Unearthly Delights

Unearthly Delights

I left home on the heels of a big blow out fight as I had finally come clean with my family about myself.

It was over Christmas and I had been trying to tell them for a long time. Well tell them that all of my life I’d never been Scott that I’d had always been Sarah. And it wasn’t like I had been planning on coming out but it was a combination of my brother being all super asshole with his whole rant on gay people and on pretty much anyone LGBT.

And it pretty much went down like this….

“You know what Sean fuck off!”

“What’s up your ass Scotty?”

“There are some of us y’know that are LGBT in this family.”

“That freakhole Mike?”

“No not Mike, me.”

“You!?” he was staring at me with this whole WTF look and Mom and Dad were staring at me. Dad finally spoke up. “Jesus Christ you’re a fag.”

I glared at him. “I’m not a fag, not that there’s anything wrong with being gay.”

My mother was staring at me and she kept staring at me and she went white and then she went red faced and she pointed at me.

Well to be honest she pointed at my chest. “What the hell are you wearing under your shirt?”

“It a binder.”

Sean shouted. “What the fuck is a binder!?”

I shouted back. “It keeps my breasts flat.”

All three of them went… “Breasts!”

There was this slightly off part of me that wanted to laugh because they reminded me of that crowd from the Pace chili commercial when they all yell ‘New York City!’ they all sounded like that and I was just so in the wrong emotional place right then and right there and I pulled off my shirt and mom made this squeak sound and she actually flipping crossed herself.

Then the binder came off and revealed my really decent C-cups and they were just speechless.

Then dad threw his beer bottle at me. “You’re a goddamned tranny freak!?” It hit and splashed me and it hurt but it didn’t break or anything and I was plenty pissed so I grabbed it off the floor and I threw it back and hit him in the face with it.

Mom started screaming incoherently.

Sean went to grab me and I knew just from the look on his face that he was going to try to put a big brother beating on me and I was kind of sick and tired of his stuff too and I grabbed my jacket and got it between me and him for a second before he yanked it away and in the time it took him to do that I had my taser out and I tasered his ass.

When I’m not home I’m out and living as me and a girl in Philly needs to defend herself.

Sean went down shaking and he did this whiny little curse thing as he pissed himself as his lights went out.

Dad got up and he looked like he wanted to go and I held my taser up and he backed off.

He looked absolutely venomous as he spat. “Get the fuck out of my house Scott and never come back.”

“Fucking gladly and the name is Sarah.”

I took my jacket and I had my keys and my wallet and honestly the only things I had or had gotten were guys things so I left just zipping up my jacket over my bare breasts and I left and just to add insult to injury I pulled the elastic out of my hair to get rid of the guy’s pony tail and let my hair free and I even shook it out as I left in the rental car.

So how do things go that bad that fast?

They don’t not in a regular family, or maybe they do but my family is a bunch of drunks and when they’re not drinking they’re bitching about the lack of work at the docks and stuff since they’re all good union Joes and the like.

I was one of the family pansies because I went for something else and I didn’t want to be one of them. Super macho testosterone stupid and drunk and lazy because they worked for a while until they had unemployment for most of the shop and then the union would like pass the jobs further down the line to keep the membership happy.

I fucking hate Philadelphia, I’m not going to say that it’s all bad because it really likely isn’t true but where I grew up and how I grew up it was and it wasn’t changing.

I was getting out. I took to going to school and actually staying in it and that made me a nerd and being a nerd sort of paid off too. I knew, like definitely knew since my first game of hopscotch in pre-k that I wasn’t a boy.

And I knew too that was the kind of thing you never ever uttered at home or in the neighborhood or else you got branded for life, beaten to within an inch of it and all that horrible stuff that you hear about.

I knew I was pretty much fucked.

And by the time I was twelve I knew that getting out and away from everyone was like my only deal.

So I went to community college and I got my medical technicians class passing that off as Data Entry to my folks and once I started talking about anything technical they sort of got bored enough that you could literally see their eyes glaze over.

I got a job actually as Sarah working for Pfizer and their HR was actually pretty cool about it and I had moved out after my first paycheck. I gave mom and dad like four hundred dollars as rent for that month and so to not seem like a jerk and I was barely, barely able to afford a place that was essentially a closet with a bathroom in a really iffy part of town.

It took me three months of a ramen crash diet and frozen fish sticks to save up the money to get out of their and into my new place which was a bit of a commute but it had the advantage of being far enough away that none of my family would visit me.

And that’s when I was really starting to live.

God I’d like to actually say that I was from a good family and all of that but really my life was just kind of shit. A Polish-Italian family with a semi-solid grip on religion when it suited them and then whole demands of like family in that you gotta do it sort of thing that was kind of this whole thirty to seventy mix of passive-aggressiveness and then there was the booze…it was just there all the time when it was beer and that was PBR’s and Miller’s it was Ole Jamie which was Jameson Scotch.

Occasionally there’d be a few different things but those were holiday things and stuff that was presents and all of that.

I went to school where there were so many fumes from the empties in the porch that you had beer sneakers.

But…anyways that was the final straw for me and that was the Christmas that I was finally out.

Though I had a nice New Year’s stint where Sean and them called with threats and a lovely February where I’m pretty sure someone he knew or that he did himself had slashed my tires.

Insurance covered that but it had cost me close to forty bucks in cab fare to and from work.

By March I knew that they weren’t going to really back off and the only reason why it wasn’t a steady thing was Sean was really just too much of a lazy asshole to really keep it up. He’d get drunk and he’d be pissed that I tasered his overly macho drunk ass and he’d get all “Brave” but not brave enough to ever get in my face.

Mom and Dad well they pretended that I didn’t exist, like totally.

And this sort of all goes into now.

I’m tired of the drama and I’m tired of things here and I have a chance at a better job. The only thing is that I have to move.

To New Orleans.

Frankly with reading about the deaths of the trans women down there it’s scary and there’s still a lot of things that are in the air down there but at the same time I have some online friends down there and they say it’s not too bad once you know where you’re at and what the skinny is down there and then there’s the job.

Shipping hub manager for the region. It’s more paperwork and less at the same time with it all being shipping oriented instead of all the insurance stuff I’ve been dealing with and it’s a big, big pay raise.

So….

I went for it.

It’s May and I’m here and with a moving van and all of the things that I wanted to keep and I’m pulling into my new place.

And it’s a sort of an old place that kind of sort of survived Katrina.

Yeah it’s an older place and it took like lots of damage but the company that bought it had to strip the walls and redo the pipes and electrical anyway so it was one of those fortuitous things where they were really desperate for people to move in and get bodies into homes that I got a good deal with the price and the bank.

And there’s some things that I was going to be smart about too.

Like hiring painters.

Seriously I’m a northern girl and there’s nothing like the heat and the humidity here that I have felt in my life. So rather than me saving a few bucks and trying to paint and do things to my place that would cost me more money in the long run I hire some people to do it.

