39 & HOLDING
Author: M.R. Joseph
Genre: Romantic Comedy
~ SYNOPSIS ~
My name is Greer Walker. Mom of two. Friend. Daughter. Dance instructor. And, let’s not forget—a woman scorned.
For the fourteen years were were married and the twenty years we were together, I devoted my life to my husband. What did I get in return? Heart break, crows feet, stretch marks, and a slew of insecurities.
You see, the douchebag dumped me for a twenty-five year-old, real-life Barbie Doll with a large repertoire of medical enhancements. He crushed my heart. His affair destroyed me. The signs were there-I just chose not to see them.
Finally with my eyes wide open, I vowed to never go through that kind of heartache again. I didn't need someone to make me feel special or beautiful, or sexually charged. Hell, I can take care of that part on my own if you know what I mean. It was twenty years since I last dated-and I was okay with never doing it again.
But…There’s always a but.
The day Nick Costa walked into my life—or rather drove right into it—he made me feel all sorts of things that this woman right here had no business feeling. Lot's of feelings. He made me ask myself questions.
Could I allow someone into my life again? Could I risk being hurt? Could Nick deal with all the insecurities the fallout of my marriage produced?
I am thirty-nine! Can I start all over again? Can I let go of the past in order to have a chance at a future with this man?
You might want to stick around to discover the answers.
For now, I'll be 39 & holding.
~ PURCHASE ~
~ PROLOGUE ~
I was blind. Blind as a bat. I mean I was actually more blind than a bat. At least a bat can see what it needs to see when it needs to see it, or what it wants to see.
I didn't see it and it was right there in front of me.
I guess I should have really spotted all the warning signs. They were as bright as the lights on a neon sign that hangs above a bar, or a tattoo shop, or a strip club. You know the ones that practically flash in your face and say, “Hey, come on in and open your eyes, moron.” Well, I was not that person. Like I said before, I was blind.
Oh, right, back to the signs. Okay, so the first, let's call this exhibit A. This would be the new job, late nights at the office, and late dinner meetings with clients. Totally acceptable. You have to start at the bottom if you want to make it to the top. I got it. Back then, I got it.
Then there's exhibit B. Last-minute business trips. Yes, spare-of-the-moment trips that required a bathing suit and a crazy looking Hawaiian shirt, and a trip to Macy's for some new underwear. Sigh...yes. Fucking boxer briefs. No more tighty whities with the wet fart stains. I tried to bleach them out for fourteen years. What the fuck was I thinking?
Well, I wasn't.
Let's not forget about exhibit C. See C is a big one. It's the one that made me start to question my sanity. Electronics. They are the devil. If I could rid the world of cell phones or email, trust me I would. They are the spawn of Satan himself. If I didn't have to use a cell phone to keep in constant contact with my kids, I wouldn't have one. But this is the age of electronics and the be all and end all of love, hope, and forgiveness. And don't even get me started on girly, fruity, sexy fragrances. They are the eye of newt in this witches brew of lies and deceit. But I'll get back to that later.
I'm still on electronics. Yes, phones buzzing in the middle of the night and feeling the shift in the mattress as the phone that was buzzing is picked up and taken out of my earshot. I heard the whispers, thinking maybe, God forbid, someone forgot to tell someone about a big audit.
Big audit problems at one a.m. Yeah...audit my ass.
Emails. Ha, ha. Oh, yes. Emails. Such a brainless way of getting information from one person to another via the computer.
Whether for business or pleasure—well in my story it was for someone else's pleasure—it's the cherry on the proverbial top of the sundae in the form of communication or miscommunication. Depends how you see it.
In my case, it was simply the means to the end.
One email. One stupid email that sent my happy home into turmoil and into a tornado of absolute disarray.
I'm not a violent person by nature. I mean, I don't even own a fly swatter and I hate those outdoor bug zappers. Just listening to a mosquito in the summer sizzle as it’s electrocuted by a thousand bolts of electricity...I just hate it. But when I saw the words written in an email to my husband when I accidentally—yes accidentally—clicked on his account, I felt violent.
Can't wait for you to fuck me even harder tonight, baby.
Who names their kid that unless she's a princess in a Disney movie or some shit like that?
Giselle. Christ Almighty. That name. I can't even say it without green, acid-inducing vomit rising up in my throat, which will probably be the cause of esophageal cancer somewhere down the road.
But back to the email, oh and my distaste for swatting at innocent insects. Remember me telling you I'm not a violent person? The night I found the email, when my husband of fifteen years was fast asleep in our marriage bed, the man I had been with since I was nineteen and in my final semester as a freshman year in college. Yes, that one with the thick dirty-blond hair. Well…that night he had a little less of it because a clump rested in the palm of my hand after I dragged his sorry ass out of bed by the roots to confront him. The man is dead weight when he's asleep, but the adrenaline I felt that night took over any weakness or guilt of harming another human being, animal, or insect. Ryan Walker was all of the above except for the human part. He was the animal and the insect. If I had one of those outdoor insect buzzy-killing things, I would have thrown him in it and watched his body be charred to a crisp. Like he did my heart.
