Monday, February 25, 2013

Post Divorce: When your Ex Refuses to Move On

I am divorced.  I have been divorced for almost seven years.  My ex-husband and I share two children; only one is still a minor.  I am remarried.  My ex lives with his girlfriend, and they have been in a relationship for a few years, as well.  She is divorced and has children.  My new husband is divorced, and has children.  Neither of our ex-spouses lives in the same state in which we currently reside.

That is the background.

Here is the problem:  Our ex-spouses seem hell-bent on harassing us.  

It started out simple enough.  My new husband, I’ll call him “S,” went through a highly contested divorce with “T,” dealing mainly with financial issues, but a few visitation issues, as well.  She wanted the children 100% of the time, and demanded that S fly in to see his children, stay at a hotel, pick the children up after school, spend a couple of hours with them – perhaps have dinner together at a restaurant, and then bring them home.  No overnights.  No visits to S’s home in another state.  Period. End of story.

So, after that failed spectacularly, she started making other demands.  When those also failed, she decided to control other aspects of S’s life – most prominently, his new relationship with yours truly.  It was subtle at first.  She would put my name into Google, and try to find dirt on me.  It took a while.  The only thing she ever came up with was some type of public notice stating that my storage unit was on the chopping block for non-payment.  She then began sending emails and text messages regarding my “inability to pay my debts.”  I was appalled!  I contacted the storage company immediately, and inquired as to what was happening with my storage unit, and they assured me that everything was fine, it was paid in full, and I was not being evicted.  


I attempted to explain this to S’s ex, that it was a misunderstanding, and that she should be careful about spreading those types of rumors.  Oh, I also told her to stop harassing me, and never contact me directly again.  Yea.  Because it was going to be that easy.  Not so much.

During this period, my ex-husband, apparently felt he was losing control over my life, and the children, and began his own harassment.  I won’t go into the various issues, but suffice it to say – he was attempting to initiate trouble between my husband and me.  To make matters even worse, over the past three years, our exes have formed an unholy “friendship” by which they information share.  Disgusting, huh?

My ex initiated a change in custody, which settled out of court, but not before he insisted that we undergo psychological examinations.  For those unaware, the parties sign confidentiality agreements regarding the information contained in the reports.  So, imagine my surprise when T began spouting off very specific language from my psych eval.  Hmmm, let’s think for a minute…who would have a copy of that report…oh, yes – my ex!  Of course, not being the brightest bulb in the pack, T decided not only to include that information in an email to me, she also copied correspondence between herself and my ex-husband’s girlfriend.  

Fast forward – I am now cleaning up a mess that my ex and his girlfriend thought would be most hilarious.  Without going into great detail, it involved ordering items be sent to my home, and being billed for them.  I have spent much time on the phone over the past few months getting it all straightened out.  So far, everything they have done can be corrected; but what happens when it is no longer an easy fix?  I marvel at the complete immaturity of people in their forties…boggles the mind.

So why do they do it?  I mean, after years of being divorced, everyone moving on, why do ex-spouses continue to insert themselves into their former spouses lives?  According to Mark Goulston, a California psychiatrist , "You're obviously dealing with an obsessive person who can't let go.  When that overtakes them because they're rather immature, immature meaning they can't let it rise and fall, they act on it." It seems to have become an epidemic.  Ex-spouses long for greener pastures.  They look over the fence, dream of what their lives will be, and then demand it be so.  When that does not happen, they cannot deal with it, and strike out.  The epidemic is the theme in society lately of “no responsibility for one’s own actions,” followed by “I can do whatever I want, and I will just find someone else to blame for my actions.”  My ex-husband is the king of deflection.  If he does something, he spends a copious amount of time trying to find a way for it to be my fault.  What if, instead of trying to cover his arse after-the-fact, he decided not to harass me in the first place?   Wow!  Perhaps we could spend our time working together for the good of the children, without the constant contention between us.  What. A. Thought.

