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Sunday Morning Musings

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)For most of my adult life I’ve been about twenty pounds overweight. Which isn’t a lot and mostly I fooled myself into believing I looked okay. I was never thin anyway and after a couple of kids weight gain is normal, right? That’s what I told myself anyway.

But here’s a fun fact about aging: if you don’t take care of your body, you will be sorry. In fact, that’s probably true at any age, but aging makes you pay the price even more. I watched my parents become old and weak and swore I’d try to take better care of myself. God’s policy is one body to a customer, so you better take care of the one you have.

I was always interested in exercise and nutrition but I had some truly bad eating habits. Do not, I repeat DO NOT put a bag of potato chips (or Cheetos) anywhere near me because I will eat them all and your hand as well if it comes too close. 20151231_135512 A few years ago I told my doctor I had the diet of the average 13-year-old. She was reading the results of my blood work at the time. She sent me to a nutritionist who taught me how to eat better and I lost some weight but then I kinda sorta went back to my old habits, but not to the same extent. I was better.

Last year I decided there was no reason I couldn’t weigh what I did on my wedding day. Which would mean I’d have to lose those twenty pounds I’ve been carrying around for thirty-plus years. No problem! I pointed to my friend who lost 40 pounds on Weight Watchers and kept it off. 2014-11-03 22.10.41She runs so I got running shoes and started wogging. I weighed myself daily and wrote down everything I ate. I had to give up wogging because even interval running makes my body hurt. But I walked. I rode my bike. I did my version of working out. Plus I still work part-time and I’m on my feet every shift. Six months later? I am discouraged because my weight hasn’t changed.

My daughter asks, “Don’t you think maybe you’re at the weight you’re supposed to be? Especially since it hasn’t really changed in all these years?” She says, “I think you look good.” But in my head I hear what I think she’s not adding to the end of that sentence which is “for your age.”

I think I have let body image issues creep into my mind. Slowly, gradually, and who could blame me? We are surrounded by magazines and television telling us we aren’t thin enough, not in good enough shape and we’re not eating the right things.

Then my friend Lynn posted this on her FB page. What Really Causes Heart Disease. And I thought: what am I doing?

I went swimsuit shopping yesterday. That’s never fun but all my reflection made me think is “What happened to me? I used to have a decent figure.” Where’d my waistline go? Most of my excess poundage seems to have settled there.

It’s time to stop obsessing about my weight and figure. I’m healthy. I exercise regularly and although it’s been a slow process, I eat “healthy” most of the time. I know there are things that aren’t good for me and that if I buy them I will eat them, so I just try not to buy them.

Processed foods are my enemy. I’ve read so much about the effect they have on health and weight I now make a conscious effort to avoid them for the most part. Even if I don’t lose weight I feel better.

I’ve decided to stop putting myself down and all women should just stop with the negative body image thing and stop beating themselves up every time they crave a chocolate bar. At the same time we can all encourage each other to make healthier choices.

#bodyimage #diet #weightloss #aging

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My Husband The Not Navy Seal

IMG_0756It’s all over the news on Veteran’s Day, the Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden.  He is to be admired for sure for his bravery and he is definitely an American hero.

But as we sit down to another of my culinary attempts (Crockpot Kung Pao chicken) I tell Bill he is a true American hero as well.  He seems baffled by this, especially since he never served in the military.

Yes, I explain but you’ve stuck it out with me for almost 35 years.  You’ve eaten my experiments more times than I can count without complaint.  That’s got to count for something.  Because I know it couldn’t have been easy.  In truth, the man deserves a medal although he’ll probably never get one.

For most of his life he went into office battle every day providing for his family.  He suffered his share of defeats there.  I’m sure there were triumphs as well, but  there might also have been days when he would have liked to chuck it all and walk away. But he didn’t.

