An Excerpt from my Untitled Work-in-Progress.

My current work-in-progress has no title. I was hoping by the midpoint mark something would have come to me, but I’m close to the end of this labor of love and my mind is still blank on a title.

This is a revision of a story I had written almost 17 years ago. It was my first novel, and it was horrible. The precis was good enough to grab the attention of a publisher, but the manuscript wasn’t strong enough to carry its own weight. A big rejection letter soon appeared in my mailbox.

After blowing the dust off this story, it was easy to see why it didn’t make the cut. The story was badly written. The characters weren’t developed enough, and the dialogue sounded like something out of Degrassi Junior High.  The story was labeled a romance, but ended with the love interest dying in a plane crash. Pretty much sums up my view on love. :p

After six months worth of revisions, I’m almost finished. I think I got most of the ugly out. I just have to write the ending…and no, no one’s dying in a plane crash. Actually, the book hardly resembles the original at all. I realized I had started the story at the wrong place. I needed to go back. I needed to show, rather than tell, more of what I wanted the reader to know.

The book revolves around the friendship of two women. The way I had written the story the first time was to tell the reader about the friendship, rather than show it. One of the women betrays the other, and it is pivotal to the story that the reader understands the depth of their friendship to really feel the deception.

Here is an unedited excerpt from my untitled work-in-progress:

Taylor’s bedroom door opened and rock music poured loudly down the hallway and into the living room where Carolyn was sitting alone on the couch, her face crammed in a book. She eyed Taylor walking toward her.

Although she knew Taylor would have turned the music down if asked, Carolyn didn’t say anything because she preferred listening to the loud raucous tunes than to the sounds of her roommate having sex.

The woman in Taylor’s bedroom wasn’t Alicia. Taylor waited for no woman. 

“Where’s Jeff?” Taylor asked.

 Carolyn peered over her book to catch Taylor lean into the fridge and pull out a bottle of beer. Taylor’s gray and white camouflage cargo shorts hung just above her knee. Carolyn counted the six small sweat stains on Taylor’s white tank top. Her ruffled dark black hair hung at her chin. A shorter layer fell just below her eyes, and often Taylor had to brush it away with a flick of her head, or a wave of her hand.

“He left,” Carolyn answered.

Taylor twisted the bottle’s cap and pitched it into the sink. She took a deep swig. “Everything okay?”

“Sure. Can you think of any reason why everything wouldn’t be okay?”

“Whoa, I know that tone.” Taylor dropped next to her on the couch. “What’s goin’ on with you?”

Carolyn closed the textbook over her lap. “You know I have finals coming up, right?”

Taylor closed her eyes and leaned her head back. “Fuck me! I’m sorry. I completely forgot. I’ll turn that shit off. You need quiet.” Taylor moved to get up, but Carolyn stopped her. “Jeff and I broke up.”

Taylor fell back into the couch. “No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Just now?” Taylor asked.

“Just now.”

“Wow… I’m sorry.”

Carolyn eyed her friend closely. “No, you’re not. You hated him.”

“I’m not sorry for me. I’m ecstatic for me. I’m sorry for you. You really liked him. Never understood why, but you did. What’d he do? Do I have to kick his ass?”

Carolyn shook her head. “It was my decision. He’s a jerk.”

Taylor draped an arm around Carolyn’s shoulders. “Yeah, well, glad you figured it out now before it was too late. You gonna be okay? Need me to do anything?”

Carolyn smirked at her friend’s seriousness because it wasn’t like her.

Taylor pulled back. “What’s that look for? I’m being sincere. I really wanna know if you’re gonna make it?”

“I’ll make it just fine. In fact, I’m surprised at how little I feel about it. When he walked out the door, I was actually relieved. Kinda scares me that I saw myself marrying him. How could I miss what an asshole he was?” Carolyn groaned and rubbed her hands over her face.

“You were blinded by love. I hear it happens a lot.”

Carolyn studied her friend. “You’ve never been in love? Never felt that emotion?”

Taylor crossed an ankle over her knee. “Nope.”

“How about the woman in your bed right now? How do you feel about her, or about Alicia? You were screaming at her on the phone earlier and now there’s another woman in your bed. Why don’t you just let her go?”

