Coffee & Naughty Thoughts

Author Linda Bolton - Writer, Blogger

Tag: novel (page 1 of 2)

Changes Can be a Good Thing

This new year has brought all kinds of changes. We have a new president (no, I don’t do political posts – just stating a fact), this will be my first full year married to my new husband, and this is the first year since I’ve been writing that I don’t have a publisher.

For those of you who are familiar with the publishing industry, I know you’re asking if I’m going to self-publish or find a new publisher. I don’t know yet. I do know I’m making some changes to my first two books. I’ve learned a lot about writing since I started and I know there are some things I’d do different, especially in Take 2. I’m working on those now.

My third book, Final Chance is finally finished. I think I’ve made all the edits I can at this point. I’d like to share a little of it with you here.

Chapter 1
“You have got to write about someone more relevant!” Cassandra Tate repeated for the second time that week, her bun pulled so tight her face barely moved when she spoke.

“I am,” Mac defended herself.

“Pocahontas isn’t relevant. No one cares.” Cassandra flipped through her reports. “Your sales are down, way down. The only thing keeping you afloat is the Marilyn Monroe biography.”

“Einstein still sells!” Mac argued.

“Ten copies this month. That’s not called sales. Mac, please, if you’re sticking with biographies find someone interesting,” pleaded Cassandra as she waved Mac out of her office, dismissing her.

Cassandra Kapshaw had been a commissioning editor at Barnes and Clifton for twenty years. She’d run across few talented writers. Mac was one of those talents but her topics weren’t attracting readers or buyers anymore. Cassandra tried to be fair but, truth of the matter, it was all about the money. If Mac couldn’t bring in the sales, Cassandra would have to cut her loose.

Someone interesting, Mac repeated in her head as she grabbed her bag and headed out of the office. Who’s interesting? Mac tossed ideas around in her head as she drove up the Dallas North Tollway toward her apartment in Uptown. She came up blank. How could she have writer’s block if she wasn’t writing anything?

Blain ‘Mac’ McClain had been writing for ten years, every since she’d graduated from college. Her dissertation was impressive and began her writing career. A career that looked like it was heading for a plunge.

On her drive home she tossed her conversation with Cassandra around in her head over and over, getting no light bulb moments. She needed a distraction. Good thing she had a party to go to tonight. At first she wasn’t looking forward to going but after a day like today – the possibility of no career, no rent, and no food – a crowd of strangers and free drinks was what she needed.

“Emily, what time do I need to be ready?” Mac answered her phone seconds after it rang.

Mac met Emily in freshman biology. They were doing an experiment and needed to spit in a test tube. Mac’s mouth went dry and Emily volunteered to spit for her. They’d been friends every since.

“Gee, Mac, no hello? A bit anxious? I thought you didn’t want to go?” She laughed.

“I need a night out. It’s been a rough day.”

“I see! Ok, be ready at seven. I’ll pick you up. You sure you want to go to my office party?” Emily double checked. She didn’t think it was going to be that kind of distraction. Her work functions were usually pretty sedate.

“Oh yes, I’m sure,” Mac hung up and spent the rest of her drive to her uptown Dallas apartment mentally going through her closet.

Once home, Mac settled on wearing an emerald green sweater and black slacks. Emily picked her up and, seeing her reflection in the glass doors, she thought she looked dull compared to Emily in her zebra stripped wrap dress as they walked into the office building. Glass and marble shined throughout the foyer. Their four inch heels echoed as they stepped. Mac glanced at their reflection in elevator doors as they waited for them to open. Damn, they looked good. The outfit Mac wore hugged her curves and made her red locks glow. Emily’s animal print couldn’t be missed. It fit her personality to a T – bold, daring, audacious.

Emily had always been the shining star in their relationship. Mac had been shy and withdrawn in high school. Emily knew everyone, got invited to every party and was an average student, Mac stayed home, studied and made straight A’s. They were yin and yang. Their personalities complemented each other. Emily enticed Mac to be more open and daring, Mac encouraged Emily to have a good job and work hard.

“Wow, this is a really nice place,” Mac whispered to her as the elevator doors opened onto the fiftieth floor, Cameron Financial.

Mac clutched Em’s arm, her eyes wide as they walked into the fanciest office she’d ever been in. She giggled at Mac’s wonder. She led her through the crowd to a group on the far side of the room.

“Mac, Blaine McClain, this is my boss, Mitch Cameron. Mitch, this is Blaine McClain, my best friend,” Emily introduced.

“Nice to meet you, was that Mac?” Mitch replied, reaching out to shake Mac’s hand.

“Nice to meet you.” Mac’s breath caught as their hands touched and they looked into each others eyes. The silence was palpable.

His warm smile reached his dark chocolate eyes and melted her. The suit he wore was tapered to accentuate his very firm, six foot frame. His hair color matched his eyes and the front slightly covered a scar that ran down the side of his face, and begged for her fingers to touch it, running the length of it, from temple to just under his cheekbone. A question lingered at the edge of her tongue dying to ask where the scar came from, but she refrained.

“Uh, Mac, didn’t you want a drink?” Em asked, trying to break the third-wheel silence.

Mitch grinned from woman to woman, “I have to mingle. You two have fun. It was very good to have met you, Mac.”

Mac felt her cheeks flush. She watched Mitch walk away without saying anything. What was wrong with her? Had it been that long since a man breathed in her direction.

“Ugh,” she grunted as Emily took her arm and led her to the bar.

“I know. He has that effect on all the women in the office,” she chuckled.

Em showed Mac around her office, stopping at the doorway to Mitch’s office.

“This is it. End of the tour,” she waved her arm with a flourish as if getting ready to add “Ta-da”.

