Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between womenFeedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2011 Geonn Cannon
The American and Washington state flags on the end of Gail's outdoor seating area flapped lethargically in the breeze. Two women were seated at a table near the railing so they had a good view of the boardwalk, ferry lanes and harbor. Despite the mild day, the wind added a bite to the temperature and gave the two women some privacy. The restaurant was fairly empty inside as well, since it was the dead period between lunchtime and dinner. Nadine Butler and Miranda Powell were sitting at the bar. Nadine was just getting off-duty at the radio station, and Miranda was taking advantage of her meal break to have an early dinner together.
Nadine first noticed the couple on the deck while waiting for their food to arrive. In the interim, she had constantly twisted at the waist to look at them again. After the sixth or seventh time, Miranda smiled and squeezed her wife's hand. "Which one should I be insanely jealous of?"
Miranda laughed. "The Hispanic one or the redhead?"
"Oh. Neither. I prefer blondes." She slid her hand over Miranda's thigh briefly before she looked outside again. "I just feel like I know the Hispanic one from somewhere, but I can't place her." She furrowed her brow. "She looks so familiar, but she's out of context. She looks too happy. I wish I could see the face of the woman she's with, maybe that would ring a bell."
Miranda twisted to get a look at the women for herself. They were dressed for warmer weather. The redhead wore a sleeveless T-shirt, and her companion was in a thin sundress that she had covered up with a coat that was too heavy for the mild cold. Miranda closed one eye and tried to picture the Hispanic woman scowling, maybe in a different--
"Oh, my God."
Nadine glanced at her. Miranda's eyes had widened and her mouth was hanging open. "What? You know who that is?"
"Dean, that's Riley Parra."
Nadine's head snapped back toward the deck. She took away the sunglasses, imagined her hair pulled back, and traded the fleece jacket for a leather one.
"Well, I mean, not actually Riley Parra. But the actress, um..."
"Catalina Lopez and..." She closed her eyes and tried to remember the opening sequence. They watched the show together every Friday, and they actually owned the DVD sets. "Sharon Neal." She leaned to one side and saw the other woman's profile. "That's her. That's Gillian."
Miranda grinned and nudged Nadine's knee. "Go say hi."
"No! Are you kidding me?" She turned her back on the doors and shook her head. "For one, I wouldn't know what to say. For two, I know what it's like to have someone interrupt my meal just because I'm a celebrity."
"They finished eating before we even sat down."
"So interrupting their conversation is somehow better?"
Miranda smiled and waved over their waitress. "Hi. Could I get two slices of your lowest-calorie dessert? Thank you." Nadine raised an eyebrow and Miranda gestured at the deck. "For them. Low-cal because they're actresses. They're probably watching their weight."
"You're going to take it over to them."
Miranda laughed. "How often do you get a chance to meet a celebrity?"
"All the time. We have them on the show--"
Miranda shushed her. "Dean, you don't understand why people come up to you on the street because you're just... yourself. But there's a certain joy in meeting someone you admire. I know how much you like the show, and I know why you like it. So take the cake over there and just be yourself."
Nadine sighed and looked at the waitress as she delivered the desserts. "I blame you if this goes sideways."
Miranda chuckled. "Duly noted."
Nadine picked up the plates and slid off her seat. The distance between the bar and the outdoor dining area seemed endless. Catalina Lopez glanced over when the door opened, eyeing the cakes with amused confusion. She nudged Sharon, who twisted to watch Nadine's approach. Their attention didn't make the walk any easier, but somehow she managed.
"Um. Hi. I don't work here, and I really don't want to disturb your privacy, but... my wife is forcing me to."
Catalina laughed. "You're absolved. Can we help you?"
"Yes. Well, no, not really. I just wanted to, uh... give you these cakes." She put the plates down in front of them. "I'm a huge fan of Riley Parra . I've watched from the beginning, and I just can't get enough of it. I don't know how much you know about the island, but we're pretty gay-friendly... to put it mildly. And having a show with an out lesbian character in a happy, stable relationship is amazing to see. You're both just so great."
"Thank you. I don't think you said your name."
"Oh! Nadine. Nadine Butler. The Pixie. Uh, Dean."
Sharon whistled. "It must take you forever to sign checks."
Nadine cleared her throat. "It's just Nadine. But you can call me... Dean."
"And Pixie?" Catalina said.
"It's my nickname on the radio. I'm a disc-jockey."
Catalina nodded. "Very cool. What do you play?"
Sharon pushed out the chair next to her. "We're being rude. Have a seat, Pixie. And your wife." She twisted and looked inside. She spotted Miranda and waved her out.
Nadine was mortified. "No, we shouldn't impose."