Sound a little violent to you? The dance instructor turned murderer? I guess you could say violent. I mean I wouldn't have done it...that way. Arsenic-laced cupcakes anyone?
He didn't deny it. After I screamed and cried and clawed at his face—and smashed the laptop jumping on it like a two-year-old—we just sat there in silence. We leaned against our bed like we were two strangers. Not two people that had been together for twenty years. We leaned our backs against the bed we picked out when we got home from our honeymoon. The bed we fucked in, watched movies in, had tickle fights in, and made two amazing children in. Now, it was just holding us up from falling. Me mostly. I learned he fell about six months before that. When he had her in my bed. My husband fucked Giselle, the long-legged, half-French-half-whatever whore, when I was away in Phoenix for a master class in Ballet, in my bed. Did I mention it was in my bed? My loving husband said he had to work that entire weekend and thought it would be better if the kids went to my dad’s because he felt bad he would not be able to spend ample time with them. He would not be able to take Cole to his baseball game or go watch Sophie take her dance class. What a good dad. Thinking of the children before himself.
Enter sarcasm here. Asshole.
Have you even tried to figure out what to do with a broken fifteen-year marriage in one sleepless night? I have. Trust me, you don't look like Miss America after a night of crying and lack of rest. The bags under my eyes—yes there was enough of them to take me to Mexico for a month. And the leftover mascara that streamed down my face, ha, ha, it made me look like Courtney Love from Hole. It's sad really. You think you know someone. You sacrifice for that person, you give them everything, and what they give you in return is heartache.
Do you know what it feels like to have someone tell you they are no longer in love with you? You don't? Truth is, I don't want you to know. I would never want anyone to feel the pain that I have felt. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
Did you know that your heart actually hurts when you break up? I mean that fateful night I thought I was having a heart attack. Here it was just my heart cracking inside, dying—weeping—in total agony. That's exactly what a broken heart feels like. Doubt me? Think I'm exaggerating? I wouldn't think those things if I were you.
I told him I smelled her in our bedroom but at the time thought it was the scent of the new laundry detergent I had recently bought.
Remember the fruity, girly, sexy scent I told you about? Yeah, well laundry detergent doesn't smell like that. Guess I couldn't smell that well either.
He told me he loved her. I think I would have tried to make it work with him if he would not have told me that. He told me he loved me for being a good mother to our kids, but that he was no longer in love with me.
He left the next day.
Please don't get me started on how my kids reacted. Cole, my thirteen-year-old, bad, I mean real bad. He said he hated Ryan. I told him that was wrong. Daddy just didn't love Mommy and sometimes that happens, but he would always love him and his sister. Sophie, my six-year-old, just asked questions about having two Christmases and then she went back to play with her Barbies.
The first hard thing was seeing his side of the closet empty and his medicine cabinet in the bathroom bare of all his shaving things and colognes. A few days after he left I still smelled his scent lingering in the air, and I have to admit, I clung to it. Inhaled it and kept it in my lungs until they burned with remembrance. I had grown tired of that.
It eventually left. There were no traces of Ryan Walker in my home. Our home. The one we once shared. He gave me the house. I earn enough to keep it up. He pays the mortgage out of guilt I suppose and lives with...oh, God forgive me while I swallow my vomit...okay…I'm back…while he lives with what’s her name.
I got rid of the bed by the way. I wanted to set it on fire like Angela Bassett did in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back.’ Torch it in the front yard for all the neighbors to see.
The trash men took it instead. That's what it wound up being. Trash. Like the way I felt. Left out on the curb. Discarded. Replaced.
So here I am.
Greer Walker, thirty-nine, and single after twenty years. My kids are gone most weekends with their dad and one night during the week.
And I'm alone. But that's okay because I won't ever let my heart or my pride be smashed beyond recognition again. I'll be a cat lady once my kids are grown and out of the house. No offense to all the cat lovers out there.
I'm done with giving myself completely to one person. I can do this. I'm a big girl. I'll be okay.
Being single isn't so bad. Being thirty-nine and single isn't so bad.
Soon forty will be knocking at my door and I'll answer it with my head held high. I'll do my best to welcome it.
Forty. The big 4-0. The over-the-hill; the crest of going from a Lamb to a Cougar.
God, I hate that analogy. But it is what it is. I'll hold on to thirty-nine as long as I can.
I'm Greer Walker and this is my story.
~ TEASERS ~