And what recourse does the victim of this type of harassment have to stop the harassers?  Depending on the severity of the harassment, it can include obtaining a harassment restraining order.  Just make sure there is evidence with which to build a strong case.  The harasser, however, may be able to escape an otherwise clear-cut case of harassment by having someone else actually initiate the harassment, thereby creating ‘plausible deniability.’

And that is where I am at now.  After enduring about 30 minutes of being berated by a judge, who seemed more interested in our modification case that is not even in her jurisdiction, who never once asked my ex why his girlfriend was harassing me, my case was dismissed.  No restraining order.  My ex not only blatantly lied under oath, and made unsubstantiated false allegations against me, he refused to take responsibility for his actions.  And the judge, well she just validated his actions, and gave him the green light to find another person to act as his patsy.  It’s all very JFK/Lee Harvey Oswald….

So what now?  Barring a wave of social reform holding people accountable (or judges), I will endeavor to write, and hope for change.  We will continue to ignore our ex-spouses as best we can, and document, document, document.  Everything.  No matter how small or seemingly irrelevant.  And I hope that one day they will discover some other hobby.  Please…let that be soon…

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review Friday: Lycan Unleashed

Lycan Unleashed:

From the Back Cover:

Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.  Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, Lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.  Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

My Two Cents:

So, in the world of paranormal fiction/romance, I have been converted...I have officially switched teams.  Go werewolves - or, in this case, Lycans!

Author Tiffany Allee creates a strong, albeit small-statured, lead female in Astrid Holmes (good choice for a last name.  Can never go wrong with Holmes for a detective).  Allee did not follow the norm for a female detective by avoiding the typical need for a masculine "I am a bad-ass female that carries a gun - just like a man" attitude, and refreshingly showed Atrid's dislike for being placed in danger, and preferring 'desk duty' to 'field work'.  It did not detract from her being strong, and actually made her actions when she was in danger more impressive and admirable.  I  also appreciated the explanation of "otherworlders," which included vampires, imps, succubi, and sensitives - oh, and sexy lycans! - and how they live among the non-otherworlders (that would be you and I) in full view and in an awkward harmony.  There did seem to be an edge of contention between the regular detectives (for lack of a better term) and otherworlders on the police force, but I wish it had been played up a little more.  Perhaps, the "us against them but we are all still ultimately against the bad guys" tension.  I was also a little distracted by the switch in terminology between "otherworlders" to "OW" to "oh-dub" - perhaps explain the correct pronunciation of "OW" as "oh-dub" in the beginning, then stick to OW.  But that is just me, and others may not have that issue.

Mason is a strong, sexy, werewolf-esque romantic interest.  It was clear that he had been avoiding a relationship with Astrid over a period of time, for his own reasons (which came out later in the story) and his struggle with being around her again.  I wish there had been a little more of a build up of sexual tension, and frustration, between the two before the "big event."  

All-in-all, this is a really interesting concept for a continuing storyline, and I was able to connect with the unique characters.

I give it      and a   

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Catching Up...Two New Book Reviews

In Session:

From The Back Cover:

IN SESSION from international bestseller M.J. Rose, features the return of Dr. Morgan Snow, in a brand-new story collection!  As a therapist specializing in sexual issues, psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow isn't easily shocked, or shaken, as readers of the popular "Butterfield Institute" novels know. There are times, however, when the need for her services leads her out of the office... and into unfamiliar worlds.  In these stories the therapist matches her wits -and her training - against three men of mystery: Jack Reacher, John Rain, and Cotton Malone.  Those characters are, of course, familiar to readers as the creations, respectively, of NYT bestselling authors Lee Child, Barry Eisler, and Steve Berry. All three swore that their characters would never agree to therapy - unless Rose found a way to get then there. And she did.  In EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES with Steve Berry's Cotton Malone, a woman seeks help for her lover, and sends Dr. Snow overseas on a most unusual house call....  DECISIONS, DECISIONS where Barry Eisler's John Rain forces Dr. Snow out of her own comfort zone, and into the world of a former patient's worst nightmare...  And KNOWING YOU'RE ALIVE with Lee Child's Jack Reacher results in revelations for both the injured Dr. Snow, and her unexpected savior/patient...