“I don’t have feelings for the woman in my bed right now, but I think I could have stronger feelings for Alicia when the time’s right. I know that’s hard for you to understand, but that’s just the way it is.”

“You’ve never loved a woman?”

“Nope.”

“Not even a crush?”

Taylor seemed to think about it. “I liked my Kindergarten teacher…a lot. Does that count?”

“In Kindergarten? You had a crush on a woman in Kindergarten?”

“She was so fucking hot.”

 “You knew way back then?”

“Hell yes! Are you kidding me? I was noticing girls for as long as I could remember, especially the older ones. They had boobs.”

Carolyn rubbed her forehead. “That is crazy. You realize I’m studying to be a teacher, right?”

“Then consider this your warning. If you see little Sally staring at your chest, she’s not admiring your necklace.”

 “Great. Something to look forward to.” Carolyn leaned her head back and sighed. “As much as I would love to sit and talk with you about meaningless crap all night, I have to study so that someday I could teach meaningless crap to children who will not respect me, make faces behind my back, and apparently, stare at my boobs.” She picked her book off her lap and stood up. “Have fun.”

Taylor tipped her bottle towards her. “You betcha. And Carolyn? I was never gonna let you marry that asshole. He didn’t deserve you.”

Carolyn smiled. “It’s good to know I have someone watching my back. Thanks, Taylor. Now turn that crap off because it’s giving me a headache.”

 

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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Loving Again

Dana Perkins lost her longtime partner in a tragic accident. Although she still struggles with the loss, her profound loneliness is evidence that it is time to move on. She knows her deceased lover, Casey, wouldn’t want her living this way. Dana begins her slow process of letting go, removing reminders of Casey from her house, and dating again.

The women she meets leave Dana uninspired and missing her deceased partner even more. Just as she is about to resign herself to the belief that she will never love again, Dana meets Emily Daniels, a married woman who is deeply conflicted over her attraction to women.

Soon, the two women form a friendship that leads to deeper emotions. They discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined. Is that one moment in time enough to let both women follow their hearts, or will they let their past continue to rule their future?

 

Here is an excerpt from my book, Loving Again:

Dana and Emily walked along the sidewalk as the sun began to set. The streets were quiet. At this time of night, Dana figured most people were settling in front of their televisions after a long day’s work. She slipped her hand into Emily’s and closed her eyes, realizing how much she missed this. She and Casey had taken many walks together along those same streets.

“You okay?” Emily asked.

Dana opened her eyes. “I’m fine.” She lightly squeezed Emily’s hand. “Just enjoying this.”

“You looked like you were out there for a second.”

“Walks do that to me. I love nature.”

“Me, too.”

They walked a little longer and then Dana pointed toward a park. “Do you want to sit down for a little while?”

“Sure.”

They made their way toward the swings and sat down. Neither woman swung very high, merely dragged her feet over the dirt.

“I hope you don’t think I’m this big head case with everything happening with me and my ex.”

“A head case? Don’t be so hard on yourself. This is life. We figure it out as we go.”

“Thank you for not judging me.”

“There’s nothing for me to judge. I’m happy to be here with you.”“Not many people would say that about a date who talks about their ex all night.”

“This is different. If you’d been talking about some woman you were with and I sensed you were still in love with her, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to be.”

“Would it make you feel better if I talked about Casey?”

Emily looked at her, surprised. “Sure.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Everything you want to tell me.”

Dana peered at the ground and dug her shoes into the mixture of pebbles and dirt. She felt Emily’s eyes on her as she drew lines in the ground beneath her feet. “We all have our guilt. The heavy burdens that we carry,” she said. “You have yours. I have mine, but our hearts can only take so much. Do you want to know how Casey died?”

“Yes.”

“We got a hotel in the city for the weekend. We were gonna see everything. That was the plan. We’d just gotten off a trolley, heading back to the hotel. We were standing on a sidewalk, talking. There was no warning that something bad was about to happen. I moved my hand to touch her, but she took off running away from me. I didn’t see him right away, but a little boy was chasing a hotdog vendor into the street. Casey saw him and she didn’t hesitate, not even a little.

“A little boy’s alive, but she isn’t, and I know that’s how she’d want it, but I never got to say goodbye to her and that kills me. I was angry for a long time. I resented all the people who lost the person they loved to something they could prepare for, because I envied their chance to say goodbye.

