I am currently in an intense editing cycle, and the book is going through some mighty changes, but all for the good!
I’ll be posting some scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Here’s the first. I hope you enjoy!
At the furious rapping on the window, Gillian swept the last of the dirt into the dust tray and slid it into the rubbish bin on the way to unlock the door. She glanced at her watch. Right on time.
She opened the door wide and stepped back to allow the pram through. Junette pushed it over the door jamb, talking as she came inside. “I can’t stay long. Bubs needs a bottle and bed in half hour.”
“Couldn’t you leave him with Matt?”
“It’s darts night at the bar.”
“Ah yes, I forgot about Matt and his delusions of dart grandeur.”
Junette shrugged. “Who am I to tell him that if he can’t hit the bull’s-eye, he most likely won’t win the local dart championships?”
Gillian laughed with Junipers before she continued. “Ah well, it gives him a night to believe in something. We all need that, don’t we, Gill?”
Gillian pinched her face in faux anger. “Don’t start.” Then she lifted the cover of the stroller and bent to kiss Charlie who was sucking hard on a pacifier, his eyes wide in interest of his new environment. “God, he’s a cutie. I could use one of these some days myself,” Gillian said, tugging at the nookie in his mouth.
“Not bad, Gillian, the room looks great.” Junipers turned around in a circle, perusing the front room, but there wasn’t much to see.
“It used to be an office out here, and the back room, the therapy area, but I turned that into my apartment.” To get Junette’s attention as she pressed down to check the cushiony-ness of the massage table, Gillian spoke up. “Well the palace is right through this door. Here, let me take the pram and you go on ahead so you can get the full effect of its brilliance.”
“Of course, nothing less for our Gills.”
“Too true. I’m the Madonna of this block.”
When Junette hadn’t moved far enough into her living room, Gillian rammed her with the wheel of the pram to nudge her forward. “So what do you think?”
“I liiike it.”
“Yeah, it’s cute and cozy. Trendy worn wooden floors, although I don’t think you meant it that way. I love the print on the big wall. And you know what the best part is?”
“Let me guess. No 80s posters.”
“I had them up until today, actually.” And had torn them down in a fury, ripping and shredding them into strips, which she then had crumpled into small balls and spent the better part of an hour trying to make baskets into the garbage bin from the couch.
“Oh yeah? You come to your senses and take them down? Must have been my kind and supportive influence from the other night.”
Gillian averted her gaze from Junette’s probing question. “Something like that.”
Charlie started to kick and squirm in his pram, saving her from expounding on her answer. Junette undid his straps and set him down on the living room carpet, which caused Gillian to flashback to the night before. Padraig and the hottest sex she’d ever had. So unlike her, but totally what she wanted more in her future. But with the Irishman? It could only lead to heartbreak. He was a testosterone turd, a stud muffin, a jocko. They always took sex where they could get it. She wanted an intellectual, a kind, sensitive man, someone in touch with his emotions. Not doped up on drugs. That’s the last thing she wanted.
But he’d been jealous of Dick. She hadn’t expected that. Thought he would have been happy with the one-night stand. Huh. But she’d be opening a whole barrel of worms with that one.
The baby knocked the drink coasters onto the floor, which jerked Gillian from her reverie.
“Sorry about that, Gill.”
“Jeez, no worries. He’s a baby. Here, I’ll watch him and you go take a peek at the rest of the place.”
Junette disappeared down the hallway while she shadowed Charlie around the room as he picked up everything not nailed down, examined it, and then nonchalantly tossed it to the floor.
When Junette reemerged, Gillian asked, “Do you want a quick cuppa tea?”
“That would be great. What flavor do you have this month?”
“I’m really on a pomegranate kick at the moment. Lots of antioxidants.”
“That’ll do.” When Gillian rose from the couch where she was letting Charlie play with a Rubix Cube she had picked up at a second-hand store, Junette waved her back down again. “I’ll put on the kettle. You play with Charlie. Making tea is a break for me.”
The faucet turned on and she could hear Junette filling the old red teakettle she’d used in college, then the clunk on the stove top.
“How do you light this damn thing, Gill?”
“Oh yeah, you have to turn on the gas, then use a lighter. The ignition thingy doesn’t work.”
“Where are your matches?”