My Two Cents:

Interesting concept - taking three very masculine, well-known characters from other fiction, and placing them in situations where they are talking to a sex therapist about sex!  The short stories are an easy read; I was able to get through all three in an afternoon.  The premise behind Dr. Snow meeting and engaging the three characters was very interesting (and apparently received the seals of approval from each characters creator).  This would be a great read for anyone - not just women.  Guys who are fans of any (or all) of the characters would enjoy the read without having to worry about "mushy love stuff" or highly-charged erotica.  The characters seem to be in their usual elements - with a twist.  Very enjoyable read...and all the proceeds of the audio book and a share of the proceeds of the ebook will be donated to David Baldacci's Wish You Well Foundation, supporting family literacy. (!  Win-Win!

I give it    and a 

Paradise Hops:

From the Back Cover:

A brutal attack left Lori Brockton convinced she was damaged goods. By the time she emerges from hiding two years later, ready to run her family's famous brewery, she's determined to be independent--never rely on anyone ever again. Nearly a year of working in every corner of Brockton Brewing Company, from warehouse to pub, front office to kitchen, teaches her all she needs to know about the business. Then, she comes face-to-face with masculine perfection in a suit and her world is rocked in more ways than one. Garret Hunter is the new Brockton business manager who takes one look at the beautiful, sad young woman and his entire existence coalesces around winning her heart.  But standing between Garrett and what he believes is his true love, is a six-feet six-inch blond-haired bad boy brewer.  Eli Buchannan is a craft beer rock star, recently hired by Brockton to drag the company into the 21st century. He brings innovation and attitude plus a prima donna ladies' man reputation. But he's sworn off anything resembling commitment, personal or professional, after getting burned at his last job on both fronts.  Garret Hunter is "The Perfect Man" -- handsome, successful, stable, eager to settle down. Eli Buchannan... is not. Compelling, smoking hot, creative and elusive, he represents everything Lori Brockton should avoid. But just as she makes a difficult choice, a drastic life-changing shift occurs, and nothing is ever the same again.

My Two Cents:

Even with advanced warning that author Liz Crowe throws a wrench in traditional romance story-telling, and does not wholly subscribe to the "hearts and flowers" concept, I was thrown for a loop, and somewhat shaken, by this book.  The twist was indeed a surprise, leaving me in tears.  

The love triangle was great - Bad boy, Eli; Perfect man, Garrett; and confused and injured, Lori.  I loved that they were all flawed in their own ways, even Lori (who I wanted to kick in the butt, sometimes).  It was real, and not contrived, and the emotions she went through with each man, as well as overcoming her own fears of intimacy induced by terror from her past, was well-thought-out and written.  It's romance for real life.  I found myself cheering for Lori and Garrett when they were together, and really mad at her when her thoughts turned to Eli...until she was thrown together with Eli.  Then I was all about the bad boy (do we ever grow out of that?).

I was intrigued that the lead female took an interest in a male centered career, and one that I know very little about.  It is obvious Ms. Crowe knows her beer...I mean, knows a great deal about brewing. 

I give it    and a  

FRIDAY:  Book review of Lycan Unleashed, a paranormal romance by Tiffany Allee.  Then I will be giving romance a rest for a little while, and looking at some thrillers...

Monday, February 18, 2013

She is....

She is born.  It was 7:35 in the morning when she made her presence known among us.  It was a simple cry, but she was easily soothed.  She had a crop of dark hair on her head, and beautiful big blue eyes.  She looked so small in her car seat when we drove her home from the hospital, and I wondered if she would ever be big enough for that seat.  She was not just a “good” baby – she was the “best” baby!  She slept through the night very early on, would smile and giggle at everything around her.  And she loved, and everyone she came in contact with fell in love with her, and was captivated by her.

She is so quiet.  When she was young, I would explain it as “shy.”  As she grew into a young woman, I would change my definition.  She was not shy, she was excessively observant.  She watched everyone and everything, and would internalize what she saw, felt, heard, and touched.  In the future, it would be retold in her art and writing.