“Sometimes, I think it would have been easier losing her in some dull hospital room, looking diseased and weak, on a miserably cold, rainy day. I’d watch her become someone I no longer recognized and she’d look so pained that I’d pray for God to take her, believing she’d be better off.” Dana closed her eyes for a moment. “But that’s not the way it happened. Casey wasn’t better off dead and her death wasn’t merciful. It was violent.

“She died on a gorgeous summer day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. You wouldn’t expect something bad to happen on a day like that. And Casey didn’t look like someone who was about to die. She was vibrant and healthy.” Dana smeared her sleeve across her wet eyes. “And I wish I’d had the chance to tell her I loved her, just one more time.”

“She knew. You must know that,” Emily said.

“All I know is that she’s dead and I never got to say goodbye…and I’ll never stop loving her.”

“No one should ever ask you to.”

 

loving again cover
Loving Again

Please check out my books, Her Name and Loving Again. Thank you!

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alicia+joseph

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An Excerpt From Her Name and Loving Again

I’d like to share an excerpt from my two published books, Her Name and Loving Again. Both are available now on amazon.com.

Thanks!

 

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Madison Andrews has spent her entire life ~unsuccessfully~ searching for love. She begins having vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison’s dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she’s having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life ~~ and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about… and yet nothing? She doesn’t even know her name.

Excerpt

Now, I laid down my fork and leaned into my seat. I knew she didn’t
want to talk about this anymore, but I did. “This all sounds crazy to you,
and maybe in the beginning, it was something to joke about, but now,
I’m not sure. These pictures were taken directly out of my life, and this
woman was in every one of them. You can’t tell me I just dreamed it from
memory, because my memory isn’t that good! The photos were identical all
the way from the clothes we wore, to the smile on our faces. Hell, even the
background was the same! She was the only thing that was different. How
could that be?”

I stared at her, waiting for a response as she took it all in.

“Like I said on the phone, I just don’t know what you want me to say. I’m
not sure what you’re asking me. Is it weird? Yeah, totally, but I’m no dream
expert, and neither are you. Like I said before, maybe it’s your subconscious
taking over. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, and it probably has some
fancy scientific name.”

“She’s my wife,” I said flatly. “I saw a picture of us from our wedding,
and we looked like we belonged together. We know each other. I mean,
really know each other. I wish you could see us together, because you’ve
never seen me this way with anyone before.”

“And what way is that?”

“In love,” I answered.

“In love,” Shelly repeated and then pushed herself away from the table.

“Well, Maddy, me seeing you with her is something that will never happen. Do you wanna know why that will never happen?”

“I know why you think that will never happen, but that’s where you’re wrong.” I stared at her and said, “I’m just gonna come out and say it. I think she’s real.”

 

loving again cover

 

Dana Perkins lost her longtime partner in a tragic accident. Although she still struggles with the loss, her profound loneliness is evidence that it is time to move on. She knows her deceased lover, Casey, wouldn’t want her living this way. Dana begins her slow process of letting go, removing reminders of Casey from her house, and dating again.

The women she meets leave Dana uninspired and missing her deceased partner even more. Just as she is about to resign herself to the belief that she will never love again, Dana meets Emily Daniels, a married woman who is deeply conflicted over her attraction to women. Soon, the two women form a friendship that leads to deeper emotions. They discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined. Is that one moment in time enough to let both women follow their hearts, or will they let their past continue to rule their future?

 

Excerpt

“What’d he say?” Dana handed Emily another glass of wine.

“Nothing. He hung up on me.”

Dana sat beside her on the couch. “I’m sorry.”

“Maybe I don’t have the right to question him about it, but if he slept with other women, that’s worse than what I did, isn’t it?”

“You married a man because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. Emily, you did nothing wrong.”

“I’m the one who left. This shouldn’t hurt as much as it does.”

Dana pushed a strand of Emily’s hair behind her ear. “You still love him,” she said flatly.

Emily looked at her. “It’s not like that. I’m not jealous. I’m angry. If he had real affairs with other women, then why am I the one bearing all the guilt?”

“You shouldn’t be.”

“But I am, and it hurts me that my husband cheated.”

“Of course it does. He betrayed you.”

“But didn’t I betray him, too?”

