Disclaimer: The characters presented in this story are property of MCA/Universal and RenPic. I have borrowed them for my own deviant purposes. This is a work of fiction and its mine, mine, mine. You (whomever you are) may not alter, reproduce or post without my expressed permission.
Subtext: Oh yeah, you betcha.
Violence: Not in this part, but perhaps in the next.
Authors Notes: This is a sequel to that plotless sex story (it was supposed to be plotless, I swear) I wrote called Southern Comfort. I would highly recommend that you read that first. This story takes place shortly after the end of that story.
Special thanks to my beta readers. Your generosity astounds me. Thanks the words of encouragement and as always, making this a better story.
Comments are always welcome but nothing mean or demon spawnish because Ill just delete those.
Okay, let the games begin.
Copyright © January 1999 by C.L. Bactad
Southern Comfort: Youve Never Been Nowhere
by: C.L. Bactad
Everybody needs a sense of place, at least thats what my Pop used to say. His was the city: San Francisco. He loved the steep streets, the way the fog rolled in and out and the sound of that damned foghorn echoing out across the bay. Of course, he cursed it every day, telling me that the city was "goin to hell in a handbasket," but that was Pop. On the outside, he was as tough as the weathered leather of his shoes, but on the inside, he was all mush and sentiment. For most of my life, Pop was my sense of place. Now, it was time to find a new one.
I knew it couldnt have been the dive I was in now, but I did seem to spend an awful lot of time here: on the barstool farthest from the door at Duvals. It was a little dive off Market Street stuck between the fish markets and tourist traps. The booze was cheap and so was the atmosphere but nobody ever bothered me there, except for Lana Jones.
Lana was a big, lusty, brunette with deep red lips. She was the bartender and owner of Duvals. In fact, the place was her life. Lana was convinced that her size had determined her role in life, or so she said. You see, Lana had a body that packed more punch than Jack Dempsey. The broad was big and bad and she knew it. Lana believed God gave her that double size, poster girl figure so she could run a bar. "Lordy, girl! Why doncha think I never have any trouble in a place like this? Because Id kick their ass, thats why! People have enough sense not to mess with a big girl," she would holler at me when I got a little lippy, which I had a tendency to do from time to time.
" Hi Hon, what can I get ya?" It was the phrase spoken by bartenders around the world but only Lana spoke it like she meant it.
"Something Southern," I replied.
"Sure enough, hon." Lana set a glass half full of Kentucky bourbon in front of me.
"Close enough." I nodded my thanks and took a long, slow drink. The taste reminded me a of woman that was warm and smooth.
"Ya know I place that drink in front of ya and you nurse it all night. What are you doing in here, girl? Once a week is the type of customer you are, not this everyday shit. Youre takin up valuable space."
I made a big show of looking around. It was small and smoky, although nobody was smoking. It seemed like the sharp vapor of nicotine always hung around this place. Even on a Tuesday afternoon when the only people present were Lana, me and the other three nobodies with something to forget. "Yeah, I see you got em clamoring to get in," I replied with a smile.
"That aint my point, smart-ass. Look here, thats the pity stool. Thats where people come to feel sorry for themselves. Oh poor me," she mocked as she threw up her hands in a helpless gesture. " Now, youre always there plopping your cute little ass down and sticking out that pouty lip. I got regulars who are gonna need that stool back."
I looked up at Lana, her big face showing victory and a bit of concern. The bartender had known me since I was twelve, and was a good friend to Pop. She always felt free to speak her mind and sometimes that was damn annoying. "Youre a regular comedian. Maybe you should join up with Burns and Allen."
She chuckled and set out to wipe down some glasses. "Yeah, its too bad God wanted me to be a bartender."
"Jesus Lana, youre a strange bird," I said as I downed my drink.
"Hey! Dont use the Lords name in vain," she scoffed. Then she leaned over, her ample breasts resting on the polished wood of the bar. "When are you gonna tell me about her?"
I shrugged. "Who the hell are you talkin about?"
