shorts and underwear she was wearing below.
Waverly settles into the tub, body now obscured by the masses of bubbles covering the entire surface of the tub. She looks up at Nicole and watches as the redhead undresses and joins her in the tub. It is just large enough to fit them both (Nicole sliding in behind Waverly and allowing the brunette to lean back into her chest). Nicole keeps her hands on her thighs, not wanting to push. They are naked and Waverly is pressing into her front. It isn’t a sexual thing, but she still doesn’t want to do the wrong thing. She feels Waverly’s hands glide around under the water and grasp hers. She pulls Nicole’s arms until they are wrapping around her and she is sinking into the embrace. Both women relax and allow the weight of the world to fall from their shoulders and simply enjoy the presence of the other.
Nicole gets cleared by her doctor a week later and couldn’t be more thrilled. Obviously she has to start out slow and ease back into things, but it’s a start. She is excited and expects to have a good first day back. What she doesn’t expect is to be woken up by a pacing Waverly.
“Waves?” Nicole rasps, trying to focus on the blurry figure moving around the room. Her voice and her eyes still half asleep.
Waverly turns to look at her for a moment before continuing her pacing.
Nicole rubs her eyes, clears her throat and tries again. “Waverly? You okay over there? What’s wrong?”
“What if you get hurt again? What if there is another accident and you aren’t as lucky as you were this time?” Waverly says without breaking stride.
Nicole gets out of bed (which is a difficult task because the sheets are tangled around her) and walks over to Waverly. She stands in front of the small brunette and blocks her path.
Waverly stares at Nicole, panic and worry etched in her features.
Nicole places her hands on Waverly’s shoulders and pulls her in for a hug that Waverly returns instantly.
“I’m going to be fine. Yes, accidents happen. And yes, something could happen. But that’s just life. I am no safer now than I was before the accident, but I am also in no more danger either.” Nicole says softly.
“But you are safe inside the house, where I can watch you and you aren’t falling off horses and onto metal gates.” Waverly says into Nicole’s shirt.
“Hey!” Nicole exclaims in mock outrage (trying to lighten the mood). “I did not fall off my horse. I was bucked off like a ragdoll.”
“Not helping your cause.” Waverly says dryly, but her small smile and laugh betrays her.
Nicole gives her a good squeeze and then kisses the crown of her head lightly. “I am gonna get dressed and get to work. Lunch later? Nedley gave me the day to start working on the east barn again. I am hoping to have it running as a full stable by the winter.”
Waverly smiles, although her worries are not completely erased. “Lunch sounds amazing. Mind if I come out and help you later. We kinda started that project together. I really want to help finish it.”
“Of course. I would love- love to have you come help.” Nicole takes a deep breath, trying to calm down her suddenly racing heart. “I miss working with you.”
Waverly smiles once more and raises on to her toes to kiss Nicole lightly on the lips. “Be careful.” She whispers as they separate.
“I will be.”
Nicole is almost done painting the interior of the stable when Dolls walks in to the former east barn.
“Wow. Looks good Haught.” He says with genuine praise.
She smiles down at him from her place on the ladder. “Thanks. Looks a lot better now that the painting is almost done. Going to start the internal structures by the end of the week hopefully.”
“How many stalls are you planning on putting in here?” He asks, stepping further into the stable.
Nicole gets down and walks over to the blueprints on the large table. “Well, with each stall being 12’ x 12’ and also having two wash stalls, a feed room, two tack rooms, a utility room, two restrooms and an office/ lounge space… I am planning for ten.” She says with a smile, pointing at a specific blueprint. “The barn is over 85 feet in length and 60 feet in width. Curtis wanted it functional and simple, but also wanted the modern accommodations and amenities. I drew up these plans a few months before he died and he loved it.” Nicole feels tears welling in her eyes but she refuses to let them fall. She shakes her head and looks up at Dolls.
“It’s amazing Nicole.” He says, looking over the plans. “Plus, you are using the edges well so it has a relatively open floor plan.”
“That was the hope.” Nicole says with a smile. “Anyways, what’s up?”
Dolls seems to remember why he came in and scratches his neck a little nervously. “Yeah, um. So I just wanted to let you know a reporter came around about an hour ago looking for you. She showed up and asked Wynonna if you worked here. Wanted to ask you about your father’s trial.”
Nicole’s face drains of color and fear sets her blood cold. “W-what?”
“But it’s okay.” Dolls quickly reassures. “Wynonna said she had never heard of you. The reporter didn’t seem confident that you worked here. My buddies around town said that she showed up at other ranches asking about you as well. She is probably just fishing around, hoping to get a lucky bite.”
Nicole takes a deep, relieving breath and leans against the table. “Good.” She says on the exhale. “I really try to keep this place hidden. I would really hope to keep it that way (at least until this whole trial thing blows over).”
“We all get it Haught. I just wanted to let you know. Plus, Wynonna is probably going to bring it up. She really enjoyed telling the reporter to get lost. Got to brandish Peacemaker and a half empty bottle of whiskey too.” He says with a half amused, half annoyed smile.
Nicole smiles softly and nods her head. “Thanks Dolls. I appreciate it.”
Nicole walks into her old cabin and looks around. It is just how she left it, although a little dustier than usual. She takes a moment to walk around the room and take in its emptiness. Most of her belongings had been moved to the main house after her accident so there wasn’t really much left of the room. A few shirts and a pair of sweatpants remain in the drawers and a couple of photos are still on the walls. She goes about washing all the sheets and cleaning up the place. Waverly is gone for the day and she has finished all her work. It is too dark to do anything else so she decides this is a good use of her time. She really just needs to think (something she always does better when working).
Her father’s trial resumes again in two days and Nicole is struggling once again. Because of her injury, she had missed a few sessions, but was caught up by the prosecutors. Her father was going to jail, that was for certain. The real question is: for how long?
She finishes washing the sheets and even mops the floors thoroughly before taking a break to have a snack and some water. After the brief break, she begins wiping down and dusting all the surfaces and even cleans her already clean rifle. The whole time, she goes over the details of the trial and the case against her father.
He won’t walk completely, but there is still a chance he will get off on the murder charges. If his lawyers can prove reasonable doubt… he will be free before he can apply for an AARP card. The thought makes Nicole shudder involuntarily and she tries her best to move on from that detail. And the worst part is that her father has requested to speak with her. He did it through proper channels and the prosecutors had to inform her of the request. She is not sure what to do with that one. Part of her wants to ignore it and all the issues that come with it. But the other part of her (the part she is cursing) is telling her to go. In all the time since he was arrested, he has never requested to see her, not once. There has to be a reason, right?
Nicole doesn’t remember falling asleep. She also doesn’t remember Waverly coming into her cabin later that night and crawling into bed beside her. Thus, she is a little startled when she wakes up with a warm body next to her (a very warm, very naked body next to her).
The body curled into her mumbles something incoherent and curls into Nicole impossibly closer.
She can now see that it is, in fact, a naked Waverly in her bed. She takes a sigh of relief and then proceeds to flip the fuck out. Did we have sex last night? Fuck! I don’t remember anything from last night! There could have been a bigfoot attack and I wouldn’t remember it. Nicole looks down and realizes that she is only in her underwear and sports bra.
Although her not wearing actual pajamas isn’t uncommon, the fact that Waverly is completely naked and pressing into her is making her panic. Her body is telling her to relax and enjoy the feeling, while her brain is screaming at her to get to the bottom of this.
“Not that I am complaining but… why are you naked?” Nicole asks after the battle inside her subsides and her brain wins.
“Clothes were dirty, didn’t want to ruin your clean bed. Could tell you had cleaned up.” Waverly says with sleep coloring her voice. She still doesn’t open her eyes but does lean up and place an open mouthed kiss on Nicole’s collarbone.
Nicole chuckles lightly. “And I suppose your bra and underwear were also so dirty that they couldn't be salvaged either, huh?” She asks with a bemused smile.
Waverly smirks and lifts herself up so she is now laying completely on top of Nicole. She smirks even harder when she hears Nicole take in a sharp breath. “Yes.” Waverly says happily. “But if that excuse doesn’t work, I can always use the body heat one. Or how sleeping naked together can increase the levels of oxytocin in our bodies. Or…”
“Okay, okay.” Nicole says, laughing hard and bouncing Waverly in the process. “I get your point. You sleeping naked is good for your health and you like it. I’m not complaining. I was just a little curious.”
Waverly chuckles and burrows her face into the crook of Nicole’s neck. “I got home last night and waited around. But I couldn’t sleep without you, I was too worried. Tried texting and calling but your phone was dead. Came out looking for you and found you asleep in here. Decided it was best not to wake you.”
“Okay… so we didn’t… um…” Nicole stumbles and blushes hard.
Waverly laughs and finally opens her eyes and looks at Nicole. “No Baby, we didn’t. Just slept and cuddled. You were so dead to the world I am surprised you were even capable of cuddling.”
Nicole breathes deep, remembering that Waverly is still naked and completely on top of her. She lets her hands slide slowly down Waverly’s back and back up several times before she speaks (using the time to enjoy the feeling of Waverly’s bare skin and to think). “So, I was thinking…”
“Hm?” Waverly hums with sleepy happiness. She is just a little distracted with Nicole’s hands moving on her skin.
“Well, I have my father’s trial tomorrow… so I was thinking… would you maybe wanna go out on a date with me tonight? You know, before all the craziness starts up again?” Nicole asks nervously.
Waverly smiles wide and kisses Nicole on the lips before replying. “Yes. I would love to.”
Nicole grins. “Good.”
My stable blueprints (very rough)
Hey everyone! So couple of you have been asking me about how I plan my stories. Above is the blueprint of what I thought the stable would look like. I'm a very visual person so almost every detail in these stories are written and drawn out on paper. I sometimes post storyboards and scene sketches on tumblr, but decided the blueprint might act as a visual aid for the story. Thanks for reading!
Song: May We All by: Florida Georgia Line
Highly recommend the song.
Waverly meets Nicole out front at her pickup truck at five for dinner. They had decided on keeping it simple so they were just going to go eat at a pizza parlor in town.
Nicole opens the passenger door for Waverly and closes it once she is inside before moving around the truck and jumping in herself. She smiles at Waverly and Waverly returns it as the key turns in the ignition and the truck roars to life.
Nicole plugs her phone in and hands it to Waverly so she can pick the music.
“Oh! I love this song!” Waverly exclaims as she stops scrolling though Nicole’s music app.
Nicole smiles as the opening cords to a Florida Georgia Line song begins to play from the speakers.
May we all get to grow up in our red white and blue little town
Get a one star hand me down Ford to try to fix up
With some part time cash from driving a tractor
Find a sweet little thing, wears your ball cap backwards
Kinda place you can't wait to leave but nobody does
'Cause you miss it too much!
As the chorus begins to play, Nicole listens as Waverly begins to sing along. She taps the fingers of her left hand on the steering wheel to the beat of the song and allows the other hand to hold one of Waverly’s.
May we all know that nothing ain't cool 'til you wear the new one
The sound of a quarter rollin' down a jukebox
Play the Travis Tritt right above the 2Pac
For you get lost down some road
Slow rolling with the top off the back of a Bronco
Buy a cold sixer with a cashed in lotto
She's smilin' with her hair blowing out the window
Where you 'bout to go?
Yeah you learn to fly and if you can't then you just free-fall
May we all
Waverly squeezes Nicole’s hand in her own and smiles as Nicole begins to sing along as well. Nicole’s voice is sweet and experimental. Her confidence had started to grow in the last few months (Waverly having her break into song at least once a day) and Waverly is quickly falling in love with that voice impossibly more.
May we all get to see those fields of green turn gold
Watch a marching band play with the harvest moon coming up
And know that fifteen minutes of fame
This thing ain't gonna be what makes us or breaks us but
We'll all be watching the TV the day that it comes
May we all know that nothing ain't cool 'til you wear the new one
The sound of a quarter rollin' down a jukebox
Play the Travis Tritt right above the 2Pac
For you get lost down some road
Slow rolling with the top off the back of a Bronco
Buy a cold sixer with a cashed in lotto
She's smilin' with her hair blowing out the window
Where you 'bout to go?
Yeah you learn to fly and if you can't then you just free-fall
May we all
Nicole and Waverly are both at full volume as they go into the final chorus and are smiling ear to ear as they sing!
May we all do a little bit better than the first time
Learn a little something from the worst times
Get a little stronger from the hurt times
May we all get to have a chance to ride the fast one
Walk away wiser when we crashed one
Keep hoping that the best one is the last one
Yeah you learn to fly and if you can't then you just free-fall
Waverly smiles at their joined hands and sings the final versus to Nicole (Nicole, herself, content and happy to listen to Waverly’s beautiful sound).
May we all
May we all
May we all
May we all
May we all (get to have a chance to ride the fast one)
May we all (walk away wiser when we crashed one)
May we all (keep hoping that the best one is the last one)
May we all (yeah the last one)
Yeah you learn to fly and if you can't then you just free-fall
May we all
They eat dinner, laughing and smiling as they talk about anything and everything. It is perfect and Waverly can’t remember a time when she was this happy. It is casual and fun and everything they need right now. Waverly notices a slight nervousness within Nicole, but Waverly just brushes it off as first date jitters. It’s strange to think about that, that this is their first date. They have been together for months now, slept in the same bed and lived as a normal couple (mostly) all this time, yet this is their first date.
Noticing Waverly’s distraction, Nicole speaks up. “You okay, Waves?”
Waverly smiles at her lovingly and takes one of Nicole’s hands in hers and sets them on the table. She lets her fingers trace the lines of Nicole’s palm as she answers. “Of course. This is the best. I was just thinking about us and things…”
“Anything in particular that you want to share?” Nicole asks with a mixture of concern and humor.
“I was just thinking about how we have been together for months… but this is our first date.”
“Yeah, well… I’m kinda a shitty girlfriend on that front.” Nicole admits sheepishly. “Honestly, I know it is a lame excuse but timing just sucked.”
“No, no.” Waverly quickly squeezes Nicole’s hand and meets her eyes to reassure her. “That’s not what I meant. I was just thinking it was a little strange. Like normally first dates are awkward. But this, being here with you, it just feels right. There isn’t any of that awkwardness.”
Nicole squeezes her hand back and nods her head, but Waverly can tell Nicole isn’t completely convinced that the situation isn’t her fault. She shakes her head as if shaking the thoughts out and returns her gaze to Waverly.
“Ready to go?” She asks.
Waverly nods and Nicole stands up and holds out a hand to help Waverly out of the booth. Waverly takes it with a smile and stands up. They walk out of the pizza joint hand in hand and head towards Nicole’s truck. They get in and Nicole starts driving.
They are about five miles from Earp ranch when Nicole takes a left turn down a dirt road.
“Nic?” Waverly asks. “Home is that way.”
“I am aware.” Nicole answers with a smile.
Waverly notices the nervousness hidden under that confident smile and tries to not let it trigger her own.
They stop soon after and Nicole turns the truck off. The sun is starting to set and the oranges and reds highlight her hair so it looks like it is on fire. She turns to look at Waverly and smiles. “Wait here for a second? Please?”
