Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How Sex Isn't the Only Form of Infidelity in Relationships These Days (the funny version)

How Sex Isn't the Only Form of Infidelity in Relationships These Days 
(the funny version)

Another blog elsewhere has a post with nearly the same title talking about time infidelity being a problem in modern culture, which is true, but it wasn't as tongue in cheek as it might have been and time infidelity isn't the only kind beyond sexual facing couples in the information age.

Breaking News - Your significant other, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, husband, accomplice in the crime called life finds out that they are the newly appointed Czar of Awesome and the first person they call...better fucking be you! Their mom, their bestie, their dog, their third grade teacher can fall into whatever order as long as they all come after YOU. None of those other people will have nearly the investment in the success or failure of whatever the big news is. Maybe the second call too, several seconds later, to share the news again and see if it still thrills.

Have you seen...? - It's the Game of Thrones song, it's time for the Game of Thrones show...those are the words I made up to go with the Game of Thrones opening sequence. Go ahead, sing them along, they fit pretty well. You're at home while your significant other is away being the Czar of Awesome, and you've DVRed Game of Thrones or some equally significant piece of pop culture. Sure you always watch it together and then talk about it, drink wine maybe, comment on how great it would be to own dragons until they ate a kid or something. They'd want you to watch it without them, right? WRONG! You've just cheated on your spouse with your DVR. When you realize this, you can either pretend like you didn't watch it and watch it again with them, but they'll see the "restart from beginning" or "resume playing" option since you know you didn't watch all the credits. Then the red wedding happens and you don't blink--they know you cheated because what sort of psycho doesn't drop a tear at that. Or you'll be on Google, desperately asking "how do I make my DVR look like I didn't watch something?" Go ahead, Google it now, cheater, it won't help you. Or you go full nuclear option, by accident or intentionally, and delete the episode and pretend like it didn't record. But your DVR knows what you did.

Binged and Splurged - Netflix, HBO Go, Showtime on Demand, Hulu, Amazon TV, whatever Starz is doing these days all allow you to race through a show like you've got nothing to do and a comfy couch, which is exactly your situation so the show you promised to watch together, you watched on Sunday, all of it, three season, by yourself...woops. Netflix is a sexy mistress, just like your DVR, and she knows you're going to watch the next episode even if you're not sure yet. She'll even count it down: next episode starts in 19, 18, 17, you naughty thing you. Don't Trust the B and Better Off Ted didn't last long for me, but I came clean, I swear! ...after I was almost done with season 2...of both. Not my fault, they were canceled too soon. If there were more seasons...I probably would have binged those too. Or, again, you can try to lie, watch and pretend like you don't know what's going to happen. Your significant other doesn't know the difference between your real laugh and a fake laugh, right? Guess you'll find out after your Neflix adultery.

Do we have any more...? - What are the rules for the last delicious whatever in the kitchen when it comes to you and your significant other? My wife and I do a dance, an avoi-dance if you will, where we both try to out polite each other in insisting the other person takes the last Oreo or shandy or whatever incredible thing we only have one left of even though we secretly both want to swipe it and run away laughing at the amazinginess we will enjoy all by ourselves. But what if your significant other isn't looking and doesn't know there's only one left? What if you just pop it in your mouth, turn quickly and walk to a private corner of the house to chew, savor, and make mmmmmmm noises? Surely that's not cheating, right? You wouldn't cheat with food, would you? Even though food is sexy sometimes, tasty, doesn't judge, and...of course you'd cheat with food! Food is fucking amazing! You'd cheat with food, walk back into the room with Oreo crumbs still in your teeth and tell your partner, "No, I think you finished those last night."

Can't even tell...from behind.'re good - But she's not good, is she? She's got kale in her teeth and that shirt is horrible and really, crocs? Is she going to work in a kitchen later? But you're already late and it'd be awkward, and you just want to get going already.'re good, let's go. We trust our partners to have our backs when it comes to not looking like dumb asses. Your significant other can brush stuff off your face without being socially unacceptable about it (try it with strangers, it isn't appreciated). And they can also gently remind you harem pants and a cowl neck sweater wasn't even that good of an idea when it was a thing other people were doing. But if you don't tell them, if you let them walk out into the world of judging eyes and acute fashion senses, you leave them open to typically silent ridicule and disgust from people who aren't in a position to tell them they still have the better part of a salad flapping between their incisors.

