It was interesting that Agent Cooper had waited until Leo's funeral was done to do this. The past few days had passed in a blur and she wasn't sure she would have been in the frame of mind to make a good decision. Or to understand what he was doing.
She had no doubt who the phone number belonged to or what Agent Cooper was doing. She hadn't had to kiss him the second time with Bobby looming large over her. Whom was she kidding? No one held a gun to her head the first time either. She'd wanted to. Maybe she was foolish, gullible, or just a romantic at heart. A bit of all three probably. The last came from reading too many of those books Leo hated to see her waste her money buying.
She'd just never experienced a man saying nice things to her for the sake of saying them before. He hadn't wanted anything from her. He'd asked for the kiss, but hadn't expected, forced, or pushed it. If she'd said no he would have respected that she knew.
Maybe, once upon a time, Leo had been that way. She couldn't remember anymore even though they hadn't been married all that long. Being on the receiving end of too many blows with his weapon of choice - soap in a sock - tainted any fond memories she had of him. There must have been something to him, though.
And Bobby. He talked big, but she was beginning to wonder if he really meant any of it. Or just said what sounded nice. She admitted she was miserable enough to believe him. At first. The excitement of going behind Leo's back was what really appealed to her. She felt guilty at first, but if he'd been decent to her she never would have been unfaithful.
He'd kept her on such a short leash it was fun to tug on it. And once she'd started tugging she found that there was a lot more give than she'd originally thought.
Now Bobby was talking about marriage. But why? Because he saw her kissing someone else. Not because he really wanted to marry her. Truth be told, she didn't want to rush into marriage again.
She'd never in her life done anything really contrary until starting up with Bobby Briggs. She wasn't even sure what it was about him that got her attention. He was nice looking, but she saw nice looking guys all the time at the diner. A part of her wondered if it was that he reminded her of what she could have been. If she hadn't met and married Leo.
The argument they'd had recently followed by him leaving was still fresh in her mind. He'd basically implied he no longer needed or wanted someone like her with him. He had big dreams and she had a feeling if those dreams ever came true she'd be left behind without a thought.
True, he'd returned in the nick of time to save her life. That was just luck, though. What was to stop him from leaving her again? Or worse, what was to stop him from staying with her and turning into Leo? Nothing. His relationship with Laura hadn't exactly been flawless. She wasn't sure she knew what a flawless relationship was.
She ran her fingers along the edge of the paper thoughtfully. She should throw the number away. He was older than she was and her life was kind of a mess. She hadn't even had time to digest the idea that Leo was dead and buried, that she was finally free of him. She was a widow. How many times had she dreamt of that becoming a reality? And now, knowing how he'd died, she felt a little guilty for that.
She really needed some time to just be Shelly for a while. And grow up some more. Leo had stunted her in ways while making her grow up too fast in others.
She didn't throw it away, though. Instead, making sure her tables were either empty or served for the moment she went to the back of the diner and stared at the phone. She couldn't call from the house that was for sure, Bobby would certainly catch her.
"You need to make a call?" Norma asked.
"Not really," Shelly said. She sighed. She didn't need to exactly. "It'd be long distance."
The other woman looked at Shelly with question in her eyes. Shelly didn't know what to say, so she remained quiet.
"You can pay me back."
"Do you want to make the call?"
"Then make it. Don't waste your time dwelling on it. Leo's gone, sweetie. You can finally move on. Take it from me; you don't want to settle if you think there might be something better out there."
"Thanks," she said and Norma walked away.
Norma was right. A phone call did not mean she had to get involved. She wasn't committing to anything. Shelly took a deep breath and dialed the number, hoping that he would be able to hear her as clearly over the phone as he apparently could here. That would be all kinds of embarrassing if he couldn't.
"May I speak to Chief Cole, please," she said to the woman who answered. Agent Cooper held nothing back, Shelly noticed. The number went directly to Gordon Cole's secretary rather than a main switchboard of some kind like she'd expected. "It's Shelly Johnson from Twin Peaks," she added when asked who was calling.
Well, now that she was on hold she didn't know what to say. She felt her cheeks heat from a blush when he picked up the line and shouted into the phone. So, now what did she call him? Chief Cole? Mr. Cole?
"This is Shelly Johnson. I don't know if you remember me. From the Double R in Twin Peaks."
'Shelly Johnson. The woman of my dreams. And quite a kisser, too. Of course I remember you,' he said.
