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
I looked back to Leah for help –
she had to deal with drunk women all the time – but the traitor had slipped away, probably to go hit on some co-eds from Nik’s company.
“Please, Mom,” I implored.
“I’m fine,” she sourly insisted. “Worry about yourself.”
“Your mouth is purple,” I told her. “
At least brush your teeth and tongue so you’re not so obvious.”
She made a frustrated noise and spun on her heels to storm away, but at least she was storming away in the di
rection of the guest bathroom.
I scanned the crowd for Hunter and found her talking to Nik
ole and Troian. I caught her eye and motioned that I’d be right back.
The bathroom door was closed and I got no response when I lightly knocked.
I tried the door handle and, finding it unlocked, went inside. My mom was leaning against the bathroom sink. The faucet was turned on and she had a toothbrush in one hand. She seemed to have forgotten why she’d come in here though. Her head was tilted down and her hair obstructed her face from my view.
I reached for the faucet and turned the water off.
She looked up and I saw her face t
hrough the reflection of the mirror over the sink. Under the unforgiving glare of the bathroom lighting her practiced mask had slipped away and I saw the sadness, regret, and worry that she’d worked so hard to hide.
Did I embarrass myself out there?” she asked her tired reflection.
“No, you’re fine, Mom.”
“Your friend must think me an old fool.”
Leah would be only so lucky to have a woman like you hitting on her.”
My mom brought her hands to her face and hid. Her b
oney shoulders slumped forward. “How did I get here? How did I get to this place in my life? Why don’t I have it figured out by now?”
I had no answers to comfort her.
I placed my hand on her shoulder and she looked up from her hands. “Why don’t you try to get some sleep?” I gently coaxed.
She nodded somberly and set her toothbrush on the countertop, unused.
I helped my mom
pour into bed. The first floor bathroom and the guestroom were only steps away, so we didn’t have to make a scene when we left the bathroom. She didn’t bother changing into pajamas, and I didn’t point that out to her. I knew how she felt. Sometimes you needed to skip that step.
I took the time to get her a glass of water and a couple of aspirin and set them on the bedside table where she’d be sure to find them in the morning. I didn’t know her
alcohol tolerance, but after drinking all that hard liquor and enough wine to stain her mouth, I was fairly confident she’d be thankful for them in the morning.
I stood in the doorway with my hand on the light switch.
Buried under layers of blankets my mom looked so small, almost childlike. I instantly felt guilty. I had seen her arrival as an annoyance to my routine, but she was just asking for help.
When I finally turned off the light I made a silent vow to myself to help her get back on her feet.
We hadn’t been close for a decade or more, but I was going to try to change that.
The next morning was rough. Hunter had left early because she
said she had laundry to do. I privately thought that perhaps she just wanted to avoid my mom, but I also knew she had just taken on a new roommate she needed to bond with, too. I was glad she’d been able to find someone to take over Sara’s part of the lease so easily. She didn’t need something else to worry about in her final semester.
It was nearly noon when my mother finally emerged from the guest bedroom. I was in the kitchen, using the island as a desk as I worked on lesson plans. Normally I would have hidden away in my back den to work, but
I had to confront my mom after what had happened the previous night.
My mom pulled one of the kitchen stools around the island so we sat across from each other. I poured two cups of coffee and set one in front of her.
“You can stay as long as you need to.” I didn’t really want to talk about what had happened the previous night. Even though I’d returned to the party with little incident after putting my mom to bed, I was still embarrassed for the both of us. “You always have a place here with me.”
My mom’s eyes filled up. When she blinked, a wall of tears fell from her eyes and landed on the front of the shirt she’d slept in.
“Mom, don’t cry.” I knew from experience that that was the worst thing you could ever say to someone on the verge of a breakdown, but the words still came out. My mother’s face crumpled up and her chin quivered.
“Mom,” I soothed. “It’s gonna be okay. We’ll figure this out.”
“I’m a grown woman with grown daughters,” she openly lamented. “I’m going to be a
,” she added, her voice pitching up. “This shouldn’t be happening. I should have things figured out by now.”
I was out of encouraging words, so I patted the top of her hand.
“What am I going to do about a job?” she worried. “How am I going to get out of debt?”
“I’ll ask around on campus and see if there’s a job opening,” I offered. “Maybe you could answer phones in the Admissions Office or reshelf books in the library.”
Her sobs turned to sniffles. “You think they’d hire an old woman like me?”
I didn’t hold my eye
rolling back. Even at her lowest point, my mom could still fish for compliments. “You’re not old, Mom.” I said the words I knew she wanted to hear.
“Maybe I should take a page from your book and find a student to date. I could be a Cougar, couldn’t I?”
I took that change in conversation as my cue to leave. I stood from the stool and put my half-empty coffee cup in the sink. “I’m going over to Hunter’s now,” I announced. “I’ll see about finding you a job on campus tomorrow.”
I left my mom sitting in the kitchen looking thoughtful and excited about new possibilities.
I was surro
unded by Hunter’s belongings; her delicate scent enveloped me like a comforting blanket. My head was on her lap and she was leaned over, her long hair falling forward and creating a space for just the two of us, like a weeping-willow tree. Her lips were warm and soft and we indulged in lazy kisses passed back and forth. It was just simple kisses at this point, but I knew if I applied more pressure against her mouth it could quickly escalate to more.
“Is your roommate home?” I asked.
