Hi, my name is… Alexis Davis, but you can call me Alex.
I can’t lie about my age… I’m 28 if you must know.
Looks aren’t everything… I really don't care what you think of the way I dress or do my hair. I wasn't born to be your model. I spend most of my days in a t-shirt, jeans, and trusty work boots, but I can dress up when the mood strikes. My bright red hair is usually mussed whether it's up or down. Sometimes I wear makeup, but only when I feel like it. My glasses aren't just for looks, I have truly horrible vision.
My best friend knows me best but here goes… I'm a self-assured independent woman. I follow my heart and whims as I may, and I live my life to the fullest with no apologies. In high school, I definitely would have been labeled a tomboy, but I don't really care much for labels. Because I can come off a bit strongly, it's sometimes hard for me to make friends but I generally mean well.
These are some of my favorite things…
I'm not a girly girl, I like getting my hands dirty.
Most of my time is spent in the great outdoors.
My radio is permanently tuned to 80s/90s country.
I know I should quit but I can't live without my cigarettes.
I love the burn of a good whisky.
I really don’t like these things much…
Bras are the bane of my existence.
I trust my old jeep more than I trust most men.
Mornings without coffee, I need my pick-me-up.
People telling me what to do should mind their own business.
Pickles are literally the grossest thing on the planet.
Here's my life story...X
Here's my life story… My father, James, was a banker. My mother, Sarah, was a country gal. They met at an auction, and the rest was history. On their wedding night, my father surprised my mother with a special gift—a beautiful ranch house. One year later, my older brother, Eric, was born. I came into the world two years later. We both grew up helping my mother on the ranch since my dad usually worked long days at the office.
As soon as I was old enough, I was tottering around the barn, following my brother around the pastures, and generally making a pain of myself. Once I was old enough, I was given free rein of our 20 acres of land, and in addition to my chores and homeschooling, I spent my days jumping creeks and climbing trees, hunting bugs, and adopting hurt critters. I was very happy with this arrangement until my mother decided I was getting into too much trouble at home and sent me to the local public school.
I had a hard time integrating myself with my classmates at first. I was too much of a tomboy to fit in with the girls and too confident in myself for the likes of the boys. It was fate when I finally made my first friend. I had mostly given up on my school days until I was partnered with Cora for a group project. We quickly hit it off after that. Our brothers even ended up being friends after both making the football team.
That Christmas, I was given a very special gift—my first camera. I instantly fell in love with my new hobby and started carrying my camera around with me everywhere, documenting birds, bugs, landscapes, my new friend, my brother’s football games, and even a couple of school functions. My talents were noticed by the teachers, and I was even invited to join the yearbook club as their lead photographer.
My days were pretty carefree until Charlie’s death. Cora’s family pretty much fell apart after that. I did my best to support her in her grief, and after that, we were pretty much inseparable until she started dating Adrian. I never liked him from the start. I guess I just have a feeling about these things. Still, I wanted Cora to be happy after all the sadness she’d been through, so I did my best to keep my opinions to myself, though I was devastated when I found out that we wouldn’t be going to the same college as we had planned.
We did our best to stay in touch when I left for art school, but after her wedding, our communications were pretty sparse. I figured she was busy with her new husband, and I was pretty busy myself with my own studies. Eric ended up dropping out of school and returning home. College wasn’t really his thing, and he took back up with the ranch. I returned there myself after graduation and spent my days between ranch work, freelance photography, and my own projects. My father took an early retirement a year later once my parents saw we had things in hand, and they moved down south for warmer weather.
I was pretty surprised when Cora called me after so long out of the blue, but I didn’t hesitate a moment once she explained what was going on. Eric would be fine handling the ranch on his own, and I packed an overnight bag and jumped in my jeep to meet her.
Last edited by zigbigadorlube; 01-16-2023 at 11:12 PM..
I’ve always been known as ...Cora, or Cor to my best friend; my birth name is Corinne Taylor Hanson, though. It is pronounced ‘kor-een’. My parents always called me Corinne but Charlie had trouble saying it when we were little, so they let him call me Cora and it eventually stuck even though my parents hated people calling me that (especially the even shorter version).
Mother fibs about her age ... but I don’t; I’m 27. Maybe when I’m older I’ll shave a few years off, just like she does.