She is touched by death.  And she felt it keenly.  The loss of her beloved pet, after she had conquered her deep fear of dogs.  He was a spark of pure love, and he would greet her every day after school, and sit by her on the couch as she finished her homework, and curl up with her on her bed, protecting her from the monsters in the closet.  The loss of her Papa, the man who prayed for a granddaughter, and was thrilled when she arrived in his life.  The man who was patient, and loving, and played with her.  Her “nap buddy.”  I cannot count the times I would walk into the family room, and would find my father sitting in the overstuffed chair, squished along one side, head back, snoring LOUDLY; while Amanda’s small body would be curled into his side, sleeping soundly.  She would miss, for years, the man who would never let her pass by him without giving her a hug, telling her how much she was loved, or giving a simple, “you are a good girl, Amanda.”

She is creative.  So creative!  Not in one area, but in many.  Her art has won awards, and adorns the walls in my private art gallery.  When people compliment, gawk, and sigh at their beauty and intricate detail, she shrugs her shoulders.  Her writing is amazing, and very visual, and deeply personal.  I hope she will share it with the world soon.  And she has vision; of how things should look, how stories should be told, and ways in which she would like to tell them.  I cannot wait to see her mind’s eye on the big (or small) screen.  It will be a thing of beauty.  She inspires me to be better.  She is a huge supporter, and a fair but tough critique.  And I trust her insights.

She is 19 today.  And, while I miss sharing coffee in the morning, talking about books, watching Graham Norton and laughing until we cry, lunch at Panera Bread, or afternoon tea - I am so proud of the woman she has become, and where she is going.  I have one birthday wish…for the love of all that is good and gracious in this world - sit back, and enjoy the ride.  The years pass by so quickly.  I know…you were born, and a blink of an eye later, you are 19.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Tease:


Anna Zendel is your average 32-year-old therapist, stressing about clinical exams and struggling to recover from an abusive relationship. But at night she transforms herself into the saucy burlesque dancer Velvet Crush, enchanting Chicago audiences with the art of the tease. As Anna struggles to keep the therapy and burlesque worlds separate and get over her crush on the troupe's emcee, a new danger threatens women across the city. The papers have dubbed him the Darling Killer, because after strangling his victims, he scrawls the word "darling" on their skin. When one of Anna's fellow dancers is murdered in the dressing room, she realizes that Darling Killer could be closer than she thought. Could Max, Anna's new therapy client who confessed to fantasizing about dead girls and obsessing over the Darling Killer, have anything to do with the murders? As more women are murdered, and Anna begins receiving mysterious gifts, this burlesque dancer pits feathers and sequins against foul play in the deadliest dance of all.


The Tease is the first in a series that follows the Darling Killer.  It is a great first glimpse of Darling, as he(?) continues on his  serial murdering rampage.  The twist at the end caught me, even though I knew it had to be one of three characters (which is obvious throughout the book), I still vacillated between which character with every turn of the page.  That is a mark of a great mystery, in my opinion. The major twist, which allows Darling to continue into the next series, was a great ending to this book, and truly left me wanting more.  I cannot wait to read the next book, and see where Max and Kevin end up, and not really sure who I am rooting for more as Anna's leading man.

Which is a great segue into Anna.  She is an intricately woven character, who I really wondered if I could relate to at the beginning of the book.  That fear was quickly quashed.  I was so intrigued with her; her thought processes, the balance of therapist (and all the ethical issues involved) and burlesque dancer.  Nikki Pill's knowledge of burlesque and belly-dancing enhanced the story, and I was fascinated by the nearly "lost art."  I felt like Lynne by the end of the book, wondering if Anna would give me lessons!  I was grateful that Pill included the contention between Brack and Anna, forcing me to recognize my own prejudices in dealing with other women, as well as the judgment women carry with them while proclaiming to be  feminists.

A multi-layered book, that is a must read!

I give it       

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Because it is the day before Valentine's Day...

