Rhapsody Chapter 2

(Note:  The text that appears below is a pre-release preview which is taken from a version of the manuscript prior to final proof reading and formatting.  As such, it may contain minor errors or typos which will be corrected in the final version of the novel.)

Chapter 2

MEGAN STARED AT HER shopping cart for a minute, trying to decide if she should go back and add some more clamps to it. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d run out of clamps in the shop, but every time she placed an order, she always considered buying a couple dozen, just to be safe. This time, she decided against it, mostly because she didn’t have anywhere to put them when she wasn’t using them and clicked the button to submit her order. A moment later, she got an email telling her that she’d receive 30 cases of glue, enough naphtha to burn the world down, and a bunch of other assorted cleaners and solvents on Wednesday of next week.

She pulled up her to-do list and made a note to call the lumber yard first thing Monday and see if they had any good slabs of spalted maple. She hated the stuff, personally, but customers loved it, so she always kept a few guitars with spalted maple tops in stock. The last one had sold that afternoon, so she needed to have Sasha make up a few more. She didn’t quite trust Robyn’s woodworking skills with it yet. It wasn’t that Robyn wasn’t good, she’d probably be better than Sasha someday, it was just that she hadn’t really learned that sometimes you had to slow down and listen to the material you were working with. That was a lesson it had taken Megan years to learn, and Robyn was still new to the woodshop.

“Hey, boss…”

Megan looked up to see Sasha standing in the door to her office.

“You need something?”

Sasha shook her head. “No. We’re all closed up and ready to call it a night. Robyn and I were headed over to Dalloway’s, and I figured we’d see if you wanted to join us.”

“No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. I know you spent all of last weekend working on that guitar your dad asked you to fix, and the weekend before that you were finishing up that bass for vampire Barbie-”


Sasha gave her a knowing smirk, and Megan just glared back. It wasn’t her fault she had a weakness for Goth girls.

“That’s what I said.”

“You do remember I sign your paychecks, right?”

“Which is why I’m asking you to come to Dalloway’s with is. You’re no use to me if you work yourself into an early grave.”

“You say that like I have no life.”

“You’re 36 and you spend most of your time hanging out with your dad.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“I’m just telling it like it is. Come on, come have a drink with us.”

“Fine,” Megan said. “Just give me five minutes to finish up here.”

“Not one second longer.”

Sun City had three lesbian bars. Girl Bar in Bywater, The Violet Orchid in Bay View, and Dalloway’s. Dalloway’s wasn’t the biggest. Girl Bar was almost twice the size. It also wasn’t the classiest. That honor went to The Violet Orchid, which mostly catered to rich, closeted women and provided an air of plausible deniability by avoiding anything that might give away the fact that it was a lesbian bar to any straight people who wandered in. Dalloway’s, on the other hand, was deep in the ’Gayborhood’. A section of town that was mostly queer, or at the very least, queer friendly.

Megan had always liked Dalloway’s better than Girl Bar and The Violet Orchid. If felt comfortable, even homey. The interior had an English Pub theme. She was never sure how the designer had made the dance floor fit in with that, but somehow, it worked, and the people who frequented the place loved it.

Megan used to be one of those people, but at some point, she’d kind of lost her enthusiasm for the place. She was never really uncomfortable there, and she usually enjoyed it when she did go, but the frequency of her visits had just tapered off to the point where she honestly couldn’t remember the last time she’d visited the place.

“Table or a booth?” Sasha asked as Megan looked around the place.

“Table,” Megan said. It would make it easier for her to leave if she didn’t have to climb over someone to get away. Not that she was planning on running out on Sasha and Robyn, but she also wasn’t planning on staying all night, either.

Sasha nodded and led the way to an empty table halfway between the bar and the dance floor. It was a good spot. Far enough from the bar that they weren’t likely to get crowded by people waiting for drinks, far enough from the dance floor that they could still hear themselves think. Megan took a seat across from Sasha while Robyn sat to her left. They’d barely sat down when a waitress appeared by the table. One Megan didn’t recognize, not that that meant much these days.

“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.

“Guiness,” Sasha said, before Robyn piped up with her order.


“Cream Soda.”

“This all together?”

“Yeah,” Megan said, reaching into her purse. “First rounds on me. Chips and Salsa?”

Sasha and Robyn both nodded, and the waitress added that to their order, then held out her tablet. Megan tapped her credit card to the screen.

“And it looks like your email address is already in the system. Should I just email you a receipt, or you want me to print one?”

“Email’s fine.”

The waitress nodded and headed towards the bar to get their order.

“I thought you were drinking with us,” Robyn said.

“I am.”


“Leave it,” Sasha said, cutting off whatever Robyn was going to say.

“I can’t drink alcohol,” Megan said. “One of my meds.”

Robyn at least had the grace to look sheepish at that.

“You shouldn’t make a big deal out of someone not drinking,” Sasha said. “Especially not with family.”

“With family?”

“She means with other queer people,” Megan said. “A lot of us are on anti-depressants or other psych meds, and some of us don’t drink because they don’t know how to stop once they get started.”

“Oh.” Robyn looked down, a slight blush in her cheeks. “Sorry.”