Looks have always been important to me … and they likely always will.. I was always told to dress professional and modest, and to never leave the house as an adult without makeup on or my hair done. I’ve got waist length straight strawberry blond hair, though it’s rarely let down. When I’m at work my hair is up in a tight bun at the back of my head, or maybe decorated with a few braids throughout with a skirt or slacks and a button up blouse. On weekends in public I’ll grace a ponytail, or a loose braid, and wear a pullover shirt with looser fitting slacks. My husband always has complimented my eyes; he says they are the color of fawn fur. He was is such a romantic.
Nobody knows me like she does … not even my husband, but he’s a close second. I’ve always been a sheltered child, and wholly dependent on my parents. They taught me everything I should abide by. People in school thought I was standoffish and ignorant, and they were right then. Alexis got me to open up and talk to other people, but no one compared to her. I know I’m rather meek-mannered, shy especially in strange situations, and definitely still unaware of ‘the real world’. There really is a whole different world out there than in the suburbs being a wife and potential mother: I hope I get to experience it one day.
I’ve always been fond of …
Rom-Com’s! I’ve always wanted a perfect family with a loving husband, beautiful children, big house with a white picket fence, and humor among us all. I don’t remember my parents laughing much at all.
Deep fried food! My parents the help always made healthy meals and stressed eating properly. I do eat well most of the time, but there’s nothing better than a big greasy cheeseburger and hot salty fries. I always got a laugh at Alexis putting up her nose when I wanted extra pickles.
Gardening! Typically we weren’t allowed to get dirty but Mother and I had many good times tending to the dozens of flower beds surrounding the property. She wouldn’t let anyone else touch them. I know it was her way of making herself busy to the public, but I still enjoyed running back and forth with the watering can as she diligently plucked weeds and trimmed rose thorns.
I absolutely can’t stand …
Vodka. It’s my mother’s drink of choice. I had a martini with my mother at my wedding: that’s the first and last I’ll ever drink that vile liquid.
Yellow. Normally I'm fond of pastels, and otherwise bright flowery colors. Yellow just seems passive aggressive to me; it's almost gaudy and tacky. I won't wear anything that has yellow on it, even if it's just a little highlight.
Cilantro. It tastes like soap to me. I've heard that: people taste either soap or a type of spice or flavor. To me, it tastes like I ate spaghetti with a shaving of Irish Spring. It's disgusting.
As far as I can recall ... X
My parents were high school sweethearts named Renee and David. A soon as my mother realized she was pregnant at 17 my grandparents pressured him into marrying her. It was what was expected; my folks come from a long running line of WASP’s - men worked, women tended to the family. That’s just how life was. So, Renee was taken home from the private school she attended to give birth to my elder brother, while David dropped out to start working at a metal sheet factory. My brother, Charles, was about two when Mother became pregnant with me, and we did have a lovely beginning. My parents seemed happy, my grandparents adored us, but as I grew a little older I realized something wasn’t right. I was allowed to visit friends, and my brother could too - yet no one was ever allowed to stay the night. I could have sleepovers at someone else’s house, but no matter how much we begged our parents would never let our friends stay over. Eventually we stopped asking because we accepted: that’s just how life was.
As Charlie and I got into our early teens, a pair of siblings joined our school district. My brother immediately took to Eric as a friend and fellow teammate, but it wasn’t until I got paired up with Alexis that we became friends. I had thought she was a little weird, but she sure made me laugh! I enjoyed spending time with her, despite our parents pushing our academics above anything else. If we got less than a 90% on any assignment, we’d be punished. Father was the one to push us; Mother didn’t seem as interested in what we did. Once when Charlie got a low grade for a semester, Father wouldn’t let him play football even though the coach said he could. I remember sitting outside in the hall as Father argued with the coach for a few minutes, and when they both emerged not a word was said. Father just looked down at Charlie for a moment, and the coach didn’t even meet my brother’s eyes. I saw the disappointment on his face, though. Charlie never let his grade go down again. I tried to ask Mother why Father wouldn’t let him play, but she simply shrugged her shoulders while drinking yet another martini.
Everything changed the following year.