Under the bus you go - There are a lot of ways you can throw your partner under the bus. Last Halloween you were going to go as Batman and Robin. Weird. Okay, but whatever. She went along with it. Then you change your mind and show up to the party dressed as a classy spy, and she's there dressed as boy wonder, which wasn't going to make a whole lot of sense in the first place, but makes NO sense without Batman. Glad she looks good in those short shorts.

You realized:  Oh, yeah, Batman has muscles and I don't
Or you don't want to go to Janice's thing on Saturday. It's going to be boring and Todd will be there. Fucking Todd with his jokes about digital cameras that nobody gets. So your partner has cramps. Those mega cramps from the worst day and heavy flow. Or she's got a thing, and you'd totally like to bail on her boring thing, but you're in a relationship. What can you do but follow your significant other to whatever lame-o thing she's got on Saturday. Sorry, Janice, you know how it is with those art/music/funeral/etc things.

Then you share, or over share maybe, an embarrassing moment. But not YOUR embarrassing moment, that'd suck. You share HER embarrassing moment. You were kayaking on vacation in Hawaii, she started getting sea sick, and you turn around just in time to see her feed the fishes with that morning's breakfast. People on the beach gasp, a few kids sprint out of the water, and since it was kind of a small resort, she's known as the chunk blowing kayaker for the rest of the vacation by everyone you see. It was funny when you two were reminiscing about it last night while looking through pictures, just the two of you, so why not share the story at the art/music/funeral/etc? Because your significant other doesn't belong under a bus, that's why.

At the heart of infidelity is a breach of trust. Trust in a modern relationship covers a lot of ground. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to figure out a way to hide the fact that I accidentally (on purpose) lost my wife's horrible old running shoes in the neighbor's garbage can.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Crushing It

Damn right, Amy
I had a post in mind for this month. It was going to start out all cutesy about how we won on marriage equality and now we can all relax, and then I was going to launch into a rallying cry to get back on the legislative firing line and push for equal employment protection for LGBTQ+ across all 50 states...and then the EEOC did that already. Thanks for sucking the wind out of my sales Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That's fine. I'll shake it off. We've got other stuff to work on. Let me look down the increasingly checked off list for equal rights...

We're not done, but we're quickly coming to the end of the equality that can be accomplished through the legal and legislative processes. As any other minority group can tell you, that's not nearly the end of it in this country--see the disrespect for America's first black President for notes on how the cultural side can lag behind the legal. The cultural discriminatory bullshit facing the LGBTQ+ community is far from settled, even though Caitlyn Jenner won an ESPY, which is a cool step in the right direction. Big congratulations to her.

Marriage equality across all 50 states in one step is amazing. No longer do we have to worry if a slightly higher court than the last one will take the right away in your state (or the voters in some cases), or if you get married in one state you might not be married in the state you actually live, and what if you travel to another married are you there? Better look that up before you book the flight. By the way, all of these were actual concerns for Nikki and I because of when we lived in California, how long we've lived in Florida, and the various places around the country we've traveled as of late. It just didn't feel like marriage before. We couldn't get married in California when we were in college because we missed the window. A few years after that we could in California, but we'd moved to Florida by then, and Florida wasn't going to uphold a California marriage unless it fit Florida's version of one man and one woman. Then Florida said we could get married, but hold on, our very conservative governor and state attorney general were fighting that ruling tooth and nail, so if we did get married, who knows if it even would have stayed legal. But that's not the worst of it because any state we have to drive through to get out of Florida wouldn't recognize the marriage, and that was true for about two thousand miles in any direction--hope there's no car accidents along the way that would require hospital visitation rights because you're not going to have those in Alabama!

Now that it's real, can't be taken away, and isn't dependent on what state you're in or driving through, Nikki and I have been married, which is good, because we we're bordering on common law at this point anyway. Based on certain family complications and some of our personal history, we did it in our own way, on our own time table, and we did it entirely for us--so don't expect a Kardashian-esque E! special on our big day. Then we went on a cruise and it all felt suddenly very real.

I tried to talk her into the two Corpse Brides topper, but she wasn't going for it.
When we got back from the cruise, we still had to worry about when and where she wore her wedding ring, who we told, and how much exposure she personally had since she still has a job with a boss who didn't seem all that happy about the marriage equality ruling.

