I’ve been reluctant to post an excerpt from my novel SHAMEFUL due to its subject matter…until now. So beware! Nothing has changed. It’s still about a thirty-nine-year-old married mother of three having an affair with a sixteen-year-old boy. Her fourteen-year-old daughter is still smitten by him. It’s still taboo fiction. It’s still raunchy. And it still falls within what the law deems as statutory rape (in most U.S. states). It’s also available on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Smashwords, and paperback for readers who dare.
If you’ve read my novel Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series, you’re going to think this excerpt is tame (hopefully, not lame). I’ll admit my vampire novel is rigidity-raw, but you may find it less offensive because all the raunchiness and foul language occurs between “adults”. Hence, the big difference with SHAMEFUL.
If you haven’t read my vampire novel, but you’re eagerly anticipating the low-down and dirty bits in SHAMEFUL, you won’t find any in the first two chapters. I mean, c’mon–she can’t just jump in bed with him right away. Right? There is a progression, or regression (depending on how you look at it) that occurs within the story. In this excerpt, you’ll get familiar with Joanne. You’ll discover how she and Shimmer accidentally meet Alex. And you’ll get to test out my writing style.
IF YOU FIND THE SYNOPSIS OFFENSIVE, STOP READING NOW.
You have been warned.
Chapter 1: “The American Nightmare.”
“Mom!” someone shouted from a distance…and I was NOT pleased.
I’d been having a good dream, dammit. The kind I didn’t want to awake from. I’d been in a bluebonnet meadow on a beautiful spring day, and I’d felt free, complete, and happy.
“Mom! Get up! Grandma said breakfast is ready!” the shouting continued, closer now.
I squeezed my eyes tight and lay thinking about springtime, freedom, and happiness.
“Mom! GET UP!” This time there was banging on the door too.
Jerking upright in the brightly sunlit bedroom, I looked at my reflection in the dresser mirror straight ahead. Matted hair formed mini-tornadoes atop my head and my gown, comforter, and sheet were soaked with sweat.
“Goddamn, Texas weather,” I muttered. It had been chilly when I’d gone to bed.
“Mom! You coming?” my nine-year-old son, CJ, asked through the bedroom door.
“Yeah, baby. I’ll be out in a sec,” I replied half-heartedly then plopped back down on the soggy pillow, throwing the wet comforter over my face.
I wasn’t free at all. In fact, I was married with three kids.
No doubt, my mother-in-law Julie was responsible for sending him to get me. And she knew I needed rest. Hell, she’d suggested the kids and I visited this weekend so they could spend time with their grandparents…and I could rest.
Peeping at the nightstand clock, I saw that it was only ten o’clock. Not even late.
“Mom! You coming? Grandma’s waiting on you.” Julie had sent my fourteen-year-old daughter this time.
“Yeah, Shimmer. I said I’ll be there in a sec. Y’all go ahead. Start breakfast without me.”
Being a single mom while their father was deployed to Kuwait was taking a toll on my psyche. I needed a moment to breathe, to hear my own thoughts. And I needed it before I became another crazy bitch like Andrea Yates.
Well, too late to rest now.
Pulling the comforter from my face, I glanced at the high school picture of Chad hanging on the wall and sighed. He was as handsome at forty-one as he’d been as my high school sweetheart. With sandy blond hair, which he wore buzz-cut now, and blue eyes, he looked just like his mom. As Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he was bossy like her too. Like mother, like son.
Truthfully, I hadn’t been close to Julie since she’d begged him not to marry me. She’d said I was pretty and all, but not good enough for him. That he could take the girl out of the trailer park, not the trailer park out of the girl.
I’d rather be trailer trash than bourgeois trash like her.
Ignoring Julie, Chad and I got married right after he finished undergrad. The ink was barely dry on the marriage license before my mother began pressuring me to have kids right away. We didn’t have Shimmer until four years later because we’d been too busy traveling and enjoying each other.
Ahhhh. Those were the days.
