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Excerpt for Skating on Air (Lesbian Light Reads 8) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Skating on Air

Lesbian Light Reads 8


by


Elizabeth Andre


Published by Tulabella Ruby Press

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Andre/All Rights Reserved


Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.


All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.


Click here to sign up for Elizabeth Andre’s email newsletter and never miss a new release, a book sale, a chance for a free story or other important news.


Other titles by Elizabeth Andre:

Tested: Sex, love, and friendship in the shadow of HIV

The Time Slip Girl

Learning to Kiss Girls

Love’s Perfect Vintage

Lesbian With Dog Seeks Same

Bodies in Motion

Right Time For Love

Landing Love

Lesbian Light Reads Volumes 1-6 Boxed Set

The Beauty Queen Called Twice

Someone Like Her

Roll With Me

Stop and Go

Nice Jewish Girls

Lesbian Light Reads Volumes 7-12 Boxed Set

Joy For Julie

Give Me Thorns: A Lesbian BDSM Romance


Editor: Cassandra Pierce


Acknowledgment:

A big thank you to James Richter, MD, who provided valuable insight into the life and work of an anatomic pathologist.


Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Someone Like Her/Chapter One

About Elizabeth Andre

Other Titles in the Lesbian Light Reads Series

Other Titles by Elizabeth Andre

Connect with Elizabeth Andre


Skating on Air

Lesbian Light Reads 8

by

Elizabeth Andre

Chapter One

I had two reasons to be at the skate park on a fine and sunny Saturday morning in the middle of June. One reason was that I had brought my nieces, Marena and Keri, to the park for their skateboarding lessons. They had seen some skateboarding videos online and some kids in their neighborhood skateboarding and decided it was something they wanted to try. As luck would have it, a friend of mine knew of someone, a friend of a friend of a friend, who taught kids how to skateboard. After a little back and forth via email and texts, I agreed to six lessons for the girls with Lyndsey Falk. Lyndsey was the second reason I, and not their mother or another relative, was at the park. We had met a couple of weeks before to discuss the girls’ lessons, and I wanted to see her lovely smile again. The girls and I had arrived a few minutes early that day, and so we got a chance to watch the skaters. I spotted Lyndsey right away. She was the one with pale skin that was acquiring an early summer tan and shoulder-length brown hair that fluttered in the wind as she skated. Most of the other skaters were guys, and nowhere near as attractive.

Lyndsey was fun to watch as she skimmed down a railing, landed sure-footed on the ground and skated away. She looked so cool. I couldn’t think of any other word to describe how she looked as she skated around. My nieces were mesmerized. I must admit that I was, too, but for different reasons. I was 43 and going on five years of being single. I could not take my eyes off Lyndsey. She skated beautifully, and, well, she was beautiful, too.

A few minutes later, Lyndsey came over and introduced herself to the girls. I hoped I wasn’t staring. My cheeks were getting hot. I attributed that to the June heat, but who was I kidding? I was happy that my skin— a mellow brown—didn’t show any blushing. I had a hard time concentrating because I was unprepared for how strong an attraction I felt to her. Yes, by virtue of going through my day every day, I saw many young women, and if I took notice of any of them, I’d think something along the lines of, She looks so young to me. Is she in high school?

Yes, Lyndsey looked young, but I saw something else. The way she moved suggested confidence and self-reliance. She was a bit taller than me with chocolate-brown haircut in a neat, longish bob and topped with a baseball cap. Her eyes were like amber-colored honey. My thoughts upon seeing Lyndsey for the first time had been something like this—Damn, she’s cute! I wonder if she’s single? She looks young. Maybe I’m too old for her. Wow. She looks great on that skateboard. She looks great off the skateboard, too. Maybe I just need to get laid. Said thoughts whirled through my mind at something like a hundred miles per hour on an endless loop. It had been a long time since I’d felt anything like that about anyone. My brother, Kenny, once told me that it was because I was too picky.

Turned out Lyndsey was long past high school, in her late 20s, and she was good with kids. She had a way of getting the girls’ attention and keeping it without scolding or bribery. I spent the rest of that first lesson giving the girls encouragement and taking videos of them. That gave me something to do other than gawking at Lyndsey while pretending not to gawk at her. She did occasionally make it into my videos, which only made sense. She was, after all, teaching my nieces.

