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Holiday LGBTQ+ Romance

“Two percent battery. Perfect…” Jess grumbled. The girl standing in her periphery turned toward her, “Do you want to use my phone?” The girl held out a rose gold encased iPhone. Jess was momentarily mesmerized by the jeweled charms swinging at its side. “Hello?” the girl laughed. Jess cleared her throat, “Oh wow. I mean sure. I mean, are you sure?” 

“Yeah, it's cool. I doubt you would steal it. I’ve seen you in here before…with that guy…the minister guy?” 

“Yeah, that would be my stepdad…” Jess returned with a sigh, while tapping the screen of the glittery device. She pivoted away and said with a hushed annoyance, “They don’t even have enough sugar for all of the cookies you want to make. I think it’s so ridiculous we are doing that many cookies by ourselves. Isn’t the point of a

cookie exchange that other people make some too?” Jess jumped feeling the touch

of a hand on her arm. The girl was beaming at her side as she excitedly said

something that ended up being cut off by her own mother’s remarks still coming

from phone. “Mom, I’ll figure it out. Okay? See you soon.” She handed the phone

back over, “Now, what were you saying? Sorry my mom is …whatever…”

“Oh! I was just telling you that you can cut in brown sugar…there’s plenty of it here…probably because most people don’t know that.” 

“Wow. So…you basically just saved the day twice…” Jess dropped several bundles of brown sugar into her cart. 

“I might be able to save you again. I’m not doing anything tonight. If you want, I could help with the baking.” 

Jess stared at the girl. Was this a joke? Who was she? Was she crazy? Great. She was probably crazy. “Oh no. Ha. I appreciate it. You’re…You’re…” Jess found herself gazing at the girl. She was actually really pretty, and probably the same age as her. “Um…” 

“Kate. What on earth is taking you so long? I sent you in for two bottles of wine…how difficult can it be to find some cheap wine in a cheap little…oh…oh hello…I’m Jeremiah…and you are?” Jessica did a once over at the stylish pair and made a quick determination, “…Just getting what I came for and getting out of here. Thanks again!” Her intentions of a quick escape were foiled by the foot of a gigantic inflatable snowman that was framing the end of the aisle. She caught herself by clutching the outstretched hand of her attractive

new friend. 

“Saved you again! Ha! And seriously, I am a fantastic baker…aren’t I, Jer? Anyway, we aren’t doing anything…let's go… with …what’s your name?”


“Jessica! Let’s go with Jessica and rescue her…and her baking.” Kate flashed the same smile she seemed to enjoy punctuating all of her sentences with.

“Um. Yeah? I mean, yeah! Sure, why not? Ha, ha. Come on over.”

From behind her in line she could hear Kate whisper to her companion, “…the town minister’s daughter!” to which he replied something about definitely needing wine for this, and he disappeared. 

Jessica’s parent’s home was just on the other side of the town center, right on the opposite side of the church. She wistfully watched Kate and Jeremiah sauntering arm in arm up the walkway, nudging each other and laughing. She sighed deeply, “I’m a glutton for punishment. I swear.” 

“Jessica! Thank God you’re here. I have to run over to Ms. Schenkum’s and check on her. She text me that she’s fallen, and she can’t get up…”

“Is that a joke?” Jessica quipped, to the tune of her guests snickering. 

“No, Jessica. It’s quite serious. She’s all alone.”

“Right, well it sounds like a job for 911 not a minister’s wife…just saying…”

“Jessica. Your sarcasm knows no bounds. Anyway, my first batch is in the oven. Check on them in 10 and I’ll be in touch. Oh! You have friends with you. Hi, friends. There’s plenty of cookie baking and hot cocoa to go around. See you soon. Jessica, no bourbon in the cocoa, it’s for the Bourbon Balls.” She slammed the door behind her. 

“So!” Kate cut the awkward silence, “Let’s see what we’ve got to work with…”

“Make yourself at home…” Jessica responded, watching Kate fling open every cabinet and pantry door. She had managed to have one bottle of wine open already. Kate waved her free hand over the display of product-lined shelves in front of her. “This …should all be redone sometime…but aside from that, I see a lot of hidden gems here." She plunked down a jar of molasses and tossed a produce bag containing fresh ginger

to Jeremiah. “Mama likes her ginger ground to dust, so get busy.” 