Now I was pathetically hiding from reality, perspiring under a comforter. Wishing I was still in my fantasy world.
Throwing the linen back, I headed for the shower before melancholy really set in. Being in Chad’s old room made me feel more lonely instead of feeling closer to him because I missed him so much.
It had been three months this time. And though we talked on the phone daily, it wasn’t the same as having him home. Absence did not make my heart grow fonder. I needed him here.
Knowing how much he loved his job, I didn’t press the issue. I had known he’d always wanted to serve our country and I’d agreed to support that endeavor. But moving around the world with him every few years took its toll. Our kids needed stability. Plus their grandparents complained about not seeing them enough. So we bought a house in Houston, which was as close to San Antonio—to his mother—as I could get without the constant urge to jump off a cliff.
Chad’s current rank created a comfortable life for us. One I used to be content with. Now I was just counting down the days to his retirement, which he promised would come after he made 0-6 Colonel. I held on to that hope even though I was skeptical he’d actually give up being an officer. After all, he was married more to his job than to me.
As water slid down my body, I stood still, dwelling on how much I missed my husband. By the time my shoulders shook uncontrollably, the water on my face wasn’t only from the shower. My tears ran down the drain as well.
Why did I feel so trapped? Why didn’t I feel complete like the woman in my dream?
Looking down at my body certainly did not improve my mood. I grimaced at the visible changes it had underwent to bring three lives into the world.
When Chad had suggested plastic surgery, particularly a tummy tuck and breast implants, I wasn’t thrilled. Buuuut I was motivated to prove Julie wrong about me not being good enough. So maybe I should look in to it, especially liposuction.
As if on cue, my stomach growled. Hopefully, there was some breakfast left.
After spending two seconds deciding what to wear, I swiveled to inspect myself in a floor-length mirror. With jeans, a sweater and no makeup, I was comfortable and less than casual, but cute. I could only get away with this while Chad was gone. Didn’t matter if I was going to the store for gum, he’d expect me to look stunning. “Image is everything,” he’d say.
Everyone was still at the table, done eating when I got to the kitchen. Shimmer and CJ were laughing and comparing cartoon characters. My six-month-old daughter, Miracle, was sitting in a highchair with scrambled eggs and pancake in her head and all over her onesie.
Studying all three made me feel invisible since they had Chad’s blond hair and electric blues. I’d look like the nanny if I didn’t dye my hair. Not even my naturally dark hair or brown eyes held any significance. Like my sole purpose in life was breeding and caring for everyone else.
Forcing myself back to the present, I looked over at Chad’s dad, Stan, sitting at the table reading the Sunday newspaper. Thankfully, he was a quiet, to-himself sort of man—never meddling, always smiling. Give him a cigar and he was happy. Despite my disdain for Julie, I admired their relationship. Since my parents divorced when I was young, the Coopers represented what I wanted in my marriage. Surely, ours stood a chance since Chad’s parents were happily married over forty years, right?
That’s what I told myself anyway.
CJ was talking with his mouth full. Shimmer was laughing hysterically. And Julie was loading the dishwasher.
“Good morning, everyone,” I said with a sardonic grin…fooling no one.
They continued on without acknowledging me. Good—didn’t want to be bothered anyway. After grabbing a plate of diet-friendly food (wheat toast, hard-boiled egg, turkey-bacon, and fat-free yogurt), I sat on the chair opposite Stan and glared at them all.
When we finally left my in-laws in the early afternoon, I wasn’t disappointed—especially since I hadn’t gotten much rest. I only regretted not leaving my children behind for a month…or two.
While pumping fuel at a gas station, I noticed a convertible sky blue Maserati GranCabrio drive to the other side of the pump. Other patrons turned in its direction too. You couldn’t miss a car that screamed money and excess, power and success, speed and freedom.
My mind immediately drifted to another realm, one with a hot pink Maserati and me behind the wheel speeding towards Vegas—
“Hey! Is that you, Joanne?” said a high-pitched interruption.