"Who's imposing?" Catalina said. "Part of the fun of a vacation is meeting new people." She smiled when Miranda joined them. "Hi. I'm Cat Lopez, this is Sharon Neal."
Miranda laughed nervously. "I-I know. Uh, hi. Miranda Powell."
They shook hands, and Miranda stepped around the table to take the seat across from Sharon.
"So Nadine tells us you're married," Sharon said.
Miranda nodded and smiled at Nadine. "Two years this month. February tenth."
"Oh! Happy belated anniversary!" Catalina said. "I feel like we should be the ones buying you cake. Thank you for that, by the way. It was a really sweet gesture."
"It's the least we could do for barging in on you like this," Nadine said. "We just wanted to say that we're big, big fans of your show. A lot of people on the island are." A thought occurred to her, something Amy often brought up. "Hey, do you guys know the name of the town where the show takes place?"
Catalina smiled like someone with a juicy secret. "Oh, yeah."
"We can't say." She chuckled. "But it's written on props, like police department files and on badges. It's all over the set, so we really can't avoid it."
"But it's never been said on-camera."
"That wasn't on purpose. They noticed it had never been named in the first season and, when the second season rolled around, the writers decided not to push the issue." She shrugged. "Now it's a big secret. Maybe one day we'll let it slip." She looked out over the harbor. "Maybe we'll change the name. We could name it after this place, if we're as popular here as you say."
Miranda said, "If anything, we're underselling it. The woman currently running for mayor sometimes has viewing parties at her house for the season premieres and the finales."
Catalina laughed. "Wow, the mayor?" She looked at Sharon. "Maybe we should get a summer home here."
"We?" Miranda said.
Sharon's face fell, and Catalina looked like she'd been struck. "Shit. Not like that. I just meant that--"
Nadine was stunned. She knew that Catalina was out, but Sharon wasn't. The fact they were on vacation together should have been a dead giveaway. Nadine cleared her throat and waved it off.
"Don't worry about it. If anyone knows about inadvertent declarations, it's me. I accidentally outed myself during a town hall meeting."
"How'd that go over?"
"Not well at first." She looked at Miranda. "But it got better. You don't have to worry. M and I know that this sort of thing needs to come out on its own. We won't say a word."
Sharon visibly relaxed. "Thank you." She looked at Catalina. "I was in denial about who I was for a long time. I had dalliances, but I told myself they were meaningless. They were just physical release, and I didn't want a relationship, so I got what I needed from women. But then I got cast on the show and..." She reached out and took Catalina's hand. "I had to stop lying to myself."
"Is that why you left the show in the first season?"
Sharon laughed, but Catalina was the one who answered. "No, that was the network. They felt that since Riley was a lesbian, they wanted to have the opportunity for her to jump into bed with someone else every week. They thought it would be sexier than having her in a committed relationship, and they thought taking away Gillian would be a sign that nobody was safe in Riley's life. But the writers refused to make Riley a slut, so Gillian and Sharon got to come back in season two."
Miranda cleared her throat. "And may I just say, what you two have? Much sexier than giving Riley a woman-of-the-week."
Sharon blushed. "Thank you."
"It helped that we were getting closer off-camera at the same time." She looked at Sharon for permission, which she granted with a small nod. "There was an episode near the beginning of season two called 'The Sound of Drums.'"
Nadine nodded. "Season two, episode three. First of a two-parter." Miranda pressed her fist to her face to hide her chuckle, and Nadine realized she sounded like a geek. She sank down in her seat and finished sheepishly. "The episode that, uh, brought back Kenzie Crowe."
"Wow, you are a fan," Catalina said. "But yes, that's the one. Toward the end there's a love scene between Riley and Gillian. We started to film it, and Sharon... had a hard time. She broke down and left the set, and I went to find her. She told me that it was too painful faking with me. So I told her it was fine. I told her I understood, because it was hard faking with her, too. It's weird, having a first kiss with someone you've kissed so many times. But you can tell the difference."
"You can," Sharon agreed quietly.
Catalina looked at Nadine and Miranda again. "That's why we came here. We did some research, and a lot of gay websites point out that this is a good destination for people who just want to get away without worrying about paparazzi or the press nosing in. They said it was a good place to just be yourself. And it has been wonderful."
"Until two locals horned in on your meal."
Catalina shook her head. "I'm including that in the wonderfulness. We saw you come in, and Sharon asked me if you guys were a couple. I'm glad we got an answer. I was hoping you were."
Nadine smiled. "I'm glad it's not an imposition."
"Not at all." Sharon sat up straighter and looked at Catalina. Something seemed to pass between them and she wet her lips. "You said you were a disc jockey. When's your next show?"
"Tomorrow at eleven."