She smiled, relieved he'd lowered his voice. "I hope you don't mind, but I ran across your number…"
'Mind? I was trying to think of an excuse to call you myself. Ordering pie long distance seemed a bit too contrived.'
She smiled even more. "Yeah, it probably would be."
'How are you?'
'I was sorry to hear about your husband.'
"It's okay, but thank you. The funeral was yesterday. Now all that's left is to go through stuff and come to terms with the fact he's really gone."
'If there was anything I could do on my end I would.'
She paused a moment unsure how to take what he was saying. And then she realized he was probably being, of all things, sincere. "I believe you."
'I sense somehow that is a big deal, Mrs. Johnson.'
"Call me Shelly."
'All right, Shelly.'
"And it is. I don't trust people too easily - anymore."
'You're too young to have such a bitter outlook on things.'
"Yeah well, people around you do things to break your trust…"
'Well, let's see what we can do to rectify that problem.'
She leaned against the wall, twirling the worn and tattered phone cord around her fingers. "What did you have in mind?"
Norma glanced her way, but didn't come near her and didn't seem upset or anything that Shelly was still on the phone.
'Well, I have on my desk some tickets to an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.'
"I've never been to a museum." Hell, who was she kidding? She'd never been out of Twin Peaks except for the occasional drive with Leo since she was a girl and her parents took her into the city for the occasional special school shopping.
'Well then if you're interested we could go.'
She glanced at the door when she heard someone come into the diner, saw it was Bobby, and felt a pang of guilt wash through her. She shouldn't even be talking to this man. It just wasn't right. Not necessarily for her, but for him. Even with Leo gone, her life was still a mess and she wasn't even sure she deserved a nice guy. And if Agent Cooper had given her a thumbs up when Gordon first started talking to her, she was sure that meant he was a nice guy. She liked Agent Cooper and had no reason not to trust him. He had been a big help to her when she'd been brought to the sheriff's office to identify Leo's body. If anything, he seemed the type that wouldn't give his stamp of approval to just anybody.
Who was to say she didn't deserve someone nice? Someone who didn't look at her and see a meal ticket or the way out of Twin Peaks. That was how she felt sometimes with Bobby. Enter the beauty pageant. Take care of Leo themselves to collect the insurance money. Look at where bringing Leo home with her had gotten them! He'd be safe in a hospital somewhere if it weren't for them.
That was a scary thought in its own right. If Leo had been taken care of by actual nurses and doctors he probably would have recovered sooner than he had. And more thoroughly. He'd have come after her and been strong enough to finish it. As much as she hated thinking it, and she'd probably go to hell for it, but she was glad it was Leo who was dead and not her.
'Are you all right, Shelly?' he asked. She realized then she'd let out a whimper.
"You really can hear me, can't you?"
'Yes, yes I can. I've told you already it's nothing short of a miracle. Destiny brought me into the Double R, Shelly.'
"Well, then I guess I can't thumb my nose at destiny."
'That means you'll take in the exhibit with me?'
"I guess it does."
'All right. I'll come to Twin Peaks and get you tomorrow before lunch. Does that sound all right?'
"Um, sure, just come here to the diner," she said. She jumped a little when she heard a woman's voice on his end. She still found it hard to believe he could hear only her without shouting.
'Tell him I'll be with him in a minute, Lois,' she heard Gordon shout in response. 'All right, Shelly Johnson, I'll see you tomorrow.'
'Thank you,' he said and hung up.
She kept the phone in her grasp for a few extra seconds, trying not to get overly excited at the giddy feeling she was experiencing. She of all people knew that things weren't always what they seemed. She just couldn't help but think that she finally had a reason to get excited.
Getting away from Bobby hadn't been as hard as she thought. He had something to do at the hotel. She hadn't been sure what to wear to a museum. She'd asked Norma who hadn't been much help. She picked out a dress, hoping she wouldn't be overdressed and made her way to the Double R.
Norma looked up with a smile when Shelly walked in and took a seat at the counter.
"It looks different from this side," Shelly said.
"I know it does," Norma said. "You nervous?"
"Shaking like a leaf."
"You hide it well."
"And he didn't even keep you waiting," Norma said, inclining her head toward the door. Shelly looked and there stood Gordon Cole. He was wearing a pair of slacks and a button-up shirt. No tie or jacket, though. She was glad to see that and was relieved she hadn't goofed by wearing a dress.
"Hello," he said, walking toward her. "You look lovely."