"The woman whos got Jan "the Wolf" Covington sitting on the pity stool. This aint like you, hon. Dont get me wrong I love havin ya around but, sweetie, I havent seen a genuine smile on that handsome face for over a month. And you dont belong in this joint unless you got a girl on your arm and I havent seen that in a while either. What gives?"
What gives? I thought to myself. Hell, it had been over a month since tall, dark and Southern walked out of my office. I hadnt heard a word from her since. She just left me sitting there, with a smoldering cigar between my fingers and an ache in my chest. I could still smell the scent of her perfume and lose myself in the blue of her eyes. Mel Pappas occupied my every thought. I knew she was dangerous and I got what I deserved. So what if I cursed myself everyday for letting her go. Yeah, I just sat there and let her walk away, hoping she hurt as much as I did, wanting her to think it was nothing when on the inside it was everything. Stupid Jan, real stupid. Oh well, no use in loving whats gone.
"Theres nothing to tell, Lana," I said as I stood and pulled on my worn leather jacket. "Nothing at all." I finished my drink and soundly placed the glass on the bar. "Ill see ya around and play some decent music for me next time."
Lana laughed and reached across to punch my arm. "It dont get any more decent than Sinatra."
I waved my goodbye and stepped out into the concrete of SF. The weather was mild for January but that wasnt unusual for the Bay Area. While the Mid-West suffered snowstorm after snowstorm, we had clear skies and sun on our backs. However, today had just enough chill in the air to make you want to stuff your hands into warm pockets and, that is exactly what I did as I walked back to my office. I buried my hands into the deep pockets of my black trousers. Suddenly, I was feeling damn tired of this city.
"J. Covington: Private Investigations," is what the door said. It used to be just "Covington Investigations" when Pop was alive. I was always the silent, if you could call me that, Covington. The daughter who was never much of a lady but a damn good private eye. What I lacked in size I made up with tenacity and a bad disposition. I guess in a way I was the son Pop always had. But every once in a while I knew he yearned for the daughter who wasnt there. You know, the daughter who would find a nice boy and give him grandchildren. Nope, I never found any nice boys but I found plenty of nice girls. Oh yeah, did I ever.
Anyway, not being able to give Pop the traditional family stuff made me feel like shit for the longest time and, sometimes I wished I could be different for him. The old man knew this. So, when he made me partner in his P.I. business my guilt stopped. He handed me the keys to the office and said, "Jan, I couldnt ask for a better partner." Wouldnt you know it; I threw my arms around him and cried...just like a girl.
Meg was sitting at her desk when I walked in. She was a pretty little blonde whose loverboy was stationed on a warship somewhere in the Pacific. However, Meg liked to play for both teams and I should know because thats how we met. Meg was a coed on a local campus and I was in the wrong place at the right time. You see, I had gotten lost and Meg was kind enough to give me directions...back to her place. Now shes my secretary and an uppity one at that, but thats why I like her. Meg doesnt take guff off of no one, especially me. "Hello Janice, " she greeted me. "Where have you been?" I recognized the tone. What she was really asking was, why wasnt I here?
"Nowhere," I replied. I hated it when people asked me that.
"Hmm, Ive never been nowhere. Whats it like?"
"You wouldnt like it," I said sarcastically.
"Dont be so sure, Jan. At least I wouldnt have had to spend the last hour entertaining," she pointed a manicured finger toward my office door, "him."
I groaned and whipped off my jacket. "Shit!"
"Exactly," she grinned. "Now, well talk about your tardiness later but first, I suggest you take care of him."
"Right." I rubbed my face brusquely and went to open my office door.
"Oh, hold on there, Covington," Meg said.
"What now?" I groaned. Meg held out her hand and I knew what she wanted. She wanted my piece. My cold, polished blue weapon that rested in the holster high on my hip. "Are you a nickel short of a dime, doll face?"
"I think the situation warrants such action," she replied firmly.
"Jesus, I got it under control," I said.
"Nuh uh, Janice. Last time you almost got sent over because of your hot head. Just give me the gun and Ill make sure theres no plaster that needs repairing."
