That incredibly emotive paragraph I wrote for the last blog post got me thinking again about Opening Pandora--a story I’ve been wanting to write but one that has lacked any kind of structure or focus. My biggest obstacle has been that I’ve had no idea how Stephanie’s journey begins. I’ve known where I want to take her, at least in part, but how to start… again, the complaint of pantsing your way through a manuscript. In fact, there have been several false starts, a few of them punished to this blog, actually. None of them worked, otherwise I would have been able to continue her tale. But I like this one… it resonates a truth to me. Setting up her ordinary world, before everything changes. What do you think?
Emptiness is like a plague, robbing life of light and color, stealing the innocence of beauty and the hope of joy, leaving only the shades of memory and longing. And I’d been living in the shadows far too long. I raised my glass. “Happy Anniversary.”
As usual, he didn’t answer back, merely smiled from beneath the glass pane, his likeness forever captured, his essence forever lost.
Right on schedule, my laptop sprang to life, calling me away from the past, and I clicked to answer.
“Hey, beautiful. How’s Durham?” A shinning, persistently optimistic face beamed back at me.
“Good evening, Dr. Monroe. How’s life in Boston?”
Joe swept his hand to the view behind him, a bank of floor to ceiling windows reflecting a cityscape lit up like a Christmas tree. “Effervescent.”
I shook my head. “You’re too damn cheerful.”
“Only around you, which begs the question. When are you coming back from that godforsaken place? Chatting but once a week is becoming tortuous. I miss you.” Joe was an urban socialite. The idea of leaving the seat of all that is modern and convenient for a small town, despite its natural beauty, surrounded as it was by lakes and forests, was heresy.
“I miss you too.” I sipped my wine.
“You’re avoiding the question.” He crossed his arms.
“I know this is hard for you to grasp, but it’s very peaceful here. I needed the break.”
“Well, surely you’re done traipsing about with the fairies and wee folk of the bogs and glens by now. It’s been a month.” He moved closer to the screen on his computer. “You’re chewing your fingernails. Oh, God. What are you not telling me?”
I dropped my hand as if I’d been caught reaching for a hot pot on the stove.
“Stephanie. What is it?”
“I found a job.” I came out as a whoosh, the urge to finish chewing my nail chasing quick on its heels.
“A job? You mean to stay then?” His voice screamed incredulous, but his eyes searched me across the miles, crestfallen.
“I can’t come back Joe. There’s nothing there for me now.”
“I know it was hard losing Jason, but you have friends here, a career…”
“And I’m grateful to you for both, but I need a mulligan, a clean start. I can’t do that in Boston where every café, every restaurant, every street I walk down reminds me of him.”
“It’s been over a year, Steph.”
“I know, that’s why I’m here. I have to do this.”
He leaned back, neatly manicured eyebrows drawn together in consternation. “There’s no budging you?”
“I’m not saying this is a permanent solution; it’s just a right-now solution.”
He regarded me, like a chess player assessing his next move. “Fine. Then Christopher and I are coming for a holiday.”
“Better bring goulashes—gets pretty mucky on all the dirt roads.”
The look of horror on his face made me spit out some of my wine. “Jesus, Joe.” I dabbed at my eyes and the mess with tissue. “It’s not that bad. I promise.”
He put a hand over his heart. “I’m only considering this because I love you. Christopher, however, might have my balls.”
“Well, it’s a good thing he’s been taking such good care of them all these years then isn’t it. He’s not likely to damage them now.”
“You don’t know how much he hates mud.” He grimaced.
“Well, let me know if and when you two decide to come down. I’ve got plenty of room.”
“I’ll clear it with the hospital and get back to you.” He paused. “You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m good. Honest. It’s been a rough day, but I start at the pub tomorrow. I’m actually excited.”
“The pub? What on earth have you gotten yourself into?”
“I’m the new bartender.”
Maybe a scene later in the book, or maybe nothing at all. 😛 The joys of pantsing your way through a manuscript means you have no idea what’s happening, lol. Each chapter you write is like both you and the reader discovering your words for the first time.
“You know when you love someone to the point of the dissolution of your own skin, your body disappearing into the hallowed embrace of their arms, when their breath becomes the only thing keeping you from drowning, when their eyes are the only light you see guiding you from the darkness of your own soul, when you can’t imagine an existence without their smile, their laugh, their touch. And you know when that love gets severed from you like a limb torn from your body, ripped from your very sinew and bone, pulled apart and scattered like bitter carnage for the wolves of betrayal and misery to ravage and destroy.” I stared at Dr. Monroe, willing him to challenge me. I needed a fight. Someone to yell at, rail against. But he merely uncrossed and then crossed his legs and tapped his pencil against his chin, as his cool expresso eyes studied me.