"Hi. Thanks, you look nice, too," she said, glancing at his offered hand. She took it and he helped her off the stool. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He turned his attention to Norma behind the counter. "It's nice to see you again, Norma. I wish I could stay for pie," he said loudly.
"It's okay, Agent Cole. Maybe next time."
"You can count on it," he shouted. "Are you ready then?" he asked Shelly, his voice once again normal.
"Shelly?" Norma said.
"What should I tell Bobby if he comes looking for you?"
There was one advantage to Gordon not hearing anyone but her so well.
"Tell him you haven't seen me and don't know where I am."
"All right," Norma said with a smile. "Have fun."
"The fellow who wasn't happy to see us kissing?" Gordon asked.
"Well, I'd say I'm sorry, but I don't feel too badly."
"I couldn't tell," she said, laughing a little.
The drive to Seattle was a little odd. They were virtually strangers. They made small talk. The subject of Leo was brought up once when he'd asked how the funeral had gone. Did those things ever go well? He seemed to enjoy listening to her talk.
She enjoyed the exhibit. Having never been to a museum before she dragged Gordon through more than just the exhibit they came to see. There were paintings, furniture, and all sorts of historical stuff for her to see. He hadn't complained. In fact, he'd seemed to enjoy her enthusiasm.
They had a painting by Monet on loan she'd seen in a text book in high school. She remembered it only because she had really liked the painting. To see it in person was very cool.
They had lunch in the museum restaurant. The menu wasn't very extensive, but it had some very interesting options. There wasn't anything Gordon would find at the Double R on there. Their waiter seemed to find it odd she ordered for Gordon rather than the other way around. She didn't mind, though, and he had seemed to notice the double hearing aids eventually.
Now finished and waiting for the waiter to bring back the check for Gordon to sign, Shelly had time to look around the restaurant. There weren't many people here. It was later than a normal lunch hour and too early for dinner, things she took note of because of her work at the diner. It didn't take her long to feel like she was outclassed by everyone here, including Gordon.
She fidgeted with her hair, which she'd carefully styled in a braid that morning. It wasn't very tight anymore and probably looked messy by now. It seemed frumpy and childish, especially seeing a woman with a neat French braid in her hair. That the woman in question was also put together perfectly otherwise didn't go unnoticed by Shelly either.
"What's wrong, Shelly?"
"Nothing," she said, fidgeting with the stem of her water glass. "It's just that I've never been to anyplace like this. Fancy with people who are that way, too."
He slid a hand to hers, touching the tips of her fingers. She let go of the glass, letting him take her hand. "Museums are open to anyone, Shelly. They'd serve us even if we were in jeans or shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. And I think you look very nice."
"I do not. I look like exactly what I am. A poor woman from a little town."
"There's nothing wrong with small towns." He laced his fingers through hers, tightening his grip a little. "And there's nothing wrong with you."
She scoffed at that.
"You don't even know me." She glanced at their hands. "I'm so messed up, Gordon."
"I don't have to know you. And I understand your life is a bit of a mess right now. I also know Coop wouldn't have given you my number if he thought you were someone I should stay away from."
Her eyes shot up to meet his at that. "I didn't tell you…"
"You didn't have to. How else would you have come by my direct number?"
She blushed then, glancing back to their hands.
"Do you love him?"
"The guy from the diner."
"I think - thought - I did. Now I'm not so sure or if it was just the idea that it wasn't Leo. The more time we spend together regularly without having to hide I'm not so sure. And I don't know what he feels either. I'm convenient," she shrugged, embarrassed to say that aloud. "At first he seemed to be all about us. It felt like we really were in things together. I think that he's in it for himself and if someone like that woman over there gave him the time of day he'd drop me for the chance to get something from her."
"This isn't convenient for me."
"I know that," she said, lifting her eyes a little to look at him. "And that makes me wonder about you. You're a handsome man, smart with a good job. A career even. I have a job. So, why me? And why aren't you married?"
"You don't get to my position without working long hours, seven days a week when necessary. So, I had no time for a family. And I don't know why you. Coop might have some insight into that, he's more in tune to things like that."
"And if you couldn't hear me?"
"Being able to hear you only pointed my heart in the direction of realizing you were special."
"You really believe that?"
"I do. For all I know, I could go back to not being able to hear you at anytime. It was just a tool to get me here with you."
She smiled with a soft laugh, flattered. "I'm glad I came."
"So, I have to ask."
"What is it you want from me?"
"You sound so suspicious," he said, apparently recognizing the disbelieving tone in her voice.