“All out but there is a clicker lighter in the first drawer there.” The one she had used last night. And again, memories stirred from the previous evening with Padraig. Maybe he wouldn’t mind getting together every once in a while. He was lovely, she had to admit. Way different than the jocks she’d known before, the ones she’d helped at university for her course. After those assholes, she was determined to only help the elderly and pregnant women. Except for the Blues. And that’s where Padraig came in again. He had awakened a whole new animalistic side to her sexuality that she never knew existed. Like mating with him was pre-destined by pheromones or stars—or something!
“So how is the car coming?”
“Yeah, good. I think I’ve found the problem. I’ve ordered the part, so hopefully that beauty will fire right up, fingers crossed.”
Junette lifted down two mugs from the cupboard, Gillian noticing she hadn’t chosen a mug from her 80s collection, just two red and white striped mugs, the last two left of the set her mom gave her for college. When she sat the cups onto the counter, she yelped, “What the hell is this crap on the counter? It smells like shit.”
“That’s a new salve I’m working on. I met up with Dave last week.”
“That old guy from the hippy shop?”
“From Rainbow Wonders, yes. He’s got lots of great experience with herbs and oils.”
“He’s a fruitloop, Gill.” Junette, a million miles an hour, switched again. “What is that Charlie has?”
“A Rubix Cube. See all the pretty colors, Charlie?” she cooed to him. “It’s perfectly safe. He can’t fit it into his mouth.” Gillian laughed but Junette did not.
“One of those old gimmicks from ages ago?”
“What’s your damage, Junipers?” Gillian had meant for it to come out lighthearted and like a joke, but there was a bite to it. Of all people, she wanted Junette to understand. Or if not understand, at least to accept.
“That’s exactly what I mean.” Junette was leaning against the counter with her arms crossed.
“All this eighties garbage. Your change in appearance. This isn’t you, Gillian.”
The kettle whistled, the shrill sound peaking fast. Junette lifted it away and the screaming died immediately. She poured both mugs, dipping each tea bag in and out. It reminded Gillian of the MSU football team that she’d helped in her last year in school. Part of their initiation was something called “tea-bagging,” where they got the rookies drunk and then set their balls on the guy’s forehead when he passed out, taking pictures, of course, and humiliating each one. She’d heard a couple of the boys talking about it when she’d taped their wrists. Another reason she stayed away from the jockos. Undignified and lame.
“Gillian, are you listening to me?”
“Yep, I heard everything.”
“Oh yeah, what did I say?”
“You said how wonderful the tea tasted.”
Junette made a face at her and set both mugs on the island. “I’ve added cold water so they’re drinkable. Over here, though. I don’t want Charlie to get into them.”
Gillian left Charlie pulling the tips of the leaves off of her spider plant. It would grow back. It was one of the few she was able to keep alive. Sturdy buggers, they were. She plopped onto the stool opposite Junette, who still stood in the kitchen.
“I was saying how you never used to be this way in high school.”
“You know. All weird into retro shit.”
Gillian shrugged and sipped her tea. She’d heard this argument from Junipers before. “Maybe this is the right me, and in high school, I was the wrong me.”
“No, I don’t think so. You loved sport and being active. Not that you aren’t now, but you’d lived for doing fun things. Something happened after Andrew, and you went all—”
“Stop right there. I love you, but I don’t want to hear it.”
“You have to hear it from someone.”
Gillian plugged her ears. “Blah, blah blah. No, I don’t. I can’t hear you.”
“That’s real mature, Gill.” Junette walked around the island, picked up Charlie, and buckled him into his stroller. He bucked and screamed, not happy with his mommy’s decision.
“Seriously? You’re leaving? You haven’t finished your tea.”
Junette shrugged. “Charlie needs a bottle and you’re not you anymore. We’ve got to go.”
Wow. “Okay, I’ll walk you out.”
Gillian held the door for Junette to push the pram through. They had never fought, for as long as they’d known each other, and Gillian’s face burned with the rush. She’d badly wanted some girl time, to tell Junipers about Padraig and ask her advice, but somehow, it had all turned sour.
Once Junette had cleared the pram from the doorway, she circled back and eyed Gillian. “Sorry, I haven’t had much sleep lately. No one ever told me how having children would directly correlate to sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to madness.”
“I took down the posters,” Gillian blurted out.
Junette backed the pram out the front door. “It’s a start.”