When I asked readers which story stories they would like to read based on my debut paranormal romance The Dreaming, I was reaching when I suggested that I write the story of what happened with Jenny and Cat while Joe and Dana were out on their first official date. Imagine my surprise when Jenny and Cat Sing Karaoke received the most votes!
More good news for Cat’s fans – she will appear in the next Natural Gifts release, No Yesterdays.
Please enjoy Jenny and Cat Sing Karaoke, and you can listen to their playlist
while you read.
Jenny flipped through the pages of Teenage Dream magazine, waiting for Cat to call and say that her mom had sprung her from taking care of Cat’s younger brother, Dylan. When the call came in, Jenny would pop into her bug and go to Cat’s house to pick her up. They were probably going to stop at Sonic for a burger, fries, and a shake. Jenny’s mom, Dana, was out on her first date with Carter’s dad, Joe, so they were on their own for dinner. Maybe Jim would be able to meet them there. No, Jenny discarded the idea right away. She wanted to spend time with Cat, away from Jim, because Cat often felt like a third wheel when the three of them went out together.
Jenny and Cat had been friends since the second grade, when Cat’s family moved to Joshua Tree and Cat joined her class at school. Laurie, Cat’s mom, and Dana, were both room mothers, so they spent time together after school while their moms volunteered together.
Jenny figured that Cat was the one person in the world she could tell anything to. Cat was the only person she ever talked to about her father, whom no one talked about anymore. Cat understood that Jenny had always been closer to her mother, but that she still missed the rare times when her dad would come barreling through the door and call out for her and her brother Jason to “Get over here. Where are my matching munchkins?”
When he called out for them that way, they would both go running to him. He would pick them up at the same time, and swing them around. Mom would come out of the kitchen, laughing, and they would share a group hug. Those moments were Jenny’s favorites.
Her reverie broke because of the sounds coming from Jason’s room of him and Carter playing a video game loud enough for her to hear through her closed bedroom door, even with her music up louder than she needed it. Cat’s custom ringtone, “Right Now”, by Rihanna, couldn’t hope to compete. Jenny went to turn Skrillex down, turning “Cinema” up during the best part so she could dance along with it, then lowering the volume again so she would be able to hear her phone.
A giggly voice announced that she had received a “text message.” Jenny launched onto her bed to bounce the phone up, then caught it in the air. Jim’s message asked her how she was doing. Her fingers flew over the keypad. “Waiting.” Then, “Cat’s coming over to spend the night when she’s done watching her brother. You?”
Jim answered, “Bored. Nothing to do.”
Jenny couldn’t relate. Boredom didn’t happen to her. “Do you want to Skype until Cat’s ready?”
Jim grunted in his living room, where he sat on a couch 100% by himself. It was Friday night, his girl had a car, and he was spending it alone so she could hang out with her friend. Man, if Cat could get a guy, they could go and do things together.
“Sure,” he answered Jenny, then moved to his laptop to set it up.
Jenny booted her laptop and accepted his call, happy to talk with him. She’d been thinking about what he would do tonight. She wasn’t allowed to have him over when her mom wasn’t home until Dana knew him better. It took her mom forever to trust people in the house when she wasn’t home.
She swiped on light purple lipstick and checked herself in the mirror before she sat in front of her camera to greet her boyfriend. “Hi,” she chirped to him, waving.
“Hey,” Jim lounged back, thinking of that kiss he’d slipped her behind the gym building earlier. She was starting to get into it. There were times when he felt much older than Jenny.
Peaches barked at her bedroom door. “Hold on, Jim. Peaches wants to come into the room with me.”
“Yeah, okay,” Jim watched her walk to the door and let one of her dogs into the room.
Above Jenny’s desk was a cork bulletin board filled with pictures. The biggest was one of her and Jim. It was her favorite, because it showed off how cute he was with his dark brown hair and brown eyes. She loved his smile.
Jenny sat in the chair while Peaches and Cream made themselves comfortable on her bed. “Peaches was asking for both of them. I wonder why Cream doesn’t ask to come in.”
Jim shrugged. “She’s got her trained to do it for her, maybe.” They seemed like cool dogs to him.
Jenny eyed both dogs, thinking over their reactions. It was possible that Peaches and Cream arranged it like that. Peaches usually did go first, like their names went. Huh.
“Jen,” Jim called her attention back to him.