I still had yet to meet the girl who was now sharing Hunter’s space, but she hadn’t mentioned much about her, so I assumed the co-habitation was going smoothly.
my girlfriend’s response. Her addictive mouth curled at the edges. “But I don’t want to share you.” Hunter’s lips found mine again.
It was easy to take for granted these quiet, intimate moments.
With my mom always around, wandering around my house without purpose now that I’d put a stop to her compulsive baking, Hunter and I hadn’t had much opportunity to be close like this and just enjoy each other’s company. My mom’s steps were purposely heavy and she cleared her throat a lot to announce her presence to avoid walking in on anything that might offended her virginal eyes, I supposed.
My entire body went rigid when I recognized the voice and the face that poked around Hunter’s partially closed bedroom door.
“Hi, Professor Graft.”
I immediately sat up and my hand went to my hair to smooth down the flyaways.
she’d be my girlfriend’s new roommate. I shouldn’t have felt so blindsided, but I was. It was a small school, after all; there had always been a good chance that whoever answered Hunter’s roommate advertisement would be a former or current student.
stepped into the room. Her hair was up in a bun, her face freshly scrubbed and free of makeup. She wore pajama pants low on her angular hips, and I couldn’t help but notice that she was braless beneath her thin tank top. When I realized that, I immediately cast my gaze down to the tiny flower print of Hunter’s sheets.
I just wanted to say hi and goodnight,” she said in her careful diction. She bounced on her toes. “I’m in for the night; I might watch a movie on my laptop or something.”
t think Hunter realized anything was off with me. “Ok. Have a good night,” she cheerfully returned.
gave us both a quick wave and a dazzling smile before spinning on her heel and disappearing from view. When she was gone, I still couldn’t relax. My body tensed with every creaky footstep I heard as she went to her bedroom.
“She knows you.” It wasn’
t an accusation, but I heard the question and confusion in her voice.
“Because she’s in one of my writing s
eminars this semester.”
Hunter’s eyes went wide. “
Oh, God. I should have asked if you knew her before she signed the lease. Is this going to be a problem?”
“Only if my Dean finds out,” I said, feeling defeated by the coincidence.
“She’ll probably accuse me of recruiting undergrads to start my own lesbian harem.”
Hunter’s features squished together. “But
Loryssa isn’t gay. She’s got a boyfriend. His name is Eric. He seems nice.”
I shook my head forlornly. “
That doesn’t matter, Hunt.”
Hunter’s mouth twitched. “So I guess this means you won’t be
staying over anymore.”
I sighed. “Not this semester at least. I’m sorry.”
“No, I get it. You can’t be parading around in your underwear when one of your students is my roommate.” She shook her head. “I knew I should have asked, but what are the chances?”
The way that my luck was going this semester it would have surprised me if Hunter’s new roommate
been a current student.
Don’t go,” I objected when Hunter stood from the bed and walked toward her bedroom door.
“I’ll be right back,” she chuckled
at my reaction. “I just need to finish getting ready for bed.”
It was still early – too early for sleep, but I slid under the covers of the bed, regardless. When Hunter returned from the bathroom, she snuggled in close and pressed her mouth against mine; s
he tasted extra minty, like she’d rinsed with mouthwash.
Her hand snaked beneath the covers. When her
hand reached me, she laughed. “Why is your shirt tucked into your pajama pants?”
I was cold!” I protested. I hated that moment when you first got under the covers and it took a while to warm up the bed. I loved the feel of chilly cotton sheets against my skin at the apex of summer, but not in the middle of February in the Midwest. Hunter’s apartment was habitually frigid despite the radiant heat. It was an older building that lacked energy efficiency. Precious heat escaped through the ancient windows that rattled with every violent gust of wind.
She roughly tugged my t-shirt f
ree from my elastic waistband. “I’ll warm you up, baby,” she reassured. Her fingers slipped beneath my shirt and traveled up to palm my naked left breast. I sucked in a sharp breath as she slowly dragged her nails against my hardened nipple. She wasn’t one for empty promises; my temperature instantly spiked.
Even though I wanted nothing more than for her to continue
“warming me up,” I was also acutely aware that her new roommate, one of my current students, had a bedroom on the other side of the apartment. I should have removed myself from the situation and gone home as soon as I found out about Loryssa. We might as well have been at my house with my mom. It actually would have been preferable because the walls were better insulated and the guestroom where my mom stayed was on the first floor.
I laid m
y hand over hers on my breast. “We shouldn’t…”
I heard her sigh. “I know.”
Her hand slid out from beneath my shirt and rested innocently on my hip. “God, this is frustrating,” she groaned.
“Believe me, I know,”
I said through grit teeth as her hand resumed its less than innocent intentions. Her fingertips danced softly along the narrow strip of exposed flesh between the waistband of my pajama pants and where my shirt had ridden up.
When are we going to have a space to ourselves again?” Hunter asked quietly.
Between my mom staying at my house and
now a current student as Hunter’s new roommate, I feared we’d never truly be alone again until I found a more permanent living situation for my mom.
ed my eyes and exhaled deeply. “Not soon enough.”
I was running late the following morning, and my shower had been lukewarm. It left me feeling cranky and unclean. It had been an oversight on my part that there were now
people who needed to get ready with only one bathroom to share. Prior to Loryssa, if Hunter was monopolizing the bathroom and I needed to get ready, I could just walk in while she was showering or blow-drying her hair. Now, however, I had to be patient; a difficult task when I didn’t have the luxury of being late for a class waiting on my arrival.