Lia (Chapter Seven of the Novella, “Ducky”)

{strong language; sexual situations}

Lia

Headlights on the street grabbed Joni’s attention. She had her Washington History book spread out on her desk in her room. It was late, the clock said 11:30, and her attention span had dwindled to nothing. She studied for her history final. The cut off GPA eligibility to play sports in the state of Washington was 2.0, but that was not good enough qualify for a good school. She needed a 3.0 and that had her worried. Algebra worried her, so did this History. But right now, she was too tired to go on. She wheeled her soft chair back, stood, and stretched in her pajamas. She did a couple of standing side stretches in both directions. She went to her balcony to get some night air and check out those headlights.

Joni pushed through the drapes rather than draw them and opened the deep brown double glass French doors, closing them behind her. She went to the matching deep brown polished rails, leaned over and set her hands on them and looked out over Lake Washington.

The car slowed and turned in to her driveway. That was surprising. From her balcony, she could see the roof of the garage, but not the driveway pavement just beyond. The car stopped out near the street. That was good. It offered her a view of the passengers. A dark-haired girl with one of those short asymmetrical bob cuts got out of the passenger side. That girl let the seat forward to let the rear passenger out. It was Robin. The bob cut girl, a good bit taller than Robin, kissed Robin a deep-tongued, passionate kiss. They said goodbye and Robin dug for her keys as she came around to the utility room. But there was something off about the way she walked. She remembered her Dad one Christmas when he had too much bourbon. He walked funny. She had seen some of the older high school boys drunk last fall after the homecoming football game. They staggered like that.

Robin crossed one foot in front of the other walking to the door as she dug into her purse. The kiss she just saw played on an endless loop in her thoughts.

Robin stopped returning her texts. Joni had decided to confront her at school a while back. Robin had talked down to her – like she was an adult and Joni was a youngster just growing up. That burned her up. She told Joni that if they continued the way they were going, Clarisse would put her back into the foster system. That was ridiculous! Robin told her if the judge denied her emancipation that she needed a plan for that. Robin said that hope didn’t put food in your belly. All of that was a smokescreen. All of that was an excuse.

Robin told her that the concert she played for her on her birthday was a big goodbye and Joni was ignorant for not realizing it. Joni thought long about that. To her, and Clarisse, with whom she discussed that conversation, the concert was a very warm and thoughtful gift. Robin tried to turn black into white, to re-write history.

It has been two weeks since that, the breakup with Robin. Or, Joni thought, if you go by the confusing Robin version, three weeks.

Later the next day, Joni had a long talk with Clarisse. She told her about everything, about the kiss she saw from the balcony, the pot smoking and that same girl in her room downstairs “kicking it.” Clarisse was angry with Robin for the deceptive behavior, for playing the child with Brett and Clarisse while playing the bitch with Joni. Clarisse was especially angry that Robin had that girl in her room on Joni’s birthday, the same day that she presented her with the warmest and most heartfelt gift Clarisse had ever seen. They decided that the course of action would be to stay the course, be stable, and have no confrontations for now. They had made promises to Robin and they would see them through. That’s the kind of people they were.

“Get her fixed and get her on her way,” Clarisse told Joni.

The “goodbye” performance that Robin did for Joni on her birthday counted as an audition for Cornish Conservatory, but since Robin was also interested in classical music, she took her sheet music to the campus and gave one more recital. She needed to do an etude, a contrasting etude or movement from a sonata or concerto, and one piece of her choice preferably written since 1945, or an original composition. She had filed an application for admission for the 2017-2018 school year and was awaiting approval. They said they would begin sending out letters of approval or rejection in the fall. So, her and Brett drove across town, her music in her brief case, and she arrived early. The audition only took fifteen minutes. There was the live interview and few tests. They were on the road and on their way home in within an hour.

She told Brett that she was in and that they reserved a scholarship for her. She would receive a welcome letter and packet soon. She went on to tell Brett that she got a full ride, books, tuition, room and board.

Some time passed. It was Saturday, June 11th and finals were over. Joni was at the PAL facility.

