Authors: Kate Owen
Tags: #F/F romance, contemporary
Lucky Mlle. Dupois. Coach D has hot arms and I bet she has ripped abs.
Jules' eyebrows arched and she fought blushing with every fiber of her being. She looked up at Courtney who was face down on her desk in embarrassment.
Courtney's handwriting continued.
That's cute, we can call them Delapois. Why do you care, anyway?
Jules snorted at the idea of being called one half of Delapois, and continued reading.
More like lucky Coach D. Mlle. Dupois is HOT.
Jules scowled at Maggie.
And I don't care. I just thought it was interesting.
Jules cleared her throat. "Maggie, Courtney, you will stay here after class while we discuss your punishment."
She opened up her faculty e-mail and sent off a quick message to Gen.
Need your personal e-mail address ASAP.
She waited a few minutes and got a reply. She opened her gmail account and emailed Gen the entire contents of the note. She drummed her fingers on her desk waiting for a response. In a few minutes, a chat window appeared in gchat.
Hi, how do you want to handle it?
I'm already out here. Hell, I'm the faculty advisor for the GSA. I just want to protect you.
Thanks, Jules, but I'm okay. Just because I'm not overt, doesn't mean I'm closeted. It's fine.
Well, I obviously wasn't going to confirm or deny anyway because it's none of their damn business. I'll just refer them for detention for passing notes in study hall. I just wanted to make sure you were okay with this. Being seen with me tends to cause talk.
I think I'll risk it.
Awesome. I have to grade some papers, but I'll talk to you at lunch.
That's fine, I have some oral presentations to get started.
Jules closed her gmail account and began to grade the stats tests from the day before. When the bell rang, she waited for all the students to leave except Courtney and Maggie. Jules stood and moved to walk over to them, then she remembered Courtney's comments and thought better of it, standing behind her desk with her fingers splayed and fingertips pressed against the wood.
"Ladies, I would have thought that two seniors would have had better things to do than speculate about the personal lives of their teachers. Courtney, I know for a fact that you have been struggling with stats, and now would have been an ideal time to get help with that. Maggie, you have some insanely long French translation due tomorrow, is it complete?" Jules smirked to herself, glad she remembered Gen mentioning the activity her seniors were working on.
Maggie shook her head.
"Well, then, working on that would have been a far better use of your time, don't you agree?"
Maggie nodded, still looking down at the floor.
"In fact, if you insist on having your minds on myself or Mademoiselle Dupois, the assignments you get from us need to be your focus to keep you successful. Do I make myself clear?"
Both girls nodded, still unable to meet her eyes.
"This school does not provide athletes with additional study hall periods in order to allow for an extra social hour." Internally, Jules groaned at her own phrasing. She felt like she was channeling her Auntie Julianna. "You have the privilege of this time in order to help you balance your roles as both students and athletes. I can tell you, as someone who pursued athletics after school, you need to pay attention to your scholastic component because the harsh reality is this: women can't make a decent living in competitive sports with the exception of tennis, golf, and basketball. Maggie, I can tell you for a fact that being an excellent rower will not pay the bills, so plan ahead. You will both receive referrals to detention. Maggie, you'll do extra dryland with me, and Courtney, I'll let Coach Foster know about this as well, your additional punishments will be left up to him." Coach Foster was her buddy Mike who coached the basketball team. She knew he'd back her up. "In addition, you will both write letters of apology to Mademoiselle Dupois, for making her a target of speculative gossip. Is this all understood?"
Both girls nodded and filed out of the room with mumbled apologies. Jules had been so preoccupied with the dressing down she needed to do on the two girls, that she hadn't noticed Gen standing in the back of the room. Neither girl could look at her as they practically ran out of the room.
Once both girls were gone and the door was shut behind them Gen walked over to Jules' desk. "Wow."
Jules looked up and smiled. "Hi. Sorry you had to see that."
"Oh, I'm not. They don't need to do the letters."
"Yes, they do." Jules' voice was firm and final. "You deserve better than being treated as an object of gossip."
