Read Winter Jacket: New Beginnings Online

Authors: Eliza Lentzski

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Lesbian, #Romantic, #Lesbian Romance, #Genre Fiction, #Lgbt, #Gay Fiction, #Lesbian Fiction, #@lgbt, #Contemporary, #@unread, #Romance

Winter Jacket: New Beginnings (10 page)

BOOK: Winter Jacket: New Beginnings
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Cady’
s voice dropped conspiratorially. “Whatever happened with that student? You know the one…”

I
scratched the back of my neck. “We, uh, we’re dating.”

“Oh,
really?” she said in a falsetto voice. “Tenured professor
and
a young, nubile girlfriend? It’s good to be you.”

I cleared my throat uncomfortably and glanced in my m
om’s direction. She seemed disinterested in our conversation. Her gaze traveled around the party, looking for someone more interesting to talk to, no doubt.

“Which one is she?”
Cady asked. Her hand fell on my forearm and my eyes glanced down at the touch that seemed too familiar. “No, wait. Let me guess.”

She scanned around the open floor layout
of the living room and kitchen. I wondered if she’d guess right.

“Ah ha.” She grinned mischievously. “Leggy brunette by the built in.”

The brunette description immediately told me she was wrong, but I was curious to see what kind of girl Cady thought I’d go after. Standing near my built-in bookshelf was a tall, slender brunette I didn’t recognize. I guessed she was one of Nikole’s employees who were, like Hunter, on the younger side. She was attractive, long limbed with an upturned nose.

“Nope.”

Cady smirked. “She’s blonde, isn’t she?”

“Why aren’t there men at this party?”
my mom butted in.

I kind of stared at my mom incredulously. She shru
gged and stirred her cocktail. “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you couldn’t have invited someone for me to your party.”

I rolled my eyes and tur
ned my attention back to Cady. “Yes, she’s blonde.”


I should have known,” she smirked. She had her next guess ready. “Short stuff by the fireplace.”

I turned on my heel to look in the direction of the fireplace
where a pixie sprite of a girl whom I recognized from the crowd at Peggy’s stood.

“Strike two.”

“Good.” Cady barked out a laugh. “I call dibs.”

“She’s all yours.”

“Well, I’m out of guesses. Where’s this perfect co-ed of yours?”

I quickly scanned the room and spotted Hunter having an animated
exchange with Troian. There was another conversation I wanted to eavesdrop on. “She’s talking to Troi over by the island.”

“Very pretty,” Cady murmured approvingly. “
And look at those legs. It
is
good to be you.”

“How about you?”
I asked, feeling uncomfortable. Maybe Nikole and Troian had been right about not being friends with exes. “Dating anyone?”

Her nose wrinkled. “
I was seeing this one girl for a few months, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

I didn’t want to pry because I’
d lost that privilege, so I didn’t ask any follow-up questions about the break up. “I should get back to the party. Don’t want to neglect my hostess duties,” I excused myself. “It was good to catch up though. I’m glad you could make it.”

Cady nodded. “
It was good to see you, Elle. It’s been too long.”

 

I exhaled all the way back to the kitchen where I busied myself refilling the sink with ice and beer.

“That seemed to go well,” Nikole observed. She fished a new beer from the sink, which was serving as my beer cooler. “No hair pulling at least. Very adult of you both.” She congratulated me with a slight tilt of her bottle.

“Well, the night is early,”
I remarked, letting my gaze travel back in Cady’s direction. She had moved on to the pixie-featured blonde from the bar whose name still eluded me. “It could still end in disaster.”

Nikole shrugged. “
I was never able to stay friends with exes, but you’ve made it into an art.”

“You give me too much credit,”
I dismissed, shaking my head. Cady and I weren’t friends anymore. It would take a conscious effort to rebuild what had been lost.

Nikole to
ok a quick pull from her beer. “Does Hunter know who she is?”

A
t her name, I glanced in Hunter’s direction. “No. But something tells me it wouldn’t faze her. She’d probably go introduce herself and start swapping embarrassing stories about me.”

Nikole beamed. “You’ve got a keeper there.”

I leaned against the countertop. “I do, don’t I?”

I excused myself to go say hi to my girlfriend.
While Hunter reconnected with people she had worked with under Nikole, I had tried to keep my distance, not wanting to Out her to anyone she had known before we’d started dating. It was ridiculous of me though – Hunter had never shied away from letting people know she was dating a woman whether it was dancing at Peggy’s, looking at cuddlefish at the aquarium, or having an awkward dinner with her family.

She and Troian were still chatting
, and as much as I loved my best friend, seeing her engaged in a one-on-one conversation with Hunter made me nervous. She’d been the one to spill the beans about Ruby and my past; who knew what other dirty laundry of mine she was exposing.

I slid my arm around Hunter’s waist. She in
stinctively pulled me tighter. “Having a good time?” she murmured in my ear.

“I think so.”
I had been too busy playing hostess all night to really enjoy the party myself. Everyone else looked to be having a good time, so I supposed the alcohol was working. For myself, I’d stuck to beer; if I let things get out of hand I was sure I’d turn into a weepy drunk, and that wasn’t a good look on anyone.

“You’re not sure?”
Her pale blue eyes regarded me with new concern.

“I’m fine,” I sighed a little.
“Just being weird again. Plus I’d rather be spending time with you than making small talk with people from the bar.”

Hunter’
s gaze left my face to appraise the living room. “It
is
an interesting mix of people.”

The invitees were an
odd assortment – people we’d met from being pseudo-regulars at Peggy’s, a few women from writing workshops and book clubs, and people from Nikole’s landscaping jobs, long-time clients and employees whom I didn’t know.


I wanted to give them a big party,” I shrugged.