“Okay team,” Joni said and she took another practice swing with her five-iron. The young PAL Center girls lined up along the third base line at the softball field behind the main gym building. Joni wore her golf polo shirt and slacks with a green sun visor. She wore her usual braided ponytail and she had very little makeup, just a bit of light reddish lipstick, her normal color and it was hardly recognizable. She had just a touch of eyeliner. Brett asked her to wear her best golfing clothes for the tournament at the club that was to tee-off at two this afternoon. It was ten now.

The girls were ages eight through eleven and they were in street clothes, but they all brought out softball gloves they checked out from the gym. Joni had lined up some golf balls in the grass along the third base line and placed one of those big fifty-five gallon steel trash cans out by second base.

“The last time we met we went over how to approach the plate, how to stand,” she said. She swung the club and chipped one of her balls. It arched high and banged and rattled down into the can. “and we learned how to position our feet and distribute our weight for the most balance, comfort, and power. Is that right?”

“Yes Ducky!” the girls said in unison. Joni stepped to the next golf ball. She looked down at the ball, shifted her feet, looked at the trash can and lined up her shot. She swung. The ball arched high and dropped straight down into the center of the can. She turned and smiled. Brett stood behind the backstop with two other men. He gave her thumbs up and a nod. She loved getting his approval.

“You all see that thing out in the eight-foot circle?” The eight-foot circle is where the pitcher throws from in fast-pitch softball, as opposed to the mound in baseball.

“Yes, Ducky!”

“That is a pitching machine. Today, all you girls are going to hit a softball, and you are going to do it the right, way, the Ducky Donald way!”

“Yea!!!”

She pointed her iron at the first girl in the line. “You’re first. Grab your gear, your bat, your helmet, and a catcher’s chest pad and get to the plate! The rest of you will play the field. Now get out there! Wait!”

They all stopped.

“We have our cups today?”

They all tapped their crotches with their fists. “Good girls! Now go!”

One of the men with Brett was one of the Country Club’s professional golfers, Hughey Pachalet, who had been on the pro circuit for years. He also worked with youngsters in the city, and he also worked with PAL. If you make it, you always look back, you send the elevator back down. Giving away freely what you have learned develops new talent, keeps your sport alive, it’s the only thing that does.

Hughey looked at Brett. “She has the sweetest swing I have ever seen in my entire career, Brett, man or woman. You should push her toward golf harder.” Hughey was from Louisiana and still carried a little bit of the French accent.

Clang! Joni landed another ball into the can.

“Brett, it would take me six shots to get one ball into dat can. She hasn’t missed!”

“Have you seen her play basketball, Hughey?” Brett asked. He shook his head. “She can shoot from the three-point line just like she can hit those balls in that can. She came from a mold that God only pulls down from the shelf every thousand years. Her mother calls her a lioness. That suits her better than anything else I could say. She hit a softball so hard it exploded!” A tear ran down his cheek.

Later, Joni was wrapping things up with the kids. She had one girl left who had not yet hit a ball. This one was not very coordinated or strong, but Joni promised each of them would hit a softball before they left. Her name was Michelle, she was eleven, and she had swung at nine balls before Joni called “time.” The PAL man running the pitching machine stopped. She went to the plate and leaned way over and put her face beside Michelle’s. Michelle lowered the bat and turned her head to Joni.

“What’s going on, Michelle?” Joni asked looking at her out the corner of her eye. Michelle smiled and leaned back into her.

“I saw the picture on the internet of you kissing Robin,” Michelle said.

Joni, surprised, smiled and pivoted around some where she could look her squarer in the eye. She saw what she guessed. That look. She grinned. “How long have you known, Michelle?”

“For two months, ever since I kissed Rhonda Kinnaird. God, it was dreamy! She gave me tongue. I felt it in my hips!”

“Shhh! Not so loud!” She glanced back at her Dad. “Don’t tell a soul, not until you are sure they can be trusted. It could go badly for you. My advice is to start with whichever parent is most open about it and let the two of them sort it out.”

“That sounds smart, Ducky. Look, I can’t hit this fucking ball. Your ass is making my head swim. Let’s quit.”

She stood straight up and laughed. She shoved Michelle’s helmet playfully. “That’s it everybody. Bring it in!”

