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Summer Fling

By Jean Copeland

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Jean Copeland

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Summer Fling

Kate Randall is a successful, sophisticated attorney terminally jaded since the demise of her long-term relationship. Now with best friends Didi and Viv by her side, she’s savoring single life and the sweet taste of hard-won independence. As her friends navigate the poignant and amusing pitfalls of finding lasting love in their forties, she’s quite content to watch from behind a cosmo.

But when the girls drag Kate to a Pride event, sexy young singer Jordan Squire rocks the stable foundation Kate had struggled for years to build. Despite Kate’s protests, Jordan’s charms prove too powerful to resist, and they fall into a passionate summer love affair. But even if Kate can conquer her fear of repeating the past, can their relationship withstand the pressures of a significant age difference and the demands of Jordan’s burgeoning music career?

Praise for Jean Copeland

The Revelation of Beatice Darby


“Debut author Jean Copeland has come out with a debut novel that is abnormally superb.”—Curve Magazine

“…filled with emotion and the understanding of what it feels like for a girl to discover that she likes girls and what it will do to her life.”—The Lesbian Review

“Uplifting and an amazing first novel for Jean Copeland.”—Inked Rainbow Reads

The Second Wave


“This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys romances and for those who like stories with a bit of a nostalgic or historic theme.”—The Lesbian Review

“Copeland shines a light on characters rarely depicted in romance, or in pop culture in general.”—The Lesbrary

Summer Fling

© 2017 By Jean Copeland. All Rights Reserved.


ISBN 13: 978-1-62639-982-2


This Electronic Original is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, NY 12185


First Edition: September 2017


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


Credits

Editor: Shelley Thrasher

Production Design: Stacia Seaman

Cover Design By Melody Pond

By the Author

The Revelation of Beatrice Darby


The Second Wave


Summer Fling

Acknowledgments

Writing is a solitary process for sure, but sharing it with the world is anything but. That’s why I have so many people to thank for their contributions during every step of my novel-writing journey. I’ll start with the readers who buy my books and motivate me to write with steadfast discipline. To my lifelong friends, proofreader Anne Santello and photographer Denise Spallone, for their eagerness to assist me in any capacity needed. To all my other friends, near and far, who faithfully buy my books, retweet my tweets, and share Facebook posts promoting my work. I’m also thankful for the professional support I receive from the ladies at Bold Strokes Books, my tireless editor, Shelley Thrasher, and the sister BSB authors whom I also call friends. Of course, I’d be remiss if didn’t thank my father, James, for his endless support of everything I’ve ever done, and my girlfriend, Jen, for her patience and willingness to schlep all over with me to signing events.

In memory of Sandy “Sondy” Choronzy Borchert

You’ll always be part of our cocktail parties.

Chapter One

The Intervention

Kate Randall knelt in the cemetery and ran her fingers over the grass under which lay buried memories of the woman she was supposed to spend her life with. She’d lost Lydia exactly four years ago and was grateful that her best friend, Didi Huston, had decided it was too hot to hike across the grounds with her. She needed a moment to reflect.

“Kate,” Didi shouted. She trudged up the embankment, fanning her ample cleavage and glistening olive skin with a handful of paper napkins. “What the hell are you doing up here?”

“What do you mean?” Kate asked, playing innocent. “I’m visiting my father’s grave.”

“Your father’s grave is over…” Didi’s red, overheated face blanched. “For the love of Edith Windsor, Kate,” she roared. “Seriously?”

“What? It was hot over there. I needed some shade.” She stood quickly and brushed grass clippings from her knees.

Didi glared at her. “You’re looking for that urn of card and photo ashes, aren’t you?”

Kate wilted in shame. “Today’s the anniversary of when I lost Lydia.”

“Yeah. You lost her all right—to the skank she cheated on you with. Viv and I didn’t come over that night with a bottle of vodka and an acetylene torch so I could find you meditating over her burnt-up crap four years later. It’s sick.”

“Okay, Didi,” Kate said calmly. “Point taken.”

“We buried it here for you to symbolically lay that bitter part of your past to rest—not to rehash it every year.”

“I’m aware of that,” Kate said.

“How are you supposed to move on with someone new if you’re still hanging on to that baggage?”

“I said all right. I had a little slipup. In retrospect, we probably should’ve buried it on the other side of the cemetery, not so close to my dad.”

“Um, okay, fine, but I’m not helping you exhume anything today. It’s too friggin’ hot. Now let’s go.” Didi looped her arm through Kate’s. “Viv is waiting for us. We have to get to the train station. Hi, Mr. Randall,” she said as they passed Kate’s father’s headstone. “I’m only glad Viv wasn’t here to witness this.”

Kate rolled her eyes as Didi led her from the cemetery like a teacher dragging her to the principal’s office.

On the train ride into New York City, Didi and Kate sat quietly, each scrolling her cell phone. Suddenly, Kate’s dinged with an email notification.

“What the hell?” Her jaw nearly unhinged as she read the email.

Didi glanced out the window.

“Dee, why am I getting a notification from a woman on a dating site that I never signed up for?”

Didi eluded Kate’s eyes by checking her phone. “How do you know you didn’t sign up for it? Maybe you forgot.”

“I’ve never signed up for a dating site in my life. Please tell me this isn’t your handiwork.”

“No, honest,” Didi said. “But it’s a brilliant idea, nonetheless.”

“No, it isn’t.” Kate planted her elbows on her knees and frantically composed a text. “Fucking Viv. Wait till I get my hands around her skinny brown neck.”

“Kate, don’t blast her a new one.”

“Don’t blast her a new one? She’ll be lucky if that’s all I do to her.”

“Keep it down,” Didi said out of the corner of her mouth. “We’re in the quiet car. They’re gonna escort you off at the next stop like they do the crazies.”

“You two have pulled a lot of stunts with me over the last year, but this has gone too far.”

“Just tell her to deactivate the account. No biggie.”

“You’re missing the point again, Didi. I’m single because I want to be. I don’t need you guys meddling in my personal life like there’s something wrong with it. It doesn’t need fixing.”

“Kate, Lydia left four years ago. You say you’re over her, but you make no effort to get out and meet anyone. And then I catch you being all weird and morose over her in a cemetery.”

“I am over her,” Kate said. “If you want the truth, that moment wasn’t about her at all. It was about me honoring how strong I’ve become since she left.”