"I am. Leo wanted a maid. Bobby wants a meal ticket."
"I could take you home today and you might decide never to see me again. If that's the case then so be it," he said, sitting back when the waiter brought the check and Gordon's credit card back.
"And you'd be okay with that?"
"Okay? I don't know about okay, but if that's what you decide I have no power to persuade you otherwise. I'm hoping my charming personality will do the trick today."
She laughed softly, sliding her napkin from her lap.
"We wouldn't see one another very often," she said.
"I'd thought of that, too. And realized that might hold appeal to you."
"You're right," she said then. "It does. I've never been on my own."
"Will you be safe?"
"Your husband is gone, but it's so recent you might not fully realize that yet and the other one…"
"Bobby. How would he react?"
She took a sip of water, thinking over her answer. Was this what she wanted? She had no idea how Bobby would react. He'd be mad, probably good and mad.
"I don't know," she said finally.
"If you need protection…"
"No, nothing like that. It's just, I live out in the middle of nowhere."
"Do you own the place?"
"Leo did." She thought on that for a minute. "I guess that means I do now. Unless of course he's in debt up to his eyeballs or left it to someone else out of spite."
"Have you thought about college?"
"I'd have to finish high school to do that."
"You could get your GED."
"It's too expensive and Twin Peaks is my home."
"No, it's not Shelly. Home should make you happy."
She sighed softly. "I don't know where I'd go."
"See a lawyer."
"I don't have that kind of money. If I did, I could have divorced Leo. Waitresses at the Double R aren't exactly rolling in tips."
"I'll pay for it."
"No, I couldn’t let you do that."
"You aren't letting me do anything. Allow me to for the simple fact you need to know exactly where things stand. Make sure Leo's will is in order if nothing else, and that you're protected. That your young friend doesn't take advantage of any sudden windfall you might come by. Even if it's just a piece of property." He squeezed her hand. "Someone needs to look out for Shelly Johnson for a change."
He apparently had Bobby pegged pretty well. Because she had thought of that, too. That finding out she owned the house, especially if it was free and clear, that Bobby would take that as a sign that she wanted him there full-time. She wondered what exactly Agent Cooper had told him about her life and her situation. Or maybe Bobby just came across that way.
"And you'd still expect nothing out of me?"
He chuckled, standing from his chair before moving to get hers. "I don’t know what kind of man you take me for, Shelly. If that was my intention I would have brought you to my house instead of coming here."
"I've offended you. I didn't mean to."
"No, not really."
"Think about it."
"All right," she said softly.
She took his offered hand as they left the restaurant and then the museum altogether. It was a nice day. One she should have felt bad for spending almost entirely inside a car or indoors at a museum. Spring was definitely in the air.
"Where to now, Shelly Johnson?"
She turned to look at him as they stood on the sidewalk outside the museum. "What did you have in mind?" she asked, having no idea what to suggest. "I can't remember the last time I was in Seattle. Maybe with my mom, but it was years ago."
"I just know that I'm not ready to take you home."
"Funny, because I'm not ready to go home." She stepped closer to him. She'd probably regret this later, but she didn't care at the moment. She released his hand, sliding her arms around his neck so she could kiss him. She surprised him, but he kissed her back at least. It wasn't like some of the kisses she'd shared with Bobby. Wet, sloppy, intense, urgent. Kisses that led to more. It wasn't just a simple kiss like the ones at the diner had been either.
"You could show me your house," she whispered, placing a kiss against his ear.
"Shelly," he whispered in return.
"I'm not ready for anything. I mean, you seem to understand my life is a mess. And I'm not going to make things more complicated right now."
"But I'd like to see where you live. And maybe do that some more when we're not being watched by people I know or random strangers on the street."
"You want to kiss me?"
She frowned. "Is that so strange?"
"I am aware there's an age difference."
"Does that seem like it bothers me?"
"No, I guess it doesn't."
"Well, then, take me home, Agent Cole," she said, lowering one of her hands to flick a button on his shirt.
She wasn't sure what to do now that she was there. It was a nice house, certainly the furniture and things were nicer than anything she and Leo ever could afford. Leo had made decent money, but he'd been pretty miserly when it came to her. He kept her on a tight budget to go with the tight leash. He allowed her to spend a hundred dollars at the store when shopping for groceries. No more. If she went over that amount, she had to put things back. She'd learned, eventually, to get pretty close to the penny while shopping.
It didn't look very lived in, though. And it seemed too big for just him. She wondered if he'd intended on being married and raising a family when he bought it.
