Frosting on the Cake #2 – Second Helpings – Paperback

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Frosting on the Cake, Volume 2 by Karin Kallmaker

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The Story...

  • Second helpings—you know you want some. Feast on a literary dessert buffet of short stories featuring the beloved characters who took your breath away and stole your heart.

    Inspired by classics like Touchwood, Wild Things and Substitute for Love, as well as bestsellers and award-winners like Above Temptation, The Kiss That Counted and Warming Trend, Karin’s second volume of follow-up stories is sure to satisfy your craving for more.

    Karin Kallmaker is a three-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award and has received numerous other accolades over her twenty-year devotion to lesbian romance. Readers will also want to look for the original Frosting on the Cake Volume 1.

    Contents

    1. Above Temptation: Snap Judgment
    2. The Kiss that Counted: It’s… Complicated
    3. Warming Trend: Good Morning
    4. Wild Things: Losing Faith
    5. All the Wrong Places: Cruising Solo
    6. All the Wrong Places: Lucky 7
    7. Sugar: The Hardest Part
    8. Touchwood: The Curve of Her
    9. Car Pool: Divided Highway
    10. Paperback Romance: Payout
    11. In Every Port: Filled to Overflowing
    12. Substitute for Love: Reconciliation
    13. One Degree of Separation: Twenty-One
    14. Just Like That: The Beautiful Expression of Her Dark Eyes
    15. Finders Keepers: Gladiators
    16. Making Up For Lost Time: Happy New Year Too
    17. Stepping Stone: Action
    18. Notes: "With Frosting You Get Sprinkles"

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Author’s Notes
  • A sequel to a book of sequels? Yes, developing this collection of Next Chapters was as much fun as the first time!

    As usual Faith Fitzgerald (Wild Things) showed up with a fully detailed story of life with a prominent politician. Thank you to the readers who encouraged a second volume, and yes, there will be a third.

    A few of these stories have become available as standalone digital shorts or appeared in other anthologies (in particular, check out the fun collaboration In Deep Waters 2: Cruising the Strip). Most however, are exclusive to this collection.


Excerpt

  • Warming Trend

    Published: 2009

    Characters:
    Anidyr Bycall, doctoral candidate (glaciers) and bartender - pronounced “Annie-dear” Eve Cambra, restaurateur Tan Salek, college administrator Lisa Garettson, cocktail waitress

    Setting:
    Key West, Florida, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Twenty-one! Finally of age, finally legal.


    From GOOD MORNING
    (1 year LATER)

    “Are you saying I shouldn’t be wearing white?”

    Lisa, big surprise, wasn’t smiling when she turned away from the mirror.

    Ani quailed. “No, that’s not what I meant - I mean, I meant it, but not what you think.”

    “Like you’re the Virgin Mary. Oh, I forgot, you are. You did that whole fell-in-love-for-the-first-time-and-turn’s-out-she’s-the-one thing. If you don’t count the three years you didn’t speak to each other.”

    Lisa’s hands were on her hips. That was never a good sign.

    “I only meant that you’re so fair I’m not sure white looks right on you. Honest.” Ani did her best big, dark puppy eyes. It worked on Eve. Well, sometimes.

    “I don’t know why I brought you with me.”

    “Because Eve and Tan are out shopping for Tan’s tux, and I know less about that than I do about dresses. You’re going to be a beautiful bride. It almost doesn’t matter what dress you get.”

    Her hopes of having finally worded a compliment correctly were dashed with Lisa’s toss of her thick, lush, sexy blonde hair.

    “So that’s what I’ll tell my future wife? That I got just any old thing while she’s out there looking at tuxedos?”

    Ani put up her hands in defeat. “I give up. I can’t please you.”

    That earned her a smile. “You don’t really try.”

    “But I do try.” She thought better of adding, “Tan is a saint for trying, and a god for succeeding.”

    Lisa went back to gazing in the mirror. “You really don’t like this one, do you?”

