Book Extract: Delicious Divas

Burnt Sugar by Anna Sansom – featured in Delicious Divas

The thing about going out on your own is that you always have to find something to occupy yourself with.  I don’t smoke so the option of posing casually with a cigarette was out; I’m not the type to take a book to a social event; and I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt someone else’s conversation.  So that left with me two options: watching and drinking.  Deciding who to watch was easy; deciding what to drink was a bit more complicated.

I’m a bottle of beer kind of girl.  I like the feel of the ice cold glass in my hand, the sensation when the wet rim of the bottle meets my lips and the fast bubbles pour into my mouth.  The moment of holding the beer there, tasting it, feeling the fizz against my tongue, and then swallowing it down.  It’s a ritual that I enjoy and one that I generally repeat every Saturday night.  But this Saturday night was an exception.  Instead of the usual dyke bar full of fellow beer drinkers, I had chosen somewhere different – very different.

I’d seen the poster that afternoon: a narrow-waisted woman with bright red lipstick sitting astride a bedroom stool and holding an old-fashioned powder puff.  The headline was simple: Burlesque Night; the location was the other side of town; and there, in the small print, it told me there would be a full cocktail bar.  Dress to impress, it concluded, with free drinks for the best attire.

Well, I never was that keen on cocktails but I do happen to have a few dresses in my closet.  I had chosen a long, red dress with black accessories.  Standing in front of the mirror I stepped into my heels and posed.  From the neck down the effect was what I had aimed for but, when I added in my head, something went wrong with the look.  I had the red lipstick, the black mascara, even a touch of rouge on my cheeks.  I tried smiling, and then pouting, and then raising an eyebrow.  That directed me to the problem: my hair.  I’d had it cut earlier that week and the stylist had followed my directions to the letter: ‘short and choppy’ I’d told her.  She had taken a new razor blade out of a paper packet, secured it into the cutting tool, and combed up a section of hair.  I could both feel and hear the blade slicing through my hair.  Not a quick, clean cut like that from a pair of sharp scissors, but more of a tearing and a dragging, like ripping fabric.  The result was fantastic but a look further away from a 1940s cocktail night was hard to imagine.  I needed long, glossy hair set in waves; I had a funky, modern, elfin cut.

The dress, shoes and make-up came off and I looked again into my closet.  Thinking about it, there would be no shortage of women in the type of outfit I had first tried.  And it was likely they would have the long hair to go with it too.  So really, rather than be second best, perhaps I should try something a bit different?

I was right: the club was full of high femmes and macho men.  The air reeked of heterosexuality: flowery perfume from the women; strong, acidic aftershave from the men that failed to cover up the testosterone-laced scent that each sweated as he tried to assert himself as the alpha male.  Not my usual type of crowd at all.

I was glad I didn’t blend in.  Instead of the dress and make-up route I had decided to go the other way: pinstriped trousers and fitted waistcoat with a shirt unbuttoned to my cleavage, a thick leather belt, and polished shoes.  And just a touch of lipstick.  Strictly speaking the trousers and waistcoat came out of my work wardrobe and not my play clothes, but I looked suitably smart and sharper than any of the guys in similar get-ups.

I found a corner of the room with the best vantage point and surveyed the scene.  The show was due to start in about ten minutes so that gave me a little time to get into the mood and check out the ladies.  My five minute queue at the bar had been disappointing.  It was a full cocktail bar all right, but I hadn’t been prepared for a total lack of any other type of drink.  The barman was finishing mixing a jug of something red when I got to the counter. I bravely ordered a glass without asking what he could possibly have put in it to get such a colour.  He poured me a small tumbler and relieved me of enough money to buy two beers.

So now I had my drink and my viewing area it was time for some watching.  I was surrounded by couples.  Straight couples.  Him in trousers and shirt with optional tie; her in a dress with heels and make-up.  No one stood out as being extraordinary.  In fact, regardless of the era the dress code reflected, everyone looked pretty normal.  Except me.  And one other.

Available from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Xcite Books

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