He stuck it out.  Through the births of two children.  Raising of teenagers.  Gains and losses.  A sometimes crazy wife whose moods he didn’t understand.  Were there days he wished he could just walk away?  I don’t know but he never did.IMG_1211

He sucked it up and too often displayed what we in the family refer to as “The Meyers Stoicism.”  It makes you want to smack them for not displaying any emotion whatsoever.  He’d have been great in the military. Loyal to a fault.  Standing up for what he believed in.  Sucking it up, sticking it out, surviving without complaint.

There are so many American heroes.  Some of them risk their lives to go overseas on dangerous missions to keep us safe.  Some of them keep us safe here at home.  They’re the tough, silent guys who don’t get much credit for bearing up under the pressures of everyday American life.

If you ever wondered why romance writers write romance, this is part of the reason, for me at least.  Lots of romance novels are inspired by everyday heroes.  They don’t make the news headlines.  You’ve probably never heard of these guys.  But you might be married to one.  Maybe your father was one.  Or your boyfriend, your brother, your uncle.  They stick with you through the bumps on the road of life, and they’re still there when you get to “the end.”

NobodysFool72smNobody’s Fool available January 6, 2015

Follow me on Twitter @barbmeyers

 

The Last Sarcoxie Day

10556496_10203511984774854_3627893454693989324_nBack in Sarcoxie I stop to visit Maxine once more.  I won’t see her again before I leave.  I wish I had the energy to go down to the square again.  I want more pictures.  I want to people watch and absorb the atmosphere.  I have ideas for blogs but I’m exhausted.

Sunday Steve and I go to 10:30 Mass and stop to visit Dad’s and Kevin’s graves afterward.  it’s a beautiful day.  Warm, sunny and breezy.  Of course it is.  I’m leaving later.

Lenore has made spaghetti for lunch and it’s delicious like everything that comes out of her kitchen.  My cousins and their wives are there.  Pat’s been in a car accident and has a broken vertabra and other injuries.  He’s in a plastic body brace that looks massively uncomfortable.  He’s recently started a new job and is concerned about how long his recovery will be.  Ron’s having job issues too and is currently farming full-time.  He indicates it doesn’t pay very well at the moment.  Joe’s just become a grandfather and there are baby pictures to see.  Hmm.  Another cousin with grandchildren.  I’m sensing a theme here.

Time zips by and I realize I need to get going.  I’ve got to finish packing and gas up the rental car.

For all my dread leading up to the annual sojourn to Sarcoxie, as I leave I realize very few things are as bad as you expect them to be.  I love seeing all the people I’m related to.  I’m honored that they take the time to arrange these gatherings.  My extended family is easy to love, easy to admire.  Seeing my mother continue to decline is the sad part, the part I dread.

While I’m talking abut my mother with Maxine I realize my mother left her support system behind when she left Sarcoxie.  She left her mother and her siblings.  Her in-laws.  Possibly even friends.  Familiar territory and people she knew she could count on.  She didn’t have a choice and she never wanted to leave.  Maybe that’s why she always wanted to come back.  It wasn’t the town of Sarcoxie itself.  It was what it represented to her.  It was home.  She never really felt comfortable anywhere else or around other people.

It’s only now that my mother is gone in so many ways that I think maybe I can understand her a little.  That’s enough of a reason for my annual Sarcoxie Days.

#mothers #hometowns

Sarcoxie Days

9/7/14  I’m on my way home!  Yay!  Yesterday we went to breakfast at The Hungry House with Maxine.  It was raining and cold after the 90 degree heat of the day before – a shock to find it in the 60’s.  20140906_095334The Hungry House is the only restaurant anywhere near Sarcoxie and it’s out on the highway.  We take the back roads to get there as directed by Maxine.  I’ve given up after The Sirloin Stockade and the corn dog at Chief Sarcoxie Days last night and decided to eat until I go home.  I can’t win. I know Janet will have a spread at her house later.

After breakfast I visit Loretta (my dad’s cousin) who lives two doors down.  She’s 102 and is thrilled when anyone stops in to see her.  Her family has suggested maybe she should move into the local nursing home.  She’s stayed there previously and they were nice to her and it was fine but she doesn’t see why she should go there if she’s still able to take care of herself.  She apologizes for forgetting things, but I think when you’ve got 102 years of memories you’re entitled to forget a few now and again.