Jenny turned around playfully, pushing down and spinning her desk chair until her ponytail swung around with her. “Yeah!”
He had to laugh. She was kooky and kind of crazy. When he added in that she was gorgeous and sweet, well, that’s why she was his girlfriend. Too many of the girls he had liked before were missing the “r” in girlfriend. They were girlfiends.
Cat’s ringtone signaled the end of his night with Jenny. He knew that if she was spending the evening with him, it would be Cat who was waiting until morning to talk with Jenny. It didn’t mean he liked it. He knew it would be that way, because Jenny had learned presence from her mother. Mind and body in the same place, at the same time.
“That’s Cat,” they said at the same time. Then laughed together.
“Right on. I’ll see you tomorrow, Jen.”
“Tomorrow!” she agreed wholeheartedly, blowing him a kiss and ending the call. She grabbed her phone at the last moment before it would go to voice mail. “Heya, Catrina.”
Cat sighed, more than ready to party Cat and Jenny style.
“That bad?” Jenny asked.
Cat sighed again, then shook the tension off her shoulders. “I wouldn’t mind if my brother was more like Jason. Sometimes I don’t think he knows you exist.”
How could Jenny explain that being twins meant that they hardly ever needed to talk to one another to know what was happening? People talked about it, but they didn’t know unless it was happening to them. She summed it up for Cat by saying that she liked the way Jason was with her, too.
“How’s about I come and spring you from your prison? We could score a burger at Sonic and then pig out on ice cream and cookies here. I’m ready for a sugar rush.”
Cat laughed, remembering that Dana wasn’t home for most of the night. “I’m waiting outside. That’s how ready I am.”
* * *
“They’re going to get loud,” Jason warned Carter when he saw Jenny and Cat run past the family room window.
Carter had a lot of cousins. He figured he could handle two. He turned back to the movie as a bloody body part hit the screen. That one looked pretty real. Jason turned back to the movie, too, after he closed the blinds.
Jenny threw open the slider to usher Cat, Peaches, and Cream in, then flung it closed. It rattled when it hit the frame, which made all four of them flinch.
“Be careful,” Cat laughed. “You’ll get me banned from being here without your mom.”
Jenny slowed her racing heart, dragging in ragged breaths. “Yeah, I know,” she answered, trying to catch her breath. She was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe. If anyone asked her, she wouldn’t be able to answer in a way they understood what it was that made her and Cat laugh hysterically when they were together.
“Karaoke time!” Jenny yelled, unofficially asking if Jason wanted to join in. Carter was probably too shy.
“Finally.” Cat grabbed for the machine and put her current favorite song on first. Balloons and stars floated all over the screen until the lyrics started scrolling by. She handed Jenny a wireless microphone, then posed in front of the mirror. Cat flung her arms out wide, started swinging her hips, eyes closed, as the music moved her.
“I think you are a professional singer, Cat.” Jenny envied her skill. She didn’t even have to try to keep up with the fast songs. She could dance hard and still sing without getting winded.
“But it’s not practical,” Cat mimicked their Physics teacher.
“Neither is being stuck in a lab when all you want to do is sing and dance on a stage in front of a crowd. All the degrees in the world won’t give that to you.”
“How are you so deep, Jenny?” This was the part of their friendship that no one else saw or even guessed existed.
“Deep?” Jenny squealed and pressed the buttons for Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. It was her favorite because it was easy for her to sound good at it. Cat let Jenny have her good time with the song, even though she loved to sing it, too.
Talk of the future, of depth, of seriousness of any kind, was gone for the night. Cat chose “Jungle Boogie” in the style of Kool and the Gang for her next pick. She wanted to dance in their silly, funky way, which neither would ever admit to.
Jenny rolled that into “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which made her wish her room was big enough to have a trampoline in it. They used the bed as a trampoline, which had Peaches and Cream asking to leave the room.
Cat opened the door to let the dogs out, letting in cool air. They stood in front of the door until Jenny ran over and put on “Who Let the Dogs Out,” screaming that Cat let the dogs out.
They closed the door out of respect for the guys watching screamers in the family room. That was their first sign that the sugar was wearing off.
Their first break from dancing and singing manically came with the need for cool air and water two hours later; covered in sweat and smelling like a gym. Their mood came down, the way sugar rushes do, until they sat on the bed for a moment that turned into the rest of the night.