Didi squeezed her hand. “You have. You’re a different person now, a much better one. You dealt with your codependency issues in therapy, and I’ve never seen you more confident and content in the thirty-plus years I’ve known you.”

Kate smiled and held her hand in return. “Aww, thanks, Didi.”

“Now don’t you think it’s time you find someone to share all this fabulousness with?”

Kate groaned in defeat. “I will someday, when the right woman comes along. And not through the devious, half-assed schemes you and Viv keep plotting.”

“I beg your pardon. Devious? Half-assed?”

“Come on. Look what I’ve had to endure over the last year. On three separate occasions, I think we’re going to happy hour only to have a random single woman you know happen to show up. I almost wouldn’t have minded the scam if they were even remotely right for me.”

“They were lovely ladies. You’re too picky.”

“Let’s not forget when we went to dinner, and you failed to mention the lesbian speed-dating event at the restaurant. That you signed me up for. And now this?”

Kate’s email dinged again.

“Oh, look.” She handed her phone to Didi. “She’s seventy-three and from North Dakota. She wants to chat with me. Am I being too picky if I decline?”

“She’s attractive for her age, and she’s well-educated,” Didi said meekly.

“That’s great, except I’m forty-seven and live in Connecticut.”

Didi glanced at the screen. “But it says she’s willing to relocate for the right woman.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Well, you can’t expect to hit the jackpot on every spin.”

“Do you know how to get me off this site?” Kate shoved her phone at her. “Viv isn’t answering my text.”

“She probably went into hiding,” Didi mumbled as she poked at the account deactivation screen.

Kate slumped down in the seat, closed her eyes, and sighed.

“C’mon. Don’t be mad at us, Katie. Yes, our efforts have been somewhat unorthodox at times, but we love you and just want you to be happy.”

“Then leave me alone.”

“Kate, are you really mad at us?”

She let Didi stew for a while.

“Kate?” Didi elbowed her in the side.

“Not mad, frustrated. I’m fine being single, and I don’t want you and Viv to pressure me anymore.” Her tone softened. “Just because you’re both pussy hounds.”

“Pussy hound?” Didi said. “I’ll take that to mean I have to make up for a lot of lost time.”

“What’s Viv’s excuse?”

“She’s, um, how shall I put this? She’s, uh…strong-minded. Once she finds the woman she wants, she doesn’t give up without a fight.”

“Yeah,” Kate said. “Her stalking case was the most challenging of my legal career. It nearly precipitated an early retirement.” She chuckled.

“I can’t believe her father didn’t know any judges he could’ve thrown money at.”

“He didn’t need to,” Kate said. “I did a fine job on her defense. She doesn’t have a record, thanks to my legal expertise.”

“I hope you’ve calmed down enough that when you see her in fifteen minutes, you don’t end up with a record of your own.”

“Am I off that site?”

“Yes,” Didi said. “And I promise not to meddle any more.”

“Good.” Kate smiled and patted her hand.

Didi smiled back. “As far as I’m concerned, you can die a reclusive old woman surrounded by your thirty-seven loving felines.”

Kate glared at her. “When you commit to something, you don’t screw around.”

“Damn right. This actually works out better for me. One less beautiful, successful blonde to compete with. It’s bad enough all I have to do is glance in the direction of an attractive woman, and Viv appears like cockroaches in the kitchen of a Times Square theme restaurant.”

“I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to watching two middle-aged lesbians battle for the same woman at an overcrowded bar.”

“You’ll be sorry you’re not in the game. Tonight’s the Pride Week kickoff at Moxy’s. It’s going to be epic.”

“I don’t know how I let you convince me to come.”

Didi smiled. “Like Bobby Darin sings, there’s nothing like Sundays in New York.”

“Maybe I’ll go home after dinner,” Kate said.

“No way,” Didi said as the train screeched into the station. “You’re always working or making up excuses why you can’t go out with us. You owe your two best friends a girls’ day in the City.”

“Fine.”

They bumped shoulders as the train lurched to a halt.

“You can run interference for me with Viv when I spot the woman of my dreams,” Didi said. “I need all the help I can get.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You have so much to offer a woman.”

Didi pursed her lips. “Her father’s a millionaire and her mother’s a former supermodel. She’s got it all. What do I have going for me? I’m a middle-class legal secretary with minimal experience with women and a big Italian ass. No contest.”

“Yes, she’s got all that, but she’s also a stage-five clinger. She may get the ladies, but she has a worse track record with long-term relationships than Taylor Swift.”

Didi shook her head. “I’d love to have her problems for a day.”

“Hey,” Kate said, patting Didi’s shoulder. “Where’s all this self-doubt coming from? You’re adorable, funny, and you’ll make some woman a wonderful wife someday—when you finally outgrow your lesbian puberty.”

Didi leaned her head against Kate’s. “Thanks, Katie. And don’t worry. My future wife and I won’t let you spend holidays alone having 9-Lives casserole for dinner.”

“Thanks.”

“Hey, mamas,” Viv yelled as they walked out of Grand Central Station into the blistering heat of Forty-second Street.

“Our chariot,” Kate said, indicating the open limousine door.

The girls crawled into the Chanel No. 5–scented car, and Vivienne swept them up in a group hug as the chauffeur drove off.

“Damn,” Didi said. “I’m glad your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good-looking. It’s hot as Hades out there.”

Viv sucked her teeth. “Girl, whatchu mean about my parents? I’m rich, and I’m good-looking. But don’t get any ideas.”

“Yeah, right,” Didi said. “You’re not my type.”

“Why? Because I’m biracial?”

“No, because you’re an a-hole.”

The ladies roared with laughter.

“How I’ve missed my girls,” Viv said. “I’m honored you could finally carve some time out of your busy schedule, Kate.”

“Don’t push it, Viv,” Kate said. “I only got over being violently pissed at you fifteen minutes ago.”

Vivienne threw her arm around Kate. “Look. I’m sorry about that dating site. It wasn’t meant as a prank or anything. I sincerely thought it might be the push you needed to put yourself out there.”

“What’s so great about being ‘out there’?” she asked. “You two are out there. How’s that been working out for you?”

Didi and Viv exchanged helpless glances.

“Can’t we just have a genuine girls’ night out? A nice dinner and some drinks after at the club?”

“Of course,” Viv said.

Didi nodded. “Absolutely.”

“No skirt-chasing,” Viv said.

Didi confirmed the promise. “Just the three of us.”

“You guys are so full of it,” Kate said.

