For Mordmorgan, because I promised him a Valentine's Day story a very long time ago.
For nearly forty years, on almost any night between September and June, Angelo's Pizza was standing room only. The Saturday before Valentine's Day proved no exception.
Without question, the best pizza in the small college town, it was also one of the most popular gathering places for students in their off hours. Aside from great food and cold refreshments, it was also the home to Angelo's Girls, an attraction that set it apart from would be imitators.
Back when Angelo Farinelli had first moved his little shop to Trinity Point from New York City in the early sixties, Angelo's Girls had been just that, his six daughters. Tall, pretty and statuesque, they had drawn male students to his pizza parlor like moths to a candle. In the years since, girls from both the town and college had replaced his offspring, but the result had remained the same. To many students, having been one of Angelo's Girls ranked higher than Prom Queen.
Of the dozen girls who wore the red shorts and white T-shirts that made up their familiar uniform, few had been as popular as Jenna Walsh. In her last year at the school, the twenty-one- year-old stood five seven and weighted a hundred and twenty-four pounds. Short black hair, recently cut to just above her neck, framed a flawless face. What caught the attention of most of the male patrons, however, was the perfectly proportioned bust that filled out her tight fitting top. An example of nature's handiwork that no Beverly Hills surgeon could ever match.
"Come on, Jenna, give me one reason why you can't come with me to the party at the Delta Gamma house tonight," George Tyler asked as he leaned over the counter, trying not so hard to keep his eyes off nature's handiwork. This year's starting quarterback, George wasn't used to having girls turn him down. "It's not like you're still going out with Brian, not with him five hundred miles away."
Brian Hennisy, who had graduated last year, had been the previous starting quarterback. He and Jenna had been an item all through her junior year, but had ended their relationship when he went back home to Maine.
"If you must know," Jenna said as she handed the customer she'd been waiting on his change, "I already have a date."
"Break it," George said self confidently, "Whoever it's with, I can guarantee that he'd not the man I am."
"I'll give you that," Jenna smiled knowingly, "but I've never broken a date to go out with someone else before and I'm not going to start now."
"You don't know what you're missing," George replied, hoping to change her mind.
"Oh I have a pretty good idea," came her response as she took a twenty-dollar bill and a check from another customer.
The look on George's face told her he wasn't going to go away easy. It was obvious that he viewed going out with her as one of the perks of being starting quarterback. To pick up where Brian left off so to speak. It was going to take more than a simple no to discourage him.
"Hey, George," Chuck Miller, another member of the team called out as he pushed his way through the crowd, "what's holding things up? That pizza is going to be ice cold by the time we get it back to the party."
"The pizza will be fine," George said as his teammate took the spot next to him at the counter. "I'm just trying to get Jenna here to come back with me to the pre-Valentine's Day party when she gets off in ten minutes."
"You're kidding, right?" Chuck said, a look on his face that baffled George.
"No, I'm serious, why," George replied.
"You don't know?"
Chuck looked at Jenna, getting only a smile in return. It looked like she wasn't going to have to do anything more after all.
Chuck pulled George away from the counter a few feet and began to whisper something into his ear, keeping his voice low enough that only his friend could hear.
Not being too obvious about it, Jenna watched intently, focusing on the reaction on George's face. She couldn't be sure what Chuck was saying, but from the change in expression, the brunette could just about tell when the word "dyke" came into play.
"No fucking way," George exclaimed, loud enough for those around him to hear.
Chuck nodded his head, confirming what he'd just said.
"Shit!" was George's final word before, after glancing back in Jenna's direction for a second, heading for the door and leaving Chuck to manage the ten boxes of pizza on his own.
Jenna gave Chuck a little smile as she helped him tie the boxes into two sets of five. She didn't hold what he had said against him, not when she'd come out publicly at the end of last term. It wasn't either of their fault that not everyone had gotten the word yet. And with those that did, the reactions had been mixed to say the least.
