Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thursday's Teaser - Shine by BadSquirrel

Today's teaser is from Shine by BadSquirrel

"I think I'm ready to date again," Maureen announced after Jim and Carol had ushered their kids to bed. "It's been nine months since Beth put me…" Her throat tightened and she couldn't speak. Even after so much time she still could hardly bring herself to say it out loud.

"It's about time," Carol interrupted firmly. "I know you needed time to heal physically and emotionally, but I've always thought that getting back on the horse was best. I'm glad you've finally come to your senses."

Maureen wasn't at all sure that her decision could be termed sensible. In retrospect, her choices in women had all turned out to be rather poor and there was no way to tell if her heart had wised up. All she knew was that as easy as it was to be alone, she was tired of being lonely. Somewhere out there was a woman she could build a life with and she wanted to find her. "There's a reason I'm telling you," she said nervously.

"Looking for a chaperone?" Jim asked lightly.

Maureen had considered this moment for weeks. Jim was the engineer at a local radio station and knew Shine Avery. Maureen had been listening to that husky, velvet voice for over 4 years and knew from Jim that she was gay. She had expected to run into Shine accidentally through the local gay community a long time ago, but it seemed that no one knew of her. Having no other interesting women in her field of view, she had talked herself into at least meeting the remote disc jockey. She remained a little uncomfortable asking her friends to help her. "Not exactly. I need an introduction."

"To whom?" Carol asked.

Maureen watched as understanding widened Jim's eyes. "You want to meet Shine, don't you?"

"What a great idea," Carol said enthusiastically. "Maybe we could invite her over for dinner. What do you think, Jim? Will she come?"

Maureen held her breath waiting for Jim's response.

"I don't know," he said slowly. "I do know she's single: that's one of the few things she'll admit to about her personal life."

"Are you sure she's gay?" Carol asked.

"Ninety-five percent sure," Jim nodded. "I've never asked her and she probably wouldn't answer me if I did, but yes. She's a lesbian."

Maureen frowned at his certainty. "How do you know? Does she look like a lesbian?"

Jim laughed. "Don't worry, Maureen. She's attractive enough. I just figured it out."


Jim glanced at his wife covertly before speaking. "She doesn't display any awareness of men as potential mates. When she looks at me I'm just another human to her."

"Are you telling me," Carol said with wry amusement, "that you think you're so irresistible that women 'size you up' every where you go?"

Maureen grinned at Jim's discomfort.

He turned to his wife with a sigh. "Do you remember that guy in the grocery store last week? The one with the tattoos and his belly hanging out of his shirt?"

"Of course."

"And what did you say about him?"

Maureen had to bite her lip at Carol's expression. Jim was usually the loser in their lover's spats but it looked like today was different.

"I don't remember," Carol said tightly.

Jim chuckled. "You said-and I quote-'Not in a million years.' You sized him up in a single glance and rejected him out of hand as a potential mate. That's what I'm talking about. Shine doesn't do that."

"You make women sound like predators," Carol objected.

"I understand what he's saying," Maureen interjected. "Even when you're not looking, you're assessing."

"It's a reflex," Jim said. "Maybe men do it more than women. I don't know, but even if you're not interested there's a drive that makes you aware. When Shine looks at men she's not seeing them as men: they're just people. At first it made me feel defensive, but now I like it."

"Why?" Maureen was even more intrigued with the voice on her radio than she had been.

Jim scratched his chin while staring at the ceiling. "I think it's because there's no pressure. She doesn't have any expectations about me. If she likes me-and I think she does-it's because I'm likable. I don't have to be a man for her."

Carol drew her knees up and pulled an afghan over them. "What is she like around women?"

"Respectful and polite." Jim cocked his head and stared at Maureen. "Why the sudden interest?"

This was the part of asking that she had dreaded. "It's not sudden really. I've been listening to her on the radio for a long time and she has such a beautiful voice. I've always been interested, but I haven't been available." Maureen spoke as steadily as she could and tried to pretend that she wasn't blushing. Even though these two people were the dearest friends she could imagine it was hard to open up about matters of the heart. Pain was so much easier to discuss. "I know almost every lesbian in the area and I don't see anyone else appealing to me. The fact that you like her," she said directly to Jim, "carries a lot of weight with me."

He nodded absently. "I'll see what I can do. I won't make any promises, but I'll do my best."


Shine Avery looked up see Jim entering the booth. "Hey. What's up?"

"Just stopped in to say goodbye to my favorite radio personality." Jim dropped into the guest chair across the counter from Shine. "Good show today."


"What are you doing this weekend? Anything exciting?"

She shrugged. "Not really. What are you going to do?"

"Just family stuff." He hesitated, then continued. "Actually…"

Shine felt her defenses go up and she waited quietly for him to get to the point.

"I'd like you to meet my family."

She smiled to take any sting out of her words. "Well, I appreciate the offer, Jim, but I…"

Jim held his hands up. "Let me finish before you turn me down, okay?"

She leaned back in her chair and bit off her words.

"I know you never socialize with any of us," he said. "I'm not sure why, but I'm hoping it's not because you think we don't want to. I was going to ask you over a long time ago, but I heard you turn down Bill's invite a couple of years back. You were real nice about it, but you were quite clear about not wanting to mix business with your personal life. I respect that," he said quickly, "but we're already pretty friendly so it's not much of a stretch. All I'm asking is an hour or so. Just long enough to have dinner with us. If you hate us I'll never ask again and I won't hold it against you."

Shine held up a hand for silence as the song came to an end and turned on her microphone. After four years as the mid-day jock, most of what she did was by rote. She considered Jim's request as she played commercials and read the weather.

Shine liked most of her co-workers, but Jim was easily her favorite and the closest thing she'd had to a friend in years. She liked his quick smile and sharp wit. She had found him to be surprisingly intuitive in spite of his California surfer boy good looks. He was watching her intently as she worked and she tried to ignore his gaze. If she was honest with herself, she did want to accept his offer and that desire was what made her most uncomfortable. She had spent years pushing people away and while she had achieved a measure of peace in her isolation, she wasn't particularly happy and she was frustrated by it. It occurred to her that Jim had children and she felt a tickle of anticipation. Kids were her weakness and she got along better with them than with most adults. Shine started up another song and turned off the mike.

Working quickly she put things away and arranged her next commercial break. "Will your children be there?"

"Yes." Hope flared in Jim's eyes. "It'll just be me, my wife, her foster-sister and my three kids. If you want to bring someone, too, I have no problem with that. It's just a very casual dinner and you can leave right after dessert."

A wave of nausea rolled over her and she closed her eyes to get it under control. This is ridiculous, she thought.


"All right."


She grinned with embarrassment at the incredulity in his voice and took a deep breath before opening her eyes. "Really. But just this once."

Jim leaned back, arms hanging loosely at his sides and a goofy grin on his face. "I can't believe it. I've been agonizing over how to ask you all week and it was easy."

"Don't make me change my mind," she said sternly.

Jim gave her his address and almost ran from the booth. Shine tucked the note in her pocket with a feeling of nausea. I just hope I'm not making a huge mistake.


Shine by BadSquirrel - 200 pages
Maureen Baird has been listening the the velvet voice of Shine Avery on the radio for years. When they meet, there is a connection for them both. But can they overcome their fears, regrets and an old love to find a future in each other?

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