And I go with a good bunch of fellows with good records. That’s so, so important when hiring any contractor and that’s doing research.

Find someone reputable, look them up and read reviews and nowadays Google them because sometimes you’ll find out who has lawsuits and claims against them. A few hours will save you a lot of money especially if you’re a woman.

There’s a lot of assholes that will want to take advantage.

I didn’t move with much either I had a furnished apartment so a lot stayed there and I really just had my boxes of clothes and that was enough and I kept my favorite and best dishes but that wasn’t do much and I took my books and other things but I honestly fit all of my life into a U-Haul trailer.

I actually set up camp in my basement which was actually pretty nice really my house had a refurbished smaller furnace so there was lots of room and I let the guys do their thing in painting and doing the floors.

Being onsite is good.

Not being underfoot for them is better.

Instead I meet up with my trans guy friend Denver and we’re meeting for the first time since we’ve only known each other online and I dressed for the day in light jeans and a strappy top that really showed off my boobs well and he grinned when he looked at me.

“Ah din like then on me Sarah and I done like them much now but I have to say that you’re looking particularly buxom today.”

I do a sort of what I think a curtsey was like, I mean I don’t actually know but it’s just funning and Denny does some sort of hat tip thing and we both laugh though I do say when I hop into his car and even as early as it is sort of sigh at the air-conditioning.

“Thank you and even though I am not into the manly sort of anything I thing you’re looking extremely dapper today.”

I tried for a southern accent and Denny takes one look at me and he bursts out laughing as he starts his car. “Oh that was so bad Sarah.”

I grin. “I’ll get the hang of it.”

He grins back and he leans over and hugs me. “Really glad that you’re here and out of there and those toxic assholes.”

I hug him back and I nod. “No one gets a free pass to treat you like shit more than family right?”

He nods and we look at each other and we both say. “Ex’s”

And then we both say. “Fucking Tyler.”

See Tyler was the first guy that I was with and the last he was one of those sales reps that travelled and he used that whole travel thing as his whole dating spiel. It was like he was this trapped free soul in a heartless job and the only thing that kept him going was… well whoever he had in his sights.

Now he wasn’t a thief and he wasn’t abusive he was just totally a whore…he was a steady and habitual liar and he would sleep with anything that had a pulse and that was male, female and all things in between and if I’m honest maybe even outside of his species.

When I met Denny online it was with a few other people who knew and were used and cheated on by Tyler and there was this whole thing back then and it’s how we became friends.

Actually when you think about it it’s how a lot of people become friends.

Denny has this old Caddy and it’s all tricked out and not in that Philly way with the bling and the gangsta stuff *Eye roll* or the wannabe Fast and The Furious wannabee’s either. *Finger-gagging* no this is something like different like there’s leather inside and it has like beads and things and there’d like the virgin Mary on a bobble thing along with two kind of halloweeny looking ones and he’s has all these things hanging off his rear view mirror like charms and stuff.

It’s really some kind of Ju-ju-mobile.

And it’s actually either real or fake but it awesome as hell too when he’s got a child’s safety seat and Cookie Monster in the back seat.

And Cookie has a black bowtie on.

“Interesting car?”

“It is I bought it off of a family that needed to money and it was a good deal except for having in cleansed.”

“You mean cleaned.”

Denny gives me that don’t be stupid look.

I shrug. “Hey whatever floats your boat Denny, I just think it’s all kinda cute and cool and stuff we don’t have anything like this where I come from in Philly.”

He chuckles. “Sarah it’s always good to respect things, especially things like this.”

I take out a smoke and look at Denny and he nods and I roll down the window and light up and we’re driving and even in like these good areas we’re driving through you can see where there was like serious damage done by Katrina.

He takes out a cigarillo and he lights it up and it smells like one of those cloves but with tobacco in it and we drive and we smoke and he takes us for coffee.

See this is why I’ve come here.

Home is chain places and Starbucks and Dunkins and Robins and all those other places but there’s just so much indie places here but not just like pop up indie like forever indie like we made this city kinds of shops and shopping and I love that.

I don’t want all the department stores and all the cloned stuff. Sure I could deal with it and everything but this, this is a whole different pace of things down here and despite the humidity and the heat there’s something else here too.

We end up stopping for a quick shot of coffee at some place called Hey Café and it’s got like tailor made coffee just for you and I follow Denny’s lead as he gets us two macarons which are not the coconut things my mom made but they’re these things made from egg white meringues and they’re like baked just enough to be crispy on the outside and then gooey and creamy on the inside and these are just…the filling is buttercream and it has crumbs of something called honey comb candy inside of it.

It’s crunchy and it’s rich and it’s like this sort of burned caramel and sugar meets butter and it’s like nothing I’ve had before and then, then I have the coffee once my mouth and my head’s all filled with richness and this is…hot and really dark coffee stronger than I’m used to but there’s like just this light end to it instead of that acrid stuff you get from like dark roasts from the chain places.

Like the perfect counter point to the macarons and we have them to go and we start to drive around and he’s showing me the city.

And he’s showing me the good and the bad and really it’s not doing anything other than that the first day.

The city, wow there are parts of that here that are so just thrashed and then there’s the fact that people are inch by inch picking up and carrying on.

As much as I thought that I had in bad there’s stuff still in the fifth ward that just punched me in my heart and took my breath away.

Houses and homes and you don’t get it through the TV when you see the spray paint and it’s not graffiti but it’s rescue stuff and you see numbers on the walls too with stuff saying things like three dead.

It puts things in a whole other mindset for me.

Live.

Live because there’s no guarantees on how things are going to go and that I might as well live and be the real me with no regrets either because it’s all so frigging fragile.

It’s definitely playing through my head with how I want to be especially when we’re stopped for lunch at some little white and blue house that’s a corner store and we’re sitting in the car with the AC cranked but the car doors open and we’re having a po’boy sandwich and it’s not something that I’d have like all the time having to watch my weight and all but it’s still good.

French loaf of bread that’s like a sub bun but better and bigger and there’s this whole veggie thing that they do to it with shredded lettuce and onions and scallions mixed into it and there’s butter to keep it from getting soggy but after that this rich kind of mayo with capers and pickles and there’s just fried baloney on it with those cut in half styled slices and lots of mustard.

Best baloney sandwich of my life actually and if I bought it for myself it’d last three meals easy but Denny and I shared one and I just took a third and it was still huge.

And then we were sharing sides that were deep fried pickles and okra which I was leery of having heard about it on TV but it’s actually pretty good too.

And sweet tea another first for me and I labeled myself as being a Yankee by asking for… “Some of that iced tea.”

Yeah….nope it’s not iced tea.

Just the looks of the old creole lady that ran the place and the other customers were enough to drive that lesson home for me.

Once it hit afternoon Denny took me down by the waterfront and we booted around there for most of the afternoon and I got to meet some of his friends and his boyfriend who ran a coffee stand that also sold like newsstand stuff only it was kind of one of those bohemian things and he had coffee there and he sold smokes and a bunch of other things but there was papers and magazines but all these indie things too.