"You look sad, Shelly. If you don't want to be here I will take you back to Twin Peaks."
"No, that's not it. I was just thinking about Leo. Sorry."
"Perhaps I should be apologizing if I've done something to remind you of him."
"No, just comparing your house to mine and it got me thinking."
"Well, there's no reason to dwell on bad things now, Shelly."
"How do you know it was bad?"
"Coop mentioned it."
"Oh," she said softly.
"I asked about you, he told me what he knew. He wasn't volunteering information randomly. I assure you."
"That's fine. As long as there's not a file on me somewhere in the FBI archives."
"No, nothing like that. Would you like something to drink?"
"No, I'm fine."
"A glass of wine might do you good."
"Trying to get me drunk?"
He gave a slight smile. "No, Shelly, I'm not in the habit of plying my dates with liquor. I just wish there was something I could do for you."
"It's just hard, you know? I mean, he's gone. For good. I should be relieved, and I am. It's just there's a void there. A part of me that wonders what I'm going to do now."
He stepped toward her, holding his arms out and she stepped into them. It was easy to do for some reason. He wasn't expecting sex from her. He was just trying to be nice. And she appreciated that.
"I'm fine. And maybe a glass of wine would be nice after all," she whispered.
"All right," he said. "I'll get us some then."
"You do know I'm not twenty-one?"
"I won't tell if you don't."
"I didn't think FBI agents broke the law."
"We're not having a party, I'm not going to let you get drunk and drive home. It's a glass of wine. I'll be right back."
He went to the kitchen and she took a seat on his couch feeling a little nervous. It was strange being here. Neither seemed to know what to say. At the museum, it was easy because there was a painting, sculpture, or piece of furniture to talk about. It wasn't so easy here, especially since it was implied she'd come back here for more than talking. Not a lot more than talking and she was grateful he seemed to understand that. He was older, as he'd pointed out. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities for him to take her inviting herself back here to mean he was getting a sure thing tonight.
Add to that nobody even knew where she was. Well, it all made her more than slightly nervous.
She wasn't certain why she trusted him. Norma would probably tell her that it was because he was an FBI agent. She knew that didn't mean someone was safe. There were police officers and people like them who committed the same types of crimes Leo had. Some even worse, thinking because they were the law they could get away with murder.
She was just grateful she'd never had a child with Leo. She'd thought once not too long ago that her birth control pills had failed her. She had to sneak them, keeping the actual case at the Double R because Leo wouldn't allow her to take them. At first, she was okay with the idea of a child, but once the abuse started not too long after they were married because she'd scorched one of his shirts with the iron accidentally she knew there was no way she was bringing a child into that house. If she was off for a day or two, she'd take home the pills loose in her purse. It had turned out to be a false alarm and she'd never been more relieved about anything in her life.
It was getting late. They still had time before dark, but dusk was closing in on them. If she was smart - and considerate - she'd let him take her home now so he didn't have to drive on the rural roads and highway late at night. Apparently, she was neither because when he came back with two glasses of wine, she moved over so he could sit next to her instead of choosing a nearby chair.
"Thank you," she said.
"To new beginnings," he said, holding his glass up to hers.
"I like that."
"That's what you have before you now, Shelly. The sky's the limit."
"I think it will take a while for me to get used to that idea."
"I hope you'll think about college or at least getting out of Twin Peaks."
"To come to Seattle you mean?"
"I won't deny that idea appeals to me, but that wasn't foremost in mind when I mentioned it initially. You're so young yet, you can do anything. Don't let a stagnant and painful few years of your life control your destiny."
He slid an arm along the back of the couch, around her shoulders and drew her to him. Not for a kiss like she'd expected but merely letting her settle against him. She had never done this, sit and what she imagined was cuddle with someone. Just be. It was, God help her, nice.
"Do you decorate for Christmas?" she asked, taking a sip of the wine.
"I'm sorry," he asked.
"I was just noticing how much room you have. It'd be fun to decorate it at Christmastime. A huge tree right there," she said, pointing to an empty corner of the room that offered a lot of room.
"Should I be worried you're plotting holiday decorations on our first date?"
"No, because I asked if you decorated."
"I decorate some, but being it's just me I don't go to great lengths. An artificial tree."
"I know, sacrilege that it is, yes, an artificial tree. No lights outdoors or anything."
"Hmm," she said softly, thinking on that.
"Yes, it was my effort at trying to be normal. I put all my energy into it sometimes."
