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Between Two Lines

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The low buzz from the world outside slowly started to seep in through the bedroom window, the sweet summer breeze gently nudging the young girl out of her slumber. She lay perfectly still, without opening her eyes, feeling the pressure of the mattress against her side. A soft smile curled her lips when a weight shifted behind her. A warm body against her naked back. She snuggled further into it, seeking the safety from those strong arms as she tucked herself against her lover. A heavy breath grazed the back of her shoulder. She smiled again.

Waverly Earp had just lost her virginity.

She was filled with a warmth that spread out from her chest when the realization hit her. She felt so proud . Proud of taking the next step. Proud to be a woman finally.

It had taken a fair amount of consideration. Waverly Earp never did anything without thinking it all the way through. She was a planner, after all.

Waverly had learned what sex was all about at the tender age of 7 when she overheard her oldest sister Willa bragging about her latest conquest - one Bobo Del Rey, the local bad boy - to their middle sister Wynonna. (“We totally had sex, like three times.”) Being the youngest sister by 7 years to Wynonna, Waverly was often overlooked, especially by Willa who was ten years older, and had strategically taken her place outside the barn door, merely peeking in at her older sisters sitting on a bale of hay. But that evening when she snuck into Wynonna’s bedroom, as she so often did when she couldn’t sleep because of their father’s drunken noise downstairs, the middle sister gave an awkward explanation on the subject.

“It’s when the boy puts his ding-dong in the girl’s pee-pee,” Wynonna had told her in a hushed voice so Willa wouldn’t hear through the wall.

“Does it hurt?” Waverly couldn’t imagine anything going into her pee-pee.

“I mean, yeah, it can, a little. But you know, it’s worth it. ‘Cause it’s special, like love.”

“Have you done it?” asked Waverly in an excited tone. Her sister was 14 after all, and very much a grown up.

Wynonna’s cheeks flushed with a bright red colour, only barely visible in the darkness of her bedroom. “Only once, with Bruce.”

“Do you love him?”

It had been quiet for a while before Wynonna finally admitted that no, she did not love him, and Waverly had vowed right at that moment that if she was ever gonna do the sex, it would be with someone she most certainly did love.

And that is how she ended up in this bed ten years later, this fine morning in July.

After months of thoughtful consideration, of kisses and sweet words, they had exchanged their I love you ’s and Waverly felt ready. So when Gus conveniently was away on a business trip two weekends later, Waverly had put the wheels in motion to get her plan into action.

She had put on clean bedsheets and dressed in her new floral dress. She had made dinner and they had watched a romantic movie intimately curled up on the couch. And then they had kissed, and kissed again, and finally gone upstairs to her bed.

Sure, the sex itself had not been perfect. They had both been nervous and clumsy when opening buttons and sliding off clothes, and they had both giggled adorably when they finally stood naked before each other. They had taken their time, slowly kissing with fumbling touches. When it finally happened it had hurt a bit - just like Wynonna had warned her - but it was over pretty quickly. Afterwards they had lain in each others arms while their breaths slowed down, and they had eventually fallen asleep, limbs entwined.

Waverly gave the arm that was draped around her torso a delicate kiss, hoping that this would stirr her partner awake. When nothing happened she turned around to face her lover, and instead started peppering the sleeping face with feather light kisses.

With a small grunt he finally awoke.

Champ opened his eyes and blinked a few times to see his girlfriend clearly. She was beaming at him. Her face was glowing with love and adoration, but most of all with pride.

“Hi,” he croaked, his voice still heavy with sleep.

“Good morning,” answered Waverly with a soft whisper. She eyed him cautiously. Was he happy? Or annoyed that she had woken him up?

Suddenly she felt anxious. Maybe he didn’t think it was a big deal, like she did. Had it even been good for him? He knew she was new to all of this, but he had done it before, and what if she had done something wrong? Maybe it was so bad that he didn’t want her anymore. Then what was she gonna do? He was so perfect for her and she had worked so hard on becoming perfect for him as well.

