Been a while since I posted a teaser from my latest book 1943. Well, here is one. This excerpt introduces a main character to the story, Maggie. Considering that this story has an underlying romance element, it may seem strange that the second half of that romance (Maggie) doesn’t show up until almost half way through the book. Here we see her first appearance after she has had a particularly bad date that left her feeling a bit “desperate”. She is a divorcee whose husband has left her some years before. Dating, at forty-five, has proven to be something less than she had hoped for.
After regaining her composure, she stood and tore off a paper towel from the dispenser under the kitchen cabinet, wiped her eyes, and blew her nose. “No use crying over it now,” she reminded herself.
Her cell phone rang, and she fished for it in the bowels of her huge purse, hoping to find it before whomever was calling was sent to voice-mail. It was Darrel, her most recent mistake. “Oh, it’s you,” she muttered when she saw the caller ID and simply tossed the phone back into the purse.
Maggie went to the refrigerator and retrieved a Diet Coke, popped the top and gulping nearly half of it down, expecting that to help. But it didn’t. She still felt like crap—useless and unloved—cheap—and now needing to belch. She let it fly, and it was a good one.
The phone rang again. “Go away!” she screamed at it. It did not. It rang for another eight rings before whoever it was gave up, probably HIM.
Then the house phone rang. She snatched it from the charging cradle. “What?” she yelled into the phone.
“My, aren’t we testy tonight,” said Scarlet. “Something wrong?”
“Nothing. Sorry. What do you want?”
“Checking on you to see how you liked your date.”
“He was an utterly useless pile of cow manure.”
“Wow! Liked him that much, huh? What did he do?”
“He was a jerk, a complete narcissist-in-love-with-himself jerk. Then he wanted me to go back to his condo for a drink and…”
“I take it you passed on that exciting offer?” quipped Scarlet.
Maggie laughed at her sarcasm. “What is it with men that everyone of them thinks just because I’m over forty I must be desperate to get laid by just any smooth-talking jerk?”
“You’re not?” Scarlet asked, trying to sound sarcastic.
Maggie sighed. “What am I going to do with you?”
“You have my sympathies. Finding a good one isn’t easy. I’m looking for husband number three now. The first two were jerks.”
“Tell me about it. I’m done with this singles and dating bit. I haven’t the time to waste on idiots who are trying to impress me with their toned bodies and clever, flattering banter.”
“Wait! Don’t do anything rash. I just opened a bottle of pinot noir, and I’m on the way over there.”
“No, no. I don’t need to get smashed over this.” But it was too late. The phone was dead and Scarlet was already out the door. Less than thirty seconds later she waltzed in Maggie’s back door.
“I’m sure glad you live across the street. Makes these midnight bitch sessions so much easier.” With that she grabbed two wine glasses from the rack and offered one to her friend. “You need to whine, and wine goes so well with whining.”
As Scarlet filled the glasses, Maggie laughed. “Scarlet, I love you. You could always make me smile when I was feeling down.”
“What are friends for but to be there when you’re hurting?” As Scarlet passed the wine to her, she paused a long moment before responding in a more serious tone, “Maggie, you are a beautiful woman with so much to offer a man. Don’t give up on life. You just need to find the right one, one who deserves you. Your ex-husband didn’t. He was a jerk, and I told you that before you married him. Ken is gone from your life, out in California chasing beach bunnies and probably catching some social disease. That’s a plus—that he’s gone from your life, that is—not the social disease part. That has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for you, but you have to give it some time.”
“Time? What about the four guys I’ve dated since Ken left me? Explain those.”
“Simple. I never got to approve any of those. You were on your own, and well, you made bad calls. You should have passed them by me for my inspection first. I have a sixth sense about these things.”
“Sixth sense? But you’re working on husband number three. How can you spot my jerks but not your own?”
Scarlet shrugged as she took a sip of wine before replying with a wave of her hand, “I donno. I get all wrapped up in the heat of the moment, if you get my meaning. I can be more objective with your jerks and see their flaws before you discover them the hard way.” She held up her hand. “OK, so you had a bad experience—check that—a few bad experiences. I know this dating thing can be a pain, especially if they are auditioning for the role of life partner instead of just a goodtime friend. I know you well enough to know you’re not someone who can get along indefinitely without a partner. Frankly, I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long. I know you’re trying, but I think you may not be giving them a chance. You’re afraid to commit.”
“You suggesting I was too hasty with Darrel?”
“Not at all. He was and remains a jerk. What I’m saying is not all of them are. Don’t get discouraged. The right one will come along, and when he does, don’t let him get away. Because you’ve been hurt in the past doesn’t mean you’ll always be hurt in the future. Sometimes, you just have to trust your heart, even when logic is screaming no. I was the class clown and can be flip about this. You are the more serious member of our dynamic duo—well at least since college anyway. Back then, you were kind of wild, and now you’re a professional woman running a successful business—I’m babbling, aren’t I? You’re the kind of person who needs that happy-ever-after ending, but remember this: Every happy ending has to have a beginning.” Scarlet remained silent for a moment to allow that to sink in. “And sometimes, that beginning may look rather strange at first. Yeah, you’ve made a few bad calls, but not all men are like Ken or Darrel—or the other three. There are actually some rare gems out there that can appreciate something good when they see it. You have to give them a chance to show you that.”
1943 – Road Trip! Searching for Miss Betty on a WWII Harley-Davidson is available here.