"Do you think you could find time for some special guests?"
Nadine tried not to say yes too eagerly.
Nadine angled the microphone toward her face. "Welcome back. That was a rarity, a Procol Harum song that's not 'A Whiter Shade of Pale.' It was the just-as-worthy 'Conquistador' from the same album. And in another rarity, we're going to take a little time away from the music and the contests and my nonsense to have a very special interview segment. Now, I know a lot of people out there will want to be sitting down when I tell them who I'm talking to. Amy, if you're carrying a tray of something fresh out of the oven, I want you to put it down and brace yourself on the counter with both hands.
"Okay, if everyone is holding their breath in anticipation... sitting across from me, live in studio, are Catalina Lopez and Sharon Neal from the hit television series Riley Parra . I don't think I can thank them enough for agreeing to be here."
Catalina chuckled. "We're very happy to be here, Nadine."
"It's our pleasure."
"I think if you listen closely you can hear people slamming on their brakes, screaming at their radios... don't worry, folks, this interview will be replayed tonight at seven, and someone with the know-how will be putting it up online shortly. So you don't have to miss a single thing. First of all, ladies, welcome to the island."
"We're thrilled to be here," Catalina said.
"Just so our listeners know, this wasn't a planned surprise. Catalina and Sharon just happened to be on the island, and I was in the right place at the right time to, um, shanghai them. I told them we wouldn't let them on the ferry back to the mainland unless they agreed to an interview with me."
Sharon leaned toward the microphone. "Should I mention the handcuffs?"
"No. Shush." Nadine winked at her. She glanced at the phone and gestured so Catalina and Sharon could see that all the phone lines were flashing yellow. "You guys have just proven to these lovely ladies that I wasn't lying when I told them how popular their show is on the island. We'll open the floor for questions in about fifteen minutes, so just hold your horses. I get first crack at them. That's the joy of being the Pixie."
She hit a button and a 'neener-neener-neener' sound effect played.
"Now, Catalina... the third season ended in December, and I hear you guys are already hard at work on the fourth season."
"Well, I don't know about hard at work." She and Sharon laughed. "But we did just start work on the first episode, yes."
"Can you give us any hints about what we might expect?"
"Hm, spoilers?" Catalina thought for a moment. "Well, there will be repercussions from the finale, of course. Riley kind of got the opportunity to hit a big reset button in her life, and she sort of wiped out five weeks of her life. But we're going to find out that it's not exactly as easy as all that. She has to deal with some fallout from that decision. There's also a big step in Riley's position as champion. She's going to find out some things about past champions and a little more about what the position entails."
"Ah, very cool. And Priest will be back?"
Catalina laughed. "Yes, Katie Moore is definitely back this season. The whole gang is back. I'm not sure is Maria is going to be back. Uh, that's Maria Hargrove, who plays Kenzie Crowe--"
"Oh, they know," Nadine said.
"We haven't seen all the scripts, so she may be back and I just haven't seen it yet. We're all just very excited that we're able to keep telling Riley's story."
Sharon said, "And Gillian's."
"Well, of course Gillian's," Catalina corrected herself. "I don't think Riley has as much of a story without Gillian." She took Sharon's hand, squeezing it under the table.
Nadine smiled. "Speaking of Gillian and Riley's relationship... Catalina, you've been out for a while... most of your career, in fact. What's it like playing an openly lesbian character like Riley?"
"It's amazing. It's the first time I've felt like my character isn't trying to prove herself worthy. She's already a respected detective, and I'm very glad there isn't a lot of time wasted on, you know, butting heads with the men in her department. I also really love the fact that Riley and Gillian have such a stable home life with each other. There was a scene last year where a demon tried to distract Riley with a hallucination of Gillian cheating on her--"
"Three-eleven, Peculiar Graces."
Catalina and Sharon both laughed. "Don't question this lady's fannish devotion, folks. She knows her stuff. Uh, yes, I believe that's correct. But Riley's reaction to that was basically rolling her eyes and telling the demon it'll have to do better. What Riley and Gillian have is strong. There's love, but also faith and devotion and trust. It's so great to be able to play a relationship like that week in and week out."
Nadine glanced at Sharon, who had not only cleared the next question but had helped her phrase it. "And Sharon, is it difficult for you to do these... frankly, very incredibly erotic love scenes with another woman?"
"It was difficult at first, yes." Catalina took Sharon's other hand in hers. "But as an actress, I knew that it was important for Riley to have a safe haven. She needed somewhere to be vulnerable, and to remember that she's just a person. And Gillian gets to be that for her. I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to play such an important character. And the, um, difficulty went away quickly, because I found myself falling in love with Catalina at the same time Gillian and Riley were finding each other."