The worse and best reactions, at least those she had been most concerned about, had been right here at Angelo's. Susan Dee, who had came in second to Jenna in just about everything over the last few years, had seen this as her chance to change the playing field. She tried to convince some of the other girls to complain about having to work with Jenna, but few saw it as any of their business. Undeterred, the brunette had gone to Mr. Farinelli himself, sure that the octogenarian would see things her way.
At first, the old man, who still kept control of the business even though his son-in-law ran the day to day operations, said that he was sorry to hear that Susan was unhappy in the way things were at the restaurant. He listened intently as she pointed out that she felt uncomfortable working with that sort of girl, and while she was sure that everyone was entitled to live their life as they wanted, people might eventually think that Angelo's encouraged that kind of lifestyle. And in a town as small as this, that could be very bad for business.
Susan was sure that the day was going to end with Jenna being shown the door. To her dismay Mr. Farinelli's had instead wished her well and promised to write her a glowing letter of recommendation for her next employer. What Susan hadn't counted on was the fact that Maggie Farinelli, his youngest daughter, had come out of the closet a decade before. The product of a much earlier generation, Angelo Farinelli had nevertheless come to grips with whatever homophobia he might have once had long ago.
"And that's it for tonight," Jenna said as she rang up her final customer and logged herself off the register.
"Lucky you," Karen Doyle, Jenna's roommate, said as she took Jenna's place at the counter, "I'm going to be here until closing time."
"I'm sure you'll make up for it tomorrow, " Jenna said as she leaned over and gave Karen a kiss on the cheek.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jenna could see one of the delivery boys watching her. Not the first time, she thought, as if they hoped that one day they'd catch her giving Karen a full one right on the lips. Maybe one of these days she would, just to see their reaction. She was sure Karen would go along with it.
"I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day," Jenna called out to the other workers as she took a long, heavy cloth coat off the rack and began to bundle up.
"Not at happy as you're probably going to have," Karen replied with a wicked smile, in a voice just loud enough for Jenna to hear.
Karen had been the total opposite of Susan when Jenna had let spill that she was now playing for the home team. A friend since their freshman year, Karen saw no reason to change that because of who shared the other side of Jenna's bed. Jenna certainly had never held it against her when guys of less then sterling character shared hers.
Leaving Angelo's behind, Jenna held her coat tight against the cold and caught the bus out to the small first floor apartment she'd moved into when she'd left the college dorm at the beginning of the term. Once she'd decided to come out, living in the dorm didn't seem like too good an idea. Her parents, who were much more understanding than she ever imagined they'd be, were quite willing to shoulder the extra expense. An expense that turned out to less than she first thought it would be after Karen, who had grown tired of the snide comments of some of more conservative elements in the dorm, had jumped at the chance to also live off campus.
Jenna hadn't told George the whole truth when she'd said she had a date this evening. Actually, she was going away for the holiday with the woman who had become over the last few months, the new love in her life.
Her name was Moira Kerrigan, and was perhaps the most unlikely girlfriend any of Jenna's friends might've imagined. Whereas the men the brunette dated, and sometimes bedded, were usually a mix of GQ and Sport's Illustrated, Moira looked like the nerdy girl everyone picked on in high school.
Three inches taller and a year younger, Moira had bright, curly red hair. A trim figure and modest breasts made her appear quite ordinary, at least to those who gave the bookstore clerk only a casual glance. Jenna herself has almost acted the same way when she'd first met the younger girl at a Winter Solstice Celebration while she was home during the holiday break.
Jenna had overheard Moira quote one of her favorite books in explaining a point to someone else and, after that discussion had ended, introduced herself to the redhead. What had originally been intended as just a brief hello and comment that it was nice to see she wasn't the only one who read obscure books, turned into a conversation that didn't end until long after the party. A dialogue that proved instrumental in Jenna's decision to come out.
.... There is more of this story ...