"You aren't one of those people whose electric bills go up by hundreds of dollars each December?"
She laughed. "No, I wasn’t that bad. Leo wouldn't let me do anything that extreme anyway. Not all decorations are lighted."
"I suppose not. Did you enjoy Christmas as a child?"
"Yes, it was one of my favorite times of year."
"Can you remember back that far?"
"Barely," he said.
"You really think it's possible?"
"For me to do something? Make something of myself? Be more than a diner waitress?"
She'd need to find where things stood, though, with Leo's things. The house, the truck, and all of that. She and Bobby had talked about selling the truck, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Just in case he ever got better. She hadn't wanted to give him any excuse to need to stay at home!
And really, he was kind of right. The sky was the limit now. She didn't have to stay in Twin Peaks. College. It was something she'd never allowed herself to think about. Leo would have freaked if she'd mentioned it.
She'd never thought about her having potential. She set her glass down and turned to face him.
"Thank you," she whispered.
She smiled. "Today. It was nice. For making me think that I might be able to do something with my life. For offering to help me with a lawyer because you're right I can't afford one and I really should have one."
She reached in and kissed him, hoping he wouldn't mind her being assertive. Not that he seemed to mind outside the museum, but that was a little different.
She'd never just sat and kissed someone before. Always there was the underlying expectation of more. That wasn't there this time. Not that she wasn't attracted to him or didn't enjoy touching him as they kissed. She just knew he wasn't expecting to get laid from the evening.
Eventually, one glass of wine turned into two for each of them as they sat on the couch, kissed, and made small talk about nothing in particular. Life and little things that probably didn't mean much to him but to Shelly meant a lot.
The next thing she knew there was a phone ringing nearby, which was odd because she didn't have a phone by her bed. She realized immediately she wasn't at home and then soon after that she was no longer on Gordon's couch. Her eyes flew open in confusion. She was lying down! On a bed. Oh God, what had she done? Except, she was fully dressed except for her shoes. Even her hair was still in the braid, which was unlike her.
"Hello?" she heard Gordon say at his normal level.
"Yes, Coop, she's here," Gordon said into the phone from next to her. She hesitated to look at him, afraid she was the only one who had remained fully clothed. She knew it was more than possible for her to remain clothed and still do something she shouldn't have.
"She's fine. The night turned late and she fell asleep on the couch. That's all."
How'd she get here then? She drew the covers back, getting his attention apparently.
"Oh good, you're awake. Coop and Norma would like to be sure you're all right."
"All right. How did I get here?"
"I carried you."
"To your bed!"
"I don't have a guest room made up and I can tell you from personal experience the couch isn't a very comfortable one to sleep on."
"Oh," she said, taking the phone from him and sitting up in the bed. "Hello?"
'Shelly, you're all right?' Norma asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. It just got late."
'All right, I was just making sure. Bobby came in looking for you not long ago. I told him I didn't know where you were.'
'Are you coming home soon?'
"I imagine so."
'All right. See you soon.'
"Thanks, Norma, and sorry I missed my shift."
'It's all right. Did you have a nice time?'
"Yes, it was."
'Good.' She could almost see Norma's smile through the phone. 'Then I forgive your missing a shift. You deserve a nice day.'
"Thank you, Norma," she said, handing the phone back to Gordon. "She was worried."
"Understandably. If I'd had her number I would have called myself. I didn't think to call Coop, that's my fault."
He hung up the phone and then looked at her again. "Should I have woken you?"
"Was I sleeping that soundly?"
"Yes, I guess we shouldn't have had that second glass of wine."
"I'm not used to drinking." She said, letting her braid out and working at redoing it.
"You should have told me."
"I didn't think wine would affect me like that. I mean, it's wine."
He gave her a smile. "I think a lot of people think that, but if you're not used to drinking it will go to your head."
"How about some breakfast before I get you back?"
"Sure," she said, sliding out of bed, looping the ponytail holder around the base of the braid.
"Where are you going?"
"You said you wanted breakfast," she said, confused.
"I was asking if you wanted something, not expecting you to make it for me."
"Oh. You mean, you want to make it?"
He sat up then, taking her hand in his and tugging her to him. She slid onto his lap, heaven help her if that wasn't what he had in mind but she couldn't imagine where else he pictured her ending up. "He really did a number on you, didn't he?"