I’
d stopped just short of inviting members of the English Department who’d had Troian guest-speak in their classes over the years. It was probably a smart move on my part. Some of the faculty like my mentor Emily would have been fine, but I couldn’t imagine people like Bob or any of the Dinosaurs mingling with the lesbian bar crowd.

“Well, I think you succeeded.”

“Are
you
having fun?” I turned the question back onto her.

Hunter nodded and took a sip from
whatever concoction was in her red Solo cup. I’d thought about hiring some of the bartenders from Peggy’s to be mixologists for the party, but then I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings because I’d asked them to work the party instead of being a guest. Most everyone had stuck to beer or wine anyway.

“Yeah, it’
s been fun reconnecting with people I haven’t seen since I worked for Nikole last summer.”

Troian tottered over to where we stood. “Break it up you two.”

“Have you been drinking?” I grabbed her glass and inspected its contents. The distinct aroma of rum greeted me.

She shrugged, all arms and shoulders. “It’s my party, isn’t it?”

I narrowed my eyes in concern. “You’re not going to, like, go into shock and I’ll have to stab you with an EpiPen when we re-enact the Uma Thurman scene from
Pulp Fiction,
right?”

“Nothing so dramatic
, Bookie.”

“Well that’s a relief,” I joked.

“Hey, did you ever tell Hunter about the Winter Jacket thing?”

I froze
and the playful smile on my lips faltered.
No.

Hunter, innocent, turned to me. “What winter jacket thing?”

“Giirrrrllll,” Troian drawled. “She hasn’t told you how obsessed she was with you when you were her student?”

Hunter arched a curious eyebrow and looked back and forth between Troian and me. “Obsessed?”

“Obsessed is a strong word,” I protested.

“Whatever,” Troian snorted. “Nearly every day she’d wax poetic about you; about something you did in class or some silly little interaction the two of you had that day,” she continued. “It was gross. I’m glad she got over that.”

“Why did you call it the winter jacket thing?” Hunter asked.

I covered my face with one hand. Was this really happening?

“Because that was your name,” Troian clarified as if it was the most rational explanation ever. “That’s what we called you.”

“I still don’t get it. Winter Jacket?” Hunter’s confusion was writ on her beautiful face. “Why?”

“Because you kept your jacket on in class,” I mumbled between the cracks in my fingers. This was horrifying. Why was Troian spilling the beans? I was never letting her near the alcohol again.

“Oh, so you mean like the Professor
Skirt thing.”

I slowly lowered my hand from my face. “What?”

Hunter shrugged, looking more amused than creeped out. “I may or may not have done the same thing about you with a few girls in the nursing program. I annoyed them all semester long with my pining over a devastatingly charming and gorgeous English professor with a penchant for short skirts and knee-high boots.”

Troian’s lip curled up. “You two are so cute it makes me want to puke.”

“Sure that’s not the alcohol making an encore appearance?” I teased, although I was seriously a little concerned because she’d been drinking. Because I didn’t have children or messy pets, I could have white throw-rugs in my living and dining room. I didn’t need her to make me regret that decision.

“Love you,”
Hunter said. She pressed her lips to the corner of my mouth. “I’m gonna go mingle and make new friends.”

When she did things like that
I wanted to wrap my arm around her and pull her in for a more thorough kiss. But I was mindful of our place and the mixed audience.

Hunter wandered off, and
Troian leaned her head on my shoulder. She didn’t have to duck or stoop; her head was exactly at shoulder-height. When we hung out we probably looked comically mismatched. Me, tall and broad shouldered with Anglo-Saxon features and she small-boned and Asian.

“Hey, thanks for doing this. I didn’t want anyone to make a big deal about the move, but I’m glad you did.”

“Any time.”

“I’m gonna miss you, Bookie.”

“Nuh uh,” I chastised, wiggling a finger at her. “Don’t you even start with that. You’ll make me mess up my makeup.”

Nikole chose that moment to join our conversation.
“I hate to interrupt this Hallmark moment, kids…”

Troian wiped at her eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she denied.

Nik smiled knowingly. Troian and I had a unique friendship. Someone less secure might have thought it suspect, but Nikole had always accommodated our oddities.

“What’s up?” I asked.

Nikole grinned, broad and not a little bit mischievous. “Um, I think your mom might be flirting with Leah from the bar.” She subtly pointed in the direction of the fireplace.

Even from this distance I could see that m
y mother was standing too close to Leah, or maybe it was the other way around. I wondered if my mom even realized that Leah was a girl. She was tall and built, with short, peroxide-blonde hair she usually wore spiked into a faux-hawk. Tonight she wore an open grey vest over a fitted white t-shirt and skinny black tie. My mom must’ve known though. Leah had the most feminine voice I’d ever heard. It was a startling contrast to her soft butch exterior, but it was that paradox that made her so popular at the bar.

They conversed with heads bent suspiciously clos
e, my mother touching Leah’s forearm, and every now and then Leah would erupt with too loud of laughter. My mother was no comedian. She was either spilling embarrassing stories about my childhood or Leah was being suspiciously polite—or something else altogether was unfolding before my eyes.

“Oh
, hell no.”

I abandoned
my two friends and rushed across the room.

“Mom.
Mom. Stop,” I said when I reached her side.

She waved me o
ff, annoyed that I’d interrupted whatever was happening. “Your friend Leah and I are in the middle of a conversation, Elle. I really thought I’d raised you better.” Her eyes looked unfocused to me and her speech had become audibly slurred.

“Mom, I think it’s time to say goodnight.”

I flashed a look at Leah, both pleading and apologetic.

I tried to pry th
e wine glass from my mom’s hand, but she slapped my hands away. She’d been drinking cocktails all night and I didn’t know when she’d made the switch.

BOOK: Winter Jacket: New Beginnings
11.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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