I stood with my hands on my hips thinking about the validity of her statement. Finally, I shook my head and pulled my Luger .38 from its holster. I walked over and put it on her desk. "You take care of that for me will ya, sweetheart?"
"Anything for you, Covington," she said.
You know a girls gotta make a living but sometimes my living is a real pain in the ass. This was one of those times because I was dealing with a grade A jerk and his name was "China" Dave. A thin man who got his street name not because he was Chinese, but because he could always be found at the Chin Dynasty. A small take-out joint in Chinatown with cooked chickens hanging in the front window.
Some people thought China Dave had nefarious connections to the place. However, I knew he was too stupid for nefarious. The real power was hidden in the back where the old guys played mahjong. Nope, China Dave was strictly small time but liked to think he was big. The only connection he had to the Chin Dynasty was his intense like for egg foo yuk. Yeah, he was as dumb as his food but I was repaying an old family debt. That didnt stop me from wishing he wasnt standing in my office.
"So, youre tellin me that my stuff was pilfered right from unda my nose? And dose are da guys that did it?" he asked.
It was hard to keep from rolling my eyes. You see this would be the third time I had explained it to him. "Yes."
"Dese guys right here?" he asked again as he waved the paper I had handed him earlier.
I ran an agitated hand through my long blonde hair, then leaned back in my leather chair. I needed a cigar but hadnt made it down to Joes to pick up a new box. "Yesss." I wasnt sure how much longer I could stand this idiot.
"So whatta we--"
"Oh no," I quickly cut him off. "There is no "we". I did my job when I gave you those names. No more. You got that jack? Were square now."
China Dave shrugged his skinny little shoulders and plopped his ass into the high back leather chair across from my desk. The same chair *she* sat in not more than a month ago. "Jesus, Jan. Im just askin for a little help here. You tink I was askin ya for blood or sumpin."
"Yeah and you got it. Look here chump, you got something wrong with your ears? I know Ive said this once before: Im not doing anymore for you."
He smiled as if I would find that appealing. Instead, it made me want to smack him. The skinny man got up from the chair and sat on my desk. "You knows I dont understand yous. Youre one hell of a looker but you go around doin broads." I looked at him and regretted giving my gun to Meg. "Im thinkin," he continued, "you just need a good man. You wanna try a piece of China Dave?"
As certain as I was the sky was blue, I knew that China Dave had to be the stupidest man on the planet. "First of all, Dave: get your puny ass off my desk PDQ. Second, Id love a piece of you, but it would require a sharp object and some blood. Got it? Now, beat it."
"I take it thats a yes?"
That did it. Why did people always force me to play rough? I flew from my chair and grabbed the little man around the collar. He was taller than me and slightly bigger but hell hath no fury as a pissed off Covington. "I got the information for ya because of Pops old debt to your dad," I gritted through my teeth as I drug China Dave toward my door. "Now get this through that thick skull, dick-head," I continued as I drug him through the small reception area. "NEVER STEP FOOT IN HERE AGAIN!" I yelled as I opened the door and flung him out of my office.
"Oh my!" A shocked Southern drawl stopped me in mid motion. Slowly, I turned toward Meg. She flashed me an apologetic smile and cleared her throat.
"Um, Janice...a Miss Pappas and-" she could have said Dwight D. Eisenhower for all I cared. My mind stopped at Mel Pappas and the rest of her sentence blended into the background noise of the street outside. I turned to face the woman that broke my heart. She stood there as beautiful as before. Her dark was hair pulled neatly up and placed under a fashionable hat. Blue eyes looked at me through academically framed glasses. I must have a thing for smart dames because those glasses would surely be my undoing. A blue dress fit snugly around firm curves, the length of it covering a respectable expanse of her long legs. I tried to keep my eyes from lingering, but the memory of those legs resting on my shoulders left me a little light headed.
"Hello, Miss Covington," she spoke. The formality didnt go unnoticed.
I swallowed hard. "Miss Pappas."
She stepped toward me with her hand outstretched. "Its so nice to see you again."