"Wow, so chivalry isn't dead."
"Not here it isn't."
Gen walked behind the desk and put a hand on Jules shoulder, and kissed her gently on the cheek. She then leaned over and whispered a thank you in her ear. Before Jules had time to process what had happened, Gen had backed away to a respectable distance.
"You're welcome," Jules finally choked out. Internally she scolded herself. Beth was right, she had absolutely no game. She cleared her throat. "So, are you still up for lunch?"
Jules and Gen headed into the faculty room and Gen walked over to the freezer and Jules to a refrigerator. Gen took out a Lean Cuisine meal and set it up in a microwave, while Jules opened a glass, reusable container and stuck it in another one of the microwaves. Jules' meal was done first so she took it out of the microwave and set it on a plate. She leaned against the wall, waiting for Gen's TV dinner to finish.
"Okay, what is that, it smells amazing," Gen asked, gesturing at Jules' food.
"Quiche with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, roasted chicken and gruyere."
"Yup. I make stuff on Sundays and eat it all week. I had some eggs that were going to go bad, so I made a quiche."
Gen laughed and shook her head. "Go take your amazing food and find a seat, I'll be there with my subpar lunch in a minute."
Jules ambled across the room and sat down at an empty table, taking the rest of her lunch out of her bag and getting everything settled on the table. While she waited for Gen she thought about her auntie, probably because she had been channeling her with Maggie and Courtney.
She remembered the day Auntie Julianna had died. Jules had been there with her. Auntie had made it very obvious Jules was her favorite; her brothers were okay with it as they never had much to talk to Auntie about. Jules remembered sitting beside her bed in those last few days when she was seldom lucid. There had been a moment that was so odd with one of the nurses. Jules tried to remember, but her own grief had been so sharp that the details were hazy. Auntie had been lying in bed and a nurse came in. It wasn't a nurse they'd seen before. And when Auntie saw the nurse she started to cry. The nurse came over to the bed and Auntie had gripped her hands with surprising strength. The nurse had looked over at Jules for help and Jules moved to help release her, and Auntie had spoken. She'd said I'm sorry ... somebody, Jules couldn't remember the name. She mouthed along with the scene in her head.
"I'm sorry, Evie."
"No," Gen said quietly. "Gen."
Jules' eyes shot open and she smiled bashfully. "No, I was just remembering something that happened with Auntie when she'd gotten pretty far into her dementia. A nurse came in one day and Auntie kept apologizing, calling her Evie."
"You think that's E?"
"It's worth a shot."
Gen bounced in her chair in excitement. "That's great, what can you remember about the nurse?"
Jules blushed and looked away quickly.
Gen laughed. "Oh, so you can remember quite a bit."
"Jules, it's okay."
"Her name was ... um ... okay, maybe I should start somewhere else."
"How about her appearance," Gen asked dryly.
"Oh, she was black, shorter than me, maybe five-five."
Jules closed her eyes. "Short, natural hair. Light brown eyes, round face, curvy. That's about all I've got."
"I see. Your usual type? I'm just curious."
"But you do have a type?"
"Yes, but sometimes I deviate."
"I was wondering, because Angie Clement talked to me this morning."
Jules put her head in her hands and groaned. "I'm so sorry. For someone who cheated on me, she has been rather obsessive since we broke up. What did she say?"
"Oh, she told me you had a history of trying to turn straight girls and that I should be careful."
Jules laughed. "Yeah, that's me. Turning straight girls, because teaching all day isn't enough for me. I want to teach at night too." Gen laughed at Jules' comment. "What did you say?"
"Oh, I told her I'd been turned ages ago, but thanks for her concern."
Jules let out a loud bark of laughter. "I'm sure she loved that."
"Yeah, she didn't look pleased." Gen quickly took a bite of Jules' quiche and hummed appreciatively. "This is really good, sometime you are going to have to teach me to cook."
