The tale of two Peters

Jenni and I meet every Monday to discuss our writing. While we were writing our books we met and discussed plots. We exchanged chapters during the week and gave each other ideas. We hashed out words and ideas. We told each other what worked and what didn’t. We texted late into the night trying to help each other. We were pretty honest. The support was essential to the creation of our novels. We knew what the other person was trying to accomplish and we had to make sure it worked when they put the words on the page. Our books are a collaboration with our writing group, select group of readers and our phenomenal editor.

All that being said, our books couldn’t be anymore different. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are some similarities. The main characters are just about 40 and we each have a Peter in our story. Somehow we managed to name the main male character the same thing and once we settled on the names there was no changing them. We also shared the same editor and cover designer.

Jenni’s book is titled The Point of No Return. You will be on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Enjoy a little excerpt, then go buy it on Amazon.

PROLOGUE

He sat staring at the computer screen, mesmerized by the images. The folder of pictures contained hundreds, maybe thousands, of images of beautiful women — all sent to him, no one else, just him. He can’t help but feel a rush of power and excitement that comes from knowing these images are his alone, taken for him or by him.
His wife wouldn’t have dreamt of sending him pictures like this, even before her accident. She was too straight-laced and uptight to think about sending a provocative, sex-filled image of herself. Sometimes, though, he liked to lean back and pretend it was his wife on the computer screen in front of him. How different life would be, he thought, if his wife could send these types of images. Sometimes, he almost mourned the life he had lost, but then his mind replayed the phone calls, the Skype chats, the pictures and the excitement he felt at the thought of heading out of town for his business meetings. Any sadness he felt quickly faded into the background with the knowledge that his wife would never be the women in these pictures.
He has a new one now — a new addition to his collection. He calls them his collectibles. They are his beautiful, collectible dolls who become his playthings. He can justify them that way. There is no talk of love or a future — just play. Sometimes the playfulness can lead to physical pleasure but never love. He has some training to do with the new girl. In theory, she gets the concept of playing with him, but reality is a different matter. The email he got from her proved this point. She seems a little too naive, in a way, to adhere to his rules. She’s trying to set her own rules. Just for a laugh, he re-reads her email…
“You set down your ground rules. I gave you a sketchy outline of what expected, but you overwhelmed me a little with your rules. Sooooo, here are my ground rules. I’m (usually) a very honest person. This is all new to me. But I’ll be up front with you when things get overwhelming for me, which I’m sure they will.
Yes, flirt. Be fun with me. Have fun with me. I’ll do the same with you.
Being physical with you is something I can’t consider. Kisses lead to intimacy with me. Intimacy leads to feelings. Feelings lead to problems. I’m not interested in giving, or receiving, sloppy seconds.
So text away but they’re my rules now, Skippy. If you want to come along for a flirty, fun little time, jump on board. If my rules are too much, then you are free to go back to the way things were before. Friends always.”
Oh, she so doesn’t understand this is my game, and these are my rules, he thinks She will need to learn, and it will be so much fun teaching her. First things first, time to make the deal even more attractive. Time to get her number and make her part of his collection. He needs to add her pictures to his gallery.
He logs into Facebook and brings up the messages from the previous night. Hers are at the top of the list. Seeing she is online, he takes the opportunity to pounce on his latest prey.
Him:
Hey there. This is going to scare you, but I need you to call me. I have something I really need to talk to you about. My number is 523-732- 7462.
He waits for the immediate response she usually gives him. It seems like it is taking her an eternity to respond when he notices she is gone.
Him:
Oh, you’re gone…
With that, he switches gears. He is no longer a man on the prowl. He now switches to work mode. It’s time to make the money flow for himself and others. It’s time to work.