Tee-off at the Pro-Am tournament match opener in Seattle was at two o’clock. This was the start of the summer Pro-Am tour, the preliminary round, and they paired Joni with Denise Jennings. They played through fourteen holes. Denise sidled up to Joni at the women’s tee on the 15th hole at Granger Country Club. Denise was a hometown hero and one of the top female golfers in the country. She was tall, five feet eight, but still had to look up to Joni. She had blond hair in a ponytail, little make-up, and a broad smile.

“You know what they call this one, Duck.”

“Yeah, the Devil’s Claw. It’s a par four, with a slight dog-leg left,” she said pointing her driver down the fairway, “It has three sand traps that look like claws placed at exactly where most women hit from the tee, and just past that is where it legs off to the left. The trick is to hit below, or forward of the sand, and it is so much better forward. That gives you a nice chip up onto the green.”

“Just remember, if you go straight for the green from here, its 320 yards with nowhere to go but sand if you fall short. There is some fairway between the sand and the green on a straight shot, but it’s only about fifteen yards, after that is the rough. My advice is to do just like you said. Get past the sand, and chip up onto the green. You’ll be on in two. You can one-putt for a birdie.”

Joni nodded and stepped up to the tee.

The television announcer on CBS whispered into the microphone. “Up now is the women’s amateur leader, Joni Donald. She’s ahead by two strokes over Alverez and Bonds.”

A female announcer added, “She has a nickname, a moniker here in Seattle. They call her Ducky. Ducky Donald. Cute. You know it must be providence that she is paired with the pro leader today.”

“Yeah, cute.” Robin said softly and snarky. Clarisse walked into the great room with another big bowl of popcorn and sat it on the serving table slash coffee table. She wasn’t talking to Robin, but she was being civil. She lifted out the handle at the side of the table and cranked the top of the table up so that they could pull it over their laps on the couch. They watched on the big flat-screen LED TV while Joni lined up her tee.

She took a practice swing and stepped up to the ball, she aimed, aimed again, drew back, head down, and made a perfect swing as she hammered the ball. It jumped into the air high and far. The crowd erupted! It went straight for the green!

“Oh no!” Denise said. Joni stood frozen with her driver in the air holding her breath.

The ball landed past the sand. “Now bounce!” Joni shouted. It landed on that little fifteen-yard strip and bounced.

“It’s going straight for the sand!” The TV announcer said. “No! Wait! It missed the sand and bounced onto the green! It’s rolling toward the cup!”

The TV cameras zoomed in on her ball as it rolled down the long green that had a slight slope down to the cup. It rolled straight as an arrow to the cup and plopped in!

“A hole-in-one! Ducky Donald! She aced it on the Devil’s Claw!” The announcer said. The camera switched to Joni who was on her knees with her hands on her head. She raised her hands high, stood and pranced around.

“Duuuuucky! Duuuuucky! Duuuuucky!” the gallery chanted.

“Well. Joe, if we run it again we’ll see that she cut the corner on the dog-leg shaving off a lot of yardage. And when you add in the luck factor when the ball bounced at just the right spot between the sand and the green right there, freeze it right there, it explains how the shot developed and rolled up to the cup,” the female announcer said.

“Luck!” Clarisse said. “Ducky doesn’t do luck!” Clarisse moved to the edge of the sofa. Robin saw that she was angry.

She waved at the crowd, put her driver back into her bag and hoisted it over her shoulder. She waved at the gallery as she started toward the next tee. One of the television reporters ran up behind her and put a microphone up to her face. His camera operator ran around behind him to put the camera in her face. “Ducky, how does that stroke of luck make you feel?”

“That was not luck. I planned that shot to bounce exactly where it did. I shot straight for the cup.”

“Come on, are you trying to say that you planned an ace?”

“Yes, that is what I’m saying.”

Denise caught up with her. “What Ducky’s trying to say is that she planned to get on the green in one which is a hell of a shot and she should be congratulated for that.”

She stopped, set her bag on the ground, and looked at the reporter. “I’ll do it again,” she said.

“Ducky don’t,” Denise said.

“What is she doing, Clarisse?” Robin asked. She called her that now.

“Embarrassing us all,” Clarisse said.

“You’re serious?” the reporter asked.

“Yes, I am. I do not like to be told that my shot was luck when it was not.”

“She’s young,” Denise said shaking her head.

The reporter turned to the camera. “Can we make this challenge happen?”

Robin put both hands on her head. “She’s going to do it.”