Why should that matter? Well, up until Wednesday, it would have been legal for Nikki's boss to see the wedding ring, ask her husband's name (my wife's name is Cassandra, thank you very much), ah, well, you're fired, ya big lesbo! And that would have been completely legal in Florida. Being a freelance writer, and one that writes almost exclusively for lesbian publications, that was never a concern for me--I'm pretty sure all my editors and publishers know I'm super-duper, rainbows flying out my eyes and ears kind of gay, and it doesn't bother them. Nikki didn't have that luxury. No wedding photos on her desk, no conversations about her honeymoon at the workplace, just silence, lots and lots of silence because we live in a state where firing someone for being gay is completely legal. At least, it was. Then Wednesday happened and the EEOC didn't just say LGBTQ+ had federal protections, we'd ALWAYS had them. So now, if Nikki's boss fires her for having an adorable wife instead of a strapping husband, we can literally make a federal fucking case of it.

Let's just go ahead and bring those 29 states into the modern era.
I can hear what you're saying, even through the internet and miles of distance, but hold onto your epic happy dances for the moment, because we're not done yet. Culturally, who knows how long it'll take us to reach some semblance of equality and respect. Ask any black, Hispanic, Asian, female, or other cultural minority of any kind how long it took them to reach equal cultural relevance and they'll tell you, "Not sure, but we'll let you know if it ever happens for us." What can we do to keep moving that forward? Pretty much what we've been doing. Support LGBTQ+ cultural contributions:  TV shows, movies, books, comics, magazines, etc. to keep the voices relevant and contributing. Vote for allies at all levels of government. Come out. Speak up. Be heard.

Or for our generation, continue to fight!
What's left legally, though? Not a whole lot, but what's left is important. The next big fight, the next hurdle to true equality that needs to take place, the next victory we have to win is getting rid of the adoption discrimination laws. You can check out this website for the specifics on which states ban same sex couples from adopting. Suffice it to say, the map looks very similar to the maps of other LGBTQ+ discrimination laws for marriage, hate crimes, and employment protections. Specifically Michigan very recently added new discrimination laws to ban LGBTQ+ couples from adopting or fostering.

Many lesbian couples have the option to have biological children fairly easily--all we need is a male friend with functional sperm and a willingness to sign a contract even though there were hitches for Bette and Tina and the Fosters. Or we can just google "nearest sperm bank" if we don't feel like having that awkward conversation with a close friend. Not all women have that kind of fertility, though, and it gets significantly more difficult and expensive for our gay brothers in this fight who often have to come up with eggs and surrogates and what not (enough to buy a new house kind of expensive sometimes). More to the point, there are plenty of people in the LGBTQ+ community who could have biological children but they're more interested in providing good homes and loving parents to children who need them and would rather adopt or foster children because they're fantastically giving people.

Full disclosure, I have no idea if this is how donating sperm actually works, but it seems wrong.

Next fight up on the block--equal protections for adoption and foster care for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples. You can learn more about what can be done from Human Rights Campaign and what states need the most work. I caught flack for this on my last blog, and to be honest, I don't give a tenpenny fuck if I insulted then or continue to insult now conservatives and Republicans within our community or at large. We need to vote in allies at all levels of government and those allies are almost always going to be from liberal parties like Democratic or Green. Legislatures make laws at the state levels and governors sign them, so it's pretty obvious why the states that discriminate are the states run by Republicans. Vote against them, tell them your rights and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community are a top voting issue for you, and more of them will back away from the topic or switch sides on the issue entirely. It has happened and we can continue to make it happen but only if we apply pressure.

There are children that need homes, LGBTQ+ people wanting to adopt, and the only thing standing between them in many cases are bigots in state houses who think their bigoted base is more important than equality. The best way to prove them wrong is to vote them out.

Stand up and continue to fight!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trans Political Partnership (the other TPP)

The title of this post is a bad, political wonk double entendre about a trade partnership that...I just realized anyone who doesn't already know what TPP is probably won't care and explaining a joke never made it funnier. Moving on.

Bruce Jenner recently came out as trasngender in an interview with Diane Sawyer. I'm going to stick with Bruce and male pronouns for this post because to my knowledge he hasn't stated a new name he'd prefer and hasn't specified his pronoun preference. If and when he does, I'll put an addendum on this post, if I'm still paying attention to the story, which I might not be.