He must have noticed her face faltering, because he leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. “You look beautiful.”

---

Waverly Earp was just starting her senior year at Ghost River High School. She was a top student with straight A’s and engaged in a number of extra-curricular activities. She had been voted Class President for the third year in a row - this year no one else had even bothered running against her. She was founder of Green Devils, the environmentally engaged club, as well as the editor of the yearbook and a frequent visitor of the Yoga Club - although she was technically not a member. She had also earned the title Head Cheerleader a few months prior, which fit perfectly with being the girlfriend of the high school ice hockey captain, Champ Hardy.

Everything was going according to the 5-year plan that was carefully mapped out and color-coded on the cork board above the desk in her bedroom. There used to be an equally color-coded week schedule there as well, but with her tight planning and frequent adjustments to those plans she had decided on transitioning to the more flexible Google Calendar on her iPhone. Of course, this only added more color options. She was very pleased.

Waverly was lying on her stomach, engulfed by the plushy throw pillows and multiple blankets on her bed, preparing for her History test next week. (She loved history, but giving a test their second week of Senior year? Kind of a dick move, professor Malick.)

There was a sharp knock on the door and her Aunt Gus’ grim face appeared at the doorway. Waverly put her finger on the page to mark her progress as she read about the involvement of Canadian Forces in the second world war. Ancient history was more of her forte, to be honest.

“Hi, sweetie.”

Gus sat down on the bed with a grave face. Her face was often grave, but Waverly could tell by the thin lips and the crease between her eyebrows that it was serious business this time. Her aunt usually didn’t beat around the bush, preferring a more direct approach to difficult subjects.

“I’m so sorry, Waverly,” Gus started and squeezed Waverly’s hand. “I have to go back to Purgatory again tomorrow. Shorty is in the hospital. His angina.”

She grimaced. It was the second time this month that Gus had to drive back to their hometown to take care of business because of Shorty’s increasing heart failure. Even though they had left Purgatory several years ago she was still co-owner of the bar.

Waverly offered a sad smile. “That’s alright, Gus. I hope he’ll be better soon.”

She had grown up in that bar. Ever since her father and sister had died and Wynonna was sent off to juvie, Waverly had lived with Gus and Curtis. Those years with her Aunt and Uncle had been the happiest of her childhood, but there was a constant battle to overwin the curse of the Earp name. After Curtis died, Gus and Waverly had moved to the big city to get a fresh start. It was a lot easier to achieve anything at all when the entire school didn’t know your sister accidentally killed off half of your family in a car crash.

“I don’t know, kid,” Gus said gruffly and patted Waverly on the arm. “He’s only been getting worse. I think the stress with the bar is getting to him. Business has been pretty bad this last year.”

They looked at each other for a moment. Waverly knew how much the bar meant to her Aunt. What it meant to her as well. She had so many fond memories of her doing homework at the bar while her Uncle cleaned glasses, telling her stories and laughing his booming laughter. Or from Wynonna teaching her how to play pool on one of her trips back to her old town while Gus made them pastrami sandwiches in the kitchen.

What would they do if Shorty wasn’t capable of working any longer? Would they move back to Purgatory? Waverly had her entire life here. Her school, her boyfriend, her squad, her friends. Plus she was graduating this year.

“Gus…” she started, but Gus shook her head.

“We won’t talk about it until we have to.” She stood up and nodded resolutely. “You’ll be fine being alone for another week?”

Waverly sat up quickly, squaring her shoulders. She had been alone for several weeks and weekends over the Summer and had proven herself to be a responsible young adult who could take care of herself. “Yes, of course. I’ll have Chrissy come over on Friday so I won’t be alone.”

Gus nodded again and sighed. “You’re a good kid, Waverly, you know that? You’ll be just fine.” And with a last kiss to her forehead, Gus was out the door.

