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It's Not Hell (It's Purgatory)

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            “Why’d you give her your number?” Wynonna asked as she pulled out of the school parking lot. “You barely know her, there’s no need to be so attached.”

            “She might need a friend.” Waverly maintained a grip on the steering wheel. “Besides, she seemed nice and I feel like I want to get to know her better.”

            “I heard that her dad is one of the new deputies in town.”

            “That’s nice.”

            “Hey, are you working tonight?”

            “Yeah I am.” Waverly answered without looking at her. She wasn’t quite sure why all of Wynonna’s questions about Nicole were bothering her this much, but they were. Either way she wanted Wynonna to knock it off. “Why?”

            “I was wondering if you could bring me back a Frappuccino. I don’t really care what, I just want it to be caffeinated and sugary.”

            “You have to start paying me or I’m going to get in trouble.” She scowled.

            “Fine I’ll pay you, but will you bring it back?”

            “Yeah, yeah whatever.” She continued to drive the car in silence.

            The small roads of the town were clogged with student cars as they drove home. She had four hours to complete her homework before she would drive to work and she didn’t expect the homework to take long. What she was more interested in was finding out more about Nicole and who she was.

            She couldn’t stop thinking about her though and it was driving her crazy. There was something intriguing about her and the way she pulled her in, or so it seemed.

            “Waverly.” Wynonna cut off her thoughts. “Waverly, jeez you keep zoning out. That girl – the redhead, she’s in my grade just letting you know.”

            “Really?” Waverly parked the car in front of her house and turned off the car. Wynonna stepped out and began walking up their front lawn towards the door. “How’d you know that?” She asked after running up to her older sister as they got closer to the house.

            “One of my friends told me, the whole school’s been talking about her nonstop.” Wynonna unlocked the front door and they let themselves in. Gus wasn’t home yet and Waverly guessed that their adopted mother wouldn’t be home until while she was at work and she’d see her for a late dinner.

            “Why’s everyone talking about her?”

            Wynonna crashed on the couch in their living room. A television was set up on a table next to the fireplace and Wynonna reached for the remote to turn it on. Waverly sat on the couch across from Wynonna and watched her sister. Her hair had been recently dyed dark reddish brown and she had taken on the look of classy biker almost, with tall boots and a leather jacket.

            Her sister had this remarkable ability to not care about anything or anyone it seemed, but she knew secretly she cared about something. Their mother had died before Waverly had the chance to know her and her dad died in a car accident. Both of them had an older sister once upon a time too, Willa, but she had been in the car with their father and had later died in the hospital. They were buried in the town cemetery. Waverly knew that Wynonna secretly care about her and Gus and their dead family, but it would take a miracle to open her up at this point.

            “Why do you care?”

            “I don’t know, I just want to find out more about her.”

            “Just lay off, Wave.” She said. “If you’re worried about her, don’t be. Bobo and the rest of his loser friends haven’t shown a speck of interest in her.” She sat up a little and looked at Waverly. “Speaking of losers, how’s Champ?”

            Waverly sighed. “He’s fine, I suppose.”

            “You need to break up with him.”

            She shrugged. “I will eventually it’s just…”

            “It’s just that he’s giving you even the slightest bit of affection and you’re taking it even if he just wants to dumb you down to arm candy.”

            “I told you I’ll do it eventually.”

            Wynonna blew some hair out of her eyes. “Whatever you say.”

            “Why don’t you just mind your own business?” Waverly stood up and picked up her backpack before going upstairs and locking the door to her room.

            She pulled out her computer from under her bed and powered it on. It had been a gift when she started high school and she planned to keep it as long as she could. As it powered on she checked her phone. No new texts. The computer turned on and she opened the Internet browser and pulled up the police department’s website and checked the list of on-duty officers.

            James Haught.

            It was the only name she didn’t recognize and she studied his picture. His hair was the same color as Nicole’s and she decided that that had to be her father. She opened Facebook next and typed his name in. His profile came up and next to it came Nicole Haught.

            She clicked on Nicole’s and began scrolling through the posts. They were boring and there was nothing out of the ordinary, but she kept scrolling until she was about a year back in her history and then accidentally liked the post.

            “Fuck!” She quickly unliked the post and slammed the laptop closed. Her face was burning hot and then she realized the mistake she had made. She would know that she had been slightly stalking her social media and this was a very big problem and oh dear, oh dear. She sat there and clutched one of the pillows on her bed to her chest before her heart rate slowed down.