Waverly nods hesitantly, still confused but she trusts Nicole.
Nicole smiles again and leans over to kiss Waverly softly on the mouth. “I will be right back.” She says as she pulls away and gets out of the car. Waverly looks out the windshield and watches the sun set as Nicole does something behind her.
A few minutes later, Nicole is opening her door and holding out her hand for Waverly to take.
Waverly does and lets Nicole lead her to the back of the pickup. Waverly has a moment of panic and terror. This can’t be happening. Not again. Not with Nicole.
Nicole stops short of the tailgate of the truck and turns to face Waverly. She takes Waverly’s other hand and holds them, looking at Waverly so openly and reassuringly. She takes a deep breath and squeezes her girlfriend’s. “You told me a story from your past that clearly still haunts you. You are still carrying it around and it kills me that you do. But the more I thought about it, the more I just knew I needed to at least try and change that. If this is too much, we don’t have to stay. This is all at your pace and what you are comfortable with. I just thought we might try and make some happy memories to try and push out the bad ones. I know that night will never go away and I can’t rewrite history. I wish I could but I can’t. But what I can do is try and help in the best way I know how.” Nicole pulls a still slightly trembling Waverly towards her and guides them to the bed of the truck.
Waverly gasps and feels tears brim in her eyes. Nicole has transformed the back of the truck completely. The bed is completely covered with a queen-sized air mattress with blankets and pillows piled high. There is a lantern to the side and an overflowing bag of junk food next to it.
Waverly squeezes Nicole tightly, not really sure what is going on in her heart.
“This isn’t me trying to seduce you or anything like that. I just thought you should have a real date where you get to lay in the back of a truck, eat your favorite food, listen to music and watch the stars.” Nicole quickly adds, hoping this isn’t too much for Waverly.
“Nic-Nicole…” Waverly stutters out, body still shaking a little, but no longer from fear. “It’s… it’s amazing.”
Nicole lets out a deep relieved breath and smiles. “How about we start this out slow? Sit with me? I have some things I want to tell you.”
Waverly and Nicole both sit on the tailgate and allow their legs to hang down off the edge. Waverly looks at Nicole and moves so she is molding into Nicole’s side. Nicole wraps an arm around the smaller brunette and smiles down at her. “This okay?”
“Yes.” Waverly says softly. “You wanted to tell me something?”
“Well, earlier we were talking about what typical first dates are like. Part of it is learning more about each other. You know a lot (more than anyone else) about my past and who I am. But there are some things about me that you don’t know. Things I would normally tell you on a first date. My past is so dark and it tends to overshadow all the good things that have happened in my life. On a first date, I would tell you the story of when me and my brother spent a summer building a treehouse in our yard.”
Nicole pulls a photo out of her wallet and hands it to Waverly. The photo is of the two Haught siblings. They are both hanging on a ladder and smiling at each other (completely unaware of the person taking the photo). The candid shot makes Waverly smile as she studies the features of young Nicole.
“That was the best summer of my childhood and maybe even my life. My father was gone on a business trip for almost three months so it was just my mom, Chris and I.” Nicole takes the photo back and puts it back in it's rightful place. She turns to look at Waverly and smiles.
Waverly smiles back. She can see it in Nicole’s eyes, Nicole misses them. But she can also see the joy there. “You miss them?” It’s more of a statement than a question.
“Every day. But that was a happy memory and that is why I carry it with me. It helps.” Nicole takes Waverly’s hand and brings it up so she can kiss Waverly’s knuckles. “Your turn.”
Waverly laughs and thinks for a moment. “After Daddy was gone, Curtis and Gus took Nonna and I in and raised us. One night, almost a year after we moved in with them, Nonna got in trouble and ended up being driven home in a cop car. Gus was furious, but Curtis just laughed.”
“He laughed?” Nicole asks in disbelief.
“Yes, he did. He asked her why she got in trouble. She told him that a bunch of boys made a rude comment about her and her baby sister and she beat them up so they would ‘shut the hell up’. Curtis laughed because a thirteen-year-old Wynonna beat up four fifteen-year-old boys and came out with nothing more than bruised knuckles and a cut lip. He told her to go up to her room (to appease a very upset Gus), but snuck up there with me later that night. He brought her dinner and I brought her a slice of cake for dessert. He told her he was proud of her for sticking up for me and for herself. He hugged her, but then told her to not do it again. She nodded and then pulled me into her arms and didn’t let go for a long time. We all sat there for ten minutes in silence before Gus entered the room and saw us. She had a glass of milk in her hand and sat down with us. Wynonna ate her food and we all sat there together and enjoyed our time together. I slept with Wynonna that night and that was the first night I had gotten decent sleep in a long time.” Waverly smiles. “Wynonna would get into more fights as the years went on and the same result would happen each time. Those were some of the best nights of my life.”
Waverly takes a bite of nacho cheese Doritos before taking her turn. “Do you like to sing in the shower?”
Nicole laughs. “Sometimes, although I do make a habit of always bringing a speaker into the bathroom so I can play music while I shower and get ready.”
“I noticed.” Waverly says with a laugh of her own.
“Okay, what about you?”
“Yes, all the time.” Waverly answers with a blush.
They are laying in the comfy bed, covered in pillows and blankets, eating junk food and playing the question game. It is kinda like twenty questions, except you normally ask more than twenty and the asker also has to answer the question after.
“Okay, your question.”
Nicole smiles and eats some popcorn as she thinks of a question. “Favorite poem?”
Waverly smiles and looks at Nicole. “I have two. One happy and cute, one not.” Nicole nods and Waverly smiles. My favorite from my childhood was “Hug O’War” by Shel Silverstein. Curtis used to sing it to me when I was sad.” She looks down at her hands as she begins to recite the poem from memory.
“I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.”
“That’s adorable.” Nicole says.
“Okay you say your childhood cute one first. Then I will tell you my other.” Waverly prompts.
“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad...
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”
“It is a poem by Dr. Seuss. He was one of my favorites as a kid. My mom used to read me his books before I went to bed some nights.” Nicole says with a smile that makes Waverly’s heart skip a beat. “And your other one?” Nicole asks.
“Oh my darling,
have dents and scratches too.”
Waverly looks at Nicole and waits for her to give her own answer.
“Mine is a classic. I have always loved Robert Frost, but this poem has always resonated with me in particular.”
“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
At some point, the questions turned a little less innocent (and it is worth noting that that was not Nicole’s doing). It started off with first kisses and dances and moved to everything and beyond.
“Okay, um… biggest turn on?” Waverly asks.
Nicole smiles and chuckles lightly as she thinks about it. Surprisingly, it is not something she has really thought about. “Probably, honesty.”
Waverly laughs and shakes her head. “You are so cliché sometimes.”
“Your sister calls me a walking bumper sticker so you are not the first Earp woman to say that to me.” Nicole teases. “Your turn.”
“If I am being honest with myself, I don’t really know. Like I can’t pick just one trait. Like being a good person is mine. It is an overall thing.” Waverly answers contemplatively.
Nicole smiles and rolls on her side to face Waverly. “My turn to ask.” Nicole brushes a piece of hair behind Waverly’s ear before asking, “What was your first impression of me?”
Waverly is taken aback by the question. She never would have guessed Nicole would ask her that, but also realized she wanted to hear Nicole’s answer as well. “My first impression of you… well this isn’t as simple as one may believe.”
“Good thing we have the time.” Nicole says.
Waverly smirks and rolls so she is laying fully on top of Nicole. She braces her arms on either side of Nicole’s head so she can look at the redhead below her. “Well, the first impression I got was when you were mysteriously absent from our initial meeting. Shorty said Wynonna liked you, so I assumed you were a hot, sexy, male farmhand for her to play with.”
Nicole laughs loud and it bumps Waverly up and down a bit. “Wait, so am I not a hot and sexy farmhand?” She asks in a teasing tone.
“Shut up and let me finish.” Waverly protests with a giggle and a quick kiss to Nicole’s lips. “Then I met you at the service, but didn’t put it together that you were the new hand right away. I thought you were beautiful and the way you were with Nonna… it made me like you instantly. But… at the time I didn’t really understand how I felt. I was kinda just fascinated by you. I watched how you interacted with Gus and Nonna and the others… But it was different when you talked to me. You were guarded and that was clear, but you also made me feel like I was your only focus when we talked. You actually listened and acted like you cared. I am not really all that used to that. But then you started avoiding me and then everything started to get complicated and then simple and then complicated again. Now we are here.”
Waverly watches as a range of emotions flash across Nicole’s face. She shifts from inquisitive to perplexed to happy and everything in between. Waverly leans down and kisses Nicole softly and slowly, drinking in the moment. She pulls away and whispers, “Your turn. What was your first impression of me?”
Nicole shifts slightly, not really sure where to start. “Your sister showed me a couple pictures of you from when you guys were little. But that didn’t really prepare me to see you in person. I thought you were gorgeous the first time I met you. That was the very first thing I noticed. But then I got to know you and realized you are so much more than your looks. The way you interact with people, the way you care for them… it blew me away. That, among other things, made it even harder to keep my distance from you.”
“Other things?” Waverly questions with a flirtatious smirk.
“You know what things.” Nicole says with a knowing smile. Waverly continues to smirk down at her. “You are going to make me say it, huh?”
Waverly nods with a smile that causes Nicole to laugh. “Other things like how you do this cute thinking face when you are concentrating really hard. Or how you have the biggest brain, but even that doesn’t compare to the size of your heart. Or how, even after only knowing me for a short period of time, you already cared about me. There is so much more and I could go on for hours about it.”
Nicole leans up and kisses Waverly, not at all surprised when the small brunette deepens the kiss and pushes her to lay back down. Things begin to heat up rather quickly and Nicole isn’t sure how she hasn’t noticed until she feel’s Waverly’s hands wandering below clothes.
“Woah, woah. I told you this was not some ploy to seduce you Waverly.” Nicole says as she breaks the kiss.
“I know, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work that way.” Waverly answers seductively, chasing Nicole’s lips.
After another heated kiss, Nicole breaks away once again. “Waves, this isn’t what I want for our first time and I know it is not what you want either. You, Waverly Earp, deserve more than the back of a pickup truck out in the middle of a field.” Nicole says with conviction.
The statement threatens to bring tears to Waverly’s eyes, but she holds them off so she can peer into the brown eyes below her. “All I need is you.”
“Trust me, in any other circumstance I would cave to your every demand. But not this one. You deserve better.”
Waverly gives her a look that can best be compared to a pouting puppy but drops it after a moment and kisses Nicole. “Fine, you’re right. We deserve better. But I have to admit, the truck is almost as comfortable as my bed.”
“By design.” Nicole jokes. “And just for the record, all I need is you too.”
Waverly blushes and looks up at the stars. “It is truly a beautiful view here.”
“I agree.” Nicole says, staring directly at Waverly like she is a piece of art.
Waverly blushes even harder and cuddles into Nicole’s side (pulling hordes of blankets around them in the process). They sit there and star gaze for hours more, talking and listening to music as they do.
By the time they get home, it is just past midnight. They quietly make their way to Waverly’s room and get ready for bed. After changing into one of Nicole’s t-shirts, Waverly turns around to face Nicole. Nicole, for her part, can’t take her eyes off of Waverly. The exposed skin not covered by her shirt expands down from her upper thigh and the sight is doing things to Nicole. She shakes her head and turns to finish getting ready herself. “She grabs her toothbrush and walks to the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face.
She reenters Waverly’s room five minutes later to find the small brunette laying down, under the covers. Nicole rounds the bed and gets in beside her girlfriend. Waverly immediately moves a few inches over so she can spoon into Nicole. Nicole wraps an arm over her and pulls her more snugly into her, placing a kiss on Waverly’s head. Waverly relaxes immediately and hums in sleepy contentment.
“Thank you, for today, and for everything.” Waverly murmurs softly, turning to face Nicole.
“You are welcome. But I should be saying that to you.” Nicole whispers, smiling at Waverly in the dim moonlit room.
“I am not the one who planned the most perfect first date ever.” Waverly counters.
“I wouldn’t call it perfect but I will take the praise on that one. You may not have planned our date, but you were the best date a girl can dream of. And in all honesty, not just today, but every day. You are kinda my rock.”
Waverly smiles and kisses Nicole once more before turning over once again and falling asleep in her girlfriend’s arms.
They wake up the next morning without much conversation. Nicole gets up an hour or so before Waverly so she can go for a run. Once she returns, she eats a quick breakfast with her girlfriend before taking a shower and getting ready. It is still a little foreign, the comfortability they have together. As Nicole showers, Waverly gets ready a few feet away and then they maneuver around one another once Nicole is out of the shower. Stealing quick kisses and embraces along the way, they are both dressed and ready to go by eight am. They walk downstairs hand in hand and meet Wynonna at the front door.
“Morning Nonna.” Waverly greets as her sister opens the door.
Wynonna nods at her sister and then looks at Nicole. “You good?”
Nicole nods and continues to walk out the door, the Earp sisters following after her.
The ride to the court house was pretty similar to the first time Waverly came with them. The reporters were waiting just inside city limits and their cameras started flashing the moment they recognized the Nicole was the driver in the truck. She completely ignored their questions and kept her eyes on the road, but Waverly noticed Nicole’s grip on the steering wheel tighten impossibly tighter.
Wynonna leans forward from the back seat (she allowed her sister to sit up front on this trip) and places a hand on Nicole’s tense shoulder. She doesn’t say anything, just keeps her hand there until Nicole begins to relax her stance and nods her head in appreciation and acknowledgment. Nicole takes her right hand off the wheel and rests it on the center console. Waverly takes it after a moment and holds it in her own. Wynonna (satisfied) leans back into the back seat and watches as the courthouse comes into view.
They enter the court house with the security escorts and make it into the building with a few minutes to spare before the trail session begins.
“I am going to use the restroom and get a drink from the vending machine. Do either of you want anything?” Nicole asks as they stop in front of their designated courtroom.
“No, we are good here.” Waverly responds.
Nicole gives them the smallest smile and moves to walk away but is stopped by a gentle hand on her arm. She turns to see it is Waverly’s (not that she had to look).
Waverly moves into her body and hugs her. Nicole reciprocates the embrace and holds her loosely in her arms. Waverly leans up and kisses Nicole lightly before breaking it and feeling Nicole’s grip on her tighten. She looks up into those brown eyes and caresses the redhead’s cheek softly. “You are not alone and you are not here to make sure we are okay. We are here to take care of you and support you. Let us, okay?”
Nicole nods, fighting emotions that she didn’t want to explore right now. It has been a long time since she felt this supported and loved and it is doing things to her. She nods once more. “See you in a minute.” And then she walks towards the bathroom.
“Your witness Mr. Jacobs.” The judge instructs.
Mr. Jacobs stands. “I would like to call my client, Andrew Haught, to the stand.
DA: Mr. Haught, how are you today?
AH: Considering the circumstances, I am doing as best I can.
DA: Glad to hear it. Mr. Haught, in a previous session, you described your depiction of what happened the day your wife and son were brutally murdered. Is that correct?