Al or Alistair was pretty cool and he looked like he was Cuban or something with the beard all trim and stuff and he had a hat on too that wasn’t like one of those fedora things or a trilby that you see bad memes of online but this sort of straw version of it and he even had that whole sort of shirt on over the t-shirt and cargo shorts.

I have no clue if he’s a trans guy or not but it’s definitely a gay relationship.

Actually they’re cute as heck together.

And it was really loose and friendly too since we spent nearly three hours there talking and smoking and drinking coffee and we even or I even have a coffee with bourbon in it and I’ve never had bourbon before…it’s actually pretty tasty and the time just sort of went by as he waited on customers. Mostly smokes and coffee which he makes in French press and he does sell a lot of papers too.

People smoke a lot of menthols down here.

But they’re that kind of couple that doesn’t make you feel like a third wheel.

Which is actually super nice and third wheel or worse is a lot of the time when you’re trans and double that if you don’t pass that well or you’re out and people know that you’re trans.

I get invited to Carols place as Al closes up and I’m free so we actually go to my place first so I can get dressed and changed.

I look at Denny as we’re heading home. “So what’s Carol’s like?”

“Well she’s a friend and she like open to the community and stuff and she’s a sweetheart too and she has this old house that’s all lovely but there’s a big, huge back yard that’s like one of those really old gardens with the big walls and the gates and the ivy and we all sort of have get togethers and have a place to chill out away from the clubs and stuff.”

“Are the clubs that bad?”

Al shakes his head no. “No they’re really decent usually as long as you don’t get into the ones full of tourists and all that then they can suck. But Denny and I we know all the good places honey we’ll show you around if others don’t.”

They drop me off and I hug them both and I do invite them in for a coffee but Denny shakes his head no. “No thanks hon we’re going to go and get changed and all but we’ll be back to pick you up.”

“Should I bring anything?”

“Anything you want to or can afford it’s pot luck there.”

I kiss them each on the cheek both times and I head inside and they pull off and I look around my place in the fridge mostly for things to bring and I’m lucky I have a small wheel of brie one of those five inch ones and I have a fresh bag of croissants too so I get those into a cloth grocery bag and I go and I take a shower.

It’s a cold shower because the hot water’s not working yet but that’s okay too I just turn it on and I adjust the spray nozzle to its finest spray and kind of go in and out of the water as I wash and rinse off.

Washing that is…well it’s just odd for me.

I mean it’s one of those things that I don’t really get dysphoria over but I’m always sort of fighting with my body image and the way that everyone and their dog sees that with being a trans woman.

I’m keeping it because there’s all these things that can go wrong or might go wrong and honestly and realistically I’ll never really afford it.

And there’s just so many people who think it’s their business if you’re not getting it done.

Sigh…there’s my dysphoria right there.

Judgy assholes not minding their own business.

I’m a woman, I’ve never felt like a guy and that’s just how I’m going to live my life. There stuff those people can stuff into unimaginable places who think otherwise.

I add some lotion afterwards that smells lightly of lavender and I have a matching perfume in a nice sort of way that’s very green apple smelling and I use just a little. I want to accent the scent not make some gagging clash of them.

Then I kind of go simple but fancy too. I have some nice underwear, I actually have lots of nice underwear and I wear my violet bra and under pants with the lace trim and I slip the dress I picked out on and it’s an easy and light cotton floral print that I bought just the other day with demi sleeves at the elbows and a ruffle and a scoop neck that shows off my breasts really well and it has a nicely tucked waist too so I have that really killer drape off my hips.

I wear a nice pair of shoes but take my flats in my shoulder bag and then I go through all of the things that I might need tonight. Condoms and a couple of pads, lube and three packs of smokes and three lighters.

No I’m not a heavy smoker but at a party people smoke and people drink and they smoke more when they drink too and it’s like always been sort of a party rule for me to have extras even if smoking is sort of on its way out these days.

I add some gum from my purse and then my make-up and an extra roll of panties and a long sleep shirt all rolled up and tied with elastics.

No I don’t sleep around either but you’d be surprised at how you can need a change of something at a party or someone else might.

Though if I met someone nice I’d certainly consider hooking up.

I do my make-up last and I know that a lot of people wouldn’t but I sort of like having a fresh face when I go out and it seems to last longer and I go with what I like and that’s a really like smoky eyelid and I use a little rose shadow and a little copper too and finish it with a light top of light chocolate brown and the effect is that you just can sort of see some of the first two coming through the brown.

A little eyeliner and I mean just a little it’s not a club thing and some mascara and I have that nice thickening stuff that makes my lashes really pop and the rest is just pretty basic I have my light coat of liquid foundation and I love the Maybelline for that because it’s the best match for my skin tones and then I do my lips.

Red lip penciling for my contour lines and to make my bow shape look more there and then I use a lighter dusky rose pencil on my lips and then I use a very nice soft pink for my lipstick and the base colors darken it up just right and I apply a brush of lipset powder and a second coat of lip-gloss and I roll my lips a bit and then blot.

If you have issues with your lipstick because you’re not that good at using it then buy a thing of lipset powder from the make-up counter, this is the stuff that lets you go a good chunk of the day or night without totalling your lips or reapplying it forever.

The rest is a few nice bits of jewelry and then I’m done and I’m waiting for Denny and Al to show up and they are about ten or twelve minutes late which socially around here might be normal or it might be the guys.

They look good too with Alistair in a suit jacket and slacks and this really deep red t-shirt and all showered and fresh and Denny’s is wearing jeans and a nice leather coat instead of a jacket and a very nice deep purple fancy vest with pearl buttons and a deep grey cotton dress shirt.

We lightly hug and cheek kiss and Al opens the door and lets me have the front seat and he sits in the back and we head off to Carols.

I’m actually really turned around and lost but we’re in an old neighborhood but it’s one of those on the edge of places where half of it is three and four story apartments and business places and the other half are these really big old stately homes and they almost all have these big back yards or they have those actual brick courtyard walls.

We seem to find the place and there’s a strip of parked cars along the side of the lane or street and I’m getting out and I can smell food but can’t describe it on the wind and then there’s that smell that’s here at night and that’s this almost scent of fresh cut grass and jasmine in the air.

There’s this light breeze that brings the scents of cedar and other flowers and as we get closer the scent of roses too and I’m almost having a flashback to Interview with a Vampire with just how it all seems to feel and the spirits here must be playing tricks on me because Sympathy for the Devil starts to play from the other side of the wall and we get let in through the gate and I have my breath catch in my throat.

It’s the party that I always dreamed I’d never get to.

It’s really large life fifty by fifty and it’s all walled with this old and stained and experienced old red brick and it’s covered in ivy and there’s walled spots that have flower pots and there’s wires strung overhead too and those have both ivy on them and tonight they have those fifties and sixties looking patio lights and they just so fit with everything else.