            “Okay.” She said to herself, trying to calm down. “Whatever, whatever. It’s okay.”

            This has to be a sign from above that I need to do my damn homework. Waverly thought. Time to do my homework. She pulled her books from her bag and her hands shook slightly as she began to work until the alarm on her phone went off at 4:30.

            She set down her nearly finished homework and changed into her work uniform before plodding down the stairs. Wynonna was sleeping on the couch and she sighed as she left and locked the front door behind her. She drove away from her house and out past the school and pulled into the back parking lot of the Starbucks.

            There was an employee entrance in the back and she scanned her ID before opening the door into the break room.

            A couple of her friends from work waved hello and she clocked into and started taking orders and making coffees for people. She was working until closing today and she’d be the last employee again, shutting down the place for the night.

            The night passed smoothly and as the crowd of people slowly dissipated as it neared 10 o’clock she began to clean up. Everyone had left now and she was just making one last drive through order before she closed up when the door to the inside café opened.

            “I’ll be right with you!” She called as she gave the man in the car his order and then shut the window.

            Nicole was standing in front of the register, her hands shoved in her pockets.

            “Hey!” She smiled and Nicole looked up and returned it.

            “Hi! I didn’t expect you to be here.” She smiled.

            “Yeah, you’re the last customer of the night it seems. What can I get you?”

            She ordered a cappuccino and as she walked over to start making it they entered a conversation. “You liked a year old post on my Facebook.” Nicole laughed and Waverly’s face turned bright red as Nicole leaned on the counter separating the machines from the rest of the store.

            “Oh, uh,” Waverly began to stammer. “Yeah. Yeah, sorry about that.”

            Nicole grinned and they both laughed. “If you’re looking to find out more about me, there’s better ways to do it than stalking my Facebook. Good work finding it though.”

            “Thank you? I think?” Waverly laughed nervously. “What other ways can you think of? I think bursting into my Starbucks late at night is a good start.”

            “Is this a date then?” Nicole joked.

            Waverly’s face turned pink before she looked away and finished steaming the milk. “It’s awful late for a coffee date, don’t you think?” She handed Nicole her coffee before wiping down the counter.

            “I suppose.” Nicole looked around. “Are you the only one here?”

            “Yeah, I close up most nights.” She said, locking the cash register and cleaning down the machines. “Why?”

            “I was thinking that maybe I should walk you out, as an apology for bursting in just as you were about to close.”

            “You don’t have to.” Waverly said.

            “Come on, I’m trying to be nice here.” Waverly started turning off the lights in the Starbucks and Nicole helped and then extended her hand.

            Waverly took the older girl’s hand and walked out of the Starbucks. Waverly locked the doors and they made their way into the dark parking lot. Her skin burned where it touched Nicole’s. Her hands were calloused but they were also soft and inviting. She was thankful for the cover of darkness because she was sure she was blushing, but why?
            “Which car is yours?” Nicole asked.

            “This one.” Waverly began to walk towards it and Nicole stopped with her at the door.

            “I’ll see you tomorrow. I mean it this time.” Nicole smiled.

            “I’ll have expected you to finish the reading, I want discussion questions prepared.” They laughed.

            “I’ll keep that in mind, Waverly.” Nicole said as she walked away towards her car.

            Waverly drove home with her mind in a fog and she still had no reason why. It was absolutely infuriating.

            “Did you bring me my Frappuccino?” Wynonna asked as she opened the door to her house.

            “No, ‘cause you didn’t pay me.” Waverly shot back. “Gus? Are you home?”

            “I’m just in the kitchen dear! There’s chicken for you.” Waverly entered the kitchen and gave her a hug before sitting down at the kitchen table. “How was your first day?”

            “It was good.” Waverly said as she began to eat dinner.

            “I heard there’s a new girl in town.”

            “Yeah, her name’s Nicole. She’s in a couple of my classes.”

            “Is she nice?”

            “Yeah.”

            “You should try and make some more friends, Waverly.” She said as she ran the dishwasher. “And I mean more than those idiots Champ calls friends.”

            “I’ll try.”

            She finished dinner and told her goodnight and made her way upstairs. She showered, brushed her teeth, and then climbed into bed to finish the last of her homework. She set it on the floor once it was finished and as she tried to fall asleep she swore she could still feel where Nicole’s hand was touching hers and all she wanted was to sleep, but when she closed her eyes all she got was a flash of red. A flash of red and a whole load of confusion.