Once the girls got the basics down in their first two skateboarding lessons, each subsequent lesson involved Lyndsey introducing a more advanced move or concept. Lyndsey supervised the girls as they pushed on their skateboards on a sidewalk adjacent to the skate park. Keri, the younger of the two at nine years old, seemed to be better coordinated than Marena, who was eleven. Keri pushed along effortlessly and seemed to be able to hold her balance while Marena couldn’t seem to get a good push going. It could be that Keri was the more fearless one. Lyndsey kept a close eye on both of them, but stood closer to Marena. She had probably picked up on Marena being a little more fearful. It was one thing to watch videos of skateboarding. Actually trying to do it was quite another thing.

“That’s it, Marena. You’re getting it. Now just lean forward a little bit more. That’s right,” Lyndsey said.

I moved my attention from Marena to Keri in time to see Keri skateboard into the grass, where she jumped off.

“Auntie Gigi! Did you see that? Did you see me? I skateboarded all the way on the sidewalk!”

“I sure did, sweetie! You’re great!” I said, standing up from the bench I was sitting on.

Keri picked up her skateboard, skipped back onto the sidewalk, set the skateboard down, got on it and pushed. She passed Marena, who was doing a bit better at pushing now. Marena even smiled a little.

I glanced around in the direction of the skate park where mostly guys were trying to impress each other and themselves with their skills. Keri came to an inelegant stop at the bench, sticking out her hand and grabbing onto the bench just before she got to me. I grabbed onto her as the skateboard glided out from under her. She giggled. I let go of her so she could retrieve her skateboard. Marena made it to one end of the sidewalk and had now turned around to come back with Lyndsey shadowing her.

A couple of minutes later, the lesson was over. Keri and Marena were sipping from their water bottles, and I paid Lyndsey for the lesson. I found myself once again feeling unsettled yet oddly calmed by her eyes, but that’s only when I could get a good look at them. She couldn’t seem to look me in the eye. Depending on the angle of her head, the brim of her baseball cap kept her eyes hidden, and she seemed restless as she looked toward the skate park and then over at the girls and then down at her feet before briefly glancing at me.

“Thanks, uh, Gigi.” She smiled as she stuffed the money I’d just given her into her wallet and the wallet into the back pocket of her denim shorts.

“Thank you, Lyndsey. The girls are really enjoying themselves.”

“Good. I’m glad. That’s the main thing. That they enjoy it. Have you ever skateboarded?”

I was taken aback by the question “Me? No. Never.”

“You should try it, Auntie Gigi.” This was from Marena. “It’s fun but not as easy as it looks.”

I wondered if Marena was really interested in me trying skateboarding or if she was just teasing me. Sometimes it was hard to tell with her.

“I think you’d be good at it, Auntie Gigi,” Keri said. She picked up her skateboard and set it down on the sidewalk.

Keri was easier to read than her older sister. She meant what she said.

“Maybe I will someday, but today is not that day. I have to get you back home by noon, so we’ve gotta get a move on.”

“Well, maybe after one of their lessons you can stick around a bit longer and let the girls watch me skate,” Lyndsey said. “I think they’d like that, and maybe you’d learn something, too.”

“That would be cool, Auntie Gigi. We can stay later next time, right?” Marena asked.

“Maybe. As long as it’s okay with your mom and dad.”

“They’ll say yes.” Marena finished the last of the water in her bottle and dumped it in a nearby recycling bin.

“She’s very sure about that,” Lyndsey said. This time she looked up at me, and the brim of her cap was no longer hiding her eyes.

“She’s sure about many things. She’s probably right that her parents will let her and her sister stay a little bit longer. It just might not be after their next lesson. They have them on a pretty packed schedule.” I picked up my mini sling bag. “Come on girls!”

“Do you have other nieces and nephews?” Lyndsey said, walking with us to my car.

I felt Keri take my hand. She skipped along next to me. “Oh yes. I have two other nieces and three nephews.”

“Well, if any of them want to learn how to skateboard, just send them my way. Who knows, maybe we’ll all be able to talk you into a lesson as well.”

We stopped by my car, and I opened the trunk so the girls could put their skateboards, helmets and kneepads inside. They got into the car, strapping themselves into their seats.

“I’ll talk to my nieces and nephews. Not so sure about me.” Pause. It was one of those pauses that was full of possibilities and awkwardness. We stood there just staring at each other. I fingered the necklace around my neck. She held tightly onto her skateboard, but the moment was broken by the girls shouting at me that they had to go home.