They cackled at Kate as Viv popped the cork on a bottle of Dom Perignon.

Chapter Two

The Setup

The bass of Moxy’s house music thrummed through Kate’s lungs. She scanned the eclectic crowd of women as she sipped a cosmo. Never a fan of the bar scene, she’d found it particularly disheartening to be tossed back into the tempest in her forties. But since she was there with her friends, she figured she might as well seize the moment—after she stifled a yawn.

Didi and Viv, on the other hand, were like college students on dollar draft night.

“One night at Moxy’s is all it takes,” Didi said, her eyes ravaging the pages of Girl Talk.

“For what?” Viv sipped from a flute of Cristal.

“I don’t know,” Didi said. “That’s what this tourist magazine says.”

“Maybe tonight is the night I’ll meet the one.” Viv’s eyes were wide with possibility. “Peace out, Maia.”

Kate and Didi exchanged looks.

“I hope so,” Kate said. “But do yourself a favor and wait until you’ve had at least two dates before you move her in.”

“I don’t do that,” Viv said.

Kate arched an eyebrow.

Didi jumped in. “Name one girl in the last twenty years you dated without moving her in.”

Viv scoured her memory for several moments. “I can’t help that I’m a romantic. Some women actually find that appealing.”

“There’s a fine line between hopeless romantic and having a Lifetime movie made about your relationship,” Kate said.

Viv wielded her manicured finger between them. “Don’t be hatin’ on me because I get more play than both of you.”

“You also get more restraining orders than we do,” Didi said.

“One. I’ve had one restraining order in my life.” Viv sipped her drink. “We’ve all had that one girl we got a little Glenn Close over. That hardly makes me a stalker.”

“Right,” Didi said. “The good news is your attorney is right here in case you get a little too Glenn Close again tonight.”

“This attorney is off the clock, so you both better behave,” Kate said. “Besides, I’m not staying all night.”

“What do you mean?” Didi said. “You can’t leave early. Look, this hot singer is performing at ten.” She fanned the advertisement in the magazine in Kate’s face.

“And this concerns me how?” Kate said.

“Damn, girl,” Viv said. “This doesn’t do anything for you? You must be dead inside.”

Kate grabbed the magazine. Jordan Squire. She had to admit the girl was hot—wild brown curls, ripped jeans revealing the right amount of thigh, and a guitar. Again, so what? She looked really young and, if she was true to her profession, probably had a girl in every dive she headlined.

“Of course she does something for me,” Kate admitted. “Look at her. I’m sure she does something for everyone in here. But do you think I want to stick around and climb over you two and everyone else like bridesmaids diving for the wedding bouquet?”

Didi scoffed. “Kate, don’t be ridiculous. You have just as much of a chance with her as anyone else in this joint.”

“Yeah,” Viv said. “Don’t worry about me. I don’t want her. I’m tired of white girls.”

Kate chuckled at her friends. They were a handful, but luckily the size of their hearts eclipsed the collective mass of their insanity.

“Okay. I’ll stay. I can’t in good conscience bail on a girls’ night out.”

“That’s the spirit,” Didi said. She sipped her martini as she glanced around. “What a treat to be in a club and not be the oldest one in it for once.” She indicated a trio of silver-haired sisters holding court at the enormous circular bar in the middle of the club. “I feel like we should be carded or something.”

Kate agreed with a giggle.

“Hmm, I wonder if Maia will show up,” Viv said. “I’m thinking about asking her to Aruba next month.”

Kate jerked her head toward her. “Maia. As in Maia, the complainant on the aforementioned restraining order?”

Didi shot Kate a look and then, “Unless you have a chloroform rag in your purse, how do you propose to convince her to go?”

Viv rolled her eyes. “It’s all good. I’m seeing a counselor.”

“Another one?” Didi said.

“Yes. One more in tune to the needs of lesbian relationships. We’re working on my narcissism issues. I’m quite motivated this time.”

“That’s great,” Kate said, trying to be supportive. “But maybe you ought to cut your losses with Maia and start fresh with someone new.”

“That’s a defeatist attitude, Kate,” Viv said. “Nobody ever got anywhere in life by giving up. Where would aviation be without Howard Hughes’s Spruce Goose?”

Kate pondered that for a moment. “Einstein didn’t give up either, and he ended up with the formula for the nuclear bomb.”

“Serial killers,” Didi said. “Serial killers don’t give up either.”

Viv and Kate glared at Didi.

They had migrated toward the stage for a prime position in the crowd for the evening’s featured event, Jordan Squire and her acoustic guitar. Caught up in their conversation, Kate hadn’t realized she was right in front of the stage until the lights went out and Jordan leaped out with a hard strum of her guitar.

It took Kate’s eyes about a day to climb Jordan’s long legs to her muscled forearm to her luscious lips pressing against the mic. Jordan had the audience mesmerized through her opening song as she whipped her tresses around and belted out a husky rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”

As hardened as she thought she was, Kate was by no means immune to her allure.

“She’s amazing,” Didi shouted to Kate over the cheers. “What a voice.”

“Yeah,” Kate said, still staring at Jordan.

“Thank you, ladies,” Jordan said, flipping her hair off her face. “Welcome to Moxy’s Pride Week dance. How y’all feeling tonight?”

Cheers thundered through the music hall.

“You mind if I do an original for you?”

The crowd again cheered their approval. As Jordan strummed the intro to the song, Kate did a double take. Was she making eye contact with her? No, of course not. It was so hard to tell under the flickering lights. She could be looking at anyone or no one at all in the sea of faces. Whatever. She was adorable to stare at regardless.

A few more songs into the set, Didi turned to Kate. “Is Jordan looking at you?”

“I don’t know,” Kate said. “I thought she was at one point.”

“Oh my God,” Didi said, clutching Kate’s shoulders. “She’s flirting with you.”

“Shut up. No, she’s not.”

“Yes, she is,” Didi insisted.

“No, she isn’t.”

Jordan finished her song and flung her guitar pick at Kate, settling the dispute once and for all. Kate smiled a thank you, Jordan winked a you’re welcome, and off into her next original she went.

“You lucky bitch,” Didi said. “Where did Viv disappear to? She’s missing this. Kate, you’re finally going to get laid.”

Appalled at the suggestion, Kate shoved Didi away from her and inadvertently into a cluster of women next to them.

“I’m sorry,” she mouthed to them as they helped Didi regain her balance.