    Ani gave the dress another look. It was covered in big lace flowers, which Ani really didn’t care for, but she didn’t want her preference for simpler attire to get in the way of Lisa choosing a dress that suited her. The shaped bodice did show off Lisa’s considerable assets, and it was fitted to make it look as if she had a waist the size of a toothpick. The skirt was cut asymmetrically, and maybe that was the problem. Lisa was very graceful, yet she looked lopsided.

    Glad she didn’t have to waste an “It makes your ass look fat” excuse, she finally said, “The skirt is lumpy, and you don’t look like your usual lithe self.”

    Lisa frowned into the mirror. “It’s hard picking a wedding dress on limited funds. This is what I get for coming to a department store.”

    “You weren’t going to do this until summer, but we’re here and health insurance awaits you if you do it now. It’s a no-brainer. You put your money into the cottage—it’s so beautiful. And we’re so glad to be able to share it with you. To be your first house guests.”

    “It was such a relief when Tan got that job.”

    “You both got lucky.”

    “But what were we thinking? Just because you guys were visiting we could throw together a last-minute for-real wedding? We should have made it a denim event, picnicked on the inter-island ferry and called it a day.”

    Lisa began shimmying out of the dress. Ani stood ready to assist. She was getting better about sparing Lisa’s hair as the dress went over her head. Muffled by lace, Lisa continued, “Nobody is getting work in universities right now, and I can’t say I was really happy to move to Massachusetts, but there was no turning it down. I’ll be full-time at the Blue Harbor in a matter of months. I’m already pulling the highest shift tips.”

    Ani didn’t doubt that. Behind that bombshell exterior and five-million-dollar smile was a ruthless adding machine born from too many exes walking away with too much of her money. Ani hadn’t thought there was much of a heart until butterfly Lisa and the serious, reliable Tan had locked gazes for the first time. Ani hadn’t known Tan had a sense of humor, but Lisa had found it within sixty seconds of their first meeting. Tan had brought out the steel-trap mind and made Lisa feel as if it was her sexiest trait among a bounty of sexy, appealing traits. Flattery sounded natural coming from Tan.

    Ani supposed she herself always sounded a little grudging—and who could blame her? She wasn’t put on this earth to regularly oil and lube Lisa’s ego.

    She tried to mollify Lisa with, “The falls are supposed to be gorgeous.” She tugged slightly and Lisa was abruptly free of the gown. Goodness, the girl had assets. Ani’s appreciation was purely academic, the same as she’d appreciate a painting. Her favorite assets were Eve’s because they were, well, attached to Eve. She loved waking and finding Eve among the sheets and exploring how her assets were feeling any given morning. For half the year at home, Alaskan mornings looked just like Alaskan nights and some things were really better when well rested.

    “But we can get married here, and our best friends are here, so let’s have a wedding.”

    “Well, why not?” Ani did her best to position the dress on the hanger again. “Fairbanks will melt before it’s legal in Alaska. Especially if voters get to decide what civil rights The Gays can have this week.”

    “In time,” Lisa said. “Or you and Eve can move.” She laughed at Ani’s expression. “What am I thinking? You both actually like it there.”

    “Yes we do. We like it there.” Ani smiled. She loved Eve’s house—their house—and her nearly finished PhD and her research assistant teaching duties, and Eve’s cooking and their dog Tonk and the puppy Tigr. Tigr was a recent addition, and they were all much tried by the relentless gnawing a husky puppy did. Eve had already lost two bras and Ani was out of old snow boots.

    “Let’s try that bridal shop in Natick,” Lisa announced. “The prices are supposed to be bearable.”

    By the end of the day Ani’s nerves were frazzled, and Lisa’s even more so. They were met at Tan and Lisa’s newly purchased cottage with the smiling faces of their partners, who proudly showed off not a rented tuxedo, but a tailored suit of a deep purple that was a good foil for Tan’s native Inuit coloring and would pass muster for formal occasions many years to come.

    “Tuxes made her look shorter, for some reason, like it was just too much clothing,” Eve explained after Ani kissed her hello.

    “I’ve seen her wear forty pounds of jackets and scarves.”

    “Not in a wedding party,” Eve said.

    “Do you want a wedding, darling?” Lisa was explaining her lack of success to Tan and Ani had heard it all. It was far more fun to hold Eve close and look into her smiling, inviting eyes.