The city streets were bustling and alive, with people moving quickly, gliding around each other with ease and grace, as if in an orchestrated ballet.  The soft, swaying tones of Adele crooning about a love lost seemed at odds with the fast-paced dance that was occurring outside the window of the small café where Abby sat, drinking her cappuccino, in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.  It was Valentine’s Day, but the day meant nothing to her.  Well, that is not all together true – it meant nothing good to her.  It meant reliving the worst day of her life.  

It should have been a day brimming with reminders of flowers, and vows, and pledges of love, and exchanges of rings.  Instead, it was a jumbled mass of nearly incoherent visions of wreckage, and blood, and tears, and goodbyes that came too soon.  She recalled standing with her father in the Bride’s room, knowing the church was filled with friends and family.  She had closed her eyes, and imagined she could smell all the flowers in bunches and vases and adorning tuxedos.  She was ready to go, the time had come, but the wedding planner had not opened the door and ushered them out.  So she stood, holding her father’s hand, trying to envision Trevor standing at the altar waiting for her.  

The door creaked open slowly, as the wedding planner peeked her head around, and Abby let out a breath and started for the door.  Her father was asked to come out into the hall for a moment, leaving Abby standing alone, in her white dress, with her white bouquet of flowers, and her red garter discreetly hidden away.

Her father returned; a grim look on his face.  Even now, Abby struggles to recall exactly the words he spoke to her, but only able to remember the rush of emotions that propelled her out the door, down the steps of the church to the white Rolls limousine that made its way hastily to the emergency room.  She went to him, over the vehement objections of the doctors and nurses.  She grasped his hand, looked into his eyes, and demanded that he be okay.  Trevor returned her gaze, looking past her eyes, into her heart and settling in her soul. And he told her that he loved her, and closed his eyes.

She had tried so hard over the past four years to remove the snapshots in her mind of the black limousine that was transporting Trevor to the church, the deep imprint of the tractor-trailer that had run the red light mutilating the space where her life had once sat in anticipation.  The pictures in her head of the wedding dress, covered in his blood after she flung herself over him when they told her he was gone.  She had refused to allow anyone to come near him; she was going to hold him and protect him and bring him back.

Shaking her head of the images, she glanced back out the window, as her mother’s words rang through her head, “you have to let him go, and you have to move on.”  And Abby had tried.  She had dated, and met new people, and tried to start a new life.  And she had almost succeeded in transforming her existence into something that resembled normal and happy.  

Dating was the one area she struggled in the most.  Her friends had been so helpful, setting her up with this “great guy” or that “perfect match.”  But Abby had not felt anything past an initial interest in another person upon meeting each of them.  So far, Abby had a long list of first dates, a handful of second dates, and a bunch of “great guys” and “perfect matches” as friends.  No one had captured her attention.  No one had ignited a spark.  No one had provided that overwhelming feeling of “I cannot wait to see you again” with the accompanying butterflies to the stomach.  None of them was Trevor.

She had been so lost in her own reverie, she had not noticed the door of the café open, but she felt the cold wrap around her, forcing her to look up.  A man walked to the counter, and glanced up at the board, taking in the variety of coffees, espressos, and lattes, as well as a myriad of delectable pastries, rolls, cakes, and muffins.

Abby watched as he took off his long, black dress coat and draped it over one off the bar stools.  He was wearing a navy blue suit, and had jet black hair that was somewhat wavy, and barely touched the collar of his stark white dress shirt.  He was tall, and stood there with confidence.  And for some reason, Abby could not drag her eyes away from him.  She was intrigued by him, interested in his choice of coffee and whether he would also order something to eat.  He was distracting, and she was captivated.  