Charlie just started high school; we were both doing very well with our studies and the extra-curricular activities our parents approved of. He played sports, and I played music. Mother convinced Father a few years previously to let me learn the violin, and piano. Charlie had been at a friend’s house after school; they were heading to practice when another driver ran a red light and crashed into them. My brother’s friend and his mom survived ... But Charlie did not.
Mother lost it, and so did Father. I was barely 12 at the time, but I knew nothing would be the same again. Alexis really stepped up after his funeral; we’d always been friends in school but started hanging out much more often. She meant everything to me at the time. I knew I’d never find such a strong person again in my life. From helping me overcome my shyness, to teaching me how to be more courageous and brave, she absolutely guided me through the grief and awkward stages of being a teenager. I had never thought before his death that we’d become so close. Then, in our final year of school, I started dating a classmate named Adrian.. Alexis didn’t seem particularly fond of him, but was always there to give me advice nonetheless - even after I admitted that him and I were going to college together, and not the one she was going to. We promised to always remain friends, and we always did. Still, as life goes, we did drift apart.
Once my parents found out that Adrian and I planned to move in together rather than in separate dorms, they insisted on having ‘the talk’ with him. To my surprise, they gave us permission but only if we got married first. We’d only been dating for a couple years but still: that’s the way it was. My parents did not want us to go through what they did. It was a humongous glorious ceremony; I’d say at least a hundred people were there. Oddly enough, there was only two people I wanted to see. My husband, of course, and my best friend. I needed her there as a weird half-goodbye, type of thing. Forever we’d be close, but I wanted her smile to let me know it was okay to go off and start a family, to acknowledge it was painful that we’d see even less of each other. We went from talking every day to once or twice a week ... then less than that. That’s the way Life is, though. That’s what my mother insisted. Time to be a wife, soon a mother; no longer a ‘wild child’ (as if I ever was) but I knew better than to question my parents Life.
We promised to finish our educations before trying for children; I earned degrees in teaching music to children, while Adrian passed the BAR exam to become a lawyer at his father’s firm. He made plenty of money so I only worked part time as a substitute teacher while tending to the house as well. We did try for a child several times but nothing has come of it yet. We’ve both been tested; we are able to conceive but I’m not sure why our first hasn’t come yet. Both of our parents have continually asked why but there is no answer yet. He’s taken up my mother’s habit; I have little interest in it and I argue with him about it. Last week he raised his hand to me ... So I called the only other person I could trust.
"Forever and always, I will protect you from harm."
"Oh stop it, I didn't even hurt you."
"I vow to never lie to my wife."
"You're lying to me; I know you are."
"For all our lives, my heart will be your home."
"If you leave, don't bother coming back."
Cora jerked in her chair, startled by the sudden voice nearby that broke her semi-conscious loss of reality. The elderly waitress took a hesitant step back, though firmly held onto the steaming teapot without spilling a drop. After a few slow blinks to recall where she was, Cora smiled sweetly up at the woman. "Oh, sorry, Molly, I was out to sea for a moment there." The white haired woman returned the affectionate expression before slightly lifting the kettle. "Would you like another cup of tea?" she asked, though her face held an inquisitive gaze down at the younger female. Cora noticed it - she knew exactly what that look held, and what question was being posed, and it wasn't just about the tea. Molly had withheld the last part of her question: another cup...while you wait for Adrian? Little did the waitress know, Cora's husband was not the one she was waiting for.
"Yes, please, thank you," Cora responded nonetheless. As Molly poured the hot water, Cora reached toward the center of the table for the teabags. As always, she selected the mint Earl Grey along with a packet of Splenda. She could tell Molly was lingering curiously given how slowly she poured the water, but neither of them said anything. It was no secret that Cora and her husband had been fighting but both had the decorum not to directly address it. It was not a secret only because Cora's mother had told her country club friends, of which told their husbands, and those men told their friends in their cigar rooms, and the help enjoyed gossiping about how no matter how wealthy a person could be their lives were not as perfect as they pretended it was. While most did feel a certain degree of sympathy for Cora as she was still young and had not yet become the self-centered indulgent woman her mother had become, they knew it was only a matter of time before Cora started wearing thick dark sunglasses and heavier foundation to mask the marks of physical abuse.
