For your reading pleasure - an excerpt from my novel, Cate in Flux, due for release December 10 via the amazing Rebel Ink Press!
If I had known the mannequins were inflatable, I would never have bought them in the first place, and my life today would be wonderfully dull.
The day I went to pick them up was a typical fall day, breezy, sunny, and cool. The peacocks that blocked the driveway when I drove up to receive the mannequins should have tipped me off. They darted manically, plumage wafting, back and forth, heads bobbing. Alarmed, I almost turned around. But Amelia needed her dress, and I needed the mannequins to make it, so I beeped the horn. The peacocks scattered, leaving me room to wind my way through the driveway to the cottage at the end.
I was surprised when an Asian woman opened the door. I assumed from the transaction e-mails through Craigslist that Simon would be a man, possibly a British one. But dressed in a short, red kimono with stiletto-heeled boots, Simon threw me for a moment. Nails done, hair high on the head like a Jersey girl from the 80s, I wasn‘t quite sure what to make of this person holding a door open wide for me, and gesturing that I should come forth. One diamond earring glinted in his right ear.
“Come in.” The voice was all cross-dresser.
“Hi, I’m Cate Jakubiak,” I said, shaking his hand. “Simon?”
“Yes. Simon Pham. The mannequins are this way.”
I followed Simon through the house, marveling at his balance as his hips sashayed in front of me. Each room had a theme. Dungeon, Care Bears, Disco. The voice in my head said to run away fast, but I needed the mannequins. Finally, we reached the sewing room.
“Here they are, Dolly and Sally,” said Simon, gesturing to two torsos with heads, on which he had drawn clownish faces. “I hope they’re to your liking.”
“Um, sure,” I said. Even though I was disappointed they were inflatable instead of solid, they would have to do.
“What are you making?” he asked.
“A dress for a friend, and maybe some Halloween costumes,” I answered. “Is that acceptable?”
Simon picked up a length of gold lame fabric from the table where Dolly and Sally were sitting. “Do you want this fabric? I was going to make some pants out of them, but won’t have time,” he said, winking.
“Sure,” I told him. You never know when some gold lame will come in handy.
“All right then. I’ll help you carry them to your car.”
We stuffed Dolly and Sally into the back of my Scion.
“It looks like a clown car, full of clowns,” laughed Simon, waving his hands around. “Oh my.”
“Right,” I said. “Here’s your check.” I handed the paper over quickly. I wanted to get out of there.
Simon leaned in kissed me on the lips, not just a peck but a lingering kiss. His lips were remarkably soft, and I felt it in my gut, which was shocking. “I’ll be seeing you soon, Cate,” he whispered softly before going back into the house. “Don’t let the peacocks bother you on your way out.”
The kiss had rooted me to ground, and it was a few minutes before I recovered sufficiently to move. Crap. Even though he was clearly creepy, I felt immediately attracted. I looked at the ground, and was simultaneously disgusted and fascinated by a dead giant slug, its entrails blooming out of its bloated body.
I am a boring person. I like the status quo. I enjoy working, cooking, exercising every day precisely at 5. I prefer men, strong men who want to take care of me. Okay, so some of them have been on the edge of crazy, but that’s not their fault. Well, maybe more than on the edge, really, if my friends are to be believed. Okay, the crazies follow me around like zombies on The Walking Dead. I have no idea why. Anyway, I also read bestsellers, love sewing, and adore having a nice apartment in a quiet Boston suburb. Simon the Asian Cross-Dresser was not a person I was prepared to find thrust into my life, and if I could change just one moment, I would have driven away at the first sight of the peacocks.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and high school English/Journalism teacher. Her first novel, Cate in Flux, was released December 10! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.