For this Throwback Thursday, I have a special announcement. All this weekend, May 27-31, my very first novel, Turning Point, is on special sale for 99 cents through promotion with I Heart Lesfic, a site (with a lovely newsletter) reaching out to readers who love to read stories featuring women loving women.
So for today’s share, enjoy a look back at one of my favorite scenes from Turning Point which has withstood all the edits since the first draft, virtually intact.
The premise for Turning Point is a “What if?” question: What if a woman learned the frustrated mix of feelings she had toward a colleague were latent attraction and not, as she had been telling herself, professional disdain?
Brenna Lanigan is “over the hill” by Hollywood standards and struggling in both her personal and professional life. As far as she’s concerned, this struggle began the moment a young actress joined the ensemble cast of Time Trails, the science fiction show where Brenna is the star.
Cassidy Hyland caught a positive life break when she was able to join the cast of the series Time Trails. The cross-country move took her and her son, Ryan, away from an abusive ex-husband. The problem? She has no idea what she did to earn the icy cold shoulder from her co-star.
Spoiler: yes, Brenna attended the party. but she forgot something and decides she better give it to Cassidy at work. This later tentative moment comes from Chapter 2..
“I don’t think I’ve been in here.” Cassidy took the last step up into the cozy trailer. She eyed a refrigerator and Formica-topped folding table. Brenna’s “home away from home” was littered with photographs and books. A hand-crocheted afghan lay haphazardly over the back and arm of a small recliner. She noticed a book half-tucked under the old beige version of a script page and picked it up as Brenna disappeared into the second half of the trailer, tossing over her shoulder, “Have a seat.”
When Brenna returned, Cassidy held up the book with a questioning look. “You read this?”
Brenna laughed. “I have to know a little bit about the science of some of this stuff or I’ll never say it right.” She took the book from Cassidy’s hands and laid it aside, glancing at the star-speckled cover of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
“Yeah, but him? Seems a little dry. I read Feynman myself.” She offered a wry smile. “You’re right, though. We’ve got to sound somewhat convincing when we do this.”
Brenna presented her with two pairs of slippers. “Go on. Blue cotton or Bullwinkle J. Moose?” Cassidy hesitated, then reached for the brown character slippers. “I figured you for a Bullwinkle fan,” Brenna added as Cassidy dropped to the couch to place them on her feet.
“You did?” She sighed in relief as the thickly padded interior hugged her aching feet.
“I just took one look at you and said, ‘Bullwinkle.’ Though as you can see, I brought the blue ones in case I was wrong.”
“Always prepared? I find it odder that you would like Bullwinkle,” Cassidy admitted.
Brenna shrugged. “I grew up watching this earnest moose that seemed to mess everything up.”
“Though things usually came out right in the end.”
“Serendipity.” Brenna smiled.
“Or his buddy Rocky.” Cassidy chuckled. The two women fell silent for a moment.
“Oh, mmm…Here.” Brenna reached around behind the edge of the couch, just out of Cassidy’s line of sight, and withdrew a wrapped box. About twice the size of a shoe box, it was covered in paper printed with party hats in a menagerie of colors. “For Ryan.”
Taking it, Cassidy nodded and set it beside her on the couch. “I’ll give it to him tonight.”
Brenna shifted. “I can rewrap it, if…would you just tell me?” She leaned against the arm of the small stuffed chair where she sat across from Cassidy.
“What? You want me to open it? I’m sure he’ll love it.”
“I haven’t bought for that age in years, Cass.”
Cassidy hesitated at the woman’s earnest expression, surprised by the unexpectedly vulnerable admission and the way Brenna had shortened her name. Since she did not want to ruin the cute paper, Cassidy asked, “What is it?”
“A stuffed animal.”
She considered that. Her son did sleep with a worn stuffed crocodile.
Brenna went on with a tone that sounded abashed. “I saw it at a specialty toy shop when I was in Mount Clemens.”
“What kind of animal?”
“Well, really a…a monster.” Brenna shifted and crossed her left leg over her right and steepled her fingers together over the knee. “There’s this story…I’ve always loved it. About a boy and the monsters he meets in a land of make-believe. Maurice Sendak wrote it.”
Cassidy smiled. “I know that one. Where the Wild Things Are,” she identified. “Right?”
Brenna grinned. “Yeah. This was a handmade toy modeled after the cover illustration.” She shrugged. “I wasn’t sure you’d think it appropriate. I did include a copy of the book, if you don’t already have one.”
Cassidy picked up the wrapped box and studied it. “Ryan doesn’t have it.” She set it down. “I know what I’ll be reading to him next.” She smiled at Brenna and saw the woman exhale.
“If we get out of here at a reasonable hour,” Brenna said.
“You mean midnight isn’t reasonable?” Cassidy’s gamble at making a joke paid off. Brenna tipped her head back and laughed until tears appeared in her eyes.
“Oh God. I’m sorry. You’re right. Midnight is not reasonable. So, when do you read to him?”
“I try to read to him at least twice a week. Sometimes it’s just Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Sometimes it’s after getting a lucky break here and being home around ten.”
“It is hard to have a young child and work these hours.”
“And teenagers are better? I seem to remember you saying that yours were out past curfew. The anxiety would kill me.”
“Thomas and James are generally pretty good — and helpful now that Thomas also drives.”
Cassidy nodded. There did not seem to be much to add. They fell into silence, and she ran her hand over the couch cushion, tracing the simple maroon linear print, unable to avoid contemplating a nap. She even yawned. Quickly she stifled it, as she was quite sure the change in Brenna’s attitude toward her was not yet up to offering to let Cassidy nap on her couch
Brenna suddenly moved, jerking Cassidy’s attention to her. “We had better head back.” Cassidy bent over to remove the slippers. “Keep them.”
“All right,” she accepted and stood. Collecting the wrapped present and the costume boots in her arms, she stepped back as Brenna held open the door. As she stepped into the daylight, she came close to Brenna, acutely aware of the other woman watching her pass.
Brenna waited at the bottom of the steps to Cassidy’s trailer while she dropped off the gift and slippers and put her boots back on, though Cassidy had invited her to enter. But it was together that they walked back to the soundstage.
If that peek interested you, please follow this link.