AH: Yes Sir, it is.
DA: Good. But one thing you did not confirm was who killed them. You said it wasn’t you, but you never identified the murderer.
AH: That is also correct.
DA: So, let me ask you Mr. Haught. Did your daughter, Nicole. Did Nicole kill them?
P: Objection your honor! Nicole Haught isn’t the one on trial and is not even a person of interest in this case.
DA: [before the judge can answer] Your honor, I am simply trying to prove reasonable doubt. Another plausible suspect (if I can prove it) is a solution.
J: Overruled, but watch the line Mr. Jacobs.
DA: Yes, your honor. Mr. Haught, please answer the question.
AH: [feigning pain and discomfort] Mr. Jacobs, I loved my family and I love my daughter. I didn’t kill them. But I can’t and won’t answer that question. I love my daughter and even if she doesn’t reciprocate it, I love her too much to throw her under the bus. I didn’t kill anyone, but that is all I will say on the matter of suspects.
DA: You love your daughter Mr. Haught. That is clear. No further questions for this witness.
The prosecutor stands and walks towards Andrew Haught.
P: Mr. Haught, I don’t pretend to know you or your family. But I do know your daughter. I was one of the first people to speak to her after the murders. She convinced me that you killed them without saying a word. I simply saw the way she reacted when she saw you being pulled from your home after the shootout with police. She was afraid of you and that type of fear can’t be faked. So, tell me Mr. Haught. How do you expect me or this jury to believe that that young woman (strong and skilled as she may be) killed two people and wounded a third, then wounded herself and carried one of her victims out of the house so he could die in her arms? It doesn’t seem plausible. And if that was the case, why did you start a fire fight with law enforcement officers when they arrived?
AH: [Narrowing his eyes slightly at the prosecutor] I didn’t kill my family and I won’t say my daughter did either.
P: I think you are trying to paint yourself in a better light to improve your chances of reasonable doubt. Saying you love your daughter and loved your family… you have already been convicted of abuse to all three members of your family. What kind of love makes you beat your wife, your children, to the point where they can’t walk? Where they can’t talk or even move off the ground?
DA: Objection your honor!
J: Overruled, move it along prosecutor.
P: Mr. Haught, I don’t believe you loved them. I believe you wanted to control them. Your daughter didn’t kill them. If there was even a doubt about that fact, she would be on trial for it. You can sit here and play the noble and loving father act all day long but it doesn’t make a difference when we have your fingerprints on the gun, evidence of GSR on your clothes that match Nicole’s testimony and a witness that says you did it. Your character (or at least the one you are playing) does not change the evidence. So, my question is, why? I am guessing you won’t answer that one so I have no further questions for this witness.
DA: Defense rests.
J: Okay. [looks at clock] We will recess until nine am Wednesday. Court adjourned.
Everyone stands and people begin to file out of the courtroom. The prosecutor waves Nicole over to him and leans over to talk with her.
“How are you doing Nicole?” He asks.
“As best as I can be when people are accusing me of murder.” She tries to joke.
He gives her a small smile, nut then his face gets more serious. “Look, your father has re-requested to see you. I am legally bound to inform you. But you have no obligation to see him if you don’t want to.”
Nicole nods slowly and looks down at her hands as she thinks. After a moment of contemplation, she looks up and meets his eyes. “I will give him five minutes, not a second more.”
Waverly takes her hand and squeezes it, Wynonna taking a more protective stance behind them.
“Very well. You can follow me. I would prefer you speak with him in his holding cell. I don’t trust him alone in a room with you.” The prosecutor states.
Nicole nods in agreement and follows him out the courtroom and down the hall. They take an elevator down several stories until they are in the holding area.
Nicole turns and faces the Earp women. “You guys can wait out here if you want or there is a viewing area with one way glass. It doesn’t matter to me.”
The sisters exchange a look before Waverly answers. “We will go with you as far as we can, as long as that is okay with you.”
Nicole nods and they continue to follow the prosecutor. He directs Waverly and Wynonna into a room next to the holding cell and follows them in as Nicole is escorted by a guard to the other side of the wall.
Her father sees her and stands as a guard unlocks the outer cage. Nicole steps in and only flinches slightly when the guard shuts it and the lock clicks back in place. There is still a set of bars between them, but that doesn’t do much for her comfort when it comes to the man before her.
“Hello Nicole.” Her father says friendlily.
“You have five minutes so say what you have to say.” Nicole bites out, doing her best to keep her fear and all her other emotions in check.
“No need to be hostile Nicky. I raised you better than that.” He scolds condescendingly.
“Don’t call me that and you didn’t raise me to be better than anything.” Nicole says harshly, anger taking over fear. She always hated the nickname. Only her father insisted on calling her it and it drove her up the wall.
“Your mother would be so disappointed with your behavior right now. If she was here.”
That did it.
“You bastard! Don’t talk about her! She isn’t here! She isn’t here because you killed her! You killed her and Chris and you tried to kill me!”
Her father stays calm, simply moving closer to the bars. “You have a lot of demons Nicky, I worry for you. I wouldn’t want those burdens causing you to make decisions you would regret.”
“And what decisions are those?” Nicole asks with annoyed and angry disinterest.
Andrew Haught smiles wickedly at his daughter and clicks his tongue. He moves away from the bars and back to the bench at the back of the cell. “You have always been the smart one Nicky. I knew that the day you were born. You should know by now that there will be consequences for your actions.”
“MY ACTIONS!” Nicole yells. “YOU MURDERED THEM! YOU MURDERED TWO INNOCENT PEOPLE!”
“Allegedly.” He comments.
Nicole just stands there and stares at her father, he does the same and they stay that way for several long minutes.
Nicole checks her watch. “Your time is up. She bangs on the cage and the guard comes to let her out.
She is stepping out of the cell when her father speaks again. “Oh, and Nicky. Mr. Jacobs has been keeping an eye on you for me. He says you are working in the middle of nowhere. He couldn’t seem to track you once you left city limits. I was surprised to hear that you are so far away from home.”
“You have him stalking me?!”
“No, Nicky. He is just looking out for you. That’s all I want for my daughter.” Andrew replies with blatantly fake affection. It is almost mockery.
She walks away from him and down the hall. She is almost out the door when she hears him shout from his cell. “See you soon Nicky!”
Nicole walks out of the holding area and meets up with the Earps and the prosecutor. He quickly says his goodbyes and leaves them.
Waverly immediately turns to Nicole. “Are you okay?”
“No.” Nicole answers honestly. “But I will be once we go home and far away from him.”
Both Waverly and Wynonna nod. Waverly takes Nicole’s hand and the three women make their way to the exit.
As they are walking to the truck, the reporters continue shouting questions that they all ignore. The three of them are in their seats and Nicole has just started the truck when one reporter's questions catch Nicole’s attention.
“Nicole! Ms. Haught! Is that your girlfriend?! Your wife?! Did your father try and murder you because of your homosexual tendencies?! Was his abuse a product of his hate for your gay lifestyle choice?!”
Something in Nicole snaps. She moves to open the door and get out but is stopped by Wynonna’s firm grip on her shoulder. “It’s not worth it Nicole. None of these maggots are worth you going to prison for punching their underdeveloped brains out.”
She battles with her anger for a moment before righting herself in the driver’s seat and backing out of her parking spot.
They drive home in relative silence, although the radio is playing softly in the background. Waverly has Nicole’s right hand in her lap and she has been rubbing miscellaneous patterns all over it since they left the courthouse.
They arrive at Earp Ranch some time later and all exit the vehicle once it is parked. Wynonna pats Nicole on the back once before walking over to check in with the boys. Nicole (seeing as this is her day off) decides she would like to sleep this one off and heads into the house with Waverly following close behind.
Nicole goes into the kitchen and pours two glasses of water for herself and for Waverly.
“Nic, talk to me.” Waverly says softly, moving towards her girlfriend.
“There really isn’t anything I can say Waves. My dad has already been convicted of and is going to jail for all the abuse charges and the assault on the cops. I am not worried about him getting out any time soon. And clearly, he has no idea where I am living so I don’t fear that him or his “buddies” will be showing up here. I am just a little tired and honestly… I need another shower. That holding cell was filthy and even though I didn’t touch anything, I just feel gross.” Nicole says, leaning down and kissing Waverly lightly.
“I know I should be upset and angry, and maybe I am just having a delayed reaction and it will present itself later. But right now, I just want to live my normal life.” Nicole continues. “He isn’t worth my energy, my tears or my thoughts.”
Waverly smiles, enjoying the raw honesty she is getting from Nicole. She nods and kisses Nicole. “Let’s get cleaned up and then we can cuddle in bed and watch a movie.” She suggests.
Nicole smiles and kisses her back before leading them up the stairs.
Nicole steps into the shower for the second time that day feeling weird. She should be upset or angry. She should be feeling something regarding her father and the trial. But… she just isn’t. All she really wants is to enjoy the rest of her day off and get back to work tomorrow. Thinking about the stable plans pops into her head and she dives right in.
She is so lost in her thoughts that she doesn’t hear when Waverly opens the bathroom door and enters. Because of this fact, she startles when Waverly says her name.
“Woah!” Nicole says, jumping and slipping slightly on the slippery wet tile. She gets her hands on the walls of the shower and rights herself in a moment. “Waves?”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you?” Waverly says from outside the shower. She sits down in a towel near the shower door and sheepishly smiles at her girlfriend.
“It’s okay. Not your fault. I was just thinking too hard for my own good.” Nicole says with a charming smile. She wipes some water from her face and looks at Waverly through the glass door of the shower. “Want to join me?”
Waverly looks at the bathroom door for a moment before turning to Nicole. She nods once before getting up and letting her towel drop to the floor. She opens the shower door and steps in next to her girlfriend. The openness and the vulnerability of the moment is not as momentous as it normally would be. They have seen each other naked, even pressed up against each other in the tub before. But something about this time is different. Something has shifted.
When Waverly is fully in and the door is shut, Nicole immediately holds out her hand to Waverly. Of course, Waverly takes it and allows the redhead to pull her closer.
“Hi.” Nicole says softly as Waverly molds into her embrace.
“Hey.” Waverly replies, a slightly nervous and shy smile on her face.
Nicole leans down and brushes her lips over Waverly’s lips, making the shorter girl shutter in anticipation. She wants this, she does. But she doesn’t know how to do this. It was different with Champ. She just always did what he wanted and that normally meant just sitting still and shutting up. But Nicole is different. She takes so much care with Waverly and always makes a point to do whatever Waverly needs. Problem is, she isn’t sure exactly what she needs. All she knows is that she needs Nicole.
They have talked at length about sex and what it should mean between them. The first thing Nicole had said about it was that this was all at Waverly’s pace. This is a blessing as far as Waverly is concerned, but it also has its drawbacks. It requires Waverly to tell Nicole when she is ready and that is something she has never done before. Something they had also agreed on was that it was not something they would plan. There were two big reasons behind this decision. One: Waverly is a planner and she would stress about getting it all perfect (which in reality, is impossible). And two: because some of their best moments together as friends and as a couple have been impromptu moments.
Waverly allows her hands to glide up Nicole’s sides until they reach her neck. She guides Nicole’s lips to hers once again, but presses forward so they connect with a firmness and finality that makes Waverly’s world flip. She feels the rest of the world fall away as Nicole pulls her closer and reciprocates the kiss, allowing instinct to take over. Waverly smiles into the kiss, one thought hitting her. This is what it is supposed to feel like.
Waverly flops down on the bed next to Nicole. Both of their hairs are still wet even though they retreated from the shower over an hour ago. If she is being completely honest, she is probably going to have to take another shower later. Waverly suspects the sweat and heat from the activities of the last two hours has aided her hairs refusal to dry.
She turns over and cuddles into Nicole’s side, smiling as her girlfriend tries to regain her breath.
“You okay over there Haughtshot?” Waverly teases with a giggle that Nicole finds adorable.
Nicole groans and tries to turn away from Waverly (although that is difficult with the other woman half on top of her). “God, way to ruin a romantic moment.” Nicole groans out in mock exasperation.
Waverly giggles again and pushes herself so she is completely on top of her girlfriend, straddling her. She peers down at the redhead below her and isn’t surprised when she sees a smile trying to make an appearance (despite Nicole’s best efforts). “Really, did I ruin a moment?” Waverly asks in a similar teasing tone.
Nicole leans up and connects their lips, sighing contently when Waverly leans down to deepen the kiss. “Never.” Nicole whispers with a megawatt smile.
Waverly allows her head to fall back to Nicole’s chest and is relaxed instantly by the warmth of Nicole’s skin and the now steady beat of her heart.
After several long moments, Nicole asks the question that has been in her head since they had left the shower in favor of the bed. “You okay, Waves?”
A happy sigh escapes Waverly before she responds. “Yes. I am very okay. I’m happy and you’re here. Life just feels perfect in this moment. Are you okay?”
Nicole laughs (a sound that makes Waverly’s heart flutter). “I am happy. But not because of the sex. I mean, making love to you is… god that was amazing. But it is just being with you, here. That’s what makes me happy. Whether we are naked in a bed or binging Netflix with junk food. Any time I get to spend with you makes me happy.”
Waverly nuzzles into Nicole impossibly more and inhales the essence that is Nicole Haught. “I love you.”
Kissing the top of Waverly’s forehead, “I love you too.”
“So, tell me.” Waverly says, running her fingers up and down Nicole’s toned abdominal muscles. “What can I do to get better?”
“What makes you think you need to get better?” Nicole asks, genuinely a little confused.
“C’mon Nicole. It was not only my first time with a woman, but it was my first time with you. There has to be something I could get better at or even try something we didn’t do.” Waverly says in a pragmatic tone.
Nicole looks at Waverly, making sure she was serious before responding. “Waves? Do you not remember the earth-shattering orgasms and the fact that I had to physically and emotionally recover from each one? What part of that says room for improvement?”
“There is always room for improvement in anything we do.” Waverly counters.
“Not when it comes to this.” Nicole says, motioning between the two of them. “Things start to change and develop as we get more comfortable. This isn’t something you are being graded on Ms. Earp.” Nicole turns on her side so she is facing Waverly. She takes the younger woman’s hand in hers and kisses it lightly. “But for the record, it was amazing. At least, it was for me. So please don’t worry.”
Waverly blushes bright red. She moves forward and kisses Nicole, allowing the connection to comfort her as it always does. As Nicole always does. “Thank you. And for the record, it was amazing for me too. It just felt…” Waverly ponders the feeling for a moment, trying to find the right words. “… like coming home.”
Waverly wakes up to find Nicole absent from their bed. She gets up and gets dressed before making her way downstairs. She stops short when she hears the sound of a guitar being strummed and Nicole's voice following soon after. She quietly and carefully descends the step and peaks out the front door to see Nicole sitting on the railing with a guitar perched on her. Wynonna is there too, sitting in one of the chairs.
“Play that song you say reminds you of Waverly.” The elder Earp requests, noticing her sister.
Nicole smiles and begins to play the opening lines to “Armor” by Landon Austin. And then she starts to sing.
