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 don’t know.” My words were barely a scratchy whisper. I felt the tears well up in my eyes for the second time that afternoon. “Going to California feels a little bit like giving up. Like, being a professor got too hard, and I just gave up.” My head dropped.
She captured my chin between her thumb and forefinger and lifted until my eyes met hers. “Maybe it is giving up,” she confirmed. “Or maybe it’s being brave – imagining that you could have a career beyond teaching college. Oh, I know you feel l
ike a big fat failure right now.” A peculiar smile settled on her lips. “But you’re not.”
Despite my dour mood, I
couldn’t help my own smile. “Did you just paraphrase my favorite movie?”
Ephron’s a smart lady, Ellio; you should listen to her advice.” Her grin rivaled my own. “But just know, either way, I’m going to support your decision.”
I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Hunter wiped her dusty hands on the front of her denim shorts. “Well, it’s about a year late, but we finally got that U-Haul.”
“I know,” I laughed. “We’re the worst lesbians ever.”
s there something I’m missing?” my mom chimed in, looking between mine and Hunter’s secret smiles.
We’d rented a moving truck for the day to move Hunter’s belongings from her former apartment into my house. She was moving in, but I was moving out.
Bravery isn’t the absence of fear. It’s taking action despite that fear. And so, I did what I believed to be the brave thing. I accepted Troian’s offer to work for her in California.
I’d been awarded, albeit grudgingly, a sabbatical from Dean Merlot. I was
contractually due a full-year break, but because of the short notice, the best she’d been able to finagle was a semester off. It actually was the perfect amount of time for me to test the television-writing waters. In four months time I’d be able to tell for certain if this was what I should do, or if I should return to teaching. It was to be a trial period; if I liked Hollywood enough and everything that went with it, I would stay. And if it turned out to not be what I had expected, or I found myself missing teaching too much, I’d come back to the Midwest.
tudio was going to find me temporary housing, nothing as fancy as Troian’s digs, but nice enough that I wouldn’t have to share with the cockroaches. It was to be fully furnished, so the only thing I needed to bring with me were clothes and other immediate essentials. On that list of essentials included Hunter, but because I didn’t know where I would be in a few months’ time, I couldn’t in good conscience let her give up her work at the hospital. Yes, California had hospitals. But if it turned out I was just going to move back, I didn’t want to mess up everything she had worked to achieve.
Thinking about the strain that the move had put on Troian and Nikole’s relationship had kept me up at night. Hunter and I still hadn’t been together a full year, and my friends had been partners for over ten. I couldn’t imagine the kind of pressure it would place on our relationship if I expected Hunter to give up on a job she’d only recently secured that she’d worked so hard to get.
But Hunter wasn’t concerned about her career; she worried about the strain of a long-distance relationship. Neither option was ideal, and we knew it. After a few more heated arguments, I’d finally conceded that the decision wasn’t mine to make. She’d fought long and hard about coming to California with me, but in the end her pragmatism won out. She was going on the cross-country road trip with me, but was then catching a flight back home. We would see each other as often as our schedules and savings accounts allowed.
I was going t
o miss her so fucking terribly. But this was something I had to do. Just like I’d pursued Hunter instead of letting her become a ‘What If,’ I had to go after this writing opportunity or I’d forever wonder how things might have turned out otherwise.
To be honest,
with me now leaving having Hunter live at my house had become a point of contention for us. Before I’d heard back from the Dean, the plan had been to move in together. But now, Hunter hesitated, not wanting to live in my house all by herself. I didn’t want her to think of herself as a house-sitter, looking after Sylvia for me, but practically I did need someone to look over both my house and my cat, and it made sense for her to be the one to do it. Plus, it got her out of her apartment and I wouldn’t have to worry about Loryssa tiptoeing into her bed at night, either.
My phone buzzed with a text message from Troian: “Are you here yet?”
She had been nothing but a bundle of energy – even more so than usual – since I’d told her the news. She’d emailed me a list of all the things she wanted to do once I arrived in Los Angeles. I wondered if we’d ever have time to actually write a television show.
“See you in a few days,” I wrote back.
Today the sky was clear and cloudless, and the weather forecast was agreeable for the next few days as well. I took it as a good omen. Hunter and I were leaving first thing in the morning; I wanted to cross at least a few state lines before we stopped for the night. If we shared the driving responsibilities we could be in Los Angeles in just under 30 hours, but I was in no hurry to reach our final destination.
I probably could have squeezed everything I needed to bring with me into a couple of suitcases and flown, but I was excited about a road trip with my girl. It would also give us more time to talk about the future. We had been avoiding that conversation, but now the moment was upon us. She’d make the cross-country trip with me and unless one of us had a change of heart, she’d be on the first flight back.
My mom wiped at her forehead. “Almost done,” she panted. “In the homestretch now.” The back of the moving truck had only a few more boxes of Hunter’s things.