The gallery grew by ten-fold in a half hour around the fifteenth tee. More television crews arrived from CBS and one from ESPN. As more time clicked off the clock, the gallery grew, and so did Brett’s nerves. The stood near the ropes that separated the crowd.

“Ducky, this is by far the most…”

“Stupid thing I’ve ever done? I know. You can trust me. Think about me hitting those balls into that can at the softball field. Just concentrate on that. I can do this. The wind is dead, the same as before. The cloud conditions are the same. It will be the same shot. I’ll make it. It’s a repeat of the same shot. It’s one thing that I’ve learned.”

Of course! He looked at her with a deepness of understanding he never had before. This is how she does it! This is how she has always learned things! Her success is in her basics, her simplicity! Now he looked at his daughter with a level of love that was deeper than ever before. His heart broke for her again, as it had the day she was born!

The club official came over to her. “Everything is ready for you, Ducky.” Joni nodded. She stood and he went to her and hugged her standing to the side away from the crowd.

“Make, miss, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You do what you have to do.” Her face shined with a smile he had not seen since she was young. She looked at him like he was her hero again.

Clarisse saw Brett hug Joni on TV and laughed to keep from crying.

She stepped up, planted her tee and placed her ball, stood, squared herself, and stroked the ball! Just that quick!

It flew just as high and straight as the last one. It bounced in the exact same place as her first shot, rolled down the green, straight to the cup and plopped in!

Mouths were open. The applause was slow at first. People couldn’t believe what they just saw. The applause grew louder and they chanted her name!

Clarisse stood in front of the television with her hand over her mouth and her eyes full of tears. “My lioness,” she said.

They replayed that golf challenge many times during the week on many television channels. They split the screen and showed both balls arching the same way, and landing on the exact spot, the exact same spot, and rolling the exact same path to the cup. The flight of the two balls looked like photoshopped copies, like they ran two segments of the same video side by side. The golfing world was awe-struck. If they had asked Joni, they didn’t, but if they had, she would have told them she could have done it a third time. They showed a close-up shot of the two balls in the cup.

“How did she do that?” was the question going around. The reporter that had challenged her was from CBS and said later, jokingly, that he was glad he didn’t have any money on it, but everyone thought he was lying. There was much money lost, and won, on that shot.

The students at school were also awe-struck. They loved Joni and all her achievements, but this was sick. She finished her finals and was cruising, waiting for the day to end and to get her final grades for the semester, and her averages. She wanted very much to get a 3.0 overall. That would keep her eligible for a good college. She felt good about it, Robin helped her early on but she finished finals by herself.

Joni was at the PAL gym today for her boxing workouts. Today she wore tight gray sweatpants and her green sleeveless softball racer top over her black sports bra. She finished the heavy bag, removed the tape from her fists, and moved on her circuit to bench presses.

A girl was there that she didn’t recognize, but she seemed to know her. Every time she glanced at her, their eyes locked. The girl had a white smartphone in her hand and never worked out with anything, just sat and played with her phone.

Joni’s workout coach had her stand with hand weights and do lunges with a five-pound bell in each hand. A lunge is an exercise where you start with your arms straight out to your sides in a ‘T’ position. To start, you lunge your left leg forward and reach underneath that leg with both hands, wrapping your arms around under the knee and back straight up returning to the ‘T.’ Lunge the other leg forward, reach around the knee, and return to the ‘T.’ That completes one repetition. Doing it with hand weights adds to the difficulty.

After lunges, her coach brought her to the center of the mat and told her that she was to work her legs more. Her upper body was great, but her legs had to come up to match. The lunges were for her quads and calves. Now it’s time to really burn the calves.

He had her start with her hands at her side, no weights this time, move them out to her side in a ‘T’ again and rise on her toes at the same time, and bring her arms back down to her side while bringing her heels to the floor but pausing short, keeping everything tight all up the back of the legs. She nodded, understanding the instructions. She rose, coming up on her toes and her butt cheeks tightened. She eased her heels down,

“Good!” her coach yelled. “Don’t touch the mat. Keep going!”

Joni’s arms went out as she went up on her toes and she tightened up. She could feel the dark-haired girl with the white phone staring at her. She smiled. She doubled up her fist and tensed her shoulder muscles and went way up on her toes.