I'm not bullet proof when it comes to you
Don't know what to say when you made me the enemy
After the war is won
There's always the next one
I'm not bullet proof when it comes to you
Maybe I'll crash into you
Maybe we would open these wounds
We're only alive if we bruise
So I lay down this armor
I will surrender tonight
Before we both lose this fight
Take my defenses
All my defenses
I lay down this armor
I lay down this armor
I lay down this armor
I do what it takes to make this right
But we got to stop before the regret
After the war is won
There's always the next one
I'll do what it takes to make this right
Maybe I'll crash into you
Maybe we will open these wounds
We're only alive if we bruise
So I lay down this armor
I will surrender tonight
Before we both lose this fight
Take my defenses
All my defenses
I lay down this armor
I lay down this armor
I lay down this armor for you
I'll be your escape
I'll be your safe place
I'll be your shelter
Your shelter yeah
I'll be your escape
I'll be your safe place
I'll be your shelter
Your shelter yeah
Maybe I'll crash into you
Maybe we will open these wounds
We're only alive if we bruise
So I lay down this armor
I will surrender tonight
Before we both lose this fight
Take my defenses All my defenses
I lay down this armor I lay down this armor
I lay down this armor for you
I lay down this armor for you
Nicole finishes the song, a soft smile on her face. Completely unaware of her girlfriend’s presence behind her, she startles a little when Waverly reaches around and hugs her at the waist.
Wynonna smirks, getting up and walking inside to give the couple some privacy.
Nicole gives Wynonna a look that says she saw what she did and Wynonna just smirks at her as she passes. Nicole then centers her attention on the woman holding her. “Mornin’ beautiful.” She greets, allowing her southern accent to slip the slightest bit (knowing Waverly loves it).
“Good morning.” Waverly replies with a happy (and still a little sleepy) smile. “That was beautiful. And actually very fitting for us.”
Nicole raises an eyebrow and Waverly laughs. “What? You don’t think I notice how hard you are trying to let me in. You work so hard to take down your protective wall you have built to protect yourself. It’s your armor. The song seems… very fitting.” Waverly says, pulling in tighter to Nicole. “When we fight, you fight the fear of being hurt and you leave yourself vulnerable with me. I see that and it is why we resolve our issues.”
“I love you.” Nicole says, leaning down enough to kiss Waverly without losing her balance.
Waverly smiles up at her. “You have an hour or so before you got to get ready for work. Play me another song?” Waverly asks with an innocent smile.
Nicole, looking like a love-struck puppy, smiles and nods. “Any requests?”
Nicole is just about done installing the final stall door when Waverly walks in. She is greeted by a very sweaty Nicole, she is screwing in the final screws on the rail for the door.
“Hey pretty lady.” Waverly greets with a chipper smile.
Nicole turns to see her and smiles. “Hey beautiful. Need something?”
“Nope, just wanted to come see how it was coming along in here. Wynonna and I have been doing bookkeeping and budgeting all day. Decided I needed a break and was in desperate need of a kiss from my girlfriend.” Waverly responds.
Nicole laughs and raises to her feet. Waverly immediately moves into Nicole’s space, delighted when Nicole pulls her closer by the hips. Their lips meet and they both melt into it. Nicole breaks away as she feels the kiss begin to heat up.
“I am all sweaty and dirty Waves.” She says.
“I don’t care.” Waverly says, pulling Nicole into another kiss. The redhead smiles into the kiss, loving how Waverly couldn’t seem to get enough of her and knowing it goes both ways.
She breaks away once again with a soft chuckle. “How about we continue this after a shower and a meal that isn’t warmed up in the microwave?”
“We have an all hands dinner tonight, right?” Waverly asks.
“Indeed.” Nicole replies with a smile. “And Dolls and I are doing the cooking.”
“Oh my god! Are you making ribs?!” Waverly exclaims, jumping in excitement.
“Ribs have been smoking in the smoker since last night. They will be perfect by dinner time. Plus we are also making steaks, chicken and corn on the barbeque. Gus said she is coming too and is bringing potato salad and coleslaw.” Nicole reports with a smile.
Waverly is literally jumping for joy. Nicole’s ribs are literally heaven. “You know you are perfect, right?”
“Not even close Darlin’.” Nicole says with a smile, letting her drawl slip a bit. “But my ribs are quite extraordinary. Plus…” She takes Waverly’s hands in her own. “these are going to be a little extra special tonight.”
“And why is that?” Waverly can’t think of a way Nicole’s ribs can get better.
“You will just have to wait and see.” Nicole says with a teasing lilt to her tone. She screws in the final screw and slides the stall door shut with ease. It glides so smoothly it is almost soundless.
“Wow.” Waverly says, finally taking a look at the new stable. Nicole has all the stalls complete and they look beautiful. The combination of black metal, stone and wood making it look like something you could find on Pinterest.
“I will take that as a good ‘wow’.” Nicole says with a grin, walking into the new office area to grab her phone.
“Um… it’s… amazing.” Waverly is a little lost for words. It is very modern, designed for functionality. But it also has a vibe to it that is very… Curtis. “You brought his dream to life.”
“It’s not finished yet, but considering you knew him better than almost anyone… I will take it as a complement.” Nicole says.
“It is.” Waverly says, hugging Nicole tightly.
They are just about done serving out food when Waverly grabs the bowl of sauce and adds some to her ribs. Nicole is sitting to her left, her arm resting over the back of Waverly’s chair as she and Doc discuss the benefits of having goats on ranches. Waverly takes a bite of her ribs with the sauce and freezes as the tastes hit her taste buds. The ribs are amazing, Nicole’s always are, but that sauce… it’s…
“Curtis taught me how to make it a while back. Been working on replicating it for weeks now.” Nicole whispers into Waverly’s ear.
“How… I mean? Curtis’ secret sauce?” Waverly asks, look across the table to see Gus smiling as she takes another bite.
“He taught me how to make it once he tasted my ribs. Said it was a crime to waste good ribs with subpar sauce. But he didn’t write down the recipe so I have been experimenting with it for the last few weeks with Shorty and Wynonna. And when I say working on it, I mean I cooked and they were my taste testers.” Nicole says. “I hope this is okay. I know it was something of his. I just thought you might like…”
Waverly smiles at her girlfriend’s nervous ramble and kisses her cheek lightly. “It is perfect.” She takes another bite. “It kinda feels like he is here with us.” She looks at Nicole again. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” Nicole replies. She looks up to see Gus smiling gratefully at her. She nods and they both go back to eating.
They wake up the next morning bright and early as normal. Waverly tags along with Nicole on her morning ride, checking the outer gates for any damage that could have occurred overnight.
By the time they get back and finish their other work, it is almost lunch time. Waverly is in the house setting up lunch with Wynonna while the ranch hands work on cleaning up. Waverly is out on the porch when a red pickup comes barreling down the road at a speed that isn’t quite safe. She recognizes the truck instantly and feels her agitation grow even more when she recognizes the driver who is pulling into their driveway. She steps off the porch so she is standing in the driveway.
The man looks to be in his mid to late twenties and has floppy brown hair. Tattoos cover his arms where his shirt with cut off sleeve show.
“Waverly!” He greets as he hops out of the lifted truck.
“Champ.” Waverly says with a clipped tone.
“Wow, is that any way to greet your boyfriend after months away?” He says, moving closer to her.
“You are not my boyfriend Champ. I broke up with you all those months ago.” Waverly states, anger rising.
“Baby, this is just our game. We always get back together after a fight. It was just some girl.” Champ whines, placing a hand on Waverly’s arm.
She shrugs his hand off and takes a step back. “No Champ. Like I said, we are done and have been for a while. And we didn’t break up because of ‘some girl’ as you put it. We broke up because you are a shitty boyfriend who never treated me the way I deserved to be treated.”
Champs voice shifts to something a little more aggressive. “I saw you on TV yesterday. With that dyke. I saw her kiss you.”
“Ah, so that’s why you are back. You saw I had moved on and decided it was finally time to drop whichever girl you were banging on tour and now you want me back. Well no thank you Champ. I don’t want, nor need, what you can give me. You should go.” Waverly says, trying to ignore the anger at the term Champ used to refer to Nicole. She didn’t realize that moment in the courthouse was caught on camera. Someone must have snuck through security or took the video through the window.
“I know she can’t treat you like you need to be treated. She can’t give you what you need. No woman can. And I treated you better than any man would treat an Earp. You should be grateful.” He reaches and grabs her arm, this time tight and unyielding.
Waverly’s eyes widen and panic and anger war for dominance. Before she can react, a sharp and cold voice speaks up behind her. She recognizes the person, but the tone is so cold it scares her and makes her shudder a little.
Nicole walks towards them, Romeo locked in the paddock across the yard. She arrives and looks down at Champs hand where it is still clasped to Waverly’s arm.
“Let go.” Nicole growls.
Champ doesn’t move, starring Nicole down. Nicole knows trying to forcibly rip Champ’s hold on Waverly can cause the brunette extra pain and possible injury, so convincing him to release her willingly is ideal.
Nicole opens her mouth to speak but Champ interrupts her before she can repeat herself. “This is none of your business dyke.” Champ barks. “Get the fuck out of her before I teach you a lesson.”
That’s it. That’s the moment Waverly snaps. Champ isn’t even expecting an attack from her, too focused on Nicole. Waverly brings her leg up and kicks him between the legs. He releases his grip and she breaks free. She takes a step back and Nicole pulls her into her arms.
“Are you okay?” She asks, trying to look at Waverly’s arm.
Waverly nods and buries her face in Nicole’s chest.
Nicole pushes her away a few inches, but keeps her hands planted lightly on the sides of Waverly’s shoulders. “Go get Dolls and call the police.”
“Come with me.” Waverly says, moving to take Nicole’s hand.
“No, I need to stay here and watch him. Go Waverly, now.” Nicole says, keeping her voice calm but urgent. She needs Waverly as far away from Champ as possible.
Waverly reluctantly let’s go and runs to the house. Nicole watches her go and enter the house yelling.
Nicole turns towards Champ just in time to receive a sucker punch to the face. She hits the ground hard, her vision going completely white for several seconds as pain spikes from her cheek. Her vision clears just in time to see Champ getting ready to swing again. She moves out of the way, taking advantage of the fact that Waverly’s blow seems to have him still a little dazed. She gets to her feet and manages to get a solid forearm to his face, keeping him from hitting her again. Her vision fizzes out again and when it does, Champ is about to connect his fist with her face once again. She moves, dodging most of the impact. But still gets it in the jaw.
She hears Dolls yelling and running towards them. Champ sees Dolls and immediately starts to run to his truck. He gets in and starts it, pealing out of Earp Ranch as if his life depended on it. And honestly… Nicole thinks it might. Dolls is scary, so is Wynonna. But an angry Waverly is downright petrifying. Nicole feels herself fall to her knees, Dolls sliding to the ground as he gets to her. She can feel one side of her face swelling and can feel a sticky liquid dripping into her eye, blinding her vision. She shuts her eye, knowing the liquid is probably blood and the swelling will probably shut it for her sooner or later.
Dolls uses one arm to support her enough to keep her head off the ground. He is talking to her, but she can’t quite make it out. The pain is starting to affect her good eye, which is now starting to blur as white hot pain sears through her face. She hears him yell and soon Waverly and Wynonna are at her side as well. She can here Waverly on the phone with the police and also hears Wynonna yell for someone to call Gus. The pain takes hold of her sense and the only thing she can really perceive is Waverly’s shaky hand gripping hers for dear life.
Nicole can hear Gus talking to Wynonna when she begins to come to. She can feel the sore pain that is covering the entire left side of her face. But it is not nearly as bad as the initial pain from the earlier events that made her pass out in the first place. Nicole doesn’t open her eyes though. She knows the light and the sounds and any movement she makes will hurt like hell. She moans softly, not able to stop it from escaping her closed mouth. A soft hand that was before resting on her sore knuckles is now running through her hair. Waverly’s soft voice greets her ears, making her want to crawl into the younger girl’s arms for comfort.
“Nic? Baby, you with us?” Waverly asks, her voice trying and failing to hide the worry.
Another involuntary groan escapes Nicole, this one silencing Gus and Wynonna. She hears soft, yet urgent footsteps as the two women get closer.
Finally Nicole cracks open her eyes, one being more difficult than the other.
“Hey, baby.” Waverly says, smiling down at her sadly. Her eyes are red and wet with tears. Clearly, she has been crying for some time now.
“Hi.” Nicole croaks out, her voice a little raspy and her mind still a little dazed. “You okay?”
Waverly gives a watery laugh and drops her head, trying so hard to stop the tears that are fighting to appear. “You just got beat up by my ex-boyfriend while defending me and you are wondering if I am okay? Are you even real?”
Nicole raises her hand and caresses Waverly’s cheek, making her look at her. “Yes and yes. Now answer my question.”
Waverly leans down and kisses Nicole’s forehead lightly, silent tears falling down her cheeks. She sniffles, lifting her lips from her girlfriend’s face, and takes a deep breath. “I will be once I know you are okay. How are you feeling?”
“Like some meathead, rodeo clown, boy man punched me in the face.” Nicole says with a wince as she tries to smile.
Gus puts a hand on Nicole’s shoulder and squeezes lightly. “Are you okay to sit up Darlin’?”
“Yes Ma’am. But… maybe one of you could help me a little?”
All three women scoff as if the thought of them letting her try on her own is the most ridiculous thing they have ever heard. Waverly holds one hand to the back of Nicole’s neck and puts her other hands under Nicole’s shoulder. Wynonna takes the other shoulder and Gus slides Nicole’s feet around. Once she is upright, Nicole leans back against the couch and realizes she is in the living room of the main house. Gus leaves and comes back a moment later with an icepack in hand. She hands it to Nicole, who places it on her face (trying not to wince).
“We had one on your face earlier, but we had to take it off. Swelling is almost gone, thank the lord.” Gus says, watching Nicole carefully. She turns and looks at her nieces. Both have worry etched in their features, but they also have anger there too.
“Thank you.” Nicole mumbles through the icepack. “How long have I been out?”
“You passed out outside for less than a minute. Regained consciousness and then went out again once we got you inside.” Wynonna says.
“My guess is that the pain and swelling were too much when combined with the adrenaline rush… Your body just needed some time to catch up and heal.” Gus says.
Waverly stays silent, only touching Nicole where their knees touch. Nicole turns her neck, feeling it pop and crack with the stiffness. “And what about Champ?” She asks.
“About that, cops are actually still here taking statements. If you are up for it…” Wynonna says.
“Yeah, send them in.” Nicole says, shifting the icepack on her face a little.
Wynonna nods and Gus moves to the front door and calls for the officers.
A woman (Nicole recognizes from photos) as Chrissy Nedley walks into the living room, followed by two uniformed officers and Nedley himself.
“Ms. Haught.” One of the officers greet. “My name is Officer Peters and this is my partner, Officer Worth.” He points to the man by his side and then to Chrissy. “I believe you are also familiar with Ms. Nedley.”
“Never met in person but I have heard great things.” Nicole responds with a smile. She takes the icepack off her face and hands it to Gus with a grateful smile.