“Duty calls,” I said. “See you next time.”

“Yeah. Next time.”

She was standing close enough that I could see redness in her cheeks. Her skin, fairer than mine, might just burn easily and a light tan wasn’t always a defense. I got into my car, started it, waved and drove away. The girls chattered away while I replayed in my mind images of her riding that skateboard. See you next time, skater girl, I thought.

***

It wasn’t until after the girls’ last lesson at the end of June that Lyndsey and I were able to chat a bit more. The girls stayed after their lesson so they could watch Lyndsey in action at the skate park. By that time, I had learned various skateboarding terms, like vert, pop, half pipe, etc. I felt so cool and in the know. Some of Lyndsey’s skate crew, all of them women, joined us. Keri and Marena were thrilled. Lyndsey and her friends did all kinds of tricks, some of them breathtaking. One gal seemed to fly down a flight of stairs while her board was flipping over in the air. She landed on it and skated away like she was just out for a stroll. Another skidded through a puddle. I noticed one of them seemed to be especially chummy with Lyndsey. She had short blonde hair that was slicked back. She was a really good skater, but Lyndsey was more fun to watch. Lyndsey had a laid back way about her that appealed to me. It wasn’t that she made what she did on the board look easy. It was that she made it look a whole lot of fun. I took some video of Lyndsey going back and forth on the vert ramp. She went faster and faster with every run.

Keri and Marena clapped and giggled at everything the girls did. About midway through their exhibition, Lyndsey brought some of the young women over to introduce them to my nieces. One of them was the blonde skater. Her name was Jenna. The main thing I noticed seeing her up close was how often she tried to get into Lyndsey’s space. Jenna was very pretty with pale blue eyes and full lips, and she stood close to Lyndsey when Lyndsey was answering a question that Keri had asked. Jenna tried to touch Lyndsey while making it seem like the touching was accidental or at least casual. I thought, She either wants to be Lyndsey’s girlfriend or was her girlfriend, but still wants to be. It was the way Lyndsey responded to her that made me think they weren’t dating each other at the moment and Lyndsey might not be that into her. Whenever Jenna touched her, Lyndsey tried to wriggle away without making it seem like she didn’t want to be touched by her.

My first inkling that my growing interest in Lyndsey might be reciprocated was right after she skated away from Jenna and dropped down into the bowl at the skate park. I had glanced away when she dropped in because my nieces were trying to get my attention. When I glanced back toward the bowl, I saw Lyndsey standing alone, perched on the edge, watching me. She quickly looked away and then peered at me again before dropping back into the bowl. I couldn’t help feeling a little buzzed after that.

Lyndsey accompanied Keri and Marena to a flat area in the skate park and supervised as they skated around a bit. I think Marena was more nervous about the other skaters whizzing by them than Keri was. Keri just didn’t seem to notice them, but soon, it was time to go. The girls hugged Lyndsey, who seemed sincere when she said that she had enjoyed teaching them.

Jenna, who was in close proximity, turned to me and asked, “Do you skate, Gigi?”

“Me? No. My balance isn’t good on things that can move like that,” I said.

“I hope I can get you to try it sometime. I’m a very good teacher,” Lyndsey said.

I felt a tingling in my body, mostly in my gut and lower down, as Lyndsey smiled at me.

“Yes! She’s a great teacher, Auntie Gigi!” said Marena, tugging on my shirt before turning to Lyndsey. “We’ve been trying to get her to skateboard, but she won’t do it.”

Lyndsey didn’t take her eyes off of me. “Really? Well, let me know when you want to take the plunge.” With her left foot, Lyndsey levered her skateboard up from the tail. “You know where to find me.” She put her right foot on the board, sending it down to the ground and then gained speed by pushing off.

Jenna waved at us but didn’t smile and skated after her.