Mac was impressed with the elegance of her friend’s workplace. Everything about the it said class and style, from the plush carpeting to the solid oak doors to each office. Looking into Mitch’s office, she noticed the rich walnut desk and the brass accents. Something caught her eye that pulled her into the forbidden den.

“Mac, where are you going?” Emily whispered as loud as she dared, looking around wide-eyed to make sure no one saw them entering.

Mac stopped in front of what looked like a black and white photo on the wall. It appeared to be over four feet tall and over three feet wide, a huge representation of what had to be Mitch’s father. As Mac moved closer she realized it was a pencil sketch, an amazing sketch, so detailed. Her hand instinctively reached to touch it but stopped inches away, frozen in mid-air.

“Mac, we need to get out of here. Do you want to get me fired?” Emily begged, shifting from side to side, scanning the area continuously, fearing Mitch would catch them. This was his domain and no one entered unless invited.

“Em, this is amazing! Is this Mitch’s dad? Who drew this?” She asked to no one in particular as she leaned in to see the signature. E. Hawk. She made a mental note and took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. I just had to see who drew this. We can go,” Mac replied, finally back in the moment.

As Emily grabbed Mac’s arm and turned to leave, Mitch stood at his doorway. A questioning look on his face.

Mac saw his wide eyes and narrowed brows and worried she had put her friend’s job in jeopardy.

“Mitch, I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I saw the sketch and had to get closer. Please don’t blame Emily. She asked me not to come in here,” she reasoned, hoping she sounded convincing.

Mitch thought about what she said a few seconds. Curious about her motives he asked, “Are you interested in art?”

“I write biographies about artists, famous people. I’m always looking for a new subject. Do you know if E. Hawk is alive?” Her mind raced with ideas for a new book.

“Ethan, yes, he’s alive. He’s gotta be in his late fifties. Lives in Sunset. My father and Ethan were great friends back in the day.” Mitch stated more matter-of-factly than he intended.

“Ethan Hawk, the actor?” Mac scanned her memory for things Ethan Hawk. She couldn’t remember a fact about him being a sketch artist.

“Oh no, different Ethan. My father mentioned he was a colorful character. I don’t know that he’d be book-worthy. Aren’t artist more interesting dead?” Mitch responded. His crooked grin made her believe he was entertained by her query.

“They’re usually famous after they’re dead, yes. My publisher is wanting me to find someone ‘interesting’ to write about,” Mac gestured with air quotes. “Maybe having a famous name will help. Did you say he lives in Sunset?”

“Last I heard, yes. Now, can you two leave my office?” Mitch demanded more than he requested.

“Ok, let’s go!” Emily snatched Mac’s arm and pulled her over the threshold. Mac glanced back and saw Mitch looking at the sketch on his wall as she was drug down the hall toward the bar.

“Ok, no more getting me in trouble tonight. Let’s drink.”

She handed Mac a glass of wine and both women headed toward the windows in the alcove to look at the view and hide from Mitch. Mac hoped she hadn’t got Emily fired. Em had been a contract manager for the last five years and really loved her job. Tonight was supposed to be a distraction, the last thing Mac thought she’d find at an office party was a writing lead. She was antsy to get home and see what she could dig up on E. Hawk.

Mitch stared at the sketch. He remembered when his father had it done. Ethan Hawk. He was a character, lived life to the fullest and them some, his dad would say. That was a lifetime ago. Mitch never thought he’d take over the business. After high school, he went as far away as he could. Ten years ago, after receiving his degree and a successful bout on Wall Street, he got the call from his dad’s lawyer. The old man finally met his maker. He should have taken this picture down but it reminded him how far he had come, despite his upbringing.

He looked toward the bar and saw the women walk out of view. What did Emily say her name was? Mac. Startling red hair, blue eyes, curves. He felt his body react as he thought of her, his pulse quickened and his palms were sticky. No woman had ever made his palms sweat, except for Melissa Tate in seventh grade. She had made all the boys sweat.

He shook his head to focus on the party. He didn’t need a distraction tonight. This party was for the employees and he was just the chaperon. His physical desires needed to be put on hold. Damn, but she was attractive.

 

Hope you enjoyed Chapter 1. If you’re interested in Take 2 or Incantation in a signed paperback, I have them for sale under the Books tab for $10, US only. Get the first editions before they’re gone.

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Is There an Answer to Why?

I had a girlfriend tell me recently that she prays to God and asks him why certain things are happening to her and her family and she’s receives no answer.  All she wants to know is why?

I think the answer is trust. Trust in God and his wisdom to take care of us, despite a rough road.  I know this isn’t the typical romance blog I normally write but it is about romance, our romance with the Father. Do we love him and trust him enough through the hard times to stay with him during the good times? If we don’t, can we ever truly trust a human being? I mean, reality here, we know all humans are imperfect and we can all have good intentions, but we make mistakes.  Sometimes whoopers! God, on the other hand, is perfect, good and loving. He never promised if we followed him life would be a dream. On the contrary, he said it would be a hard, bumpy road, but worth the ride.

So, back to the question, why? Maybe the answer isn’t for us. Maybe how we handle the bumpy road will make us an example to someone else, helping them along by seeing our strength.  Maybe gaining strength through the adversity is what we are to learn. Maybe he just wants us to trust him and that’s it.

Are you putting your trust in the right place?

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Can a Realist Become a Romantic

If the knight in shining armor doesn’t exist, what does? Do the moonlit walks and candlelit dinners? Or are those just in the movies? Do men really whisper sweet nothings or is that just in books? Is there really sexual tension or do most couples jump into a physical relationship so quickly that there is no tension?

Think about how sexual relationships on television have changed. Remember the days when couples slept in separate beds? Those days are gone and so has our imagination.  Even during prime time scenes are very explicit.  So, how does that fit into our view of romance?

For realists, romance is dead.  We all have busy lives and are lucky to be able to sit down to have dinner, much less light candles and have a glass of wine.  A quickie is the norm. Romance is for the big screen and novels; a fantasy best left to the imagination.