“You did not betray him. You didn’t know what you were. It’s not the same.”
Emily averted her eyes. It was difficult to look at Dana at that moment because she still hadn’t told her the truth about her past.

“I’m sorry I ruined tonight,” she said. “We’re supposed to be getting to know each other. You invite me to your house, make me dinner, and instead of talking about you, I’m going on and on about me and my soon-to-be ex-husband.”

Dana leaned closer to her. “I want you to talk about yourself and whatever’s happening in your life,” she said. “I love that you feel comfortable enough to share this with me.”

Emily studied the woman she was beginning to fall for. “You’re very sweet.”

“There’s just one thing that I ask of you.”

“What’s that?”

“I need you to be sure this is what you want. I’m not talking about me specifically. I mean women.”

Emily straightened in her seat and looked Dana in the eyes. “I’m so sure of what I want that

I destroyed my marriage to get it, and my mother no longer talks to me because of it. Isn’t that enough?”

Dana cupped Emily’s face in her hands. “Yes.” She closed her eyes and drew Emily in for a soft and sweet first kiss.

Thanks for reading!

 

Please click the link below to buy either one of my books.

http://goo.gl/Hs4fsk

Thank you.

 

 

This is Why I Write

A reader of one of my novellas, Her Name, recently contacted me on Twitter to tell me how much she was enjoying my book. She was halfway through at the time.

Now, she has finished my book and has written a pretty amazing review of my book on her website, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I have learned that she is also a writer, which, for me makes this review a bit more special.

Thank you, Ms. Avery Rose, for not only taking the time to read my book, but to write a review, as well. I am excited to read your work, too.

Below is the link to her website with her generous review.  Please check it out because this is why I write – to make people feel deeply and reflect on life.

http://averyrfox.com/2015/12/02/whats-in-a-dream/

 

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Can a Married Woman Overcome Her Desire for Another Woman?

My new lesbian novella, Loving Again, has released today. I’m so excited to be a part of Affinity eBook Press.

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Dana Perkins lost her longtime partner in a tragic accident. Although she still struggles with the loss, her profound loneliness is evidence that it is time to move on. She knows her deceased lover, Casey, wouldn’t want her living this way. Dana begins her slow process of letting go, removing reminders of Casey from her house, and dating again.

The women she meets leave Dana uninspired and missing her deceased partner even more. Just as she is about to resign herself to the belief that she will never love again, Dana meets Emily Daniels, a married woman who is deeply conflicted over her attraction to women. Soon, the two women form a friendship that leads to deeper emotions. They discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined. Is that one moment in time enough to let both women follow their hearts, or will they let their past continue to rule their future?

Excerpt:

Dana Perkins leaned against the side of the trolley and watched as landmarks of the city’s skyline passed by. Her brown eyes traced the contours of the well-appointed, fancy high-rise condos over-looking Lake Michigan, and the sophisticated architecture lining the city’s downtown streets. Tall, crystalline, and convex—the view was stunning.

She closed her eyes as the cool breeze brushed against her face. She inched closer to her lover and kissed her bare shoulder, tasting the salty sweat on Casey’s skin. Dana drew in the raw scent of her partner’s body, the smell of an entire day spent taking in the sights of a big city.

“You’re not ready to call it a day, are you?” Casey asked.

Dana groaned

“I guess you are.”

“Baby, what else do you want to do?” Dana stifled a yawn. “We have all day tomorrow. Oh, and we also live an hour from the city. We’re not tourists, honey.”

“But we only see everything when we act like tourists. That’s why I got us a hotel for the weekend. No more saying ‘next time’. We’re seeing it all now. ”

“But baby, I’m soooo tired.”

“Okay,” Casey said. “You win.” She slung an arm loosely around Dana’s neck and kissed her gently on the lips. “We’ll go back to the hotel.”

As the trolley slowed to a stop, the women walked through the open aisle. The thin fabric of Dana’s khakis stuck to the back of her sweaty leg. Dana realized—too late, as she normally did—that she should have listened to her girlfriend and worn shorts.

Casey skipped down the small steps, onto the sidewalk. Her light blue sundress swayed as she moved. She took Dana’s hand and pulled her lightly down the stairs.

“Come on you tired, old lady. Are your legs gonna make it back to the hotel? Or do you need a motorized scooter?”