When I looked to see who’d spoken, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the now-stunning Sarah-Sue, my high school classmate…the notorious school slut turned hot Austin stripper.
I had always thought she’d end up in an alley strung out on drugs. But last I heard, she was doing well. Judging by the fact she was the one driving the Maserati, I assumed the rumors were true and my prediction had been wrong.
“Hey, Sarah-Sue,” I said begrudgingly. Had to get away before we got to the part where we exchanged life stories.
“It’s been ages, hasn’t it? It’s so good to see you,” she said as she walked over and hugged my neck. She seemed genuinely excited to see me—probably wanted to rub in how well she was doing. “I was visiting my mother this weekend. Guess you were doing the same, huh?” she continued.
I hugged her back because it was the right thing to do, but hurriedly shut down the pump and closed my tank. Sure hoped my SUV was full enough.
“It’s good to see you, too, Sarah-Sue,” I lied, feigning a smile. I didn’t tell her my mother was out-of-town and I’d been visiting my in-laws.
Looking through my SUV window, she asked Chad’s whereabouts and my kids’ ages.
Reluctantly, I answered both. “I love your car,” I added partly because it was true and partly because I wanted to shift the conversation to her life. It was clearly more glamorous than mine.
“Thanks. You still live in Houston?”
Damn. It didn’t work. She was still probing and she must’ve heard rumors about us too.
“Yep. We bought a home there,” I said.
“Really? I love Houston. My boyfriend bought a house there, but we rent it out mostly. We split our time between the house in Austin and one in Italy. I told him he might as well sell it since…” My mind wandered while she yapped.
I remembered hearing that Sarah-Sue had a sugar daddy, someone she’d met at a strip club when she danced in Austin. Neither of them had wanted marriage or children, and it must’ve worked out because she looked amazingly happy in her leopard-print pumps with matching shawl and black spandex bodysuit. Her strawberry blond hair was partially covered by a black scarf and her green eyes were covered with Dolce & Gabbana yellow-tinted shades. Her A-cups had magically morphed in to surgically-constructed Dolly Pardon boobs and her monstrous pimples had disappeared from her smooth creamy white skin. Time had been good to her.
And she made a good case for going under the knife.
“So will you come?” she asked, smiling brightly.
I’d just realized she had asked a question. “Uh…I’ll have to see. I don’t get out much…you know…with my three kids and all,” I emphasized by pointing to my vehicle.
“Well, think about it and call me. My number’s still the same. Like I said, my handmade jewelry is to die for. You’ll love the show.”
“Okay.” I had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t care. We lived in different worlds and there was no need of commingling them. I didn’t tell her I never had her number.
She squeezed my hand farewell then walked towards the store entrance.
Driving off, I remembered how Sarah-Sue had screwed lots of boys in school and I hadn’t, yet she was the one living the dream. She epitomized beauty and freedom and happiness.
Things had changed for me once we added bodies and responsibilities to our household. Sarah-Sue was still doing whatever she wanted, whenever…and I was resentful of that. Never thought I’d envy her life. I’d pursued marriage, kids, and domesticity while she’d pursued sex, money, and drugs. We had both gotten what we wanted.
She looked pleased with her decision.
To drown out my thoughts, I turned up the radio. Didn’t want to spend the next few hours comparing myself to Sarah-Sue or dwelling on how much my life sucked. I just wished something, anything, would change.
Whoever said “be careful what you wish for” hadn’t lied. I had no idea change was coming so quickly.
Chapter 2: “Accidents Happen For A Reason.”
We’d finally arrived in Houston after riding two and a half hours with the windows down, enjoying the comfortable seventy-five-degree March day. By June, the heat and humidity would be ghastly. But of all the places we’d lived, I liked Houston’s weather best…even with the hotter-than-hell summers.
Glancing in my rearview mirror at the truck behind me, I realized I had no idea how long I’d been sitting at the light, lost in my head. After a quick, apologetic wave, I accelerated with a sudden jerk.
