I’ve got it bad. I have been revisiting favorite characters of mine and rereading their stories as “comfort food.” Last week, I had the privilege of indulging myself and enticing new readers from the members of the I Heart Sapphic Readers Group on Facebook. I asked readers WWYD types of questions that hinted at quandaries the characters in TURNING POINT faced. I even had a “dreamcasting” post.
I find nostalgia comforting, and a way to connect with others. Sharing my favorite things, and finding out that someone else shares love of that same thing gives me warm fuzzy feelings. So, of course, I had to write something like that as a way for Brenna and Cassidy to connect.
Long excerpts are not recommended for such spotlight opportunities though. I shared a couple paragraphs from different parts of the story. But I thought to share one of my absolute favorite scenes here. So here it is, a peek into what is probably the earliest evidence of “thaw” between Btenna and Cassidy, first from Brenna’s POV, and then Cassidy’s POV.
Brenna’s birthday present for Ryan…and something for Cassidy
Brenna grabs and goes – and then forgets – a birthday present she hopes is suitable for Cassidy’s five-year-old son. But since she knows nothing of the child – she has spent a year trying to know nothing about the mother, after all. So she goes with what she would have gotten for her own boys at that age.
In the process of finally getting Ryan’s present to him, Brenna ends up gifting Cassidy with something as well. The interaction over a couple scenes is one of my absolute favorites I’ve ever written. It’s filled with tentativeness, laughter, but the most important ingredient for an enemies-to-lovers storyline: a moment of guard down, genuine connection.
To Brenna’s surprise, Cassidy sighed and rubbed her feet, releasing them from a pair of dress heels as soon as she sat down in a nearby canvas chair. “I wish I had a longer dinner break. I could really use my foot bath. But I’m first up for the C.U.s.”
Brenna could not recall Cassidy expressing any discomfort before and wondered if it was because she had not bothered to notice or if the woman was in an atypical amount of pain. Cassidy continued massaging her stocking-covered foot. Well, there’s time enough to correct that now. Brenna rolled up her script and patted it against her own thigh, snapping her gaze up to Cassidy’s face. “I might have something to help there. Why don’t you come to my trailer to sit for a few minutes? Besides, I forgot to leave Ryan’s present on Saturday, so I can give you that, too.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I do. I had it with me, but in…I left it in the car.”
“Oh.” After another brief hesitation, Cassidy nodded. “All right.” She bent over to put the heels back on. With a sigh, she stopped. “Forget it. I’ll walk in stockings.”
“I think I have a spare pair of slippers.”
Cassidy’s head snapped up in surprise. “I…thanks.”
Brenna realized where Cassidy’s eyes were staring — at the casual hand she had put on the other woman’s arm, which she quickly withdrew. She covered her quandary about why she had done something so intimate with a quipped, “Sure.”
Brenna in her boots and Cassidy in her stocking feet walked around to the back of the soundstage and out the door to a line of trailers. Each cast member had one. They walked to the second to last one on the left.
“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.
Below is a pic of me modeling the Bullwinkle slippers (yes, these are mine), as well as the handmade monster and Where the Wild Things Are book.
If you found this excerpt piqued your interest, you can find TURNING POINT at many online retailers. You can even have your local B&N or independent bookstore order it for you, using the ISBN. If you want an autographed copy, just talk to me.