Twenty-nine-year-old Rayann Germaine, betrayed by her lover, flees in grief and rage. She meets book store owner Louisa Thatcher, a woman many years her senior, who offers shelter and work… and soon, passion, and a loving place in her life.
But Rayann encounters challenges to this new love—from friends who question its wisdom, from her mother who disapproves of this liaison with a woman her own contemporary, from Louisa’s son who learns for the first time his mother’s true sexuality.
And there are profound differences between Rayann and Louisa themselves, two women who come from dramatically different places in the spectrum of age and life experience. Their only common ground seems to be the searing attraction that they both try to deny…
I think this book is still my personal favorite — perhaps because of the care and feeding it received from editors Christi Cassidy and Katherine Forrest. I will be forever grateful to them both.
Watermark, the sequel to Touchwood, was written nine years later. The author humbly suggests that readers allow a lapse of time between the two novels, though perhaps not quite that long.
Fans of this book won’t want to miss the follow-up short stories “Satisfaction” and “Come Here” in Frosting on the Cake 1: The Original and “The Curve of Her” in Frosting on the Cake 2: Second Helpings.
- Reader Comments about TouchwoodOne of the few books about a older woman with a younger woman. Both sensitive and serious as well as filled with humor.
- Touchwood and Watermark at Bay Area ReporterA wonderfully written, wonderfully entertaining novel.
- Touchwood at Bay WindowsA wonderful book…truly outstanding.
From Chapter Nine
Louisa laughed and settled into her seat again. “God, I love the ballpark. These seats are incredible.”
“We’re practically on level with the pitcher. And I’m glad we’re not behind the foul net.”
During the course of the game Rayann was delighted that she could actually concentrate on it, and not on Louisa. Of course every time Louisa jumped up to follow a long ball into the outfield Rayann would appreciate how shapely her sweatshirt was, but that was only natural appreciation for beauty, she was sure of it.
In the top of the eighth inning, the young player who’d given Louisa the clump of dirt put his first major league home run, and the first home run of the season over the fence at dead centerfield. From the crack of the bat Louisa and Rayann were on their feet, following the ball way, way back. “Tell it goodbye,” Louisa whooped and she threw her arm around Rayann.
Their hips met and they rocked as Can’t Touch This pulsed from the stadium’s loudspeakers. Rayann felt the surge of heat flowing through her–the same surge she’d been trying to forget ever since Christmas Eve. It was no use. When Louisa moved away again her body went cold. She could not stop staring at Louisa’s clapping hands.
If only she wouldn’t touch me, or look at me, or stand next to me, and if only she’d cover up her hands somehow.
She’d lost track of the game. Her legs were rubbery and between her legs she was on fire, melting into her seat. A lengthy at bat was underway, with the A’s renowned lead off man fouling off pitch after pitch, looking for a good one. Rayann couldn’t have cared less. Her eyes unfocused as her body seized energy and used it to fuel the waves of heat that were washing over her. The part of her mind that controlled her senses weren’t capable of thought –deep, burning longing had hijacked her brain and was taking no prisoners.
Bat connected with baseball yet again, and the resounding crack brought a gasp from the crowd. Rayann looked up and her eyes began to clear. When they focused it was on the baseball, headed straight for her face. No time to react. She scrunched her eyes shut and flinched for the impact.
She heard it hit something, then someone said, “Nice catch, lady.” She opened her eyes. Directly in front of her nose was Louisa’s hand, fingers spread and curled around the baseball. Rayann stared at that hand, noting every tendon and freckle. The movie reel in her head started playing back the way it had felt, the way she had moved, the way Louisa had taken her and made love to her – every moment, from the first brush of Louisa’s lips to the last surge of her fingers, played itself back on Rayann’s body, high speed. Even as Louisa dropped the ball onto Rayann’s lap and shook her hand, flexing and extending her fingers, Rayann slumped in her seat. I can’t go on like this.
“I thought you were on your way to the hospital for sure,” Louisa said. She was still shaking her hand. “What on earth were you looking at – it sure wasn’t the game.”
I was looking at you. “Thanks,” Rayann managed. She picked up the ball in her lap. “I believe you earned this. Is your hand okay?”
“Oh yeah,” Louisa said nonchalantly. “It’s just surprised. Will the ball fit in your coat pocket?”
Rayann squeezed it into her pocket. The A’s eventually won on a two-out, two-strike bases-loaded bunt in the bottom of the twelfth inning. Rayann watched the ball spin like a top, toying with the foul line, threatening to go foul as it spun toward first base. It made her dizzy to watch it, so she closed her eyes, missing the third base runner’s triumphant slide and the crowd’s roar when the ball stopped a quarter-inch fair. She just didn’t care.