Suddenly, Shimmer’s eyes opened. She wiped drool from her mouth and sat upright.
“Are we there yet?” she asked. Miracle and CJ still slept.
After exiting onto a feeder road, I began rubbing my aching shoulders. Then I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror and saw more defined crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles. Today had been my scheduled Sunday at Pampered Dolls Spa & Salon and I’d missed it. Managing stress was an important part of child-rearing. I worked hard at making my body fit Chad’s image but regular spa/salon treatments were what I did for myself. To maintain my sanity.
This was the last time I’d visit my in-laws on the weekend of my scheduled massage. I had gone to San Antonio to rest, not to be stressed.
“Ew!” Shimmer shrieked as she crinkled her nose and swiveled her head from the backseat. I turned just in time to see vomit spewing from CJ’s mouth onto himself, the tan leather seats, and the floor.
“Oh, no!” I said. Ew was right.
Using napkins from my glove compartment, I dabbed the creamy residue from CJ’s chin. I was disgusted. And upset. I’d told Julie not to give CJ ice cream. Of course, she hadn’t listened. “Only a few spoonfuls,” she’d said.
With my head turned one second too long, my vehicle stopped abruptly, jerking us forward as the force of our bumper collided with the bumper ahead. Exhaling deeply, I closed my eyes. There was no telling what I had hit. Hopefully, no one was hurt.
Opening my eyes, I glared at the small faded gray car. To separate the bumpers, I reversed my SUV then asked Shimmer to clean CJ. While grumbling under my breath, I grabbed my insurance card and license from my purse and got out.
A male was already approaching. Greeting me with his warm smile as opposed to the grimace I’d expected.
“Hey. Is everyone okay?” he asked, stopping in front of me.
He had perfect white teeth and either deeply tanned or naturally dark skin. He was partially hidden underneath a hooded sweatshirt, insulating him from the whirling wind. Not enough to hide his dimpled chin or youthfulness though. He looked close to Shimmer’s age.
Great. I’d hit a kid. Who had to be at least sixteen since he was driving, unless he was doing so illegally.
“We’re fine. Are you okay?” I said sheepishly. “I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I did that. My son got sick and I turned around to help him when I should’ve been facing forward. I’m so sorry. I’ll get your car fixed. Here’s my insurance card. It’s valid. And here’s my license so you’ll know I’m who I say I am,” I rambled as I handed both to him. “Let me see how bad it is.”
I stood between our vehicles, surveying the damage. I’d knocked a deep dent in his rusty bumper, but my Mercedes GL 450 wasn’t even scratched.
He stood next to me, hands in his pockets. “Is your son all right? Tend to him. It’s an old car anyway. No biggie.”
No biggie?! I was stunned. Was he serious? Not only was he not reaming me for running into him, but he was more concerned about my son. In fact, he wasn’t even inspecting the damage. He was facing my SUV, presumably to see CJ through the windshield.
Shimmer still looked as distasteful as she had when she’d first discovered CJ’s accident. Well, I couldn’t deal with that right now. I had to deal with my own accident. Returning my attention to his Mitsubishi Galant bumper, I agreed it looked old…and now banged up, thanks to me.
“Hey, it was my fault. I’ll fix it.” At least it wasn’t bad enough to call the police. Nervously glancing in his direction, I wondered if he’d already made the call.
He was still facing my SUV, slowly walking towards it. I followed his gaze.
“Your son’s throwing up,” he said.
Before I could respond, he’d climbed in the backseat and leaned CJ towards the opened door. It worked to make CJ’s next projection land on the street and partly on the hooded stranger’s clothes. Luckily, he didn’t seem to notice or mind. Now, I needed to get my SUV detailed, fix this boy’s car, and get his clothes cleaned.
Hair on back of my neck stood when Miracle first squealed, “Whaaaaaaa!!!”
