Read Thicker Than Water - DK5 Online

Authors: Melissa Good

Tags: #Lesbian, #Romance

Thicker Than Water - DK5 (2 page)

BOOK: Thicker Than Water - DK5
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“Uh…yes, sir.” The voice sounded puzzled, but chastened.

“I’ll tell him.”

Stuart hung up and went back to the report. “God damn it!

Would you just leave it to that…” He paused and made a face. “To find something like this.” He thumped the desk. “Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

He crinkled the papers under his hands, their damning words in stark black against the creamy white of the quality surface on which they were printed. Idly, he flipped a page over and frowned at the typing on the back.

He leaned closer, examined it, and found nothing more interesting than a weather report, then shook his head as he turned it back over. He snorted. “Recycling. Must be a Democrat.”

He had to give the woman credit, though. The analysis was crisp, to the point, and did not beat around the bush in regards to its findings, which was something he appreciated regardless of the source. Most of the reports he had to read were full of verbose puffwords saying nothing. Reading Dar Roberts’ report was like a breath of fresh air. He could appreciate the content while despis-ing the author, couldn’t he?

Stuart sighed. But damn if it had to be her. Having had little choice, he had grudgingly come to accept Kerrison’s decision, regardless of how stupid and mindless, not to mention embarrassing, he’d considered it. Finding out his daughter thought she was gay had been a shock, but even worse—she’d shamed him by not even having the grace to keep the fact hidden and discreet.

Disgusting. Just the thought of the two of them...
His lip curled.

Disgusting.

At least he knew that when it inevitably ended, the woman would make no financial gains from his daughter, and in the meantime the two of them lived in what even he considered acceptable style.

Thicker Than Water
7

There would be no Enquirer stories about Kerrison living in a shack somewhere. The reporters had learned to keep clear of her, especially since her office fended them off and she lived on that private island. At least she’d had the sense to do that much for him.

Now he had this to contend with. Stuart glared at the papers.

Roberts had picked him for a reason; he knew it. She hadn’t just dropped the documents into his lap out of patriotic fervor, that was for sure.

Had she gotten wind of the incipient investigation into the ILS contracts? Was this her way of trying to buy him off to forget about it? If it was, she was definitely, sadly mistaken. Stuart snorted softly and went on to the next page. As soon as he read through everything, he’d get that hearing right back on…

Stuart bent closer, staring at the next page. “Jesus Christ.”

THE SMALL GROUP sat in a circle, in chairs so mismatched that it looked like it was done on purpose by a designer with a decidedly twisted streak. All of the occupants were young, most in their late teens, except for the woman seated cross legged in the large overstuffed chair nearest the door.

“Okay, Barbara, what makes you think he’s got it out for you?” Kerry asked quietly, focusing her mind on the problems of these troubled youngsters, halfway between children and adults and dealing with an emerging sexuality they weren’t sure they understood. Weren’t really sure they wanted, for that matter, being different at an age where different meant outcast in so many poignant ways.

She shared her counseling duties with two other older women and found she enjoyed her time with the group. It meant having to listen to and dealing with problems vastly different from the ones she normally handled, and reminded her all over again that her own acceptance of her lifestyle had been smooth in comparison. Right now, the youngest member of the discussion group, Barbara Gonzales, had confessed that she thought her boss at Burger King had figured out she was gay and was trying to get rid of her because of it.

“I don’t know.” The slim, brown haired girl wrapped an arm around one knee. “He changed my shift, and now he makes me do all the hard stuff–like figuring out how much bread and meat to order for the next week, and making me check out the bathrooms, and stuff like that.”

“Hm.” Kerry sat back, aware of Barbara’s eyes on her. “Did you ask him why he did that?”

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Melissa Good
Barbara shrugged. “No. I just figured it was because he saw me and Sally in the freezer that one time. We were so stupid about that.”

“Hm.” Kerry imagined Alastair McLean walking into a wiring closet and finding her and Dar kissing. She suppressed a giggle.

“Is he very conservative?”

“Yeah, kinda.” Barbara nodded. “He’s all into that community stuff, you know, like Hibiscus.”

Hibiscus?
Kerry blinked. “You mean Kiwanis?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“Do you do a good job?” Kerry asked.

“I guess. The customers like me. I get stuff done, and I’m always on time and all that stuff.”