"I'm not your husband, Shelly." She held her breath for a moment as he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her. They hadn't gotten beyond basic kissing last night. She was almost afraid he'd think she was a tease or something. This was nothing like that. It wasn't the wet and sloppy kind. It spoke of experience and kindness and desire and need and, God help her, an opportunity for something good. She wanted that and she kissed him back, arms going around his neck to bring herself deeper into the kiss, matching his enthusiasm.
His fingers caressed her spine, never going lower than that. Her mind was screaming for him to touch her. She wanted it so badly, but knew in her heart doing anything beyond kissing was the wrong way to start things off between them.
He broke the kiss, eyes still closed as if he was storing the memory of their kiss away for later. Her breath was uneven and she swore she felt some evidence that he wasn't unaffected by the kiss either where their bodies were joined by her being on his lap.
"You're a guest in my home. I wouldn't think to ask you to make breakfast for me," he said, drawing away.
"I just assumed…"
He kissed her again, even deeper this time and she gave a soft groan at the promise held there. She had no doubt he'd be good to her, gentle and kind, ensuring her pleasure before his own. That was something she read about in the romance books she stashed away in the house but knew little about first hand.
He drew away, almost as if sensing where her thoughts were taking her. He slid a hand along her cheek and chin.
"Never assume I want you to do something for me."
"All right," she whispered.
"Yeah, sounds great."
He glanced behind him to the bed. "I'm not sure it sounds great right about now, but it's certainly the safer option."
"Yes, it is," she agreed, sliding off his lap then.
"You are safe, Shelly."
"I believe you here," she said, placing her hand over her heart. "It's here," she said, tapping her fingertip against her head, "that needs to catch up."
Breakfast turned into lunch, turned into an early dinner, which meant it was almost midnight when she got back to Twin Peaks. She worried at first about overstaying her welcome, but he didn't seem any more anxious to bring her home than she did to leave. So, she'd stayed when he'd mentioned a baseball game being on.
She couldn't remember the last time she'd had a more enjoyable, stress-free two days in her life. No Leo hovering over her, looming large. No Bobby expecting something out of her she couldn't deliver on. No job to come home with a stained uniform from.
"I don't like dropping you off in the middle of the night like this," he said, kissing her before she could move away from him.
"Between Audrey and Agent Cooper I'll get home all right."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm not ready to explain to Bobby where I was."
"But you will tell him?"
"Yes, I will."
She watched as he looked away, seeing his eyes close before he did though.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Something's wrong. I don't need to know you real well to know that."
"It's really not something I have any business asking."
"Ask it anyway, let me decide if it is or not."
"You're not going to sleep with him, are you?"
"What? No! I just I have to sort through it, tell him in a better way than you dropping me off after I've been gone since yesterday. He may not even be at the house for all I know."
"It's just I thought…"
"You're right in thinking that. I cheated on Leo, I won't deny that. I wouldn't blame you if you don't trust me."
"If you tell me you won't, I have to believe you."
She leaned in and kissed him, feeling a little weird making out with him in the parking lot of the Great Northern. "Thank you, that means a lot to me." She drew away then. "Good night, Gordon, thank you for the weekend."
"I'll call you in a couple of days, see how you're doing."
"Okay. Drive safely." She glanced at the hotel. "Unless you want it to be your turn to stay the night unexpectedly."
"With you?" he asked, adjusting his steering wheel so it was high up now.
"The thought crossed my mind. I fell asleep last night because of wine and didn't get to know what it felt like to sleep with someone kind."
"They'd put out an APB on you for sure if you don't show up another night."
"Agent Cooper and Norma know where I am, who I'm with, and that I'm all right."
"I'm not that kind," he said, drawing her to him so she was sitting on his lap.
"You haven't shown me anything to say different."
"You aren't in my mind, Shelly."
"If it's too much for you, I understand."
"It's not that. I just know how you've been treated and I want so badly to show you how it can be. Should be."
"I want that, too, Gordon, I do. Once I've gotten my life organized…" She leaned in and kissed him then, not too surprised when it led to him shifting them so they were lying on his front seat. He wasn't really on top of her, but she could tell the difference in how being in this position affected him. His kiss was different. She allowed her hands to roam, just enough to settle her curiosity about him.
He wasn't muscular like Leo had been from physical labor and didn't have an athlete's build like Bobby. But he wasn't soft or anything either. He worked mostly behind a desk now, but she had no doubt that he'd put in years of field time before getting to that desk.
She let out a startled yelp, almost biting his tongue when someone tapped on the car's window.
"Gordon," she whispered against his ear, when he did not seem to have heard the cause for her surprise. "There's someone knocking on the window."