All the way back to their house, the girls talked about the tricks they’d seen Lyndsey and her friends do at the skate park. I overheard Keri saying she would be skating bowls and half pipes someday soon. Marena doubted that would happen, which started a bit of a tussle in the back seat. As much as I loved them, there were moments when I was glad I could just drop them off and be on my way. I wondered if I would see Lyndsey again. I could take her up on her offer to give me a skateboard lesson or two, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy a skateboard just to take a lesson or two. I knew from talking to Robin, my sister and my nieces’ mother, that skateboards could be very expensive. It also occurred to me that we might not have all that much in common, mainly because of the age difference. At 43, I was in a different place in my life than she probably was in hers. She told me she was 29. By the time I was that age, I had started my residency in anatomic pathology. My life had consisted of working all day and sometimes night. I was focused on finishing my residency and getting into full practice. It was a slog, primarily because I felt I had to work even harder than everyone else because I was the only black woman on my internship. Once that was over, I was able to date, although never terribly successfully. After my most recent five-year dating drought, I was so out of practice, I wasn’t even sure how to go about asking her out.

***

When the July 4th holiday rolled around, I realized I’d been thinking about Lyndsey a lot since the girls’ last lesson with her. And I’d talked about her a lot. My friends encouraged me to ask her out. What harm could it do? they said. You’ll go on a date with her and get her out of your system. Or not. But I didn’t. I didn’t know what I was waiting for, but, just as the image of Lyndsey popping an ollie appeared in my mind, she called me.

“Hey, Gigi Darnell. It’s me. Lyndsey.”

Caller ID had tipped me off who it was, but I thought it was cute that she felt like she needed to make sure I knew who she was. “Hi, Lyndsey. What’s up?” I said.

She asked me how Marena and Keri were doing and whether they were still skateboarding. I told her that Keri would spend hours skateboarding up and down the sidewalk in front of their house. Marena would sometimes join her, but she seemed to want to spend more time with her friends who didn’t skateboard.

“Keri’s getting really good. I mean, she looks really self-assured on that board,” I said as I turned away from my computer and focused on our conversation. The analysis of those tissue samples could wait a few minutes.

“That’s fantastic. If she ever wants more lessons or just a pointer or two, let me know.”

“I sure will.” It seemed she had run out of things to say, but wanted to stay on the phone. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity, although she cut me off before I could ask her out to do something non-skateboarding.

“Would you like to go out with me sometime? Oh, I’m sorry I interrupted you. What were you going to say?”

I laughed. I was right. I was attracted to her, and I was right to suspect that the feeling was mutual. “I was going to ask you if you would like to go out with me sometime.”

“Really?” She sounded so surprised, so sweet and charming.

“Yes. Really. So how about it?”

That turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. I was glad that we were on the same wavelength, so to speak. We talked about when and decided on a week from this Saturday. Neither one of us had thought about what we wanted to do, and we both had to get going. She had another skateboarding lesson to teach, and I couldn’t let those tissue samples wait too long so we agreed to come up with ideas later and text each other.

That night, when I got home from work at the hospital, I ate a quick dinner and headed to the garden to do some weeding before the sun disappeared. I went to the gardening shed to get my gloves and hand hoe. In addition to gardening tools, the shed held a few things that I had put there thinking that I’d eventually store them in the garage or the basement. One of those things was a kite I had bought in the spring. It had been an impulse buy. I was buying supplies for one of my nephews’ birthdays when I saw the bright red and orange kite in the shape of a butterfly. My dad used to make kites and take me and my brothers and sister with him to fly them. It wasn’t nearly as beautiful as my dad’s kites, but I bought it anyway, intending to take it out one day and fly it with my nieces and nephews. Seeing it propped up against the workbench looking rather forlorn, I decided kite flying with Lyndsey would be fun.

I texted her my idea to go kite flying. She was up for it. Suddenly, I realized what I’d done. I’d asked a woman out on a date. I was going on a date for the first time in five years. What was I thinking?


Chapter Two

Before getting out of my car, I checked myself in the mirror. I had worked some pomade through my short natural to lock in moisture. I primped my hair a few seconds. Still looking fine, I thought. As I got out of the car, I saw that Lyndsey was already at the park, sitting on the top of a picnic table. She was wearing a tank top that showed off her smooth shoulders. Her arm muscles were well defined, but she wasn’t cartoonishly muscular. She waved to me. Her skateboard balanced on her lap as she idly spun the skateboard’s wheels. I guessed that was her transportation. I showed her the kite.

“This looks really cool,” she said. The wind was making the kite flutter and her hair flow.

“It reminded me a little bit of something my dad would have made.” I’d spent the days running up to this date stressing about what I would wear and what I would say. I picked out a pair of jeans, the ones that fit me well, and my favorite red polo. I was now forgetting all the pithy topics I had come up with in my head, but discussing the kite worked for me. Besides, now that I was here, I relaxed. I felt comfortable.