For the most part, this is happy news. Someone who felt compelled to hide who they were was finally ready to publicly be themselves. And, the news around it has been largely positive. Bruce's children seem mostly supportive. The media's reaction ranges from vague interest to support (a far cry from what would probably have happened if he'd made his transition public in the 1980s when he first attempted the change). Even his ex-wife, the notoriously unpleasant Kris Jenner, has been pretty cool about the whole thing. Aside from former step son-in-law Kris Humphries posting an asinine tweet that he immediately regretted and apologized for, this looked from the outside like a very smooth coming out story.

He added a gold medal in coming out to his collection

Yay, so we can all move on. Bruce can transition with the support of friends and family. We can be glad society has become far more tolerant of transgender people in the last 30 years. End of story. Except, no, he kept talking and came out again. This time as Republican.

I've made no bones about not comprehending LGBTQ+ people who swing to the right politically. It seems a little like mice advocating for cats or fire saying it's really water deep down. Why would people openly identify with a group that is actively trying to destroy them? And before you say, "Destroy? Really, Cassandra? They just don't want to bake gay wedding cakes." Yes, destroy, really.

The mouse only thinks they can get along

Believe me, I get that a person is a sum of many parts, and those parts don't always have to fit together with the other parts to make sense to everyone else. Just because Bruce is transgender doesn't mean that defines who he is in every respect. Also, being LGBTQ+, the perennial underdogs in most conflicts, doesn't mean we're all saints who wouldn't betray our own allies. Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter, who is as big of a right wing shithead as he is as Dan Savage pointed out awhile back. Not that Dan Savage doesn't have his own issues with the bisexual and transgender parts of the LGBTQ+ alliance. Then there are the entirely baffling Log Cabin Republicans...more on them later.

Bruce went on in the interview to say he wasn't a fan of Obama (despite the president recently saying transgender people needed better legal protections) and that Jenner thought John Boehner and Mitch McConnel (Republican speaker of the house and senate majority leader respectively) would be receptive to listening to him about transgender rights legislation, which is about the time I rolled my eyes so hard that I sprained my sardonic muscles.

I could list all the ways in which Republican leadership, not the fringe lunatics barking at their rabid followers on AM radio and blogs, but the people who are in actual positions of power in the party and the country, have attacked the LGBTQ+ community. But then this blog post would turn into a long, gross book about Republican bigotry. Let's just look at this week, shall we. The Republican controlled house (speaker John Beohner) just repealed the Human Rights Amendment Act to allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in schools. The Senate (majority leader Mitch McConnel) already has similar bills in progress and is eager to move forward with what the house has passed. The repeal won't make it through the senate (because Democrats have sworn to filibuster it), but even if it did, Obama said he'd veto it.

Do you see the problem in Bruce Jenner's thinking? He's not a fan of Obama (the guy who swore to safeguard his already flimsy legal protections) and he thinks the two guys who are voting to remove one of the only protections LGBTQ+ people have would be receptive to hearing ideas on expanding the protections they're currently trying to get rid of. I think spending so much time with so many Kardashians may have permanently severed Bruce's connection to reality.

"Reality TV is my reality!"

Log Cabin Republicans were thrilled to death about Jenner's comments. They couldn't agree more. For those of you who haven't heard of the group, they're the gay Republican organization that doesn't have a seat at basically any of the GOP major conventions and who have never successfully donated money to a Republican president's re-election campaign because no Republican president would accept money from gay people. Let me say that again--Republican politicians turned down free money because it came from gay people. In a political party where money = speech/influence and is viewed nearly as valuable to continued existence as air and water, gay people can't even buy a voice with a group who is for sale to anyone with a checkbook.

I'm happy for Bruce Jenner. I'm glad he's finally becoming the person he always felt he should be. But when it comes to the fight for equality in treatment, rights, and protections for the LGBT+ community, he needs to get a fucking clue.

Or a raging clue, whatever.

