Disclaimers: I think the characters are still mine (and Bertha's, of course). You may continue to borrow them for your own personal use (I won't ask) just as long as you return them fully bathed and with a pretty purple ribbon on their heads. Cause I like purple.
Sequel Alert: Well, this isn't really a sequel. It's more of a continuation of the same story but from a different perspective. So if you haven't read Alix then you probably won't have the slightest clue what's going on. Actually, even if you read Alix you might still have no clue what's going on. *points to Bertha* It was all her ... I had nothing to do with it ... unless, of course, you like it ...
Sex/Naughty Words/Violence: Yes there will most likely be sex, between two (or three or four .. no, just two) consenting adult women. If you're not 18 or live in a place where this sort of thing is illegal, or just have a problem with chicks getting it on .. well then ... away with you .. away, I say. Shoo. There will be some naughty words getting thrown around here and there, so if this offends you in any way, please forgive me. There might be some violence in this one. Nothing graphic or bloody or anything, because as always, I bring you loooooove ...
Content Warning: Valerie, the character as well as the story by extension, is a lot darker than Alix ever was ... but I'm trying to keep her/it as light as humanly possible giving the circumstances. Let me know if I succeeded. Also, fasten your seatbelts cause this is about to become a very bumpy ride.
Dedication: To Cindy, for helping me create Valerie, always supporting my insanity, giving me flat-out honest advice, and for threatening not to send me the hair buzzer if I didn't write more. Did you send it yet, huh?? And to Amber, for helping me sort through all of this madness. I would've had to be committed by now if it wasn't for you. Always remember ... the monkeys are listening
Joke Request: Send me jokes... pleeeeeeeeeease :)
Feedback: You can send all comments, questions, e-Cards, gifts, marriage proposals, voodoo curses, and/or threatening letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be kind ... rewind. And please don't kill me .. ::cries::
Saturday morning found me sitting on my couch, wearing pajamas and a frown, staring thoughtfully at the portrait of Alix I had drawn. The light from the window cast a soft shadow across the canvas, making it seem almost lifelike.
Folding my arms, I slouched down further on the soft cushions beneath me, my legs resting comfortably on the coffee table. "What do you think I should do with it?" I asked the slumbering dog beside me. Loki softly snored in reply. I nodded as if she'd suggested something provocative. "I wouldn't mind hanging it over my bed.. but I think that's hardly appropriate given the circumstances."
Shaking my head, I started flipping through the channels on TV. I stopped briefly at the Home Shopping Network, just to verify that indeed I did not want what they were selling, then resumed my surfing. As I was about to give up and watch Labyrinth for the millionth time, I found an interesting documentary on the Travel Channel. This will do. I dropped the remote beside me on the couch and settled in.
I managed to concentrate on the thing about Egypt for about five minutes before my gaze casually drifted back to the canvas on the easel. "Maybe I should just give it to her?"
Glancing at Loki, I quirked a brow. "What do you think?" Getting no response from the puppy, I stared at the portrait. "Well that's settled."
A commercial for American Airlines caught my attention and I was instantly reminded of the flight I had not yet booked.
Grabbing for the phone, I silently sighed. Let's do this.
"Quitting?" Dean Jacobs said the word as if he'd never heard it before in his life. His dark brows narrowed and his forehead wrinkled in the process. Brown eyes bore into mine. I wasn't sure if he was going to explode in rage or start laughing hysterically.
I braced myself for either. "Iím leaving town."
A shrug of my shoulders was all I allowed. Truthfully, I didn't have an exact plan of action. All I knew is that I had to get out. Get away from long lost sisters and would-be girlfriends and mistakes and regrets and ... pain. Maybe if I changed my address, if I changed myself, I could start everything over again, without the emotional baggage. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that this was impossible, but I was determined to at least spare Alix the hurt of ever having to see me again.
You mean, spare you the hurt of ever seeing her again.
I pushed the thought away and focused instead on my conversation with Dean.