Nice. Just what I needed.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to the stranger. Tripping over my flip-flop, I ran to the other side of my vehicle to get her. “Miracle, I’m coming, sweetie.”
Shimmer rushed towards Miracle too, but I got there first so she went back to cleaning up. She was helpful sometimes, which was good. Hopefully, my mothering experiences would deter her from starting a family too early. Last thing I wanted was for her to have crumb-snatchers in tow before she was ready.
While I soothed Miracle, the stranger disappeared and reappeared with a Wendy’s cup and a white t-shirt. Scooping ice from the cup, he put it in the t-shirt. Then balled it up and gently placed it on CJ’s head.
“This should make you feel a little better,” he said.
Good, level-headed thinking. It was warm out, even with the wind blowing.
“Thanks for your help. I’m really sorry I hit your car. I’m Joanne, by the way. What’s your name?” I called to him.
“Short for Alexander?”
“No, Ma’am. It’s short for Alexis. It means ‘helper, protector, defender of men’.”
So the boy had manners…and some sense.
“Call me Joanne. You’ll make me feel old, otherwise,” I responded.
“You are old, Mom,” Shimmer snickered.
“Okay, Joanne, then. And what’s your name little buddy?” Alex asked CJ, whose eyes were closed while he enjoyed the attention.
“His name’s CJ. Well, Chad Julius, named after my husband…but we call him CJ. And this is Shimmer and Miracle,” I said, pointing to each.
Alex flashed his beautiful smile. “Everyone looks tired. Did y’all have a long day?”
“We just got back from San Antonio,” Shimmer replied, overenthusiastically. Oh, boy.
“What’s in San Antonio?”
“My grandparents live there. We were there for the weekend. By the way, isn’t ‘Alexis’ a girl’s name?” She’d completely stopped cleaning to fully engage Alex in conversation.
“It’s actually unisex, but I go by ‘Alex’ to avoid confusion.”
“I don’t think anyone’s gonna confuse you for a girl, Alex,” she teased.
Or was she flirting?
No telling how long we’d been here, but it was definitely time to go.
When Miracle calmed, I handed her to Shimmer to strap in the car seat then walked around to face Alex and wind down our business.
“Is that better?” he asked. CJ nodded.
“I’d be happy to cover your dry-cleaning bill also,” I said while ransacking my purse until I found my wallet. “Would you rather I gave you cash? I don’t know how much would make this right, but maybe you’ll take five hundred dollars?” I counted my bills.
“I have about half on me, but I can go to the ATM and get the rest.” I handed him the money. When Alex didn’t move to accept it, I nervously asked, “Did you already call the cops?” Nobody likes points on their license.
He shook his head. “No. Of course, not. I told you it was no biggie. Keep your money.” The left side of his mouth curled and his forehead creased as if he was insulted. After securing CJ with a seatbelt, he wiped some of the nearly-dried puke from his sweatshirt. “And this is my workout shirt, so it doesn’t need dry-cleaning. I’m just glad everyone is okay,” he said.
I looked at him incredulously. At least he should take the money for being inconvenienced. “Alex, you’re being incredibly good about this. I feel awful. Take the money. It will make me feel better. I know I ruined your afternoon.”
“No, actually this was the highlight of my day,” he said with a humorous twinkle and a smile that revealed a dimpled cheek. I hated to admit it, but this had been the highlight of my day also…unless my meadow dream counted.
Fine—I wouldn’t press the issue. I put the money back in my wallet, but wasn’t driving away from the scene without making sure he could contact me if he changed his mind. I scribbled my name and number on the back of a receipt.
He’d already started walking back to his car when he said, “It was nice meeting y’all. I hope you feel better soon, CJ.”
“Please take this in case you change your mind. You’ll need to be able to get hold of me.” Walking towards him, I handed him the receipt. Which he took hesitantly and looked at me. When our eyes met for the first time, I discovered his were beautiful: intensely deep brown, guarded by thick black, arched eyebrows and high cheekbones. “How old are you, Alex?” I asked.