He placed his order with the young, ponytailed blonde, and though she had been listening, Abby had not paid attention to what he actually said.  The stranger sat suddenly, turning in his seat to look out the window, and caught Abby’s eyes staring at him.  Abby could feel the slight rush of heat to her cheeks, but was unable to look away from the man right away.  Finally, she turned her attention back to her now empty cup of cappuccino, and considered if she should leave.  She had nowhere of importance to go; she had taken the day off because she could not stand to watch the influx of long stem roses and bright, happy bouquets arrive at the office, and adorn everyone’s desk except hers.  She would wait until later to make the trip to see Trevor, knowing that she would end up spending more time there than she planned, brushing the dirt from the heavy stone bearing his name, vital statistics, announcing that he had been a “loving son” but not “husband.”  She would leave enveloped in cold, externally from the brisk February wind, the cold of the ground that she sat on while updating him of things that had occurred since her last visit; and internally, as she tried to sustain a love that was now unsustainable.

“Mind if I join you?”  Abby turned her head suddenly, and looked into the eyes of the stranger, as he stood in front of her, two over-sized coffee cups in hand.  He smiled, and tilted his head to the side slightly.  Flustered, Abby cleared her newspaper out of the way, offering, “Please, have a seat,” as her eyes followed him.

“I hope you don’t mind – I asked the waitress what you were drinking, and ordered you another,” he stated as he slid one of the mugs across the table to her.

“Oh,” Abby responded, as she glanced into the cup, recognizing the familiar design in the frothy milk.  “Thank you,” taking a tentative sip, before glancing up at him questioningly.  There was something familiar in his eyes, and his smile, but Abby could not place it.

“I’m sorry,” the handsome stranger began, “But have we met?  You seem familiar to me somehow.”

“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” Abby snickered.  “I’m Abby Clark,” and she reached her hand across the table to him.

Taking it, he gave her a slight squeeze, “Bryce Holden.”

“Does not sound familiar,” Abby offered, noticing that he still had a hold of her hand, and that she was not anxious to withdraw it.

“Hmm,” Bryce murmured, “not to me, either.”  He finally let her hand go, and Abby laid it on the table, instead of in her lap.  “Still,” he continued, “I cannot get past the feeling that I know you.  Something about your eyes, and your smile…,” he continued to look at her, assessing her, and absentmindedly moved his finger across his bottom lip.  

“Sorry,” he said, sitting back in his seat, and taking a deep breath, “I guess you remind me of someone I once knew.”  His eyes travelled out onto the street, in remembrance of someone or something in his past.

Abby watched him for a moment longer, taking advantage of his diverted attention to figure out what about Bryce seemed so familiar to her, as well.  There was no resemblance to anyone she had known – not the men she had dated over the past few years, and definitely not fair-haired Trevor.  Except, that when she considered Trevor, while looking at Bryce, she felt the same familiarity; the same sense of comfortableness and ease and…contentment.

“So, without this sounding incredibly cliché, do you come here often?” Bryce asked as he took a sip of his coffee, and turned his gaze back on her.

Abby smiled, “Yea, I actually do.  You, apparently, do not?” 

“No, I just happened to find this place.  I only moved over to this side of town a couple of weeks ago.  And I am just venturing out.  I think I have finally unpacked all my boxes, and have things pretty much put away.  But I have also been stuck in my apartment trying to get it done.”

“What made you move here?” Abby asked, taking a larger drink of her coffee than she had intended.

Bryce chuckled, and moved his thumb across her upper lip, removing the remnants of the frothy milk, and once again Abby felt the heat rise in her cheeks.  “I needed to start over, I guess.  Get a new start, a fresh perspective on life.  I have been in a bit of a funk for the past few years.  I guess I just needed a change of scenery, a diversion from the constant barrage of memories.”  He sat quietly for a moment, in another bout of inner reflection, while Abby watched him.  She knew what it was like to get lost in thought, especially when trying in earnest to let things go, and focus on the future.

“I’m sorry,” Bryce interrupted his own thoughts, gazing at Abby in embarrassment, “I don’t usually go on and on like this…”

“No worries,” Abby consoled him, “I have the same affliction.  I moved over here two years ago for the same reason.  And that thing you do, where you start talking, and then a memory comes flooding back in – I have that problem, as well.  It typically causes people either to stare at me in complete confusion, or, if it is one of my friends, I get the ‘Abby…hello…you’re doing it again!’”  She pauses for a moment, before reaching her hand across the table to his, and giving it a squeeze.  “It’s not something that you even realize you are doing, until it is too late, huh?  And by that time, you have offended someone.”  She pauses briefly, and adds, “Not to worry, I am not offended.  In fact, I will probably do the same thing at some point during our conversation.”