    “Yes, I do. I decided today. When it will be legal where we live, I want a wedding. And I’m inviting the whole town of North Pole. If you’re good, I’ll invite you too.”

    Ani kissed her, which was what the joke deserved. “I always try to be good.”

    Eve made a gratifying, suggestive noise and Ani pulled her close. In the background she heard Lisa begin the story of the second of their eight shops. Even doubling her budget hadn’t helped.

    “I might as well make myself a toga out of a sheet,” she was saying. “Money doesn’t help in the least unless I want to spend thousands on a custom-fitted dress—and wait three weeks.”

    Rocking Eve slightly, Ani added, “There was one dress that came close, but it made her ass look fat.”

    Tan shuddered in mock horror as she gave Lisa another hug. Her expressive eyes held deep sympathy for Ani, which Ani appreciated. “We can’t have that. Darling, I’d rather you were in a swimsuit than something that profaned your hindquarters.”

    It made Lisa laugh and relax. Amazing, Ani thought. She knew if she’d said the same thing Lisa would still be chewing her ear about it an hour later.

           ***

    “Pull over!” Lisa pointed at an ordinary New England house—two-story A-frame, set back from the street, small garden around a single oak tree and a narrow driveway leading to the back. “Yard sale!”

    “We’re not going to find a wedding dress at a yard sale.”

    Ani was tempted to keep driving but a space opened up right in front of the next house on the street. She was already annoyed at having taken the wrong exit from the latest roundabout and finding herself on this one-way side street. If that damned GPS box told her she was “off route” one more time, it was going to be airborne out the window. Lisa was far too frazzled to drive, or so she said. It was easier to order Ani to do impossible things in New England traffic when, to Ani, a traffic jam was four cars at a four-way stop.

    “There was a big rack of clothes. I have a feeling.”

    She had to stop. It was not possible to argue with Lisa’s “feelings.” She had hoped to spend today on the Freedom Trail with Eve, but no, more wedding dress shopping instead. It was already after two and there was no hint of a clam or lobster roll in her future. Eve and Tan had woken up early and been out of the house to beat the commute for the drive to Salem, so Ani hadn’t even gotten a smooch and a ‘good morning’ from Eve. She always got a ‘good morning’ from Eve. Given the long, long winter nights with the sun rising around ten a.m., Eve’s ‘good morning’ was sometimes the only thing that marked a new day.

    Tan at least had felt badly about sightseeing without Ani, but she wasn’t allowed to see the dress in advance and there was no point to three of them going shopping and leaving Tan on her own. It was Spring Break for the state colleges and her vacation as well. So she and Eve were tromping around the House of Seven Gables, and had probably had something like pumpkin ravioli for lunch or seafood stew with crusty steaming Italian rolls and melted butter and probably chocolate mousse or lemon custard for dessert or found a shop with ice cream cones.

    It was at least welcome to get out of the car and into the brisk, crisp air. She couldn’t explain it, but the air felt older to her here in New England, like it had brushed against history before mingling through the newly leafing trees. Air in Alaska felt like it had been dancing with Denali before she breathed it in. Also unlike home, wildflowers were everywhere, which she liked, and the sun was out longer, but that was true of just about everywhere. It was only mildly hot—low seventies—but the shade was comfortable to her.

    Lisa made a beeline for the clothes rack, seizing and pulling out a white dress. As Ani got closer she saw it wasn’t exactly white so much as a pale blue. It was a better choice for Lisa’s skin and hair than pure white. It was sort of gauzy and very feminine without being super frilly. She actually liked it.

    “The waist is too big.” Lisa held it against herself. “But I like the bodice and sleeves. I’m thinking this was a bridesmaid dress, and a pretty nice one.”

    The sleeves were also appealing to Ani. They would only reach halfway down Lisa’s forearm, but they draped so that it appeared the sleeves were gathered and tied with pretty velvet ribbon, leaving a lot of arm exposed. Sexy. But the waist was way too large.

    “It’s silk and it’s only twenty-five dollars,” Lisa whispered. “Do you think I could find someone good enough at alterations to do it by day after tomorrow?”