Steve and I find Janet’s house with no difficulty.  Her sisters Cheryl and Connie are there along with assorted spouses, nieces and nephews and my uncle and aunt.  It’s delightful to see everyone and watch them interact .  I have to remind myself I’ve known these cousins since childhood.  I saw them every summer.  Now Cheryl is a grandmother and Connie will be one soon.  They’re both a little older than me so it’s too early to panic.

I don’t know how Janet does all she does.  She’s one of those perennially sunny-dispositioned people who make every event and every challenge appear to be a breeze.  She turns every accident into a funny story – as when the coffee carafe breaks and leaks water all over her kitchen counter.  Twice.IMG_1220

Cheryl has made a Boston Cream Pie that looks like a picture in a food magazine.  Connie’s made apple pie with Missouri apples.  Apparently the closer to home the apples are grown the better the pie.  I initially decline dessert but eventually succumb.  I’m on “vacation” after all.

We chat and play musical chairs to chat with someone else and take pictures.  Janet takes most of them.  If her camera is digital (surely it is) I hope she sends me copies so I can share.IMG_1221

On the way home Steve and I stop to see Mom again.  She’s already sitting at her place in the dining room even though the lights are off and dinner won’t be served for 45 minutes.  I’m pretty sure she has no idea who we are but we sit and chat as best we can.  Oddly she knows all five of her brothers’ names (in order) and her sister’s name.  Her parents’ names and her own.  Her husband’s name.  “Who could forget him?” she asks…without a trace of irony.

We talk about the sameness of the routine of her days.  Steve says it’s like Groundhog Day.  A reference we know she won’t get.  Then he starts explaining the premise of the movie to her.  Between her hearing issue, her confusion about what Steve’s trying to explain to her and his enthusiastic narrative, we start to giggle until he’s laughing so hard he can’t talk.  Eventually he tells Mom, “I guess you had to see the movie.”

When Mom’s tablemates start moving toward their seats it’s our cue to leave.  Mom has told us she’s hungry from the moment we arrived.  But when I offered her an overripe banana from a basket on the counter she declined – preferring to wait for her meal.  But I know what she was really waiting for was dessert.

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(Every year I travel from Florida to Southwest Missouri where I was born to visit my mother and extended family.  My journal entries turn into blogs.  See the previous years’ blogs under “The House of Dust” and “The Guilt Trip.”)

Visit me and find buy links to my books at http://www.barbarameyers.com

Follow me on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

#cousins #Sarcoxie

(Chief?) Sarcoxie Days

10645101_10203511988414945_5485431917587865473_nI’m back in Sarcoxie.  Again.  Ugh.  Chief Sarcoxie Days is a celebration, but of what?  Obesity?  Poverty?  Hopelessness?  Am I just used to everything new and bright and shiny so that here all I see is faded paint, burnt out lights and desperation?  Maybe the worn out carnival is a reflection of my mother’s worn out life.

Each day she grows a little sadder, less vivid, less alive.  Eventually she’ll fade away like the memory of a fall street fair on the square.

Yesterday at the home I was shocked by how much older Mom looked.  She “lost” her upper plate so her face is more sunken.  She’d put on pedal pushers under her dress.  At least her hair looked clean.  We walked her down to see “the birds” – caged finches.  Mom doesn’t get out of bed some days.  I’m sure she sees no reason.  She’s weak(er) because of it and I wonder if she’ll make it.  She does, my brother Steve on one side and me on the other holding her hands, my 94-year-old aunt walking on her own just fine behind us.

We’re meeting two other aunts at the Sirloin Stockade for lunch.  When Steve said we were taking Mom with us I said, “Why?” “Because she hardly ever goes anywhere.”  That’s because she doesn’t know where she is anyway or who she’s with.  But I demur.