“How are you doing, Duck?” The coach yelled.

“Great! I can feel it! I can keep it up a while more!”

“Keep going. I’ve got another one for the inside of your thighs.”

Next, Joni’s coach had her sit on the mat with her knees up while he fastened a rubber strap to her knees. “This is a simple resistance exercise. You will use the inside of your thighs to stretch the band out as far as you can and hold it for a five count, relax, repeat. Remember this, you get out of it what you put into it, so feel the burn deep into your legs. Don’t pussy around with it! Got it?”

“Got it, coach!” The girl with the phone snickered when the coach said “pussy.”

Joni started to do her first repetition and paused. She had her knees raised in a semi-missionary position. She spun on the mat and faced that girl. She leaned back on her hands and looked at her with her head lowered giving the girl her sexiest look. She strained at the rubber strap spreading her legs in front of her. She went as wide as she could and held it. Her legs shook.

There was dark-haired girl dropped her phone.

“Relax!” the coach yelled.

“Again!” the coach yelled. She spread them, and the girl smiled. Joni bit her lower lip, spread even wider, and grabbed her butt with both hands and clenched, burying her fingers in her cheeks.

“Relax!” the coach said.

“Again!” he yelled. Joni spread her legs and held it. Her thighs shook from the strain. “Relax!”

The coach put her through calisthenics next. He wanted to develop her foot speed and her hand and feet coordination. Another thirty minutes of that, and she finished with jump rope. It was a hard work-out and she worked up a sweat. She went to the shower room, and her locker. This makes her fifth gym locker counting the one at the Country Club. She pulled off work-out clothes and underthings and slipped on her shower shoes. The lockers were in a spacious room all lined against the wall with an area in the middle for benches. The shower stalls were in a smaller room to the front left. She turned to go to the showers and ran into the girl with the dark ponytail sanding behind her. Joni jumped.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” the girl said. She was younger than Joni thought, having only seen her from a distance. She was pretty, too, very pretty. She had the biggest, roundest, most beautiful brown eyes that Joni had ever seen. Her eye lashes were long and curled up and her lips were full.

“You’re staring,” she said. The girl was naked, too.

“I’m sorry, excuse me. You are…I mean, I saw you out there. I’m…”

“Joni Donald, a.k.a. Ducky. I like Joni much better,” she said and smiled. “My name is Aphelia Ashleigh Adderley,” she said and held out her right hand. Her left hand held her towel over her chest. Joni took her hand and shook. She had a surprisingly firm grip. “If you think your name is weird, try mine. I’ve been called, let’s see, ‘triple-A,’ ash, ashcan, adder, snake…”

“I feel ya,” Joni said. Aphelia laughed.

“I heard that one in the third grade, and again, in the…third grade.” Joni laughed. “Joni, you and I are the same age and we are both sophomores, only I go to Bellevue High, and before you think I’m a perv or something, I haven’t been stalking you.”

“You can call me Joni, or Ducky, both are fine with me. What do you want to be called?”

“Lia…and call me that every day,” she said and dropped her towel. She dropped her line of sight down to Lia’s big boobs. She stepped close to Joni and gently pulled the towel from her hand. “You are a Goddess, Joni Donald, and you do not get the attention you deserve,” she said rubbing Ducky’s arms. She pulled Ducky in to her and they were skin to skin. Lia pressed her breasts firmly into Ducky’s hard abdomen. Lia looked up and kissed her chin, chest.

“I…but…I have a…”

“Ex-girlfriend (kiss), Robin Randall (kiss), short little shit (kiss), plays piano like a dream (kiss), orphan, foster child (kiss), and now your foster sister. You know, legally, you can’t have a relationship with her.”

“How do you know all this?” Joni asked, breathing heavily. She pulled Lia tighter to her and moved her hands up and down Lia’s ribcage.

“We will have tons of time to talk, now we wash. She took Joni’s hand, turned, scooped up her towel, and pulled her into the showers. Lia pulled the band out of her hair that held her ponytail and shook her hair free. Her hair was black, shiny, and shoulder-length. She fixed the water and they both got under. Lia put her chest against Joni’s again and soaped up her back. “Mmmmm! I love it right here,” Lia said as she scrubbed her back. “You and I have much more in common than you and Robin did. I am a sports hound. I’m the state tennis champion. Do you play?” She asked as she vigorously washed Joni’s long body.