There’s a wall of grills and barbeques and tables with all sorts of food and drink and there’s a fancy man with a fancy shirt and grey hair tending bar and making drinks and the last thing I ever expected was to see all of my online friends that are from here or down here like me all together and hanging out here and they see me and they give me a salute with their glasses and cheer.

“Sarah!”

I was not expecting people that I knew to be here much less a lot of the people that I knew here online here. I mean it’s like only like five people not counting Denny and Al but it’s still a really, really nice thing to have happen and that they took the time to do it well that’s just all kinds of awesome.

So much different than stuff home.

Okay home wasn’t bad it’s just that people were kind of assholes and then there was Sean’s inept stalking and crap too.

It’s just really, really nice to be someplace where I have friends.

We end up hugging and talking and there’s Sonya and Kylie and Jasmine and Lucy as well as Peter.

Some lovely looking black girl called Nathalie and who’s very French sounding takes my bags of things that I brought to the party and she invites me in all very formally too.

I accept and she slips off to do whatever she’s going to do with the things I brought with me and all that.

I’ve never been to a party where there’s a hostess at the gate/door.

Sonya is trans like me and so is Jasmine and Kylie is a dapper-les and Lucy’s just Lucy and she’s just a nice person and friends to like everyone.

Peter’s a tran’s guy and he’s like a non-binary one so he’s pretty androgynous but like he’s really nice looking and he’s pretty clean cut too. Short trim haircut and just some pretty basic guy clothes like a nice shirt to go with his jeans and nice shoes unlike Denny who’s very sort of into this local scene and that Denny kind of funk.

I like Peter from online he’s from the north like me, well actually really far north he’s Canadian actually and he came down here to do construction as a volunteer after Katrina and he ended up staying down here and going like professional.

Everyone looks good here and not just my friends. I mean there’s nice dresses and nice clothes and people are done up not for clubbing but like actually going out someplace and it’s really nice to see and even nicer to meet folks.

Oh this is a very alternate people kind of space and I get a drink and I have a what they’re calling an apple crisp which is bourbon with honey and apple liqueur with some spices and a little club soda.

Tastes like summer.

And there’s music playing and that’s just a treat too with a D.J. in the corner but they’re playing local stuff and band music like southern bandstand stuff and I have no idea what any of it is but it’s really nice and pleasant.

I just can’t help but to smile at the sounds and seeing some woman go past wearing one of those flapper hats and a dress that matches and someone else in one of those old Hollywood turban like ladies hats with the big feather and she’s wearing sequins and there’s even a girl with a tiara on.

And then there’s the men in nice clothes and there’s dress pants and suits and an awful lot of dressy vests here and when it’s not the actual men like guys then it’s trans guys and then there’s a few dappers here too.

Dapper is like a sort of lesbian kind of cross dresser but not, very guy styled with short or often funky styled hair and nice dressy guy clothes and very fond of bowties but where a trans guy tries to pass dappers kind of don’t try to they sort of have their own kind of aesthetic like a guy but not.

And it’s not crossdressing really because they’re not trying to pass; it’s a whole other thing. And they’re not dykes.

And I don’t mean dyke in a bad way because I knew a few of them in Philly and they’re a whole different sort of thing. Butch and Dapper are sort of related but not, it’s so kind of odd. Like Butches are kind of like lesbians that are well butch…I mean some folks call them like mannish but I don’t.

I just don’t thing that it needs to be anything but what it is. Butch doesn’t need to be compared to a guy thing.

Anyways it’s that kind of crowd with a few openly gay guys and lesbians and actually a fair amount of couples here and even some straight folks or not so much straight as non-lgbtqai+ folks.

I have never been to such a party and it’s kind of amazing too.

Smoky.

Which seems to be a thing here more than home in a lot of places and I’m not a big smoker either but it doesn’t overly bother me especially since it’s blended into everything else here from the plants to food cooking and there’s everything from weed being smoked, cigars and clove smokes and the smells of people and perfumes and booze and citronella from distant parts of the yard.

I get another drink and this time Lucy convinces me to have an Old fashioned with her and it’s good too.

I look at her. “I’m getting pretty buzzed, I don’t drink a whole lot of hard stuff I mostly have wine and maybe coolers at home.”

She grins at me. “And that’s why we have all the food c’mon.”

Actually the thought of food after a few drinks was really appealing.

We head over to this line of tables where there’s all sorts of things laid out and I see my cheese there added to the board and at least some folks were eating it but there’s so much here and there’s several cooks behind some of those tables doing small servings of things or they’re cooking new batches of things.

The smells are incredible and part of me is sort of thinking about the possible heat since we’re in the south and it’s creole food.

Turns out it’s not really about heat at all.

Lots of flavors and a whole lot of them I can’t really place but pepper, and not like black pepper is a flavor here if it’s not a hot sauce type it’s things cooked with green bells that are almost like the way onions and garlic are used elsewhere.

I mean they use both but there’s this definite thing with the green bell pepper being a staple flavor here and for the red it’s the cayenne pepper but I just thought of that like the whole pepper that burns your mouth off in the jars or tobasco sauce but it’s well…my ideas of that are way uninformed.

There is heat don’t get me wrong but there’s far more spice than heat and I’m just kind of learning the difference as folks are talking about the food even as we’re eating it.

I’m not a really big fan of the fried catfish…it’s kind of well just fish to me, they had crawfish there too and I’m taught how to open them and to pinch the tails and suck on the heads and three of those get me on my first glass of wine as those had heat and spice.

I learn that you eat boudin mostly in small bite servings and that you squeeze the casings and that I adore these little personal serving pots of Jambalaya they have here with rice cooked just almost like risotto but with spices and things I’ve never heard of like salsafee and there’s like cooked veggies in it and something called fee-lay but the rice has this sauce that’s like shellfish stock and like the cream from inside of like crayfish or shrimp it’s rich and there’s bit of things in it too like sausage and chicken or something like it and there’s two big shrimp in the bottom of it and then the rice and all that’s in it and when I was served it there was these three plump butter and hotsauce and other things poached oysters on top of it all delicate and rich too.

And small dishes you just get enough not enough of the oysters but just enough to hit you just right and then the rice with the bits and the veggies and the sauce and the spice and then there’s the shrimp at the bottom that are fire grilled and have the sauce all over them.

I’ve had enough and I’m feeling the burn but not in a bad way and I’m just buzzed enough that I join Lucy and some of the other girls in the dancing and though I started with the girls we all sort of end up dancing with everyone that’s up on their feet.

There’s a lot of partnered dancing here and I’m actually not used to that.

Home you go clubbing and it’s very often for me dancing with the girls and the odd guy but night clubs to me have always been meat-markets and places to get into fights and trouble and they’re not safe.

Even the rainbow clubs aren’t safe between the tranny-chasers and the people looking to hurt you for whatever reason and even the supposed “safe” bullshit from some of the gay guys. Not all of them but a good solid ten percent seem to think that because they’re gay and not attracted to you or any woman that they can call you bitch all the time or hunty (That’s honey crossed with cunt.) or they can actually touch you inappropriately because they’re not into you.