It’s probably good for her to get out.  It’s a long walk in hot sun from our parking place to the restaurant door and then to the back table where the aunts are waiting.  Steve fixes Mom a plate – fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans.  He cuts her meat.  She picks at the food but when he sets dessert in front of her she’s enthusiastic.  The little plate is picked clean in minutes.  I wonder if she has trouble eating due to her missing teeth.  Steve says, “Didn’t you see her chomp right through that cookie?”

We joke about Mom’s obsession with meal times but most of her senses are dulled.  Sight.  Hearing.  Cognitive ability.  All she’s got left are taste and touch.  And there are days, I’m sure, when no one touches her.  There should be an official hugger in her assisted living facility.  Steve says those people there are so damned lonely.  He talks to them when he and Mom sit in the lobby.  I think he’s performing a valuable function.

My mother was not a hugger.  Not particularly affectionate at all.  It was almost as if she was never comfortable in her own body.  She held herself apart.  But now I wish I could pick her up and hug her.  Hold her and soothe her and take care of her.  No one really takes care of her.  Her nails are longer than I’ve ever seen them.  She’s like a Lab, Steve tells me.  She won’t let anyone touch them.

I wonder what her toe nails look like.  Has anyone trimmed them?  She’s always wearing shoes and socks.  Even in bed.  No one’s seen her feet in years.  Steve says, “I’m not touching them.”  My aunt doesn’t seem too interested.  Tough toenails, I guess.

When we arrived to see Mom, she greeted Steve and Maxine like she knew them.  Maxine says, “Do you know who this is?  This is Barbara.”  Mom looks at me, puzzled and possibly pleased and says, “Oh.  My daughter?”

That is the most recognition I’m likely to get from her.  Undeniably I am her daughter with all that entails.

Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com

Follow me on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

#Sarcoxie #mothers #loneliness

When We Were Friends

ajtillock2013 012Maybe it was twenty-five years ago. Maybe it was only one. Or two. We were friends, weren’t we? Our children grew up together. We lived next door to each other. Or maybe you were in my wedding. Did you throw a baby shower for me? Where are you now?
Did we work together? Maybe it was the same club. Or exercise class. Or rehab.
We bonded, didn’t we? I thought we clicked. I thought you cared. I guess I was wrong.
Didn’t we giggle together? Mock the same things? Rewrite the endings to movies? Sing off-tune to the songs on the radio in the car?
What about those holidays when you were alone. Or I was. So we spent them together.
We have matching tattoos. But now I don’t remember why. Do you?
We were friends for a long time. Or it seemed like a long time. Weren’t you my soulmate? Didn’t you tell me once, “You’re the best friend I ever had” or “Our friendship is important to me”? I think now that was a lie. Because I haven’t heard from you in a very long time.
I think you’ve forgotten me. I think you don’t care. Even if you say you miss me, I wonder how is that possible? Because if you missed me you wouldn’t ignore me. Would you?
In my heart I didn’t go anywhere. You did.
Sometimes I think about you. In a random way. There’s a little ache in my heart. Right next to the soft spot I once had for you. Which isn’t so soft any more.
Are you dead? Are you happy? How’s your family? The kids? The boyfriend? The new husband? I’d like to know. But you don’t want me to. You don’t care that I’m still interested. I still care. You made me take my caring somewhere else. You don’t need me to care about you any more. I don’t know why I still do. I’d like to forget you, too. But I can’t. I won’t. I will always wonder. Why isn’t there room in our lives for each other any more?
Can you really count the number of true friends on the fingers of one hand?
I will always hope you’re happy, that your life is better without me in it. Without you mine isn’t.
But I’ve got a finger free.

 

Visit me and find book links at http://www.barbarameyers.com

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Barbs_Book_FrontMISCONCEIVE available on Amazon

Her husband’s in a coma.  He’s not the baby’s father…

 

 

Barbara Meyers, Author – August 2014 Newsletter

I signed the contract for another book with Samhain Publishing. This is the fourth book with them. I have a new editor. His name is Noah Chin. I sent him two manuscripts, one he liked and one he didn’t like so much. The one he liked is called NOBODY’S FOOL. It was inspired by my son’s high school BFF relationship with a girl. The first time he brought her home I thought they’d be perfect together. It’s rare to see such obvious chemistry between two people, but it was there. They were so cute together. (They still are.) She teased him and challenged him. They were both probably too smart for their own good and were always good-naturedly trying to outdo and one-up each other. They never dated in high school but did so later. Twice. Technically, three times but the third time’s the charm and they are now engaged. We call it Matt & Erin Version 3.0.