For romantics, its alive and well.  The slightest touch or softest breath can stir up desire. A look or smile can cause the heart to skip a beat.  Intimacy starts with holding hands and a slight kiss.  Sexual tension is meant to build. Time and place are considered just as important as the act itself.

Which category do you fit in? Realist? Romantic? Is a romance novel or a movie an aphrodisiac? Is there time for romance in the 21st century? Can you be converted?

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Perfect Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Alex’s plane left New York at 11am.  Derek had left with the early dawn.  He’d given her a feathery kiss and disappeared. She had barely felt him go. 
As Alex walked through the airport it was as though New York had just been a dream.  Alex went back to her life, to her routine; New York was a faint memory.  Alex never told anyone about her experience with Derek Dunbar.
One year later, April 16th, Alex received a text message:
How’s my fantasy woman?
Alex didn’t know the number but she knew it had to be Derek.  She’d never mentioned anything about fantasies with anyone but Derek. She had thought about that night with him often but figured she would never hear from him again. She answered back:
Doing ok my fantasy man
Alex saved the number in her phone – Derek D.
The next year, April 16, Alex received another text: 
How’s my fantasy woman?
She answered back:
Ok, how’s my fantasy man?
Alex received a response back:
Busy as shit!
Alex knew it was definitely Derek.
The following year Alex received the same text.  She responded the same and the response back was: 
Busy as shit and I’m bloody tired!
In February of the next year tragedy struck Alex’s family.  Josh and Alex were on their way home from a friend’s and a car going the wrong way on the tollway hit them head on.  The driver was drunk driving the wrong way on the access road and entered the tollway through and exit ramp. The accident was horrific.  The cars were mangled; the drunk driver dead on impact. Josh died on the way to the hospital. Alex had a severe concussion, broken ribs from the seat belt, burns on her arms from the airbag and was in a comma.  The police used their cell phones to find relatives’ numbers.  
By the next morning family had gathered at the doors of the ICU to check on Alex. She still had not regained consciousness and the doctors were not sure if she would.  The rest of her injuries were cuts and bruises, all minor.  Waiting for Alex to awaken was what the doctor’s worried about the most. They were not sure what damage had been done. 
On the second day in ICU a stranger arrived at Alex’s bedside.  Alex and the stranger were alone in her room.  He wore a baseball cap, sunglasses and baggy clothes.  Only the nurses saw him enter and leave two hours later.  No one paid attention to him. The next day he was in the room when Alex finally awoke.  
Things were blurry and when they came into focus Alex was confused.  It took a minute for her to realize where she was.  She looked around and saw Derek at her bedside.  She thought she was hallucinating. 
“Derek?” came out as a whisper. 
Derek looked up. “Alex! You’re awake!”
Alex saw the concern on his face.  She must look a sight! 
“What happened?”  Alex was trying to remember the last few days.  Something about a dinner party….
“You were in a car wreck,” Derek’s look was despondent.
“Josh?”
Derek shook his head. Not meeting her eyes he said in a whisper, “He didn’t make it”.  Derek could tell the news wasn’t registering with Alex.
 Alex saw tears in Derek’s eyes.  He was sad for her.  Alex was confused.
“Derek, why are you here?” 
“The police went through your phone and called everyone with a D for a last name looking for relatives.  When I got the call I told them I was your cousin so I could find out what happened.  When they said you were in a coma I came right away.  You’re my fantasy woman.  I had to come.” 
It was too much for Alex to take in.  She plunged back into unconsciousness. 
The next morning Alex was back in reality, Mattie sitting at her bedside. Mattie barely spoke, just sat holding her hand. She remembered seeing Derek but since no one mentioned him she thought she might have dreamt it. Other relatives wandered in and out, discussing plans for Josh’s funeral.  Alex let her mother-in-law and Josh’s brother take care of the arrangements.  She didn’t want deal with any of it. 
Within a week Alex was in a regular room.  The doctor told her she would probably go home in a couple of days.  Each day Derek came to visit, dressed inconspicuously, able to blend in, morning and evening.  He sat at her bedside, cheering her up with his quirky humor.  As friends came in and out of her room none ran into Derek.  Alex never mentioned to anyone he was there, afraid he would disappear.  He was her only distraction from reality, a reality she didn’t want to be in. 
The day before her release from the hospital two of Alex’s co-workers came to visit as Derek was leaving.  Kathleen knew about the text messages he had sent to Alex. Kathleen had been the only one Alex had finally confided in the year before.  
“Was that…?” Kathleen’s eyes were wide.  Monica, too busy staring at the male nurse in the lobby, had not even noticed the guy leaving Alex’s room.
Alex made a face at Kathleen, the “shhh, don’t say anything” look.  Kathleen changed the subject, discussing work and what Alex had missed.   It was a secret between them. 
The next afternoon Alex was released from the hospital.  Her family members were all there to help her home.  Alex noticed Derek had not come by and wondered if she’d hear from him again.  He had been such a comfort to her. 
Late that evening she received a text:
Glad you were released.  Didn’t want to be in the way.  I’ll keep in touch.
Alex was pleased he thought of her and returned the text:
You made me feel so much better
A few days later was Josh’s funeral.  His favorite music played and wonderful things were said about him. People Alex didn’t even know hugged her and shook her hand. It was surreal.  Alex couldn’t believe she was alone.  She hadn’t really been alone in twenty-four years. Over half her life she’d been married.  Even with the long hours Josh worked she knew she was never alone.  Mattie was rarely home and had been mostly moved out for the last couple of years, coming home to do laundry or have an occasional meal.  The house was very quiet.
Between the hospital stay and the funeral, Alex had missed three weeks of work.  She was ready to return to her routine.  Or so she thought.  The first day back was overwhelming and Alex had a hard time keeping up.  She knew it would take her a couple of days to get back in the swing of things. Coming home in the evenings was toughest.  So quiet, so deserted.  Mattie tried coming by often but it didn’t help. 
Derek sent texts every couple of days.  Those were Alex’s bright spots. Derek called at the end of her first week back to work. 
“Hey there! How’s my fantasy woman?” Derek’s voice was light and cheery.  He sounded so relaxed. Hearing his voice warmed her from head to toe.  She could hardly believe he seemed to really care about her.
“Ok, I guess.  It’s been a rough week.” Alex didn’t mean to sound so pathetic but she had tried so hard to be up and cheerful all week.  Now she was crashing and Derek seemed to understand. His tone invited her to let go, be herself. 
“Maybe you shouldn’t have gone back to work so soon?”  Derek’s concern was welcomed.
“Sitting around the house is worse!” Alex didn’t know what she should be feeling.  This was all new ground for her.  She tried acting like nothing happened but by the end of the day she was so emotionally exhausted.  She’d try to go to sleep but only tossed and turned.  Her dreams were flashes of her past with Josh – arguing, yelling, no pleasant moments. The week had been grueling. 
“What about getting away for awhile?” Derek asked.  
Alex didn’t know where she would go but the thought was inviting.
“Where would I go?  I don’t really want to be alone.”  Alex like the idea of getting away from everyone but the thought of being alone in a new place didn’t sound any better than being home alone.
“Well, Scotland is beautiful this time of year.  I have some free time coming up.  We could spend a couple weeks seeing the countryside.  Scotland is very therapeutic.” 
Derek wanted to take her away for awhile. Was he serious?  The thought was irresistible.  She wanted to go. Would work give her more time off? She had to try.  
“Really?  You want me to go with you? I don’t know if work would give me more time off.” Alex loved the idea.
Alex told her boss she needed more time away and they gladly gave her time off.  Derek made the travel arrangements.  They would meet up in New York and travel together from there.