Toward the end of Jordan’s first set, Kate needed space and air. She swam through the undulating bodies toward the ladies’ room, hoping to find Viv along the way. What was happening to her? A sexy young woman flirted a little, and suddenly, she was falling apart. Where the hell was Viv?

She shouldered open the bathroom door, slammed the stall door behind her, and sucked in stagnant air. Maybe the girls were right. Maybe she needed to get back out onto the dating scene—if for no other reason, to get reacquainted with the custom of meeting and interacting with another female. She sat on the toilet and texted Viv. No response.

As she left the ladies’ room, she contemplated texting them both and sneaking home to New Haven on her own. She veered down an unfamiliar hall and nearly physically ran into Jordan Squire as she was exiting the backstage area.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Kate said, her eyes locking with Jordan’s.

“No, that’s okay. My bad,” Jordan said. “Hey, I saw you in the audience before. I hope my singing didn’t drive you away.” Her face broke into the most alarmingly cute smile.

“Not at all,” Kate said. “You’re fantastic, actually, especially your originals.”

“Thanks. Well, I’ll be selling copies of my debut CD after my second set. Hang around if you can.”

“Okay, sure,” Kate said. “I’d love to get a copy.”

They held each other in a lingering glance before parting ways. As Kate searched for Didi in the dispersing crowd, she caught herself smiling and promptly relaxed her facial muscles. Then she smiled at having done that.

“Where have you been,” Didi asked when Kate found her at the bar. “I thought you ditched us.”

“Believe me, I thought about it. Where’s Viv?”

“She’s down at the Starbucks two blocks over. She met someone.”

“Better at Starbucks than a hotel.” Kate pondered the notion for a moment. “Are you sure the Starbucks isn’t in a hotel?”

Didi shrugged. “Listen. Don’t disappear again. Jordan’s going back on in a few minutes. Maybe we can hang around after the show and you can talk to her.”

“I just talked to her.”

“What? What are you saying?”

“I got lost coming out of the bathroom and ran into her coming off stage. She told me to stick around and buy a CD after.”

Didi’s eyes bugged with possibilities. “We’ll both get her CD, and you’ll get her number.”

“No. We’ll get her CD and that’s that.”

“Kate, ask her for her number. What do you have to lose?”

“I don’t want her number. She’s clearly too young for me, and I’m not schlepping all the way down to the city to date someone.”

“Are you kidding? Long-distance relationships are the best. Think of all the me-time you’ll have. You can do whatever you want but still have someone to have sex and dinner with. It’s brill.”

“It’s not brill. All that back-and-forth is a pain in the ass.”

“You’re a pain in the ass.”

“There it is.” Kate rolled her eyes. “Real mature.”

Didi grabbed her by the arm. “C’mon. Let’s go elbow our way back to our spot near the stage. Jordan’ll be looking for you.”

As strong as Kate’s outward protests were, she was actually amused by Didi’s throwback to high school chase games. It had been decades since Kate had embraced such innocent fun. Not that she was going to admit that to Didi.

After the show, Jordan might not have been looking for Kate, but she certainly seemed pleased when Kate’s and Didi’s turn in line came up. Her sage eyes flowered with apparent delight.

“Hi again. I’m glad you could stay,” she said. “Would you like me to sign it?”

“Of course,” Kate said.

“You can sign mine, too,” Didi said. When Jordan finally peeled her eyes away from Kate, Didi gave her a petit wave.

“Thank you again,” Jordan said to Kate. “I hope you can check out another show sometime.”

Another lingering glance, this one awkward.

Kate exhaled. “Sure, I’ll definitely try. But I live in Connecticut and don’t make it into the City too often.”

“She will,” Didi said. “We’ll check out your website for dates and stuff.”

“Connecticut?” Jordan said to Kate. “I do a lot of shows there. That’s because I live there, too.” That smile again.

Women grumbled behind them, waiting for their chance at Jordan.

“Okay, well, uh, like she said, we’ll watch your website for upcoming shows,” Kate stammered.

“How about I let you know when I’m in the New Haven area,” Jordan replied. “Got a card?”

Kate’s lips parted but nothing came out.

“Yes, she does.” Didi sprang into action, digging in her purse until she unearthed one at the bottom. “She’d love to hear from you,” she said, handing her the crinkled card. “My cell’s on there, too, just in case I can help you with anything.”

Jordan smiled uncomfortably at Didi and then flashed Kate a wildly flirtatious grin that turned her to mush.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Kate said. “See you around.”

 She grabbed Didi’s sleeve and dragged her away. “We have to find Viv before she ends up engaged,” she said.

Didi stopped before they reached the exit. “Kate, hang on. Don’t you think you should wait until she’s done?”

“No. Why would I do that?”

“You can’t be that dense. She’s totally into you.”

“Didi, it was a little flirting. That’s what she does. She’s a lesbian singer trying to build a following. She’s friendly with everyone.”

“Yes, she was friendly with everyone, but she was into you. She wasn’t looking at anyone else the way she was gazing into your gorgeous baby blues.”

“Forget it,” Kate said. “She’s gotta be twenty years younger than me. I’m a stable, mature attorney. She’s a kid who travels around singing at nightclubs. I like to be in bed by the time she takes the stage. Not exactly the ingredients for a successful match.”

Didi scoffed. “Is there no end to your excuse-making? Let’s go find Viv.”

They walked the two city blocks to the location of Viv’s last known whereabouts, the Village still vibrant and sweaty with Pride revelers after one a.m.

“I just found Jordan’s artist page on Facebook,” Didi said. “Wow. She’s got a lot of followers. Go on it and like it.”

“I will.” Kate stared ahead pensively as Didi strolled beside her, preoccupied with her phone.

“It says she’s from Westport.”

“Yeah?”

“What’s that, like a forty-minute ride for you,” Didi said, her voice climbing a few octaves. “You guys are practically neighbors.”

“Didi, I don’t want to talk about her anymore.” Kate’s thoughts were still spinning from her interaction with Jordan. “Hey, is that Viv?” she said.

Viv was perched on a cement wall a block down from Starbucks, looking quite unlike an exotic, sophisticated cosmetics company heiress-slash-executive.

“What’s the matter?” Kate said.

“Why are you sitting here alone?” Didi said.

Viv sighed. “Tonight was a disaster. Maia didn’t show up at the club like I’d hoped, and this lovely young woman, Greta, I met at the bar turned out to be a straight woman scouting a third party for her husband’s fiftieth birthday.”