It was as I thought. “That’s my contact information if you decide later that I’m rotten scum who should pay for what I did to your car.”
He shook his head like I was absurd.
Miracle squealed again.
And just like that, it was time to go back to the sanctity of my dull, boring life. “Well, thanks for your help. Sorry I hit you. Take care.”
“You too, Joanne.” He waved quickly towards Shimmer before getting in his car.
I headed back to my vehicle, where Shimmer was waving rapidly, grinning like a buffoon. Before I could drive off, she said, “He was HOT!”
“Really?” I kept my eyes on the road.
“Oh, yeah. Mom, didn’t you see him?”
“I don’t notice things like that,” I lied.
“That’s right. You’re old,” she teased. “Too bad you don’t notice things like that because Alex was H-O-T!”
Oh, I noticed all right. “You couldn’t see much of him. He had a hood on.”
“I know, right? Imagine how gorgeous he’d be if he dressed up?”
I chuckled. She had a point. Alex was cute and sweet…not the worst boy to get her attention. But noticing was all she’d better do right now. I’d lock her in her room until she turned thirty if I had to.
She sank deeper into the seat, smirking. I rolled my eyes since I had a clue what she was thinking about.
As if my driving wasn’t bad enough, I pulled out my cell phone to tell Chad what had happened. After we discussed the accident and Alex’s helpfulness and forgiving attitude, we chatted about the visit to his parents’ house. Then we talked about Chad’s work project. By the time our conversation tapered, I’d pulled into the garage.
After promising to be more careful while driving and to call when the kids were ready for bed, I hung up.
That was our way of staying connected while he was away. We would crowd around the speakerphone and sing songs or read stories at bedtime every night. The kids still looked forward to these times. I’d started wanting nothing less than the real thing.
After eating, bathing, and reading with Chad, it was close to ten thirty. Miracle had already fallen asleep during story time so transferring her to the crib was easy. I tucked CJ in, who said he felt better and apologized for throwing up. Rubbing his head, I assured him all was forgiven. Accidents happen. Which reminded me of how helpful Alex had been when I’d had mine. Hopefully, when Shimmer started dating—after she was thirty-five—she would find someone like him.
After knocking on Shimmer’s door, I peeked in. She was writing in her journal, as she did every night before bed.
“What’cha writing about? Alex?” I joked, knowing it was true.
“You know I can’t tell you what’s in my journal.” She melodramatically closed the hard-bound book and smiled.
“Okay. Go to bed soon. You have school in the morning,” I said, closing her door.
I wasn’t worried about anything she wrote because I knew where she hid it and invaded her privacy by reading it from time-to-time. Eavesdropping on her personal thoughts, helped me know her better…how to relate and communicate with her. I could never let her know I spied though because I’d lose access to her innermost thoughts AND she’d be pissed.
Downstairs, I double-checked that the doors were locked and enabled the alarm. After making tea, I tiptoed back to my room, feeling grateful all four bedrooms were upstairs. I felt more secure with my kids down the hall.
After showering, I stretched across my bed with a book. Finally able to relax.
“Oh shit!” I said aloud.
Wasn’t sure what made me think of it, but I’d just realized I’d forgotten my license and insurance card. I remembered giving them to Alex as soon as I got out, but couldn’t recall getting them back. Sitting up, I thought harder about it. Nope. Never got them back.
Unfortunately, I’d given him my contact information, but had never gotten his. There was no reason to at the time. Never even got his last name. So I couldn’t look him up in the phone book or internet either. I slapped my forehead. Idiot! I wasn’t concerned about my insurance card; I had several copies. Getting another license made would take hours of waiting in line at the DMV though. Hopefully, Alex would notice he still had them and call me.
I lay back down, no longer wanting my tea or book. Closing my eyes, I searched my most recent memories of desirable men until I found one to daydream about. Then I focused hard on Hugh Jackman’s chiseled chest until my daydream became a real dream and I was sound asleep.