“Your dad made kites?” she asked.

“Yeah, but his were much better, even more beautiful than this. Store-bought kites tend not to have enough line with them. Dad always made sure that his kites had enough line, so they could go higher. The line that came with this kite was short, so I bought some more.”

“Well, I’ll defer to you and your kite flying expertise. This is a first for me.”

I started unwrapping the kite and unfurling the tail. “A first for what? Deferring to my expertise or flying a kite?”

She grinned. “Well, both.”

“You’ve never flown a kite?”

“Never,” she said as she hopped off the picnic table.

“You’re in for a treat, then.”

Or she would have been if the weather had cooperated. I had checked the weather forecast that morning and had been glad to see that rain wasn’t supposed to move into the area until that evening, long after I figured we would be done flying for the day. The best wind speed for this particular kite, which was marketed as a beginner’s kite, was between five and twenty miles per hour, but about fifteen minutes after we’d gotten it up in the air, the sky began to turn a foreboding purplish gray. The wind began to pick up. We laughed as I helped Lyndsey keep the butterfly, which she decided to call Gertie, in the air. With every wind gust, the butterfly kite seemed to suddenly have a death wish. She’d spiral down toward the ground like a kamikaze pilot. All too soon, the wind gusts got so strong that I became afraid the string would snap and we’d lose Gertie. We had to bring the kite down and pack it in.

Then the rain started. Lyndsey threw her skateboard into the back seat of my car and gave me directions to a coffee shop owned and operated by a couple of her friends. The kite flying didn’t turn out how I would have liked, but the coffee shop was cozy and did a really good iced chai latte. Lyndsey had iced pomegranate rooibos tea. While rain poured down outside and even after it ended, we sat there chatting about ourselves, kite flying, TV shows, movies, music, skateboarding and anything else we could think of. I loved her description of how she felt when she was skating: “Fluid movement. Freedom. Exhilaration. Utter joy. It reminds me that life can be less complicated.”

I knew I wanted to keep talking, and I suspected Lyndsey did, too. At least she didn’t make any indication that there was somewhere else she’d rather be or someone else she’d rather be with.

I talked about my work as an anatomic pathologist and shared a couple of anecdotes from my time in medical school. She really got a kick out of those. I talked about all the times people assumed I was studying to become a nurse. Nurses are great, but that wasn’t my dream. I wanted to be a physician. I talked about how anatomic pathology combined my love of science with my love of medicine.

She told me that she worked part-time as a copy editor and a proofreader for a local non-profit organization whose unofficial motto was “We do good in the light of day.” As it turned out, she also worked a couple of days a week at the coffee shop we were sitting in and at a skate shop in addition to giving skateboarding lessons. I was so used to having one full-time job that I wondered if she felt scattered having so many jobs.

“No, but it can feel hectic. Good thing none of them have real dress codes. I’d never keep track.” We reached the bottom of our drinks. “Look, some friends of mine are having a barbecue today. Would you like to come with me?”

I was a little surprised. It was a pleasant surprise but still a surprise. We were getting along fabulously well. I had hoped that she liked me as much as I liked her, and this invitation confirmed it. Yes, she was cute, but she also seemed so free and casual. Her life didn’t seem as serious and structured as mine, and I found that so attractive.

“It’s okay. I mean, these friends are very open. The more, the merrier they always say, so you shouldn’t feel like you wouldn’t be welcome.” She seemed a little anxious, although I wasn’t sure why.

“I’d love to come.” I would get to spend more time with her. I couldn’t say no.

She smiled. “Good. I need to stop by my place and pick up the bottle of wine I want to bring.”

***

We arrived at the party at a house a few miles away, and Lyndsey was right. Her friends, Matt and Elena, were warm and welcoming. I must admit that the party was a lot of fun. I met a lot of new people, which was delightful.

I’d gotten used to seeing pretty much the same people whenever I went out because my friendship circle really hadn’t changed that much in several years. I had lost several friends in my last break-up five years ago, and I’d been spending so much time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews. Many of the people at the party tended to skew younger, around Lyndsey’s age.

I had a lot of fun talking to this very sweet lesbian couple in their mid-20s as we all sat on a bench in the backyard. They had met in high school, but didn’t start dating until they were in college. Emily, the more talkative of the two, said that about a year ago her mom got her and her girlfriend, Katie, drunk in an effort to see if they’d tell her if and when they planned on getting married.