Kate called up patience from her dwindling reserve. “Viv, you need to reevaluate your criteria for what constitutes a disaster.”

“And in all likelihood, Maia did show up tonight,” Didi said. “But she saw you first.”

Didi and Kate stifled a duet of giggles out of respect.

“Listen, it’s late.” Kate held out her hand to Viv. “Let’s go to your place. We’ll stay over. You’ll feel better in the morning after a sleepover with your besties.”

Viv slid off the wall, still pouty. “I’d feel better after a sleepover with Halle Berry and Charlize Theron.”

“You’re not exactly my first choice for a pajama party either,” Didi said.

“Well, we’re all we’ve got tonight,” Kate said. “It’ll have to be enough.”

Viv melted into a smile. “It is.”

They all looped arms together and walked to the corner to wait for Viv’s driver to whisk them off to her posh apartment on the Upper West Side.

“Which rooms do you want us in?” Kate yawned as they walked into Viv’s apartment.

“Can we all sleep in my bed tonight?” Viv said.

“Come on. Really?” Kate glanced around, still awed by the lavish digs overlooking Central Park she’d seen a hundred times before. “You have four bedrooms, and we all have to cram into your bed?”

“What you mean, cram? I’ve got a California king. Please?” She pouted. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’m not sleeping in the middle,” Didi said. “I don’t trust Viv. She’s been single for like six months now.”

Viv raised an eyebrow at her. “Bitch, please. You wish you could have a taste of this dulce de leche.”

Kate stopped at the bedroom door and glanced back and forth between them. “I think I’ll go sleep on the couch in the living room.”

“No way,” Viv said. “You’re not leaving me in here with this thirsty old bag.”

Kate rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you two just do each other and get it over with?”

“Ewww,” Viv and Didi yelled in unison.

“That’ll never happen,” Didi said. “We know too much about each other.”

“Word,” Viv said. “She’s practically a virgin. I ain’t got time for that.”

“I am not a virgin,” Didi said. “I’ve had steamy romances with women.”

“Girl, you still got your training wheels on.”

“No. I’ve slept with a whole slew of women,” Didi said.

“I wouldn’t go around advertising that,” Viv said.

Kate watched them, fighting a smile. “I’m serious. I’ll sleep down the hall. You two just get in bed and let it happen.”

“Eh, why not?” Didi said to Kate. “You slept with her. Viv, we can complete the circle jerk.”

Kate stared at Viv in horror. “You told her?”

With no defense, all Viv could do was shrug.

“I thought we’d agreed long ago to pretend that drunken college cliché never happened.”

“I’m the one who should be offended, not you,” Didi said. “I’ve known you since high school, and I had to hear it from Viv.”

“Didi, take this as a lesson being that you’ve come late to the lesbian party,” Kate said. “Don’t sleep with your friends. And don’t kiss and tell, especially if you sleep with your friends.”

Viv raised her palms toward the vaulted ceiling. “Amen.”

“Look, I’m really tired,” Kate said. “I need some sleep.”

“Okay,” Viv said. “We’re tired, too. Let’s just all go to sleep. Kate, you’re in the middle.”

After their nightly beauty regimens, they got into bed in the agreed-upon order, and Viv shut off the light. After some throat-clearing and sheet-rustling, they settled into their positions. A dainty fart broke the silence. Didi and Viv giggled.

“Come on,” Kate said. “Not while we’re in the same bed. We’re forty-seven years old, for God’s sake.”

Viv giggled louder. “We checked our maturity at the door when we all put on jammies and piled into one bed.”

Kate threw the covers off her. “I’m going to sleep in the lobby.”

She tried to get up, but Viv and Didi grabbed her arms and yanked her down.

“No, no. I swear we’ll shut up now,” Didi said.

“Yeah, yeah. Look. I’m going to sleep.” Viv rolled over on her side facing the window.

After a few muffled snorts and giggles, the room finally fell quiet.

“I love you lunatics,” Kate whispered.

Didi and Viv rolled on their sides toward Kate and cuddled up to her.

Chapter Three

Jaded, Party of One

The next day, Kate and Didi had an early lunch with Viv at the Four Seasons before heading back to Connecticut. Kate glanced out over Fifty-second Street, recalling the strange and surprising dream she’d had about Jordan Squire. In the dream, Jordan had signed the CD like she had in the club the night before, but she’d kissed Kate after handing it to her. It was a nice kiss—sweet and sensual—the kind that made Kate wish she could’ve slept a little longer.

“So what do you think about that, Kate?” Didi asked.

“Huh?”

“Exactly,” Didi said. “I’m trying to have an intervention with Viv here about leaving Maia alone. Would you like to weigh in?”

“Right,” Kate said. “Viv, don’t text her anymore.”

“I haven’t texted her.” Viv seemed proud of herself as she sipped her Bloody Mary.

“She sent a dozen roses to her work, anonymously,” Didi said.

Kate nodded. “How did that work out?”

Viv stalled with another, longer sip. “She texted me and said she’d call the cops if anything else shows up for her anywhere or from anyone.”

“Okay. Well, I think she’s conveyed her position quite clearly. So that takes care of that,” Kate said. Then, after a moment of no response, “Doesn’t it?”

“One would hope,” Didi said.

“Girls, she’s still hurt right now. I need to give her more time.”

Didi bit her fist and turned to Kate. “I could make the best joke about her getting time, but I won’t do it. I’m trying too hard to be a better human being.”

“Look, Maia’s very special to me,” Viv went on. “She’s the one who inspired me to make a real change. I just want her to give me the chance to show her.”

“Look, honey,” Kate said, patting the top of Viv’s hand. “It’s great that you’ve gone back to therapy and finally recognize your problem with egocentrism and possessiveness. It’s a huge step. But refusing to leave Maia alone after she broke up with you for being too selfish and possessive is showing her you’re exactly the same person you were when she left you.”

Viv seemed confused as her eyes appealed to Didi.

“Get over it and move on,” Didi said and licked a drop of martini that spilled on her finger as she raised the glass.

“But Maia loved me,” Viv said. “I know she did. She didn’t want to break up.”

“I know that but—” Kate said.

“If she sees I’m finally working through my issues, she’ll want to give us another shot.”

“Viv.” Kate grasped her hand. “I understand how you feel, but I can tell you from experience that just because someone loved you once, that doesn’t mean they’ll fight for your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been together. Three months, eight months, or seventeen years—when it’s over, it’s over.”