This, this is a whole other thing.

And it’s not club dancing it’s like real dancing which I’m not so good at starting out and all because I’m just so not experienced with it.

People have never been lining up to slow dance with me or actually take me out, like for real that much in my life.

Sex…that’s way more common and it’s also gotten to the point for me that if that’s all they want me for then I can do better by myself because at least I don’t have to deal with all of another person’s drama and crap for a lay.

I just want to be me, gender stuff but life stuff too. I want to date and just have a life and that’s another reason I’m here.

Sure this isn’t dating but it’s a lot more personal and interactive and just fun and the fact I have actual friends here and it’s just nicer here.

This is good, really good.

I’m getting a drink and it’s another Old Fashioned and there’s this guy that is setting up by the D.J. booth and he’s got an electric acoustic and this like really old amp with a wooden casing and everything and he’s really good looking.

Shoulder length dark hair not black but this really deep brown and it’s loose and just really nice to look at and he’s dark complected but I have no idea like why or what his background is but he’s like Hispanic maybe? Clean shaven and nice eyes, they’re hazel and sort of stand out and he’s just in old but nice jeans and a black shirt with a simple tie on that’s not too big and it’s not a clip on.

I don’t know why I’m noticing that so much but there’s something sort of yes about that, and shoes too. Like the kind you might actually get shined and take to get repaired.

There’s two other guys there getting drums and a keyboard set up too and I’m smiling because it’s going to be live music that they’re playing and that’s always a good thing.

He has a drink too on a stool or rather a glass with some ice and a bottle there and he’s sipping at it as he’s tuning and I just can’t help to watch even as I slip over to the food and Sonya introduces me to Grilled oysters on the half shell topped with lemon and garlic butter and lagniappe.

It’s like something else by like definition and this is a sauce made with “crawfish boil” that’s been reduced down with something called “Old Bay” and mayonnaise and sour cream. I guess lagniappe can be lots of things but this sauce just makes this kind of difference between good and decadent.

I’m kinda starting to like decadent.

I have two and I’m good. I like this, the whole grazing go and come back to it thing.

I see this old lady come out in a wheelchair and the hostess I seen before help her up and she stands and raises her hands and everyone quiets down.

I lean over to Sonya. “Who’s that?”

“That’s Carol our hostess.”

She smiles at all of us and she gets a drink from someone.

“I’d like t’thank y’all for coming to ma Mayfair party. I’m not a woman for speeches and all of that nonsense but I’m just all so terribly excited to have another summer with y’all and to get to know some of you that are new here to our beautiful N’Orlens. Well I’m not gonna hold up things any longer and I’ve got a hankering for something now that my weeds kicked in. (We all laugh.) so her’s to y’all and for some safe place t’have a good time!”

She takes the drink and says. “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

People cheer the same and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen that and she must ne seventy or eighty and she has a double of what looks like hard stuff and she tips that drink back and she drains it and she turns to the band and the guy and he starts to play.

It’s some kind of south-rock and I don’t recognize what he’s playing myself abut people start dancing and it’s pretty good sounding and I look at Sonya who’s doing a shot with an oyster in it.

“So safe place?”

“Carol’s old money and she’s a really old out lesbian lady who doesn’t play to Queer politics. You can come here and eat and drink and bring things and dance but no bullshit, no fighting, and you behave, it’s not a club it’s never a club it’s a party so we act like it.”

“Very cool I like it here.”

She nods. “It’s actually kind of a thing it’s even considered cliquey since there’s a banned list about a thousand miles long because there’s folks that just don’t want to behave. A whole bunch of folk just want to party and they end up acting like a-holes or they start stuff and Carol’ll just doesn’t play those games and they’re done.”

I grin. “Banhammer.”

She laughs. “Pretty much, it’s actually pretty great because it’s safe as long as you behave.”

“I’ll behave though…” And I hold up my drink. “I’m drunker than I’ve been in a while.”

She looks at me. “Finish that and we’ll go and dance some of it out of us.”

I grin and we head back out to dance and that just makes me happy. I’ve never danced this much like this either and it’s pretty awesome.

And I’m not sure when it happened but I end up dancing in front of the guy as he’s playing something that I recognize and that’s *Black Magic Woman.* By Santana and he’s singing it and he’s got a nice voice too.

And he’s watching me and damn me if those eyes aren’t just…I love hazel eyes.

My attention does go back and forth between him and who I’m dancing with and that seems to be okay and I’m getting a better feel for this sort of music and moving and I’m sweating a lot too but it’s all good really because so are a lot of other folks and it’s not that bad really because it’s just sort of a sheen like glow of spirits and spice and night time dancing.

I’m learning that there’s some stuff that is just like a thing here.

The guy ends up doing. *Have You Ever Seen The Rain.* By CCR and I like it sort of it’s way outside my generation and my geography but the crowd has like half the people sing along or out when he gets to like that third line where there’s that “I know.”

They sang it out all loudly “I Know!”

And we’re all dancing to that and then it all picks up and a few more folks join in the dancing as he starts playing. *Big Fun on the Bayou.* I have no idea who like did that song but it’s like one of those songs from here that I’ve like only seen on TV and movie soundtracks.

But it’s a hell of a lot of fun to dance to.

And I do some more dancing in front of him as he’s playing and I really don’t do this and he’s nodding at me and smiling this really great big light me up sort of smile while he’s playing and I’m dancing and even doing that handful of dress thing that I’ve never ever done in my life and it’s really fun…really, really fun and by the time the song’s done I’m glowing I think and feeling flushed but in a really good way and Sonya hauls me off to the bathroom with some of the other girls inside the house.

Oh the house…oh me of my oh…

You ever see those old houses that are really fancy and have the wall fixtures and chandeliers and the really stunning wood work and the amazing…well everything that’s Carol’s house and there’s people inside doing things too like talking and sitting in a parlor and I even see a pool table room and there’s another one where folks are playing actual board games.

I’ve played pool as me but the other things I haven’t and not with people like me.

And the parlor bathroom was just remarkable and there were stalls there too. I never see stalls with like fancy house doors on them though.

I do my thing and meet Sonya at the sinks with the great big mirrors. I’m literally getting freshened up when she looks at me.

“Tommy huh?”

“Excuse me?”

“Tommy Miller, the guy playing and singing, you like him?”

I look at her and blush and splash some cool water on my face. “Yeah he’s definitely something.”

She grins taking out her lipstick. “He’s a salt and pepper guy.”

I look at her sort of helplessly. “I don’t know what that is?”

She sings the first part of *What a man.* By Salt ‘N Peppa and I’m laughing.

“Okay that’s the first time I’ve heard that. So you know him?”

She nods. “I go to his place all the time.”

“His place, you two are…?”

“No, no he’s single right now. No Tommy has a shop here in town a sort of bakery meets candy shop.”

“He cooks?”

She laughs. “Sarah honey you’re in the south a whole bunch of men here can cook and do all sorts of things that Yankee boys don’t do.”