"Valerie, you're the best bartender I've got," he said, running a frustrated hand through his graying black hair. "Hell, you're the best bartender anyone's got."
Twenty-one years on earth and my greatest accomplishment was mixing liquor. I was flattered.
He sighed loudly, if a bit dramatically, and sat back on his chair. He started clicking the pen in his hand and I had to remind myself several times that though a karate chop to his head would rid me of the misery, it would also land me in jail. "So where are you going?" he inquired.
"New York," I replied, as if I had it all figured out.
"Got something special there?"
"Not exactly." More like I'm leaving something special here. "Just need a change of scenery is all."
He scratched the back of his neck with the pen and nodded thoughtfully. "Running away from the world, eh?"
The world. "Something like that," I answered, shifting slightly in my seat.
He nodded again, and clicked away at the pen. An eternity seemed to pass before he placed the pen down on the desk and stretched out his hand. "It was a pleasure working with you, Valerie. If you ever change your mind about never coming back, know that you'll always have a place here."
I shook his hand, rising as well. "Would you like me to work the next two weeks until you find somebody else?"
"When were you hoping on leaving?"
"As soon as possible," I replied, honestly.
"Then no. I've got someone who can cover your shift." He said this almost regretfully and I instantly thought of Robin.
"Thanks for everything, Dean," I told him. Then I walked out of the office and through the familiar corridors of the club. I had wanted to not look around, to pretend that it didn't hurt me, even a little, to be leaving everything behind. But in the end, I ended up heading over to the baróto my barófor one last drink.
I ordered my usual Corona and sat in a booth in a corner, away from everything.
"This seat taken?"
"I heard you were leaving," Robin said, taking the seat across from me without waiting for permission.
"Good news travels fast," I commented dryly.
"Yeah well, Dean called me in after you left. Looks like I'm taking over your shift." When I didn't answer, she continued. "Pretty ironic, don't you think?"
I managed a shrug. When Robin had left, I'd taken over her shift. Seemed like the tables had turned once again.
She was silent for all of three seconds. "So why are you leaving?"
Silence was my response.
Robin smiled, nodding knowingly. "Relationship issues, huh?
Was it written on my damn forehead? I glanced at her briefly without commenting but I'm sure the look on my face was all the confirmation she needed.
"So are you keeping the apartment here?"
"What are you doing with all your stuff?"
I caught her gaze. "What is it you want, Robin?"
She paused, then took a deep breath. "Look, I just wanted to apologize for ... you know, for kissing you that night."
"Oh so you admit that it was all you?"
Robin nodded. "I admit, I got carried away. I thought about you a lot while I was gone. You were the reason I came back, actually." Her gaze was fixed on a spot on the table.
Silently, I stared at the label on the bottle before me.
"I didn't want you to leave without at least hearing my apology," she continued. "I had way too much to drink that night. I was way out of line. I'm sorry."
"So, where are you going?"
I hesitated a moment, then realized I had nothing to lose by telling her. "New York. Aaron has that apartment there he never uses."
"Ah yes, I remember it well." Her voice was filled with mirth as she winked at me.
I almost smiled, but it proved too much effort. I drank the last of my beer and rose. "Take care of yourself, Robin."
And I left Whispers without looking back.
At my apartment, I sat in bed with a yellow legal pad open on my lap. A fresh blank page stared up at me, and I didn't doubt its fate would match that of his companions. I glanced wearily at the pile of crumpled paper on the bed beside me.
"A poet, I am not," I informed Loki. "Can you write this for me?" When the puppy made no effort to grab the pen from me, I glanced back down at the page. "I shouldn't even leave her a note. What could I possibly tell her that she would want to hear?"
Still, I felt that I had to do this. It didn't even have to be long. A sentence would do. Short and sweet. Just tell her how you feel. I snorted. That'd take a novel.
Pen to paper, I began to scribble....
Should I become famous someday, you can sell this on eBay...
Right. Another crumpled sheet joined the others.
I tried again.