Dana smoothed a hand over Casey’s long, blond ponytail. “I can make going to the room early very agreeable…”

Casey eyed her. “And how would you do that?”

“Trust me. You’ll like where this is going….so stop complaining.” Dana reached for Casey, and heard a child’s voice yelling behind her.

“Hot dog! Hot dog!” a little boy’s voice cried out.

But Dana kept her thoughts on Casey. She fantasized being back at the hotel, sliding the thin straps of Casey’s dress down her shoulders, and running her hands over the inside of her bare thighs, when suddenly, Casey whirled from under Dana’s fingers.

Dana turned around. Her eyes fought with the sun as she struggled to follow her partner’s sudden actions. Dana heard the boy yell again, and watched as the child chased after a hot dog vendor that was crossing a busy intersection.

Casey was running full-speed after the boy, heading straight into oncoming traffic.

Dana didn’t know which came first—the smell of burning rubber, the sound of screeching tires ,or the man in the cab yelling for Casey to get out of the way. Everything seemed to happen in the same moment, but somehow Dana’s unsteady legs made it to the edge of the street where Casey’s body lay near a curb.

Dana yelled for help and dropped to her knees. She pulled Casey into her lap, while faintly registering voices—some offering help, and some shouting “Call 911!” She cradled the woman she loved in her shaking arms.

Trapped by the crowd of people huddled over her, stealing the air, Dana struggled to breathe. Then the sudden blare of sirens shattered through the chaos, yet her eyes never left Casey’s face, her beautiful face.

“Wake up, baby. Please wake up,” she cried softly.

The young bride held her dress in one hand, while the other pressed tightly through the arm of the man she’d just married. A few short hours ago she was Emily Bradford, but now, the woman made her way down the steep church steps as Emily Daniels. Emily smiled readily as a cascade of lights flashed before her eyes. Guests lingered at the edge of the steps with cameras in hand and she took it all in. The gorgeous sky hung like a perfect portrait in the background of a nearly cloudless day.

Michael Daniels took Emily by the hand and kissed her while cameras snapped eagerly to capture the tender moment. From a distance, the faint sound of sirens rang out. Emily squinted against the glare of the sun as she searched the street. The blaring noise was headed in their direction. The bride watched as two ambulances, a fire truck, and multiple police cars sped by.

The beauty of their day was temporarily interrupted by someone else’s tragedy.

Emily closed her eyes and made the sign of the cross, something her mother had taught her to do as a small child whenever an emergency vehicle drove by. When it all passed and the streets were once again serene, her new husband gave her hand a squeeze.

“Are you ready?” He smiled.

Leaning her body against his strong shoulder, she kissed her groom the way brides did in movies, creating their very own “happily-ever-after” moment.

“I’m going to love you for the rest of my life,” she said, her voice trembling slightly.

About the Author:

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Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. It is a story about two women who fall in love and then soon discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined.

Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and  friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

When she is not writing, the author enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, reading, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Please visit her blog at www.aliciajoseph.com

She can also be found on her Alicia Joseph Author Facebook Page  and on Twitter @JosephJody76

Buy Links: 

http://affinityebooks.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=12_69

http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Again-Alicia-Joseph-ebook/dp/B01807ZOX2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1447599721&sr=8-2&keywords=Alicia+Joseph

Thank you!

Does Reuniting With the Love of Your Life Mean You’re Getting Back?

Please welcome my friend and author, Cindy Rizzo, to my blog.  She is promoting her new lesbian romance, Getting Back. Please take a moment to read an excerpt from this amazing writer.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Excerpt from Getting Back by Cindy Rizzo

CHAPTER 1

March 2008

Elizabeth Morrison tightened the grip on her Blackberry as she held it to her ear, feeling her fingers cramp around the curved edges.

“And I assume I’m the last one to find this out, aren’t I, Margaret?”

“Ah, the Queen Elizabeth voice, how I’ve missed it.”

“You deserve it. You engineered this whole thing behind my back.”

Elizabeth eased into her leather desk chair, trying to hold on to her anger, but feeling instead as if she was going to fall apart.

“Sweetie,” cooed Margaret, “it’s been thirty years. Could it be that you’re still pining away for Ruth Abramson?”

Elizabeth breathed out audibly. “Certainly not! And that isn’t the point. I just feel… I don’t know, like I’ve been ambushed.”

