International Kiss a Ginger Day: WANT edition

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Want cover w blurb - smallCreated less than a decade ago in reaction to a less tasteful and more, er, violent unofficial holiday started by a Canadian teenager (what?), International Kiss a Ginger Day is just that – a day to show the ginger in your life just how amazing they are. Or at least their hair color.

As a (bottle) redhead, the mother of a legit redhead and soon-to-be stepmom to a strawberry blond, I can say with authority that gingerness is not just a physical characteristic, but a personality trait and an attitude!

Often ridiculed, targeted by bullies, even the victims of hate crimes just for having red hair (yes, for real), redheads have featured prominently in literature for centuries, including that written by the Romans, the Greeks and the authors of the Bible. We might be more familiar with Anne Shirley, Pippi Longstockings, “The Redheaded League” by Sir Conan Doyle, and the Weasley clan.

Oh, and that social media post about redheads going extinct? It’s a hoax. (Phew.)

No longer the picked-on fuzzy-headed kids chosen last for the kickball team, today’s redheads kicks ass, take names and knows they’re special. And if not, well, today’s the day to remind them!

Other than my daughter (and maybe Christina Hendricks – meow), Julianne Casquette is absolutely my favorite redhead. Sure, she’s fictitious, but I imbued her with all the incredible attitude, talents and sex appeal I love in gingers. (Along with some admittedly serious, messed-up character flaws just for fun.)

In honor of Kiss a Ginger Day, enjoy this excerpt from “Aftertaste,” a short scene that ties in with WANT, which features a firestorm of a redhead and the poor (much older) sap who falls hard for her … and pays the price. Enjoy!

Aftertaste coverI take a deep breath, turn the corner, and there she is: Julianne.

 Long legs, long hair, long, graceful fingers twined in the sheet I draped over her after she crashed on my sad futon. I’m still not clear on why she showed up at my place in the middle of the night, barely dressed and rambling an apology, but I couldn’t turn her away. I don’t have much to offer, but whatever she was looking for, she must have found it because, next thing I know, she’s curled up and purring in her sleep. I did take the liberty of tucking a strand of that flaming hair behind her ear. Maybe that’s where the red (so much red) in the dream comes from. Maybe that’s only what I tell myself.

I’m relieved to see she’s the same as when I left her—tussled curls, milky white skin that refuses to bow to the Alabama sun, and from all outward appearances, completely intact. Unharmed. Innocent. No red-purple pool on the sheet except for her hair. My breath catches as she presses it to her nose and inhales what I hope—what I suspect—for her is the scent of safety. Ironic that she finds safety within these walls, in this neighborhood… in this city. Everywhere I turn I see nothing but danger. But then, it follows me. Or rather, I carry it with me and project it outward as a scrim on life’s stage. Pessimistic? You would be too the day after having the dream I’m forced to repeat.

She opens one eye and smiles. My heart skips a beat at the same time my gut roils. I don’t know what else to do, so I hand her the mug of coffee. Our fingers touch, and it’s exactly the same as the imagined skin from my dream. From now on, it will no longer be imagined, but remembered. I fumble for something to say.

“Everything looks better—”

“—by the light of day.” She finishes my sentence, the one I borrowed from my uncle, her surrogate grandfather.

I hope we’re both right.

If you want more redhead love, all of “Aftertaste” is available for free from Inkspell Publishing (scroll to the bottom) or get the whole story (…or is it?) in WANT.

Who are your favorite literary redheads?

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