“So, Jeremiah, you’re proficient around the kitchen as well?” Jessica angled.

Jeremiah not bothering to look up, threw back the last of his second glass of wine, and concentrated on chopping. “Yeah well, when your sister is deemed the queen of the kitchen at age 12 by all of America and the UK, you learn to get in line.”

“Oh!” Jessica threw her head back and laughed.

“It wasn’t that funny Jessica. She had quite the ego for a tween.”

“Oh, no I just…I don’t know I…like…thought you guys were…maybe together or whatever…”

The siblings laughed in unison, causing Jessica to shake her head wondering how she didn’t see it before. They didn’t just have the same style. They looked completely


“It gets better, “Kate giggled, pouring herself a shallow glass of bourbon, “Oh, I’m just tasting the tiniest bit, to you know, sample the ingredients.” 

Jeremiah yanked the bottle away from her, “Don’t let her charm her way into everything by the way. Yeah, so we are twins, and we are both gay.”

Kate peered sideways at Jeremiah. Jessica watching him shrug and shake his head at her mouthing, “What?”

“Me too.” Jessica blurted.

“You have a twin?” Kate narrowed her eyes at her brother then quickly forced a smile at Jessica.

“No. Me too, I’m gay.”

Jeremiah clapped his hands over his mouth, “I knew it!”

Kate and Jessica both turned in opposite directions from one another leaving Jeremiah to celebrate his foreknowledge, “Kate wasn’t sure… I mean she

was hoping, and I was like, trust….”

“Jer! Shut up!” 

The girls blushed and smiled softly at one another. Jessica’s mother

burst through the back door letting in a gust of cold air. “Well, your dad is

going to stay with her until her daughter can drive down. She’s alright. She

fell, but not badly. Anyway, kids, how’s it going in here?” The three were

suddenly quiet and each in their own corner of the kitchen. Jessica’s mother

spied the opened bottles of wine and bourbon. “Well, from the looks of it I’d

say it’s going either very well or not at all.”

Kate turned to Jessica’s mother, “Alright. Taste?" she held out a spoon of the Gingersnap Cookie batter.

“Oh, no dear, that has raw eggs I don’t think…”

Kate had already moved on, turning around and almost knocking into Jessica whose eyes instantly became wide. “Taste!” Kate insisted and when Jessica opened her mouth to respond she found a spoon entering it. Kate leaned forward and tipped the

spoon slightly upward and smiled softly, “Please taste it…”

Jessica’s cheeks flushed as she obediently moved her mouth around the sweet and savory dough. Her eyes widened further as the flavors hit her tongue and she moved her mouth around to sense the texture. It was perfect. She wanted to say it, but her

mouth was full, and she could feel her mother staring at her. “Jess, do you

feel alright? Your face is so flushed…is it that bad or that good?” Kate turned

to hide her smirk.

 “It’s that good. For sure,” Jeremiah threw in as he took another sip of wine. “Now, Mrs. Jessica’s mother, where is your peppermint extract? These double chocolate chip cookies are asking to go next level.” 

“Jer, I’m so proud of you!" Kate exclaimed.

Jessica’s mother stood back taking in the scene before her for

a moment, “Jess. I think. Yeah. Why don’t you come to the garage with me for a

second. These two look like they can hold it down in here. We have some

additional pantry items in the garage. We will be right back.”

Jessica felt herself pulled and into the garage they went. Jessica’s mother turned on the radio by the door. “Really mom? Is that necessary? What? What. What? God, don’t

be weird about the baking, they just wanted to help and they really...”

“Jessica Carmella Rose.”

She could see her mother didn’t want to talk about baking. 

“I’m so glad you turned on the radio before you decided to announce my whole given name.” Jessica had busied herself by pretending to be looking for something at the far end of the garage. 

“Jess. Look at me. Who are those two? I’ve never seen them before.”

