Authors: Christine Zolendz,Angelisa Stone
Yeah. That did it.
That visual made me crack a smile. I beeped the horn and waved at him with both my middle fingers. The jerk barely looked up from his phone.
I thought, no, I knew any woman deserved more than that.
Wiping the tears that had gathered on my lashes, I yanked the gearshift into drive, and headed out of my driveway. I didn’t look back again. I just couldn’t let myself; he was my past now. I couldn’t change him or what he did. And I couldn’t forgive someone who wanted to continue the behavior that hurt me so harshly. Strumming my fingers on the steering wheel, I listened as my GPS barked out its directions. There were about eight hours of driving west before I got to Ohio. This was it. Me starting my life over at forty.
I needed to forget him. I needed to douche my memory clean of everything
. Fill it up with me. Christine Freshness.
The minute I accelerated onto the highway, my iPod was on, and I began the best car performance of my life. Singing, dancing, screaming, cursing, and there was no one there to tell me how embarrassing I was acting.
My minivan party lasted all the way through New York. I was pretty much halfway through Pennsylvania, three hours into my drive, when my ears throbbed from the volume of the music, and my throat ached from nonstop singing.
My butt was also asleep. It was getting more action and feeling than it had in ages.
Shifting my rear back and forth in my seat, I pulled into the first rest stop I found along Interstate 80. A good old-fashioned truck stop, an experience I had yet to encounter. Excited for a bit of something new, I climbed (fell) out of my van and stretched (hopped around in pain) for a few seconds (ten minutes since I tried to touch my toes and sort of got stuck in the position). Who in the world put my feet so far away? They never used to be that far. And why was I out of breath?
Slinging my computer bag over my shoulder, I made my way through the maze of eighteen-wheelers and into the restaurant area where I sat back down, causing my butt to fall right back asleep. Pins and needles attacked my ass like I was someone’s submissive little voodoo doll.
A raspy-voiced waitress took my order without even looking at me, then slid a piping hot mug of coffee in front of me so fast its steamy black liquid sloshed over the rim and splashed across the table. She had a tattoo across her collarbone that read
Clawed Out Of Hell
, and I truly believed it. Huh, she must’ve been married to my husband, too.
Flipping open my laptop, I figured I’d try to get some work done. Deadlines were looming, hovering over me like my next birthday. I opened the manuscript I’d been working on before the whole Dick in the Box fiasco happened, and then proceeded to stare blankly at the screen.
My fingers softly touched the keys.
And nothing freakin’ happened.
The empty white page chuckled at me, remaining a glaring, bright, mocking white.
How in the world was I supposed to think about romantic crap to write about now? There was no way I could write romance now when I didn’t believe in it anymore. My readers want an escape, not crappy painful reality. Right then, all I could offer was a disgraceful commentary on the state of my nonexistent love life. Maybe I should just make my characters kill each other. Or I could just write some meaningless word porn from some hot alpha billionaire and throw in a few spanks and strange situations with small household appliances into the mix.
Nah. That’s been done way too much lately. Way too much.
I wanted my female character to chop my hero’s head clean off his neck.
Oh my God. My cheating soon-to-be ex-husband got my writing mojo in the divorce. He stole my words. He took my fairy tales. Scott was the evil villain who stole my happily-ever-afters, figuratively and literally. Well screw that, Volde-Scott wasn’t going to win this one. Was he? People say that good always wins, but that’s in fiction. In real life, evil wins a lot—a whole Hell of a lot.
My chest tightened and twisted painfully. I clutched at the leather seat of the booth as the room spun around me and sweat broke out across my face and chest. What the hell was I going to do if I couldn’t write any longer?
Without my husband I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. What about health care?
Selling my body was out of the question. Everybody’d want a refund, and seriously I’d be the hooker who was just good for cuddles.
The bright white page still mocked me in its emptiness.
Hyperventilation will commence in 3, 2, 1…
“You okay, darlin?”
No. My life was over, and I was going to have to get a really big cardboard box to live in with one of those scratchy wool blankets I’d probably have to steal from my neighbor who lives two dumpsters over.