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Dating After 40

I have been asked a few times recently if I thought dating later in life was any different that in our teens/twenty-somethings? I asked a few friends and this is what I came up with.

Basically, even though we are older, dating is the same.  The major difference is baggage. The baggage each person brings to a new relationship.

Baggage, you ask? What about being more upfront with our intentions? What about honestly and less fear at stating true desires? Ok, I’ll give you that. Some are experiencing that, however, its our baggage that has brought us to that point. The totes, duffle bags and trunks from past relationships.

By baggage I mean the hurt feelings, guilt and poor self-image. The trunks full of Dickens’ ghosts from Christmas’ past.  I’ve seen new relationships start and end quickly due to misunderstandings brought on by a memory from a bad past. I’ve seen relationships stall due to a fear that they will go bad. I’ve seen some sabotaged a great friendship because of wrong expectations. That trunk that is dragged from relationship to relationship, only opened to add more to it, not clean it out.

How is a relationship to blossom if baggage is in the way? Let’s go back to honesty.  Sharing your baggage with close trusted friends is a start. Having them help you work through your fears.  Deciding from the start that a repeat of the past relationship isn’t an option.  Patience on the part of both parties is the only way a relationship can flourish.  I think we all agree that life is short and we shouldn’t let great people slip though our fingers.  How we can keep them close, despite our baggage, is the challenge.  Losing our fear of opening those trunks and letting the ghosts out is the greatest challenge but provides the greatest reward.

