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May 14th: A Hand At Dusk

 
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Jackie Sullivan
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 11:42 pm    Post subject: May 14th: A Hand At Dusk Reply with quote

Although it was always difficult to get back into the swing of the real world after a vacation with Ben, after the weekend she had Jackie was actually enjoying her return to the daily grind at the Busted Knuckle. It made it much easier to forget about her poor, faithful truck settled at the bottom of the water by now at the docks.

When she came in for her evening shift nothing about the bar appeared out of order. There were a few familiar faces who hadn't seen her during her mid-day shift on Monday who greeted her warmly, asked her how married life was treating her so far. Even a few patrons she knew extremely well made quite the show of how they didn't know what to do with themselves now that Jackie Lee was off the market. All the jokes were met with a laugh, a shrug, and more shots.

As always, even on such calm evenings, there were a few new faces scattered into the crowd. Some were grabbing a late dinner. Others were simply investigating a new spot where they could relax and drink. Jackie was surprised that for the most part everyone was rather behaved aside from one man she didn't know who was one of the hands on sorts. He liked to lean in close, brush fingers when switching out glasses, and even graced Jackie with a smack to the a*s after he cashed out with her since her shift was ending.

Any other night she would have raised hell, but she let it go. She was far too tired to toss a fit and she was hoping that Ben might have arrived early to pick her up. She grabbed her cut of the tips, bid the other girls farewell, and she was out the door.

Unfortunately when she got outside Jackie's hopes came crashing down. Ben wasn't waiting for her. Not that it was his fault considering she shaved a little time off her own shift. She chalked it up to being spoiled by her vacation and perhaps some part of her was still lounging around in France or Italy. Tomorrow would be better, tomorrow she would have her head in the game.

She waited at the edge of the parking lot where she usually met Ben for their Wednesday lunch dates. It was much different at night, tucked in the stray shadows and away from the door, but she figured in a few minutes Ben would show up and this night could be behind her. Until then she had her attention pointed at the ground, scuffing a boot into the gravel while she waited.

It was only when she heard approaching footsteps that she lifted her gaze. It took some time for her eyes to adjust, but once they did she realized it was Mr. Handsy from inside. What was his actual name? He had told her in a slur.

"Hey there, Lonnie. You all finished for the night?" She offered in a casual enough greeting. He must have gotten his fill and was aiming to stumble his way on home. Though, how he got his fill Jackie would never know considering how tall and broad he was. He reminded her of the guys that would drink the nights away back home in Georgia with his worn jeans, beat up boots, and ragged flannel shirt.

Lonnie gave a curl of his lips which could probably be considered a smile and a shrug. "I wasn't, but my pretty waitress with the pert a*s decided to leave in a hurry." His words came out slow, full of grit and liquor. "Figured if she was going to take the party somewhere else, I was going to go along."

Jackie's expression went flat. Inside the bar she would have giggled it all off, gave him an 'oh you' pat on the shoulder, and rolled her eyes about it all in the breakroom with the other girls. Here and now? She didn't have the patience and wasn't being paid to take it. "I'm afraid I ain't much of a party tonight, Lonnie. I'm goin' home, with my husband, and I'm goin' to sleep." Her gaze moved from the man to the entrance of the parking lot, attempting to will Ben's arrival to come a little quicker.
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Jackie Sullivan
The Hillbilly Belle
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Come on, sugar." He was getting so close Jackie could smell the booze and sweat on him. The assumption was that he would stop within her personal bubble and mouth off a few more lewd comments he considered compliments before getting bored with the cold shoulder. Maybe if she ignored him long enough he would go away. But no, he didn't stop. Instead he slung a thick arm around her waist and started drawing her in. "Don't be like that. Come party with me, your old man doesn't even have to know."