They weren't really doing anything wrong, both of them were fully clothed and all. Doing it in the parking lot of the hotel probably wasn't the smartest thing. She let out a small groan when she saw it was the Sheriff. Gordon sat up and rolled down his window.
"Sheriff Truman, nice to see you again."
"Sorry, Agent Cole," Sheriff Truman said with a tip of his hat. "I didn't recognize the vehicle. You should probably go on inside, though, if that's your intention. Someone's liable to pass by that's not me."
Shelly wanted to just about die when the sheriff spotted her. He didn't say anything, though, beyond the last statement which seemed to be aimed at her.
"We will, Sheriff, thank you," Gordon said before rolling his window back up.
Gordon on the other hand seemed more amused than embarrassed.
"You find this funny?"
"Well, sure, a little. I can count on one finger how many times a local law enforcement agent has tapped on my window because I was engaged in a public display."
"One finger, huh?"
"Not even as a kid."
"I walked a pretty straight line."
"Hmm," she said.
"I can see the wheels turning in your head, Shelly."
"Just thinking," she said with a smile.
"I look forward to finding out what those thoughts are." He drew her to him again and kissed her. "Some other time, though. I should leave. If the Sheriff saw us who knows who else might."
"Some other time then we'll explore your offer."
"Okay." She hoped by then she'd be living alone so she wouldn't have to worry about it.
He drove her to the entrance where she got out, giving him a wave after she closed the door and went inside the Great Northern. She thought about getting Audrey to take her home, but realized that might not be the smartest thing to do since the other woman saw Bobby at work. So, she went up to Agent Cooper's room. She knew the room number only because after they'd found Leo he'd told her his door was always open to her.
"Shelly," he said, obviously sleepy. "Is everything all right? Did something happen to Gordon?"
"No, everything's fine. I just need a ride home."
"Oh. Well, why don't we do this? You take my car and I'll have Harry take me to your place in the morning to retrieve it."
He shut the door, returning a few minutes later with a set of keys.
"Are you going to be all right?"
"You're just getting home now?"
"Bobby's probably frantic."
"I know. I'll be fine, Agent Cooper."
"You sure? If you want me to call Harry and have him take you home I can."
"No, really. Bobby would never…"
"If you say so. Good night then, Shelly. Drive safely."
"I will," she said.
Now she just had to figure out what to do. She didn't want to jump into another relationship, she knew that much. First she needed to get a lawyer like Gordon had suggested and find out where things stood. If the house was hers, maybe getting her GED and then college was an option. Telling Bobby was going to be the hard part. She loved him in a way. She just knew that it wasn't enough. And he didn't love her in the right way. If he even loved her at all.
She did know that spending the time she had with Gordon had been very revealing in addition to relaxing and even fun. She'd grown accustomed to the cards life had dealt her and really hadn't seen a way out. Leo would have found her no matter where she went. She believed that with every fiber of her being. So, she'd stayed, hoping to placate him and not screw up enough that he'd at least stop hurting her.
She didn't have to live like that. She could expect someone to be nice to her, even to cook breakfast for her once in a while instead of the other way around. Maybe Gordon wasn't it. She wasn't going to jump into the deep end with him. But she felt confident that spending time with him was better for her in the long run because he made her feel better about herself. Think good things about what she could do and be.
She got back to her place, not even remembering the drive there. That was not a good way to be careful with someone else's car. She let out a sigh of relief when she saw Bobby's car wasn't there. That meant he probably wasn't there.
She found the note on the front door. She recognized Bobby's messy handwriting immediately.
If you don't want me around all you have to do is tell me. Staying out all night had me worried. I just hope you're all right. Let me know when you get this so I know at least that much. I've cleared out my stuff. You haven't asked, but I think your not coming home and not calling was request enough I do it. If it's another guy, I hope he's worth it.
She felt tears stinging her eyes as she crumpled up the note, locking the door behind her. The plastic that had been torn during Leo's most recent attack had been fixed so the house was warm again. She slid to the floor with her back against the wall. She hadn't meant to hurt him. She hadn't even meant to stay out all night. Today was a different story, she knew what she was doing by staying in Seattle with him.
Somehow, though, she knew that this wasn't going to be the last she heard from or saw Bobby Briggs. It just wasn't in him to let go that easily, especially when she was the one doing the pulling away. But that was all right, she'd be ready for him. Ready to be strong because she really, really did want to be her own person for a change.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com