As she stirred the sugar into the tea with a silver spoon, Cora felt a flutter in her chest, like her heart skipped a beat. Looking up and across the parlor of the restaurant, she noticed a familiar couple in a corner. They were leaning close to each other across the table, whispering. The female covered her giggle politely with her hand, while the male leaned back with a smarmy grin. Cora frowned when the female glanced over, and their gazes caught. The other woman gave a quick wave along with a superficial smile; Cora forced the mutual feigned recognition of each other. She knew exactly what they were laughing about, and couldn't stomach to handle another moment of it. Swiftly she stood without taking a sip from her tea, then placed a bill far over the cost of her tea on the table. Molly, at the counter, sighed sadly as Cora left without a word to the couple, or even to say goodbye. This caused the couple to laugh louder once Cora was gone into the streets of the city.
The first action Cora took was to whip out her compact mirror from the purse slung over her shoulder for a quick check to make sure she was presentable. Of course, she was, but not as much as she'd like to be. Ordinarily she'd have braided her hair or done some fancy up-do, but there wasn't any time to change from her household wear as Adrian demanded she leave their house. At least she had managed to hold in the tears so her eyeliner and mascara wouldn't run. They'd been in the middle of getting ready for a dinner date before the fight, so her hip-hugging eggshell white dress with oak and mocha embroidery was far too formal to be walking around in, though her hair up in just a ponytail was a stark contrast. Cream heels clicked quietly on the pavement as she made her way downtown of the tea shop, while returning her mirror to instead retrieve her cell phone. Before she could contact who she intended, Cora noticed a notification from her husband.
Adrian: I'm sorry, honey, I didn't mean it. Where are you?
All she could manage was to roll her eyes before swiping away the message. Instead, she pulled up a different number and proceeded to write them rather than her husband.
Cor: Alex, if you're close, I'll be at Stark's Pub in ten minutes. It's on Fifth and Edgerton. The brick building.
It was just a bus ride's away, but Cora knew there wouldn't be anyone she knew there (and no one who would know her). Pubs weren't a place people like her went. She knew she would stand out, and that it'd be very uncomfortable to sit there alone with strangers. Yet, she knew, as soon as her best friend arrived all that tension would be gone. Cora didn't know what she was going to do when Alexis did show up, whether she would take up the offer to go with her or try calling Adrian and work things out. All she knew was the first sentence she'd said to that very friend in weeks.
Alex sighed and wiped her forearm across her brown, smudging bits of hay and dust through the sweat that gathered there. Mucking out the stables was one hundred percent her least favorite chore on the ranch and usually it was Eric’s job but she had lost a bet at the pub last night and well, here she was, pitchfork in hand, scooping shitty hay out of their old horse Nelson’s stall. Nelson gave her a look that said “get on with it already” and Alex rolled her eyes. ”Fine, you impatient beast…” Wielding the pitchfork, she had another mound of ick lifted halfway to the wheelbarrow when her phone dinged loudly, echoing off the rafters. ”Oh for the love of…” she grumbled, hastily depositing her load and setting down her instrument.
Rubbing her dirty hands down the sides of her jeans, Alex fished her phone out of her back pocket and swiped up on the cracked screen. Her heart gave an involuntary jolt when she saw “Cor” pop up on her screen. Just a few simple words said it all. Despite the years between them, Alex knew her friend. This simple plea for help was not to be taken lightly. Despite the message sinking to her gut, she tapped out a lighthearted reply.
Alex: What's up?
Alex watched the three little dots blipping up and down for what felt like forever and then swore when she read the reply. "I'm going to kill that f-ing bastard..." She said hotly. Nelson swished his tail at her tone but she ignored him and stepped out of the stall. Tossing the pitchfork on top of the poo-filled wheelbarrow, she shouted to Eric, "You're going to have to finish up here, I've got somewhere I've got to be."
Before Eric even had time to reply, Alex was out of the barn and stomping up the steps of the porch. Kicking off her dirty boots, she took the stairs two at a time up to her bedroom. Fishing in the closet she pulled out a duffle bag and started tossing random items of clothing into the bag before heading to the bathroom where she swiped the contents on the counter into the opening. She was in the kitchen downstairs shoving bottles of water and various snack items into a plastic bag when Eric walked in.