Chrissy smiles at her. “My father is a little biased. It’s his job to say great things about me. I’m sorry we are meeting under these circumstances, but it is nice to finally meet you Nicole. My dad has told me a lot about you.”
Nicole eyes Nedley (who is looking a mixture of sad and furious). “Whatever he told you about me, it’s a lie.” Nicole jokes.
“All good things I promise.” Chrissy says.
“Like I said, he’s a big old liar.” Nicole fires back with a smirk.
Chrissy laughs and Nedley even smiles a little himself. Nicole will take what she can get, still unhappy that her girlfriend is being so distant but also not wanting to push her.
“Alright Ms. Haught. Do you mind if I record this conversation?” After a nod from Nicole, Officer Peters pulls out a notebook and a voice recorder. “Mind telling us your take on what happened today?”
“I walked out of the house in search of my girlfriend. I had also heard a truck coming down the road a minute earlier. I heard voices out front so I walked out and found Champ Hardy arguing with Waverly. He placed his hands on her and she shook him off. He later grabbed her and wouldn’t let her go. At this point, I stepped in and asked him to release her. He refused, even tightened his grip and started shouting derogatory phrases directed at me.” Nicole looks at Waverly for a moment before continuing. “After it was clear he intended to harm her, Waverly struck him and was released from his grasp. I had Waverly go to call the police and get Dolls (one of our other ranch hands). When I turned around Champ struck me. Things are a little fuzzy after that. I remember trading a few blows before Dolls arrived and Champ fled. I don’t remember anything after that.”
The officers nod, writing down notes. “Had you ever had contact with Mr. Hardy prior to today’s incident?” Officer Worth asks.
“No Sir. It was to my knowledge that he was traveling on the rodeo circuit.” Nicole responds.
“I know this question will sound redundant, but we have to ask. Did you fear your safety or the safety of others was in jeopardy because of Mr. Hardy?” He asks.
“Yes Sir, I did. He presented aggressive behavior towards Waverly and that only escalated when I showed up. I did believe that things would escalate and they did.” Nicole says, looking a little guilty.
“We have put out a warrant for Mr. Hardy’s arrest and have collected the evidence we need.” Both officers hand her their cards. “Please feel free to contact us if you think of anything else.”
“Thank you.” Nicole says, taking the cards in her hand. She turns to look at Chrissy, knowing she has something to say.
“Nicole, I know my father has mentioned to you that I work in a law office. I am here to offer all of you my services if needed. If it comes to it, I would be willing to represent you.” Chrissy says. “I can also help with trial prep if a familiar face would be more helpful.”
“I appreciate that Chrissy. And I will definitely take you up on that offer if it comes to it. Thank you.” Nicole says with a grateful grin and nod.
Chrissy nods and allows her father to walk her and the officers out.
He returns a moment later and shuts the front door. Nedley is standing at one end of the couch, Gus at the other end. Dolls sits in a chair across from Nicole (who has both Earp sisters on either side of her).
The room is silent for a long moment before Wynonna bolts from her seat and starts shouting. “I am going to kill him!”
“Get in line.” Nedley grumbles.
Nicole sends him a look that says, you are not helping.
“I am going to go hunt his ass down and beat the living shit out of him.” Wynonna continues. “As if I already didn’t want to beat his ass over him being an ass to Waverly, but this! He tried to hurt her and he hurt you! I am going to skin him alive!”
“Wynonna, he is a dumbass boy. The police will catch him.” Gus argues.
“I don’t give a fuck! He doesn’t get off that easily!” Wynonna retorts.
“Wynonna, stop.” Dolls says, noticing as Nicole’s stress begins to show.
“I am going to kill him once I get my hands on him!” Wynonna yells at him, as if she believes Dolls doesn’t believe her.
“No you’re not.” Nicole says, standing up. She walks straight out of the house and out towards the paddocks without another word.
Nicole walks out to Romeo’s paddock with agitation and anger fueling her. She hates feeling this way, she hates how it makes her act. She had to stand up and leave before she started taking it out on her friends, or worse, Waverly. She meant what she said, she doesn’t want Wynonna going after Champ. That will land the elder Earp in jail herself and that helps no one.
She walks directly over to Romeo and climbs over the paddock rail. Upon seeing her, Romeo instantly started pacing the paddock impatiently until she arrived and climbed over. Normally, Nicole would note this as a sign of needing further training but at this moment… she doesn’t give a fuck. She pats his face, trying to calm him down as he seems to sense her emotional and physical discomfort. Her face hurts and she has no doubt there will be a gnarly bruise later (if not already), but she isn’t dizzy or drowsy. Probably no concussion. She quickly saddles Romeo up and mounts. Once she is up, she guides him out of the paddock and towards the open fields that surround Earp Ranch. Feeling him begging to run, Nicole kicks him into a gallop and they take off.
The room goes silent after Nicole’s outburst and departure. They hear Romeo neigh and the sounds of hooves pounding the ground in the distance.
Nedley peaks out the window and sees Nicole and Romeo charging out towards the northern fields. He turns back to the room. “She is gone.”
Dolls stands up and paces the living room.
“Should we send someone after her? I am not sure it is the best idea to have her injured and out there alone.” Gus comments, clearly concerned.
“She isn’t alone. That horse will take care of her. He might be an animal but he is whip smart and he is unconditionally devoted to Haught.” Nedley says, walking over and putting a comforting hand on Gus’ shoulder.
She nods and moves to sit in Xavier’s recently vacated chair.
“Fuck.” Wynonna grumbles under her breath, letting her face fall into her hands.
“Waverly, you haven’t said anything…” Gus comments, looking over her niece with worried eyes.
“What can I say Gus? This is my fault. She is hurt because of me. Champ beat her up because she was my girlfriend. What am I supposed to say about that? I don’t know how I am supposed to apologize for that.” Waverly’s voice shakes. She is angry. She is angry at Champ for hurting the woman she loves and doing it in such a hateful way. And she is angry with herself, because if she wasn’t with Nicole, none of this never would have happened. When Nicole was telling the officers her statement, all Waverly could think about was that she should have never left Nicole alone with Champ. The guilt, the anger and the sadness all hitting her at once. She doesn’t know how to feel, but it is a lot easier to be angry (even if it is with herself).
“This is not your fault Waverly.” Wynonna says lowly.
Waverly goes to argue but Wynonna cuts her off.
“It isn’t, so don’t tell me it is. If it is anyone’s fault, it is mine. Look, I never knew Champ was the violent type. You never told me otherwise and the only time I saw him throwing punches was in drunken bar fights. But that is beside the point. I know Nicole is your girlfriend but she is my best friend and my employee. That woman has been protecting my ass since the moment she showed up here. I owe her everything and I didn’t protect her. And you are my baby sister and I should have been there to protect you too. This is on me, not you.” Wynonna doesn’t move her face up, but does blindly take Waverly’s hand and squeeze it.
“How about it is neither of your faults and we blame the bigot who punched her in the first place?” Dolls speaks, stopping his pacing. Although his statement should reassure them, his tone is angry. “The only thing either of you are guilty of is ignoring her feelings after the fact. Neither of you noticed how uncomfortable she was after the cops left, how she started to panic and stress out. That is why she left. How about focusing on the person who got slugged standing up for Waverly. Forget about Champ Hardy right now.”
Both Earp sisters feel it, the moment when all of what Dolls just said sinks in for both of them. Both bolt out of their seats and run to the kitchen. Their cell phones are there and they both quickly try calling and texting Nicole. Their hearts sink when they hear Nicole’s phone ringing. They follow the sound and find Nicole’s phone still in the dirt of the driveway. Waverly picks it up and sees the screen is cracked in several places. Her picture is on the screen, indicating she is the one calling the phone. She looks at the photo, one that was a candid shot taken a few months ago. The sight almost brings her to tears. She stands up, clutching Nicole’s phone in her hand and pocketing her own.
“Should we look for her? Where would we even start?” Gus asks.
“Like you are going to find her out there? She could be anywhere in a twenty-mile radius by now. If Nicole doesn’t want to be found, the likelihood of you finding her is low.” Nedley says.
Shorty comes walking over and turns to Nedley immediately. “Saw Nicole leave a while ago. She okay?”
“Stressed and a little rattled. She just needs some time to cool off.” Nedley answers.
“Alright, well, at least she isn’t alone out there. Holiday went after her and caught up with her about five miles out. He radioed and said she was okay but said they were going to ride for a bit. They must have gone out of radio range because I haven’t heard from him since.” Shorty reports.
“Any idea of where they are going?” Wynonna asks, curious.
Shorty and Nedley both share a glance and hesitate.
“What? What are you two not telling us?” Wynonna says, agitated at being left out of the loop.
“I believe Nicole’s family, her mother and her brother… they were cremated and then had their ashes buried under a tree a few miles north of the property line. Doc mentioned that he had found Nicole out there once when he was searching for a run-away filly. I can imagine she would seek comfort in that place and wouldn’t mind Doc’s presence because he has gone there with her before.” Gus says, making everyone turn around to look at her in surprise.
“Do any of you know exactly where that is?” Wynonna asks.
“Oh my god, I am such an idiot.” Waverly says, planting her hand to her face.
“I know where it is.” Waverly says, looking at her sister. “When the whole thing happened with Jones, I found her camping out in that area. I would bet that is where it is.”
Wynonna is about to respond but Shorty’s radio crackles to life.
“Repeat that Holliday?”
“Ms. Haught and I are closing in on base. Should be arriving in a short while now.” Doc says through the radio. The sounds of horses running and breathing hard is loud in the background.
“10-4. See you soon. We will get supper started.” Shorty responds. They can see clouds of dust off in the distance and can guess that that is Nicole and Doc.
Everyone goes about their tasks. Gus goes in to start cooking with some help from Shorty. Dolls and Nedley go out to the barn to clean up for the night and lock up. Waverly and Wynonna, neither really knowing what to do, decide they should just wait. They take seats on Romeo’s paddock railing and watch as Doc and Nicole come into view.
A loud and distinctly Nicole Yeeeee Haaaw is heard as the pair get closer. They are both at top speed, their horses seeming to be enjoying their activity. Both Doc and Nicole have wide smiles on their faces as they continue to charge forward.
They cross the inner fence line and begin to slow their horses, Nicole passing the line first.
“Alright Haught, you bested me. Refreshments on me tomorrow night.” Doc says with a laugh and a twitch of his mustache.
Nicole smiles at him, leaning over to pat his horse on the neck. “Colt here has still got it.”
“He is a mighty fine companion. Had him for years now and will continue to until our last days.” Doc says, petting the horse.
Nicole trots Romeo until he is properly cooled down and Doc does the same. They both ride over to their respective paddocks.
“You okay?” Wynonna asks as Nicole enters the paddock with Romeo.
“Yes. Just needed some fresh air and time to clear my head.” Nicole says, allowing Romeo to steer them towards the two women.
“And Doc?” Wynonna asks.
“He followed me. Came with me to make sure I was okay. He used to do it when my father’s trial first started (before I got the courage to tell you about it). I guess we never really broke the habit. My family is buried a ways out there. I go there to think, be closer to them… gain some perspective.” Nicole says, grinning as Romeo butts his face into Waverly and then into Wynonna.
“Well, Gus and Shorty are making dinner inside the house. I guess I will meet you inside.” Wynonna says, sharing a look with Nicole and having that silent conversation that says everything without saying anything.
She nods and watches Wynonna hop down and walk back to the house.
Nicole dismounts and takes all of Romeo’s gear off him before returning to the rail and holding out a hand to help Waverly down. “You are awfully quiet. Have been since shortly after I woke up.” She comments.
“Sorry.” Waverly says, taking Nicole’s hand and hopping down.
“Don’t apologize. You have nothing to apologize for.” Nicole responds.
“My ex just beat you up, I have so much to apologize for.” Waverly protests.
“You are not responsible for his actions Waverly. Only he is. Nothing that happened with Champ is your fault.” Nicole reiterated, trying to convince her.
You wouldn’t have gotten hurt if you weren’t with me. And I shouldn’t have left you with him.” Waverly replies.
“If loving you is the reason I got beat up by the rodeo clown, then I guess I better get used to it because I have no plans of stopping. And I told you to go. Trust me, I can hold my own. I purposefully didn’t want to hurt him. He isn’t worth an assault charge. Plus, a few punches from him is nothing compared to my father. I know it doesn’t make it better, but my father did so much worse so Champ was nothing. Plus, I was doing it for the right reason.” Nicole states, smirking slightly.
Waverly steps forward and nuzzles into Nicole’s front, allowing the taller woman to rest her chin on Waverly’s head and wrap her arms around her torso. Waverly sniffles, fighting off tears. “After all of this, you still want to be with me? Why?”
“Waves. Of course. It has never been a question for me.” Nicole says, dropping her voice and squeezing Waverly reassuringly.
Waverly looks up and softly caresses Nicole’s cheek, causing the taller woman to wince. “Sorry.” Waverly whispers.
“It’s okay. I have had worse. Wanna make me feel better?” Nicole leans down and lightly kisses Waverly.
The smaller woman pulls back and looks at Nicole with a new fire in her eyes. “I hate that you have had worse and I hate that you are feeling it now.”
Nicole kisses her again, this time a little harder and then pulls away. “I love you, but neither of those things are worth getting upset over right now.”
“I love you too. But I am upset about both.” Waverly replies.
“Nicole pulls her close and kisses Waverly once. “How about now?”
Nicole kisses her again. “What about now?”
“Waverly smiles. “A little less, but I think you should keep kissing me. I think it is my cure.”
Nicole laughs but can’t resists, kissing Waverly until Gus yells at them to come in for dinner.
Champ grunts in pain as an officer tosses him in a holding cell and slams the door shut loudly. He gets back to his feet and straightens his clothes (unaware that he is not alone).
“You look like shit.” An older man comments from a bench farther in the cell.
Champ turns quickly and growls at the man. “And who the fuck do you think you are?”
“My name is Robert Jacobs. I am your defense attorney.” Mr. Jacobs states.
“I can’t afford an attorney, just get me a public defender or some shit.” Champ spits out.
“Not to worry Mr. Hardy. I won’t charge you monetarily for my services. I will defend you, but in return, you will do me a service.” Mr. Jacobs responds coolly.
“Do I know you from somewhere? You seem familiar… And what ‘service’ do you want from me?” Champ asks.
“You probably don’t recognize me, but I do resemble many of the men of my mother’s family. When I married my wife, I took her last name. It made it easier to get through life. “I was born under the name Robert Del Ray, but my boys call me Bobo.” Mr. Jacobs stands and raises a hand to Champ. “Please to meet you son.”
“Bobo Del Ray… as in…?”
“Yes.” Mr. Jacobs replies annoyed. “But that was a long time ago. I stick to making small loopholes within the law since my marriage. Wife likes me home every night. As for what I want from you in return…” An evil smile crosses Mr. Jacobs face. “I believe you are in here because of a woman named Nicole Haught, am I correct?”
“That bitch dyke.” Champ growls angrily.
“I will take that as a yes. Well Mr. Hardy, I have a vested interest in making sure Ms. Haught doesn’t see the light of day. From what I understand, she stole and corrupted your girlfriend. I would imagine the young woman would be yours once more with Haught out of the way.”