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Perfect Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Derek’s career had moved fast. He had loved acting as a child but when it was time for college the performing arts was out of the question.  It wasn’t the kind of career a gentleman chose.  Besides, what opportunities were there in Scotland? None. His mother,Gillian, a traditional proud Scot, insisted he pick a respectable profession, so Derek chose law.  He made honor roll in high school and excelled at debate, becoming a solicitor seemed the perfect choice. 
Gillian wasn’t well-to-do; average middle class better described her upbringing.  Her father had been a welder and her mother a housewife.  Gillian had married young to a fisherman, had three children and then was left to care for them on her own.  She had been a good cook and worked in restaurants as a chef while Derek, his older brother Carl and his older sister Fiona were growing up.  Once the children had all left the nest Gillian opened a bakery of her own in Inverness in the Highlands.  She was self-sufficient and enjoyed her new found freedom. 
Law school didn’t agree with Derek, or one might say he didn’t agree with Law school.  He didn’t agree with the early hours, endless chapters of homework or lugging around the heavy books.  But Derek loved his mother and decided he would make her proud.  He worked hard and was unparalleled in his studies.  He had honors and was president of the Law Society.  At first glance you couldn’t tell Derek’s passion wasn’t law.  
Upon closer inspection it was apparent that Derek would not become a lawyer.  Many nights were spent at the local pub, drinking and singing with the band and barely getting home before dawn. Derek enjoyed liquor in any form. Along with the liquor were the many women in his life.  He was with no one in particular, the more variety the better.  The women knew there were others and they didn’t care.  To be on Derek’s arm, even just for one night was a privilege in its self. He was popular, dashing and so irresistible. He oozed charm and finesse; he had a gift for saying the right thing and sounding like he meant it.  It was powerful stuff and Derek knew how to use it.
His last year of school Derek finally came to the realization that law was not going to fulfill him.  All the women were not going to fill the void.  The most difficult task was to tell his mother. What would he say and how would she react? She had always been so supportive of Derek as he grew up.  She really loved telling her friends her son was going to be a lawyer.  Worse still was to tell her what career he really wanted…acting.  He had to have a plan. 
Derek decided after graduation and his internship he would give Gillian the bad news.  Fate had a plan of her own.  Derek headed to London to his internship to find the office abandoned.  The company had had a run in with the police and decided to close its doors and sneak out of town.  Derek saw this as a great way to end his law career.  The celebration ended two weeks later in an alley between a dumpster and an abandoned crate.  Derek couldn’t remember how he got there or who he had been with.  He’d lost his wallet, his keys and his underwear.  His head felt like it had cracked opened and his brains would spill onto the pavement.  He knew he couldn’t go home like this.  So Derek called a friend.
Craig had been Derek’s buddy since childhood.  Tall, lanky and with a gift of gab, Craig was very creative. His parents were artists and encouraged him to pursue screenwriting. They’d grown up together and had few secrets from each other.  Craig had moved to London just after high school.  His dream had been to be a playwright.  Craig had acted in plays with Derek in grammar school and had written plays for Derek in high school.  Craig’s parents had been products of the 60’s and felt his “free spirit” needed to soar. He worked hard in London trying to sell his plays to the theater but he was an unknown and no one was interested.  So Craig worked backstage at the playhouse part time and at the local TV station the rest of the time.  At the theater Craig worked on sets and lighting. At the TV station he learned how to use the cameras and  teleprompter.  In his spare time, what little there was, Craig still wrote plays. 
Craig had a small flat but willingly shared it with Derek while he figured out his next move.  Derek’s first step was to visit the playhouse.  The producer quietly listened to Derek’s plea to hire him…to do anything at the theater.  The producer was in the early stages of a new play and was in need of a good supporting actor.  He let Derek read, expecting failure and disappointment. To his amazement Derek was good. Really good. Derek had a job! He was an actor! Now to tell his mother….
Derek’s mother knew about his carousing ways and he figured she would blame that on him losing his prospective law career.  Derek also knew if he was to take this new vocation serious, and Gillian was to accept it, he needed her to know how important this was to him.  Derek quit drinking cold turkey, started going to bed by midnight and stopped having casual sex with every woman that flirted with him. His new career needed to take precedence.  
After landing the supporting roll in the current play at the London Playhouse, Derek journeyed home to give his news to Gillian.  He arrived home in time for dinner.  The aroma of lamb and potatoes filled his senses, reminding him of his childhood. He felt more and more like a youth coming to tell his mom about the school yard brawl he was suspended for.  
“Mom, I have some important news for you”, he announced in a voice quieter than he planned.
“Derek, what’s wrong.  You look like you’ve eaten something sour.  Are you feeling ill?,” Gillian questioned using her best concerned parent look.
“Mom, please, sit down.”
Gillian moved to the sofa and sat down.  
“Derek, your worrying me.  What’s wrong?”
“Mom, I have quit law.  Before you say anything, you knew I had no passion for it.  It didn’t suit me.”
Gillian started to interrupt.  She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  Her son the lawyer…what was going to come of him? As her mind reeled she heard him say something about not drinking and a play? Was she hearing things?
“Mom, I want to be an actor.  I have a job.  I’m in a play at the London Playhouse.  I’m staying with Craig.  I no longer drink.  Please don’t be mad at me.  I really want this. Its very important to me.  Please let me prove it to you”, Derek pleaded.  He was in agony as he waited for Gillian to say something.
Gillian focused, hanging on his every word.   She watched his face as he desperately tried to convince her of his good intentions.  She knew her son had the ability to succeed at anything he set his mind to.  She recognized the steel determination in his voice despite his fear of disappointing her. She took a deep breath. 
“Ok.  I hear you.  I’m not saying I agree, yet, but I will support you and stand by you.”
Derek gave his mother a huge bear hug.  He felt the weight of the world fall from his shoulders.  That night he had the first peaceful sleep in years; no nightmares of failures to come, just tranquil, undisturbed slumber.
Derek did well in the theater.  His first role as supporting actor garnered praise from the theatrical community.  His next three roles were leads and proved he was talented and convincing in each character he played. 
During his role as lead in “Tartuffe” an American producer expressed interest in Derek coming to the States to be in his movie. Derek accepted the challenge and moved to Hollywood.  Gillian was proud of her son’s accomplishments and made him promise to visit her often. His first film was nominal but the reviews were outstanding.  Derek’s confidence grew. His next film garnered accolades from his peers. He was now able to pick and choose his roles, and most were high dollar flicks.  Derek’s passion became an obsession.  He was a dedicated professional.  Other actors rallied to work with him. He was in demand and that was important in Hollywood.  Derek realized as he went from film to film that his popularity was fleeting.  Anytime he could fall off the pedestal and go back to obscurity.  
Derek’s stunning good looks during college only intensified as he aged.  By forty Derek was considered one of the best looking men in Hollywood.  With experience he learned not to take himself so serious and played practical jokes on set. Crews and actors enjoyed working with him.  He made everyone feel at ease. Gossip rags speculated on his love life.  He was a relentless flirt but Derek kept his affairs discreet. By the time the paparazzi suspected a romance it was over or they guessed wrong all together. 
Derek’s career was in the fast lane but his love life was lousy.  He tried dating actresses but their careers pulled them to opposite sides of the globe.  Never spending time with each other didn’t help their relationship.  He tried dating women out of the entertainment industries but they didn’t like his long hours and all the travel.  So Derek stopped dating altogether.  He let the gossip magazines and TV shows believe there were multitudes of women flowing in and out of his life, keeping the reputation of a womanizer.  Fans loved speculating who his next date would be so he gave them things to speculate about.  In truth, Derek was so busy with his career, acting in lead roles, directing and producing, there was little time to fit dating in.
Derek and Alex sat at a table in the far corner away from the windows of the deli.  They ordered dinner and talked about Dallas.  Derek was curious what Alex did for a living, was she married and why she watched so many movies. 
Alex laughed, “Because I have a boring life.”
Derek replied, “I doubt that.  You said you’re married and have a daughter.  That must keep you busy?”
“Oh please.  My husband works a lot and my daughter is in school and isn’t home much.  I have a question for you.”
Derek looked wary, “Ok, shoot!” 