Bryce just stares at her for a moment, not moving, not speaking.  Finally he picks up her hand, and holds it more firmly in his, “Feel free.  It is nice to meet someone who understands…and is patient.  And listens.”

“So,” Abby takes a look around the café.  Pony-tail girl is at the back of the bar, near the kitchen, talking to someone out of sight.  Three women sit at a table in a back corner of the restaurant, ostensibly as far away from the door as possible to avoid the cold.  No one else is in the café.  “Want to talk about it?” she asks, now that she has confirmed that no one will overhear the conversation.

Bryce looks at her for a moment, wary, uncertain of her intent, or his ability to remain unemotional.  Abby can tell he is apprehensive about talking to someone he has just met about something potentially deeply personal, so she offers, “I’m a great listener, and I understand feeling lost.  I am also a little selfish.”  Bryce regards her questioningly, so she continues, “I am hoping it will distract me from my own memories, especially today.”  Bryce nods and looks down at his hands, absentmindedly stroking the back of her hand that he has not yet released.

The next hour and a half included two more coffees for each, and Bryce’s tale of love lost, in a quiet, non-violent manner, but no less heart-breaking.  One year after he married his high school sweetheart, Emily, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  They spent the next three years going through periods of treatment, remission, hair loss, hopefulness, and desperation.  When it was clear that she would not win the race, they had decided to take all the money they had in savings and investments, and travel.  Bryce had promised in his vows that he would make sure that she saw the world before they were parted by death.  He just never figured it would be so soon.  When she was unable to travel anymore, he had rented a beach home in North Carolina, where Emily could sit on the front porch, and let the ocean breeze blow her hair around her face, while taking in the sights and smells of summer.  He held her tightly as she took her last breaths, promising that he would finish their journey around the world.  He had made it through his tale without breaking down.  Abby had not.

They sat there for another fifteen minutes, not saying anything – not needing to.  It was past the time for talk.  It was a time to gain strength.  And in those fifteen minutes, these two strangers were gaining strength from each other, attempting to make it through another day.

They exchanged numbers, and even made a “friendship” date for that Saturday morning, in that same café, sitting in the same booth in front of the window.  Soon, the morning coffee dates extended to lazy walks in the park, afternoon visits to the theater, dinners at a new restaurant they had discovered, and movies laying on the couch eating popcorn, and snuggling.  

They accepted that the ghosts of their pasts were still very much a part of the present, and worked hard to incorporate them, instead of ignoring them.  Bryce drove Abby to visit Trevor every year on Valentine’s Day, until she finally introduced the two, and made peace with her memories.  Abby carried Emily’s favorite flowers to the beach, on the annual visit to North Carolina.  She would stand back and watch as Bryce would place the wreath of flowers into the water where he had once cast her ashes.  On their last visit, Bryce had held tightly to Abby’s hand as he made his way to the edge of the water, and they both placed the offering on the waves.

Standing outside the office of the Justice of the Peace, Abby recalls the first time she met Bryce.  The chance encounter of two strangers had led her on a path of acceptance of loss, the faith to begin again, and hope for a better future.  She glanced down at her white suit, smoothing out the wrinkles that did not exist.  Loosely grasping the small bouquet of flowers, she looked into the eyes of her handsome groom.  She had been unable to get past the fears of having a big church wedding, and refused to travel to the courthouse in a separate car from Bryce.  He had understood, was supportive, and never once made her feel silly for her superstitions.  

They entered the reception to cheering family and friends, flashing wide, happy grins; flashing their shiny new wedding bands.  Their pasts had brought them together, and they had learned over their journey to this point that it was better to incorporate the feelings and the love of the ones they had lost, rather than forget they existed, and live lives separate and apart from their memories.  So they had taken the rings of their former loves, and had them enjoined into their own rings.  They had worked closely with a jeweler to make sure they could get pieces of each of the four rings into the two that now adorned Abby and Bryce’s fingers.