“She’s right, Viv,” Didi said. “She gave Lydia the seventeen best years of her life, and look where it’s gotten her? She’s a forty-seven-year-old shell of a woman, alone and bitter, petrified to let down her guard and love again. Don’t be her, Viv. Don’t be Kate. Free your soul for better things.”

“I’m not bitter or petrified,” Kate said. “Unlike the rest of you, I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

“If you walked away from that sexy girl at Moxy’s, you’re petrified,” Viv said.

“Why do these conversations always revert back to me?” Kate said. “I’m the most well-adjusted one in this trio. I’m perfectly satisfied with my life.”

As if on cue, Didi slapped her hands on her thighs and used the chewed straw clenched in her teeth as a pointer. “Don’t you see what’s going on here, girls? We’ve reached a pivotal juncture in our lives. It’s time we start living by our own rules. We may be older than we’ve ever been before, but we’re also wiser and reeking with life experience.”

“I attended a lecture similar to that idea last year.” Kate tilted her head skeptically. “I paid eight hundred and fifty bucks for a weekend retreat in the Adirondacks called ‘The Locus of Aging: Setting Your Own Place at Life’s Banquet Table,’ and I have to say, I’m not so convinced.”

Didi huffed. “I’m trying to make an important point here.”

“Sorry.”

“Okay, so those self-help retreats are kind of hokey,” Didi said, “but this is absolutely not the time to surrender to a fate of pre-menopausal night sweats and Maalox moments. This is our shining moment, ladies.” Her voice reached a crescendo as she brought the theme home. “It’s our last ticket to ride, our final opportunity to be everything we’ve ever dreamed of before we drop dead. So let’s claim our destinies.”

She leaned back in her seat and waited for the deluge of applause.

Kate smiled, and Viv offered a delicate hand clap.

“You overachievers are so irritating.” Deflated, Didi wiped sweat from her forehead. “Man, it must be a hundred degrees in here. Don’t they have any a/c in this place?”

“It’s on,” Kate said. “You’re getting yourself overheated in your fervor.”

“Girlfriend can sell it though,” Viv said.

Kate nodded. “Yes, your spiel was very inspirational. You should package it for that retreat in the Adirondacks.”

“Thanks.” Didi smiled as she chewed the ice cubes in her water.

“You know, I think we need to defer to an important albeit overused maxim: everything happens for a reason. Lydia left me because our relationship ran its course. Didi, you haven’t met the right woman yet because you still have some self-reflection to do, and Viv, well, all your relationships end because…”

Didi stepped up with the assist. “Because, uh, um, like me, you still have some self-reflection to do.”

Kate nodded her gratitude. “It all comes down to serendipity. What we need will come to us in the right moment. In the meantime, we have to stay in the present to find our joy.”

“If that’s true, why are you pretending you didn’t meet an amazing girl last night?” Didi said.

“I’m not pretending anything. Yes, she was amazing, but she’s not for me. Here’s something else to consider: evolved adults don’t act on impulse and rush into things.”

“Then you wouldn’t mind if I went for her?” Didi asked.

Kate’s head snapped up from her plate. “You?”

Didi nodded.

“Go right ahead,” Kate said, straining to sound cool. “Be my guest—even though she’s way too young for you.”

“I don’t care how old she is,” Didi said. “She’s beautiful, talented, and seems like a very sincere person.”

“Good luck with that,” Viv said, rolling her eyes as she signaled for the check.

“I don’t need luck,” Didi said. “I’m gonna set my place at life’s buffet table, damn it.”

“It’s life’s banquet table,” Kate said.

“Whatever,” Didi snapped. “I like buffet better—you know, all you can eat.” She ended with a low, dirty laugh.

Viv challenged her with a look. “How the hell can you come out the closet a few years ago and act like you got it all together, when Kate and I have been gay all our lives and still haven’t figured women out?”

“Speaking as a recovering repressed lesbian, I am intimately acquainted with self-doubt and confusion. If you two want to waste your time chasing women who don’t want you or chasing no women at all, have at it. But I’m not wasting anything anymore. I’m gonna live it up, bitches.” Didi concluded her speech with a flourish of her arm.

“Good for you,” Kate said flatly. “We have to get to the train station.”

“And I can’t wait to see the look on your face when I parade that hot dish, Jordan Squire, in front of you and make you wish you’d got off your ass and gone for her yourself.”

Kate humored Didi with a smile as they headed out of the restaurant. “And, Viv, if you decide to keep chasing Maia even after she’s asked you not to, you should know that my retainer is triple what it is for clients who aren’t morons.”

“I’ll make a note of it,” Viv said.

* * *

A few days later Kate returned to her office after spending much of the afternoon in probate court on behalf of an elderly lesbian widow. She dropped on the leather sofa in the reception area, lobbed her valise onto a nearby chair, and propped her feet up on the coffee table.

“Tough day?” Didi asked from her desk.

“I just hate seeing some of the old-school folks lose so much money because they didn’t have wills or, in Margaret’s case, a marriage license. Thankfully, these kinds of cases are phasing out with the younger generation.”

Didi rose from her desk with a stretch and joined Kate on the couch. “Have you heard from Jordan?”

“Jordan? No. Why would I hear from her?”

“She asked for your business card days ago. Did you go on Facebook and like her page? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram?”

“I don’t have Twit-agram, and I barely remember I have Facebook, so the answer is no.”

“That’s probably why she hasn’t texted or called. Where’s your phone? Let’s go on and do it right now.” She snatched the phone out of Kate’s hand.

Kate dropped her head against the couch. “Didi, this is so stupid. Honestly, I have no interest in this girl, girl being the operative word.”

“She’s interested in you, and if, I mean when, she calls, I hope you’ll have the sense to at least meet her one-on-one for a drink or something.”

Kate exhaled, exasperated.

“Promise me if she asks you out, you’ll go? You have absolutely nothing to lose—except another night home alone with your cat. And really, how many of those in one week can you take before you start preferring the company of her over humans.”

“What do you mean start preferring?” Kate said with a wry smile.

“This is what scares me about you. C’mon. Promise me.”

Kate chuckled and felt confident in humoring Didi. “All right, all right. If she asks me out, I’ll go.”

“Aces.” Didi smiled with satisfaction as she ambled back to her desk. “Then you can introduce me to all her hot friends.”

“Ah yes, the all-you-can-eat buffet you mentioned the other day.” Kate strolled toward her office. “What’s on the agenda for tomorrow?”