It was the grasp around her that put Jackie on high alert even if it was too late. In a knee jerk reaction she swung a fist for his chest to no avail through his thick exterior. She pressed at his shoulders, but it only made him hold onto her that much tighter. "Lonnie, cut it the f*ck out! I'm not playin'! You're hurtin' me!"

Right on time if Jackie hadn't cut out a few minutes early, but just in time now, that's Ben's car turning into the parking lot, tires crunching through the gravel. He'd figured that Jackie would be waiting out in front, so that's where he throws the beater into park, but he doesn't see her there. He only waits a moment before he kills the engine and gets out of the car, intending to go look for her inside -- maybe she's gotten caught up, gabbing with the girls -- but then he hears voices, and one of them is definitely Jackie's.

Ben's immediate reaction is to want to run in that direction, especially once he sees the pair of figures at the edge of the lot, but sometimes he's able to fight off instinct, and he's able to keep his pace at a walk. You never know -- guy could have a knife pulled. Guy could be crazy -- crazier than just crazy enough to be grabbing his wife after a few drinks. Besides, if Jackie had things under control, he knew he'd get an earful for coming to her rescue. Still, he gets involved, but he's still quite a few paces off when he does. "Hey, I don't think she wants you near her." It's still a defusing-the-situation tone, letting the guy feel like he's making his own decision. "Probably you should let her go."

Jackie had been so wrapped up in trying to free herself from Lonnie, the flurry of panic rising up in her that no matter how many times she hit him it didn't seem to affect his burly frame, that she didn't notice the familiar car that had turned into the parking lot. Another punch landed against Lonnie's jaw, but it glanced off his slick skin and all it managed to do was make him shift her from one arm to the other, this time pinning her arms to her sides so he was free to let a hand wander across her chest forcefully and up to her neck to apply pressure because he seemed to finally get annoyed with all the noise she was making. "You like it hard and rough?" His sweaty forehead was nuzzled against the side of her face like some sort of twisted display of affection with his meaty paw gripping so hard that Jackie's air supply was beginning to get cut off. "Yeah, I can do that for you." Lonnie's vile wheeze of a laugh was exhaled directly against the cusp of her ear.

It was at Ben's call that Lonnie came to a halt, though he had no idea the woman he was man-handling belonged to the gentleman calling out to him. He assumed it was some random do-gooder looking to white knight the situation and get himself the piece that he was aiming for. "This ain't none of your business, so I suggest you act accordingly and get the way you came."

Jackie on the other hand recognized the voice automatically, even throughout her struggle, and there was a tinge of relief she was unable to voice. Jackie's lack of reaction might have been from having a hand wrapped around her throat, but Lonnie took it as a sign that she was finally seeing things his way and he began stepping backwards while bringing her along with him. "This bitch is mine."

The surge of anger that Ben feels -- of rage, really -- is sudden, expected, and overwhelming, to the point of causing a little sway in his step, a blur in his vision, a weird echo in his ears--

And like a switch has been flipped, he rushes the pair. No regard for his own safety, and even though the guy has an arm around Jackie, Ben's aiming to tackle him. (It is Ben, isn't it?) Unless the guy was extremely single-minded, he'd be letting Jackie go quick enough. The barrage of punches, of killer left hooks to the face, must've been a distraction -- especially because they don't stop, not even if the pair does end up on the ground.

At Ben's approach Lonnie unravels his arms from around Jackie, so suddenly and with such force that she's left thumping to the front on her backside with a grunt and gasp for air. The pain in her tailbone was sharp, her throat was throbbing, but her vision was no longer blurring at the edges and it was a much better alternative to being caught between the pair of men who did indeed go crashing to the ground.

Although Lonnie was much bigger than Ben, beefier, he was no where close to being as fast or skilled when it came to fighting and the alcohol that dulled his senses didn't help either. He managed to get a few shots in on Ben's side, aiming for his ribs. But there was one lucky shot of Ben's left hook meeting Lonnie's cheekbone with an unsavory crack of bone that snapped the man's head aside. Then another and another, and another.