"Metaphorically?" Nadine said, noticing the moisture in Sharon's eyes as she looked at Catalina.
"No. I'm in love with her. Catalina and I have been together for over a year now." She took a breath and let it out slowly. "I've been hiding my sexuality for a long time, but I don't want to anymore. I love you, Cat."
Nadine pressed the sneeze button to mute her microphone and sniffled loudly. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Miranda was watching through the window with pretty much everyone else in the bullpen gathered behind her. Miranda mouthed, "Déjà vu," and Nadine fought the urge to laugh out loud.
"Well, you heard it here first, folks. We're going to, um, we're going to take a little break and play some music, maybe a few commercials. Boo, I know. But we'll be right back, and we're going to have a lot more with Catalina Lopez and Sharon Neal, including questions from our listeners. Stay on KELF 1220 and the Pixie will be right back."
When the ON AIR light went off, Nadine said, "We're clear, gals. How do you feel, Sharon?"
"Terrified. Happy." She leaned forward and kissed Catalina. "I don't know what will happen to my career, but..."
Nadine shrugged. "I don't know. I'd like to think we're at a point now where an actor can come out, even if they're playing straight, and the show isn't affected. Look at Neil Patrick Harris. Or Matt Bomer, just last week."
"And even if it does affect my job, I don't care. I'm just so happy. Relieved. Relaxed." She closed her eyes and clutched Catalina's hands. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "So glad we came here, Cat."
Nadine smiled and glanced at the timer. "We have a few minutes before we have to go back on the air. Why don't I give you ladies a little time alone?"
"Thank you. Not just for..." Catalina sniffled. "Thanks for coming to our table, Dean."
"My pleasure, ladies. I'll be right back." She slipped out of the booth and went to Miranda. "She doesn't care what happens to her job. She just wants people to know how happy she is."
Nadine kissed Miranda, something that might have caused a stir when they first started dating but was now just part of office life. Nadine was surprised to find she was near tears herself.
"I love you, M."
"Love you, too."
She pressed something into Nadine's hand, and she looked down to see it was a cell phone.
" You talk to Amy and tell her why we didn't let her know Riley Parra and Gillian Hunter are in town."
Nadine's eyes widened in terror as the phone began to ring.
Later that night, Nadine was in bed holding her DVD set of Riley Parra: Season One . Catalina Lopez's signature, in silver pen, now graced the gunsmoke on the right side of the artwork, and Sharon Neal had signed just underneath it. Between the two names, Catalina had written "Thank you for everything, Pixie! XOX" Sharon had added a peace sign and a heart. She also had pictures with the actresses, and a framed photograph of Amy Wellis flanked by them would soon grace the wall of Coffee Table Books.
Miranda came out of the bedroom in shorts and a tank top, rubbing lotion into her arms before she climbed into bed. "It was nice of them to stop by Coffee Table Books."
"We should have warned them they would be trapped there until it got dark."
"I think they anticipated it. They seemed to enjoy it. And you'll own Amy's soul for the rest of your life for setting up the meeting."
Nadine laughed. "She did seem pretty excited."
"How about you? I was afraid it might be kind of a let-down to spend the day with them. It might ruin the magic of the show to get to know the people behind the characters."
"Are you kidding? I can't wait to see the next episode and try to separate Riley from Catalina. Or maybe we can see her and Sharon falling in love."
"Why wait?" Miranda took the remote control from the nightstand and turned on the TV. "Pop in a DVD. We'll watch that instead of Conan."
"Yeah?" She climbed out of bed and crouched in front of the TV. She found the second season DVD set and opened it to read the contents, trying to decide which episode to watch. She took out the disc with The Sound of Drums and put it in. As the disc loaded, she climbed back into bed and cuddled with Miranda as she worked her way through the menus.
The episode began with a long establishing shot of the unnamed city. The first scene took place in a bar where Kenzie Crowe, Riley's former partner, was undercover.
"Isn't this the episode where Catalina and Sharon said they got together in real life?"
Nadine shrugged. "I dunno... maybe."
Miranda kissed the top of her wife's head. "Did you pick an episode with a love scene on purpose?"
Nadine turned and bumped her nose against Miranda's. "I don't know. Maybe."
Miranda smiled and kissed Nadine before turning back toward the TV. The lights were off, and the light from the screen cast a pale blue-gray glow over their bed as they watched, eager to imitate a little fiction of their own.
endAuthor's Note: Yes, this is official. In the Squire's Isle world, Riley Parra is a television show. The individual stories are episodes, and what has been released as the novels Season One, Season Two and Season Three in real life were, in fact, released as DVD sets in the Squire's Isle world. The only difference is that the DVD sets have behind-the-scenes and episode commentary.
Return to the Academy