Megan stared at her for a moment, wondering what it would be like to have not realized you were queer until you were almost thirty. She wasn’t sure how Robyn had ever passed for straight, but then, religion was a hell of a drug, and Robyn had been raised Mormon.

Megan shrugged. “It’s fine. You’re still learning.”

“Yeah. I hear that a lot.”

Megan and Sasha both grinned at that, and Robyn grinned back at them. It was true. Megan had hired Robyn to run the CNC machines. She’s honestly been surprised when the girl had started picking up on the other parts of the business, but even after two years, Robyn was still a relative newbie compared to Megan and Sasha.

The waitress appeared with their drinks, setting a glass of Guiness in front of Sasha, and bottles in front of Robyn and Megan, then putting the basket of chips in the middle of the table.

“Just wave if you want another round.

“Will do.” Megan waited as the waitress disappeared out of ear shot, before turning to Sasha. “So, what prompted the intervention?”

Sasha rolled her eyes. “It’s not an intervention.”

“My dad put you up to it, didn’t he?”

Sasha looked away, which was a dead giveaway that her dad had in fact asked Sasha to invite her along.

“He worries about you.”

“I know.”

“I think it’s nice, the way he supports you.”

Megan looked over at Robyn and suddenly felt a bit guilty. The girl’s entire family had disowned her when she came out, and Megan had caught Robyn looking at her parents wistfully more than once. Megan knew she’d hit the jackpot when it came to parents as far as most queer kids were concerned, and she loved them both, but sometimes as grateful as she was for it, having her dad in the shop could be a bit much.

“It is,” Megan said. “And I know he means well, but sometimes, I just wish he’d remember that I’m not a little girl anymore.”

“Never gonna happen,” Sasha said. “That man worries about you the way a dragon worries about gold.”

“He’s not that bad,” Megan said. “He’s just…”

“What?” Sasha asked.

“he wanted to set me up on another date.”

“Oh, God.”

“Why is that bad?” Robyn asked.

“Were you not listening during the multiple hours she spent bitching about the last one?”

“Maybe the next one will be better,” Robyn said.

“Maybe I’ll ask him to set you up on a date,” Megan replied.

“He did seem more worried about you than usual today,”

“Probably afraid the mob is going to rub me out because I won’t sell the shop.”

Sasha shook her head. “No. Before that. It started right after lunch”

“Oh. Yeah, that tracks. There was a news story about that lady that owns the jewelry store a couple blocks over.”

“What about her?” Sasha asked.

“I may have mentioned that I used to see her in the Elephant Tea Company a few times a week.”

“Wait, she’s British Chick”

Robyn looked back and forth between them. “British Chick?”

“Yeah, you remember. The… wait… Were you… You were working there when British Chick happened. It was before she met Bitchface.”

“She wasn’t there that week,” Megan said. “It was the first day of that two-week electronics class I sent her too.”

“OH!” Delight spread across Sasha’s face. “I can’t believe I didn’t tell you the story when you came back.”

“By that point, you were too busy mooning over that pink haired lady who kept coming in and looking at that denim micarta Telecaster you built.”

Robyn laughed at Sasha’s face turned bright red.

“I was not mooning!”

“She can’t help it if she’s got a thing for older women.” Robyn didn’t even try to keep the mirth out of her face. Megan could hardly blame her. Sasha was usually cool as a cucumber, but every time the pink haired woman had come into the shop dressed in leather pants, a sleeveless biker jacket, and a tank top, Sasha had started gibbering like a little baby dyke with her first crush. It didn’t seem to matter that the woman had a good twenty years on Sasha, and honestly, Megan got it. She was hot, she played a wicked guitar, and she oozed a level of ‘I don’t give a fuck’ Megan could only aspire to. She thought it was sexy as hell, but to poor Sasha, who had a thing for punk girls and a thing for older women, it was like catnip.

“I remember the day she brought her wife in with her. I thought Sasha was going to cry.”

Megan smiled. “I thought she was going to ask for a three way.”

“I considered it, but don’t think you’re getting out of me telling Robyn about British Chick that easily.”

“Go ahead,” Megan said. “At least I can still talk when I notice a hot lady.”

“All you could do is talk.” Sasha turned back to Robyn. “She must have gone on for a good three hours about how sexy British Chick’s accent was.”

“I did not.”

“You did. You totally did. Even your dad was embarrassed for you.”

Megan flipped Sasha the bird, which made Robyn laugh.

“Sounds like someone is having a good time.”

Megan turned toward the new voice and smiled when she saw Chloe standing beside the table.

“Hey Chloe.”

“Hey, yourself. Long time, no see.”

Megan shrugged. “Been busy.”

“Mind if I sit?”

Megan nodded towards the empty chair across from Robyn, and Chloe dropped into it.

“You remember Sasha.”

“I do,” Chloe said, giving her an appreciative once over.

“And I can’t remember if you’ve met Robyn before.”

“I have,” Chloe said. “She came in with you the day Bitchface moved out.”

“Well, that would certainly explain why I couldn’t remember,” Megan said.

“As breakups go, it was one of the more spectacular ones I’ve seen,” Chloe said.

