“You’re a downright road hazard, Waverly Earp.”
Waverly slides the wire-rimmed sunglasses down her nose and peers over the tops of the round, comically large, black lenses. She narrows her eyes, but a faint smirk tugs at the corners of her mouth.
“I mean it. You should come with a warning label. Caution signs. Flashing hazard lights.” Nicole shakes her head, her dimple appearing slowly. “Something tells me my insurance doesn’t cover roadside disasters caused by my girlfriend distracting me while I’m driving.”
The brilliant smile she gets in return is a thousand times more blinding than the blazing California sun beating down on them, tingeing her alabaster skin that’s still exposed a rosy shade of pink.
They had both applied sunscreen liberally when leaving their hotel this morning, after Waverly’s insistence that they zip the top off of her Jeep and enjoy the hot summer day in style. Waverly is subsequently turning an alluring shade of bronze as the day wears on. Nicole, on the other hand… Well, they’ve already had to stop three times for her to reapply her UV protection.
During the last break, they’d found a little seafood joint along the beach, watching the ocean waves break against the sand while Nicole savored the refuge the umbrella rising out of their picnic table had provided from the sun. Waverly had teased that Nicole was redder than the lobster she was currently shucking, but then she’d taken pity on her girlfriend and offered to help her put the top back on.
But the truth is, Nicole was enjoying the salty sea air and the warmth of the day and the way tendrils of Waverly’s hair kept falling out of the messy bun on top of her head and whipping around her face as she turned it up toward the sun. So instead, she had just grabbed her Purgatory Sheriff’s Department softball shirt out of her bag and pulled it on over her tank top to let the long sleeves protect her from getting burnt.
A cool breeze from out over the water had reached out to caress them while Nicole was looking for her mirrored Aviators as they were loading up again, and Waverly had snapped a picture at just the right moment, capturing Nicole’s laugh as her short, coppery locks had fanned across her face, mussed and wild and beautiful.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Waverly says with a roguish grin as she pushes the sunglasses back up her nose and settles into her seat again. “And you should probably keep your eyes on the road, Officer Haught.”
It’s early afternoon and Waverly has abandoned her flip-flops in the floorboard and sprawled herself across her side of the Jeep like a cat stretched out lazily in a sunbeam. Her seat is reclined to its limit and her bare feet are kicked up on the dashboard, showing off her toned legs that eventually disappear beneath her cutoff Daisy Dukes, leaving very little to Nicole’s imagination.
And to make matters worse, Waverly just stripped off her floral-printed crop top, tossing it casually into the backseat, and is now sun-bathing in her emerald green bikini top. The one Nicole bought her, because Waverly Earp looks gorgeous in green.
Keep her eyes on the road indeed.
Nicole lets her fingertips trail up the sun-warmed skin of Waverly’s leg, watching out of the corner of her eye as Waverly squirms in her seat from the feather-light touch. She eventually scolds Nicole and bats her hand away playfully when she starts to trace patterns on Waverly’s inner thigh.
Grinning, Nicole reaches instead to fiddle with the radio, cranking up the volume when she lands on a classic rock station blaring out the kind of music that’s perfect for a road trip. Waverly giggles at her when she starts belting out “More Than a Feeling,” drumming dramatically on the steering wheel along with the beat of the classic 70’s anthem.
Some much needed time away from Purgatory and all of its mayhem. No curse. No demons. No things that go bump in the night. Just a few lazy days on a beach, two outdoorsman packs loaded up and ready for a hike through Point Mugu State Park and camping in the Santa Monica Mountains, and a long, leisurely drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.
And each other.
Nicole’s heart swells when Waverly joins in on the chorus and reaches over to slip her hand into one of Nicole’s, linking their fingers together. Nicole brings their joined hands to her mouth and presses a soft kiss to the back of Waverly’s, then rests them together on her thigh as they continue to sing along with the music, their voices carried away on the wind whipping through the wide open Jeep.
Can life get any better than this?
Nicole is pretty sure she already knows the answer to that question, and there’s no way in hell – figuratively or literally – that she’s going to let anything ruin the week that she has planned.
“Do you feel that?”
Nicole cocks her head to the side and regards Waverly curiously as she shifts uneasily in her seat. She fidgets with the frayed edge of her cutoffs for a moment and then rolls her shoulder in half-shrug.
“I don’t know,” she mumbles, taking a drink from her water bottle. “Nothing. Never mind.”
Nicole has never been one to believe in clairvoyance or premonitions or the kind of third eye bullshit you find at Madame Russo’s Psychic Parlor. No predictions or horoscopes or getting her fortune told.
She’s a cop. She deals in proof. Evidence. Cold, hard facts.
But there’s something to be said for Waverly Earp’s – sometimes unhealthy – knack for rooting out trouble. Half the time, she doesn’t even have to go looking for it. It just ends up finding her instead. Yet somehow, some way, she can usually tell when it’s coming. Can feel the train on the tracks. Can smell the rain. Gets a little niggling feeling in the back of her mind that just won’t let go.
Call it heightened senses. Call it a gut feeling. Call it insight or instinct or intuition. Hell, call it a hunch, for all she cares. Nicole Haught may not know exactly what it is, but after two years of hunting creatures with the Earp sisters – creatures she had once thought only existed in her nightmares – after two years of exorcisms and rituals and magical sentient guns, after two years of waking up next to Waverly Earp, one thing she does know is that she can trust it.
Her grip on the steering wheel tightens and she turns the radio off, instantly alarmed.
“Hey,” she says, reaching out to lay a hand on Waverly’s arm, and she could swear she feels a sort of nervous energy rippling beneath her fingertips. “What is it, Wave? Talk to me, baby.”
“I’m not sure, Nicole,” Waverly murmurs, just barely audible over the dull, constant roar in their ears from the wind. “Something just feels… off.”
Nicole stiffens, suddenly very glad she’d talked Waverly into letting her stow her backup piece – the Sky Hawk 9mm snubnose revolver she normally wears strapped to her ankle – in the center console. Waverly had argued that it was inviting trouble to come along on their vacation. Nicole had insisted it was simply pragmatic, given their track record. It had taken a bit of… convincing. But she had eventually won. Now she can’t help but think she had been right.
She checks over her shoulder. Looks in the rearview mirror. Surveys the picturesque scenery spread out before them.
Nothing seems out of place. They’re not being followed. There are no weird lights or strange noises. No screaming civilians flagging them down or monsters standing in the middle of the road.
Gradually, Nicole begins to relax, her clenched jaw loosening as she settles back into her seat. She realizes her knuckles have gone white around the steering wheel, and she pries them away, wincing as she flexes them gingerly to restore her circulation.
She drapes her arm across the console between them and allows her palm to rest on Waverly’s thigh, lazily rubbing soothing circles, both to calm her girlfriend and to ground herself. Waverly is very rarely wrong, and Nicole will certainly be keeping her guard up. But for now, they are going to continue enjoying their freedom.
It’s not every day that they get to leave their supernaturally chaotic lives behind.