It was a diversion, chastising her best friend—or the woman she had thought was her best friend—for taking it upon herself to invite Ruth to be the class luncheon speaker at their thirtieth reunion. But in reality, all her emotions were focused on just one thing—the prospect of seeing Ruth for the first time since college.

“Elizabeth, you run one of the most successful publishing companies in the world. You have editors trembling in your wake, agents fawning over you hoping for the slightest nod of your head. Surely you can deal with this. Maybe it’s time to face things head on?”

“Why didn’t you come to me when this was just an idea, before she agreed to speak?”

“Because I’m chairing the reunion committee and I didn’t feel I had to clear all of our plans with you.”

“Oh come on, Margaret, I’m not just anybody. I’m a trustee of Fowler. Besides, you know very well that Ruth and I have been studiously avoiding one another all this time. I don’t even see why she would agree in the first place. She hasn’t set foot back on campus since graduation.”

Margaret’s voice was quiet, almost a whisper. “Truth is, we begged her. She’s a US district court judge, the second most accomplished member of our class, after you of course, Your Majesty.”

Elizabeth knew the trajectory of Ruth’s career quite well. She’d been following it for years. She closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. A groan escaped. Suddenly weary and unsettled, she was unable to conjure up the anger from just a few minutes ago.

“You know, she didn’t want to do it,” said Margaret. “We waited weeks for her to confirm.”

Elizabeth rolled forward in her chair and rested her head in one hand.

“Why now, I wonder?”

“Maybe she thinks thirty years is long enough.”

With the phone still pressed to her ear, Elizabeth sat slumped at her desk. Margaret’s news had completely unsettled her. What could Ruth possibly want after all this time?

Elizabeth knew from mutual acquaintances that Ruth had only been dating women since her divorce from Bennett Miller in 1985. She wondered if Ruth had ever come out to her parents while they were still alive, especially her father, who’d always been her main concern. Main obsession, really. The Great Leon Abramov, national hero and savior of Russian Jewry. Elizabeth had cut his obituary out of the Times back in 1998 and placed it in the secret scrapbook along with photos from the funeral, attended, of course, by President Clinton and every important Jewish leader in the country. The paper had included a picture of Ruth flanked by her two children, a son and a daughter. She looked tired and drawn but not, Elizabeth had noticed, grief stricken. As she’d carefully smoothed the newspaper photo onto the sticky page of the scrapbook, Elizabeth had speculated whether Ruth could even be a bit relieved that the man who’d controlled so much of her life was finally gone. Or maybe the relief and the hope it left in its wake had been Elizabeth’s?

A loud staccato buzzing propelled her back to the present.

“Ms. Morrison?”

She pressed the hands-free button on her office phone.

“Yes?”

“Reese Stanley is here for your three o’clock.”

Elizabeth hesitated for a second. Reese. She’d realize something was wrong in a heartbeat if Elizabeth let her walk in now.

“I need a minute or two,” she said, leaning over to the speaker on her desk.

She stood and straightened her posture, shoulders back, head high. Checking her face in a compact mirror, she freshened her lipstick and made sure nothing looked smudged or worn. Satisfied at last, she called up her business voice—the one she knew they all referred to as “Queen Elizabeth”—pressed the button on the phone, and said, “Have Reese come in.”

***

It was ridiculous to expect someone to remain the same as they were three decades ago. Elizabeth herself had changed. She was no longer innocent and open, the way she’d been in college. Being the boss suited her. She liked taking charge and always exhibiting confidence, while keeping her worries and doubts confined to nights alone at home. Very few people were permitted to see that side of her. From time to time, she’d open up a bit with Margaret, who as a business owner herself, understood the pressures of making hard choices.

But she thought it prudent to hide her persistent interest in Ruth Abramson from everyone. Her ongoing efforts to keep tabs on Ruth’s life, greatly facilitated these last ten years by the advent of the Internet, had taken the form of a bad habit that was impossible to stop. Like sneaking a cigarette on the back porch or buying the National Enquirer at a newsstand and hiding it in your desk drawer.