"Thanks. And you can have a lesson anytime." Jules fixed Gen with an intense gaze and a crooked smile that made her falter, so Jules returned to the letter. "So, back to Evie. If she's the E in the letter then that would mean that she was both a woman and, if the nurse was any indication, black. So, we can imagine how pleased my great grandfather would have been."
Gen nodded. "Explains why they were trying to hide from him. I think we need to find out who this Evie is."
"Well it must be short for something. Evelyn?"
"Wait." Jules looked off into space and moved her fingers like she was playing a piano.
"Jules," Gen asked quietly.
Jules held up a hand to shush her. Then she nodded quickly. "Okay, Evelyn, six letters. Julianna, eight letters, those were the two ciphers used in the letter, a six letter shift and its reverse and an eight letter shift and its reverse."
"So we know it was an Ev name that has six letters and the only one we can think of is Evelyn."
"Where would she have met Evie? I mean, there weren't lesbian bars in New Orleans in the Thirties, were there?"
Jules swallowed her last bite of quiche and poured dressing on her salad. "Sure there were. But the Delacroix family did well through the depression—rum running in the Twenties was a great business. She would have been high society, so I can't imagine she could get away from her minders long enough to stroll into Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon street."
Gen laughed. "Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop? You're messing with me."
"I'm not. Know your own history, Gen. It was a bar that welcomed gay men and women starting in 1936."
"So, not Lafitte's in Exile?"
"No that opened later when they lost the original Lafitte's."
"Huh. Okay. Always nice to have some more fun facts. How do you know that? Did you work your way through college doing gay tours in the quarter?"
Jules grinned. "Southern women's studies class in college."
"For a math major?"
"I needed a sociology credit?" Gen arched an eyebrow and Jules withered under her stare. "I was dating the TA." She blushed at the admission and pointed her fork at Gen. "You have mind powers or something, you keep getting me to admit stuff I shouldn't."
Gen smiled and bit the corner of her lip, meeting Jules eyes. "So, if she didn't find her at some kind of meeting place, then she must have met her near her home."
Jules swallowed her bite of salad, nodding. She wanted to get back to the topic of the letter so she could stop embarrassing herself. "Yes. But in the Garden District in the Thirties, the only way she'd have been near the house would be as a domestic."
"And the only way your aunt would have been out of the house would have been with her mother or her nanny, right?"
"And your auntie would have had to know she was gay, and then be able to tell that someone else in a very repressed society was too. So that proves one thing."
Gen fixed Jules with a twinkling gaze and a mischievous smile. "Gaydar is not genetic."
Jules coughed on the Dr. Pepper she was drinking. "Funny," she choked out.
"I can't let you have all the funny, it's not really fair."
"Okay, sometime when we are not at work, I will explain my bad gaydar."
"Deal. Would your grandfather know who Evie was?"
"He might have been very helpful to us, if he weren't dead."
"Oh. Yeah, not so helpful. What else was in the safe?"
"A portrait of who I assume now was Evie, some newspaper clippings, a journal, and a gun."
Gen's eyes widened. "A journal?"
"Yes, I hadn't looked in it yet, because I wanted to respect Auntie's privacy. But I guess I can take a look at it."
"Not without me, we're in this together."
"Okay, well, I have practice after school tonight."
"Practice before and after school?"
"Yup, both before and after school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Monday and Friday it's just before. That's why we win. It's in the gym, dryland time, so I should be done around five. I was planning to take Samson to the dog park tonight, but we can keep researching instead."
"Let me pick up some Thai tonight, you're going to be here late."
Jules grinned. "I won't say no, I love Thai. So meet at my place around six?"
"Oh, it is earlier if you don't have to cook."
"To be fair, I had to go to the fish market yesterday, and I had to clean up my place. Now I don't have to stop at the store, and it's already clean."
"Fair enough," Gen said. "So I get a tour, right? You promised."
Jules nodded in mock solemnity. "Of course, I wouldn't go back on a promise."
"Am I interrupting?"
Mike sat down next to Jules with a shit-eating grin.
"You're not interrupting what you'd like to be, Mike," Jules shot back.