---

“So what happens if this Shorty person just… dies?”

Waverly winced at the crude question. After all, she had spent a big part of her childhood at Shorty’s and was very fond of the man himself. But Chrissy didn’t know that. Waverly didn’t like to talk about the time she lived in Purgatory.

“I don’t know. I hope we don’t have to move back.”

Chrissy stuffed her mouth with a handful of popcorn and chewed loudly. She swallowed with some effort. “Yeah, me too.”

Just then the bell rang. Chrissy raised an eyebrow at Waverly. They were supposed to have a sleepover, just the two of them, and Waverly had been looking forward to it all week. Chrissy had been away for Summer Camp for most of the vacation and had promised Waverly a series of funny stories about the campers and her fellow counsellors.

Waverly shrugged and headed for the front door.

It was Champ.

“Hey, girls,” he drawled looking from Waverly to Chrissy. “Can I come in?” He pushed past his girlfriend without waiting for an answer, planting a wet kiss on her cheek while passing. “So, what’s up?”

Chrissy just looked at him with her best “what the fuck, dude”-face, but Waverly’s face had turned into a dumb grin. She always felt giddy around him.

“We’re just watching a movie.”

That was technically true, but neither of them had really followed the plot. They were too preoccupied figuring out Waverly’s life if everything went south. Chrissy hadn’t even started telling her about her summer fling, Perry Crofte. The movie was merely comfortable background noise.

Champ looped his arms around his girlfriend and pulled her close. “I missed you.” It was silly. They had seen each other at school only a few hours earlier.

“I missed you, too.” Waverly’s heart fluttered.

It had been five weeks since Champ had first spent the night in her bed but it had been many times since then. She ignored the sound of Chrissy gagging behind her and allowed her boyfriend to kiss her.

“Guys, I’m right here,” Chrissy called eventually, when the kiss turned into a gross sucking sound.

“Sorry, Chrissy,” Waverly said quickly and tore herself away from Champ’s chapped lips. She tried to wriggle out of his grip but he was too strong.

Champ ignored Chrissy’s interruption and brushed his lips against Waverly’s ear. “I was thinking… Why don’t you send her home and you and me can have a sleepover instead?”

Chrissy could obviously hear him but he had never cared much about Waverly’s best friend. Ignoring her was easy.

He was being possessive. Again. It had happened more and more often these last weeks to the point where it was actually starting to annoy her. Waverly had thought it was kinda cute at first, how he wanted her for himself and always tugged her close. But lately he had started to interrupt her afternoon study sessions with Jeremy for a bit of physical attention. He would crash through the door of the Chemistry lab and pull her away from her study partner, pushing her against the wall in the supply closet and edging his hand up her shirt. Sometimes he held her against his chest just a little too tight when she told him no and tried to get away.

Waverly told herself that he was her boyfriend, that he made her feel good . And he did. She always felt sexy and confident when he would slide his hands over her soft arms. But she was starting to realize that he also made her feel annoyed and grumpy when he hindered her in the other parts of her life, like her studies and her friendships. Parts that were important , dammit.

Waverly sighed and pushed away from him again. “Chrissy is staying over tonight, Champ, you know that.”

“But I thought we could, you know…” He smirked suggestively.

“Champ, don’t.” Waverly finally managed to loosen herself from his grip. “I’ll see you tomorrow, ok? I just need some quality time with my friend.”

Champ seemed to struggle with the rejection. He glared at Chrissy for a second before turning around and leaving without another word. The door slammed in Waverly’s face.

“What was that ?” Chrissy exclaimed.

“I don’t… know…” It wasn’t really unsuspected behaviour, but Waverly still felt shocked. He had been so sweet with her from the start, taking things slowly and letting her set the pace. But now…

She sat down on the floor again, shaking off that aching feeling. “So. Tell me about Perry.”