I’m blushing because she sooo had another meaning there. “Like what?”

“You should try him and see.”

I look at her. “Personal experience?”

She shakes her head no. “Nope just stories from friends, he’s like a sweet guy and he’s really opened minded.”

“Open enough to date a trans girl?”

She nods. “I think that’s how he came to town actually.”

“With a girl?”

She nods. “From what I know, they were like high school friends and then dated at stuff but they ended up breaking up over something. He’s had a couple of girlfriends and stuff but nothing like that was him getting married or something.”

“You know him pretty well then?”

“His shop’s in my neighborhood and I do like my treats and he has a really nice bunch of regulars that are pretty hot and nice too.”

“So you cruise for dates there?”

Okay Sonya’s the one that blushes. “Tommy’s place is sort of safe too, he doesn’t tolerate assholes and he’ll tell you sort of if a person is okay or not but without like going too far past their confidences with him.”

“Oh…okay that’s cool he sounds like a decent guy.”

She nods. “So are you going to?”

I blush and I put on my make-up. “I might, though that might require another drink.”

She looks at me. “You can handle that?”

I side to side on my feet and I am fairly drunk but not sloppy drunk and I don’t want to get like sloppy drunk. I grin and look at her. “Oh….I have a really good buzz going so maybe a coffee?”

She nods. “My thoughts too.”

She leads me out and to the kitchen and she knocks and some older black fellow in a red chef’s coat opens the door and there’s a lot going on there still and Sonya looks at him. “We were looking for some coffee?”

He grins. “Coffee is bein served in the parlor across from the games rooms ladies can I have some-un show y’all the way there/”

She shakes her head. “No we saw the games on the way in sir.”

He smiles and he gives us this sort of holding the door bow kind of thing. “Thin you ladies have a good night y’hear.”

I nod. “Uhm…thank you and the food is great.”

He smiles this really pleased smile for me and goes back inside and we go looking for the coffee and end up watching a game of Jenga for a while and get a little distracted and then we find the coffee bar and there’s some desserts there too like a whole table of things that just have me and my sweet tooth going hmmm?

I’ve never had a fancy party coffee before and certainly not one from down south.

Chicory and coffee.

I thought that the two were the same thing like chicory was some kind of coffee but it’s not it’s something else apparently that they add to the coffee and it’s all ground freshly there and there’s this really big stainless steel coffee brewer thing that’s actually a really big French press.

Chicory and coffee with hints of vanilla there too and there’s those tea/cup coffee cups with saucers that they dip into really hot water before they serve you so the cup is heated and then if you take cream or milk or whatnot they have this whole way of doing that too.

It’s really hot but bitter and not with like these off sort of different things in there. I’d say coffee but sort of citrus but like not but oaky but not and then there’s that vanilla thing too and the cream changes everything too.

Okay even fancy coffee house coffee could like learn something from this.

And then there’s the sweets.

And as much as I love chocolate it’s not a good thing to have while drinking so I actually go for the beignets and there’s a girl that’s there and she’s frying them up fresh to order like a little station and Sonya and I share some and they hit the final spot.

I’m done, no more food like seriously.

We have another cup of coffee and I’m still feeling it but it’s down to a good level and I head out to look for that Tommy guy and he’s just finishing up playing some song called *Guitar town.* again like I don’t know this music and I head over to him with Sonya coming along at my tug.

“C’mon be my wing-girl.”

I’m kind of happy because he looks like he’s done or taking a break and I’m really nervous at the same time too.

I don’t generally chat people up, I know it’s like twenty-fifteen but there’s just something in being trans and my head and my shyness that I’ve never ever been the one that does the approaching before.

Heart beating pretty fast and with a strong grip on Sonya’s hand I’m going to break that whole thing hopefully here. I mean new starts should mean new things to brave right?

Sonya’s a great ice breaker and she goes over to him and she hugs him. “Tommy! How are you hon?”

He hugs he back and they do that French kissing both cheeks thing and he sets his guitar aside and the two guys with him take the bottle he had and go towards the food.

“I’m good and you?”

Sonya smiles and she does this little shimmy back and forth. “Can’t complain.”

He grins. “No one’d listen.”

She nods and gestures to me. “Tommy this is my friend Sarah.”

He smiles and he offers his hand and I shake it. And he smiles at me in this really sexy kind of smoky way and then there’s those eyes.

He surprises me with. “Sarah…from Philadelphia right?”

I blush. “Oh…yeah, how’d you? Sorry I’ve been drinking and you’re that good looking it’s affecting my English.”

He does this sort of blush thing too. “Wow, you’re funny. Sonya’s mentioned you some while she was in drowning her sorrows…she didn’t mention that you were funny and that you were pretty too.”

I blush, I blush and smile because I think, and I think we’re flirting?

“She never mentioned you at all to me though and she really should have. I would have likely moved here sooner.”

He smiles. “So how are you adjusting, or liking it?”

“I just still sort of got here it’s lovely and warm hearted and hot and humid and sticky and exciting and most importantly it’s not Philly.”

“Hometowns can be rough, but I liked Philly when I was there.”

“Oh why were you there?”

“I was on tour with a band I was a roadie for.”

“You were a roadie? That’s so…weird I mean you don’t look like a roadie.”

“Well I was younger and all back then.” He’s smiling and it’s that friendly sort of looking like he’s having fun look.

I’m smiling too; it’s a smile I don’t really recognize on my face though.

It’s a nice feeling.

He gestures at a spot off to the side of the back courtyard with some wicker chairs and I offer him my hand and he takes it and we don’t hold hands hold hands but he does that hold my hand escort me there and it’s a good thing too because the grass the chairs are on and my shoes become at odds two steps in and he steadies me while I take off my shoes and walk in the grass to the chairs.

That walking on the grass somehow makes it better.

We sit and I look at him. “So what did you like about home?”

“Well I liked the history and stuff the Liberty bell tour was interesting to see and the tour was pretty good but I liked a lot of things that were neat.”

“Like?”

“The cherry trees, they were blooming while I was there once. And I went to an Eagles game with the band and I loved the pretzels there.”

I look at him. “Wow you almost did more things that I did and I lived there.”

He shrugged. “We did stuff for the band and got to go with.”

“What band?”

“Aerosmith.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, one of the crew chiefs was my godfather and I was kind of floundering after high school so he asked me to come along and I went for a year on tour. It got me sort of sorted out.”

“So what’s Steven Tyler and them like?”

“Pretty much don’t know. We met like twice.”

I look at him. “Really?”

He nods. “There’s like an army of guys that are on tour as crew and I was just like one of the younger ones. But it was still a lot of fun and I needed the fun.”

I look at him. “Can I ask from what? Like what happened?”

“Kind of a long story but it was a bad breakup and some drug issues.”

“Drug issues?”

“I broke my leg playing football and I was going to go to college with it and I lost my scholarship because I never bounced back enough and while I was in rehab I was put on Vicodin and well without my scholarship I got dumped by a girl that I thought would love me forever and that kind of made the pills a whole lot easier to take.”