Elizabeth sat in her living room armchair sipping the sherry she’d received as a gift from the head of the company’s Spanish subsidiary, hoping it might eventually get her to sleep. But she couldn’t even muster a yawn. Instead, she kept picturing Ruth standing at a lectern in the alumni dining room, addressing the members of their class. Ruth and Elizabeth would be back at Fowler yet not together. She couldn’t make sense of that thought, even though she knew it was the truth. Maybe it would be best to confront who they’d been back then in order to accept the reality of who each of them had become.

She rose from her chair and went to her desk. At the bottom of her file drawer, under a stack of papers was the scrapbook; her own version of the hidden National Enquirer. She sat at her desk with the unopened book before her. Would this little trip down memory lane help her sort things out or just make them worse? What she dreaded most were those first few pages. She normally skipped them when she had something to add, opening the book to the items from the last few years. She’d insert whatever new photo or article she’d found, forcing herself to focus on the present and ignore the past. But with the prospect of finally seeing Ruth, maybe it was worth reviewing the entire history from the beginning and, by facing it boldly, reduce the power it seemed to have over her.

She glared at the closed book as if it was a bothersome underling. You’re not really a scrapbook, you know. You’re merely a photo album covered in faux light brown leather and decorated with a faux gold border. The words of Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz came back to her.

“You have no power here. Be gone, before somebody drops a house on you!”

She smiled to herself and opened the book to the first off-white page covered in a clear plastic sheet that could be pulled away from its sticky cardboard backing. Taking a deep breath, she looked down at the blank page, deliberately left that way as a safety buffer so she could avoid being suddenly confronted with the past. The next pages contained all the old college photos. She’d debated about whether to destroy them, but found that she was unable to do so. They reflected back the happiest time in her life. If they were gone, she’d have nothing.

Unable to trust herself not to one day rip them up in a fit of anger after a particularly bad Siberian prison dream, she’d made a full set of duplicates and gave them to Margaret, pretending they were the originals. It was far better for her friends to think she had exiled images of Ruth from her midst instead of knowing the truth: she was incapable of letting them go.

The sherry slid down her throat with a slight burn. Tonight was the time for confronting. She grabbed onto the edge of the blank page and slowly turned it.

And there was Ruth, standing by that oak tree behind the student union, her hand on the trunk, a big smile on her face. Her dark, curly hair was tied back in this picture, even though Elizabeth always encouraged her to wear it out draped over her shoulders, reaching down to her breasts. Her pale skin contrasted with the hair and her dark brown eyes—eyes that had immediately captured Elizabeth and later held her attention as they lay in bed for hours gazing at one another and touching, always touching.

Then there were pictures of the two of them, among friends and on their own. She shifted her attention from Ruth to herself, dressed in baggy, faded jeans and a tight-fitting sweater with pink, green, and white horizontal stripes. Ugh, she thought, howcould I have ever worn such a thing? Luckily her taste in fashion had improved over time. But even with the wretched clothing, she was able to notice with longing her formerly smooth skin and the silky texture of her light brown hair, now dulled by years of coloring and highlighting. Would Ruth even find her attractive now?

She crossed her arms, laid them over the open book, and lowered her head onto them. Ruth had had over twenty years to contact her: twenty years of being on her own and dating women. But she had not come back. Instead, it seemed she had dismissed their intense connection, their love, as a mere college dalliance. Clearly, Ruth had moved on. Why couldn’t Elizabeth?

Cindy Rizzo is the author of three novels and three published short stories of lesbian fiction, including her latest book, Getting Back, released in October by Ylva Publishing. Her first novel, Exception to the Rule, won the 2014 award for Best Debut Author from Golden Crown Literary Society and was a finalist for the Rainbow Book Awards. In September 2014, her second novel, Love Is Enough, was released.  A short story, The Miracle of the Lights, appeared in the award winning anthology,Unwrap These Presents (Ylva Publishing) and was also released on its own. A second story, V-Day 1978, was included in Ylva’s Valentine’s Day release, Love Times Two. Cindy was also the co-editor of a fiction anthology, All the Ways Home, published in 1995 (New Victoria) in which her story Herring Cove was included.
Cindy lives in New York City with her wife, Jennifer, and their three cats. They have two grown sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and a baby granddaughter. You can contact Cindy by email at cindyt.rizzo@gmail.com, via Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ctrizzo, through her blog, http://www.cindyrizzo.wordpress.com, or on Twitter @cindyrizzo.