NOBODY’S FOOL is in no way the story of my son and his fiancée. I only took the best friend idea a little further and combined it with some elements of what they went through in order to get together years after their first meeting. My tag line for NOBODY’S FOOL is “She came home to make amends; he returned to seek revenge. The heart he breaks might be his own.”

When you read it just remember the story was INSPIRED by real people but it’s NOT BASED ON THEM! Sometimes I think I had to wait to see what happened with their relationship before I could finish my manuscript.

Release is slated for January 2015. Stay tuned for cover art.

I released MISCONCEIVE all by myself.

Barbs_Book_Front Another story I started a long time ago. I keep taking my manuscripts out every now and again, blow the dust off them and work on them some more. This is NOT a romance per se. More in the category of women’s fiction. PG-13 rating. The answer to the question what does Annie Langdon do when her husband is in a coma and she gets pregnant by another man? It’s available only on Amazon and only in Kindle format right now. http://www.amazon.com/Misconceive-Barbara-Meyers-ebook/dp/B00MKCJPQQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408277312&sr=8-1&keywords=misconceive

Meanwhile, I’m rewriting FANTASY MAN based on Noah’s comments about why he rejected it. I don’t know if it’s salvageable, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I’ve started a new romantic comedy, CLEO’S WEB. (If you flip back through my previous blogs you’ll find the first chapter.)

I did a seminar for Coffee Time Romance about how to AVOID publication success. You can find that here:http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/forumdisplay.php?f=2093

Pretty soon I’ll be heading to Missouri to visit my mom and assorted relations. There might be another series of posts about this year’s trip. In October I’ll be in St. Pete Beach for the Novelists, Inc. conference. http://www.ninc.com

ajtillock2013 012 Anything else you’re looking for you can find links to on my web site http://www.barbarameyers.com
Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock
Thanks for your interest!

MISCONCEIVE

Barbs_Book_Front As usual, it has taken me forever to make a book available to my legions of fans. Thank you for your patience.
Writing and publishing are not only still in the experimental stages as far as my career goes, they are a mystery to me. This time I am trying the Amazon KDP Select program which gives Amazon exclusive rights to offer the digital version of the book for 90 days. I can’t offer it in print, just yet, and it won’t be available anywhere else. It’s priced at $2.49, but that’s subject to change on Amazon’s whim. When you’ve got nothing to lose, it’s easy to take a risk.
MISCONCEIVE started out as a short story I wrote for a creative writing class a very, very long time ago. It evolved over time into the novel I’m making available which basically asks the question, “What would you do if your husband was in a coma and you got pregnant by another man?”
Along the way many “misconceptions” are revealed to the heroine Annie Langdon. Those closest to her are not who she thinks they are. Maybe she’s not the woman she thinks she is either.
The couple of readers who read the draft loved it. Writers and editors? Not so much. Not that I’m deterred. I am reminded of an author saying, “Editors look for what’s wrong in a book. Readers look for what’s right.” I love that quote. I have a lot of faith in readers.
MISCONCEIVE may not be perfect. It tells a story of a woman’s journey, her relationship with her mother, her children and the men who love her. As a young mother myself at one time I was fascinated by the dilemma I’d created in MISCONCEIVE. As someone who had a less than ideal relationship with her own mother, I took Annie’s situation with her mother to the extreme.
When you’re in the creative process of writing you don’t always know where you’re going. You follow a thread and hope it leads somewhere. There’s a grain of an idea and maybe part of what you’re doing is working out your own pain and anger and letting it spill onto the page.
MISCONCEIVE’s cover was designed by the very talented Brandon Buchanan (Snippets Press).
MISCONCEIVE is a PG-13 read. No violence, profanity or graphic love scenes.
Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com
ajtillock2013 012Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock
You can find my Braddock Brotherhood series at Samhain Publishing.
Happy reading!

