Excerpt for If You Can't Stand the Heat by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


If You Can’t Stand the Heat

By Ginna Wilkerson


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2017 Ginna Wilkerson

ISBN 9781634864541

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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For friends at Gainesville, Florida, Pride Center.

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If You Can’t Stand the Heat

By Ginna Wilkerson

Chapter 1: Now We’re Cookin’

“Hey, babe,” said Kayla, “Did you see this notice on the board?”

Her partner of six years, Reese, poked her head around the corner of the Pride Center game room.

“A chili cook-off—to raise money for the new big screen television we wanted to get for movie nights. We should do it, ya think?” She looked at Reese, who was now by her side at the bulletin board. “It’d be a hoot. And it’s two weeks away—time to try a few recipes.”

Reese, a head taller than her girlfriend, placed a firm hand on Kayla’s shoulder. Reese liked to be in charge. “Maybe…Depends who else is entering.”

Kayla knew this meant “are men allowed?” Reese had only come out when they met, six years ago at the age of twenty-two, and she still had kind of a “man-phobia” thing going on. To Kayla, this was ridiculous. In fact, Kayla’s best friend was a gay man, Andres, whom she met in college. Reese had never really warmed up to him, even though he was at their apartment at least once a week.

Kayla solved this issue by pointing out the large words at the bottom of the flyer: All Women And Woman-Identified Members Welcome To Compete.

Reese moved her hand from Kayla’s shoulder to take Kayla’s hand. As they left the center, she grabbed one of the flyers on the lobby table. Kayla grinned silently, knowing this meant they would enter the cook-off.

* * * *

After stopping for a quick sandwich and a beer, the two women climbed the three flights of stairs to their apartment. Kayla remembered when they had moved in; how exciting it had been to be a real couple. Their dogs, Kayla’s Alvin and Reese’s Moto, were far from excited and hid from each other for days, before settling it with some general growling and butt-sniffing. Now they were like brothers.

Snapping on the light, Reese headed straight for the kitchen to get another beer. “Want anything?” she called to Kayla, who went to the bedroom to change clothes. She hated both shoes and bras. Alvin and Moto followed Reese into the kitchen.

By the time Kayla joined the rest of the family, Reese and the boys were all flopped down on the sofa with the television on. Kayla sat, too, folding her legs under her at one end of the sofa. Alvin came over to lick her face appreciatively.

“Sit, buddy, be a good boy.” Alvin obediently curled his wiener-dog length into a circle between the two women. Kayla looked at Reese to see how receptive she might be to talking about chili recipes. Strangely, chili had been a sore topic in the past, as Kayla had made Texas-style chili for Reese’s sister and brother-in-law, and they had laughed at it—and hated it. Reese took this kind of thing personally, and was just as embarrassed as if she had made the chili herself.

She looked relaxed now though, and Kayla decided to chance it.

“Hey,” she said, putting a hand on Reese’s leg. “Thanks for agreeing to the chili thing. Do you have any thoughts about recipe?” No way was Kayla bringing up the Texas recipe—any Texas recipe—when it came to chili.

Reese covered Kayla’s slender hand with her own. “Not really. I was kinda thinking of using my grandma’s recipe—the one with the red beans and corn in it. You remember?”

Kayla did indeed remember—she hated corn in soup—it reminded her of pooping corn as a little girl after a cook-out. Yuck! Well, they had two weeks to settle on a recipe, so why not make Reese happy at the moment?

“Sure, babe. We can try that one first. Maybe Saturday afternoon? Make a list for me and I’ll get the stuff on the way home Friday.”

“Good—thanks. Grandma Griner’s chili! Hope I can do it justice.”

Kayla said nothing, thinking how much better Lady Bird Johnson’s chili would be for the cook-off. Forcing herself to keep this opinion unsaid, Kayla climbed up on Reese’s lap to kiss her. This displaced Moto, who gave his “other mommy” the stink-eye. Soon both dogs were relegated to their individual doggie beds as their people got naked on the couch.

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Chapter 2: First Chili Fail

So Friday evening Kayla arrived home with several bags of groceries, plus beer for the two cooks. Reese inspected the ingredients while both women unpacked and put it away. Alvin and Moto sat side by side and checked out the interesting smells.

“You did great, K. Ground turkey, corn, red beans, chicken broth—we have the spices already. Hey, what about the tomato part?” Reese was rummaging through the pantry. “Don’t we need tomato paste or sauce or something?”

Kayla looked a bit worried. “Well, I always feel like paste is a bit—too much—ya know? And they had these big cans of stewed tomatoes on sale. Won’t they do?”

Reese slammed the pantry door and sat on one of the bar stools at the counter. Kayla came over and attempted a kiss on her girlfriend’s ear, which was received in silence.

“Come on, babe. It’s just the first prototype. And the whole thing’s just for fun. Don’t stress. Andres will come over tomorrow and be our taste-tester. It’ll be a relaxing afternoon, I promise.” Kayla had a fleeting thought that she spent a lot of time making Reese feel better…

* * * *

Saturday morning, Reese and Kayla got a late start in the kitchen because of activity in the bedroom. Both women finally arrived in the kitchen for chili making, dressed for making a mess in sweatpants and T-shirts.