“Yes. Fine. Great. Just freakin’ peachy,” I croaked, tilting my head toward the next table to see who was asking me.
What stared back at me were five of the hairiest men I’d ever seen.
Mentally, I calculated the amount of time it would take me to get my pepper spray from inside my bag and kick these wannabe Duck Commanders in the face.
Five seconds for the pepper spray. Forget about the kick, there was no way my fat ass was getting my foot up that high.
“You don’t look fine, darlin’. You about look like you done seen a ghost,” one of them said, but I couldn’t figure out which one because there was facial hair, everywhere—lips and mouths were nowhere to be found.
My cheeks flushed with heat…
like I’d write about for one of my character’s expressions
. You know what? It made me feel stupid, too. Why had I ever written that? It’s a damn uncomfortable feeling. It’s not sexy at all.
“I’m… I’m fine. Thank you all so very much,” I quipped, then proceeded to hold my breath, not even realizing it.
Holy crap, how many times have I written that line?
I never even knew that people actually involuntarily held their breath. I thought it was a fictional reaction to nervousness. I let out a long low breath and tried my best to smile.
“You a writer or somethin?” Ah ha, this time I saw who spoke. It was the biggest one.
I’ll call him Sasquatch
. One extremely hairy knuckled hand gestured to my laptop.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Yeah? Have I ever read anything you wrote?” Sasquatch asked.
Definitely not. “Probably not, I write romance novels.”
“I like big girls. You have a really cute face,” the absolute hairiest one said.
“Wow there, Brad Pit, you really have a way with the ladies. Thanks for the shitty compliment,” I replied, taking a slow swig of my coffee. “My girl parts are aflame at the poetry falling from your lips. Pardon me while I fan my vagina.”
They all laughed.
“So why’d you look like you were havin’ a panic over there?”
I realized my hands were clamped tightly around the seat beneath me again, sweaty and clammy. My eyes darted quickly over the five men across from me; each of them gave back a friendly, concerned stare. Hmmm, and I had thought they were just poking fun at the crazy fat lady. I’m an idiot. I always told people not to judge my books or anyone’s books by the covers—literally. But wasn’t I judging these gentlemen by the coarse, strands of matted hair that were covering every inch of their skin?
Dropping my shoulders, I leaned back and wiped my palms along my pants. “I just had an awful few weeks. I caught my husband three inches prick-deep in some tramp, so I left. Now I’m driving to Vegas to find myself.” I looked down at my computer screen and waved a hand at it. “Now the whole love and romance bull-crap seems too trite to even think about—let alone write about,” I complained, forgetting who my audience was. “How can I try to sell readers on it when it’s just a whole big bunch of crap? Hell, I don’t even know what men really like anymore. I’m out of the game. I’m out of words—literally.”
Truckers, therapists, same thing, right?
“Confidence. Men love confidence,” one said. The rest of them mumbled agreements while mouthfuls of food dripped into their long beards.
“Not even close… men love pretty and skinny,” I snapped.
They all shook their heads. “Darlin’, you got five grown men here, telling you. But you ain’t listening. Be confident. Just because your husband strayed doesn’t make you less desirable. It just makes him an ass—a dumb one—the worst kind. Confidence, Darlin’. Accept who you are, don’t try to be what others deem as socially correct and acceptable in today’s society standards.” Jesus! This guy was articulate and smooth. Real smooth. I liked what he was saying; he almost made me believe him, too. Almost.
“I like funny and smart. Got me a wife back home who had five kids with me and has all the scars to prove it. She’s the same girl I married at eighteen, even if she don’t look it no more, I can still see it in her eyes… and feel it with my hands,” another one said, winking at me.
“I think you’re sexy as hell,” the hairiest one said. The best indicator of my decay in confidence was this strange reprehensible nonsense that was being mistaken as flirting. He licked his lips.
Dear God, what am I doing here? And why in the world was I liking it?