To Those Given Much

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

ajtillock2013 012

This past week I’ve received two messages from friends of friends looking for donations to fund medical expenses. Both of these direly ill individuals are young people, one in her twenties, one in his thirties who is married with two children.

These are not tax deductible contributions as far as I know, they are just pleas for help from others.

Sometimes I wonder where my money goes. I look back at my life and at all the frivolous things I spent money on when I didn’t think I’d ever have to be concerned about the steady flow of cash. Foolish, foolish me. Back then I tried to imagine how it could all be gone. Turns out my imagination wasn’t that good.

Someone told me once that money is merely another form of energy. I can’t quite wrap my head around that. I wasn’t raised surrounded by money, but I sure didn’t mind having a generous supply of it. Money represents security in a way. Freedom to a certain extent. But along with money comes responsibility and its own set of headaches. Mostly those involve how to hang on to the money you’ve got.

Recently I got caught by one of those traffic cams while making a right-hand turn on a red light without stopping. $158 fine. I was not happy. I’m a good driver. How dare the government grab $158 of my hard-earned money for such a small infraction. No one was hurt. I didn’t cut off anyone’s right of way.

But when you hear the stories of these gravely ill individuals fighting for their lives or even some semblance of a “normal” life, you know in a heartbeat they’d trade places with you and be glad to even drive a car again and gladly pay a stupid traffic ticket. They may not have the chance to have children or raise the children they already have. It sort of puts it in perspective.

Good health is a gift I’m thankful for every day. I am also thankful for my car, my job which provides me with health insurance at a reasonable rate, my family and my friends. I try never to forget how blessed I am and how miniscule many of my “problems” are in view of many, many others’ situations.

So I have a traffic fine to pay. Big deal. There’s money for that. So how could there not be money to help someone in genuine need? To those who have been given much, much will be expected.

Check out the links to Heather and Eric.
http://www.gofundme.com/cfqkdo
http://www.gofundme.com/cnvtzw

