Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Hour by Michele Scott - Chapter 1 (con't)

Here's a little more of Chapter 1. Make sure to come back again tomorrow for more.

Three and a half years ago…


She got behind the wheel of her jeep and pulled out of the one-car garage the town home afforded. The place where she and boys now lived was definitely a step down from upper middle class suburbia, but as she pressed the garage door remote, she knew that this place was far more a home than the Victorian they’d lived in, on the edge of Pacific Heights. So what if Perry still lived there with his flavor of the week? Kat sort of believed in karma and where her ex was concerned, she found it almost orgasmic to have faith in this theory because she knew the man would get his just due. Yep. Perry had kept the classic painted lady and she’d downsized to the three-bedroom with mold under the sinks and peeling wallpaper in her room. But, it had given her back her sanity and a sense of self that she’d lost during those eight years of marriage (technically ten by the time the divorce was finalized). Why she hadn’t gotten smart and taken that wake up pill when Perry had told her that he thought that marriage was an antiquated idea, she’d never know. One child out of wedlock had been one thing, but when she’d gotten pregnant with Brian she had insisted that Perry marry her, or else. She should have taken the “or else” part.

Enough of that though, because this was her new life--her new start--and she broke pretty much every speed limit trying to get to it, running a yellow light that was much closer to red than green. Stopping at the next one, she took a good look in the mirror. Yikes. The boys’ soccer practice had run late. The coach who thought he was Pele himself preached this whole team effort philosophy: when you sign your kid up for a sport, there is a commitment factor you have to consider and blah, blah, blah. True—Kat believed in commitment. So much so that she had spent years overlooking her ex’s over-spending habits and the lies that surrounded them, the flirting here and there with other women . . . But when it came right down to bedding one of the women in her book club? That had pretty much made the notion of commitment null and void.

The commitment to the boys’ soccer now made her late for her job interview.

With one hand on the wheel and the other in her purse, Kat rummaged around feeling for a lipstick and hopefully, a hair clip. She needed to get a smaller purse. This was like diving into a black hole. So far she had found one bag of chips, a ton of receipts, a tampon, and a handful of candy wrappers. Aha, there was a clippie. Not the most attractive look, but it would have to do. Now for the lipstick.

Next to the lipstick she knew what she felt. The cigarette wrapper. She winced. To smoke or not to smoke? Serious question. No. She wouldn’t do it. She thought about the discussion she’d had with her mother, Venus. Yes, Venus. Kat sighed. It had been Veronica all her life until ten years ago when she hit fifty-five and left Kat’s dad to find herself. She moved to an ashram in Oregon, and changed her name. Anyhow, the conversation she’d had last month when her mother visited ran through her mind.

“Kitty, love, you have too many lines around your mouth for a woman your age. You’re only thirty-five.”

“I’m thirty-seven, Mom.” Her mother was totally on her nerves at that point. They’d spent five solid days together and between learning how to make tofu dishes, attending the yoga classes her mother insisted on, and having henna tattoos painted on her feet, Kat thought she would lose it at any moment.

“Age is only a number.” She waved a hand through the air. They were seated at Kat’s kitchen table drinking green tea. “Look at me. No lines. I have no stress. I take the day as it comes and because of that I have found not only perfection in my outward appearance, but also in my inner spirit as well. Namaste.” With her hands in prayer position she bowed to Kat.


Mom ran a hand over her face. It was true that she had no lines. But, Kat hadn’t forgotten (and apparently Mom had) that before her mother had gone all Hare Krishna on them and left Dad, she’d had one helluva face lift. Veronica or Venus—whatever—her mother looked like a new age Raquel Welch. That is, if Welch had had the poor fashion sense to don Birkenstocks and a muu muu.

“Kitty Love, I think that you must have too much stress in your life. You look bitter. Or like a smoker might. Have you seen what women who smoke look like? It’s not pretty.”

Last straw. Right then and there Kat determined she was fixing burgers that evening. “Mom, I am a little bitter, but I’ll get through that.” Her mother started to interrupt her. She shook her head and held up a hand. “Oh, no, no, I am not going to discuss my reasons why with you. I’m working through it on my own and in my own time, so you let it go. And I am a smoker.”

Her mother’s face paled.

“I’ve been a closet smoker since I was fifteen.”