“You want me to kill her?” Champ asks, surprised.
“Yes, that is correct. In particular, I want you to shoot her dead. People like her have no place on this earth and she is being a particular… inconvenience to one of my other clients. Plus, you will probably never get your girl back with her around. I have to think people will talk when they hear your girlfriend left you and moved on to a woman. Not so good.”
“I don’t even own a gun anymore.” Champ says. “I will go to prison if I buy one and use it.”
“I will handle the gun and the logistics. I will even tell you a surefire way to lure her out. I will also have you out of here by the end of the day. Do we have a deal?” Mr. Jacobs asks.
Champ shakes the other man’s hand with an angry look in his eyes. “Yes.”
Nicole wakes up to her phone buzzing. She groans, reaching blindly for it on the nightstand. It takes her a few tries but she finally gets it an answers the phone. “Hello?” She asks, voice sleepy and rough.
“Ms. Haught. This is Officer Peters. I was calling to let you know Champ Hardy made bail late last night and was released from lockup. I just wanted to let you know. But he did forfeit his passport and we do not believe he has the means to flee.”
“Thank you for letting me know.” Nicole says, waking up immediately and stiffening at the thought. “Please let me know if there are any updates.”
“Will do. I’m sorry Ms. Haught. Take care.” Peters says genuinely before hanging up.
Nicole hangs up as well and puts the phone back on the nightstand.
“Who was that?” Waverly sleepily asks, rolling on top of Nicole once the redhead settles back in to bed.
“Officer Peters. He wanted to let me know Champ made bail and was released last night.” Nicole replies, feeling Waverly stiffen at the mention of her ex. “Are you okay?”
“I should be asking you that.” Waverly says.
“How about we both ask. I am doing fine Waverly. I will always be okay as long as I have you. Now it’s your turn. Are you okay?”
“As long as everyone is safe and Champ stays away, I am all good.”
“Good.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly on the temple and walking out to the bathroom.
Waverly remains in bed, thinking about yesterday. They were so relieved when they heard that Champ was captured and arrested for assaulting Nicole. But this… something just doesn’t feel right. She hears the Nicole call her from the bathroom so Waverly shakes those thoughts from her mind in favor of spending some very enjoyable time with her girlfriend. She runs to the bathroom in all her naked glory, ready to jump right into the bath with her lady.
Nicole is eating Pizza with Wynonna, Waverly, Doc and Dolls when her phone pings with a new text message. She opens up the message to read and finds that it is from an unknown number.
I have something you need, something you won’t be able to get from anyone else. If you really care for Waverly Earp, you will meet me at Pussy Willows in two hours.
Nicole reads the text over and over, trying to figure it out and decide.
“Nic?” Waverly asks. “Is everything okay?”
Nicole smiles and nods. “Hey, Nedley needs my help with something. Don’t wait up.” Nicole stands and kisses Waverly once before walking out the door and to the barn.
That is where she finds Nedley, hunched over a workbench. “Hey old man, got any plans tonight?” Nicole asks.
Nedley looks up at her with a questioning look.
She wordlessly hands him the phone and allows him to read the text.
“And you think it’s real?”
“I feel like I don’t have a choice. I have to go. It’s Waverly.” Nicole says, still conflicted.
“And what if it is one of your father’s goons or maybe even the Hardy boy?” Nedley asks.
“It very well may be, but I won’t know unless I go.” Nicole says.
“Okay, I guess that is fair. But you are crazy if you think I am letting you go at this alone.” Nedley states.
“I’m not crazy. That is why I am here. Could you get me in touch with Chrissy? I have some questions for her and I think I am going to need to take her up on her offer.” Nicole says. Clearly her mind is working now, formulating a plan.
Nedley looks at her, trying and failing to hide his worry. But he is going to help her. “Yeah, let’s call her right now.”
“Quickly. We have T - 110 minutes and counting.”
Nicole walks into Pussy Willows right on time. She quickly scans the room and growls lowly when her eyes land on Champ. He is near the stage, sitting at one of the tables with a stripper dancing near him. His eyes never even leave her body until he hears Nicole clear her throat.
He turns to her with a smirk on his face. “Haught, have a seat. I know this place has got to appeal to you.” He remarks, indicating all the bare or scantly clothed women.
“No thank you and not particularly.” Nicole says harshly.
Champ huffs out a breath, but gets up. “Let’s talk out back. No need to talk about this in front of the pretty lady.”
They walk out back and into the alley.
“You said you have information. Spill it. Or was this just a waste of my time?” Nicole barks out once they are outside.
“Waste of time, the only waste of time you have is your time with Waverly. You fucking her, not that you actually could, is just wrong. She will never love you. She will never be satisfied with or by you. It is just not in her nature. She needs a man, that’s just how Waverly likes it, needs it.”
“Chump, did you just lure me out here to shout insults my way? Because if so, you could have just called.” Nicole says bored. She notices the large bulge in Champs pants, but recognizes it as the nose of a gun (thank the lord). “Right, so you’re here to what…? Kill me? With the gun you are poorly concealing? Or threaten me or whatever?
“Maybe you are not as dumb as I thought dyke.” Champs says.
“Well, considering I won’t have the chance to tell anyone about this, mind answering a question?”
Champ regards her hesitantly but nods. What’s the harm? She won’t be able to tell anyone once she is dead.
“Who put you up to this? I know this wasn’t your idea, although I am a little surprised it has gone this far.” Nicole asks.
“My lawyer. Mr. Jacobs is his name, but he is also previously known as…”
“Bobo Del Ray.” Nicole completes. “I am aware of who he is.”
“Yeah, he and your dad really hate you. “Champ says with a sneer. “They literally planned for all this to happen. They even gave me the incentives to do it. Apparently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t think you are good enough to live on this planet.”
“Many don’t.” Nicole agrees. “But Waverly sure does. She loves me Champ. If you really care about her, you will want to make her happy.”
“She doesn’t love you! Maybe she convinced you of that, hell maybe she convinced herself! But she will thank me for this. She will understand later that she needs me and no dyke could ever replace me!” Champ yells, moving to pull the gun.
Unfortunately for him, Nicole is faster and pulls a concealed pistol from her back. She fired once, hitting Champ in the shoulder, sending him to the ground in a screaming mess.
“Champ, you chose the wrong team. Bobo Del Ray is an idiot if he thought you could take me down. He is an idiot if he thinks even he can take me down.” Nicole says, knocking the gun from Champ’s reach and pointing her gun at him.
“I am no idiot Nicky and rest assured, I will take you down, even if I have to do it myself.” Mr. Jacobs says as he comes out from around a crate with a gun pointed at Nicole.
“You are an idiot. You thought I would come alone? How much of a fool do you take me for?” At Nicole’s words, cops and a group of her friends enter the alleyway with guns trained on Bobo. Along with the cops, there is Wynonna with Peacemaker, Nedley with a shotgun, and Dolls with a pistol of his own.
“Drop it!” One of the officers yells to Bobo.
“Not a chance.” He growls, never taking his eyes off Nicole. “If I am going down, I am taking you with me.”
Before anyone can react, Bobo fires three shots at Nicole. Nicole fires too shots back and hits the brick wall and then the ground as the projectiles hit her and send her back. Wynonna, Dolls, Nedley and the other officers all fire at Bobo, no one will ever be sure which shot actually killed him.
The officers clear the scene and allow the friends to check on Nicole. Wynonna is at her side first, pulling her shirt open to see two bullets lodged into the white material of the Kevlar vest. She lets out a sigh of relief, only to take it back when she feels a wetness on her hand at Nicole’s side. She remembers there were three shots and moves her hand to see that the third bullet hit Nicole in the side of her abdomen. Wynonna presses her hand to the wound hard, trying to stop the bleeding.
“Hey, Wyn. It’s okay. It is just a graze.” Nicole gasps out as her lungs struggle to take in the air that was forcibly ripped from them moments ago. “I will be fine. Please just, help me stand up.”
“You shouldn’t.” Dolls says.
“Help the damn girl up and let’s get her over to the medics.” Nedley says exasperatedly. “Darn woman is so stubborn that if you don’t, she will try and do it herself.”
Nicole does her best to laugh, although it burns, but allows her friends to help her out of the alley and to an ambulance. Chrissy is there when they arrive and is looking concerned.
“Did I get enough?” Nicole asks, pulling a mic and recorder taped to her chest from her skin.
Chrissy nods. “Yeah, more than enough. Champ is going away, cops already took him. And your father… it is enough. His ship is sunk. No jury will set him free after this.”
Nicole nods but immediately tenses and grips tightly to Wynonna’s arm as the paramedic begins to clean Nicole’s wound and check her over. She turns to Wynonna. “And Waverly?”
“You were right. A couple of former members of the Del Ray gang attacked the homestead soon after we left. Doc, Waverly and Shorty took care of them real quick though. They are all fine and unharmed. I can't say the same for you though Haughtshot.” Wynonna says.
Nicole groans and she is not sure if it is because of the wound, or the physical pain Wynonna’s pun gave her.
The paramedic finishes up and bandages the wound, wrapping gauze around a large part of Nicole’s abdomen to keep the dressing in place. They recommend Nicole heads to the hospital, but relent when Nicole refuses. They send her on her way and she quickly finishes up with the cops and Chrissy.
“Let’s go home. I’m tired.” Nicole says.
Wynonna wraps an arm around her friend and walks her over to the truck. “Yeah, let’s go home.”
When Nicole and Wynonna finally arrive, Waverly comes bursting out the front door and throws herself into Nicole’s arms. Nicole winces in pain, but ignores it in favor of hugging and kissing her girlfriend.
“Oh my god, I was so worried. Are you okay?” Waverly says, pecking quick kisses all over Nicole’s face.
Nicole holds Waverly close. “Are you okay? They told me neither of you are hurt, but are you really okay?”
“Nic, I asked first.” Waverly protests.
“Too bad, answer me… please.” Nicole says, softening towards the end.
Waverly sighs and kisses Nicole hard on the mouth before answering. “Yes. We are okay. Now your turn.”
“Same.” Nicole says with a smile.
“Haughtshot here shot Chump and that bent ass lawyer. Then got herself shot before the rest of us took out the lawyer guy.” Wynonna says happily, literally skipping towards the house.
“You got what?!” Waverly exclaims, dropping back down to the ground and using her hands to look Nicole over in a panic.
“Waves, Waves. Baby. Relax.” Nicole says, grabbing Waverly’s searching hands and bringing them both up to her lips. “I was only grazed and they already patched me up. The paramedic said it would heal pretty quickly. I’m okay. I promise.”
Waverly looks unconvinced, so Nicole pulls her foreword and crashes their lips together. Waverly moans softly as Nicole slips her tongue through Waverly’s lips, pressing her hips into Waverly’s.
After several moments, Nicole pulls back, needing to breathe. “I have so much I need to tell you… but… not tonight. I really just want to go inside and forget about everything that has happened for the rest of the night.”
Waverly nods, a hungry look clouding her eyes as she pulls Nicole towards her cabin.
“We aren’t going to the house?” Nicole asks in confusion.
“Why?” Nicole asks, still confused.
Waverly stops and pulls Nicole down for a deep kiss that promises so much more. She pulls back and smirks at the slightly dazed redhead.
“Okay? But why in the cabin?” Nicole continues, trying to tamper down the need that is building inside her.
“Because the main house has thin walls and your cabin is practically sound proof from the outside. And Nicole… I have no intention of being quiet tonight.” Waverly says with a seductive purr.
They begin to walk again, admittedly with a little more purpose and make it to the cabin in less than a minute.
Waverly slams the door shut quickly before pushing Nicole up against it and kissing her passionately.
Nicole runs her hands up Waverly’s back, gripping her tightly and pulling her impossibly closer.
In one swift move, Nicole removes Waverly’s top and pulls Waverly’s shorts off of her (letting them hit the floor).
“I think you are a little overdressed Ms. Haught.” Waverly purrs, fiddling with the buttons on Nicole’s shirt, but not undoing them.
“I had a thought… an idea.” Nicole says a little shyly, looking down at Waverly’s exposed skin.
“And what was this thought about?” Waverly inquires. She leans up and begins pressing wet kisses along Nicole’s neck.
“Well…” Nicole starts, fighting to not be distracted by Waverly’s kisses. “I was thinking about how you mentioned that you wanted to dance for me…”
Another string of kisses almost sends Nicole down the deep end but she resists the urge to cave in.
Waverly hums deeply against Nicole’s jaw, remembering the conversation they had had after a particularly active night of sex.
“So, I was thinking… that because my motion is a little limited tonight… [moan] that maybe tonight would be a good night.” Nicole rushed out the ending, Waverly getting more aggressive with her kisses. “But only if you want to.”
“Oh, I definitely want to baby.” Waverly hums.
Waverly moves away from Nicole just long enough to pull up a chair and push Nicole down into it.
Nicole fidgets, only barely holding herself together.
Waverly licks her lips and smirks at her girlfriend. She loves that she can get her going like this.
“Don’t worry baby.” Waverly purrs, stalking closer to Nicole. She raises her foot up and puts it on the edge of the chair. “I promise to make you feel… so good.”
At the end of her sentence, Waverly leans down and kisses Nicole hard, fully ready to do things that will have them both sore in the morning.
Waverly doesn’t waste time turning on some music and sauntering back to Nicole. “Naughty Girl” by Beyoncé begins, Waverly letting her hips sway as the song fills the speakers.
I love to love you baby
I love to love you baby
Waverly sways her hips, walking closer.
I'm feelin' sexy
I wanna hear you say my name boy
If you can reach me
You can feel my burning flame
Running her hands up and down her body, Waverly begins to dance. Her movements are ones of someone who knows what they are doing.
I'm feelin' kind of n-a-s-t-y I just might take you home with me
Baby the minute I feel your energy
Your vibe's just taken over me
Start feelin' so crazy babe
Lately, I feel the funk coming over me
I don't know what's gotten into me
The rhythm's got me feelin' so crazy babe
As the beat speeds up, so does Waverly’s movements (much to Nicole’s pleasure and torture).
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl
I'm callin' all my girls
We're gonna turn this party out
I know you want my body
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl I'm
Callin' all my girls
I see you look me up and down
And I came to party
Nicole feels herself grip the chair hard, knowing it is the only way she will keep her hands to herself.
You're so sexy
Tonight I am all yours boy
The way your body
Moves across the floor
You got me feelin n-a-s-t-y, I just might take you home with me
Baby the minute i feel your energy
The vibe's just taken over me
Start feelin' so crazy babe
Lately, I feel the funk coming over me
I don't know what's gotten into me
The rhythm's got me feelin' so crazy babe
Waverly step forward, placing both of her hands on the back of the chair and leaning down. She lets her hip grind lightly on Nicole’s thigh, but only enough to tease Nicole.
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl
I'm callin' all my girls
We're gonna turn this party out
I know you want my body
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl I'm
Callin' all my girls
I see you look me up and down
And I came to party
The song slows down and Waverly finally stops her teasing, sitting firmly down on Nicole’s lap and threading her fingers through the soft hairs on the back of Nicole’s neck.