---

On a late Tuesday evening in October, Wynonna returned home after nearly two years away. They hadn’t heard from her since she had sent a selfie three months earlier showing off her perfect mane of brown locks, a pair of highly reflective aviators and that iconic shit-eating grin. It turned out she had joined a motorcycle gang. The group had been driving East for some weeks until Wynonna’s battered motorcycle had finally broken down for real and was left at the side of the road. With all her money spent on gas and whiskey, she was forced to return home.

“This chick Valdez bought my bus ticket,” Wynonna explained while taking a big gulp of beer. Gus had confiscated all of the whiskey and stashed it somewhere safe as soon as the oldest Earp sister came crashing through the door. Waverly knew it was only a matter of time before Wynonna had found the secret hiding place. (It was stashed in the bathroom, behind a pile of towels under the sink.)

“But I thought you were off to Greece?” asked Waverly. That had been the last text message she had received all those months ago. The selfie had not provided any additional information about her whereabouts.  

“Yeah, that didn’t happen.” Wynonna gave no further explanation.

They sat on Waverly’s bed. Gus had announced that she had some paperwork to do and excused herself to her office after dinner, but Waverly knew that was only an excuse to give the two sisters some time to catch up.

“So what’s up with you? Still dating that Hardy kid?” Wynonna had never met him, leaving before they were an item, but Waverly had sent her long emails about this perfect boy who loved her back. The emails hadn’t been as regular lately.

Waverly slapped her sister’s arm. “He’s not a kid! And neither am I.”

“Yeah, I know.” Wynonna was eyeing Waverly’s neckline, revealing a rather adult cleavage. Waverly wrapped her fuzzy peach cardigan around her body and glared at Wynonna.

“You’re one to talk, with your leather pants and your crop top and -” Waverly gestured to Wynonna’s scantily clad body. “Anyway, I’m graduating soon, so I can do whatever I want.”

Wynonna snorted and chugged the rest of her beer. “Dude, you can do whatever you want anyway. Just fucking do it.”

Waverly ignored the comment. She did not necessarily agree with her sister’s lifestyle, but she didn’t want to put her off either.

She glanced at Wynonna’s face and finally asked the question she had been dreading. “So... How long will you stay?”

“I dunno,” shrugged Wynonna. “Just long enough to gather some cash, I guess.”

Waverly’s heart sank. Of course. Wynonna would just get what she needed and bolt again. Just like last time. Just like every time.

It was usually a lack of money that brought Wynonna home and she always left again as soon as possible, leaving Gus to pick up the pieces of Waverly’s broken heart.

“And how will you do that?”

“Maybe I’ll ask Doc.”

Doc was a self-proclaimed cowboy who owned a bar called Peacemaker on the edge of the Ghost River University Campus. His name was really John Henry, but he had taken the nickname while he was studying to become a doctor. He thought the name was fitting to his persona. Eventually he dropped out of med school with a mild drug addiction and connections in all the wrong places. After he managed to get his shit together he decided to open up a bar on the same Campus where he had once fucked up his life. Waverly had asked him why the bar was called “Peacemaker” and he had told her he just thought it sounded cool, but she had a suspicion that he wanted the bar to literally “make peace” on Campus. He never said it, but they all knew he was keen to help out with the drug problem at the University.

Wynonna had worked as a bartender at Peacemaker a number of times earlier, but she was usually fired after just a few weeks. Last time it had been an incident with a customer who had tried to grab her butt. He had ended up with four stitches right above his left eye and she was sent home without a paycheck.

“You think he’ll have you again?” Waverly already knew the answer. Doc always gave everyone a second chance, even though they both knew she didn’t deserve it.

“I dunno, baby girl. I’ll have to ask him in the morning.” With that she stood up, gathered her empty bottles and hesitated a second before she kissed her baby sister on the forehead and headed downstairs.

Waverly sighed. She loved her sister, but she was already bracing herself for what would inevitable be goodbye in a few weeks.