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Waffles and Lemonade

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Audrey isn’t used to women. It’s not that she doesn’t know what to do with them, no, no. A Horne would never not know what to do--and she’s her father’s daughter, even when she wishes she weren’t. But between all the fancy dinners with donors and businessmen (”Remember to smile at the gentlemen, Audrey”), and the girls Daddy hides away like the Halloween candy she used to keep in the wall by her headboard, she’s just...never interacted with women much. Even when Laura and Johnny were in the kitchen reading or doing math, she only said hello or offered them snacks.

I’m sorry it was easier to watch TV or do my homework than talk to you, she tells Laura now, several times a day.

Because she wants to help Laura, and because she is sorry (so sorry), she accepts Agent Bryson’s invitation to breakfast. Bryson orders tea and waffles, Audrey strawberry pancakes and raspberry lemonade. Does Agent Bryson like girls? Reflexively, she sucks slowly through the straw and looks up under her eyelashes.

Bryson isn’t looking. “I’m sorry Agent Cooper has behaved so unprofessionally. This is just breakfast--we don’t have to talk about the case if you don’t want to.”

“There’s nothing unprofessional about my...about Special Agent Cooper.”

“Sorry. I guess that’s for the review board to decide.” Bryson examines the chunk of waffle on her fork as if it’s evidence of something. “Do you eat here often?”

“Sometimes,” says Audrey. “They have good pumpkin pie.”

“I’m not much for pie, myself. Do you like it here in Twin Peaks?”

Audrey swishes a bite of pancake around in the syrup. “It’s all right, I guess. I mean, my dad owns half of it.” She buries the twinge deep down, smiles and cajoles instead, even as she seriously wants an answer to her question. “Are you and Agent Cooper friends, Agent Bryson?”

“Please, call me Denise.” She smiles back, then. “Sure--although he and his old partner were better ones. I haven’t seen him in years. It’s nice to catch up, despite the circumstances.”

Audrey has the upper hand now. Even though she hates her father, hates him with all her being, she listens when he tells her to take that bull by the horns and kick it in the ass. She is a Horne, after all. “And do you like the FBI...Denise?”

“Not all the time--I hate the paperwork. It’s not all catching bad guys, you know. But I like being an agent, yeah.” She sips her tea. “You thinking of joining? Coop--Agent Cooper tells me you’ve got the makings of a good agent, yourself.”

Audrey’s stomach somersaults, but she says, “Nah. I just want to help Laura. I’ll run my dad’s hotel when I’m older. I’m training for it now.”

“By solving murders? That’s the coolest hotel I’ve ever heard of.”

Audrey allows herself a chuckle. “I...know how to keep people happy.” She doesn’t tell her that she knows how to terrify them as well, make them leave in droves when she wants to give her dad the finger.

Denise pauses before she speaks next. “That doesn’t sound like much fun.”

“It’s not supposed to be fun--it’s a business. That’s what Daddy says.”

“Forgive me, you want to run a business?”

“I help my father.” She blows bubbles in her lemonade.

“I hope he realizes what a great daughter he’s got,” says Denise, and Audrey stops blowing, all breath sucked out of her. Not even Agent Cooper said anything like that to her before.

“Denise? Tell me why you joined the FBI,” Audrey says and smiles--genuinely this time.