Jackie had held her tongue during the fight considering Lonnie had deserved it, but it was when Ben kept going even after Lonnie's body lay limp that she took a few deep breaths to find her voice again and rasped out a call. "Ben. Ben, stop! You're goin' to f*ckin' kill him!"
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Jackie Sullivan
The Hillbilly Belle
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben doesn't even seem to notice the few blows to his ribs. He doesn't seem to notice Jackie yelling at him trying to call him off, either, not at first. He gets one last shot in before he stops the onslaught, gets to his feet, standing over the unconscious Lonnie. Breathing a little heavy after all that, he still doesn't look over at Jackie, focus fixed on his target. The heat of the rage is gone, but the danger in him isn't. "He deserves it." His tone is all wrong, cold, low, and he aims a solid kick to Lonnie's ribs on his way to step over him, turning in the direction of the car.

There's only a small amount of relief in Jackie when Ben stops punching Lonnie, but it's gone just as quickly when he rises to his feet and Lonnie doesn't even move. When he speaks, that's when the color drains from Jackie's face and it finally clicks into place far too late. Her mouth goes to open to say something, but it's interrupted with a wince when that kick lands in Lonnie's side.

Jackie shoves herself to her feet and follows along after Ben, well, he looks like Ben. "Sam." There's no point in even asking right now. "Sam, we can't just leave him there. I gotta go in and tell one of the girls. They gotta call someone." Usually she could hold it together so easily after a fight, this was all part of her job, but after what Lonnie had done. Watching Ben, who she thought was Ben, beating a man's face in. The idea of leaving Lonnie bleeding and unconscious in the parking lot. It was all too much and the panic was coming through in her tone.

It's the first time tonight that Sam looks at Jackie, and it's hard to tell what he's thinking, though it is clear that he is debating something internally. Finally, "He attacked you. I had no choice." His voice is still low, still cold. Even though he'd saved her, apparently he's not above threatening Jackie too, even if the threat isn't in any specific words, entirely contained in his tone, the unpredictable menace in his eyes, his body language. "You just want them to call someone. Don't want to answer any questions. Just want to go home." It isn't a question, it isn't some weird attempt at reassuring -- it's telling her what happened and what's happening, feeding her the story to follow.

The sad part was that Jackie was so used to getting those looks from Sam that it barely even bothered her anymore. It wasn't that she didn't think he was dangerous, but from experience she knew that if he decided to actually follow through with the threat there was little more that she could do than claw and bite. As he fed her the story she nodded numbly, oddly grateful that after everything which had happened that her emotions were dulled. "That's fine, just give me a minute. Don't leave me." Jackie begging Sam to not leave, the wonders never cease.

She moved in a slow trudge to the door, convinced if she moved any faster that her knees might give out from beneath her. It was a short while later when Jackie returned with another on duty bartender behind her already clutching her cellphone. "Jesus Christ," the woman exhaled in surprise when she caught sight of Lonnie and picked up her pace that way.

Jackie on the other hand didn't stop. She continued on to Sam, she was well aware it was Sam, but when she was close enough she slung her arms around his torso in a hug and pressed her face to his chest. Maybe in the confusion Jackie had forgotten it was Sam, she only saw Ben's face and was acting accordingly. But when she spoke, her voice cracking to match the shaking of her shoulders, there was obviously no confusion. "Thank you, Sam. I didn't say it, but thank you." So few words, but even those were enough to tell that she was on the verge of tears being left on his t-shirt.

Sam had moved from the spot Jackie left him, even though she wasn't gone long, but he hadn't gone far, standing guard by Lonnie's near-lifeless body, some kind of hulking, ill-tempered beast. He only gives the woman with Jackie a long enough look to determine that she wasn't going to lose her head over what happened. The way the bartender with Jackie looked at Sam she had met him, or Ben rather, before but his unfamiliar nature was chalked up to the circumstances at hand. She only gave him a nod in passing while the phone was lifted to her ear, letting him know she had it from here.