FIRST CHAPTERS

ajtillock2013 012CLEO’S WEB

Chapter One

“Edgar Allen Poe. You come here. Ow! Dammit, Poe. Aunt Gertie will have my hide in a sling if something happens to you. Although, personally, I’ve always found you to be more trouble than you’re worth. Isn’t that right, kitty, kitty? Come on, now. Come here. Pretty please? Kitty, kitty? We’ll go inside. I’ll open one of those expensive tins of cat food for you. How about the one with the picture of the pretty white Persian on it? You’ve got a crush on her, don’t you, Edgar Allen. I know you do. I’ll open it and you can eat her—dammit, Poe! Owwwww!”
Daniel Webster shamelessly eavesdropped on the conversation between an unidentified woman and Gertie Petry’s tomcat, Poe. Daniel could hardly help it since the woman’s behind was sticking out of a circle of knockout roses Gertie’d planted two years ago, and he’d happened upon the scene purely by accident when he’d stopped his golf cart out front a minute ago.
Daniel happened to know that cluster of rosebushes was Edgar Allen Poe’s favorite place to hide each and every time he escaped the confines of Gertie’s two-bedroom, two-bath home. Gertie had called Daniel twice to help her corral the wayward cat, fretting the entire time until Poe was safely back inside.
Daniel also knew Poe wasn’t going anywhere. Not with a woman around to dote on him and cater to his every whim. Poe got two squares a day, his very own pristine litter box, scratching post and a basket full of catnip mice and assorted other playthings. At night, Daniel assumed, Poe curled up next to Gertie and slept the sleep of a cat who knows he’s king.
But this wasn’t Gertie’s behind peeking out from the bushes and it wasn’t Gertie’s voice alternately cursing and sweet talking the as-of-yet-unseen cat.
Daniel folded his arms across his chest, taking in the unexpected entertainment on what had so far been a fairly routine Wednesday here in the senior citizen manufactured housing community of Idlewood Estates. Oh, he’d had to settle a dispute between Don Clark and Buck Overly about whether the staghorn fern that had been living in the middle of the camphor tree that straddled their lots belonged to Don or to Buck. When Daniel, who’d mediated this exact same argument more times than he could count, suggested they cut the fern in half, they’d both looked horrified and once again agreed to shared custody.
That Solomon, Daniel thought, as he’d returned to his company-allotted cart, he knew a thing or two about keeping the peace. Don and Buck had been muttering together behind his back as he walked away about the craziness of the idea to kill such a majestic staghorn fern. Why it had been in that tree ever since Buck had bought his place from Myrtle MacCafferty four years ago. Long before that, Daniel could have told him. When Stella and Paul Sterling had sold their place to Don and his wife, the fern had been too massive to transport so they’d left it behind.
“Thanks a lot, Poe. You see this scratch on my arm? It’s bleeding. That’s what you made me do. I’ll be scarred for life and it will be all your fault. You are a worthless piece of poop, you know that? If I didn’t love Gertie so much, I’d leave you out here to fend for yourself. Serve you right, you spoiled, overgrown, sorry excuse for warm bloodedness.”
The bushes wiggled and so did the feminine rear end which was covered in a tent of pastel plaid housedress. Still, Daniel had seen an awful lot of fifty-five and over females from behind since he’d been managing Idlewood Estates. For that matter, he’d had the pleasure of seeing quite a few well under fifty-five year old feminine derrieres as well. This particular one, if he had to guess, was at least twenty-five years light on the age requirement for park residents. His day had become a whole lot more interesting.
Not to mention entertaining. The voice that floated out of the bushes had a soft Southern rhythm to it. Even when she was saying the most awful things to Poe she was using a sweet talking, coaxing tone, which apparently Poe wasn’t falling for. Probably that cat knew she’d insulted him whether he could understand the words or not. Daniel would not have been surprised to learn that Poe understood every word she’d spoken and had decided to teach her a lesson by retreating further and further into the circle of bushes until he came out on the other side.
More of her disappeared into the bushes. He could hear her murmuring softly to the cat. The oversized housedress had snagged on the branches and was not making the trip with her. Slowly the material lifted to reveal an inch of smooth thigh just above her bent knees. Definitely not the thighs of a senior citizen. Her feet were bare. Sadly, Daniel had seen a lot of elderly feet in his line of work as well. These feet were not a day over thirty-five. He’d bet his brand new circular saw on it.
“Aha! Gotcha!” she cried in triumph at the same time a massive yowl emitted from the edge of the bushes. There was a mighty rustle and every stem and branch in the circle trembled. A surprised “oomph” was followed by a black cat leaping out of the foliage and running straight at Daniel. When Poe leapt Daniel caught him, holding the cat securely close to his chest, although Poe seemed to have absolutely no inclination to go any further. He started to purr and they both watched and listened as a string of muttered unpleasantries issued from inside the circle and kept up as the body sporting that spectacular set of buns began to back out.
The housedress had not got the memo that it was to reverse and Daniel watched with interest and no small amount of lust as the material floated up another couple of inches. Definitely not the thighs of a senior citizen, he assured himself once again.