I wonder what he's going to say when he realizes he's also giving up his hetero male privilege. He probably thinks his Republican buddies will be interested in hearing what he has to say about the rights of a transgender woman who likes sleeping with other women.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ravens From the Ashes

Ravens From the Ashes

From the Ashes Trilogy: Book 1

I love thinking about the apocalypse. Zombies, nuclear war, alien invasions, global warming, whatever, it's all fun to think about. But, like most people who like thinking about the apocalypse, I like it only as a concept. Let's face it, I'd be totally fucked if society really did fall. I'm an indoor kitty cat who doesn't even like camping. Still, it's fun to think about from the social standpoint of what might happen to all sorts of people if society's rules were suddenly gone and challenges that nobody has ever faced before popped up...even if my fate would be to immediately get eaten by zombies because I suck at climbing trees. So it should come as no surprise that I write a lot of post-apocalyptic books, but this is my first book outlining the fall of humanity.

This book was supposed to be a prequel to the Ravens Ladies series, and then I decided it was going to be a prequel trilogy...prilogy...triquel...pretriquelogy...I'm really close to making up a word for that. This caused problems, none of which are particularly important now, but it delayed the release of the book by about a year, which suuuuuuucked. The result, however, is the first book I've actually had complete creative control over. A first for me. So if you're wanting to see exactly what my vision of a paperback is, you should spring for the hard copy since it's exactly what I wanted in a book.

I've also been toying with the idea of books with soundtracks. Movies get them, TV shows get them, and holidays get them, so why not books? Nikki and I sat down while we were working on proof copies (sorry, dear readers, but the love of my life does get to read all my books way before anyone else) and came up with a soundtrack for Ravens From the Ashes. If you want to listen to the music we decided should be the backdrop for the book, check it out on Spotify: Ravens From the Ashes Soundtrack. If you've got music you think would work for the book and would like to add to it, feel free to post your personalized soundtracks for this (or any of my books if you want to) in the comments section. Also consider buying songs/albums/merch or go to a concert for any of the musicians on the soundtrack--I only picked songs I've personally paid for and several musicians I've gone to concerts to see.

Here it is, lovely readers, the first book of the origin story trilogy for Fiona Bishop aka the Gunfighter, Veronica Vegas aka the White Queen, and the Raven Ladies. It's available in all formats through the links below, and heck, I'll throw in the first chapter right now to get you started.