“Vivian, you didn’t have to help,” Hunter insisted. She rested her hands on her hips. “No one likes helping other people move. And it’s just a few things; Elle and I could have done this ourselves.”
“Nonsense,” my mom chastised, perking up immediately and grabbing for another box. “It’s a parent’s duty to help their daughters move.”
I caught Hunter’
s eye and she gave me what seemed to me a sad smile. She’d told her parents that she was moving in with me, but they hadn’t been as ecstatic about the news as my own mother had. Honestly, I think my mom was just excited because in her mind that meant we were one step closer to getting married and having babies. I tried to console Hunter about it – my mom had had a lot more time to wrap her head around me being gay. The news was still pretty fresh for Hunter’s parents. They’d be more supportive with time, I had reassured her.
“You also know you didn’t have to quit your job at the university just because of me,” I added.
’d told my mom that I was taking a semester sabbatical, she had promptly quit her job with the college. I didn’t know if she was just biding her time at the university library until she had an excuse to quit. Her new plan was to move back to my hometown so she could be closer to my sister and help her raise the baby who would be arriving soon.
My mom rested the moving box on her hip.
“No, I could never work someplace that didn’t support my daughter and her partner 100%,” she said, shaking her head adamantly. “Besides, it’s time I go home and be a grandma.”
I pulled another box out of the back of the
moving truck. The word ‘Sweaters’ was scrawled on the outside in Hunter’s careful hand. I could still smell the scent of the black permanent marker.
I followed my mom inside the house. The front door swung wide open, and I stuck my leg out when I saw Sylvia creeping towards a great escape. With boxes in our arms, there was little either my mom or I could do.
“Get back,” I sternly ordered.
Sylvia hopped over my leg and scampered outside.
“Damn it,” I cursed.
I heard Hunter’s voice call to me from outside. “Don’t worry; I’ve got her!”
“Asshole cat,” I mumbled.
“Where is this one going?” my mom asked, nodding to the box in her arms.
“What does it say on the box?”
She struggled a bit to read its contents while still holding the box aloft. It was almost too large for her short arms. “Kitchen stuff,” she read aloud.
“I think you have your answer,” I grunted.
“Your girlfriend is very organized,” my mom observed.
I chuckled, but said nothing more.
I hefted my box up the stairs to the master bedroom. All of my clothes were already out of the closet and wardrobe drawers for my own move and to make room for Hunter’s things. I wasn’t planning on bringing much with me to California beside
s my laptop, a few books, and my clothes. And even then, most of my winter wardrobe was staying behind. I really just wanted to pack Hunter into a box and start the trip already.
I set the box on the ground and kneeled down beside it. I wiped at my forehead with the back of my arm; it was hot outside, but even hotter upstairs. I pulled open a bottom drawer and started to unpack the box, carefully refolding each of Hunter’s sweaters. I knew she’d appreciate the gesture rather than me dumping the contents of the box into the drawer and moving on.
I paused when I saw a familiar blue fabric poking out from beneath the remaining sweaters in the box. I reached in and pulled out Hunter’s blue, puffy winter jacket, spoiling the carefully folded sweaters that had sat on top of it.
I was immediately distracted from my task; Hunter’s delicate scent covered the jacket. I blinked once and my eyes felt wet. I brought the jacket to my nose and inhaled, not caring if anyone walked in on me. A rough sob caught in my throat, and I pressed the jacket to my mouth to smother the sound.
I heard footsteps up the stairs and Hunter appeared in the doorway. Her cheeks were red and her brow glistened from the heat of the day and the exertion of moving across town.
“Everything’s out of the truck; do you want to come with me to bring it back? I’ve still got loads of boxes to unpack, but that can wait until later.”
She seemed not to notice my distress or else I’d done a good job of covering it. I nodded. “Yeah.”
She reached out a hand to me and pulled me up from the ground. I let the inertia of the action carry me and our hips knocked together. She smiled, warm as the day. I stroked my thumb along her jaw line and pushed a stubborn lock of hair that had escaped her ponytail behind her ear.
I swallowed back another sob. She was so beautiful, so good. Was I destroying perfection because of my need for more?
She led the way down the stairs, and I refused to let go of her hand as we walked outside and into the hot afternoon sun. I was going to hold on for as long as she’d let me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eliza Lentzski is the author of lesbian fiction, romance, and erotica novels including
Apophis: A Love Story for the End of the World,
Winter Jacket, Second Chances, Date Night, Diary of a Human, Love, Lust, & Other Mistakes
, and the forthcoming
All That’s Gold
(Fall 2014). Although a historian by day, Eliza is passionate about fiction. She calls the Midwest her home along with her partner and their cat and turtle.
Follow her on Twitter, @ElizaLentzski, and Like her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/elizalentzski) for updates and exclusive previews of future original releases.