At home Rayann emptied her pockets, and tried to ignore the shudders that went through her when she looked at the baseball. “Think fast,” she said. As soon as Louisa turned, Rayann flipped the ball to her.
Louisa tried to catch it, but the ball thudded to the floor as Louisa winced.
“You did hurt yourself,” Rayann said. She was at Louisa’s side in a flash. “Oh my God,” she moaned when she saw the red and bruised palm.
“It’s just sore,” Louisa said, her nonchalance at odds with the proof of the bruise. She gave an involuntary “ouch” when Rayann prodded gently. Her color was unusually high when Rayann looked up from her examination.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I could have gotten some ice from the concession stand.” She pressed the protesting Louisa into her easy chair and then hurriedly dropped some ice into a baggie and wrapped it in a paper towel.
“It’s nothing. You don’t have to fuss. I don’t need a nurse.”
“Hold this in your hand,” Rayann commanded.
“It’s not neces—oh, all right. I had no idea you could pout like that.”
“How does it feel?”
“Good,” Louisa said reluctantly, after the ice pack had rested in her hand for a few moments. “It’s terrible getting old.”
Rayann wanted to drop to her knees and kiss the injured hand tenderly. She wanted to cup it against her face and give it TLC until it felt better, then once it was healed and strong again, she wanted to bring it to her body, invite it to learn her again. “Age has nothing to do with it,” she said. “Why do you think the players were gloves?”
“To extend their reach,” Louisa answered drily. “I know age is somewhat a state of the mind, but it’s also a state of the body. Mine’s about twenty-seven years older than yours.”
Why do you do that? Why do you keep reminding me? There was nothing to say to that, nothing that could be said. “Well, now you have a souvenir for Danny.” That’s right, bring up Danny and remind yourself that Louisa is happy the way she is.
“Danny? Oh, she’ll love it.” Louisa closed her eyes and Rayann could see she was in quite a bit of discomfort despite her bravado – a flush still covered Louisa’s cheeks. She fetched a glass of water and some ibuprofen and forced them on Louisa who submitted with good grace. After she had swallowed, she said, “Doctor, do I have your permission to go downstairs and take down the ‘closed for baseball’ sign?”
“No. I’ll do it,” Rayann said. “And don’t you take off that ice pack.”
Louisa stared at Rayann and said, “Dominating type, aren’t you?”
Rayann stared back, blinked, and said, “Not all of the time.” Then she escaped to the bookstore, her heart racing. She wiped her palms on her pants, but all the wiping in the world wouldn’t keep them dry.
Au Grand Jour
La rencontre entre Rayann et Louisa était inespérée : l’une cherchait un travail et un toit après une rupture sentimentale, l’autre quelqu’un pour la seconder dans sa librairie en échange d’une chambre au-dessus de la boutique.
Rapidement, la cohabitation devient un défi pour Rayann : comment résister au charme de la libraire qui a l’âge de sa mère ? Le mieux serait de se changer les idées dans les bras de la séduisante Zoraida.
Du côté de Louisa, l’attirance pour cette femme, si jeune et si sûre d’elle, ravive un passé heureux mais difficile.
Leur improbable histoire parviendra-t-elle à s’épanouir malgré le regard sceptique et désapprobateur de leur entourage ?
” (…) La chanson prit fin et les lumières sur la piste se rallumèrent légèrement. Rayann se détacha de Zoraida en la tenant par les avant-bras pour ne pas perdre l’équilibre. Elle ne savait pas si Zoraida se rendait compte à quel point elle était excitée, elle la regarda et vit que le désir de Zoraida reflétait le sien.
— Novia, murmura Zoraida. Rentre avec moi. On doit terminer cette danse dans un endroit plus approprié.
Rayann ferma les yeux et frissonna. Elle s’apprêta à dire oui — elle l’avait au bout des lèvres. Elle ouvrit à nouveau les yeux et, par-dessus l’épaule de Zoraida, elle vit Louisa.
Elle cilla. Louisa était toujours là et elle regardait maintenant dans leur direction. Puis Rayann vit un bras vêtu de cuir autour des épaules de Louisa.
— Novia ?
Rayann se força à porter son attention sur Zoraida. Elle avait été sur le point de dire quelque chose, mais quoi que ce fût, ça lui avait échappé complètement.
— Je suis désolée, j’ai vu quelqu’un que je connais.
Rayann jeta un nouveau coup d’œil à Louisa. Louisa leva les sourcils et sourit. (…) “
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