Kindle   --   Nook   --   Kobo   --  Paperback



Drip, drip, drip, drip. Fiona awoke to the familiar sound of the coffeepot finishing its run. Her head felt like it was full of wet cement when she dragged it from her pillow. Were the coffeepot not automated, she doubted it would ever make coffee before noon. She didn’t actually know if either assumption was true for that morning. Daylight streamed in through the Venetian blinds on her bedroom window that overlooked the top of King Street. Her cell phone wasn’t on the nightstand so telling time wasn’t an option until she went into the kitchen to look at the microwave.
She stumbled from bed, found a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt among the scattering of clothes on the floor, and wandered out the open bedroom door into the rest of her West Hollywood condo. The coffeepot had filled the living room, kitchen, and dining room with the lovely scent of freshly brewed coffee. Fiona glanced at the sleeping form on her couch on her way past.
“Sharon, get the fuck off my couch and out of my apartment,” Fiona snarled at her mother on the way past. The bleached blond, comatose figure on the couch barely stirred at the order barked at her. Fiona nearly stumbled over a pair of daringly high wedge heels on her way into the kitchen. “And pick up your hooker shoes before I break my neck.”
A glance at the microwave mounted above the never-used stove told her that she’d awoken at 10:32 AM. Not bad considering her night ended on the barely light side of dawn. She stood in front of the coffeepot a moment before she remembered what she was doing. A white mug sat next to the white appliance. Most of the things in Fiona’s apartment were white, not for any vision of d├ęcor, but because she didn’t like trying to figure out complimentary colors and nothing in her apartment was ever used enough to show dirt even on white surfaces. She poured coffee into the mug and considered its existence. Her mother clearly hadn’t made the coffee, and even if she had, she wouldn’t have set out a mug for her daughter.
The coffee mixed poorly with the tequila film coating the inside of Fiona’s mouth left over from the night before. She spit the coffee into the sink and dipped her head under the tap to run the faucet over her mouth to suck in a few mouthfuls. She swished the water around and spit it into the sink before returning to her coffee.
“Don’t drink from the tap like some stupid animal,” her mother croaked from the couch. “There’s bottled water in the fridge. Besides, there are chemicals in tap water.”
It wasn’t even funny how many chemicals Sharon willingly ingested in the form of drugs, paid to have pumped into her face by plastic surgeons, and poured over her head to turn her red hair platinum blond, but her daughter was supposed to un-ironically beware tap water chemicals. “I told you to take your hooker shoes and get out.”
Fiona’s mother rose from the couch like a herky-jerky zombie. She glanced at the shoes mentioned as she staggered toward the hallway and the bathroom door. “Is that any way to talk to your mother?” she said. “And those aren’t mine.”
“You were telling people you were my sister last night.” Fiona sipped her coffee, wrapping both hands around the mug to absorb the warmth along with the caffeine. She took a harder look at the shoes. Upon closer inspection, they were real Jimmy Choos, which were well out of her mother’s price range or fashion savvy.
“There’s someone taking a shower,” her mother said on the way back through toward Fiona’s master bedroom and the other bathroom.
“I told you to get out,” Fiona said.
The shoes must belong to whoever was in the bathroom, the same someone who made the coffee and set out the mug. That made more sense than the automated timer making the coffee. Fiona rarely remembered to set up the pot the night before—automatic didn’t mean the coffeepot would fill itself with a fresh filter, coffee grounds, and water. Fiona hated to admit, even to herself, that she’d thought that’s what automatic meant when she bought it.
“You need to be in Las Vegas by 7 PM,” her mother said. “Do you want me to drive you? We could have a girl’s weekend.”
“You mean you can snort all my coke and dance with frat boys while I work? Fuck off, Sharon.”
“You can’t drive anymore. How else are you going to get there?”
“Stripper flight out of Burbank.” Supremely sought-after strippers and porn stars or sometimes struggling models and actresses, would fly from Burbank airport to Vegas for the weekend on cheap flights to dance in the high-end strip clubs of Las Vegas, earning five figures in two nights. Fiona never did the dancing part, but she’d taken the flights before because they were filled with beautiful women who smelled heavenly and appreciated the professional courtesy of not pestering one another. After Fiona stabbed a paparazzi guy in the mouth with a pen knife outside LAX a couple years ago, she wasn’t eager to use the L.A. hub again and she really didn’t want anyone recognizing her.