Moving through the hugs and kisses of the well-wishers, Abby’s thoughts returned to a cold February morning, when a familiar smile on a stranger's face changed the course of her life…and she quietly thanked God as she held tightly to Bryce’s hand.  The losses they had each faced had brought them together, and made them stronger.  Neither took anything in life for granted, and endeavored to make every minute count.  Starting with this one.  Whispering in Bryce’s ear, he turned and kissed her, “I love you, too, Abby.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

What I Should Have Done This Weekend....

Balancing Writing and Life

So, here it is, Monday morning.  The weekend has been very successful.  I got the house cleaned, laundry done, groceries for the week (plus) purchased AND put away.  I have spent quality time with my family, attended church, and feel like I can start the week on the right foot.


I was only able to accomplish some of the things I wanted to get done.  The house was sort of cleaned up, with a lot of help from the hubby and kids; groceries purchased and put away, again with help, but I am not sure I adequately planned for the entire week.  I did go to church, and tried to spend some quality time with hubby and kids – not nearly enough, I’m sure.  I start this week trying to get done what I was unable to accomplish from the prior week.  This is not the foot that I really wanted to start the week on. 

Here’s the thing - I have a plan; a schedule.  It starts when I wake in the morning, and includes time for getting housework done, legal work done, and other necessary jobs (paying bills, getting gas in the car – you know, those little things that turn into big things when they are not actually accomplished!).  I even have time for writing.


And that is the big problem.  My grand scheme; my fabulously, meticulously thought-out schedule means squat if I do not actually follow it.  I am consumed with writing.  And when I am not writing, I have my nose in a book.  This has become my life, but is now bordering on obsession. 

So, it is time to get serious about my schedule, and get back to my life.  So far this morning, I have folded and put away the clean clothes that have been in a pile on my bedroom floor for a week.  My patient hubby’s gentle nudge this morning, reminding me that he needs clean clothes for work, and it would be nice if he could actually find them when he needs them, did not go unnoticed.  It is not too much to ask, and I am endeavoring to be better about it.  Starting today…

I have a schedule.  I will stick to it.  Now, I need to stop writing, and take the children to school before they are late.  Oh, crap…


Tomorrow, I stick to my schedule.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Book Review: Different Roads

Different Roads


It's been said that when we look back over our lives, we are able to recognize the pivotal moments that in some way, shape, or form have led us to where we are today.

When Jacqueline Carter is fifteen, she crosses paths for the first time with Seth Thomas, a young man who unwittingly alters the direction of her life forever.  Jaq plans to break-up with her boyfriend on her sixteenth birthday. Instead, she is date-raped, and left emotionally broken. She builds a wall around her heart and begins spiraling downward on a road filled with drinking, drugs and physical abuse.  When Seth re-enters her life a few years later, the walls around her heart slowly come down and the two of them fall in love.  Unfortunately, sometimes, fate has other ideas, and we're forced down a different road from which we initially set out.


To say that Jaq has had a rough life would be an understatement of epic proportions.  She is edgy, feisty, young, and trying to get through life, and make sense of all she has endured.  I loved her, but part of me (most likely the part of me that was once 19 years old and behaving badly) wanted to shake her.  It was hard not to fall in love with Seth, and equally not hard to want to strangle him.  If I have one wish; I would have loved to known his side of the story more.  But this story is so close to real life, and well, sometimes you do not get to know the whole story.  Damon was the perfect sexy bad boy that you want to change.  

This is a bittersweet story of love and loss on a grand scale.  I found myself completely disturbed while I was reading, but I was unable to put it down.  I was riveted.  The OMG ending made me want to strangle Lori Clark, and left me unsettled - but appreciative she did not give in to the "expected."  If it had ended any other way, it would have been just another love story, and a betrayal of the true story line.

I give it    and a 

Nice job, Ms. Clark!  I look forward to your next book!