"What the hell Alex?" he asked, taking in the scene before him.
"Sorry, I'll clear out the stalls next week."
Eric shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, okay, whatever." he said, eyeing the duffle, "But where are you going? When can I expect you back?" he asked, big brother instincts kicking in.
Alex sighed, "I just got a message from Cor. There's a situation and I told her I'd meet her. I'm not sure when I'll be back. Could be a couple days." She could tell from her brother's expression that he was just as surprised as her and wanted to know more but had the sense not to pry. "I'll text you when I know more," she added, hoisting the duffle onto her shoulder. She grabbed her purse from the kitchen table and shoved her feet into a pair of Doc Martens before heading for the door.
Tossing her duffle into the back seat of her old Jeep and the bag of snacks into the passenger seat, Alex jumped into the driver's side. As she was turning they key in the ignition, Eric appeared at her window.
"Here, you forgot your jacket," he said, handing a beat-up jean jacket through the window. "Don't drive like a maniac and let me know when you're there, okay?" he asked, brows furrowed.
Alex nodded, "Thanks Eric," she said before stepping on the gas.
• • •
Two hours later, Alex was munching on some salted peanuts and guzzling a Gatorade when her phone dinged again. Eyeing the screen she saw it was from Cor and pulled off at the next rest stop. Checking the GPS estimate and new address, Alex typed out a quick reply.
Alex: Be there in 30.
She made a quick dash to the restroom and when she closed the door of the jeep behind her, she sniffed a few times and wrinkled her nose. Maybe she should have at least changed her clothes before hopping running out the door. Oh well...
Thirty seven minutes later, she pulled into a parking spot behind the pub and sighed. She sent Eric a message that simply said "here" before grabbing her fringed leather purse and slamming the door of her jeep behind her. Inside Stark's Pub it was dark and there was a game playing loudly on the TV behind the bar. This definitely wasn't Cor's usual venue but Alex felt at home. It only took her a second to locate her friend. Her white dress and bright hair stuck out like a thumb in this crowd.
Something in Alex's chest tightened. It had been far too long, she could realize that now looking at her friend. Making her way straight to where Cor was seated, Alex beamed, "Hey girl!" she said brightly, despite the circumstances, and jumped into the seat across from her. Normally she would have wrapped her arms around the other woman but after realizing the state of her own clothes in the car earlier and eyeing the pure white dress Cora was wearing, she decided against it.
Those thirty-seven minutes felt like thirty-seven hours to Cora, who impatiently sat with her back to the door tapping the toe of her right heel on the floor beneath her table. Not even two mimosas had calmed her down; the third on the table had thus far been untouched, and wasn't even a mimosa. The worst part of the wait was when a rugged man wearing tattered jeans and a flannel shirt approached, and asked if the seat across was empty. It obviously was, and the meek mannered woman was almost about to be too nice and let him sit. Then, she closed her eyes, and pictured what Alexis would say. Rather, she imagined the various curses and physical hand gestures that would be displayed. Instead of doing either of those, Cora did manage to find some semblance of self-control. "It won't be for long. I'm waiting for someone," she answered with a firmer tone than she would normally use. Surprised he was being dismissed, but still too stubborn to let it go completely, the bearded man shrugged while nodding his head to the bartender nearby. "Well, I'll buy you a drink anyway, and if he doesn't show - whatever kind of jerk that would be - I'll be right over there, okay sweet stuff?"
If not for the last two words, Cora might have given him a thankful smile but the beginning of her pleasant face was quickly changed to an annoyed scowl. She said nothing but did give a quick nod of recognition. Realizing he'd struck out (temporarily, in his mind) the male did walk away, then true to his word, bought Cora a bottle of foreign beer. Not local; he incorrectly guessed that because she was dressed so fancy that she would appreciate a more expensive lager. Cora actually enjoyed local brews, though she didn't drink beer often anyway. Beer was for men; wives held their cocktails and martinis with garnish on the rims quietly giggling about how long Miranda and Roger's lawn had gotten, how Stephanie definitely had gone away to recover from a face lift because no one had seen her in a week, and did anyone hear that Jim got a DUI oh goodness Holly must be devastated I mean we all know he drinks a little too much but ... well, I just knew it wouldn't be long did you see him at their Christmas party ... Speaking of, did you know I'm hosting a -
The door opened, and the spell broke. Cora knew Alex was there far before she even approached. Even with her eyes closed and mind half gone, Cora recognized the somehow pleasant odor of a farm nearing. They hadn't seen each other in a long time but that smell was just so different than the potpourri and flowery scents that lingered in every corner of every room Cora typically went to. Cora opened her eyes in time to see Alex take seat across from her. All it took was the two words of greeting, Alex's infectious grin, and that distinct aroma that let Cora knew she was safe, and she hadn't felt that way in a long time. In an instant, the barriers fell and Cora broke.