“Mom doesn’t care if you’re straight, gay, bi or whatever. She just doesn’t like people shacking up. She’s really into respectability,” Emily said.

“So you’re getting married,” I said.

Katie chimed in, “Oh yeah, but not because of Em’s mom. I think we knew we wanted to get married soon after we started dating.”

“The wedding’s this September. My mom’s over the moon.” Emily smiled. “I’m over the moon, too.”

“We’ve already sent out the invitations, and her mom is still trying to add people to the guest list,” Katie said, exasperated.

They showed me their engagement rings and told me more about their wedding plans. It made me really happy to listen to them talk. They seemed so open to building a life together. When I was their age, I had just come out to my family who were a little confused and surprised. They were not unsupportive, but they weren’t exactly the sort of people to accompany me to Pride parades either. I didn’t have a lot of time for parades anyway. Med school and residency just sucked up all my time.

At one point, Lyndsey excused herself and went inside the house. When she didn’t return after fifteen minutes I excused myself as well after the engaged couple told me about their honeymoon plans in the Florida Keys and went in search of the bathroom, thinking I’d run into Lyndsey somewhere along the way. I didn’t see her, so I ducked into the bathroom when it was empty. When I came out, I saw her coming up the stairs. She saw me. It was odd, but she looked relieved.

“There you are!” she said. “Elena said she thought you’d gone to the bathroom.”

“I wondered where you’d got to,” I said.

“I got waylaid by someone I used to know. I wanna show you something.” She held out her hand to me. The back of her hand was covered with some shallow scratches that must have been from a recent fall, but her palm was soft and warm.

She led me down the hallway at the end of which was a door that opened up to a winding, narrow wooden staircase. She gave my hand a gentle squeeze, and I closed the door behind us. We walked up into the darkness at the top of the stairs; only it wasn’t completely dark once we got there. The ceiling and walls of the attic were covered with wallpaper and paint depicting a starry night sky. The stars glowed. I gasped.

“This is beautiful,” I whispered.

“Isn’t it? Elena calls it the Junebug Planetarium. Junebug is her mom’s nickname for her. She designed the wallpaper and painted the ceiling herself. She’s such a wonderfully creative person.”

The planets and stars on the ceiling had a three-dimensional realness to them that was astounding, aided by the deep blues and blacks that served as the background. Lyndsey pointed out a nebula painted on one of the walls. I felt that we had stepped into space. A small window was at the center of the wall that angled down at the front of the house. I stepped to that window and looked out at the real night sky. Then I looked back at Junebug’s planetarium and Lyndsey.

“I helped paint the ceiling, too,” Lyndsey said, the soft light filtering in through the window and the painted stars casting delicate shadows on her face.

“Did you? It looks wonderful. There should be a telescope here.”

“She does have one. She takes it out occasionally to stargaze, but I think I use it more than she does. I love this room.”

She came and stood next to me at the window. I felt her close to me. Her breath hit my ear and the right side of my neck. I could smell her faintly floral scent, maybe from a moisturizer or hair product, and, when I turned my head, she was watching me. She didn’t look away like she had done that time at the skate park when I caught her looking at me. She was an inch or two taller than me, and I leaned toward her. She leaned down a little. Our lips met, hesitantly at first, and then we were off to the races. We alternated between soft, delicate kisses and rougher, hungrier kisses. My breath came faster, in gasps, as I embraced her with one arm while I caressed her cheek and ran my fingers through her hair with my other hand. I felt her hands holding my head. Then, she slid one of her hands from the back of my head and down my back.

“I can see why you love this room,” I said, trying to catch my breath.

“You don’t think I bring every woman I meet up here, do you?” She planted kisses all over my face and then kissed me on my lips again and again.

“Do you?”

She stopped kissing me and hit me with a gaze filled with such an intense wonder and desire I thought I would melt.

“Just you,” she whispered. “Just you.”

Goodness. I hadn’t felt so giddy and turned on in years. I slipped my fingers under the strap of her tank top and trailed them down to her right tit. Her lips grazed my neck, making me giggle softly.

“I can smell you,” she said.

“What?”

“You’re turned on, really turned on. I can smell it.” She moved her hand slowly to my crotch and pushed her hand against it.