“How are you going to get to the airport?”
“Whoever is in the shower can give me a ride.”
“Maybe it’s a him in the shower and he was my date.”
Fiona rolled her eyes. “Not likely. My television is still here instead of at an Echo Park pawnshop sold for meth money and those are women’s shoes on the floor. You’re not coming to Vegas with me.”
“Fine, can I at least have the Camaro since you can’t drive it?”
“Chaos tic.” Fiona looked down meaningfully to the steaming cup of coffee in her hands.
“Whatever, I’m gone.” Fiona’s mother comported herself and walked out of the condo with all the grace and dignity that a hung-over hanger-on could muster.
Fiona returned to sipping her coffee. She hadn’t really had a chaos tic that demanded she throw the hot coffee in her mother’s face, but she’d indulged so many of her psychotic tendencies lately that it was a potent threat even as a lie. Only a handful of people even knew of Fiona’s particular mental affliction that required her to do most of the insane things that popped into her head; thankfully, her mother didn’t know her well enough to know when she was bluffing.
A dainty figure wrapped in a towel emerged from the hallway. Her dark brown, shoulder length hair was still wet from the shower and her face had the attractive, freshly scrubbed glow that Fiona adored. Fiona knew the woman, although she couldn’t remember how they’d met or what her name was.
“What’s a chaos tic?” the woman asked with a twinkle in her dark brown eyes.
“You know those weird urges you get in everyday situations where you feel like doing something socially unacceptable like spitting in someone’s face for no reason, or shoving a stranger off a curb, or whatever?”
“Yeah, everyone gets those.”
“I call them chaos tics,” Fiona said, “and my mother knows I either can’t or won’t ignore them.”
“Good term for something I didn’t know had a name.” The woman kicked her shoes out of the high traffic area between the bedroom and the kitchen. She leaned against the divider wall alongside the kitchen island. “How’s the coffee?”
“Good, thank you.” Fiona liked that the woman had kicked her own thousand dollar shoes as if they were five dollar flip-flops just because Fiona wanted them out of her way. Pliable was good, but being instinctively aware that Fiona’s feelings were far more important than shoes of any price range was great. It kept her calm when people picked up on her desires, however small, without her having to ask for something, and calm kept her from lashing out.
“The shower is all yours if you want.”
“Thanks, I could use one.”
“You have no idea who I am, do you?”
“I want to say Kelly,” Fiona said.
“Right so far. I work for you.”
“As an…accountant?”
“My lawyer is a large, hairy Jewish gentleman with unpleasant breath and a weightlifter’s body,” Fiona said.
“That’s your criminal lawyer. I’m an entertainment industry lawyer.”
“Oh, right, the fucking TV show thing.”
“You’ll be the next host of ‘Model Behavior’ by the end of the month if I have anything to say about it,” Kelly said.
Normally inking a reality television show contract wouldn’t require a lawyer since she already had an entertainment industry agent, but Fiona had some legal baggage that necessitated a specialist, chiefly because of the mouth-stabbing incident at LAX and the suspended drivers license from two DUIs. Truthfully, Fiona didn’t even want the show—playing the mentor figure to a gaggle of bitchy wannabe models sounded like a shit job to her. They drove the metaphorical dump truck full of money into her living room, and she got over her trepidation.
“Did we sleep together?” Fiona asked.
“You fell asleep while I was going down on you.” Kelly cracked a smile that made Fiona flinch inwardly.
“I swear that’s not my best move.”
“I would hope not,” Kelly said. “Did you need me to give you a ride to the airport?”
“I’m driving to Vegas. I just didn’t want Sharon knowing.”
Kelly gave her a suspicious look. “I thought your license was suspended.”
Fiona leaned forward against the countertop between them. She smiled sweetly, letting a few strands of her red hair fall across her face. A little fidgeting with the handle of her coffee mug gave off the sense of nervousness she didn’t really feel. When she glanced up from the demure tilt of her head, she saw in Kelly’s eyes that her coy routine had done its work.
“You could come with me, if you want,” Fiona said shyly. “Give me a chance to make up for last night.”
“You’re not planning on hooking up a bunch when you’re in Vegas?” Kelly asked. A light touch of pink warmed the curves of her cheeks and the top of her neck.
“I am,” Fiona said, letting a tiny pause pass, “with you.”
“I suppose I can take a weekend off,” Kelly said.
“We can swing by your place on the way out of town to pick up your slinkiest party dress and skimpiest bikini,” Fiona said with a smile.