“You’re busy.” Didi flipped through the appointment book. “The Ulman-Gravino adoption at nine a.m., that closing at eleven, and then the graphic designer to update the website at two.”

“I thought he wasn’t available until next month?”

“He’s not. But I took the liberty of making an appointment with another highly sought-after designer whose body of work is quite impressive.”

“Who is it?”

“Innovative Designs.”

“Okay, thanks. I’ll check out their website later,” Kate said and headed into her office.

“Why? Don’t you trust me?”

She popped her head around the door frame, surprised by Didi’s pouty tone. “With my life. Why are you asking?”

“It’s just that you’re so busy, I figured I could handle this for you, and all you’d have to do is show up for the meeting tomorrow. I mean, jeez, I can handle some things on my own, you know.”

“I didn’t mean to imply…You know what, you’re right. I have a bunch of stuff to finish tonight. Thanks for taking the initiative on this.”

“Glad to be of service, Boss,” Didi replied with a two-finger salute.

* * *

The next day, Kate took advantage of the low humidity and light June breeze by venturing out to a food truck parked along the New Haven green for a quick lunch. She sat on a bench across from the fountain with her gyro and iced green tea, and indulged in the silent intrigue of people-watching downtown. The sun warmed her face, and as soon as she closed her squinted eyes, images of Jordan Squire rushed against her eyelids. Her sultry voice belting out Dusty Springfield, her toned body swaying against her guitar, those piercing green eyes sending her messages she was convinced she was misinterpreting. She’d never admit it to Didi or Viv, but Jordan Squire had been occupying a lot of space in her mind since Sunday, and it was kind of nice to feel jazzed about something, someone, even if it was just a fleeting moment of flirtation.

Still smiling at her thoughts, she checked the time on her phone and decided to head back to the office and freshen up for her meeting with the graphic designer. As she walked down Church Street, she hoped Didi’s guy was as creative and reputable as the one Viv had recommended from New York City.

“I was about to text you,” Didi said, harried, when Kate walked in. “Go fix your hair and brush your teeth. Your appointment is arriving any minute.”

“I have fifteen minutes,” Kate said, puzzled by her urgency.

Didi looked her over. “And you’re gonna need every second of it. Now go.” She shoved her into her office.

Kate stood in front of the mirror in her private bathroom, brushing her teeth with one hand and raking her fingers through her wind-blown hair with the other. Wiping her mouth on the hand towel, she scrutinized her reflection after Didi’s comment. Some fine lines around the eyes and mouth, but the skin’s still pretty tight and smooth, with a golden hue from a day at the beach last week. “Late forties” sounds worse than it is.

“Attorney Randall?” Didi’s voice rang out through the intercom. “Your appointment is here.”

Kate walked into the reception area and skidded to a halt when she saw Jordan Squire standing at Didi’s desk.

“This is Ms. Squire from Innovative Designs.”

Jordan approached Kate with an extended hand. “Hi. It’s nice to see you again.”

Kate grasped Jordan’s hand and nearly melted into it. “Yes, this is certainly a pleasant, strange surprise. Uh, would you like to make yourself comfortable in my office for a minute while I consult briefly with my secretary?”

“Sure.”

“Great.” Kate smiled and made sure Jordan was safely inside before she laced into Didi. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Didi tightened her mouth in an attempt not to laugh while being chastised, a feat she’d perfected as a hyper kid in Catholic grammar school.

“That child is probably half your age,” Kate said. “You’ve got furniture older than she is. And I’d rather you didn’t use the practice as a pawn in your lurid bid to seduce her.” She folded her arms across her chest. “You’ve put me in a terribly uncomfortable position. What if her work sucks? Am I supposed to hire her anyway so you can get laid? You need to get ahold of yourself. You’re out of control.”

Didi looked at her patiently. “Are you through?”

“It depends. Are you?”

“Before you get your panty liner all up in a bunch,” Didi said, leading her away from the open office door, “I didn’t do this so I can get laid…” She bobbed her eyebrows up and down.

“What? Me?” Kate boomed and then dialed it down to a whisper. “That’s even worse. I don’t want her. I already told you that. Why don’t you ever listen to me?”

“Can we argue about this later? She’s in there waiting for you.”

Kate glared at her. “Oh, we’re gonna argue about this later. Don’t you worry.”

Didi turned Kate around and nudged her toward the office. “That’s it, girl. Go get her.”

Kate stopped at the door and whispered through gritted teeth, “I cannot believe I didn’t smell this coming a mile away. I should have known something was desperately wrong when you refused my offer to buy you lunch today.”

Didi winked and sashayed back to her desk like a Disney princess.

Kate entered her office pawing at her neck, as it suddenly felt sweaty. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Jordan. Why don’t we set up on this table over here?”

“Sure.” She grabbed her laptop case and arranged it on the small, round conference table across the room.

“How do you find the time to be a graphic designer and have a music career?” Kate tried out a few casual poses before Jordan turned around.

Jordan chuckled. “The question is more like how do I find the time to have a music career while I’m running a graphic design company to pay the bills.”

“After seeing you perform, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for long. You’re really in your element up there.”

“Thanks, Kate. That’s so nice of you to say.” Jordan’s smile and stare shot a current of nerves through Kate. “I’m ready if you’d like to get started.”

Kate couldn’t slide into the chair next to her fast enough. Damn, she smelled good.

“Okay, so did Didi give you the links I sent her so you could see my work?”

“Um, I’ll be honest. I haven’t had time to look.”

“Okay, no problem. Let’s take a look at what I did for Schick Corporation.” She punched away at the keys until the site popped up. “Can you see it okay?”

“Uh, yeah,” Kate said, craning her neck.

“Here. You can move closer.” Jordan’s voice was drenched in sex appeal. “Or I can just hand you the computer.” She giggled, seeming a little embarrassed.

“Either works for me. I mean you need to see the screen too, right?”

“Right.” Jordan smiled and moved closer to Kate. “I like this layout. It’s really user-friendly, and I’ve gotten the most positive feedback from my clients on it.”

Kate tried to focus on the screen, but the proximity of this gorgeous, sexy, delicious-smelling woman sapped her powers of concentration like kryptonite.

“Yeah. I like the logo placement and access to the navigation bar.” Kate sneaked a whiff of Jordan’s hair dangling near her face.

“It’s eye-catching and tastefully understated at the same time. I also did the design for a winery in Stonington. Want to see?”