I look at him. “Ouch, are you?”

“Oh clean from all of that it wasn’t the whole addiction thing just bad enough that I was screwing basically everything up around ne in one of those whole angry eighteen year old fits of fuck everything.”

I nod. “Oh I know those. Transition and not being able to do that and feeling trapped comes with a lot of fuck it all.”

He nods and smiles. “One of my first serious girlfriends told me about that and how hard that was.”

I look at him. “Yeah Sonya said you were cool with girls like me, so can I asked what happened between you and….?”

“Amber. Yeah she and I went together for about a year and we were living together and she ended up getting clear of a lot of the debts she had from some old medical bills and she went back to school.”

“Oh and you didn’t go too?”

Tommy shakes his head. “We just couldn’t swing it, between the fact we didn’t have a lot saved up and her going to Atlanta to go to school and the whole relocating and me finding a job thing it wasn’t actually doable and I had a job here and it was just one of those things.”

He shrugs. “We’re still friends though.”

He looks at me. “And you?”

I sigh. “I guess kind of the typical. My family was one of those blue collar types that had everything just like never changing and stuck in like the seventies and eighties or even the fifties. Union and stuff, drinkers and muscle cars and all that really, really bad cliché stuff. I came out and it went over like a razor bladed hurricane and it didn’t stop.”

He looks at me. “Didn’t stop?”

“Mom and Dad totally wrote me off but my asshole brother Sean wouldn’t let it go. When I came out there was a fight and I tasered him and he had wanted to get back at me anyway he could. He couldn’t let it go that a he-she beat him so it was waaay too much and too long of him finding out where I worked or hung out and he’d do stuff like slash my tires or out me.”

“He sounds like an asshole.”

I nod and wipe carefully at my eyes and Tommy passes me a real cloth handkerchief and I take it and use it. “Thanks.”

“No problem, so taser?”

“I’m trans and as much as I really wish that wasn’t like a thing with me and being a woman it is and it’s dangerous. I’d been in some rough spots with people when I was younger and coming out and trying stupid things with stupid people in stupid places and learned the hard way I needed one.”

Tommy nods. “So you left to come here?”

I dab at my eyes some more. “Yeah, I have a good job and things were picking up here for the company again and there was a position open with more money and HR was really good about me transitioning and I applied and got the job. It came with more money and me getting away from Philly.”

He takes a drink of his drink that he’d brought with him. “So will your family show up here?”

I shake my head. “Not a chance, Dad won’t leave Philly hell he barely ever leaves the neighborhood and Mom won’t go anywhere without him unless it’s like her once a year pilgrimage with her sister to Atlantic City and Sean’s like Dad he stays sort of close to home. He wouldn’t come down here to chase me or anything because it’s too far, it’d cost him too much gas, he’s too lazy and he’s scared of black people.”

Tommy says. “There’s lots of black people in Philly.”

I nod. “But not so many in my old neighborhood.”

“Oh so that kind of place?”

“Yeah not racist like skinheads but racist in like the whole old neighborhood kind of way like from weigh back. Sean and Dad are the kind of chuckleheads that thought All-in-the-family and The Jefferson’s were like accurate.”

He shakes his head. “Wow I’m glad you’re out of there.”

I give him a sort of sad smile. “Yeah me too. I mean I miss it all as bad as it was but it completely wasn’t me. I hated it there and I was drowning there but still…”

He slides forward and holds my hand. “You wish things were different.”

“Yeah but I’m not going to think that there’s not folks out there that are just kind of locked in place shitty people. I hate that it was my family but..”

He looks at me with this really sweet, kind and pretty amazing look. “You can’t choose or control your family.”

And then he gives me a little pull and I go with it and he hugs me.

God it’s been like forever that I’ve had a hug like this.

One of those let me make it better hugs.

I sort of lean into it really tentatively. There’s some guys that say they’re okay with me, there’s some people that say they’re good with me and then it comes to like real contact and they’ll stiffen or some little bit of nasty that they have hidden away will float up or a whole bunch of other things.

But nothing, well nothing bad and it’s like really, really nice when he stays there and he lets me adjust and I just get to that point where I can’t help the sigh that comes out from my body.

Life can just tire you out when you’re strong all the time and…or…have to be strong just so you don’t fly apart.

I could do so many things with him right now. It’d be really likely stupid and rushing everything to do them but I want to do them.

Parts of me are feeling this safeness being also very attractive.

And he smells good too.

Yeah he has the scent of the rum I think he was drinking on him but he’s wearing a nice cologne and not too much of it and he smells like clean skin guy sweat and a little of Irish spring soap and his clothes carry this hint of sweet things, like chocolate?

(Sigh.) “Thanks Tommy, this is really nice.”

“You look like you needed it.”

“I did, good call.”

“I try, besides I like you and this hopefully is a good way to show you that I’m interested.”

I chuckle-laugh. “I like you too and you’re funny too. I like funny in a guy.”

“Yay-me.”

“Definitely, you’re really very yay for me right now.”

He hugs me a little tighter and I can feel him, that other very guy part of him now and that’s actually nice…sort of.

I pull back enough to look at him. “You’ve never asked me.”

He blinks a minute and he shakes his head No. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Really?”

“Nope, honestly it doesn’t I like you Sarah and that’s not really a factor in me liking you.”

“That’s really, really very nice to hear. It’s almost scary nice actually.”

He looks at me and he searches my eyes and I’m so falling into that whole sea of forest greens and browns and a little almost gold too. I have no idea what he’s looking for either since honestly I’ve never ever felt deep as a person or anything.

It’s kind of sad when your brain default is to not think you have anything to offer.

“You don’t have to be scared Sarah, we just met.”

“Okay and that’s stopped people from doing things all wrong before like when? Honestly Tommy I’m not that strong and you’re really, really nice and it’s been a long time since I was like familiar with nice.”

“Since it’s not what I want either. I like you Sarah and heck yeah you’re definitely attracting me but I’ve been there too and I think that I’m in the same place. I want more.”

I nod. “More real life, more of the not so sexy stuff.”

He shrugs while still holding me. “I don’t know to me slow and romantic is pretty sexy.”

“There’s lot of women that would want that with you I think.”

“No as many as you think.”

“Really?”

He gives me this sad smile too. “There’s a lot that just want the fun, then there’s a lot that are already hooked up and then there’s the fact that some just won’t and can’t handle the hours I have.”

I shake my head. “I don’t mind that, your shop?”

He nods. “It’s still pretty new and it takes a lot of work to make it here.”

“I get that it’s important to you.”

I do too, I mean there’s a point if I really had some kind of skills or whatever that I could run my own business I’d really think about it. I mean there’s something just about being your own boss that’s always attractive and having an actual dream it’s actually pretty cool he’s going for it.

What I don’t get are the people who get into a relationship with someone who’s doing that and don’t get what that all entails, what they have to do.