I love to love you baby (I love to love you baby)
I love to love you baby (I love to love you baby)
I love to love you baby (I love to love you baby)
I love to love you baby (I love to love you baby)
Waverly leans in and kisses Nicole. She pulls away, finding Nicole (with eyes closed) chasing her lips with her own. Waverly lightly bits her bottom lip before releasing it in favor of kissing Nicole once again.
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl
I'm callin' all my girls
We're gonna turn this party out
I know you want my body
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl I'm
Callin' all my girls
I see you look me up and down
And I came to party
The kiss starts out slow, but quickly speeds up and gains intensity. Both women trying to grind into one another to gain some sort of friction.
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl (I'll be you naughty girl)
I'm callin' all my girls
We're gonna turn this party out
I know you want my body
Tonight I'll be your naughty girl I'm
Callin' all my girls
I see you look me up and down
And I came to party
The moment the song is over, Nicole grabs Waverly’s ass and lifts them off the chair together. She kicks the chair away with her foot while Waverly’s lips attack her neck in all the best ways. Nicole pushes Waverly up against the door, making the smaller brunette gasp. “Nic, your injury.” Waverly weakly protests.
“Not my number one priority at the moment. Check back with me after several earthshattering orgasms and maybe I can find it in me to care.” Nicole says breathlessly.
Waverly slides down and immediately pushed Nicole back several feet until she falls onto the bed. “Well…” She crawls on top of the redhead and dips her head down to kiss her. “If you insist.”
Hey everyone! I just want to let you guys know that I will NOT be posting for the next week due to finals. This will affect both Mustang and Blue Eyes. I want to give these final chapters the time that they deserve and I just won't be able to do that this week. I really appreciate your patience and all the comments (and kudos). I am working really hard on replying to all the comments I have missed the past month due to school. Thanks and much love!
I'm back! Sorry for such a long break! Finals, work and family got busy and really hectic. Thankfully, I am back on track and will return to my normal posting schedule. Thank you for all the comments, kudos, patience and feedback in my absence. I will get back to answering them ASAP.
When Waverly awakens the next morning, she instantly smiles when she feels the warm, soft body spooning her. She wiggles her hips a bit, snuggling further into Nicole. Waverly lays there and smiles, wondering if she will ever tire of this: the feeling of her skin against Nicole’s. It is so electric and can spark up heat in her core almost instantly. But it is also a gentle comfort that never fails to put her at ease. She runs her fingers along the arm Nicole draped over her torso and smirks at the small flinch Nicole’s fingers make at her touch, even in sleep. Nope! Never going to get tired of this!
As if sensing Waverly’s wakefulness, Nicole stirs softly and kisses the back of Waverly’s neck. “Good morning Beautiful.”
Waverly’s smile only grows, flipping to her other side so she is facing Nicole. “Hi. How did you sleep?”
“Well, when I actually got into bed and wasn’t… otherwise occupied… good. How about you?” Nicole replies with a smirk, leaning over to kiss Waverly’s cheek.
“Really good.” Waverly says, turning her face at the last second so Nicole kisses her on the lips instead.
They both smile into the kiss, laughing at the free feeling. It is like a high that no drug could create. The feeling of no trials, not threats, no rodeo clown boy-men. Just them. Waverly is addicted, not wanting it to end. Nicole is feeling equally addicted to the feeling and to Waverly. This is nice, but she knows that even if there was still impending danger, she would still feel happy because she has Waverly and this family. It is an amazing feeling that Nicole still struggles to define or place.
“Hey.” Waverly whispers, tapping Nicole’s nose with a small kiss. “What are you thinking about?”
“You… and me… and everything I have to be thankful for. I think it is really easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and hatred. But right now, ever since last night, I feel… less of some things and so much more. Like, all that blame, hatred and shame I directed at myself feels a little less than before. It feels like some of that oppressive weight is gone. And the love I am capable of feeling, of containing and spreading, that feels like it has grown. It is a great, but strange feeling. I can’t remember a time when I ever felt like this. And I am just really grateful.” Nicole wipes small tears from her face.
Waverly smiles, eyes a little misty. “Oh honey. That is what healing feels like.” Waverly leans in and kisses her girlfriend, smiling at the red head and then crying along with her as they embrace in a strong hug.
“What do you mean we can’t come in?” Wynonna asks, standing next to her sister as they both stare at Nicole.
“Nope, not until it is done. C’mon guys, it will literally be done by the end of the week. You can wait. It will be so much better to see it when it is finished.” Nicole says, blocking their way from entering the new stable.
“But…” Waverly breaks out the puppy dog eyes, lower lip jutting out.
“No, no Waves. Not fair. Don’t do that. Don’t give me the look. I promise, you guys will both want to wait and see it when it’s done. Please, trust me.” Nicole says with a hint of panic. That face is irresistible and she knows she will cave if Waverly keeps it up.
Waverly huffs out a breath and sighs. “Fine.”
Nicole smiles and shoos them off towards the house, placing a kiss on Waverly’s cheek as she does so. After they are back at the house, she returns inside and gets back to work.
“We got some more work to do.” She says to herself.
Waverly, Nicole, Wynonna, Doc, Dolls, Shorty, Nedley and Gus all end up eating together later that night. They all enjoy the evening and end up in the living room after dinner, talking about anything and everything over drinks.
“Nicole, I know it is a sensitive subject. But what is going on with your father and the trial now that everything has happened?” Wynonna asks, taking a sip of her whiskey.
Nicole exhales deeply and nods her head, gathering her thoughts. “Um, so there is actually something I need to tell you all. I told you guys about the trial and the crimes my dad was accused of but… I didn’t tell you something. Rather, why his connection to Bobo Del Ray is important. See, my father was a dirty cop and Bobo was the head of the Revenant gang. Or at least, he was the public figure that presented as the leader. Thing is, Bobo was actually the second in command… my father was the real leader. He used his connections as a police officer to better run the gang, allowing Del Ray to be the scary public bulldog that he wanted to be. I am sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but I had a gag order threatened on me if I told anyone. The prosecutor was going to charge him with my testimony about his involvement in the gang if the murder charges didn’t stick. So, to answer your question, my father’s trial actually concluded yesterday. The jury found him guilty on all charges, adding a few more after Bobo and Champ tried to kill me. His sentencing is actually being sped along for safety reasons and the judge will make a decision tomorrow morning at nine.”
“Are you okay?” Waverly asks softly, pulling Nicole’s arms around her tighter from her place in her lap.
“Actually, I am. It just feels like everything is finally coming to an end and I can start to move on. It is a good feeling.” Nicole answers honestly, squeezing Waverly in her arms.
They all sit around the TV set and wait, counting down until the judge’s ruling comes in. They realized none of them were motivated to go in person, wanting to just hear it and move on.
“Will the defendant please stand.” The judge requests, continuing after Nicole’s father stands “Mr. Haught, you were found guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, three counts of assault and battery, assault of a police officer, conspiracy to commit murder and resisting arrest.” The judge looks at him and then reads from the paper. “Andrew Haught. You have not only forfeited the right to live amongst us, but under the law, you have forfeited the right to live at all. I sentence you to death. You will have the opportunity to repeal to the supreme court. You are released into the custody of Ghost River East Correctional Facilities and will carry out your sentence to the guidelines of the state. I genuinely pray you find peace and regain some of your humanity. Your wife and child are dead at your hands. You plotted to kill your daughter and ended up causing the death of your friend and lawyer. May God have mercy on your soul Mr. Haught. This court is adjourned.”
Everyone sits in silence and stares at the screen. Everyone except for Nicole. Nicole has her eyes closed, head bowed, one hand being held by Waverly and the other by Wynonna. As eyes begin to turn to her, they all begin to notice the slight shaking of Nicole’s torso. Waverly begins to think she is crying, but then her chuckles become audible and turn into full blown laughter. Waverly and Wynonna join in, the others following soon after. Happy, exhausted and relieved tears stream down all their faces as they laugh so hard it is painful. Nedley walks around and hugs Nicole, wiping his eyes and walking out the house with Shorty. Gus, Doc and Dolls all hug her before leaving as well, leaving Nicole with the Earp sisters.
They drink, talk, laugh and cry for the rest of the day, eventually caving and bingeing Netflix into the early morning hours.
The end of the week comes around quickly and Waverly is excited to see the finished stables. She walks outside to find Wynonna, Gus and Nicole waiting for her outside the new stable.
“Gus, didn’t know you were visiting today?” Waverly inquires, hugging her aunt.
“I thought you ladies should all be together for this.” Nicole says, smiling at the women. “This was Curtis’ dream. I didn’t know him long, but the first real thing I learned about him was that the only thing he cared about more than this farm and his tomatoes, was you three.”
All three women look at her with glassy eyes, touched by her words. She nods her head towards the doors and slides the large stable doors open. Gus smiles walking through the stable with her nieces by her sides.
It is beautiful, modern, but it also has that comforting touch that is so Curtis. They walk around, finally ending up in the office in the center of the building. On the wall, a large framed board hangs on the wall. Inside the frame sits the original blueprints (Nicole’s and Curtis’ handwriting all over it), a photo of Curtis standing in front of the old barn. Below it, a photo of Curtis, Gus, Waverly and Wynonna. The photo is old, Waverly looks to be maybe sixteen, but it was Curtis’ favorite of them all together. Waverly walks up to the glass and looks in the bottom corner of the blue prints. In Curtis’ handwriting, “For my girls. Never give up on what you want. It will be hard, but there will always be someone by your side willing to help you. You just have to accept it. I love you. –C” is written in red.
Waverly looks at Nicole, who is standing behind them and looking a little nervous, trying to gauge their reactions. She walks over and hugs her girlfriend tightly. “Thank you.” Waverly says, tears falling down her cheeks. Curtis always seemed to be several steps ahead of her. He knew Nicole was the person by his side and that she would help him finish this. He knew she understood how important this was to him. Somehow, Waverly thinks he knew the redhead would become important to Waverly too.
“Curtis had me design the place, but this was his. I wanted it to represent the legacy he left behind, but also the life he lived.” Nicole says softly. “He wanted this place for all of you. He wanted to make this place something he believed you deserved. I am so grateful that he allowed me to be a part of it. I have a lot to be grateful to him for. I think he would be proud to know each one of you had a role in this project too. Wynonna helped with hauling, Gus handled the logistics and shipping and Waves helped me paint and reroof the place. I would like to hope that he would like how the finish product came out.”
“He would have loved it, Honey.” Gus says. She walks over and joins Waverly and Nicole’s hug, soon followed by Wynonna. “Thank you, Nicole. For finishing what Curtis started.”
Wynonna shuffles slightly in the embrace, pressing her face into Nicole’s shoulder. “Thanks. I uh… It means a lot. It-t means everything.”
Nicole nods, hugging them all for a long time until they hear the guys outside, waiting for their own tour of the new place.
After everyone has seen the place and praised Nicole to the point she doesn’t think she could get any redder, everyone goes off to do their own thing (leaving Waverly and Nicole alone in the main office).
Nicole is sitting at one of the desks, looking down at a photo in her lap. Waverly watches her closely, thinking about her uncle and how Nicole played into creating his dream. She walks over after a few moments and kisses Nicole on the cheek. Nicole smile’s softly at her lifting her hands and the photo enough for Waverly to sit in her lap. Waverly does, wrapping her arms behind Nicole’s neck and kissing her softly on the lips. She looks at the photo in her girlfriend’s hand and takes it softly. The photo is one of Uncle Curtis and Nicole, standing in front of the barn.
“The day we started.” Nicole says softly, looking down at the photo with a bit of sadness but also with pride. “Gus took that photo the day Curtis and I came to her with the idea to rebuild. She rolled her eyes at us but agreed, but also made us stand and take a photo to mark the beginning.” Nicole laughs softly, never taking her eyes away from the photo.
Waverly nods her head slowly, Nicole finally looking at her.
“He was so damn proud of you. He would never pass up the opportunity to gush and brag about his ‘little niece that could kick anyone’s ass who got in her way’. And knowing you now, I have never doubted he was right. You are extraordinary Waverly Earp. He knew it and I do too. I love you.”
Waverly smiles, setting the photo on the desk and facing Nicole completely. “I love you Nicole Haught. Thank you for this. For doing this for us and for him. Thank you for being you.” She leans down and kissed the redhead, pouring every ounce of emotion into it as possible.
Gus walks into the main house early that morning, wanting to pick up some things. The new stable has been open and in use for over a year now and with the added efficiency (and consequential business), Gus finds herself spending more time at the ranch. Although Waverly truly runs the place with the rest of the team, Gus finds the busy atmosphere calming. It reminds her of old times and knows this is exactly how Curtis wanted it. The place was doing really well, keeping everyone busy but also very happy. Nicole designed two new barns and an additional stable that finished being built about six months after the first stable. Since then, they have been blowing competition out of the water (including Jones Ranch).
When Gus walks in, she finds Nicole sitting at the kitchen table, drinking her morning coffee. Gus checks her watch. 7:00 am. Girl doesn’t have to be up this early with all the extra help they got, yet she still is. Old habits die hard I guess.
Nicole notices her and smiles. “Morning Gus. Coffee?”
They sit at the table together, Nicole bringing a cup of hot coffee over for Gus and refilling her own. After a few minutes of looking out the window, Gus clears her throat and fiddles with the handle of the cup.
“So, Nicole. I actually wanted to ask you something.” Gus starts, looking at the redhead.
“Funny, I actually have something to ask you as well. But you came out here so you can go first.” Nicole responds with a smile.
“Well, you and Waverly have been together for what, two years now?” Gus asks, trying to keep this casual but also wanting to know the answer.
“Yes ma’am. Two years in less than a month.”
“I guess what I am asking is: what are your plans for the future? Or more specifically, what are you plans for your future with my niece?”
Nicole smiles and laughs. “Will you give me a moment please? I promise I will only be a minute.”
Gus nods, although she is a little confused, and watches Nicole disappear and then reappear. Nicole takes a seat and places a small box on the table in front of Gus. She nods and Gus opens it as she speaks. “I was going to ask you and Wynonna out to dinner with me, to ask for your blessings. But Wynonna actually went with me to pick it out so I had resolved myself to showing up on your doorstep, getting down on my knees and begging you for your blessing. You and Curtis were the only real parents she ever had. It would mean a lot to me.”
Gus gasps, looking at the ring in the small ring box. It is a platinum infinity twist engagement ring with a sizable diamond in the center. She looks on the inner side and sees Nicole and Waverly’s initials engraved there. Gus stares at the ring for a long moment before finally looking up at a very nervous Nicole. “Nicole, it is beautiful. Of course I will give you my blessing. But… how could you afford this? We don’t pay you that much here, I admit.”
Nicole laughs, the relief evident as her whole body relaxes a bit. “Well, I inherited a little money after my mom died and some from working during college. I figured that I should put it towards something I care about. And there is nothing I care about more in this world than Waverly.”
Gus smiled, looking back down at the ring once more. “She is going to lose it, you know?” Gus jokes.