I leaned back, the energy drained from me. “Well then, you’ll know what it was like to lose her.”
With only 25 days till #HotinAruba drops, I’m going to share my pick to play Carlos. Meet Spanish model Amadeo Leandro. I’m not even sure if this beautiful man acts, but um, well, he’s certainly sexy! Carlos as a character is charming, giving, and totally selfless. He cares deeply for Samantha. Having been relegated to the friend zone for years, he’s ready to prove his mettle as boyfriend material. He sings sensuously as he plays the guitar, and when you imagine his hips moving while he dances… well, let’s just say I hope you enjoy meeting Carlos.
There are only 26 days till #HotinAruba drops! It’s always fun to imagine who I’d like to play main characters. For Samantha, our main protagonist, she would need to be strong and gutsy… someone who doesn’t take bullshit from anyone. Someone sensible, not prone to fits of hysteria or fantasy. She would need to be down to earth and, of course, incredibly sexy. I think Katheryn Winnick would do the job very nicely.
Trying out a new beginning I wrote last night. What do you guys think?
I was thirteen the first time I tried to kill myself. The knife was very different from the one I currently held. I swiveled the blade, watching more lime juice soak into the maple cutting board.
I placed the freshly sliced fruit into a plastic container, grabbing another victim from the grocer’s box. I wasn’t sure what made me think of that long-ago day. It might have been the song playing over the satellite radio, speakers tumbling out the tinny tune. Could have been the fact that I’d almost severed my thumb, the dull paring knife skidding off the peel and missing my digit by a hair’s breadth.
I dropped another handful of lime garnishes into the container and eyed up my stockpile. I grabbed the box of lemons and extricated a few of the lesser bruised choices, placing them on the counter top. It was probably more likely that today was the second anniversary of my divorce.
I turned over a lemon, neatly clipped off the ends, and cut it into halves, quarters, and then eighths. I scored each section with a horizontal gash, making it easier to wedge onto the top of a glass, then dropped the pieces beside the cut limes.
The first anniversary had landed me in the hospital, a blood alcohol level five times the legal limit. I hadn’t consciously been trying to kill myself. Though, I’d never driven drunk before. The night was a bit of a blur. It involved confronting Ron, a screaming match with his current conquest, several bars, and too many shots to remember. I thought I’d been lonely in my disaster of a marriage. It’s amazing how low you can sink when there’s no distractions, and it’s just you and your thoughts.
That’s where I was eighteen years ago, hiding in that closet, rubbing the switchblade across my wrist. Lost in thought. It wasn’t like I’d had a terrible childhood. I had friends who’d had it much worse. My brain just tended toward the melancholy, and my parents were emotionally unavailable. I’d had all the creature comforts in life, but none of the love and connection to go with them. I was a piece of litter adrift in a bleak, infinite ocean. In my opinion, there hadn’t been much to live for.
I glanced at the flawless, porcelain skin of my forearm. I’d been too terrified to do it, but I had craved the silence that I knew would come with a swift, deep cut. My blood would have flowed with suppressed tears. I’d have finally gotten their attention.
I shook my head. Jesus, that was morose. I finished cutting the lemons and carried both boxes back to the walk-in fridge in the basement. I’d come a long way since my accident, and I wasn’t that sad little girl anymore. I glanced at my watch and took a deep, cleansing breath.
I had five minutes until the doors opened, six until Jake and Adam sat across from me, each seeking solace, a friendly ear, and a pint of Guinness, and thirty seconds or less until Lisa accosted me about last night. I shoved the shroud of memories back into the closet with the rest of my skeletons and found my smile. It was show time.
Disclaimer: As always, do keep in mind, this is first draft material. It has not been edited. I’m just flying by the seat of my pants on these stories, lol. Nonetheless, they are so fun to write. Here is part one of the newest installment of Pleasure Incorporated. Enjoy. 😀
I tried to ignore the envelope in the front seat as I drove north west along the long winding country road. If it didn’t have ‘Catherine Griffin’ written in elegant script smack dab in the middle of the thing, I could have pretended it was meant for someone else. No such luck.
I mentally slapped my wrist and pulled a fingernail out from beneath gnawing teeth, salvaging what was left of my manicure. I’d wanted a ‘me’ day. Why couldn’t I book a massage or facial like normal people.
Overworked and stressed out, my latest client had wrung my emotions raw. Being a social worker had incredible moments, times when I felt I made a difference, but other days, I felt powerless, my hands tied. The job chipped away little pieces of my heart. What I needed was some time off. A break to mend the fissures.