I steadied myself and took her hand. I couldnt help but think how easy it would be to pull her into my arms, and lose myself in her scent. I looked up into her blue eyes and wondered if she was thinking the same. "I wasnt sure if I would be hearing from you again," I said. I kept her hand in mine for, what must have been, an inappropriate amount of time, but I didnt care.
I felt her squeeze my hand gently before she pulled away. She looked away from me then, down towards the floor, as if she were ashamed of something. "Well, Im sorry bout that, Miss Covington. I meant to send you the paperwork we, uh, talked about but then things got a bit hectic back home. I do hope you understand." She could have been reciting the 11 states of the Confederacy for all I knew. The way she sounded out each syllable, managing to drag the sentence and me into next week, had me focused only on the sweet sound of her voice and not the content. It was then I realized that I was sunk even before I got out to sea. Yeah, I had a short list of weaknesses and Mel was number one.
"Darling, arent you going to introduce me?" Now that voice didnt sound quite right. It was entirely too masculine for the moment. Suddenly, my vision expanded beyond Mel. Beside her stood a man, just as tall, well built and good looking as she was. Shit! It was Dick, the fianceŽ, and he had his arm around Mels waist. I bit my lip to keep myself from asking Meg for my gun.
I plastered on my best fake smile. You know, the one that says, this crap doesnt bother me. I held out my hand. "No need, Miss Pappas, I remember Mr. Williamson." He took my hand with a perfect tooth smile on his face, and my heart sank. Why couldnt he at least be ugly?
"Well, Im glad you remember me, Miss Covington," he said with, perhaps, a Boston accent. He was a true Yankee thats for sure. "Did we come at a bad time?" His arm wrapped tighter around Mels waist, which could only be taken as a sign of possession. In my mind, I picked out a pair of concrete shoes for Dick. I understand they are perfect accessories for the bay.
No, I didnt like this. I didnt like him, and at the moment I wasnt so sure I liked Mel. That really makes a girl pissy. I looked at Mel, searching for a sign that she didnt like things either. All I saw was a smile directed at Dick. I looked away. "Nah," I said. "I was just throwin out the trash."
Dick laughed. "You are as charming as ever, Miss Covington." I smiled again thinking about that barstool down at Duvals. "Melinda and I would like to talk to you, if youre not too busy. Isnt that right, love?"
Mel looked at me, but said to him, "Yes, thats right darling."
Did you know the word darling could shoot daggers into the heart? Whatever. I could play it that way too. I sauntered over to Megs desk, whom I was sure was watching the scene intently. I sat on the edge, leaned over, and flashed Meg one of my trademark you wanna go home with me smiles. Take that Melinda Pappas, I dont need you. "Meg, how does my schedule look this afternoon?"
Meg blinked once or twice. I knew she was wondering what the hell was up since I was never concerned with schedules before. However, as any good secretary would, she played along. I was proud of the way she made a big show of pulling out an old appointment book someone had given me as a gift. The kid was a smart cookie. I noticed that the pages were still bone white, as I leaned seductively close to peer over her shoulder. I rested my hand on the desk by Megs elbow. As I leaned down my whole torso made contact with Megs arm. I dared a glance at Mel. Her eyes were glued to the scene. Score one for Team Covington.
"Well, Janice," Meg said as she continued to rifle through the empty book. "You have an appointment at 3 and one at 4 and-"
"Oh look there," I said. " I do have some time right now. Thank you, Meg." I rubbed my hand up and down her back.
Mel cleared her throat. "If its going to be a problem we could come back at a more...convenient time."
"Oh darling, lets get this over with, shall we? It really would be better if we got things under way." He then looked toward me. "Right now would be perfect for us, Miss Covington."
Yeah, I bet Dick thought everything was perfect. Hell knows, if I had Mel on my arm it would be. I smiled and picked up my .38 off Megs desk. "Okay." I paused as I saw a slight flicker in Mels eye. Was it the gun? "Shall we go into my office then?" I placed the gun into my hip holster and opened the door to my office.
Dick entered first followed by Mel, who walked awfully close to me. I got the feeling that life was gonna get a whole lot more interesting.
Continued in Part 2
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