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Dannie Marsden's book Desert Heat

I am waiting for the next book to come out! The story was a page turner and I also enjoyed the portrayal of a variety of lesbians and how we interact...

Desert Heat

Our book club had the opportunity and privilege to meet and have a lively discussion of "Desert Heat" with Dannie Marsden...a great story with strong...

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Desert Heat

I know Dannie and was excited to hear she had written a book. When I first started to read Desert Heat, I did so with a critical eye because it was...


Wow! Such a good story.I enjoyed it so much.I think what got me the most was that I don`t think most people would give a second thought to what kind...

Playing With Matches - Chapter 1

Chapter One

Social Credibility



Augusta Stuart was initially full of optimism and anticipation when her blind date, the ostensibly esteemed, local psychiatrist, Michelle Wynne, decided they should meet in person for the first time at the public library portal at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Gus loved books, art, and history. And the more cautious side of her nature had also been pleased to discover the library was directly across the street from one of San Antonio’s police stations. At the time, she never thought she would contemplate dashing into it before the first hour of their date was done.


She struggled to figure out where she had gone so wrong, as Michelle pushed her into a bathroom stall with a lascivious growl and pulled the stall door shut behind her. “Um. I just need to use the bathroom.”


Michelle laughed and unbuttoned the top button of a silk shirt, exacerbating the severe plunge of its neckline. “Why Dr Stuart, I didn’t realize my psychological colleagues could be so shy of obvious attractions on first dates.” She licked her lips suggestively. “We have so much in common, professionally, personally. Don’t you think it’s nice just to unconsciously let go and act on our more physical impulses? It could be very nice. Right now, in fact.” Her voice literally purred.


She was a beautiful woman. Voluptuous. Her hair was thick, straight, and incredibly lustrous in the florescent lighting. She scraped perfect teeth slowly over her berry-red bottom lip and eyed Gus provocatively.


Gus squirmed. “It’s a restroom. We’re in a public bathroom.”


“Yes, we are.” Michelle ran one finger down Gus’s bare forearm, bringing goosebumps to the surface of her skin in the wake of her touch.


Breath accelerated, Gus eyed the walls of the stall and tried to collect her thoughts into some semblance of order.


Michelle leaned in and whispered hotly near her ear, “Are you afraid people will hear us and think less than charitable things about our propriety?”


The hairs on the back on Gus’s neck stood at attention. She nodded.


“Hmm. Well, darling, you know it’s not too healthy to worry about what others will think.”


Gus shook her head, nodded, shook her head again. That wasn’t the point, she thought, or maybe it was, but no, she was sure she had another point…


Michelle let out a loud throaty groan and several overtly excited oh’s for emphasis. An amazing actress. Gus stood shocked and silent, unable to keep the abject horror out of her eyes.


Michelle laughed her great musical laugh and gave a coy smile. “See there, you’re already guilty of it as far as every library patron can tell. We might as well make the most of it.”




Michelle put one of Gus’s hesitant hands on the swell of her breast. “You have something better to do?”


Gus stood frozen.


“We’re both healthy, consenting adults. It’s okay.”


And that gave Gus the clarity she desperately needed. She withdrew her hand. “But that’s just it. I’m sorry, Michelle, but I am not consenting.”


“Ah.” Michelle smiled sadly. “Looking for something a little slower?”


Gus nodded.


“Seems we’re not the best match then.” She unlocked the stall door and stepped back, allowing Gus some sight of freedom. “I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. But of course, I respect your needs.”


“Thank you,” Gus whispered.


Michelle nodded and gave Gus another once over that Gus felt pretty sure should have incinerated the clothes clean off her body. “It was still a pleasure to meet you.”


Politeness automated Gus’s answer, “And you as well.”


Michelle barked a laugh. “I’ll let you go then. I’m guessing you do have better things to do.” She waved and sashayed out the bathroom door, leaving Gus flummoxed in the stall.