He did some quiet cursing of his own when a slight breeze blew alerting her to the fact that a few adjustments were in order. She yanked the hem of the dress down where it draped to mid-calf as she continued to back out. “Damn cat,” was the last thing she said before she cleared the bushes and sat down hard on the velvety grass in defeat.
“Gertie’s going to kill me,” she said sadly to herself. She swiped delicately at her nose with the back of her hand. Surely she wasn’t going to start crying over Poe’s supposed disappearance. Was she? Daniel hoped not. Women in tears scared the hell out of him. Made him feel helpless. He didn’t like feeling helpless and went out of his way to avoid it at all costs.
“Gertie’s not going to kill you,” he said from behind her. “Poe’s right here.”
She gasped and turned around at the same time she stumbled to her feet, moving way too fast and almost losing her balance. She righted herself and stared at him through a pair of ridiculously old-fashioned cat-eye glasses with black rims. He was pretty sure her eyes narrowed in irritation when she saw Poe sitting contently in his arms.
On her head she wore one of those equally ridiculous turbans women of a certain age and stage seemed to favor. It had come askew and several strands of blond hair were trailing around her ears and temples. One fell across her face and she blew it aside in irritation.
“Who are you?”
“Daniel Webster. Most folks call me Web.”
“Hmm.”
She continued to stand and stare at him so he returned the favor. The longer he looked, the more he liked what he saw. Even behind the crazy disguise she was wearing, which, by the way, wouldn’t fool even the least discerning observer, he could see she wasn’t a day over thirty, thirty-five tops. The intermittent breeze continued to blow and every time it did, the tent of a housedress got caught on her curves. He didn’t know what she was hoping to hide beneath all that material but from what he could tell she had nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, she probably had a lot she could show off if she were so inclined.
Her gaze was lasering through the lenses of those glasses, which he sincerely doubted were prescription. That turban? Maybe she needed to wash her hair or something, but even slightly askew, it lent her a rather dashing air of mystery. He half-expected her to pull out a cigarette in one of those old-fashioned holders and start speaking with a French accent. The thought came to him that maybe he was being punked. Yet there was something very vaguely familiar about Poe’s nemesis.
“And you are?” he finally said.
“None of your business,” she said huffily, absently rubbing at a scratch on her arm, courtesy, no doubt, of her encounter with the rosebushes.
Daniel cocked his head to one side surprised by her response. Most folks here in Idlewood Estates were the friendly type, and the ones who weren’t were, at the very least, civil. He didn’t want to throw his weight around, but he would if she pushed him.
“You want your cat back?” he said with a smile, stroking Poe’s black head right between his ears the way he knew Poe liked.
She sniffed. “He’s not my cat,” she informed Daniel. “And frankly, if it were up to me, he’d never set foot inside again.”
“But it’s not up to you, is it?”
Her bottom lip trembled. A tear slid out from beneath the frames of her glasses. “No,” she said so softly he almost couldn’t hear her.
“Want me to bring the cat in?”
She took a deep breath and Daniel took note of what that did to the material covering her chest. Then she let it out with what sounded like a heartfelt sigh of resignation. “Sure. Why not.”
He followed her, assuring himself that her walk was not the walk of a woman who’d been on earth more than half a century. She held the door open to Gertie’s unit and Daniel walked through. The moment she closed it behind her Poe made a leap for freedom, darting into a bedroom. She walked past Daniel and firmly shut the door to the room as if she’d finally taught the cat a lesson. Daniel bit his lip to keep from smiling. He happened to know Poe’s favorite place in the world was underneath the guest bed.
She proceeded down the narrow hallway to the kitchen, so Daniel followed. She opened the refrigerator door and reached inside. “Want a beer?”
“It’s barely ten o’clock in the morning,” he pointed out.
“Yeah, well, I’m having a rough morning.” She unscrewed the cap and took a long draught from a Bud Light. “You in or out?”
Daniel had been so mesmerized by the movement of her throat as she swallowed, that long smooth column of throat without a line or wrinkle in sight, he barely registered her question. No way was he leaving now and he had the uncomfortable notion that she’d kick him out with pleasure if he didn’t agree to be her mid-morning drinking buddy. “In. I guess.”
She withdrew a second bottle, opened it and handed it to him. She tapped the neck of her bottle against his. “To new friends.”
“New friends,” he agreed, although he was becoming more uncertain by the minute if that’s what she was going to be to him.
When she yanked the turban off her head and sent it sailing toward the overstuffed recliner in the sitting area, he forgot all about the cat in the bedroom and the beer in his hand.

***********************************

Above is the start of an idea for a contemporary romance novel.  I wish I knew where it was going, but it’s all a bit muddled at the moment.  Look for more FIRST CHAPTERS posts in the future.  Meanwhile, visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com

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