“You mean 'Who is the girl?' You’ve never seen most of the people that we have over for dinner most nights. I just met them.”

“You just met them? Where? On the streets?”

“On the streets? Are you serious? And what if I had? Anyway, no. The grocery store.”

“So now you’re picking people up at the grocery store?”

“Picking people up? What am I, a gigolo from the 70’s? Picking people up…”

“Jessica. Listen. You know that your father and I support you and your lifestyle choices…” Jessica turned and in two strides was in front of her mother. “First of all, he is a great guy, salt of the earth, but he’s not my father. Also, I know that it has been a lot to process…my coming out to you guys, and the holidays have been stressful. I know you’re trying to wrap your head around this. But embodying my sexuality and not being straight does not mean I’m caught up in this world of hyper-sexuality or

whatever you guys seem to think. I literally just met them. Kate was some kind of child prodigy baker, we met talking about your cookies and she is here to help me bake them…because there’s a lot of them to bake and not a lot of people to do it. If you’re asking me if I’m attracted to her, yes. I find her very attractive, and I am pretty sure it’s mutual. But no, we aren’t here to booze it up and get freaky we just…” 

“Jessica!” The deep male voice startled her.

In the midst of her ranting to her mother, having turned her back on the door, she had missed the sight of the door reopening and the people who had piled through it. There standing on the steps were Kate, Jeremiah, her stepfather, and Ms. Schenkum. “Jessica…” her stepfather tried again in the newly laid silence, “Ms. Schenkum is feeling much better and while she is waiting for her daughter to drive down from Chicago, we thought she could come here and bake with us.”

“Which sounds like a divine appointment, “Ms. Schenkum added, “As I’ve heard there are so many cookies to bake and so few of you.”

Jessica blushed again, this time with embarrassment. Everyone began filing back into the kitchen. Ms. Schenkum walked beside Jessica and took her hand. “You know. I’ve known you since you were just a little girl. We are like family. We ARE family.” She took hold of the bourbon in both of her frail hands. Jessica pushed a mug of freshly

poured cocoa closer to the nodding lip of the bottle. “Oh no, dear. I was just going to measure out the bourbon for my balls.” Everyone laughed heartily, relieved to have the tension cut. “Anyway. I won’t say I already knew, but I had an idea you might have been a woman who would grow up to be attracted to other women. When your parents…er mother and stepfather…told me, you came out to them around Thanksgiving, I told them that as well. I also told them, I admired

your courage and their support. I’m 90 years old, Jessica. I was attracted to

both men and women most of my adult life and…well never told a soul until I’m

telling all of you now.” There was a gasp, a sigh, and lots of empathetic nodding. “That’s no way to live. Not being able to be who you are would be very painful and a detriment to your wellbeing. Not only to you, but look…the way this Katie girl is looking at you…she would never have had the chance to do that or know you the way she might get the chance to. Oh my. Maybe I will have a little bourbon in my cocoa after all. That was quite a thing to say in front of strangers.” 

Everyone shared a smile and slowly began to pick up items with the intention of getting back to work while letting the broad weight of the conversation settle into the peace and warmth that been ushered in. Jessica took Ms. Schenkum’s soft velvety hand and gave it a squeeze. She gently clinked her mug of cocoa against the one set out for the old woman. “Thank you, Ms. Schenkum. This cocoa is in celebration of your coming out, to your family, tonight.” Lillian Schenkum smiled broadly, and her eyes filled with tears as she sipped her cocoa. She placed the ceramic mug down carefully while looking over the smiling faces looking back at her. 

She had fallen earlier. She had been so terrified and had never felt so alone. Now she felt more connected than she had in over 60 years. “Thank you, dears, for everything. So many divine appointments tonight.”

“So many things rescued…”

Kate added as her eyes met Jessica’s.


December 05, 2020 03:13

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1 comment

Karin Venables
22:19 Dec 16, 2020

What a wonderful story. Great dialogue and a wonderful example of the misunderstanding some parents have about certain expressions of sexuality. It doesn't matter who or how you love, just love. I wish more people would get that message straight.


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