"What did I do wrong, Alex?" Cora shrieked suddenly, while placing her elbows on the edge of the table and her face in her hands. "I did everything right. I d-did everything Mother told me to do, what needed to be d-done. I d-did everything, for him!" Cora began to tremble, and despite attempting to hide her face the break in her voice signaled she was breaking one of those things she was told not to do: cry in public, make a scene, embarrass herself. "I played by all the rules! It's not fair!"
"And I know if I'll only be true..."
Cora's cell phone began to ring, her favorite song playing quietly from within her purse. The sudden sound made her jerk in place again, far worse than when Molly had called her name. Shaken once more, and forgetting she'd just broken a staple rule in her life, Cora let her hands fall revealing the beginning of tear stricken cheeks to dig for her phone. She dropped it on the table when she, through blurry eyes, saw her husband's name on the screen.
"...to this glorious quest..."
Unable to think properly, to even know what she was doing, Cora looked to her best friend for guidance. "What do I do now?"
"...that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest..."*
*"The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha by Richard Kiley
Alex’s smile dropped off her face almost immediately as her friend let out something close to a wail and began to cry without so much as a hello. She wasn’t offended, though. Her callused hands, thankfully clean from her brief stop earlier, reached up to wrap around her friend’s upper arms. Alex could feel Cora trembling beneath her and silently rubbed her hands up and down reassuringly as she listened. There were a few choice things she wished she could say to Cora’s mother but she kept that to herself. Alex had never really approved of the marriage and especially not the way Cor’s parents had insisted on things. They’d been so young. How could you even know what you wanted to do with your life at 18, 19, or even 21, let alone fully understand what you were committing to at the altar?
Still, this wasn’t what her friend needed to hear right now. Alex clenched her toes inside of her boots and prepared to answer when Cora’s cell phone started to ring. Adrian’s name scrolled across the screen when Cora deposited it on the sticky tabletop. Alex took one look from her friend’s tear-stained face to the device on the table before reaching out a hand to silence the call. There were plenty of things she’d like to say to that no-good P.O.S. but now wasn’t the time. Turning the phone to silent, Alex shoved it in her pocket and took her friend’s hands in her own.
”Here’s the plan. We’re going to find a hotel for the night. You’re going to change into something comfier than that dress and I’m going to take a shower so I don’t smell like horse sh-t. Then we’re going to order some room service because I’m starving and I bet you could use something to eat. And then we’ll either talk it out, or go to sleep and figure it out in the morning. Up to you.” Alex shrugged at this last bit and leaned back in her chair. ”Are you all ready to go? Do we need to close out your tab?” she asked, eyeing the glasses on the side of the table. She could tell from the shadow through the brown glass that the beer was full but two other glasses had the dregs of something orange at the bottom. Probably not too drunk then. Giving her friend a reassuring smile, Alex waited to see what Cora thought of the plan she had laid out.
Last edited by zigbigadorlube; 01-24-2023 at 01:02 AM..
It wasn't the reassuring, gentle strokes upon her arms or the patient, peaceful silence of Alex that finally calmed the quivering Cora. No, it was how quickly Alex acted upon recognizing the name on the screen. Before she could realize it fully, like magic the song was silenced and the cell vanished. A plan was laid before them, Cora taking in the words slowly as if hearing them through water. Every syllable was spoken like fact, as if there was no question regarding the decision for the evening. Yet it wasn't demanded of her; despite the firm tone Cora sensed the suggestion behind it - confirmed when Alex left the final say to the one seated across, to the one who could reject the plan entirely. It was not often those words, 'up to you', were offered to Cora. "Wouldn't that be nice, honey? Don't you want to come with me? Why don't we go to that party tonight, you'll have fun! All the wives are coming to the firm for Easter, you can see your friends tomorrow, it'll be fine."