“Well, he could be coming down on you, but there’s another possibility,” Kerry said. “He might be trying to nudge you into a more responsible position in the restaurant.”

Barbara blinked at her, obviously never having even considered that prospect. “Huh?”

“If I were a fast food manager,” Kerry speculated, “and I had a position I needed to fill—say, an assistant manager or a shift leader—I’d find someone who was trustworthy, who was prompt and neat and got the job done, and give them a little more responsibility every day to see how they handled it.”

“You would?” Casey cocked her head, which was covered in an explosion of dark curls.

“Sure.” Kerry smiled. “Asking Barbara to do the ordering projections and supervising the cleaning of the bathrooms seems to me to be an indication that the man trusts her, and maybe wants to see if she’s ready to be promoted.” Her eyes twinkled at Barbara, who was staring open mouthed at her. “Tell you what.

Think of it that way for a week, and try to look at everything he does positively instead of negatively. See what happens.”

Barbara pushed a lock of hair behind an ear. “Wow…okay, yeah, I guess I could do that. Maybe I could, like, iron my shirts and stuff. See if he notices.” She smiled and her face lit up.

“Thanks, Kerry. You’re so cool.”

Kerry stood up and circled her chair. She leaned on the back and gazed at them. “Sometimes, it’s easy to get into the mode where you think everyone’s against you, or that your sexual preference automatically makes you a victim. It’s not true.” She paused and considered. “Not that it doesn’t happen. Of course it does. We all watch the news, or have had stuff happen, so you know it does.” A brief smile touched her lips. “But not always.”

“You’re pretty out at work, aren’t you?” Casey asked curiously.

Thicker Than Water
9

Kerry nodded.

“Do you get shit for that?”

The girls watched her closely, intensely interested in her answer. Kerry tended to turn talk away from her life to theirs, and they were always digging for little nuggets about her personal side. They knew she worked for a big company and that she was gay, and not a whole lot more. Most of them hadn’t even met Dar, since the current group had formed after the last picnic her lover had attended.

“Sometimes, there are people who find out and they don’t like it,” Kerry said. “But mostly, I just do my job and they don’t really care.”

“Your boss doesn’t care?”

She couldn’t suppress a smile. “No. Definitely not.”

“Cool.” Casey nodded. “Maybe I’ll get me a job there, then.

They sound all right.”

Kerry reviewed the stocky young woman, whose dark hair was dyed in three shades of purple to match the six different kinds of earring stones and to contrast with the tattoos dancing across her neck. “Give me your resume and I’ll give it to Person-nel.”

“All right.” Casey grinned. “You’re pretty cool, for an old lady.”

Kerry’s eyebrows lifted. “Just how ancient do you think I am?” She put her hands on her hips in mild outrage. “I only have three gray hairs, you know.”

Casey grinned, then bashfully dropped her eyes. “I know, I was just ragging you. It must be so cool–to have it all so together like you do.”

Hm. Yeah, as a matter of fact, it is pretty darn cool.
“I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had good opportunities given to me and I’ve managed to find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.

I thank God for that every day, believe me, Casey.” She circled the chair and sat down.

“Okay, so next subject.” Kerry pulled her legs into a cross legged position and leaned on the arm of her chair as she regarded her small group of teens. “Did you have a good Thanksgiving?”

Five sets of eyes rolled. “I hate holidays.” Lena groaned. “We had the whole family–my grandparents, the cousins, everyone, at our house. I had to dress up. It sucked.” The tiny, blond girl made a face.

Kerry chuckled. “Oh yeah, I remember those days. Thanksgiving was always big at my parents’ house. We had thirty or forty people there sometimes.”

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Melissa Good

“Did you like it?” Lena asked, sounding doubtful.

Kerry thought about that. “Sometimes. When I was really young, I did, because all my cousins would come over. We were too little for anything really formal, so they’d let us loose in the solarium with a couple of the nannies and we’d have a ball.”

“Oo, nannies.” Erisa pushed a lock of dark hair back off her forehead. “You were, like, super rich, huh?”

“My parents are well off, yes,” Kerry replied.

“So, what did you do this Thanksgiving?” Lena asked. “Did you cook that turkey you got?”

How did we end up talking about me again?
Kerry wondered.

“Yes and no. I did get to cook it, but it was a few days late. I was out of town for the holiday.”