“Oh.” I put my hand on top of hers and pushed, putting more pressure on my crotch. I knew my panties were wet. She kissed me again, still pushing against me.

I heard the door open and then voices.

“What’s up here?” It was a male voice.

“It’s the attic.” Another male voice. “I think Elena painted stars on the ceiling.”

Footsteps. Lyndsey and I quickly stepped apart. We stood there staring out the window trying to pretend we had never touched. I heard two men come into the room.

Lyndsey turned and said to one of them, “Sergio? Is that you?”

“Hey, Lynds. Fancy meeting you here.” Sergio glanced over at me and nodded to acknowledge my presence. “Hey there. I’m Sergio.”

We made small talk. Sergio used to work at the non-profit where Lyndsey worked part time. The other guy talked about his job with a real estate management company for a couple of minutes before my phone rang. I fished my phone out of the back pocket of my pants. It was my sister. I told Lyndsey I was going to take the call and left the attic.

“Hey. What’s up?” I said.

My sister wanted to know what happened to me. I was initially puzzled. She said that Marena and Keri were wondering why Auntie Gigi didn’t come to dinner. Then I remembered. For the past few years, my sister and brother-in-law had a standing invitation for me to come over on Saturday nights for dinner and a movie with them and the girls. The only time I’d missed a Saturday was when I was out of town. I really had planned on going tonight. I assumed that my date with Lyndsey would just be kite flying and maybe drinks afterwards. I had completely forgotten about dinner because I was having such a good time with Lyndsey and coming to this party wasn’t part of the plan. I looked at my watch. It was just after 9 o’clock. The girls got to stay up late on Saturdays, but not much later. My sister and brother-in-law were strict about bedtimes, and Robin probably already had them in the bath.

“I’m really sorry, Robin. Tell the girls I’m sorry. I’ll be there next Saturday.”

“Are you still on your date?”

“Yes.” I had told Robin that I was going on a date today. She seemed surprised, but hadn’t been curious about who I was going out with. At one time, we used to talk a lot about our personal lives. After I came out to her, that sort of talk between us had stopped. She rarely asked me any questions about my love life now.

“So it’s going well?”

There was an edge to Robin’s voice, maybe a little resentment, maybe a little sadness. That was where Marena got it, that ability to say something with a tone that could indicate joy or animosity. Robin was a master of it. I really didn’t need that. I felt badly enough about missing dinner and a movie. I knew how much the girls looked forward to it. I had always looked forward to it.

“Yes, it’s going well. Thanks for asking. I’ve gotta go. Bye.” I tapped “end” on the screen and took a deep breath.

“You okay, Gigi?”

Startled, I looked toward the door to the attic and saw Lyndsey standing there. She stepped closer to me.

“Oh, yeah. No, I’m all right.”

She was standing directly in front of me. She placed her hand against the wall behind me and leaned in.

“You sure? You look troubled.” She caressed my face with the tips of her fingers.

I shivered and played with her tank top straps. “Really. I’m okay. Just some family stuff, a misunderstanding. I’m okay.”

She regarded me with a questioning look, as though she didn’t quite believe me, but she didn’t probe further. “Okay.”

“You know, I think I should get going.” I knew it was the stupidest thing to say, but I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to be with Lyndsey, but I felt so bad about letting down my family.

Lyndsey looked surprised and a bit deflated. “Uh, sure. Yeah.”

“I can give you a ride home.”

“That’s all right, I’m gonna stay. Besides, I only live a couple of blocks away from here. And I have my board.”

“Oh yeah. That’s right.”

We stood there watching each other. I pulled her toward me and kissed her.

“I had a great time today. I really did,” I said.

“Me, too. Hey. I’ll walk you to your car. My board’s in your back seat.”

In silence, we walked through the house and outside. We held hands. It was still overcast. It smelled like we might get more rain before the night was out. When we got to my car, I turned to face her. She leaned up against me, pushing me up against the car. I hooked my fingers through the belt loops on her pants. She rested her hands on my shoulders.

“You can talk to me,” she said.

“I know.”

We kissed again. She pulled away before I wanted her to, opened the backseat door and pulled her skateboard out before closing the door again. I stepped around to the driver’s side, waved to her and got in. As I drove away, I saw her in the rearview mirror, watching me. Once I turned the corner, I pounded my forehead with the heel of my right hand a few times.