“You were in an interview a while ago and the interviewer asked if you had ever written a love letter. You said yes. Who was she?”  Alex remembered that faraway look in his eye in that interview.  She wanted to know who stole his heart.
“Oh, that was a long time ago.  Back in college.  She’s married now.  Why?”  Derek had that same faraway look Alex remembered from the interview.
“Because its obvious you really loved her.  And with all the women you have been associated with I’m curious who could have actually had a hold on your heart.” 
Derek was very somber, “Yeah well.” Then the wall went up and the jokes started. “She had a big black mole on her nose and it just wasn’t going to work! Hahaha!”  The mood had totally changed.
Alex tried to go back, “You’ve dated many women. What’s your dream woman?”
“Dream woman? Hmmmm…You first, what’s your dream man? Your husband? He must fit the bill? You’ve been married a long time.” Derek was enjoying this question much better. 
Alex was pensive. 
“My dream man.  Physically – dark hair, light eyes, 5 o’clock shadow or a thin beard, tall – over 6 foot, complicated – not easy to figure out – I like a bit of a challenge, a sense of humor – in general and about himself, and, no, this does not describe my husband.”
Derek was deep in thought.  Suddenly he snapped out of it. 
“Hey, that’s me! No fair!”  He was roaring with laughter.  
“It’s fair.  You asked!”
“But you really don’t know me.”  Derek was still laughing but didn’t like to be on a pedestal. He knew he had a lot of faults that Alex didn’t know.  
“You just said I described you.  So obviously I know you better than you expected.”  Alex was tickled she was making Derek squirm a bit. “Your turn.” 
Derek thought about what he truly wanted in a mate.
“She’d have to be patient and spontaneous, passionate and creative, and be able to deal with all the quirky parts of my personality.  She’d be no taller than 5’8”, probably have dark hair and eyes that reflect her soul.   She’d have to enjoy the outdoors and be physically active”, Derek had a mischievous look in his eyes.   
“How old should she be?”
“Does it matter? As long as she meets the other criteria?”
“Well,”  Alex knew Derek was missing one small detail.  “You told a reporter in an interview that you still wanted the wife, children and a white picket fence.  You’re not getting any younger, no offense, and your wife would need to be probably twenty-five to thirty-five if you want children.”
Derek hadn’t been thinking along those lines.  “I think twenty-five is too young for me.  At least the ones I have met so far. Why not over thirty-five?”
“Most women prefer not to have children in their forties. You could always adopt.  Have you thought about how soon you’ll want to have children?”  Alex was enjoying this. She really had Derek thinking.  He had been spending most of his time enjoying himself and working.  A family had not been on his mind.
“I’m not ready for any right now! Maybe five or ten years…”
“Derek, you’ll be 50.  You’re children won’t be going to college until your 70.  You’ll be one of the oldest dads at graduation.  I know your career is paramount right now but you need to prioritize.  You could marry a woman with adult children and just go right into being a granddad…”  Alex could see the visions going through Derek’s mind.  She couldn’t help but smile at his expression.
“Ok, you bring up some good points.  I’ll have to rethink things some. Damn! You’ve messed up my impulsiveness! Woman! Ugh!”  Derek was frustrated.  He loved being spur of the moment.  He also knew his mom wanted him to settle down.  He just wasn’t ready.
“Quit worrying! It was a fantasy remember?  Not real life. Geez, calm down!”  Alex liked seeing Derek off his game.  In interviews he always seemed to have the upper hand, always in control.
“What about her career?  Actor or in the entertainment business?”
“No, I don’t think so.  We would always be going in different directions?”  Derek suddenly grinned his famous crooked smile, “Now that you’ve stressed me, we need to go have some fun! Come on!”
Derek got up, grabbed Alex’s hand and dragged her out of the deli.  The car careened up 2nd Avenue to a pub Derek frequented when he was in New York.  The pub was a place he could be himself. It was crowded, smoky and loud.  There was a band playing and they all waved at Derek as he and Alex passed to a table.
They ordered sodas and when the band went on break they came to sit with Derek and Alex.  Derek had known the guys since he bought his apartment in New York. He even sang a couple songs on the next set with the band.  Alex couldn’t believe how much fun she was having.
After a couple of rowdy hours at the pub, Derek offered to take Alex back to her hotel.  She had enjoyed her dream evening, spending time with Derek Dunbar as himself, no pretense, no cameras.  As they neared her hotel she felt reality creeping in.  She was just an ordinary woman and he was extraordinary, out of her league.  At least she had the memory of this day. 
Derek pulled up to the front of the hotel. 
“Would you like to come up?”, Alex couldn’t believe she had said that!  That was her, right?  What was she thinking?  Oh, he could just walk her to her door, harmless.  She wasn’t his type anyway.  
Derek gave her a warm, sweet smile and told her he would.  Alex’s mind reeled.  She knew he wouldn’t try anything; he’d been a gentleman all night. 
Derek followed her into her forty-fourth floor room.  It was simple but clean and understated.  It was one of the nicest hotel rooms she’d ever stayed in. Alex didn’t travel much.
“Water? Its all I have”, Alex offered.  In her head she thought, That was awful.  I’m sure he can’t wait to leave.
Derek looked around.  Then he looked at Alex.  There was something about her. Something he was drawn to.  She had her back to him when she offered the water.  He advanced to within inches of her.  In her ear he spoke in a quiet heavy Scots accent.
“No, that’s not all you have.”
Alex’s heart quickened.  She felt every inch of her was radiating heat.  Was she lightheaded?
Derek touched her shoulder and ever nerve in her body tingled. She was in physical pain.  There was a definite ache she had never felt before.  She turned to Derek and looked in his eyes.  They were giant, blue pools, so clear and inviting.  Alex could barely catch her breath.
“I…” Was all Alex could say.
“I don’t have a habit of seducing married women.  I’ll not ask you to do something you’re not wanting to do”, Derek’s brogue was thick and husky.   
Alex felt there was no air left in the room.  She had never considered cheating on her husband.  Josh wasn’t even on her mind.  She was having  a hard time focusing on not fainting.  
Derek leaned in toward Alex’s neck.  His breath was steamy and chills ran up her spine.  Alex was dizzy. She leaned toward Derek and his burning lips grazed hers. Electricity streaked through Alex’s every nerve ending.  She ached for him to touch her, to relieve her of the agony she was in.  Their kiss deepened. Alex became weaker and grabbed the front of Derek’s shirt.  She pulled him closer. Their bodies melded together. 
Derek touched every inch of Alex’s yearning body, with his hands, with his mouth.  Alex only wanted more. Alex responded to Derek as no other woman had.  Everything he did, every where he touched elicited a desire for wanting more.  Women had told him he was skilled but never such wanton abandonment.  Alex was totally uninhibited.  
Derek’s fingers were warm as he unbuttoned her blouse and caressed the valley between her breasts. Alex helped him off with his shirt, staring openly at his rippling abs and firm pecs.  They both slid out of their jeans simultaneously. Derek took no pause at removing Alex’s bra in one quick movement. His eyes roamed over her, liking what he surveyed. Alex was grateful of her workouts and the time she had been spending on her physique. Five years earlier she would’ve been terribly self-conscious.  
Derek’s hands and mouth explored Alex’s body. His touch caused excruciating desire that Alex had never experienced before. She ached for release. Alex’s responses to Derek fueled his need to consume her. Women responded to him but not like this.  He could feel her body heat rising as he stroked her skin. 
Alex gladly invited Derek between her legs.  As his member glided into her  Alex thought she would scream.  Finally, the ache was being quenched! Alex didn’t know if she moaned or screamed, she just knew when ecstasy came it was like no other.  Oh, she’d had orgasms before but this time she saw bright lights and swore she stopped breathing this time.  This was the pinnacle!
Derek couldn’t believe his response to Alex.  Never before had every nerve in his body been so heightened.  Every move he made triggered a tingle from head to toe. When Alex reached her orgasm she dug her nails into Derek’s back.  Derek in turn reached his peak and buried his face into Alex’s shoulder. Derek wasn’t sure when he started breathing again.  He looked up as she gasped for air and opened her eyes.  The two lay in silence, catching their breath, his shaft still resting inside her.
“Shit! What the bloody hell was that?”  Derek had a knack for stating the obvious.  He had never experienced anything like that before.
Alex could hardly speak.  “Don’t move.”
Derek’s legs were weak, “No problem.”
“That was unbelievable!”, Alex was finally able to say between breaths.
They both lay there, trying to catch their breath.  Alex looked up into Derek’s eyes and touch his cheek with her fingertips.  She felt like this was a dream.
Derek studied Alex’s face, memorizing every detail. 
“What?” Alex was becoming aroused again, realizing this moment was reality and she wanted to take advantage of every moment.  She wanted to make this the most remarkable memory. She squirmed under Derek.  Her hands exploring his neck and chest, lightly carving every detail.
“Alex, what are you doing?” Derek felt himself growing hard.
“Again?” Alex had a mischievous smile.
Derek obliged.  Both became sweaty and exhausted for a second time.   
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Are You Speaking The Same Language