They locked eyes for a moment, and Kate couldn’t help smiling. Jordan smiled back, and suddenly their business meeting felt as awkward as a first good-night kiss.

“I, uh, I was about to say something else,” Jordan stammered. “Sorry, I…”

Kate smiled wider as their professionalism spiraled into blatant flirtation. “The winery in Stonington?”

“Oh, yeah, duh,” Jordan said. “Now I’m thinking my presentation would’ve been far more professional if we were Skyping.”

Their laughter reduced the boiling sexual tension to a simmer.

“No worries, Jordan. I’m impressed with your work and the delivery of your sales pitch.”

“Thank you.” She pulled a flyer out of her bag. “Here’s the list of links to my other clients’ sites. In the meantime, do you have any questions for me?”

Kate arched an eyebrow. You mean like where have you been all my life? “Uh, no. I’m good right now. I’ll review those sites, and when I choose one I like, then we can talk pricing.”

“Great. Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.”

They stood at the same time, and Jordan shook her hand again. As they walked to the door, Kate stopped her.

“Say, I do have one question, a personal one, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure.” She dazzled Kate again with those eyes.

“How old are you?”

She hesitated like a suspect hedging how much the cops already knew. “Thirty.”

That’s exactly what Kate was afraid she’d say. “All right then. I’ll be in touch.”

“I hope so.” The lilt of temptation in Jordan’s voice told Kate she wasn’t talking business anymore.

Kate swallowed hard and extended her arm for Jordan to go ahead of her into the reception area.

“So,” Didi said, startling them both. “Do we have a partnership here or what?”

Kate scowled at her as she passed her desk and walked Jordan out. After closing the door, she leaned against it and exhaled.

“Well?” Didi asked.

“She’s thirty years old,” Kate finally said.

“You have an age requirement to have a website designed?”

Kate dropped on the couch and ran her hands through her hair. “Didi, I can’t hire her to do the website. I’m attracted to her.”

“What does one have to do with the other if you like her work? Besides, if you end up going out with her, that’s just a bonus.”

“No, no, no.” Kate flailed her hand back and forth. “There will be no dating involved in this.”

“What’s wrong with you? She’s smart, sexy, and artistic. And she’s obviously smitten with you. You can see it when she lets her gaze linger on you. It’s so adorbs.”

“Didi, she was born the year I graduated high school.”

“Really? That’s kind of creepy.”

“Thank you.”

“Kate, I’m just kidding. I think she’s great for you. Age shouldn’t matter. It’s not like she’s twenty. She’s established and seems very mature.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Kate leapt up from the couch and headed into her office.

Didi appeared in the doorway. “Kate, just go out on one date with her. Not for nothing, but you need the practice. You literally haven’t been out with someone new in over twenty years.”

“Really?” Kate said. “Seventeen years with Lydia, four years single. Yeah. You’re right.”

“Which means you haven’t been laid in four years.” She sucked her teeth. “Pathetic. I’m surprised you let her out of your office without a struggle,” she said with a giggle.

“I believe the estimate is closer to six years, but who’s counting?”

“Oh-em-gee. Then just sleep with her. Come on. Pretty soon it’s gonna pucker shut on you.”

Kate laughed. “I’m not going to sleep with her. You know I don’t do that.”

“You must be exhausted constantly trying to cover all that moral high ground.”

“It’s not about morality. With the exception of one drunken night with Viv when I was barely out of my teens, I’ve never been into sex without some type of emotional connection. And right now, I’m not into pursuing an emotional connection either. I’m quite content with my emotionally uncomplicated life, thank you.”

“Boy, did we end up in opposite places in our lives. I’d take her into the supply closet right now if she wanted.”

Kate scratched her head. “You were friends with two out lesbians for decades. Why did it take you till you were forty to realize you’re one, too?”

“Hmm, let’s see.” She counted off on her fingers. “Catholic. Italian. A son. A mortgage. Xanax.”

“Fair enough.” Kate headed back to her office.

“What about the website? Are you going to hire Jordan?”

Kate stopped at the door and thought for a moment. “Only if you’ll handle it. I don’t want to have any more interaction with her. It’s not wise to mix business with pleasure. But more importantly, I’m not a fan of cold showers,” she added with a grin.

“Fair enough,” Didi said and smiled.

Chapter Four

Indecent Proposal

Her eyes weak from what seemed like hours playing game apps and trolling photos and comment posts on Jordan’s Facebook page, Kate curled up in silky sheets, bargaining with herself to shut down her brain and go to sleep. It was after one a.m., but no matter how many times she covered and uncovered her head with the pillow, she could not chase Jordan out of her mind. The whole thing defied explanation. Why was she being taunted with visions of that girl’s rich olive skin, juicy caramel lips, and tall, slender figure every time she closed her eyes? Cosmic retribution, that’s what it was—the ultimate payback for every judgment she’d ever passed on Viv’s dubious romantic dalliances and dig she’d ever made to Didi for drooling over some girl young enough to be her daughter. Karma. ’Tis indeed a bitch.

Now that she’d wrung out every ounce of romanticism from the Jordan situation, how long was this foolishness supposed to last? A woman in her early-late forties had no business lying wide-awake while her emotions surged like they had as a teenager when she’d discovered her first Kathleen Turner movie. And over who? Some kid who’d probably have nothing more than a brief fascination with a woman creeping up on the half-century mark.

Regardless of her momentary lapse, Kate Randall was no teenager, and she resolved to purge these unwelcome feelings from her decommissioned heart if she had to lie there and count sheep until the entire flock stampeded her.

* * *

The next day, Kate stood at the water cooler in the reception area of her office sipping water from a cone-shaped paper cup. She eyed Didi, who was engrossed in the Request for Disclosure document she was preparing.

“Do you know what I dislike most about you?”

Didi looked up from her keyboard. “I beg your pardon?”

“When you gloat,” Kate said, staring her down. “All week long, every time I’ve walked past you, I’ve had to look at your smug face.”

“What am I gloating over?”

“You know.”

“What? Jordan?”

Kate glared at her with disgust. “Look at you, acting all innocent. Yes, Jordan.”

“Kate, I don’t know what you’re getting so indignant over. I haven’t bothered you about her since you told me to handle the website design myself. I even had her come into the office while you were at court, so you wouldn’t run into her.”

“She came here again? Why?”

“I had a couple of questions, and she said she’d rather show me in person than try to explain it over the phone. I thought it was very sweet of her and a testament to her professionalism toward her clients.”


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