Reese assigned Kayla to open cans. Kayla got the cans from the pantry, thinking that this wasn’t a very important job. As if Reese didn’t trust her to know what to do…

Ten minutes later, she had opened cans of corn, beans, tomatoes, and green chilies. “Hey, babe—now what?”

Reese looked up from the stove, where she was browning the ground turkey. “Just relax, K—maybe feed the boys.”

Kayla swallowed her frustration and sidled up behind Reese, slipping her arms around the other woman’s waist. Reese reacted by patting Kayla’s hand and then giving her an annoyed look over her shoulder.

Kayla went to feed the dogs, blinking back tears. Maybe this chili thing wasn’t such a hot idea after all.

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By one in the afternoon, all the ingredients were in the pot, including a bundle of bay leaves and thyme to which Kayla strongly objected. Even with the small can of green chilies, she knew this chili was not really going to be chili at all—more like a glorified vegetable soup. Kayla felt annoyance creep up on her. What made Reese, who grew up in Minnesota, think she should be in charge of chili in the first place?

As the kitchen filled with the aroma of…whatever it was in the large pot, Kayla heard Andres at the door, calling, “Hey lesbos!” the way he always did. Kayla chuckled and opened the door to her best friend.

Andres immediately wrinkled his nose with a questioning look on his handsome brown face. “I thought we were making chili, sweetie.”

Before Kayla could answer, Reese called from the kitchen, “Hey, Andres. Come see how the chili’s coming along.”

Kayla said a silent prayer that this cooking adventure would not turn into an argument. Reese argued as passionately as she made love, and the outcome was never pleasant.

Kayla and Andres entered the warm kitchen of the small apartment, where Reese presided over the chili creation. It’s not that it smelled bad—it didn’t smell like chili. Andres and Kayla looked at each other in consternation. What to say? Best to say nothing.

Andres peered over Reese’s shoulder at the contents of the pot.

“Okay, then. This is the chili?”

Reese stepped away from the stove with a presentation gesture. Andres looked into the pot. Kayla was a bit afraid to.

“Okay,” Reese laughed, “Let’s just try it. Then we can see about the spices and everything.”

Reese dished up three small bowls of the contents of the pot. Everyone sat at the kitchen table, with Alvin and Moto waiting at attention by the edge of the living room rug.

Andres valiantly took the first bite. The two women waited while he made various faces and finally swallowed. Reese looked worried.

“Well, it’s pretty tasty…” Andres offered. “I like the beans and the tomato flavor.”

Resse asked, “But what about the texture? And the spices?” She looked over at Kayla as if to warn her not to say anything.

“Okay, you asked. It could be spicier—more Southwestern spices maybe. And the texture is a little—thin.”

This was not what Reese wanted to hear. “Thin? More like vegetable soup?” Again, she glanced at Kayla with narrowed eyes.

“Well, yeah,” agreed Andres. “I guess I expect chili to be more…hearty. Maybe more meat?”

Reese got up from the table and went out on the patio. Kayla didn’t dare follow. She stirred her own bowl of Reese’s creation and looked at Andres. Now what?

Kayla said in a quiet voice, “I think you better go, dude. She’s unhappy, and it probably won’t end well. I’m fine—don’t worry. And thanks for helping.”

Poor Andres looked miserable. He’d meant to be a friend but set off a bomb in the apartment instead. “She asked…I was just trying to help.”

“I know,” said Kayla. “Please don’t worry. I’ll let you know when the next batch comes around.”

Andres didn’t look too happy at that prospect, but he was devoted to his friend Kayla. “Sure, of course. Talk to you soon.”

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Chapter 3: The Infamous Texas Chili

Fortunately for Kayla, Reese was willing to leave the apartment shortly after the first chili fail and head to their favorite local pub. Kayla had the good sense to stay silent in the car and let Reese take her time to comment on the rejected recipe. When they entered the pub, there was a fairly good-sized crowd already gathered, and the two women headed for the bar.

“Hey, ladies. What’s up?” said a nearby voice. Kayla recognized their friend Raina, a young transgendered woman from the Pride Center. Raina motioned them over to a table where she sat with two other women.

“Hey, sweetie,” said Kayla, giving her a quick hug. Reese sat in silence, focused on her beer. Soft music sounded in the background, a popular female band on the jukebox.

Kayla and Reese didn’t know the other two women, but they introduced themselves politely. One of them brought up the topic of the chili cook-off. Kayla stayed silent and let Reese answer.

“Yeah, we’re in,” she said, “but not sure of our recipe yet. We had kind of a chili fail earlier this afternoon.”

The other women chuckled wryly, and Raina asked, “What was the problem? I can’t imagine you two totally failing at anything!”

Reese warmed up to the conversation, and Kayla started to relax. Reese described the earlier mess that had turned into a sort of vegetable soup with ground turkey and an unworkable combo of spices.

Kayla added, “And corn. I just don’t like corn in soup…”

Reese grimaced at her. “This isn’t soup we’re cooking, K—it’s a chili cook-off, remember?”

Raina chimed in, as if to stop a brewing storm. “Ladies, don’t fret. You still have plenty of time before the event. Why don’t you try something completely different next time? Then you can compare the two. I’m betting that the third recipe will be a winner.”


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