♠ ♣ ♥ ♦

After a quick stop off at Kelly’s Culver City apartment, they were on their way down the 10 heading east toward Vegas. Fiona’s lead foot didn’t know or care about suspended licenses or speed limits. She’d purchased the highest of high-end Camaros for the express purpose of feeling every single horse the car had under the hood whenever she so much as twitched a toe against the accelerator.
“Silver and black Camaro ZL1,” Kelly said. “Something like 580 horsepower?”
“Something like that,” Fiona said, not really knowing the exact numbers. Long Beach motor-head butches certainly seemed to like her ride whenever Fiona ventured down that way for an edgier date than she could get in West Hollywood. She hadn’t pegged Kelly as the type to know more about her car than her, although it was definitely a point in the lawyer’s favor. Fiona was a sucker for fast cars and fast women who knew cars.
“Am I going to get to drive it?” Kelly asked.
Fiona downshifted to fourth, slammed the gas pedal, and shot around a slow-moving BMW. The car roared and jumped forward under her expert direction. Fiona liked to think her car wanted to go fast as much as she did. The Camaro understood her self-destructive streak because it had one too. They were both built to someday end up wrapped around a telephone pole—it was in their blood and motor oil. Burnouts that fell short of anything worthwhile in life like Sharon and sweet girls with people-pleasing streaks like Kelly couldn’t understand the need to ride the edge of imminent destruction.
“Maybe,” Fiona said, reconsidering her estimation of Kelly. Anyone who would go to Vegas with her for a weekend must have some nihilistic tendencies.
They merged onto the 15 toward Barstow with the early afternoon sun beating down on the worn California highway. Kelly kept herself busy messing with the air conditioning on her side, answering emails on her Blackberry, and searching through Fiona’s iPod for tolerable music. Fiona couldn’t tell if her lawyer was nervous or just self-contained.
“So what exactly are you doing in Vegas?” Kelly finally asked when she’d run out of busy work.
“There’s a runway thing and a photo shoot,” Fiona said. “I usually just skim the emails enough to know where and when something is happening. Details aren’t my thing. It doesn’t matter since they usually let me know what’s going on when I get there.”
“Is your agent okay with that attitude?”
Fiona shrugged. “Don’t know; don’t care.”
“I saw that you packed something of a treasure trove of pills and other chemical refreshments,” Kelly said. “Are you really going to go through it all in one weekend?”
Fiona glanced over, hoping to judge Kelly’s intentions, but ended up fixating on the top of her silk blouse where the blasting air conditioner vent was fluttering the gauzy material across her cleavage. She was tan, her breasts were exquisite, and Fiona couldn’t think of anything beyond wondering what color Kelly’s bra was. There was little doubt Kelly’s breasts were the work of a surgeon and not genetics, but that had never bothered Fiona. A person in Los Angeles would kill their hookup chances if they excluded the surgically enhanced.
“Um…sure, maybe, do you have a weapon of choice against unsuspecting brain cells?” Fiona asked.
“No, I’m the squeaky clean type, maybe a little pot in college,” Kelly said. “It just made me think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The talent and her lawyer driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas with a trunk full of illicit drugs.”
“I don’t know what that is,” Fiona said. Even if Fiona wasn’t entirely distracted by the luscious view of Kelly’s cleavage, none of what she’d just said rang a bell.
“The Hunter S. Thompson book?” Kelly asked hopefully.
Fiona shrugged. “It sounds interesting, but like I said, I’m a skimmer not a reader.”
“They also made it into a movie, twice actually,” Kelly said.
As the 15 seamlessly turned into the 515 at Barstow and they dipped into the true desert of eastern California, Fiona began to suspect she was losing Kelly. The truth was Fiona didn’t think of herself as a very interesting person. She didn’t read, didn’t care about politics or causes, and she didn’t even watch TV or movies all that often. Anything that required a quiet mind to enjoy made her skin crawl. She worked hard and partied twice as hard in the hope that the next adrenaline rush or fix would satisfy her long enough to sleep for a few hours before she would have to get up and start hunting for the next jolt. Kelly was interesting, though. She’d gone to college. She’d read things. She knew things that connected to other things she knew in ways that made her seem smart and worldly when she spoke. She probably even knew exactly why she was going where she was going for work. In comparison Fiona was empty, beautiful to look at, but vacant in almost every conceivable way. When faced with that level of disparity in overall value as a human being, Fiona did what she always did.
“Let’s play a game,” Fiona said.
“Like twenty questions or something?”
“Yeah, but strip twenty questions,” Fiona said.
“Okay. You think of something first.”
Fiona could tell from the upward trill in Kelly’s voice that she was excited by the prospect and probably more than a little nervous. That’s what Fiona needed: to feel as though she’d regained the upper hand despite how inferior she really was to Kelly.
By the time Vegas rose out of the desert like an unholy abomination cobbling together a dozen cities from around the world into one, Fiona and Kelly were both mostly undressed and practically thrumming with sexual frustration. The bra Fiona finally got to see cupping Kelly’s breasts so perfectly was maroon with little lace flowers. It was as satisfying of an answer as she could hope for.
Rather than let Kelly get dressed once they pulled onto the strip, Fiona gunned the engine, weaving in and out of traffic until she shot across the oncoming two lanes to get into the Bellagio parking roundabout. The Camaro’s engine roared, the cars she cut across the front of slammed on their brakes and laid on their horns, and Kelly let out the most delightful noise comprised of equal parts nervous giggle and scream of excited fear. They passed along the side of the famous fountains, skipped the valet beneath the awning, and darted straight into the south parking garage.
Fiona loved Vegas for the parking. Finding parking in Los Angeles was impossible, required the right stickers from a monolithic parking authority, and always cost money. In Vegas, they wanted people out of their cars and into casinos as quickly and as painlessly as possible, so parking was typically free and plentiful.
It took every drop of willpower she had not to race through the crowded parking garage to find an empty, secluded spot. Near the top of the structure, away from the elevator to the casino, she finally found the dark corner she was searching for. She pulled the Camaro in, slammed on the brakes, turned off the engine, and practically leapt across the center console into Kelly’s arms.
The fiery kiss they shared was only broken momentarily when Kelly asked, “Aren’t you going to be late?”
“Only a little and I’ll look much better on the runway if I have the glow of just getting laid,” Fiona whispered against Kelly’s mouth.
“Good answer,” Kelly murmured back and their lips were once again inseparable.