|I googled 'toaster kitten' this is what I found.|
This has not been beta read by anyone so I take full responsibility for any mistakes. Share and enjoy.
<<Introduction -- Part II>>
“How do I look?” Jill gave a little twirl. Her short red dress flared out around her hips as she turned. Loose waves tumbled around her shoulders, the darkest gold that could still be called blonde.
“Fantastic.” Cal replied. Jill had a knack for fashion and makeup that Cal found almost miraculous. The vintage Hollywood starlet in front of her was so different from the casual look Jill usually sported. The round girlish face transformed from cute to sultry with full red lips and large blue eyes.
Cal’s own outfit for the concert was less glamorous but equally sexy. Currently she was struggling to fasten the front busk of her under-bust corset. It was brocade, with deep burgundy flowers and leaves wove their way over a black ground, and went from just under her breasts down to her hips. She was wearing it over a long-sleeved champagne top that was low-cut enough to show just a hint of cleavage, on a more well endowed woman it would have been more than a hint. The long sleeves were the reason she had chosen this top to wear under the corset, the intricate scarification on her arms often drew unwanted attention. She wanted to have fun tonight, not deal with people who didn't respect her personal space and tried to touch without asking. The long loose sleeves concealed them from view, while the creamy color complemented her olive skin. Form fitting black pants and mid-calf suede boots completed the outfit, the two-inch heels brought her up to exactly six feet tall. Finally on the fourth attempt she got all the hooks and posts on the busk to line up. She wiggled it around until the center of the corset and the buttons of her shirt all lined up properly.
“Tighten me up?” She asked.
Jill tugged on the laces until the corset was snug but not as tight as she was able to wear it. The plan tonight included plenty of dancing and it would not do to be suffocated by her wardrobe. The corset was comfortable, she could wear it all night, but if she was going to do anything strenuous she needed some breathing room.
“How’s that feel?”
Jill tied it off and tucked the loops up under the crisscrossing laces to keep them out of the way. Corsets weren't Jill's style but she had helped Cal get into hers more than once.
“Sit down so I can do your makeup” Jill said.
Cal obediently took a seat on the edge of her bed so Jill could get to work. Despite her friend’s best efforts at teaching her, makeup was never something Cal had mastered. Probably due to insufficient practice. She only ever wore makeup when going out, maybe once or twice a month, not every day. A little mascara and lip gloss was the extent of her expertise.
“So what is this band like?” Cal asked. The concert invitation had been last-minute and she had tried to turn it down but Jill was hard to say no to. Maybe a night of fun was what Cal needed to get her mind off losing the art gallery job.
“French-Canadian with a bit of a rock twist. They’re a lot of fun.” Jill shrugged. “Don’t ask me why they’re called the Toaster Kittens though. Tip your head up.”
Jill applied false lashes to Cal’s upper lids, careful to avoid poking her in the eye. They felt thick and scratchy against the top of her cheeks when she blinked. No way they would last the night.
“I hope these are worth it, they aren’t very comfortable”
“Says the lady in a corset.” Jill laughed. “Suck it up. I don’t get to see you all dolled up often.”
“Hey! The corset is comfortable and it gives me good back support.”
“Whatever you say, Callie. I think that’s about it. Take a look.”
Looking at her reflection in the bedroom mirror, she was impressed. Jill had taken her cues from Cal’s outfit and gone for dramatic. A dark smoky eye and the false lashes brought out the amber tones in her eyes so they appeared to be the same burnt orange color as the late autumn leaves on the maple trees outside. Black cherry lip gloss almost the same deep wine color as her corset painted her lips. On someone as fair as Jill the dark colors would have looked too stark but against Cal's darker golden complexion they were more complementary. Shimmery color picked out her prominent cheek bones. Chin length auburn curls fell in soft ringlets around her face, no help from Jill was required for those, her hair had a natural curl that just needed a little taming. The entire look was meant to highlight the striking planes of her face, an angularity softened from harshness only by her full lips and bright wide-set eyes.
Cal was never inconspicuous but she rarely felt beautiful, Jill had done a remarkable job. This wasn't self-consciousness on her part, she was comfortable with her appearance, but the box labeled 'conventionally pretty' does not include 5'10” women with more muscle than curves and extensive body art.