Casey sat up. “You took off? What’d your SO think of that?”

Everyone’s ears perked up, and they watched Kerry with visible interest.

“Mm. Well, Dar knows my job entails a lot of traveling, so she understood.”
Sort of.
“But as it turned out, she was traveling too, and we both ended up in Chicago together. So, it worked out.”

Time to change the subject.

“I dunno.” Lena sighed. “For two days I had to listen to my folks tell me how I should get a boyfriend. They’re so clueless, I mean, like, hello. Those are not pictures of Leonardo Dumbasa-Fishio on my wall, okay?” She twisted her limbs into a position that made Kerry wonder if she had bones or plastic rods in her body. “You think they’d know, you know? Do I have to paint, like, my whole room in friggin’ rainbow stripes?”

“They’d probably think you were just doing that retro seven-ties thing.” Casey snorted. “My freaking father finally caught a clue when I dumped a box of friggin’ condoms he’d left in my room into his cereal bowl and told him I wasn’t in’erested in letting anything that fit in them fit in me.”

Kerry bit back a snort of laughter. “What did he say?”

Casey shrugged, then laughed without humor. “He said, thank fucking God, at least I wouldn’t go out and get stupid and pregnant, and make him pay for it.”

“Yo, he’d rather you be gay than a slut, right?” Lena remarked. “My folks would rather I be dead than gay.”

Kerry sobered. “You don’t know that.”

“Sure I do.” Lena looked directly at her. “My mom told me that right to my face, after she watched some fucking Oprah shit about gay kids.” She snorted. “She said if she ever found out I was gay, she’d shut me up in my room and gas me.”

Holy crap.
Kerry took a breath to steady herself. “I don’t think she meant that. Parents say things like that to scare their kids,
Thicker Than Water
11

sometimes.”

Lena shrugged. “Yeah, maybe, but I know why so many gay kids pretend they ain’t. You get so sick of people thinking you’re just so fucked up.”

“Yeah.” Elina nodded. “I was thinking the other day, is it even worth it?”

Kerry sat up and put both feet on the ground. She clasped her hands between her knees as she leaned forward. “Listen.” She spoke slowly and quietly. “My parents don’t like me being gay either, and that hurts, because I love my family very much.” She sorted through her feelings. “I hated having to make a choice between them and the truth about myself.”

“They just don’t get it,” Elina remarked softly. “It’s like they don’t understand it, so they have to hate it.”

Kerry nodded. “That’s true, and believe me, I was scared when I realized I was going to have to face that. I didn’t want them to hate me.” She paused and collected her thoughts. “You know, I never knew what it would be like to fall in love. So when I fell in love with Dar, it was all so much of a surprise to me—how good it felt and what an amazingly powerful emotion love is.”

They all looked at each other, then back at her.

“It’s worth it,” Kerry said simply. “I wouldn’t give Dar up for all the money, or the approval of my parents, or anything else in the world.”

There was utter silence, and Kerry glanced from face to face as they stared. “C’mon, it wasn’t that profound.” She chuckled, then realized they weren’t staring
at
her, they were staring
past
her. She turned her head to find Dar leaning in the doorway, her arms folded and a quiet, pleased smile on her face. “Ah, it’s you.”

“Yes, it is,” Dar said.

Kerry was aware she was blushing. “C’mon in. Guys, this is Dar.”

Dar entered, rounded Kerry’s chair, and perched on an arm of it as she regarded the circle of young faces. “Hi,” she said, then turned her attention to Kerry. “You’re late.”

Kerry gave Dar a bewildered look. “I am? For what?”

“You have an appointment with me, some of my stone crab friends, and a tall bottle.” Dar watched the startled delight creep into Kerry’s features. “With lots of bubbles in it.” She turned her head and peered at the girls. “You’ll excuse her, right?”

Five heads nodded.

“Good.” Dar turned her attention back to Kerry. “Well?” She lifted an eyebrow and held out a hand, palm up. Kerry clasped Dar’s hand, their fingers curling warmly around each other’s. Dar stood and tugged, and waited for Kerry to stand up.

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Melissa Good

“Um.” Kerry faced her group, who were now smiling and giggling at her. “I guess I’ll see you guys next week, huh?” She flashed them a rueful grin. “See? She’s definitely a keeper.”

BOOK: Thicker Than Water - DK5
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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