    Have you ever wondered why your “significant other” can’t read your mind? Send all the right signals and they still can’t seem to figure out what your saying? Are you speaking the same language? Love language, that is.
    In the book Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman,  is listed the five ways we love. Unfortunately, not all of us have the same language as our partners. This can cause hurt feelings and miscommunication in our relationships. Figure out your love language and see if your partner speaks it:
1-Words of Affirmation – you desire unsolicited compliments. This one is mine. I didn’t get much praise growing up and love to get a compliment.  I’m not always very good at accepting them but I love to hear them.  These can include anything from “dinner was great”, to “you look amazing today”.
2-Quality Time – this is receiving your partner’s undivided attention, whether its talking about your day or having dinner together.  No cell phones, no distractions.
3-Receiving Gifts – receiving an unexpected gift where thoughtfulness, love and effort were put into it.  Its not about dollar value.
4-Acts of Service – Surprise!  The dishes are done, or the kids have already been picked up. These are the “let me do that for you” moments.
5-Physical Touch – I know you’re expecting this to be sex – not exactly. Some people are very “touchy”, lots of hugs, pats, holding hands, thoughtful touches.  These are ways to show excitement, concern, care and love.
    OK, now think about those. Which is the most important to you? They are all great and we all like them but which one speaks to you the most? You can have more than one but usually one is dominant. I have already admitted Words of Affirmation is mine but so is Physical Touch.  I’m a patter. I touch folks when I talk to them. Now think about your loved one. What is their love language? They probably do examples of theirs to you. We tend to give examples of our love language to others, thinking they like it too. For instance, I have a friend who’s husband likes to receive gifts so he buys her things all the time. Her love language is physical touch and he rarely touches her (except for sex). So she tries to hold his hand and he’s not interested. See how this works?
    The goal would be to learn each others language so you can meet each others needs. So, your homework assignment, should you chose to accept, is to figure out yours and your partner’s love language.  See if you can speak each others language.
  

