Friends, I must start with a heartfelt apology for being MIA for the last many months. How’ve you been?!
Life has dished me a heaping helping of drama in the recent past, and while I’m happy to report I’ve safely emerged on the other side, I’m behind on writing, blogging, and generally inviting you into the imaginary world inside my head.
While I haven’t been publishing, I’m pleased to report that I’m getting close on a new short story. I hope to have it finished and on the digital shelves in the next 2-3 weeks. Writing is often my salvation, and I’m happy that the space and energy to write is coming back.
What about Learning to Love Again 3, you ask? Well, truthfully, I’ve written about 1/4 of it and hit a brick wall on the plot. So, it’s simmering. In the meantime, I’ve returned to short stories for my creative outlet and I hope you’ll indulge me a few of those before we go back to full-length novels.
In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?
–Rainer Maria Rilke
I came across a Rilke quote the other day that I wanted to share. The answer, wholeheartedly, is YES, I must write. And with that, you’ll find a sneak peek into the upcoming story. I’m excited about it and hope you will be too! It’s set in Rome, has a bit of scandal, a bit of intrigue, and a lot of . . . well, while it may not seem likee it from the sneak peek, this IS a lesbian romance, you can figure that last bit out. There’s some electricity in this one . . .
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First, a little legal business:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
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“Babe,” he said in his typical manner, one hand stuffed into his trouser pocket, eyes cast downward on polished black wing tips as he paced, “Fonseco is sending me to Rome in two weeks. We’re auditing the farm that supplies our olives, again.”
“Okay,” she replied, sinking into the brown microfiber couch and looking vacantly out the massive picture window in their family room. Lake Washington presided in the distance, as it always did, a bit of chop developing on the surface in the afternoon hours. As she sat, Sloane waited for the “but,” or the “and.” There was always more to the story when Charlie spoke. Though, these days, when Charlie spoke, she barely listened.
“Anyway . . . he asked me to have you join us. For the trip. Wanna go to Italy?”
Of course Sloane wanted to go to Italy. But, a work trip was different from a vacation. A work trip was something Charlie was being sent on, not something he planned—not something they planned together, for that matter. That’s how it had been for the last few years. They only travelled when Fonseco and Company were footing the bill. She tagged along, tried to amuse herself during the day, and was usually subjected to a dinner full of stuffed shirts and boring conversation—about olives of all things—in the evenings. It wasn’t what she considered fulfilling travel.
“Not really,” she said, twirling a strand of blonde hair around her forefinger. “I’d rather just stay here with the dogs while you work.”
She could hear Charlie’s audible sigh, and then, “Honey, please think about it. Fonseco’s wife is going and she doesn’t like to be alone. He thought it would be nice if you could keep her company.”
Sloane knew Mr. Fonseco’s wife, Tiffany. She was twenty years younger than the old man—if a day—and had been his assistant during a rather public and messy divorce from his third wife. What Tiffany saw in him, she didn’t know, aside from the fact that he was successful and wealthy. What he saw in Tiffany . . . well . . . anyone could see. She was young and beautiful. The perfect trophy wife; just what every executive needed.
“Do you want me to go?” Sloane asked, a little smile emerging at the corners of her mouth, the realization that she and Tiffany would probably have a great time together in Rome bubbling to the surface of her thoughts. They could go wine tasting and get massages, and take in all the touristy sites together. It would be fun if she didn’t have to stay in a hotel room all day or venture out by herself. She could take pictures of the interesting architecture and drink great coffee. Not that Seattle didn’t have good coffee, but nothing held a candle to Italian espresso in her mind.
“I’d love for you to go. And it would be a great opportunity for you to work on your portfolio,” Charlie reassured his wife. And it was true, he would love for her to go. It didn’t hurt that if he could convince her to join their trip, he’d put a few favors in the favor bank for later. He was climbing the ladder at Fonseco and Company, hopeful to soon take over the olive oil dynasty himself. He wanted to be president of the company by the time he was forty. That was in two years, and he was on track to make it happen. He just needed a few things to go his way first.
“Alright, I will. I’m sure Rome is lovely this time of year . . . “
“Great, thank you. I promise you’ll have fun.”
“I already have a plane ticket, don’t I?”
Sloane knew the drill because they’d been through this before. She didn’t really have a choice in the matter—she’d been going to Rome this whole time as far as Fonseco was concerned, and Charlie’d been waiting for the right time to ask her. The right time happened to be now, for whatever reason. Probably because he couldn’t put it off any longer without risking looking bad to his boss.
“Yes,” he admitted, “but don’t hold that against me, okay? This will be a fun trip. We always said we wanted to go to Rome in the fall, to Tuscany . . .” Charlie’s voice trailed off as he remembered the early days of their marriage when they enjoyed spending time together, when Sloane was so eager to do whatever he wanted, at a moment’s notice. They’d drifted apart as he became more and more career driven, he knew that. When Sloane quit her job to pursue photography, they lost a significant common bond—the business world. Their connection had weakened because they lived in different worlds, with two different daily realities. At least that’s what he told himself. Secretly, he hoped this trip would help them rekindle the spark of their marriage. He hoped he could get Sloane to fall in love with him again.
“It’s okay Charlie, you don’t have to defend yourself. I’ll see you when you get home tonight,” Sloane said, and then clicked the little red phone icon on her screen to disconnect the call.
Charlie signed audibly as he heard the familiar dead space on the other end of the line. Her sign off wasn’t “love you,” or “I’m so excited.” It wasn’t even, “thanks for asking me.” Her disinterest felt like a punch in the gut, and he felt himself bend slightly at the waist as the reality set in. He had a lot of work to do, and not just with his job. He had to make up for lost time with his wife, or he just might lose her.
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And that’s it for now. I’ll post one more preview post before it publishes, and promise to be around these parts much more frequently again.