    “That seems like a big job. The whole waist would have to come off and go back on, wouldn’t it?”

    A harried-looking middle-aged woman paused on the other side of the rack. “That’s the trouble trying to sell it. I was almost five months along when it was fitted to me.”

    “I’m getting married on Saturday, kind of in a hurry because our friends are here and we thought, well, why not now instead of this summer?” Lisa’s charm was in full force. “But the dress has become the biggest issue. I want to look okay in the photos for the grandkids.”

    Ani tried to stifle a snort.

    “It would really suit you,” the woman said. Suddenly she turned and called, “Mom! Come ovah here!”

    Within moments a much older woman, white-haired and sharp-eyed, appeared. “What is it Julie?”

    “Could you alter this?” Julie turned to Lisa. “My mom made that dress. She was a seamstress for decades.”

    “You made this?” Lisa clasped the gown to her again. “It’s beautiful.”

    “I can alter it, but how soon?”

    “She needs it tomorrow night I’m thinking.”

    Expert eyes sized up Lisa and the dress. “It would take me all day, stahting now too. Cost probably more than it’s worth.”

    The third generation of the household arrived with a cheery smile under her Boston University ball cap. Ani thought the girl was probably an undergrad. The family resemblance, anchored around long, thin noses and sharp blue eyes, was striking. All saleswoman, she enthused, “That’s a great dress.”

    The mother nodded, but said, “Only if she can wear it, and she can’t.”

    The girl said brightly, “Nana’s making me one a lot like it for my wedding this fall.”

    The grandmother nodded, but said, “Only if you set a date and put a deposit on St. Michael’s. I’m not stitching anything until then.”

    “Nana, that’s what the yard sale is for—the deposit.” The girl rolled her eyes. Clearly, in her opinion, her grandmother had a terrible memory.

    “Not to mention the catering and the bartender and the D.J. and the dance floor you’re wanting to pahk in my backyahd.”

    “It can’t be done in time, anyway,” Ani added. Her stomach growled loudly—she knew Lisa heard it, but all Lisa did was bump her out of the way.

    “I’m a bartender,” Lisa said. “I can pour any of the basic stuff. Maybe we can work something out. I’ll advise you on what to buy and then tend for your reception and I’ll get a dress fitted to me by tomorrow night? Maybe?”

    There was a long, considering silence. Then the granddaughter’s gaze slid over to her grandmother, pleading like a puppy. A few moments later, far more resigned but equally pleading, the mother’s gaze shifted as well.

    The grandmother, obviously a woman used to dealing with people, said, “I’d want a contract. I don’t want to do all that work and you not show up.”

    “Done,” Lisa said.

    Just like that, the grandmother, who introduced herself as Elaine, asked Ani and Lisa inside. Within minutes they were all crowded into the bathroom. Lisa was promptly stripped to her skivvies and measured while Ani wrote out the straightforward terms of the agreement.

    And even full of pins the dress clearly flattered and would fit like a charm. Naturally, Ani thought, because it’s for Lisa and Lisa had a feeling and I still don’t have any lunch headed my way.

    The door to the bathroom opened and another white-haired woman stuck her head in. “Lainie, what are you doing?”

    Mouth full of pins, Elaine said, “What does it look like?”

    “Guess I’m going for grub on my own.”

    “You’ve managed that for the past forty years even without me along sometimes.”

    “You want the usual?”

    “Lee, I’m busy here. Yes, the usual if you’re going to Murphy’s.”

    “Got it.” The door closed.

    Lisa, who obviously didn’t have a stomach clanging at her for something to eat, said, “Tan is going to love this dress. She loves everything I wear, but this is going to knock her eyes out.”

    “Just what a bride wants on her wedding day.” Elaine gave Ani a considering look in the mirror and went back to pinning the dress, a satisfied smile now on her face.

    Ani, without consulting Lisa because she could make decisions by herself, opened the door and peered into the adjacent sitting room. Lee was just putting her wallet into the back pocket of well-worn jeans. “Can I come with you? I’m starving and my so-called friend doesn’t seem to care.”

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