Most of her body tension eased away rather quickly; Cora's hands still shook slightly but she gave a soft, thankful squeeze of Alex's hands anyway before releasing herself from the hold. For the first time in weeks, Cora exhaled with a breathy light laugh. "Yes, you're right. You smell about as good as I look," she teased, before delicately using the back of her index knuckle to wipe away the tears that had escaped, but since stopped falling. A quick glance into the full beer bottle revealed she hadn't mussed her makeup too terribly; she could have as easily been tearing up because of laughter versus sadness. She knew Alex's Jeep was just outside anyway. She'd have liked to run into the restroom to tidy up perfectly before leaving, but there was no need for that. She wasn't a pretty little trophy wife right now. She wasn't Corinne Talbert; she was Cor, she was with Alex, and she was safe from prejudice and judgement. As she rose, Cora shook her head just slightly. "I gave them my card when I came in; we should be fine to go." Just to be certain, though, she looked over to the counter where the bartender was wiping a glass 'clean' with what looked like a dingy grey rag. He noticed the women standing - perking a brow at how very differently they were dressed, but said nothing. Instead, he gave a wave with one hand while returning the glass to its proper place with the other.
After slinging her purse over her shoulder, Cora followed Alex to the door with tongue against her teeth, thinking for a moment until they reached the outside. "He'll likely keep calling; I wouldn't answer either but..." she paused outside the passenger door of Alex's vehicle, giving her a nervous frown, "...if he calls my mother, well, you know..."
Cora didn't think Adrian would do that. By doing so, he'd have to admit they'd been fighting, what about, and what he did. While that'd be hard enough to do, it'd also mean her mother would be the one to retrieve Cora, and that Mother would insist Cora stay at her parents' home in the mean time so gossip couldn't spread too far. For some reason, this made Cora laugh once again, almost bitterly. "Let's hope for his sake he doesn't." she jested while opening the passenger door. Only because there was no doubt Alex would put a foot down to both Cora's husband, and her mother.
"Head to the Marriot in Plainview Terrace; it's just a few miles away, I'll show you." Cora buckled her seatbelt just in time to caste a mischievous grin toward Alex. "They've got a terrific minibar. Whiskey for you. A nice bed would be better than those stables you spend all your time in, huh?"
Damn, it felt good to have her best friend nearby again.
Alex smiled when Cora let out a light teasing laugh. It wasn’t her friend’s usual joyful laugh but she’d take it over tears any day. When Cora confirmed she was all paid up, Alex nodded. ”Alright, let’s-a-go!” she said cheerfully, slinging her purse over her shoulder so hard that it swung completely around to the other side of her body and hit the chair with a soft leathery thunk. The barman was looking at them as they left, and Alex gave him a nonchalant wave before pushing through the back door.
She welcomed the fresh evening air after the smoky stale odor of the bar and took a deep, calming breath. As she did so, Cora’s voice piped up from behind her and she stopped to face her friend. Alex’s eyes searched her friends as she spoke, carefully gauging her. If it were up to Alex, they would just turn the phone off until morning and to hell with everyone else. It wasn’t her phone though and Cora’s people-pleasing personality might not allow her to do that. Either way, they could figure it out that out once they were checked in at the hotel. Any calls could wait at least until then.
Alex led Cora over to the Jeep and used her key to unlock the door. Her baby was old and didn’t have all the bells and whistles that most newer vehicles had. Walking around the vehicle, she slid into the driver’s seat and grabbed the remainder of her snacks from the passenger seat and tossed the plastic bag in the back. ”Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that he doesn’t get her involved or I might have to bash more than one head in before this is over,” she said, tossing her friend a wicked grin.
Turning the key in the ignition, her Jeep revved into life and country music blared through the old radio. Alex quickly turned it off and nodded when Cora offered to give her directions. She’d only been over this way a couple of times and would have had to pull up her phone’s GPS otherwise. ”Mmm I could definitely use a whiskey right about now!” she laughed, ”And some room service. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!”
