by Alexandra Y. Caluen

Dana Richardson had a long and successful run on a sitcom. Now she’s at liberty, looking for the next job, and finding herself squarely in the mom zone. On a walk through her new neighborhood she meets Rory Atwood. Rory’s a barista; Dana’s still in the closet; and how the heck can she even ask Rory out? Fortunately, Dana’s friend Andy has a solution.

Publisher: Independently Published
Pairings: F-F
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Lesbian
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming Out / Closeted, Famous / Not Famous, Out for You
Word Count: 26000
Setting: Los Angeles, California, USA
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters

They went in and stood back to back, scanning the room for Rory.  “There she is.”

Dana turned to look; Rory had claimed a tall two-top in a corner.  She didn’t have a drink in front of her yet.  “Come on,” said Dana.  She got hold of Andy’s arm and dragged him over.  He let it happen, trying to stifle a laugh.

“Is this a threesome?” said Rory when they got within earshot. “Because that would be different.” Andy made a ‘don’t mind me’ gesture with his free hand.

“He’s my security blanket,” said Dana. “Big brother. Whatever.”

“Cyrano?” Rory suggested, and Andy laughed. “I think you can probably speak for yourself at this point.”

“You’re right.  I’m sorry,” Dana said to Andy, and let go of him. “Thanks.”

“I’ll be at the bar,” he said, and faded out.

“He’s staying with me for a couple of weeks, walked me over,” said Dana. “Can I sit down?”


“Um, yeah.”  Rory was grinning. “Have you not done this before?”

“Not really.” Dana hitched herself up on the bar stool. “I’m sorry about my whole lame approach.”

“Quit apologizing, it’s fine.” A server rolled up and Rory put up a give-me-a-second finger, looking over at Dana. “I had a staff meal at like five, and I’m starved. Do you mind?”

“Knock yourself out.  My treat.”

Rory didn’t question it. She ordered one of everything, plus a beer. Dana seconded the beer. The server went away.  Then Rory said, “So why haven’t you done this before?”

“Afraid to.  But I’ve got less to be afraid of now.  Where are you from?”

“San Diego. My dad’s in the Navy, my mother’s from Guam. You’re from Georgia, right?”

“Yeah, my folks still live in Savannah.  I finally told them I’m gay, literally yesterday.” She rolled her eyes. “So overdue.”

“Great feeling, right?  Unless they were mean about it.”

“No, they were fine. Andy says they probably already knew. He really is a photographer, by the way.”  The drinks arrived, along with some of the food. Rory dug in. Dana gave her a few minutes. “How were your parents about it?”

“Dad tried to tell me it was just a phase,” Rory said, with a little tip of the head. “Bless his heart.  I said Dad, how long have you known you were interested in girls? He was like, uhhhh.”  They both laughed. “Mom was fine.  I mean, the first few dates started a conversation.  Then when I shaved my hair off, she was like okay really now.”

Dana laughed again.  “When did you do that?”

“When I got cut from the gymnastics squad.  I got these,” she indicated her boobs, “and the coach said she didn’t recommend continuing.  It’s not like they screwed up my balance or anything, but whatever.  I think it’s because I suddenly looked like an adult.  Everybody else was still … undeveloped.  But I guess visually, it messed up my proportions.  Not what the sport sees as the right shape.”

“That pretty much sucks.  What did you do then?”

“Stayed in dance for a while. Had a mad affair with someone really inappropriate. Wasted some time going to college. Went to my brother’s wedding. Finally quit smoking. Made tracks for L.A.”

“I want to ask about the affair, but it’s none of my business. I had a college thing.” Dana shrugged. “About a year before moving out here.”

“It was the dance coach for a competing squad. Really, really inappropriate. She was seven years older than me, which when you’re sixteen is a lot of years.”

“Did she come on to you?”

“Eh, it was kind of mutual.”  Rory laughed into her beer.  She clearly had no regrets.

“I’m kind of envious.  The only inappropriate thing I’ve done is drop out of college,” said Dana.  “My parents weren’t thrilled, but I’d had a few jobs and we all figured I could always go back later if I wanted to.”

“I actually finished.”

“So why was it a waste?”

“Because what the fuck am I going to do with an English degree, be a teacher?  You know what the certification process is like?  It’s worse than getting a master’s degree.”

“Why English?”

“Because I like to read.” Rory rolled her eyes. “Possibly the dumbest rationale for a major, ever. If I break down and try to get an office job, though, it’ll help. I’ve been thinking about that since I turned thirty.”

Dana appreciated the comment about Rory’s age. She couldn’t have guessed other than ‘old enough to get into this bar.’ It was a relief that she wasn’t too young. “I’m in the what job next dilemma myself.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet. Whatcha been doing since the series?”

“Taking classes, trying to pick up some new skills. Reading a lot, screenplays and novels and stage plays. Skipping a lot of auditions.  I don’t want to do another sitcom, at least not for a while.  And I don’t want to play somebody’s mom.”

Rory laughed.  “You’re too young to play a mom.”

“Thank you!”  Dana sipped her beer, watching Rory finish the food.  “Do you have to work tomorrow?”

“Yeah, pretty much every day.”

“Then I won’t keep you out late.  But … do you ever have time to go on an actual date?  Like, dinner and a movie kind of date?”

“I could make time.” She looked away for a moment, taking in the noisy bar scene, then back at Dana. “Why did you finally make a move?”

“I talked to Andy about you. Because he was the one person I trusted to ask. He asked me what was the first thing I thought of when I thought of you. I said, I want to kiss her.”

Rory smiled. “Not in here.” It sounded like a dare.

“I’d kiss you in here,” said Dana, full of beer and bravado.

“Oh yeah?”  Definitely a dare.


'Stripped' is set in 2007.

About the Author

A long time ago and three thousand miles away, I wrote my first novel - a historical romance - during graduate school. Twenty years later I finally dusted it off and published it. Since then I have written and published eleven more novels and twenty-nine novellas. My day job is in a law office, I've been married for eighteen years, and I'm inspired by authors like KJ Charles, Laurie R. King, Dick Francis, and Jennifer Crusie.

Leave a Comment