Thanksgiving arrives in one week and one day. Feeling hemmed in by parental expectations? Are they disappointed by your sapphic proclivities? I can help! The only pay I want is the holiday meal!
I didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw her Craigslist ad.
I love my family. I’m lucky to have them—well, most of them. But my aunt? I’m so tired of her giving my mom crap because I happen to be a lesbian. So one pink-haired tattoo artist pretending to be my girlfriend will annoy my Christian fundamentalist aunt right back and make my Thanksgiving perfect.
Only . . . Brooke turns out to be cuter and more complicated than I expected. And before you can say “yorkiepoo,” we kiss . . . and abduct a dog together. I want to keep them both—but Brooke isn’t the kind to be kept. Lucky for me, I’m the kind to chase what I want.
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“Here’s a novel idea,” I say into the phone. “Don’t invite Aunt Daphne.”
I know what my mom is going to say before I even hear the sigh. “If Daphne isn’t there, Connie won’t come.”
“As if you want her there either.”
“If Connie doesn’t come, my dad will go with her to her family in Connecticut.”
“And we wouldn’t want that.” Thankfully my mom can’t see my eyes roll, or I’d catch hell. As it is, my tone is probably a touch too wry, and she responds with her own exasperation.
“I know you don’t always agree with his politics, but he’s my father and your grandfather, and it’s the holidays.”
“I just don’t want Daphne to ask if I’m ever settling down or if I’m content in spinsterhood. Seriously, who even says ‘spinsterhood’ anymore? Can a word count as a word anymore if no one uses it?”
“By that logic, it’s still in since Daphne used it.”
“Yeah but that was almost two years ago.”
“Then what are you complaining about?”
“Trisha’s had a baby.” And since everything Trisha does is magical to her mother, Daphne is just fine with Trisha’s works-as-a-server husband. Not that I’m a snob or anything, but how does a twenty-year-old expect to be a stay-at-home mother when her husband works at Applebee’s? Unless he’s giving head under the table, his tips can’t be that great. “I don’t want to hear about how brilliant that chubby-cheeked thing is and why Daphne thinks he’ll be the first man on the moon.”
“We’ve already had a man on the moon,” Mom replies bluntly.
“Does Daphne realize that?”
I get a special treatment of the sigh twice in a row. “If you don’t like it, stay at the kids’ table.”
“But I was finally going to move up,” I say instantly, but it’s not such a terrible idea. Sierra, my seventeen-year-old sister, is pretty fun. “What would really shut her up is if I brought a date.”
“You’re welcome to if you want, but please do keep in mind that it’s only a week till Thanksgiving. Let me know as soon as you figure out who you’re going to bring.”
“Sure, sure,” I say, and I’m not paying attention as we give our good-byes, because my mind is fully wrapped up in the holiday.
Daphne knows I’m gay, inasmuch as she knows physics. She’s heard of it, but she absolutely has no interest in mucking about with it. Her head will spin if she actually has to look at me holding hands with a woman.
So naturally I click through all my usual online dating sites. OkCupid is a bust of course, since my inbox is currently filled with men asking if I’m really sure I’m a lesbian—and if I am, is there any way they can watch? Just once? Ugh. My queer girl dating app nets one possible, a girl I’ve been messaging with for a couple of weeks, who I know is living away from her family. And she’s a student, so maybe she can’t afford to go home.
Out of impulse, while I wait for her to message back, I click over to Craigslist and the WSW section. I don’t expect much, and I’m not sure why I check, except maybe I’m more of a glutton for punishment than I want to admit.
Unexpectedly, I hit pay dirt.
Seeking an inappropriate Thanksgiving date?
Goddamn, that title is made for me.
Fate is a thing. I rub my palms together before clicking the link and wiggle my butt deeper into my couch in excitement.
It’s not my parents who are pestering me about kids, but just about everything else looks spot on.
Thanksgiving arrives in one week and one day. Feeling hemmed in by parental expectations? Are they disappointed by your sapphic proclivities? I can help!
I’m twenty-four and all but six months of those years have been spent outside of prison walls. I’ve been told I look anywhere between seventeen and thirty with healthy applications of makeup. I have my own car, which has sweet-as-hell flames painted on the nose. Best VW Rabbit on the West Coast. I work as a tattoo artist, so depending on the family, I can either talk long and loud about my work or pretend to be a stripper.
Other things I can do:
Talk about how I only eat clean, whole foods even while I scarf down an embarrassing number of calories.
Ask your married family members if they’re really sure they’re straight.
Talk about the mundane trap that is the bourgeois middle-class life and how no one will shackle me down.
Launch into conversations with how I plan to have seven babies and discuss in detail the homebirth I’ve attended. Will you give me bonus points for saying “placenta” as the cranberry sauce is served?
I’ll consider taking part in a catfight, but only if it evolves naturally. No jumping without provocation will be done. I also draw the line at groping anyone, but if you want to kiss me after your grandfather says amen, I’m cool with it.
The only pay I want is the holiday meal!
“Perfect,” I say to my empty apartment as I punch the air.
Please include your favorite Muppet in the email subject line so I know you’re not a robot.
I type Rowlf, of course, in the subject line and then my email is simple and short: Why?
I’m hoping for a mysteriously quirky vibe.
She doesn’t answer until morning, which I deem an acceptably restrained time. That doesn’t paint her as a desperate weirdo. In bed, I hold my phone over my face and click open the email as I try to scrub sleep out of my eyes with my other hand. I stayed up way, way too late watching Homeland. I’m gonna need a triple shot if I’m going to make it through my 10 a.m. meeting without drooling on the conference table.
My why, she responded. Faraway family, and friends who are either vegetarian or being ironic and making turduckens. What’s your why?
God, she seems snarky and perfect already. I grin, then flip over and bury my face in my pillow to squeal. This is the most splendid plan I’ve ever had. I take all of my shower and commute to think about my response before typing it out while sitting in my Lexus.
My why is only three words: Christian fundie aunt. Wanna play? I tell her my name and invite her to my favorite coffee shop on Sixteenth, a couple of blocks down from the San Sebastian beach.
Her email comes during my two o’clock status report. I’m Brooke. I work at Belladonna Ink, the new place on Main. I can’t meet that early. I’ll be at work. Either you can come to the shop or I’ll meet you around eleven. Mickey’s on Seventeenth?
It’s a bar popular in San Sebastian, so she probably really is a local. Me? In a tattoo parlor? This feels so naughty. Maybe I should get a little butterfly somewhere discreet, like my ankle, and then I could brag to Daphne about how my new girlfriend had tattooed me up.
I’m in. I’ll be there at six.
After a seminomadic childhood throughout California, Lorelie Brown spent high school in Orange County before joining the US Army. After traveling the world from South Korea to Italy, she now lives north of Chicago. She writes her Pacific Blue series of hot surfers in order to channel some warmth.
Lorelie has three active sons, two yappy dogs, and a cat who cusses her out on a regular basis for not petting him enough.
In her immense free time (hah!) Lorelie cowrites award-winning contemporary erotic romance under the name Katie Porter. You can find out more about the Vegas Top Guns and Command Force Alpha series at www.KatiePorterBooks.com or at @MsKatiePorter. You can also contact Lorelie on Twitter @LorelieBrown.
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