CHAPTER ONE
March 8, 2012
How did things get so bad? Ok, maybe bad is the wrong word. Maybe it’s just not what I expected. I have a good life, from the outside anyway. Anyone looking in would think I have the picture perfect world. My life makes me think of the song “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter. In the song Mary Chapin Carpenter talks about how the wife works to keep things looking picture perfect “spit and polish til it shines,” but she falls out of love maybe because of the monotony of her daily life. Or maybe it’s because she didn’t get much recognition for who she is as a woman and a lover, only as a mom and a wife. I think I’m becoming the girl in the song.
I know things aren’t really that bad. Garrett doesn’t abuse me or cheat on me (at least not that I know of). But we rarely talk anymore. The laughter is gone. It’s been replaced with apathy. Where there was once passion, laughter, and a shared ideal about building a life together, now there is only indifference. The TV is the moderator in our marriage. As long as the TV is on, there are no conflicts. I have to wonder how, with no work being put into our marriage, he thinks he’ll keep me.
I have to admit I’m partly to blame for all of this. I used to be the one to pick fights, to try and draw out what was wrong between us and fix the problems. But I got so tired of feeling like a nag and a shrew so I stopped. It was always up to me fix things between us. Garrett has always been happy to bury his head in the sand and let things go. In our early years, I brought up our problems to Garrett. He used to sit and talk with me. He wanted to look interested in fixing our issues, but things always went back to the way Garrett wanted them. If he wanted to fix things, he would fix them, but if they were my issues things always went back to the way they were before. It was exhausting and unrewarding work, so I stopped. I always hoped, though, Garrett would see how our marriage is becoming empty, and he would want to help fix things before it was too late.
I know things could be so much worse, and I feel like a shrew as I sit here thinking, “OH, woe is me!” So I’ll take a break from my pity party and try to focus on the positive. The kids are my positive and my world.
As long as I focus on them, life is more than bearable. The five of them take my breath away when I look at them. I am in awe of what a gorgeous young woman Christina is. At 16 she’s in charge of her world and not afraid to show it. It’s scary to think how confident she is. She’ll do big things in her life. Noelle, sweet little Noelle, with her halo of blond hair, she’s quiet and bookish unless she’s with Andrew. Andrew pulls her out of her shell. His boisterousness is combined with an unrivaled sensitivity. I love seeing them together. And the twins, Amanda and Chandler, crack me up with their bickering banter back and forth. Those two are like a little old couple. I am in heaven when all of them are around.
It’s really only Garrett. He’s the void. The empty space in my life.
If I let my mind wander back in time, my heart hurts. I see a man and a husband who used to think the world of me, but that feeling is disappearing day by day. The joy we shared together is gone. Life is flat. Our marriage is mediocre, at best, and teetering on divorce, at worst. Sometimes I wonder why, if it used to be so good, we let it get the point of being nearly irreparable. But then I remember the hurt, the pain from so many years of unresolved conflicts. I see the lack of trying, on Garrett’s part, to make things better. I feel I always come last with him.
Charley closes her journal, logs into her computer, and tries to drift back in time to happy days gone by. There is not much there, inside Charley’s heart, when she looks at pictures of their early days. Their wedding pictures used to fill her with delight, but now looking at them only serves to remind her she will never be able to compete with her mother-in-law. Will he keep me? Charley wonders out loud. Or is it too late? Charley’s mind starts to churn as words come spilling forth and she picks up her journal again and begins to write…
The QuestionsThe questions I have, there are so many.The answers ~ I’m afraid, right now, there aren’t any. They’ll come from within, only answered by me.Right now there is nothing for me to give, you see.My heart is so heavy, so hurt.Not a thing can be done for the pain to avert.Did I love you with all of my heart?Or did I just love the love the thought of “us” from the start? We seemed so perfect, so right.Everything was wonderful. You were my knight.Did I do the right thing?Did I just want a ring?Did I rush you?What did I do?I didn’t want to be alone.Oh, how I wish I had known.Was this the path I was supposed to choose?Or did I choose the path where we both lose?I don’t know which end is up or down.I feel I am ready to drown.This is not the right life for you or for me.This is not right, not for either to be.We are full of despair and not at all right.I want it back to when we filled each other with delight. We…
Charley puts down her pen. Will the “we” continue, she thinks. She puts away her journal, tucks the memories of the pictures into the back of her head and vows to shake off her mental whining.
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