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How To Find That Special Someone

I was recently asked how to find that special someone? Where do you look? Is dating different now than it was 20 years ago?
It’s just as complicated as it was when we were twenty-somethings looking for a good time. I watch my newly, and some not so newly, single friends struggle with dating. Do you ask the blonde sniffing melons out to dinner? Or is that just too weird? Do you go to the nightclub and pick up that guy, who at 9PM was just so-so but at 1AM he’s looking pretty good? Do you start going to church in hopes they’ll be someone there you click with? Do you try speed-dating? Safe environment, only have to spend a few minutes together, no commitment.
Oh, don’t forget social media. FaceBook and dating sites are introducing men and women to each other all the time. I have a few friends that reconnected with old flames through social networking. They seem to be happy. I have a couple friends that tried dating sites. It was an interesting way to meet people with similar interests and get to know them a bit before actually seeing them face-to-face. I think it’s different for everyone.
Self-confidence and just plain bravery are the main key. Meeting someone new is scary. Unless you’re an FBI agent or a cop you’re on your own trying to figure out if this new person is a good, upstanding individual or a serial killer. I’m not trying to scare you but those things are out there. Group dating is always a safe bet. When you see that cute redhead tugging at leaves on the pineapples strike up a none-threatening conversation. Ask her how to tell if the pineapple is ripe. If she’s friendly and responds with a smile continue chatting about fruit or grocery shopping. If you feel she’s interested invite her to a quiet bar or to a fun restaurant like a sushi or sports bar. Tell her you’ll have two to three friends and ask her to bring the same. You both will feel safe if you don’t hit it off since you’ll have your buddies to keep you company.
At any age dating is a challenging endeavor. People change from the first time you meet to the twentieth date. In our forties and fifties most of us have set habits we chose not to change so that’s important to remember. If you aren’t liking that they are a pack-rat, a shopaholic, drink alcohol or smoke there is little chance they will change for you. The same holds true for your habits – are you willing to change for them? Be flexible but cautious as you search for your mate. Love can be around the corner if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. Remember all they can say is no.
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Do Friends Make Better Lovers

Do friends make better lovers? Do they make better long-term partners?

Most couples become couples first, friends second.  Is it better the other way around? I’ve been told by many, yes. But doesn’t that screw up Dating 101? You know, you meet at a party, eyes link from across the room, you’re drawn to each other, you go have coffee, talk into the night, and BAM, your dating! If you’re friends first, how does that change things?

If you’re friends, from school, neighbors, work and then you start to date, is it because you were always attracted to each other? Or is it because you know each other’s flaws already, know what irks one another, what each one likes, that a relationship can bloom?

Have you ever had a roommate? Was the roommate your best friend? Did you stay roommates for long? I know I’ve had very close friends as roommates and, generally, we couldn’t stay roommates in order to preserve our relationship.  Does that hold true if your the opposite sex? Can a man and a woman be best friends and roommates and not have a relationship? Aren’t we made to be drawn to one another? If you have a best friend that is of the opposite sex are you destined to become more? Is it the nature of the beast?

I’m not saying men and women can’t be friends and not be sexually drawn to one another.  I’m talking best friends. Women know what I’m saying. When we have best friends we do a lot of things together, tell our deepest, darkest secrets, reveal ourselves. Once you’ve done that with a man have you gone too far? Have you pushed your relationship to the next level? Can men process information like that and not see a deeper attraction than just buddies? Can a woman? If you take the next step does it give you a deeper relationship than starting out as a dating couple to begin with?

For example, lets go back to the Dating 101 scenario.  You’re strangers, having coffee, talking about superficial basics of first contact. Next step is the first date.  Then the second, and so on. At what point are you comfortable enough to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets? Will you ever share your lifelong dreams and goals? Oh, you’ll share some but do you share all, without the fear of rejection? Is it easier to share those deepest thoughts with your friend than your lover? Sure it is.

So in saying that, the question is, how do you know if your friend should become more to you? As a friend they accept you, warts and all, usually from the beginning. In Dating 101, you’re much pickier; sometimes dumping someone for a flaw you should have accepted, would have as a friend, to find out they would have been a great catch later on but you blew it.

The only thing I can say is enjoy your friendship.  Don’t push it along.  Let nature take its course. Not every relationship is meant to take the next step.  Sometimes friendship is wonderful just the way it is and sometimes its better when its more.

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Hall Passes

There’s a movie out touting the fun and problems of having a “hall pass” from your spouse or significant other.  Would that be a good idea?

First, You’d have to decide when in your relationship is the best time to schedule something like this.  Would it be at the end of year one, five, seven (year itch), ten, twenty? Then, how long is this “pass” good for? A day, a week? Are there rules? Who are you seeing/sleeping with during that time?  An old fling, an old boyfriend/girlfriend, your spouse’s best friend? What if you decide the grass is greener somewhere else?  Yesterday you were perfectly content the way things were and now…

Why would you want a “hall pass”? Do you have an urge so strong you can’t suppress it?  Are you unhappy with things in your current relationship that a night on the town will cure? Are you cheating and feeling guilty and think if a “hall pass” is granted guilt will disappear? Not that old fashion cheating is ok, but this just sounds like an “open relationship”.  Why set a timeline? Just see who you want all the time. That would be easier and less strategy involved.

What if you enjoyed the “hall pass” so much you didn’t want to go back to your old relationship?  If you’re looking for an excuse to end it, just man-up and end it. Why blame it on the “hall pass”? Are you hoping you’ll find out the grass isn’t greener and the romance will suddenly bounce back into your old relationship. Got some news for you, relationships take work.  Sometimes they aren’t pretty, fun or enjoyable, kind of like your job. Oh, it can be greener somewhere else but there’ll be work there too. Nothing in life is free or easy.

Lastly, can you go back to your relationship after a “hall pass” and take up where you left off?  Don’t you think you’d both be different? Even with permission you cheated.  Heck, they probably did too.  Are you both ok with that? Were any feeling hurt with who you “hall passed” with? Have you learned to appreciate each other or resent each other? Is your relationship more complicated now knowing what you both think you’re missing?

The biggest question is would you have been better off not knowing what you were missing? Maybe you should have taken that time to work on your relationship together instead. Hmmm…things to think about.

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