He takes a step back, about to turn toward the car again -- and that's when Jackie catches him in a hug. In a different situation, it might almost be comical, the way he's utterly uncertain of what to do, confused and maybe a touch disgusted or annoyed, but after a couple of seconds of holding his arms up awkwardly since Jackie had her arms around his ribs, he puts his arms around her too -- briefly, because it's only for show, because he knows the bartender that had come out with Jackie would be really, really thrown off if Jackie's new husband didn't show any affection, didn't try to comfort her.

There's another sudden shift in his expression mid-hug, even though it only lasts a few seconds, some look of realization. "Oh, f*ck. You--" He keeps his voice down, and there's a natural growl in it at that volume. When he lets Jackie go and pulls away, he takes her by the arm, at the elbow, and pulls her toward the car. "You can't come back here."
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Jackie Sullivan
The Hillbilly Belle
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 10 Nov 2011
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Can Be Found: Ramblin' through RhyDin
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After some time Jackie would look back on hugging Sam and maybe she would laugh or maybe she would be disgusted with herself. But at the moment it seemed to be exactly what she needed and when he put his arms around her as well, no matter how awkwardly, it caused the threat of tears to turn into a full blown situation. She assumed his quiet outburst was because he barely knew how to deal with people, let alone an emotionally wrecked woman who was crying against him that he pretty much hated.

When he takes her by the elbow and escorts her forcefully to the car, she doesn't have it in her to fight it. Shuffling steps carry her to the passenger side door, but before she can get in his statement made her pause and peer back at him through her sniffling water works. "What do you mean I can't come back here? Tonight? I'm not comin' back tonight an' I'm sure Bossman will at least give me a day off or somethin'."

He'd already looked uncomfortable, and when Jackie actually starts crying -- and not quietly, either -- his discomfort only grows. He doesn't make any effort to get her to stop, though, and lets go of her arm once they make it to the car. By the time she finishes her question, he's got the driver's side door open, and he gives her a look over the roof of the car. "You can't come back here at all." He doesn't explain why, just gets into the car and jams the key into the ignition to bring the engine to life.

She had been watching him round the car, managing to get her sobbing somewhat under control. Mostly that was only because it was being overtaken by confusion when he told her she couldn't come back to the Busted Knuckle at all. The passenger side door was wretched open and she sank into the seat heavily. Once the door was shut and she was buckled in she continued on. "What in the hell does that mean? This is my job, Sam. One rough night doesn't mean I can up and quit. One guy got a leg up on me, that's it." It was so much worse than that but admitting to that wasn't going to help her in this battle. She realized belatedly that looking such a mess probably wouldn't either so her fingers went to work wiping at her make-up beneath her eyes, even if no attempt at reassembling herself right now was going to help.

It's while Jackie's continuing to prod Sam for an explanation that it happens, quick -- a second of an imbalance in his posture, a couple of slow heavy-lidded blinks. When perception blurs its way back into existence for Ben, the observations come rapidfire -- he's back in the car (but at least it's not moving), his hand and his ribs are killing him, and-- "Jackie." He can hear her voice, but it's too muffled and echoed for him to make out words -- but she's there in the car with him; he can tell that, at least. It's sudden, and a little bit desperate, relieved, when he turns to face her, grabs her up in a tight hug, gear shift between them be damned. His hands find her hair for a moment, and his face is hidden against the top of her head -- but only for that moment, and then he's pulling back enough to press his hands to her cheeks and kiss her before his forehead is against hers, keeping her face framed in his hands. "Are you okay?" It's hard to pinpoint the emotion in his voice, a strange blend of worry and relief, cut with an undercurrent of confusion, of being lost and catching up.