Nicole laughs again. “Hopefully in a good way.”
“In the best way.” Gus confirms.
They hear footsteps coming down the stairs and Gus quickly shuts the box and hands it to Nicole. Nicole slips it into the pocket of her sweats and takes a sip of her coffee just as Waverly walks into the kitchen.
“Good morning.” The small brunette cheers, moving to the kettle for her tea that Nicole already made her.
Both women at the table smile at one another before replying, “Morning.” In unison.
Waverly walks outside and finds Nicole saddling up Romeo, looking like she is getting ready for a ride. She loops her arms around Nicole from behind and squeezes her in a hug, burying her face in between Nicole’s shoulder blades.
She feels, more than hears, Nicole chuckle. The red head turns in her arms and wraps strong arms around her. “Hi Baby.”
“Hey.” Waverly beams. “Going somewhere?”
“Yes. But I was actually hoping you would come with me?” Nicole asks, leaning down and kissing Waverly.
“Hm… where are we going?” Waverly asks.
“I just thought we could go out for a ride together. The ranch is closed down for the afternoon and everyone is off getting some rest. Figure we should take advantage of the opportunity.”
Waverly smiles and nods. “Alright.”
“Echo is saddled up and ready to go over in the barn.” Nicole says, nodding towards the barn.
They ride for about an hour before deciding to call it a day and head back. The ride is peaceful. They talk, laugh and enjoy the nature around them. Waverly ends up getting up into Nicole’s saddle so she is sitting in front of the red head and facing her. Tying Echo off on the horn, Waverly turns her full attention to her girlfriend as the horses walk side by side.
Waverly runs her fingers through the fine hairs on the back of Nicole’s neck, leaning forward and kissing her. “Your beautiful.” She whispers.
“Hey. That’s my line.” Nicole protests softly, deepening the kiss.
“It doesn’t make it less true.” Waverly fires back, but the end gets drowned out in a moan as Nicole’s tongue slides against her own.
Nicole, trusting Romeo to keep them on course, drops the reigns and wraps both hands around Waverly’s waist. “I love you.” Nicole says, pulling away to take a breath. She looks and sees they are nearing the ranch. Romeo walks them over to the stable and Nicole and Waverly get off, situating their horses in their stalls and cleaning up. Waverly looks over to Nicole and finds her down on one knee, staring at her with big brown eyes. There is a ring in her hand and is pinched between her fingers.
“Nicole?” Waverly gasps. “What are you…”
“Look baby, I have something I want to say and I know you like to ramble (and I think it is adorable) but I need you to let me get this out. Please?” Nicole says a little rushed, cutting Waverly off.
Waverly nods, tears already welling in her eyes.
Nicole scoots forward and takes Waverly’s left hand in hers. “Waverly. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. You make me smile when I wake up with you in my arms, and make me burrow closer when I wake up in yours. You make me feel so strong, but also allow me to be weak when I need it. By my side, you have always been and I plan to keep it that way. Where you go, I go. I always saw the world like it was black and white. I didn’t know the world could be so colorful and beautiful until I met you. You changed everything for me Waverly and I never want to let that go. I have never loved anyone the way I love you and I never will. You are my future Waverly, you are my everything. And I promise to try to be someone deserving of you. I promise to fight every day to be better and to be worthy. I love you. So, will you please do me the honor of marrying me?”
Tears streaming down Waverly’s face, she pulls Nicole up and kisses her, emotions pouring into it from both sides.
“Yes.” Waverly whispers, kissing Nicole again before pulling her into a tight hug and burying her face in Nicole’s chest.
Nicole pulls back just long enough to slip the ring on Waverly’s finger before being pulled back in by her girl. They cry happy tears through laughter, kisses and hugs. Cherishing the moment their new life begins.
“We are engaged.” Waverly whispers.
“Yup.” Nicole whispers back. “I better get used to calling you my fiancé instead of my girlfriend (although, I am definitely not complaining).”
“Fiancé.” Waverly says slowly. “I like the sound of that.”
Wynonna walks outside and sits directly on Nicole’s lap, laying her head on her best friend (and now sister-in-law’s) shoulder. If Nicole is fazed by the action she doesn’t show it and simply wraps her arms loosely around Wynonna. After a long moment of silence, Wynonna speaks. “You married my sister dude.”
Nicole chuckles, looking down to the wedding ring on her finger and smile. “Yeah, I did. I should remember, I was there.” She joked. “So were you.”
“Yeah.” Wynonna agrees. “You… you make her really happy.”
“She makes me the happiest person on this earth.” Nicole responds without hesitation. “But that was almost a year ago. Why are you bringing it up right now Wyn? What’s wrong?”
“What makes you think something is wrong? Does something have to be wrong?” Wynonna asks evasively.
“Last time you sat like this with me was when you were going through withdrawal. Wyn, just tell me what is going on.” Nicole says as delicately as she can.
Wynonna takes a long moment to respond, choosing her words carefully. “I had a pregnancy scare this morning. And… it scared the shit out of me for many reasons, but the main one was that I was not one hundred percent sure who the father was. I just… It really rattled me I guess.”
The honesty from Wynonna stunned Nicole a bit, but she recovered gracefully. “Okay. So, what’s next?”
“What do you mean what’s next?”
“Clearly this scare has had an impact on you. Clearly something needs to change. So, what’s next? What is this incident going to change for you?” Nicole clarified.
Wynonna drops her head further into Nicole and sighs. “I need to figure my shit out. And not just with the guys. I have worked so hard over the years… I guess I just didn’t see myself falling back into old habits.”
“You know, you don’t have to pick either of them Wyn. They aren’t your only options.” Nicole suggests.
“Is this you offering Haughtstuff? Cause I don’t think Waves will be good with a threesome.” Wynonna jokes, trying to deflect with humor.
“Sorry Earp. I am very taken and very happy about it. Plus, you’re not my type… no offense. But stop deflecting and trying to distract from the real issue. I meant what I said. You don’t have to choose either of them.”
“And if I want one of them, know I do, but don’t want to hurt the other?” Wynonna asks.
“They are big boys Wynonna. They will get over it. Honesty is the best policy and now that you are being honest with yourself, you need to be honest with them.”
“I hate that you are right.” Wynonna grouses.
“I know I am right, but so are you. You knew all of this stuff already. You knew what you needed to do. You just needed someone else to say it.” Nicole responds playfully.
Wynonna, in a rare moment of affection, kisses Nicole’s cheek and sighs. “Thanks Nic.”
“If you are done, can I have my wife back now?” Waverly asks from the door, startling both women.
“Jealous?” Wynonna asks, all dry humor returned. She wiggles herself in Nicole’s lap, teasing her sister.
“If it was anyone else, maybe. But you, not a chance. You’re not her type.” Waverly fires back confidently.
“I feel like the fact that no one has brought up that I am not a cheater is a little upsetting.” Nicole complains, bumping Wynonna out of her lap after a firm squeeze of her friend’s hand in support.
“Aw poor baby.” Waverly says, taking her rightful seat in her wife’s lap back from her sister.
Wynonna fake gags while the couple kiss and end up pulling each other up to their bedroom.
“I love you.” Nicole whispers as they land on the bed.
“I know. And I love you too.” Waverly responds, cuddling into her wife.
“Never forget it.”
Chapter 39: Epilogue
After a long day, the crew heads to Shorty’s for a good time. Gus and Shorty had bought the place together the previous year. Shorty, knowing he wasn’t getting any younger, decided to quit the manual ranch labor in favor of running the place. And looking at him now, no one can argue that he hasn’t looked this happy since before Curtis died.
Waverly and her aunt eventually end up at one end of the bar, talking with Shorty as Waverly serves customers. Waverly wanting to help out as a bartender was a surprise to Nicole at first, but she soon realized Waverly was great at it. She made great drinks, but the real skill she possesses is her personality. She has a rapport with people and it makes her that much better of a bartender. Plus, it gives her a social outlet that she doesn’t have at the ranch.
So, as Waverly is busy working and talking, Nicole decides a game of pool is in order. She pulls Wynonna off Dolls’ lap and drags the brunette over to an open table. After a few shots, Nicole can feel eyes on her. She expects it to be Waverly, but looks and sees her wife deep in conversation with a few customers. She looks around the rest of the room as she sizes up her next shot, still feeling eyes on her. Then she spots her, a young woman around her age (maybe a little older). She has blond hair, a tall and slim figure and piercing blue eyes. She is an attractive woman, Nicole won’t deny that, but the attention just makes her feel uncomfortable. She is looking Nicole over shamelessly and giving Nicole bedroom eyes that promise trouble.
Nicole just turns back to her game, not looking away from the table. After a couple minutes, Wynonna speaks up. “What’s up with you? You’re acting weird.”
“A woman is staring at me. My five o’clock.” Nicole responds, bending down and taking her shot.
Wynonna discreetly looks in that direction as she sips her drink, immediately noticing the woman who has her eyes glued to Nicole’s jean clad ass. She gives a low whistle and smirks at Nicole. “Yup, she is definitely checking you out. But she is hot and obviously thinks you are too, what’s the harm?”
“I am married… to your sister!” Nicole whisper shouts through gritted teeth.
“I didn’t say to sleep with the chick Haughtstuff!” Wynonna says with a laugh. “I am just saying you should be flattered by a hot chick thinking you are hot. That’s all.”
“I hate you.” Nicole grumbles, pocketing the eight ball after calling the pocket. “I win. You buy the next round.”
“Fine, fine. Let’s go.” Wynonna concedes, walking them over to the bar and ordering another round from Rosita (Shorty’s new hire). Rosita lines up some shots for them before moving on to serve some more customers. It is then that Nicole feels someone come and stand beside her. She turns her head and sees it is the woman who was watching her earlier.
“Hi.” The blond greets. “I’m Rachel.”
“Nicole.” Nicole greets in return, although nervously.
“Nice to meet you Nicole. Can I buy you a drink?” Rachel asks, flirtation evident in her tone and the wat she drifts closer into Nicole’s personal space.
“Oh, um no thank you. I am good.” Nicole says, raising her mostly full bottle of beer that Rosita brought her a moment earlier.
“Oh, well in that case, can you get me something? Like your number?” Rachel suggests, not at all put off by Nicole’s rejection.
“Um, I’m sorry. I am married.” Nicole says, holding her hand up to show the ring on her finger as proof.
“I noticed the ring earlier. Not a problem for me if it isn’t for you.” Rachel responds, not missing a beat. The blond puts a hand on Nicole’s forearm.
“Look, you seem like a really nice girl, but I have a wife-”
“Who is standing right here.” Waverly interrupts, startling Nicole so bad she actually jumps.
Nicole is so nervous and panicked by the blond, she didn’t notice Wynonna leave her side and warn her sister.
“Hey Waves, some hot blond is hitting on your wife.” Wynonna claims, plopping down in a seat next to Gus.
“What?” Waverly asks, looking around confused until she sees a woman getting closer and closer to the uncomfortable looking redhead. She sees Nicole raise her hand and indicate to her wedding ring. Waverly smiles, but it soon drops when she sees the undeterred blond rest her hand on Nicole’s arm.
Waverly feels her feet moving before her mind catches up and then she is standing before the pair and scowling at the blond woman with her hand on her wife. When the words come out of her mouth, she only feels jealousy flowing through her veins.
“Waves!” Nicole exclaims, hand clutched to her chest as the redhead tries to calm her heartrate.
“Hi!” Waverly says with an obviously fake smile and overly fake and enthusiastic tone.
Nicole just stares at her while the blond glares at her and walks away without another word.
Waverly watches her leave and then turns to her wife… who looks like she might actually be having a heart attack. “You okay there, Babe?” Waverly asks, back to her normal tone.
“I think my heart actually skipped a beat.” Nicole breathes out, hand still clutching her chest.
“I hope not.” Waverly says, running a comforting hand over Nicole’s arm across the bar. “It would really suck to be a single parent if you die on me Haught.” She leans across and kisses her wife. “Sorry for scaring you Baby.”
Nicole smiles, breathing out a somewhat shallow laugh as she does. “You aren’t getting rid of me that easily.” It takes another moment to realize what Waverly said before Nicole’s smile breaks out even wider. “It almost doesn’t feel real.” She looks down at Waverly’s still flat stomach and watches it.
“Babe. It isn’t going to grow before your eyes.” Waverly laughs.
Nicole, grinning like a love-sick fool, just sits there and gazes at her wife. “I love you Waverly. And I already love the baby too, even if we can't see him or her yet.”
Waverly comes around the bar and plops into Nicole’s lap. “I love you too Nicole and I couldn’t agree more.”
Sitting on the paddock railing, Nicole watches Romeo walk around with his foal. Entering Romeo into a gene pool was a hard decision for Nicole, but she knew it was a good one. Now, looking at a seven-year-old Romeo walking around with his son, Nicole is only happier with her decision. The colt trots over and bumps his head into Nicole’s boot, huffing out a breath and waiting for Nicole to give him some attention. She pats the side of his face and smiles at him, watching him happily trot back over to his much larger father. Nicole is so enraptured in watching the two, she doesn’t even hear the approaching footsteps.
She almost falls of the rail entirely when Waverly’s voice startles her. “Look, I can’t really climb up there myself so do you mind climbing down here with me?”
Nicole turns around and smiles down at her wife. Only a few weeks away from her due date, Waverly is beautiful, but the added weight and restrictions aren’t her favorite.
Nicole eagerly hops down and kisses her wife, moving down and kissing her belly after. “Hey gorgeous.” Nicole leans down to the baby belly once again. “Baby gorgeous.”
“What if it’s a boy?” Waverly counters with a smirk.
“Are you implying boys can’t be gorgeous too?” Nicole counters back with a smirk of her own. “Plus, we wouldn’t be doing this guessing game if you didn’t want to be surprised.” Nicole teases.
“Touché.” Waverly says, pulling Nicole down for another kiss.
“Hey! Guys! Stop making out and get in here! You already got her pregnant Haught! Stop trying to do it again!” Wynonna yells from the porch.
“That isn’t even how it works Wyn!” Nicole yells back before continuing her kiss with Waverly.
“I love you.” Waverly whispers, kissing Nicole deeply and with all the love she can muster.
“God, I love you.” Nicole whispers back. “Even if your sister is aiming the hose at us.”
Nicole pulls Waverly to the side and takes the full force as Wynonna opens the hose nozzle, soaking her back. Waverly squeals and then erupts into laughter. “Oh my god, that was really funny, but I am going to kill her.” Waverly giggles.
“Nope, she is carrying my future niece or nephew. You can’t kill her now.” Nicole jokes, laughing even as she shivers from the cold water.
Waverly laughs harder and runs her hands under the soaked shirt. “Let’s go upstairs and get you warmed up before dinner.”
“Oh? I can definitely get on board with that.” Nicole intones.
“Have I mentioned I love you?” Waverly asks.
“Not in the last ten seconds, which is entirely too long.” Nicole replies. “But I love you too.”
They both laugh and kiss again, much to a hormonal Wynonna’s mock displeasure. Neither are at all surprised when they are hit with a spray of water once again, but they simply kiss and laugh together.