Kat took a sip from her tea feeling decidedly good about herself. She smiled and nodded. “Yes. I smoke three to four cigarettes a day. When the boys leave for school I have a smoke. After lunch I have a smoke, and then after dinner, when I take a walk, I have a smoke. And guess what, Venus? Sometimes I have a smoke before bed if I’m really stressed out. Been doing it for years.”

Shortly after Mom got back home, Kat started receiving self-help CDs in the mail along with yoga DVD’s. She figured she had the entire Rodney Yee and Baron Baptiste library.

One day she would do one of those DVD’s. She had felt so bad about that conversation that she’d gone ahead and started listening to the CD’s. The result being that she’d pretty much stopped smoking. Pretty much. But right now a cigarette would surely take the edge off.

Getting the pack out of her purse, Kat glanced down for a second. When she looked back up there was another red light, and thankfully she caught it in time or she would have slammed into the back of a semi. Her purse flew to the floor, its contents going every which way. “Shit!” That had to be a sign, right? Stop smoking or die. Duh, as Jeremy would say. It would either be through lung cancer, according to Mom, or on the highway while in such desperate need of a smoke she was willing to risk having the back end of a double wide shoved up her nose.

She crossed the Oakland Bridge and for the rest of her drive into the city she listened to her mother’s latest gift, Wayne Dyer’s Being in Balance. By the time she made it into San Fran, she understood the third chapter fairly well: Your Addictions Tell You, “You’ll Never Get Enough of What You Want.” Now there was one she’d have to listen to again on the drive home. About the time that the lull of Dr. Dyer’s voice settled her into a calm state, she realized she needed to find parking and she was already five minutes late. Great way to go in for a job interview.

Four blocks away, Kat located a space, parked, and then practically jogged to the restaurant, praying she wouldn’t look a total disaster when she made it there. After taking a deep breath and smoothing down her clothes, she opened the door to Sphinx.

A stylish, brown-eyed, long dark-haired hostess stood at the front. What was she? Twenty-three tops? How did anyone at twenty-three look so put together? She hadn’t even managed it by thirty-seven, conscious of the wrinkling in her light blue cotton blouse and the small stain from one of the boys’ juice boxes that had squirted out in the car earlier when Brian had poked his straw into it. The boys thought it hilarious that the juice had sprayed everywhere. Kat hadn’t noticed the spot until now, face to face with little Miss Shine and Sparkle, when she spotted the small red stain on the left thigh of her khakis. Boys!

Kat closed her hands around the handle on her purse and smiled. “Hi, I’m Kat McClintock. I’m here for an interview with Mr. Reilly.” What she lacked in fashion sense she could at least make up for with maturity.

“One moment. I’ll get him for you.”

Kat took a good long look around. Modern flair painted in warm shades of green made the restaurant look as chic as Kat had read about in the foodie magazines. The floors were done in cherry wood squares, with a lighter wood of some sort cut out in a diamond pattern filling the center. Gold suede-covered booths lined the walls. The tables and chairs arranged in the middle spoke of elegance in dark woods and gold colored linens. Paintings of the Sphinx arranged around the restaurant added mystique to the elegance. She could see herself working here. The décor was nothing compared to the smells coming from the kitchen. Sphinx was the new hot restaurant in San Francisco. She breathed in the decadent smells of garlic, tomato, basil, onion, a bit of curry—totally intoxicating and intimidating all at once.

Then out walked Christian Reilly, the owner and head chef, and if there was any truth to the idea that you could actually go weak in the knees at the sight of splendor, well, Kat experienced it right then and there. An actual physical reaction made her reach out and grab the hostess stand with one hand. Christian Reilly wasn’t gorgeous in the Brad Pitt kind of way. In fact, to some women he might not even be considered all that great looking. But to Kat he fit right into her beautiful category: hazel eyes, not too tall for her, as she was a petite five-foot-three. Christian had dark hair,—the kind she could run her fingers through—a barely there scruff of a beard, and wrinkles that deepened when he said her name with a slight Irish accent. When he repeated her name and smiled, the lines around his eyes deepened. A man who had lived a little. Nice. Butterfly, stomach-swirling nice. For a second, she had to make sure she wasn’t licking her lips.

Don't forget to click on the 'buy now' button on the right to pre-order your copy today ;)

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