Cranking the car into reverse, she backed out of her parking spot and merged out into traffic in the direction that Cora indicated. It wasn’t the best of circumstances but Alex was happy to see her friend again and it felt natural to have Cor in the passenger seat of her Jeep once again.
Anyone else would have likely been nervous at Alex’s intensely staring gaze, but Cora knew better. It wasn’t an offensive glare; it was a searching expression, one of concern but also carefully calculating. She knew Cora couldn’t let her phone be out of sight and out of mind - it was rude to do so; a proper wife and woman would answer the calls even if she didn’t want to, play along appropriately then gossip later. Although it wasn’t directly spoken, it was mutually agreed that any calls or texts would wait until they were in a safe place out of the public eye. Alex’s bitter attitude piped up just in time to cause a genuine laugh from Cora. Sure, she shouldn’t laugh about her mother’s head being ‘bashed in’, but whenever she was with Alex, those mannerisms somehow seemed not important anymore. There was no reason to keep her back straight, shoulders high, chin up - not when they were together.
After giving the beginning directions towards their destination, Cora reached forward to turn the radio back on but kept it at a low volume so they could hear each other well. She didn’t mind country music - the slower songs reminded her of classical beats, which she majored in college and taught at local private schools. “Yeah, I could eat,” Cora replied smoothly, as if she wasn’t also hungry and in need of a good drink. The mimosas were sweet, but nothing sounded better than something salty and fried to go along with a sugary drink.
As the vehicle hit the streets, Cora rolled the window almost all the way down just to feel the wind bite her cheeks. Closing her eyes, she was quiet for a moment just to savor the feeling of safety, the scent of stables lingering despite the fresh air, then she frowned before opening her eyes. Good timing, too, since the next turn was coming up. “A left up here. After the Hilton, go right. The Marriott is down the street a bit.” Another moment of silence, of self reflection, before Cora realized what it was she was being silent for - selfishness. “How’s things at the ranch, anyway? Is old Nelson still being as stubborn as ever?” Cora would never forget meeting that horse the first time she went to the ranch. Her parents hated the idea but somehow Alex’s mother was able to subdue them enough to let the girls have a weekend together. At first the horse was standoffish and unruly - once Cora gently laid her little hand on his mane, he calmed enough and even brushed his nose against her neck. Cora giggled uncontrollably at the sensation; his following neighing made her think he was also laughing. “Any new photo shoots I haven’t seen yet?”
Alex recognized the song on the radio and tapped her finger along to the beat as she drove. She hated driving in the city but thankfully traffic wasn’t too bad at this hour…and she knew how to assert herself when she needed to gain a lane. She glanced briefly over at Cor when she mentioned she could eat. That was good, she had been worried that Cor might need some convincing. It’d be good for her to get something in her stomach to soak up a bit of the alcohol before bed. Cora could hold her drink she was sure but it would help minimize any hangover in the morning. ”Mm, I wonder what’s good on the menu…” she mused, trying to mentally calculate what might sound good as a comfortable silence settled over them.
The breeze from the passenger side window whipped her hair about as she drove but Alex didn’t mind. The fresh air felt good, even if the city air couldn’t compare to the pastures back home. When Cora piped up again, Alex swung a left as instructed. It was nice to be listening to her friend’s voice and not the falsely chipper electronic voice over from her GPS. That woman was enough to drive her insane sometimes—as Alex liked to tell her—but her navigation assistant wasn’t much of a conversationalist. Still, it didn’t stop Alex from talking at her like her phone was listening.
”The ranch is alright,” Alex said with a shrug, ”Nothing new really. Nelson is still a stubborn old man. Had a fit when I was cleaning his stall earlier. Still, he’s a good horse…” she added fondly. Her family had had Nelson since she was a little girl and though he wasn’t her horse per se, Alex had fond memories of growing up with him. ”Did a couple of weddings lately,” Alex replied to Cora’s second question. ”Not my favorite but they tend to pay well. I’ve been wanting to start something new though…” she added, her voice trailing off at the end. The truth was she’d been in a bit of a rut lately. Noticing the Hilton coming up, Alex merged lanes and took a right after the hotel and kept her eyes peeled for the Marriott.