Jill’s brother Ethan and his wife Sara had met them in the parking garage a couple of streets over. Ethan was a taller version of his twin sister, the soft roundness of her features became more squared off in his face butthey had the same bright blue eyes and dark honey hair. Fashion sense was not something he shared with his sister however and so he was dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a Star Trek t-shirt. His bride of six months was of average height with a full figure and smiling brown eyes that peered out through her gold wire-rim glasses. Sara’s black hair was close-cropped into a pixie cut and she wore black dress pants, a burnt orange blouse, and shiny black ballet flats. She looked like an elementary school teacher not an electrician. In fact it was Ethan who was the teacher, high school English.
The line at the State Theater for the concert was mercifully short. It was a mild night for early November but in Maine that still meant it was anything but warm. As expected Krissy was running late and they were already in the theater by the time she arrived. She had dressed up in a short green dress over black leggings, sparkling green and gold barrettes pinned back her thick, almost knee-length, dark brown hair. All together they made their way down the aisle to the open dance area in front of the stage.
It was hard for Cal to dwell on losing her job when surrounded by the energetic music and so many people having a good time. She let the energy carry her away and just danced. Her heart raced, adrenaline pumping through her in time to the music.
A number of people danced with her, drifting in and out of a core group that formed spontaneously early in the show. They stayed together through the show with that easy familiarity that forms among groups of strangers having a good time. A burly man at least six inches taller than Cal with hair even redder and curlier than her own. Another with platinum blond hair, and judging by his dark eyebrows it was not his natural color, of average height and with his slender build and eyeliner was on the pretty side of androgynous. The only other woman, besides Cal and Jill, was petite with ample curves, a shaved head, and eyes such a bright green that they were noticeable even in the dim light of the theater. The last man drew Cal’s interest the most, all night her eyes kept being drawn to him. He was a shade taller than Cal, slender but not delicate like the blond boy. Dark hair long enough to brush the color of his shirt, almost artfully messy. His face was pale without a trace of freckles, the kind of fair skin that looked healthy not pasty from too much time indoors. An unlined face but no longer boyish, Cal judged him at around thirty, and quite attractive if you liked the intense type. Cal did. His eyes were dark but not brown, definitely a cool color but whether a deep blue or gray she couldn't tell in this light.
Cal caught only occasional glimpses of her other friends. Ethan and Sarah were never more than a yard away from each other all night and while they danced together near Cal’s group they never joined in for very long. So wrapped up in each other that they never noticed when they had drifted away from the others. Krissy was even more elusive, dancing in and out of various groups never staying in one place for longer than a single song.
Cal's face was flushed and her hip was aching when the concert wrapped up just before eleven o'clock. For probably the millionth time in the past six years, she cursed the drunk driver who crushed the right half of her pelvis. Her injuries had healed, after multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy, but the rebuilt joint still have her trouble sometimes.
Their little cluster of dancers scattered, each off to find their way home while Cal and Jill looked around for the other three. Walking out into the cold night air she had to dodge around a young woman who had spilled the contents of her purse over the lobby floor and ran straight into someone else.
“Oops, excuse me.” Cal said as she stumbled backwards.
“No worries.” It was the dark-haired man who had attracted her attention so much earlier. In the brighter light of the lobby she could see his eyes were a dark silvery blue. With his midnight blue silk shirt and cool coloring he was almost the polar opposite of her warm tones. “I'm Lucas, by the way.”
His voice was a rumbling baritone with a pronounced English accent, it sent a warm shiver down Cal’s body. She could listen to a voice like that all night. Maybe she would.
“Calliope… but most people call me Cal.” She wasn't terribly fond of her first name, her family had rather old-fashioned ideas when it came to names, to make matters worse, she did not share her namesake's way with poetry. “We’re heading to the Eight Arms for a bit,” she said, indicating her three friends, “would you like to come along?”
The Eight Arms was a friendly little pub filled with long tables and good food. While visiting family in Scotland, owners Greg and Rose Reed, had fallen in love with the neighborhood pub. When they returned to Maine they had decided to open the Eight Arms. The result was a place beloved by locals but never quite making any of the lists of trendy eateries.