“Tried a few times a few years ago, I didn’t move laterally very fast. I was tall and gangly. I haven’t given it much thought lately.”

“Think about trying doubles. You could train with me. It would give you an excuse to get out of the house and come see me, and I need a good doubles partner. And I do another sport that I want to try with you.”

Lia washed her chest slowly. Joni took her face in both hands and gazed into her eyes.

“I’ve been aching for this,” Lia said. Joni rubbed Lia’s pouty lips with her thumbs. She put her lips on Lia’s lips very tenderly, and backed away. She closed her eyes, licked her lips and went for the kill like the lioness she is. They kissed with the raw passion of starving animals. They touched and lingered and explored one another’s bodies.

Afterward, they sat on the shower floor, breathing hard, with their backs against the wall and the water running. Lia looked up at Joni and smiled, “Damn, Duck! You have one talented tongue! I just got a Duck fuck!”

Joni laughed, “That’s dumb, a Duck fuck.” Lia laughed.

Lia scooted closer and Joni put her long arm around her shoulder. “This girl could get real comfortable right here,” Lia said looking up at her with big brown eyes.

This girl could get used to you being right here,” she said.

They finished, dried, dressed, and left the gym, giggling, getting to know one another.

They stopped in the parking lot by Lia’s Mercedes. “Talk to me about Robin. How much competition am I facing?”

“You get right to it, don’t you?”

“There’s no time to let stuff rot on the vine, if you like mixed metaphors,” she said. Joni laughed.

“I love your sense of humor,” Joni said. “Ever since back in May when Mom told us we um…could not…have any kind of relationship, and since I bought her that expensive red Nord stage piano for her birthday, things cooled off fast. It was more like a dead stop. I used to go down to her basement room, but she pushed me away, one excuse or the other. She always had her headphones on with her music, or she’s playing the piano with her headphone’s on. She plays that piano, night and day,” Joni said and looked around.

“There’s more, isn’t there?”

“She sneaks out of her room at night. She sees other girls. Everything went wrong with us. She started having sex with other girls and she told me we were done.”

“Bingo! That was the part I was waiting for because I already knew that, Joni. I want to major in journalism, investigative journalism. I dig into things. It’s my passion. From what I’ve found, she’s through with you. She’s seeing a musician named Kat,” Lia said. “I’m sorry, Joni. You two had a storybook romance, what with you falling in love and rescuing her off the street. We all knew about it over at Bellevue.”

Joni stepped toward her and Lia let go of the car door handle. Lia knew what was coming. She reached for Joni and they were in each other’s arms. Joni sobbed. Lia stroked her long blond hair.

“I know how you cry,” Lia said holding her and stroking her hair. Joni sniffed.

“Storybook…hurt my heart,” Joni said. Lia tippy-toed up and kissed Joni’s hot wet lips. They parted enough to look at each other. Joni wiped her eyes with her shirt tail. Her very pale freckles came out when her face was red.

“You’re honest with your feelings. Any other girl would hide her pain so she would have a chance at a new affair, and that always ends badly,” she said frowning and shaking her head, “Of course, you are hurting. I knew that you would be. We don’t have to jump into the deep waters just yet. Let’s hang out and be lovers. We can fuck each other’s brains out whenever we feel like it,” she said with a roll of her eyes and a wag of her head. “Let’s give this lover thing a chance and see where it goes. What do you think?”

“On one condition,” Joni said, “well, maybe two.”

“I’m listening,” Lia said with some caution.

“We don’t hide. We don’t sneak around. I tell my folks, and my foster sister, that we are a thing and you tell yours.”

“Oh, Joni, I’ve already talked to my parents about you. They know Brett and Clarisse. I told them I was going to introduce myself to you today, and boy howdy, did I!”

“Our parents know each other?”

“Rich white people!”

“Right!”

“What’s the second condition?”

“Give me a ride home.”

Lia snorted and snot came out her nose. The girls panicked until Lia’s face was back to normal. They sat in the car and laughed.

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I finished the novella, Ducky, today. It finished under 35,900 words in 9 chapters. All nine chapters are posted. Enjoy.

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