Pairing: Gretchen Cutler/Jimmy Shive-Overly
Title: Break Me From This Rule
Link: on AO3
Word Count: 14,810 words, complete
Recced By: Self-Rec
Why This Must Be Read: Gretchen and Jimmy are such unrepentant dicks but their romance has this confusing sweetness. I wanted to put that across, that strange combination, the harshness as well as the tenderness. Also, writing Lindsay Jillian was a gift because she has zero filter.
If you're into problematic people falling in love, The Brontës, mean spirited jokes, Los Angeles, and footwear-adjacent sex then this story is for you.
Stab. Stab. Move food around. Stab. Stab. The screech of tines drag on the plate, the soundtrack to another two hour lunch. Lindsay sits across the table, talking. That high, staccato squeal providing a familiar, pleasant background to Gretchen’s spectacular hangover.
Lindsay’s lipstick is a dull housewife plum and as she monologues, her lips move in a series of perfectly delineated O shapes.
“—and I told her yeah, I'll do that, and now I'm stuck. What do you think? Should I sprinkle speed into the cunt's fondue?” She licks the sugar off of her spoon and leaves the utensil in her mouth. “Wed phthat pheven wawk?”
“Too complicated. Put eye drops in her Diet Coke.”
Lindsay takes the spoon out of her mouth and points it at Gretchen. “Oooh, good idea. You’re so smart. I love you.”
The spoon becomes a makeshift mirror and Lindsay uses it to inspect the curved reflection of her lips and teeth. Momentarily satisfied, she fishes her phone out of a quilted purse and types into it for a million years.
Gretchen’s delayed reaction hits. “Wait. Who are you drugging? I can't be an accessory. I have misdemeanor.”
Pairing: Gilda Mundson Farrell/Johnny Farrell
Title: Under The Snow
Link: on AO3
Word Count: 10,665 words, complete
Recced By: Self-Rec
Why This Must Be Read: A femme fatale who is way less deadly than the men in her life, a dangerous and unexpected husband, and a lifelong gambler who is tired of running. I've always been fascinated by the careful transformation of Margarita Cansino to Rita Hayworth and I knew I wanted to tie that into Gilda's story, since so much of it is how men willfully misinterpret who she is because they can't see past her image and their own projections to the woman underneath.
This story works without prior knowledge of Gilda and Johnny, though it helps of course. Three parts-- one narrated by Gilda (1941), Ballin (1946), and Johnny (1950). Featuring period details, dialogue, and locations in NYC, Argentina, and Chile. My first ever Yuletide story.
A couple of days later, on a Saturday, she got a small white envelope in the mail. Miss Valence’s Elocution Classes at a place near Gramercy Park. All paid for. She was expected in two weeks and boy howdy, did she go. She was early, she was ready. She practiced. In a month, she’d mastered it, her new voice, pushed down deeper giving her a cool, low tone. A sultry girl should have a sultry voice. It was all in the lip shape. Where her tongue rested inside her mouth.
“Hello. My name is Maria De La Cuesta,” she practiced at home in the mirror. “My name is Maria De La Cuesta, how do you do?” she said to him at the club.
He looked up from his paper.
“Yeah, I know. Tiny told me on my first day.” He brushed his hair back, then lit a cigarette. The smoke-tendrils spiraled and beckoned around his face. “You don’t like it though.”
“Then change it. What’s your middle name? All you Spanish broads have at least five.”
She slapped him. It happened so fast, she didn’t have time to feel sorry. The sound was like a whip crack. He smiled and rubbed his jaw.
“So you do have some Irish in ya. Okay, four.”
She geared up to do it again but he caught her hand.
“Easy, tiger. I might get to like it.”