The shift was quick but Jackie has had time to perfect the art of knowing when one personality was tagging in another. "No, no! You a*shole!" It was meant for Sam, but Ben more than likely got to experience the outcry along with her foot stamping firmly into the floor of the vehicle. She's irritated Sam left it at that, but it's hard for the anger to linger when Ben was back and saying her name in that familiar tone of his. The hug is returned firmly and she's burrowing her face against him, the act bringing so much more comfort with Ben than it ever could with Sam even if they did share a body. He captures her face, kisses her, asks if she's okay and she's nodding. "Yeah, I- Sam beat the hell out of Lonnie. Ashlee is phonin' for help and we need to get out of here now before The Watch or somethin' shows up. I jus' wanna go home."

"Right. Okay." He says the words of agreement, but there's a delay in him taking action. His thumb strokes along her cheek a few times, maybe trying to rub some of her smeared eye makeup away. Maybe just affection -- maybe trying to ground himself a little, assuring himself that she's there. That he's there. But after that quiet moment, he lets go of her completely, throws the car into reverse to fly backward out of the parking space, and then the car peels forward out of the lot with a spray of gravel. "Really," once they're on the road, he glances over at Jackie, reaches over for her hand before he's looking front again, "Are you okay?" It hadn't escaped him that she hadn't really answered, and he has to press it, even if he knows she must not have answered for a reason. The repeated question isn't hesitant, but his voice is a little soft, careful.

The major conflict was a battle between Jackie wanting to stay right there so Ben could continue to sprinkle affection on her, something that actually did make her feel better and reassured her he was there with her, and wanting to get as far from the scene as possible. Not wanting to answer any questions or be held up for the night kept her in place when he released her and allowed him to pull out of the parking lot without another word.

She was in a silent daze until he spoke again, asking her for the second time if she was alright. "I don't know." It wasn't a dismissive answer considering there was a heavy dose of honesty in her tone and her tired expression. "I just, I've had guys get out of hand before workin' in the bar, but not like that. I've never been scared like that." She sank further into her seat, tipping her forehead against the cool glass of the car window. She looked as small and helpless as she sounded. "And then Sam before he... left, whatever, he said I can't go back there, at all. Sam of all people tellin' me to up and quit my job because of one run in." A scoff and she rolled her head aside to look at him, obviously waiting for him to back her up on how stupid it was of Sam to think his word had any sway.

When Jackie sinks further into her seat, Ben gives her hand a squeeze. He's not used to Jackie sounding like this -- so helpless, defeated. Scared. No matter what things happened to Jackie, Ben rarely saw fear in her. She goes on, and she's going to be disappointed if she thinks Ben is going to back her up; when she gives him that look, he's not rolling his eyes or scoffing in disbelief. Just looks thoughtful, a little worried, brow furrowed, jaw shifted a little to one side. "I'm sure he has a reason. I don't know what, but... I'm sure there's a reason." Shaking his head a little, still shaking off some daze; he almost misses a turn, brakes just in time to take it. "I think you should at least take a few days off." He'll lay down ground rules for his overprotection of her later, when she actually goes back to work. "Maybe you're still getting used to being back, right? I know you haven't been feeling well, and that's not like you, for somebody to... to get to you like that. So maybe a few days at home would do you good."

Disappointed wasn't the word for it. When Ben's giving that look then saying Sam might have a point, a reason for why he said that, she's the one that's scoffing in disbelief. She's obviously not so upset that she releases his hand or anything, but it does cause her to sink back into silence and stare straight ahead. The minutes ticked on before she spoke. "I'll call Bossman tomorrow and tell him I'm takin' the rest of the week off. Maybe I caught somethin' on vacation or I got a terrible case of jet lag I can't shake." It did make her feel better to hear him say that, to know he was confident in her abilities even if they were lacking right now. "No one has gotten me like Lonnie did. That idiot, of all people." A deep inhale and she let it out in a slow shaky exhale. "I'm tired." After everything that had happened, the absurdities with Sam, and her job being on the line that was the only thing she was certain about right now.
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