I read once that people cheat, because of 20%. Meaning, say your husband gives you 80% of what you need or want, but you’re still missing 20% of something—whatever that may be. Well someone, anyone, can come and swoop right in if he’s offering you that 20% you’re missing. Hell, I went into my marriage missing way more than 20%. I went in missing about 40%, maybe even 50% of what I needed. I went in anyway. I traipsed down that aisle believing that the other 50% would come at some point in our marriage. Little did I know that less and less was going to come in my marriage. But right now, what I needed most was some validation, some confidence, anything to make me feel worthy—worthy of anything better than I currently had.
“You want me to take you into the back and show you how damn sexy you can be?”
Before he finished his question, we were in the back, in some sort of dark, dirty, janitorial closet. His wiry, coarse beard and moustache crashed against my mouth in a hunger that no man has ever felt for me. He was ravenous and his only hunger could only be satiated with me. My body ached for his voracious appetite. I wanted him to feed on me until he couldn’t bear another morsel of my heated flesh.
Savagely, he ripped my shirt off before feasting on my breasts and tearing my bra from my chest. I cried out in desire—the desire to be wanted and ravished. With his mouth on my breast, he groaned, “Darlin’, I’m going to show you how hot you are.”
Then, he stepped back to unbutton his pants. I opened my eyes to take in the scenery around me, the room in which my sexual awakening would take place. The closet smelled of sweat and bleach, and something akin to curdled yogurt. There was not much room inside, and the dingy light bulb above my head swung in lazy circles, causing a strange dance club effect. Mops and brooms and bottles of cleaning fluid haphazardly littered the shelves. Something very large and hairy slowly scuttled across my line of view. Its thin tail dragged behind it.
My skin crawled, and my bones shuddered in horror. It all felt so wrong, and not in that good, dirty, one-night-stand with a spank-happy Christian Grey kind of wrong way.
My back was against the far wall. I looked frantically for a Haz-mat suit, because that was the only way I could truly get through this viral-infested disaster. I tried to take in long, calming breaths, but all I could do was stare at this man’s penis.
Oh my God.
That was a penis!
I was staring at him right in the penis. Penis to eye. Eye to penis.
“What’s your name, Darlin?”
Penis. Penis. Penis. Strange man’s penis.
He growled out a low chuckle, “Name’s Billy Catch.”
Mr. Catch seemed to be a big fan of the natural male look. Yep. No manscaping for Mr. Catch—just a full Amazon forest of bug-infested wild growth, surrounding an unnaturally shaped penis. Someone needed to have a sit down and share the importance of crotch maintenance to this guy.
Now, in theory, one-night stands seem like a pretty awesome idea, especially when reading them in my favorite fictional books, but the
actual physical situation
? Not so much. Words that came to mind: Terrifying. Diseases. Bugs. Ax murders.
Sweat poured from every pore on my body. My chest was heaving as I looked for a way to escape. There was only one window in the far corner that looked way too small for my big butt to fit through. Billy was closing in on me, strange bent penis in one hand, sharp bloody ax in another.
This would be a really horrible way to die
“Here you go, Hon.” The waitress slid a pile of cheesy nachos in front of me, snapping me out of my daydream. The only ravenous hunger that was about to be placated right now was the one brewing in my stomach that only a heaping pile of 2,000 calories could satisfy. The truckers thankfully accepted the shoveling of food in my mouth to be the end of our conversation.
I scarfed down half my food and got out of there before I could have any more horrifyingly nasty images.
Heaving breasts? Really?
The only time I’ve ever had heaving breasts is when I had to walk up four flights of stairs on my daughter’s fieldtrip at the Statue of Liberty.
I ran through the parking lot so fast I actually got cramps in my legs, the intense kind that shot daggers of icy glass up my legs.
Hey look at that, I was exercising
. And wouldn’t you know it—my breasts were once again heaving as I gasped for air, praying to not die in the parking lot of a greasy truck stop diner. I climbed back into the minivan, locked all the doors, and called Angelisa.
“Where are you?”
I was so out of breath, all I could answer her with were grunts and pants.
“Please tell me you are not butt dialing me while having sex,” she yelled into the phone.
There were a few more seconds of heavy breathing. Angelisa stayed on the other end like a damned federal agent listening in from a surveillance van.