“Oh, dear god. That is depressing. Having a breakup rate on the Chloe drama meter is just embarrassing.”

“It’s not your fault, love. There’s a reason everyone calls that woman Bitchface.”

Megan smiled and reached for her drink. A small part of her always felt a little guilty at the nickname her friends had given her ex, after all, she was hardly guiltless when it came to their disaster of a relationship, but a larger part of her couldn’t help but feel a little warm inside at the way all of them had rallied around her during one of the roughest spots she’d had since she escaped high school.

“So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” Chloe asked.

“My dad. He was worried about me, so he roped Sasha and Robyn into dragging me out for a girl’s night.”

“Remind me to send your dad a thank you note,” Chloe said, her tone dripping with innuendo.

“You, ah… want some privacy Boss?” Sasha asked.

Megan looked at Chloe for a moment, thinking it over. Before Traci had come along, Megan wouldn’t have given it much thought. She’d have already been out the door, headed back to Chloe’s apartment. The two of them had been a pretty regular thing. Nice and simple, with no strings attached. She knew, if nothing else, she’d have a good time. She always did. But for some reason, she found herself shaking her head.

“No, thanks.” She could see the disappointment on Chloe’s face, and she felt bad about it, but she just wasn’t interested in what Chloe was offering that night. “Sorry.”

Chloe smiled and shrugged. “It’s okay, love. Though I gotta say, I miss you a bit.”

“Same,” Megan said. “I’m just… not ready yet.”

Chloe frowned. “You’re not still hung up on that bitch, are you?”

Megan shuddered and shook her head. “God, no. Eww. I honestly still have no idea what I was thinking when I started dating her.”

“Knowing you, it was probably something along the lines of ‘Oh, big titties!’,” Sasha said.

Megan glared, while Chloe and Robyn both laughed.r

“They weren’t that big,” Megan grumbled.

“Well, they definitely weren’t big enough to make up for all the crap that came with them,” Chloe said. “But I will let you ladies get back to your girls night.”

“You don’t have to go.”

“But I should.” Chloe crossed her hands over her chest. “You broke my heart, and I need to find someone to sooth away the pain of your rejection.”

Megan reached up and slapped Chloe’s bicep with the back of her hand. “Stop it.”

Chloe puckered her lips and made a kissing motion at her. “Make me.” She stood up. “Ladies.”

Sasha and Robyn both raised their beers in acknowledgement, then Chloe turned and walked away. As soon as she was out of earshot, Robyn turned to Megan.

“I can’t believe you turned her down.”

Megan started and Robyn for a moment, then turned and looked at Chloe, where she was standing at the bar, ordering a drink. She turned back to Robyn and smiled.

“Go for it.”

Robyn’s eyes got as big as saucers. “What?”

“Go for it.”

“But… I mean, she wanted you, not me.”

Megan sighed and shook her head. “Robyn, if you like her, go talk to her. Just… don’t expect more from her than she can give you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Chloe doesn’t really do relationships. Honestly, that’s why she was after me. I was the same way, and she probably figured after the way Traci burned me, I’d be even less inclined to catch feelings than I was before. As long as you’re okay with casual,” she waved towards Chloe, “go. Have fun.”

Robyn stared at her for a moment, before turning and looking at Chloe. Megan could practically see the fight going on inside Robyn. The religious part of her that was probably still screaming about sex outside of marriage being a sin waring with the part of her that looked at a pair of tits the way a starving animal looked at its next meal. She saw the exact moment ‘gay and horny’ beat ‘afraid and ashamed’ into submission. Robyn straightened up in her seat, squared her shoulders, and pushed back from the table, before standing up, and picking up her drink.

“Wish me luck.”

Megan nodded. “Good luck.”

Sasha tapped a pair of fingers to her forehead in a mock salute. “Go get her, tiger.”

Megan didn’t think Robyn heard either of them. She hesitated for a moment, then headed for the bar.

“Think she’ll get lucky?” Sasha asked.

“Unless she gets so nervous she passes out.”

“Think she’ll get her heart broken?”

“I hope not. I mean, I told her up front what to expect, but I don’t know if she’s a no strings attached kind of girl. On the other hand, a little heartbreak might be good for her.”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t seem to be doing you any good.”

Megan turned back to Sasha. “Heartbreak isn’t the problem.”

“Then what is?”

“I don’t know. I’m not pining for Traci or anything stupid like that.”

“Good, because honestly, I didn’t like who you were when you were with her.”

“Neither did I.”

“Why did you stay with her so long?”

“You mean, why did I ever start dating someone who was such a self-absorbed bitch?”

“That too.”

“Honestly, I didn’t think anyone else would have me.”

“Um, hello?” Sasha pointed at Chloe, who was currently looking at Robyn as if she were trying to decide which part to eat first. Megan rolled her eyes.

“Chloe will fuck me. There’s a difference. Traci seemed interested in something that would last, which is something I wanted, and I dated her because, like I said, I didn’t think anyone else would have me.”

“Why on earth would you think that?”

Megan shrugged, and reached for her drink, hoping to give herself time to figure out how to change the subject.

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