Lizzie got off the bus and hurried toward home through the heavy, driving rain. Why did I ever want to leave California and come to New York? She bowed her head under her umbrella and held her portfolio close to her chest to keep the sketches inside dry.
Wham! She ran into something solid and sat down in a puddle.
A very feminine voice said, “Oh. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
Lizzie looked at the thick-soled, men’s boots and black jeans in front of her. They contrasted greatly with the voice. She raised her head and recognized the black, spiked hair of the woman in front of her. I’ve seen her protesting around this area. She seems to be against almost everything.
“Here, let me help.” The woman held her hand down and helped Lizzie stand. She picked up Lizzie’s portfolio. “There, I think it’s okay. Are you alright? You’re not hurt?”
“I’m fine. Just a bit wet and shook up.”
“Hey, if you have to sit in a puddle, why not in front of Starbucks? Let me buy you a latte to make up for knocking you down.”
“I could use a hot drink.”
Inside the store, the woman asked, “What would you like?”
“How about a Café Mocha?”
“You got it. Find us a table and I’ll get our drinks.”
Lizzie sat at a table near the window and soon the woman came back with two lattes and two warm blueberry muffins.
She smiled and said, “Hope you like blueberries.”
Lizzie noticed white, even teeth behind the dark lipstick and twinkling blue eyes. Except for the lipstick, her face was clear of any makeup.
“Love blueberries,” she replied.
“I’m Sara Davis.” She held out her hand. “I’ve seen you around. You always seem to be in a hurry.”
“Lizzie Johnson.” Lizzie took the offered hand. She was surprised at its softness. Sara didn’t look like someone who took pains with herself.
“Like in Lizzie Borden?” Her eyes sparkled with laughter.
Lizzie screwed up her face. “Oh, come on. We aren’t in grade school. But no, it’s just that there are so many Elizabeths in my family. My grandmother’s Betty and my aunt’s Betsy and I got stuck with Lizzie. Sometimes I wish they’d decided on Beth.”
“I can call you Beth if you’d like.”
Lizzie laughed. “I probably wouldn’t answer. I wouldn’t know who you were talking to.”
“So. Where are this grandmother and aunt?”
“Southern California with the rest of the family.”
“You’re from California? Why on Earth did you come to this cursed city? I’d have stayed in the sunshine.”
Lizzie laughed. “I was just wondering that myself when I ran into you.”
“Ran into me is right.” Sara chuckled. “But, seriously, why New York?”
“I just wanted to get away from family. I’d never been alone since before I was born. I got tired of being ‘one of the twins’. And I wanted to get away from my ex-husband.”
“You’re a twin and you’ve been married?” Sara grinned and waggled her eyebrows. “Is your twin as gorgeous as you are?”
Lizzie blushed and brushed her long, blonde hair out of her face. “Well, most of my friends think Mike is pretty hot. I don’t see it, he’s just my brother.”
Sara laughed. “Okay. You got me on that one. Personally, I don’t think he’d do anything for me either.” She tilted her head. “I’m sorry to be so personal, but is that your natural hair color?”
“Yes.” Lizzie laughed. “I’m a rarity in California, a native-born Californian with naturally blonde hair.”
“It’s beautiful. Is your twin blond also?”
“No. He takes after our dad. I’m blonde like Mom.”
“What kind of work do you do?” Sara asked.
“I work in my Uncle Jesse’s family’s glass blowing business, O’Connor Glassworks in the Village.”
Sara’s eyes got wide. “Glass blowing? Like with the long pipes and melted glass?”
“Yeah.” Lizzie held out her hands. “See the burn marks? I have more on my arms. I even burned a leg once before I learned how to handle the blow pipes better.”
“Wow! I’d love to watch that sometime. It must be fascinating.”
“I could probably arrange it. We give tours and demonstrations all the time. What about you? What do you do?”
“I’m going to school for my Master’s in Political Science.” Sara glanced at her watch. “Hey, I’m going to be late for class. Can I take you to dinner tonight? I’d like to continue this conversation. I want to hear more about the glass blowing thing.”
Lizzie hesitated. “I don’t know.”
“Hey, look, I know you’re straight and you’ve probably picked up on the fact I’m not. It’s just dinner between new friends. No strings.”
“Sure, but only if we go Dutch.” Lizzie grinned. “I don’t have many friends except Jesse’s family. As to no strings, that’s what Uncle Dave promised Uncle Jesse when they met.”
“Your uncle’s gay?”
“Yeah. So’s my brother and a cousin.”
“Runs in the family, huh?” Sara winked.
They exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet that evening at Sergio’s, an Italian restaurant close by.
* * *
As Lizzie walked home, she thought about what just happened. What am I doing? I know she’s gay. She admitted it. I got a strange, warm feeling talking to her. Uncle Dave, where are you when I need you? Is it possible? No. I can’t be. But then, I never really liked any of the boys I’ve dated. Jerry’s the only man I’ve had sex with and I didn’t like that. After all, Dave isn’t just my dad’s gay brother, he’s my biological father as well. And, Mike and Scott are both gay. Like Sara said, maybe it runs in our family.
Lizzie – chapter 3