“I do. I need to call home,” she whispered to the now empty room. “And finish unpacking. And maybe rethink this online dating service idea.”



“You did what?” June’s thick Georgian drawl rose an octave at the end of her question.


Gus smiled at the incredulity in her older sister’s tone. “I joined an online dating service called San Antonio Matches4All.”


“What for?” June’s skepticism was accompanied by the voices of her nephews’ squabbling.


“Because I’m tired of being alone, but don’t tell Mama that.”


June laughed through her nose. “Yeah, we know her answer. She would tell you to quit trying to save the world and come back home to Atlanta where you’re needed and loved. And you know what? I’m not so sure she isn’t right.”


“This is a good opportunity to use what I’ve spent the last decade learning and wanting to do, June. I can’t give it up now.”


“I get it. You want to help children. I even get that you want to help impoverished children, but I don’t see why you can’t do that here in Atlanta.”


Gus squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her forehead. “My chance to build a mental health service program for impoverished youth is here in San Antonio. I get to establish and direct the whole program from its start.”


June snorted softly. “I think those two years with the Peace Corps in Guatemala turned you into a bleeding-heart liberal.”


“You’re one to talk. Besides, I think it was my fellowship at Harbor House that gave me the bleeding-heart and made Tyler Foundation interested in offering me this job.”


“Your fluency with Spanish probably didn’t hurt either.” Her sister clicked her tongue.


Gus smiled. “Yeah.”


“You know we’re proud of you. I just worry about my baby sister, playing with matches online and all that.”


“And Mama is putting the pressure on you to put the pressure on me, since July got engaged.”


June gave a rolling laugh. “You know it, sister. Ever since our darling baby brother conned that sweet girl into marrying him, she’s been telling me there is undeniable proof of miracles and asking how come it’s so hard to find a wealthy, healthy lesbian to make her most educated daughter a wife.”


“That’s exactly why I signed up for the online dating site. I’m telling you all, it’s impossible to find myself a wife if I never date—and you don’t want me recruiting lesbians in bars.”


“And they don’t go to church?”


“Oh, sure. And you know the Catholic Church is so welcoming of gays these days; they’ve even taken to hosting lesbian socials in the most Catholic city in Texas.”


“Now there is no reason to be so sarcastic with me, missy.” June chuckled. “With that kind of obstinacy, it’s no wonder we can’t marry you off before you’re an old maid.”


“Well, that’s probably a good part of the truth.” Gus brushed aside a strand of her unruly, brown hair and gave a small sigh.


“Oh now, don’t go getting all morose and moody on me now. You make friends with a fence post easy enough.”


“Yeah, but it’s hard being so far away from you all again. And if things work like I want them too here, that means I will remain far away from you all.”


“You can always decide you’ve done enough and come home, Gus. It doesn’t have to be forever, no matter how well it goes in San Antonio.”


Gus twisted her cellphone charging chord around her index finger and let it loose again. “Yeah. You’re right. I think I’m just P-M-S-ing on top of stressing over the move.”


“You’ve done it before. You did fine for your two years in the Peace Corp in Guatemala, through Lord knows how many years in school, getting that fancy degree of yours, and even through your two years of fellowship in Nebraska for heaven’s sake. You’ll do fine in San Antonio, and we’ll send care packages.”


“Ooo.” She anticipated the delicious goodies. “With some chocolate-covered goobers?”


“Sure, and some of my pecan pie cookies.”


“You’re the best.”


“I know.”


“Modest much?”


“Nah, my sister, the psychologist, told me too much humility damages my self-worth and ruins my social credibility.”


“Blah, blah, blah. Your sister uses too much psychobabble.”


“Yeah, she does. I love you, Gussie. I gotta go change your niece’s diaper.”


“I love you too, June. Kisses to all.” Gus smiled, as she heard her newest niece, March, give a hearty squall.


June’s reply was harried but warm, “And sugar back at ya. Bye, hon.”


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