He sort of smiles and it’s a shy smile but kind of proud too and that says stuff I like a guy that doesn’t brag about all their accomplishments. I love someone that does actually do stuff but I’m not interested in dating a list of look-at-me’s I’m specials.

“It’s something I love; I built it right up and out of Katrina.”

“It’s a big deal and it should be.”

He shrug-blushes some. “It’s been a big rock in the whole relationship thing.”

I nod. “I’d like to see it sometime.”

He looks at me. “Can I make you breakfast then?”

I look at him. “Aren’t you moving fast now all of a sudden there bucko?”

He grin-blushes. “No, not like that I have to go soon and be there in a few hours to start things for the morning crowd.”

“You have a morning crowd?”

“It’s a bakery and sweets shop, I have pastry to make.” He’s blushing and it’s cute.

I touch his cheek. “You’ve never actually said that out loud before have you?”

He’s really cute like this and I like this, still sort of hugging or holding and we’ve actually sort of leaned back and shifted and we’ve been sharing the same wicker chair for a while now.

“Nope, you’re the first.”

I grin at him. “Hi my name’s Tommy and I’m a pastry chef.”

He laughs. “Hey that’s not too far from being true y’know. This is N’Orleans if there’s any town that might need a Pastries Anonymous it’s this town.”

We’re both laughing and I look at Tommy. “Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes, you can cook me breakfast.”

He looks at his watch. “You want to go now?”

“Do you need to go?”

“Well if I want to do both things.”

I look at him and this is exciting and it’s nice and it’s something I’ve never done before and with someone I’ve just met.

But there’s something there, there just is…chemistry, connection, Indian-ink.

Something good.

And like Tommy said… I want more.

I get up and straighten my dress and he’s still sitting and yes that was on purpose and he’s staying seated because I think he has to as he watches me go and that’s.

Well Yay me for doing that to him. I’m not going to deny they girl inside my brain isn’t doing a victory pole dance over that and then there’s this whole thing that he’s watching me go.

No one’s really just watched me do anything.

And that feels good too.

I go and find my things and I look for Denny and Al and find them inside at the coffee and dessert place sharing a love seat and a slice of what looks like chocolate pie.

“Hey guys, I’m going to head out.”

Al looks at me. “You want money for to help pay for the cab?”

“Uhm…I’m not paying for a cab. I have a drive and I’m not going home.”

Denny gets up and he hugs me. “Good for you, you got our numbers?”

“Yep they’re in my phone.”

“Is it charged?”

“Yeah I left it in my bag; I never used it all night.” Denny looks at me eyebrows raised like Oh really?

I smile. “I met a nice guy, his name is Tommy Miller.”

Al grins. “Have fun then, Tommy’s a nice man, you could use a nice man in your life.”

Denny’s nodding while wearing this huge grin and I’m blushing and whack Denny a little. “It’s not like that; it’s not a hook up.”

Denny’s like. “Not that you’d say no.”

I blush. “No…and it’s not like he’d do it either he’d not that guy. We talked about it, hell we talked a lot and…” I look at the clock and Tommy and I literally talked for a long time really. Well not long but in the scheme of dating a long time actually.

I smile because that’s really cool, I mean it just happened and I didn’t notice it happening but it happened.

And I want more.

“We’re going to his place because he has work to do and he’s offering to show me and make me breakfast.”

They both look at me and I walk backwards. “Not like that you two and I’d so be giving you the finger if this wasn’t Carol’s house.”

I head out and meet up with Tommy who has his things and he’s talking with Carol and she smiles at me and I smile back and I offer her my hand. “Thank you so much for the lovely night Carol it was one of the best times I’ve ever had.”

She laughs… oh she’s a well-lit old bird right now. “Good, good it’s one of the things I do all o’this for honey, I get to see people meet and laugh and dance and love and if I can make a place for you young ones t’do that then it’s time an money well spent.”

She pulls me down into a cheek double kiss and I give it back and smile. “I hope that I will see you soon.”

She grins and she passes me a card. “For the next gathering in June hon, here’s your invite.”

I take it and smile and I tuck the card into my purse and look at Tommy who smiles and goes on ahead and he holds the gate open for me.

That’s really nice and we walk until we find his car and it’s just so him. An old Studebaker and I’ve no idea what kind but it’s the kind with the wooden exterior decoration to it and a shiny navy blue paint job.

He warms up the car and loads things up and then he’s ready.

We end up actually close to the French quarter but not in it sort of in between there and the warehouse district and not too far from the river but not on it either and it’s an older brick building that’s three floors high and it’s been repaired for certain and the sign in those old fashioned letter says on the big window.

“Unearthly Delights…. The world’s hard enough let us take you away for a little while.”

Tommy opens the doors and he turns on the lights over the counter and it’s nice. The counter is a bar like an alcohol bar and one of those old long wooden ones. There’s a big chalk order board behind him and a back bar of things that look closer to a malt shoppe or an ice cream bar. There’s a few tables and there’s a few display cases for things that acts as storage for things too to sell and a big wall of candies and jars and lots of old style things.

“Now I see where Sonya was drowning her sorrows.”

He nods. “I serve a mean hot chocolate.”

“I’ll have to try one.”

“That I can do.” He opens that folding part of the bar and invites me in back and we end up going out back to this fairly big stainless steel kitchen and it’s mostly baking stuff but he does have a flat top and other things.

“That’s different?”

He smiles. “I make a mean grilled cheese here as well as a few other things.”

He goes to a fridge and takes out some eggs. “Omelette?”

“Sure.”

He starts and it’s just him doin a pinch of this and that and then there’s the eggs and the cream that he’s using and he uses a pan and butter and my brain does this lazy happy hum at that smell, you know the one…melting butter.

And he takes out this dough from what’s definitely a dough fridge and he cuts it and shapes it into like triangles and butterflied it and stuffed it with chocolate and turned on one of those working kitchen ovens that’s all whoosh sounding.

I’m looking around, I’m watching and he’s sharing smiles and looks and we talk.

About my house and how it’s coming along.

About his apartment and how he lives upstairs.

Where he got his car.

My favorite food….that’s actually spaghetti.

He like’s spaghetti too.

He’s making hot chocolate and I’ve never seen anyone make chocolate sauce in a bowl over hot water and steam but her does and there’s lots of cream and things and I’ve never seen anyone use one of those whipper stick blender things to move the milk that he’s heating as he poured the ganache into it.

It’s absolutely new and cool and different and it tastes…it is so rich and hot and light.

And he did this all along the same time as the omelette and he made chocolate croissants and takes it all out front to one of the tables and waits on me.

There’s enough for two.

He’s about to sit and I stop him and I pull him down to me by his shirt and he goes with it and I step really out of my box and I kiss him and he kisses me back.

It’s our first kiss….and the sun’s coming up over the river and it’s just us and it’s like all sort of perfect.

I want more…really, really I do, not just the kiss but all of this, I want more.

"Thank you, this is perfect, I needed this."



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