A butch lesbian parolee. The pretty pansexual nurse who got away. Is this their second chance at a happily ever after?
Finn is finally out of prison, which is great. Having no job, no car, and no place to sleep except her cousin’s couch? Not so great. Plus, her felony theft conviction isn’t doing wonders for her employment prospects, so she can’t afford her migraine meds without the public clinic.
The last thing she ever expected was for the gal who stole her heart to come walking down that clinic’s hallway: Vivi, the manicure-loving nurse who spent two years fighting the prison system to get proper medical care for her patients, including Finn.
Finn could never believe she imagined the attraction and affection between them. But acting on that in prison, especially as nurse and patient, had been a serious No Way. She’s had eight months to get over Vivi, who abruptly left her job without saying goodbye. Finn is over it. Honest! It’s totally and completely fine.
Except Vivi, here and now, doesn’t seem fine. And Finn couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t try to help.
Is fate offering Finn a second chance? Or is finding love as likely as finding a job with health insurance?
A 31K F/F contemporary romance novella with a guaranteed HEA.
Finn said goodbye to the doctor and stepped back out into the hall—
Only to see Vivienne Curiel walking towards her.
Even after eight months, Finn knew she couldn’t be anyone else. Vivi’s bun had lavender in it now, and was higher, almost on top of her head, and her scrubs were hot pink instead of prison staff blue. She’d put on some weight and looked seriously va-va-voom. Vivi glanced up from the chart she’d been scanning and stopped short about five feet away, her lip-glossed mouth dropping open. She was as stunning as the day Finn had last seen her, the day Vivi had said a cheery goodbye as if everything was completely normal.
Finn waited to find out if Vivi would come closer, or turn around and go as if they’d never even known each other, as if they’d never been… whatever they had never been.
Vivi closed her mouth, made her decision, and walked to the open doorway Finn was blocking. Her voice came out higher than Finn remembered it. Nervous. “Finn? How did— Um, what are you doing here?”
Not the first words Finn had been hoping to hear. When she couldn’t stop herself daydreaming about running into Vivi somewhere, she’d envisioned something along the lines of Finn, oh wow, how are you? or Thank goodness you’re free, take me home and cover me with kisses.
Okay, not really the last one. That would be weird.
Finn held up her post-visit printout like an elementary school hall pass while she waited for her brain to reboot. She couldn’t stop staring at Vivi. There were dark circles under her eyes which Finn didn’t remember from before. Vivi was exhausted, or maybe sick. Also gorgeous and standing right here. Finn’s nervous system had no idea what to do with all this information.
“I guess you’re—” Vivi started, as Finn managed “Are you o—”
They both stopped.
This was weirder than the cover me with kisses vision. This was flat-out awkward. Why? They’d been friends first, whatever else either of them had wanted, and they hadn’t parted on bad terms. Finn had made the one regrettable slip near the end, holding Vivi’s hand, but she’d been forgiven. Hadn’t she?
“So you aren’t… here to see me?” Vivi asked.
Oh no. Finn could see it from Vivi’s perspective. Girl quits job, girl gets new job in Austin hundreds of miles away, then other girl from old job randomly appears at new workplace? Prison staff probably had to be careful about that kind of thing.
But whatever peace Finn had finally made with Vivi’s disappearance had come when she’d put the past behind her. Regardless, Finn never would have come to Vivi’s work uninvited. If Finn had learned anything from her prison stay, it was how much she’d taken privacy and boundaries for granted before.
Plus, this wasn’t how Finn would have wanted a reunion to go. Too many of the questions Vivi might ask had awkward answers. Where was Finn working? Nowhere. Where was she living? In her cousin’s stepsister’s living room trying not to disturb any of the Christmas decorations, and yeah that was a damn long story.
“I didn’t have a clue you worked here,” Finn promised, relieved this was a misunderstanding and she hadn’t unknowingly committed some transgression. There were enough in the known column already. “I didn’t even know you lived in Austin now.” Finn would have remembered any mention of Austin in Vivi’s bio, since Finn had expected her cousin Hollis who lived here to put her up. Which he was doing as best he could.
Finn expected Vivi to relax now that Finn’s presence had been explained. Instead, she hiked the patient chart up in front of her chest. When she spoke, she was obviously trying to be Nurse Curiel, but Finn could only give it a seven out of ten for verisimilitude. Too shaky.
“Oh.” Vivi put on a smile Finn had only seen her use with strangers. “Well. I’m glad you’re out, that’s wonderful. If you have any questions later, call the nurse line, and if you don’t get what you need there, ask for a call back from the nurse manager.” She sounded like she was preparing to give Finn more instructions for if things went wrong, such as how to escalate to the Executive Director, or contact the media for an investigative report, but she visibly stopped herself. “I’m glad you’re getting care. Maybe I’ll run into you here again. Bye, Finn.”
Finn might not have known Vivi lived in Austin now, but she knew something was wrong. “Vivi, wait. Please.”
Finn had never said Vivi’s name out loud. She’d only ever heard that nickname said by other staff at the prison. It must have been waiting on the tip of her tongue all this time, or Nurse Curiel would have come out. She kinda wanted to say it again, so she could hear it again in her own voice.
But Vivi had already turned back, listening. Finn’s eyes grabbed every detail she could. The freckles across Vivi’s nose and cheeks, darker now, especially the two above the corner of her lips. The shimmery eye shadow. The way her chin might be about to start trembling like on Vivi’s twenty-seventh birthday when she’d been missing her mother.
She wasn’t okay. Vivi wasn’t okay, and maybe Finn was at fault or maybe not, but either way Finn couldn’t stand it.
“Can we talk?” Finn tried to put all her genuine concern into the question and none of her selfish confusion. “Sometime? Catch up?”
Vivi didn’t immediately walk away, but she didn’t open up either. After a moment she seemed to pull up some reserve energy and gave Finn another smile. Still fake, though, as if Finn was no longer someone Vivi could turn to.
“Sure,” Vivi said, a pale echo of her old cheery self. “We should catch up. Um… tonight? Is that too soon? Today I actually know I’m getting out of here on time. We could meet at Knockdown Coffee at six thirty?”
Finn didn’t have a clue where Knockdown Coffee was, but she’d get there even if she had to take a cab with the emergency cash her cousin had given her.
“Yeah. Sounds perfect.”
Vivi nodded sharply, all business. “See you there.”
Then Vivienne Curiel, the wrong place, wrong time woman Finn hadn’t been able to forget no matter how hard she tried, walked on down the hall.
I’ve tried to make these as spoiler-free as possible, but to me it’s more important to give full content information to those who need it.
On-page or extensive discussion:
- Sex (explicit in Chapter 9; less detailed reference in Chapter 14)
- Reflection on negative prison experiences, including delay of medical care and observing trans prisoners being housed in wrong prison
- Reflection on factors that lead to people being in prison, including abuse, addiction, and poverty
- Housing insecurity and prospect of living with homophobic parents
- Difficulty accessing a prescription from a government-funded program
- Character with chronic migraines has one start on-page
- Unintended pregnancy with serious consideration of both abortion and continuing the pregnancy
- Side character is a former police officer
- One phone call from an inebriated side character (who is safe at the time)
Off-page or brief mention:
- Mentions of character’s mother dying when she was a young child and parentification of oldest sister
- Descriptions of being rejected by conservative Christian parents for sexual orientation
- Recovery from injuries sustained in a car accident
- Weaning off pain medication
- Discussion of biological parent not being able to raise their child
- Character with young children has been abandoned by spouse
- Volunteering at abortion clinic (note: this is included only because some readers may have had stressful or dangerous experiences while volunteering)