My friend had slipped Pleasure Inc’s card across my desk, telling me to get out of town for a proper release. A wink and a sexy saunter as she walked out of my office and back to her car was the only answer I got when I’d asked what Pleasure Inc. did.
I should have known better. Pamela was a wild, sex-crazed nympho. Bless her. I smirked and shook my head at the image she’d described about opening the door to discover twin plumbers. A shiver passed through me. The stories that woman had shared. I shifted in the seat, gripping the steering wheel a little tighter.
I’d left the city two hours ago, barely noticing the wide expanses of wheat, soy, and corn waving in the breeze as I flew past endless farmer’s fields, my eyes fixed on the road ahead and the GPS, which ticked off the diminishing miles like a time bomb. More than once, I’d considered turning around but curiosity and a burning desire that grew in proportion to the distance travelled kept me pushing that gas pedal to the floor.
I turned onto a narrow, paved lane, canopied by densely packed maple trees, their luscious leaves filtering the sunlight overhead, dappling the driveway in soft edges.
I wiped clammy palms on my leggings and eased my foot off the brake pedal. I’d come this far. The tree cover opened to reveal a sprawling ranch bungalow surrounded by horse paddocks and fields of emerald grass. I parked the car and was met on the front steps by a young woman, who extended her hand.
“Good afternoon, Catherine. We’ve been expecting you. I hope you had a good drive. My name is Elizabeth. I’ll be your representative here in case you need anything, or have any questions.”
I followed her inside, admiring the building’s open concept created by thick beams of dark stained wood and vaulted ceilings. The décor was rustic with country accents and white upholstered furniture. We passed a comfy sitting area.
“Feel free to use this space to relax, read a book, or watch television.” She pointed to a large pine cabinet. “The T.V. is just inside there.”
I nodded, acknowledging her fine efforts at normal conversation, but we both knew why I was there, and it wasn’t to watch Netflix.
She led me down a hallway and ushered me through a thick oak door. Curtains billowed around a colonial four poster bed. Open French doors led to a screened in porch, and filled the room with fresh air redolent of lilacs and apple blossoms.
“One of our staff will see to your bags and park your car. I’ll just need your keys.”
I handed them over, wishing I still had them to fidget with.
“Cole will meet you in the sitting room at 5:00pm. Does that give you enough time to settle in?”
I looked at my watch. Two hours. I’d seen a picture of Cole—an 8 x 10 glossy black-and-white head and chest shot. Who could possible settle in anywhere knowing all that stacked masculinity would be waiting for you in the sitting room. I swallowed and nodded. That was the most I could muster in response.
“Cole is a sweet, country boy. You’ll be in good hands. In the meantime, feel free to stroll outside, take in some fresh air, enjoy the view.” She winked and left, leaving me to consider her final words.
I waited until my luggage arrived in the room, then took Elizabeth’s advice and wandered to the paddocks. I’d attempted riding lessons as a kid, but my experience had been limited to a tractor backfiring, causing the young sprite to bolt, leaving me clinging to the reins for dear life. After a good five minutes of death-defying antics, in which I managed to stay on the saddle, the horse finally stopped. I was so exhausted from the ordeal, I slid off and landed in a terrified, quivering heap on the dirt. I loved horses. From a distance.
As I approached the barn, I stopped and stared slack jawed. Cole stood in the middle of a training ring, running a striking chestnut stallion through its paces. Elizabeth’s words popped to mind. “Enjoy the view.”
Dusty cowboy boots poked out beneath tight faded jeans, a thick leather belt creating a striking boundary between fabric and tanned, sculpted flesh. Dirty blond locks curled beneath the brim of a well-worn cowboy hat, and a scruff beard framed high cheekbones and scrumptious lips. I liked mine in response, delighting in the tingle that ran through them at the thought of his mouth on mine.
His glossy photograph had whet the appetite, creating delicious fantasies in my head, but nothing could have prepared me for the real thing, knowing at some point this evening, I would have that hard-muscled body in my bed. Sweat trickled down my ribs.
I could count my lovers on one hand, and my experience with men wasn’t terribly different than my dealings with horses—they typically ended in disaster and the incident left me unfulfilled at best. I’d fallen into a rut, and this adventure seemed like an innovative way to kick start my sex life. It had looked good on paper. Now standing there, watching Cole’s muscles flex as he took control, coaxing the stallion to bend to his will, made me question everything I considered reasonable about this plan. What the hell was I supposed to do with all that?
While my mind grappled with semantics, my body knew what it wanted to do. Heat grew in my chest, and I gripped the wood fence for support as my legs trembled.
He caught my eye and smiled, impossibly adorable dimples winking, and my heart started, threatening to leap clear out of my rib cage. There was only one thing to be done. I turned tail and ran back to my room.
Stay tuned for Part Two!