This is a gift from the heart
I'm leaving for New York and I'm never coming back
at all dramatic...
I thought you might like to have this. I thought it would be selfish of me to keep it, seeing as I've already got the memory of you to keep me warm at night
Ha! She'll burn it ... I tapped the pen against my forehead. Think Alix. She hates corny. Whatever you write ... it's gotta be ...
I hesitated a moment, then scribbled something fast. I folded the paper in half before I had a chance to change my mind. Here goes nothing.
It didn't take me very long to pack all my stuff, seeing as I planned on leaving most of it behind. Aaron's apartment was fully furnished and all I really needed to take with me where the bear necessities of life (CD's, movies, etc).
I struck a deal with my landlord. His daughter needed a car for college and since I didn't know what to do with mine, I agreed to give it to him in exchange for a couple months' rent. I figured that would be enough time for me to decide whether I wanted to keep the apartment in Florida or get rid of it. He also agreed to mail me the few boxes I had to leave behind. As an added bonus, his daughter also offered to drive me to the airport in her brand new car.
Seemed fair enough to me.
And then the fateful day was upon me and I sat in my car a few hours before my flight, trying to convince myself to drive.
Finally, I turned the ignition. Then I sat back in the seat without moving the car.
"Drop off the picture and leave," I said to myself. "No knocking. Definitely no knocking." Nodding, I pulled out of the apartment's parking lot and headed towards Baldwin.
"Okay," I said out loud. "I can't just leave it against her door. What if someone steals it?" I paused. "So I'll knock and then I'll run. But if she sees me running, that would be embarrassing." I paused again. "So maybe I'll just leave it against the door."
By the time I parked the car, I still hadn't decided what I was going to do exactly. Hesitating for a few moments, I grabbed the portrait and headed toward Alix's Hall.
This wasn't so difficult when I'd pictured it in my head. I waited by the door about ten minutes until someone was kind enough to leave the building so that I could step inside. Please be home, but don't come out. As I neared her door, I noticed it was open. I stopped in my tracks, suddenly at a crossroads.
If she's there, I'll feel stupid. If she's there with company, I'll feel even stupider. If I just leave, I'll regret it. Glad I didn't choose to major in decision-making.
A minute passed. Maybe two.
Finally, I threw one foot forward and headed toward the open door. I knew Alix wasn't inside before I even reached the doorway. The room, however, wasn't void of human life. "Uh, hi," I said, standing awkwardly at the threshold.
A head popped up from behind an open book and light brown eyes focused in my direction. "Can I help you?"
I was glad I'd thought to cover the canvas. "I just wanted to drop this off for Alix," I informed her.
She nodded toward Alix's side of the room. "Leave it wherever." Her gaze remained glued to me as I crossed the room to place the picture on Alix's bed. "Have we met before?"
I turned to her. "Uh, no, I don't think so. I'm Valerie."
An eyebrow shot upward. "You're Valerie," she said incredulously. "Not at all how I pictured you." She stretched out her hand. "I'm Nicole. Alix's roommate."
"Nice to meet you," I replied politely, shaking her hand. "I should get going."
"Are you sure you don't want to wait for her? She should be back any second. Her class ended about fifteen minutes ago."
I felt my heart skip a beat. "No, thanks. I really must get going."
She nodded as if she'd been expecting that answer. "I'll make sure she gets your gift."
I thanked her and headed out of the dorm room as quickly as possible. Back in my car, I breathed a sigh of relief. I sat there for a few moments, trying to get a hold of my emotions.
I don't know how long I sat there, staring off into space. The time on my watch read 1:20 and my flight was at 4:00. I had to get going if I was going to make it to MIA.
Pulling out of the parking lot, I glanced wearily at the reflection in the rearview mirror. I could see part of Alix's building as it grew smaller and smaller and then disappeared altogether.
I wondered if that's how love worked. If distance could make it disappear all together. I glanced at the reflection once more... and then sped up.
To Be Continued in Book 3 : Alix and Valerie
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