“Fuck!” My first date in five years, and it ended not with a bang—ha, ha—but with the stupidest of whimpers. I was pissed at my sister for making me feel like shit. I was pissed at myself for forgetting about dinner and a movie night. I was pissed that, after that phone call, I couldn’t just get back into the groove and stay a little longer with Lyndsey.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel the lift I usually felt when I walked into my house. It had always made me feel so good when I was able to buy my own home. No matter how shitty a workday may have been, as soon as I crossed the threshold of my house, the stress and nonsense dropped away like magic. Tonight, I just felt like I’d let everyone down. I fixed myself a gin and tonic and tried to relax in the little sunroom that overlooked my garden. I sat in the darkness, recalling the aroma of Lyndsey’s hair and how her lips had felt against mine. I texted her: “Thanks for showing me yr friend’s planetarium. It’s really special.”

She texted me a reply while I was brushing my teeth. “Ur welcome. See u soon?”

“Yes,” I texted.

She replied with a smiley emoji and the words, “Good night.”

I fell asleep thinking about her. I almost felt all right again.

***

I had always treasured Sunday mornings. Sunday was the day when I could take more time and more care about breakfast. Sometimes it would be cinnamon rolls or French toast. Maybe it would just be bacon, eggs and home fries or a batch of steel cut oats. Whatever it was, it was something that I didn’t have time to make on weekday mornings. This morning, I made blueberry pancakes and fried a sausage patty to go with them. It wasn’t until I sat down to eat that I noticed it—the silence. Actually, it wasn’t completely silent. I had turned on the radio to a Sunday morning jazz program, so I could hear the music. Occasionally, I might have a few friends over for brunch, but in all the time I’d lived in this house, I’d been perfectly content with my own company. This morning was different. I felt an absence. I took a few bites of the pancakes and sausage to distract myself. Finally, I dialed my friend Allison but got her voicemail. I left a message, asking her to call me back. I ate a little bit more before calling Robin. She was surprised to hear from me, but said that, of course, I could come over this morning. I took another bite of sausage, put the rest away in the fridge and headed out to my sister’s.

Marena and Keri were pleased to see me, but let me know how much they had missed me last night. I told them I missed them, too. By the look on Marena’s face, I could see that she doubted my sincerity. I didn’t think my sister told them that I had a date, but Marena was right, in a way, to be suspicious. I mean, I did miss them, but I’d had a fantastic time with Lyndsey. About half an hour after getting to my sister’s house, Allison returned my call. I stepped out into the backyard to talk to her.

Before I’d even finished saying hello, Allison launched into a rant about one of her colleagues. Allison was a math teacher at a local high school, which resembled less a place of learning and more a soap opera. Her rants and gossip about the school, her colleagues and students were never less than entertaining, but I wasn’t in the mood for that today. I needed her to listen to me. I interrupted her.

“Al, I called you because I wanted to ask you something.”

Pause. “Oh. Well, this is new. Ask away.”

I took a deep breath and, as I paced my sister’s backyard, I told her about my date with Lyndsey and how it ended.

“You did what? Why did you leave? Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for you to jump start your personal life? I can’t be the only one providing the juicy gossip in our relationship. And what do you do? You leave the poor thing, who really seems to be into you, by the way, in the lurch. You left her with blue balls! Probably. Can women have blue balls?”

“I don’t think…”

“Oh, you know what I mean, Gigi. You have to call her today. You’re gonna call her, right? I know you know you have to call her today. You’re smart. You knew this before you called me. If you want my stamp of approval on this plan of action boom. You’ve got it.”

That wasn’t why I thought I called. I needed some advice from someone who I knew dated regularly. I felt all mixed up, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. But maybe Allison had said exactly what I needed to hear.

“You may be right,” I said.

“You know I am, girl. Lyndsey does not sound like someone you want to slip away from you. When are you going to call her? What are you waiting for?” Allison said and then chuckled.

I was on the phone with her a few more minutes. She finished her rant about one of her colleagues and made me promise to call Lyndsey as soon as I got off the phone with her. The sooner the better, she emphasized.

I paced the backyard a few more times before dialing Lyndsey’s number.

She picked up on the second ring. “Hi, Gigi. How are you?”

The sound of her voice sent a little shiver up my spine and triggered a tinge of regret in my gut.

“I’m great. Listen, Lyndsey. I’m sorry about last night.”


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