Lucas seated himself across the table from her while Jill sat to her left. Krissy was across from Jill while Sarah and Ethan sat opposite each other on Cal’s right. Rose, a plump woman in her early fifties, was doing the waitressing duties tonight and took their orders with the smile of someone who was living her dream. Cal ordered a plate of poutine, the Eight Arms may be inspired by a Scottish pub but it’s menu is not. A big serving of french fries smothered in savory turkey gravy and fresh cheese curds was just what she needed, all the activity had given her a hearty appetite.
Rose had their drinks on the table in under five minutes. Cal just had a glass of water, she didn't enjoy the taste of alcohol, and liked its effects on her head even less. The rest of the group ordered beers. Whatever Lucas was drinking had a dark, almost black, color and smelled like pumpernickel bread to Cal. The Eight Arms prided itself on the beers it served and while Cal couldn't appreciate the taste, any beer that left her nose unwrinkled had her approval.
The group chatted a bit while they waited for their food. Krissy was so excited to tell them about her new boyfriend, a grad student studying civil engineering, that she was almost babbling. They were going kayaking next weekend. Cal was happy for her, Krissy was something of a workaholic and had to be cajoled into taking a break from computer programming once in a while. Sarah and Ethan shared pictures of their new puppy, a shaggy, lop-eared mixed breed from a shelter. He was absolutely adorable.
Turning her attention back to Lucas she asked him how long he’d been living in the area and what he did for a living.
“I’ve been in Portland a little over a year though I’ve been living in the US for quite a bit longer than that, my parents moved us here when I was fifteen. I do freelance graphic design, keeps my schedule flexible. What about you?”
Cal’s food arrived giving her a m
oment to think and mentally kick herself for asking a question she should have known would be turned back on her. The last thing she wanted tonight was a reminder that she had lost another job, one she really enjoyed too. Not to mention the reason she had missed enough work to get fired. She had other responsibilities that had to come ahead of a normal job.
“Umm… well I had been working at an art gallery but they couldn’t afford to keep me on.” Lying gets easier with practice, and Cal had years worth, but she'd never been able to shake the guilt. Even over such an innocuous lie. “So as of two days ago I’m job hunting.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you want to keep working in art?”
“I hope so. I’m not an artist myself but I like being around creative people.”
Cal relaxed as the conversation moved on to safer territory: favorite movies and books. Lucas was also a science fiction fan. He, Cal, and Ethan got into the classic debate over who was the best Star Trek captain. Cal was partial to Picard while the two men favored Kirk.
Jill occasionally stole a gravy coated fry from Cal’s plate while rambling on about movies. Fried foods made her a bit sick but a nibble or two wouldn't hurt and Cal was happy to share with her best friend.
“We’re heading out, Callie.” Jill announced, maybe an hour after they arrived at the pub.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Cal replied, standing to give each of her friends a hug goodnight.
“Let me know how it goes.” Jill’s voice was just above a whisper as she returned Cal’s embrace.
“I will.” She answered with a smile.
The three friends gave Lucas departing waves. Seated again, Cal turned back to Lucas, without her friends she was a bit nervous. She toyed with the few soggy fries remaining on her plate.
“So I was thinking of heading home too.” She paused, working up her courage. “Feel like joining me?”
“Absolutely.” The smile on his face was eager but sweet and genuine.
Cal relaxed at his reply, she’d steeled herself for a rejection that had not come. It wasn't the first time she had invited a man to come home with her, and more than a one had refused. Sometimes she just read his interest wrong, other men seemed offended at her making the first move. The former was disappointing, the latter more depressing.
Lucas rose to his feet, holding out his hand to her. She took it. His hand was strong and cool.
It was a short walk from the Eight Arms to where Cal had parked her battered green jeep. Her friends’ cars were already gone and Lucas had told her earlier he took a cab to the theater. There was no one else nearby so late. Lucas pulled her into a kiss as they stood in the cold November air. His lips were both soft and icy, but the latter was easy to ignore; it was a great kiss. She hated to pull away from his lips but it was freezing and she wasn't wearing a coat.
Inside Cal felt ready to go right there in the jeep but public sex had never been her kink. She would just have to keep her hormones in check until they reached her house.