Last Call

Last Call

Leigh Ellwood

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Dejected and depressed, Janet Stanton hopes her nightly walk will improve her mood. The end of the road leads her to her best friend and a shocking revelation that could change her life. Is Janet willing to take that important first step toward love, or will she miss the last call?

 
PUBLISHED BY: DLP Books
ISBN: DLP017
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WORD COUNT: 8400
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 5 5 5 5 5
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: WomanLove, Erotica, Contemporary
KEYWORDS: lesbian, erotica, erotica romance
 

EBOOKS BY DLP Books

EBOOKS BY Leigh Ellwood

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Leigh Ellwood/2009

“How was work tonight?”

“Same as always. Stop changing the subject,” Sarah scolded, “and answer my question.”

The two women stretched out in the bed of the truck atop an opened sleeping bag Sarah kept in the extended cab with other camping equipment. With the truck parked in the lot of the abandoned Horne’s Restaurant off US 1, both watched the road for the occasional passing car. Above them, an array of stars spread against an indigo-black sky, twinkling brighter than Janet had ever before seen.

Used to be a time when she and her family would set up a small fire in the front yard and arrange the lawn chairs in a circle, talking and toasting marshmallows and making out various constellations. Somewhere between Brownie Scouts and high school, everyone gradually found something more interesting on television, and left Janet to her nightly walks to savor the serenity of nature. What appeal TV and Twitter had over that, she’d never know.

“I don’t know why I stay,” she answered finally. “Bob has no motivation, or skills, but believe it or not he’s the most stable thing in my life right now.”

“He’s the most stagnant thing in your life.” Sarah crossed her legs at the ankles. “You know what happens when a pond becomes still. It attracts mosquitoes, and algae that chokes the crap out of every living thing in its path.”

Janet swallowed. She hadn’t heard this analogy yet. Sarah must have met a biology professor from Flagler College at the bar, or else looked up something on the Internet.

I’m not suffocating. She wanted to say the words, but couldn’t bring herself to lie. Of course Bob meant bad news, but what could she do to escape? With only a high school diploma in an age where good jobs required more certificates on her wall—and she with no money or test scores to further her education—how could she support herself? Had her father not let her rent his older trailer for a song, she knew finding decent housing in the area would prove a challenge.

At the very least, too, what Bob brought pitched in via his unemployment checks helped with some bills. What he didn’t smoke or drink off, or hoard for something else, anyway.

“We were going to move to St. Augustine Beach, and share an apartment,” Sarah continued. She stroked Janet’s arm. “That small complex with the fountain in the courtyard and the pink coral exterior…How often did we drive past that place during senior year?”

“Too often.” All that gasoline, wasted. She should have used the time in her car looking for a better job, establishing herself somewhere with promise instead of chasing a fantasy.

Good lord, if enjoying life in a simple apartment in St. Augustine proved a fantasy, Janet felt grateful for not dreaming bigger—like aspiring to become an actress or President. This way, the disappointment of reality didn’t scar her too much.

Sarah rested her head against Janet’s shoulder. “You deserve so much more than Bob,” she said. “I wish you had gone along with my idea to split that apartment when it was available.”

Janet shook her head. “I only said no at the time ’cause I didn’t want all my crap following you home.” She pictured Bob invading their private space, wandering around in his underwear and little else. She groaned.

Sarah snorted. “It’s a gated community, keeps out the people you don’t want there.” Sarah became serious and lifted her head to look into Janet’s eyes. “It’s not too late, you know.”

Janet frowned.

“When I got home from the salon today, there was a message from the bank on my machine,” she said, her eyes now sparkling. “They approved the loan.”

“Oh my God, Sarah, that’s terrific!” For years, her friend had saved tips and wages toward leasing her very own storefront, and now it appeared Sarah had taken a giant leap closer to realizing her dream.

“I know. Tomorrow after I finish with the bank I’m going over to the real estate agency to see about the space I want. It’s a corner space in this strip right in Old City. Used to be a pizza parlor, but hopefully six months from now it will be Sarah’s Sweet Shop! It’s already got a kitchen, so I won’t have to do too much renovation.”

Tears of happiness beaded in Janet’s eyes. As children, she and Sarah had lived vicariously through Barbie dolls and play kitchens, with Sarah as pastry chef. From mud pies to Easy Bake oven concoctions to Home Ec projects, her goal remained clear: to own her own bakery. Janet couldn’t be more excited for her friend, yet a pang of sadness pressed against her heart at the same time. To bring this dream to life meant hard work for her friend, and less free time for manicures and lazy nights underneath a starlit sky for friendly chatter and Doritos.

She forced a smile and hugged her friend, draping one arm across Sarah as they lay together. No way would she spoil this moment by projecting her misery. Sarah deserved this good turn of events. If only she could feel such passion for...something. She liked working at the antique store, though held no special love for the place. With family squabbles and Bob to distract her, she never had the chance to really acquire an interest in anything beyond making it to the next day alive.

Sarah twined her fingers over her breastbone, took a deep breath, and looked upward. “Come with me.”

“Where? To the bank? Sure,” Janet said. Did Sarah need a reference? Flattering as the notion seemed, however, Janet knew the woman could do better.

“No, to my shop. Quit the antiques store, and quit Bob. Come with me to St. Augustine.”

“Are you serious?” Janet sat up and rested against the back of the cab, leaving Sarah to lean her head against Janet’s thigh. “You want me to work for you?”

“With me, Janet. I can’t run the place on my own.”

“I realize that. I figured you’d hire somebody who knows about baking and stuff.”

“I know that much,” Sarah said, laughing. “I need somebody to manage the books and help with orders for parties and weddings. You pretty much do that for the antiques store, handling money, and you need a change of scenery.”

“Yeah.” Janet sighed. “But—”

“Stop.”

Janet closed her mouth on the rest of her protest. The commanding tone of her friend’s voice had startled her, and when Sarah rose to meet her gaze, Janet saw how quickly the fire in her friend’s eyes strengthened to reflect her rising anger.

“If the next words coming are gonna be about how your dad needs you at the store, or how you can’t move out of that trailer, I don’t want to hear them,” she said. “There is absolutely no reason why you can’t change jobs, your home, or your whole damn miserable life. You have nothing vested in where you are, so why not take the opportunity and start a future with promise, damn it!”

Janet watched her friend exhale and sag, as though she’d held in those thoughts forever, and with them gone she could do nothing else but deflate from their loss. The mere sight of Sarah appearing defeated—by no fault of her own—encouraged the spigot to loosen and fresh tears formed. Janet sniffled.

“You’re the best friend I have, Sarah.” Her voice cracked. “The last thing I ever wanted was to be your burden.”

Sarah looked close to tears herself.

“I do want that bright future,” she continued, “but not at your expense. I want—”

She didn’t get to finish. Sarah’s lips pressed against hers so quickly and so suddenly Janet lost her train of thought. Her awareness now focused on Sarah’s sweet, floral scent filling her nostrils and the gentle caress of cool hands against her face.

 
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