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A Whole Latke Love

by Jodi Payne

A Whole Latke Love - Jodi Payne
Editions:Kindle: $ 1.99
ISBN: 978-1-951011-05-5
Pages: 46

Have you ever been to an office holiday party?

Well, Matthew Kaplan has been to plenty, and he’s not impressed. In fact, he hates attending the annual gathering at his office. This year, though, he’s trying to make partner in his small law firm and does his best to look like he’s enjoying himself, even though he knows the event is really a Christmas party with just the barest hint of a nod toward his own winter holiday, Hanukkah.

Ethan Becker works for a busy caterer, and although all the Christmas music at these holiday office parties used to make his head ache, he’s learned to tolerate it so he doesn’t lose his mind. Sometimes he even sings along. There aren’t enough toe-tapping Hanukkah songs for a party anyway, right?

Matthew is pleased to find latkes on the buffet and escapes the crowd to eat them peacefully in the kitchen, where Ethan recognizes his hunky one-night-stand immediately. Matthew remembers their night together fondly, but certainly hadn’t expected to run into the hottie with the sweet blue eyes again. When Ethan offers to make more latkes for Matthew another day, Matthew jumps to accept the invitation. But will their date be delicious or disastrous?

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Another December, another office holiday party, and another opportunity for Jenny Lambert to get drunk and dance on the reception desk.


Matt was glad she at least had pants on this year. Last year Jenny had worn this amazing skirt and half the guys in the office had instantly turned into gawking, horny teenagers. Someone must have warned her.

That said, though, wouldn’t it be nice if someone he could get into hopped up there and started working it a little? Maybe Nick or... ooh, William. William would look great up there. Then Matt could turn into a horny teenager for once. That would make this party way more fun. More interesting too.

Great, now he was thinking like a pig. That didn’t make this party any better.


He fought the urge to just leave now, reminding himself that he attended this ridiculous party because he was trying to make partner and, following the laws of office politics, he had to at least show his face until people were drunk enough not to miss him when he left. On the bright side, the food was usually pretty good.

For the record, and just to add to his cynicism, it wasn’t really a “holiday” party. It was a Christmas party and everyone knew it. There was a big, Christmas tree lit up in the corner for one thing, and tons of red and white poinsettias were scattered around the big reception area that was currently being used as a dance floor. There were fake evergreens running across the top of every doorway and a giant wreath hung over the reception desk. There were silver bells over the elevator doors for crying out loud. Nothing actually said “Merry Christmas,” but the halls were definitely decked.

Oh, and the DJ was playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” for Drunken Jenny Lambert to dance to.


Yes, there was a little table-top sized electric menorah on the other side of the room, but Hanukkah didn’t start until December twenty-second this year and someone had lit all the little orange, flickery candles anyway.

He tried to appreciate the gesture, but really it just pissed him off. When he made partner, he’d make sure it was done right.

Matt watched Jenny dance and tried to pretend like she was William, but it was useless. He looked at his watch, wondering again if he could casually walk by, pretend he was going to the restroom, and just get on the elevator instead and go home. Everyone was focused on the reception desk after all.

“Do you think she is going to remember this in the morning this year?”

“Last year there was pictorial evidence.” He grinned at Nick. “Didn’t you provide them?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Matt. They just appeared in the lunchroom.” Nick held up a glass. “You need to look less bored. Get a drink.”

“I have a drink.”

“Matthew Kaplan.” Nick shook his head. “That is a Diet Coke, not a drink.”

“You know I never drink at these things, Nick.”

“Why not? Are you afraid you’ll end up on the desk with Jenny?”

“Not really,” he lied. It was a definite possibility. “Anyway, it looks like Greg beat me to it.” He pointed, and he and Nick laughed as the managing partner did the shimmy with Jenny.

“We should get her a Lyft.”

Nick snorted. “Matt, my friend, you are boring. Stay here. I’m getting you a drink.” Nick took off for the board room, where they’d set up the bar, and Matt decided not to be standing here when Nick got back. He didn’t need alcohol to make this event even worse than it already was. He headed past the makeshift dance floor and the scent of holiday dinner drifted over him.

Oh, yum. He could eat.

He followed his nose into one of the conference rooms where a dinner buffet had been set up. He had to admit it smelled damn good in here and the food looked great. People were still busy dancing, so it hadn’t been picked over yet, either.

He grabbed a plate and started grazing. A fancy little lamb chop, a skewer of veggies, a bite of salmon and… oh. Hold up. Were those latkes?

Latkes. At a work party. Wow. He thought maybe he might kiss the office manager.

He was skeptical, though, because everyone, including him, liked their latkes the way their mom had always made them. But his mother grated the potatoes and made them crispy and that’s how these were done, so he held out hope. In a show of faith, Matt scooped two onto his plate, put a dollop of apple sauce beside them, grabbed a neatly wrapped silverware package and went looking for a place to eat.

The dance floor had emptied out while he was serving himself, and now there was no room in the other conference room where they’d set up the round dining tables. So, Matt ended up in the kitchen. Eating there was a better choice than letting anyone—like Nick, Heaven forbid—find him being anti-social and eating in his office. But with the caterers off doing whatever caterers do, the kitchen was quiet at the moment, and the perfect place to hide for a few minutes of peace.

He set his plate down at the far end of the counter so he’d be out of the way in case they came back any time soon, then cut a big bite of latke, scooped up some apple sauce with it, and put it in his mouth.

His eyes closed as he chewed. “Oh, yum. Mm-mm-mm.” Crunchy, a little garlicky, fried just right. He took another bite. “Oh man.”

“Everything okay, sir?”

Startled, he turned abruptly with his mouth still full and looked right into a pair of sweet blue eyes.

Sweet and familiar blue eyes.

He quickly finished chewing. “Ethan?”

“Matt? Oh my God!”

Oh shit.


About the Author

JODI spent too many years in New York and San Francisco stage managing classical plays, edgy fringe work, and the occasional musical. She, therefore, is overdramatic, takes herself way too seriously, and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can’t help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after.

For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi’s addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec, and tequila any way you pour it. She’s also obsessed with Shakespeare and Broadway musicals. She can be found wearing sock monkey gloves while typing when it’s cold, and on the beach enjoying the sun and the ocean when it’s hot. When she’s not writing and/or vacuuming sand out of her laptop, Jodi mentors queer youth and will drop everything for live music. Jodi lives near New York City with her beautiful wife, and together they are mothers of dragons (cleverly disguised as children) and slaves to an enormous polydactyl cat.