Excerpt from Banded Together (Working Title)

Here’s an excerpt from my work-in-progress. 

Cecilia has inherited the family business which happens to be a band. They focus on doing events–weddings, parties and such. They also perform weekly at her brother’s bar. 

Miles is their newest member and her brother’s best friend and her long time nemesis. This is Miles’ first performance with the band (an anti-love Valentine event.)

When Miles suggested Brett Young’s “Mercy”, I thought it was an odd genre for him. I’ve known him to listen to Hip-Hop or rap or Post Rock. I don’t usually listen to contemporary country myself but hearing him sing this song now… It’s heartbreaking. Too beautiful to look away from. His voice changes it to an R&B sound but it’s just as mournful as the original.

Every person in the bar is holding their breath.

Only Tori’s piano accompanies our voices. The guitars are on stands at the back of the stage. Spencer and Raul started their break early, we’ll join them when we finish this song. It’s just Miles and me and Tori—who is playing like the notes are being pulled from her. Grief heavy in her gliding fingers.

I can’t take my eyes off of him. Did he listen to this song when Jasmine ended their relationship? Play it on a loop? The way some songs make it hurt worse and feel better at the same time.

He turns sad soulful eyes to me as I join him in the chorus. It shouldn’t take me by surprise after all the eye contact from Tuesday night. The two of us alone pretending to share more than our voices but it does. We have gone so long acting like the other person didn’t exist while in the same room, I’ve become sensitive to the sight of him. His eyes take me back to when I coveted his attention. When I’d take any interaction with him and store it like sustenance until the next chance meeting. The next time he and I would occupy place because Dan or my parents invited Miles. When I daydreamed about his smile lines and thought about him at night, discovering my body—wishing it was his hands and not mine. When my journals were filled with lyrics of longing and lust and hearts opening to love. Before…

I let the pain of that long ago wound to the surface. It’s not used to the light of day. It’s used to the shadows and deep hidden places of my soul. Where I shoved it. Where it fed on me.

I let him see it now.

Can he see it?

I hope he can. It’d be lighter to share the load. A weight I’m so used to carrying, I don’t remember what it’s like without it. And he’s one of the three people who knows. My stomach turns. My mouth starts to water, remembering—though that’s not the right word because I never actually forgot—why he or me… Why everything is sour.
Tears cling to my eyelashes as he sings the last note. At least to the on-lookers it just looks like I’m affected by the song.

Get it together, woman. You’re at work.

Tori plays her last chord.

My smile to the rapt audience is forced, but they’d never know it. I wait for their applause to die down before saying, “Well… we promise to bring you all back up after the break. You’re gonna love the second half! So much dancing!”

You and Me In Quarantine: Day 14

From Marty Vee:

This is a RomCom novella I’m sharing in segments, about two people who don’t like each other getting quarantined together. I suggest starting at the beginning:

https://martyvee.com/2020/04/06/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-1/

But I’ll recap anyway:

Billie is a junior reporter for a local network and Edgar, her least favorite person, works in the same position at a competing network. They are quarantined together at his house. She recently found out that most of her previously conceived notions about him are based on someone else’s lies. As these things go, feelings got all involved and they did the deed. On Day 10 she asked the National Guard if she could grab provisions from her house and come back to Edgar’s. Then a video was circulated on Day 12 that confirms she is at Edgar’s house and his ex-wife turns the narrative very negatively against them on social-media. On Day 13, Billie asked Edgar to go to her home with her and he decided not to. So sad.

I hope you enjoy it!

You and Me In Quarantine

Day 14

It’s been almost twenty-four hours without Edgar. I wonder if you can go through with-drawls for a person. It would explain the physical ache in my chest and the way my skin feels empty. I have Amy Winehouse playing very loudly—I’ve skipped Valerie twice already, it’s too upbeat. The playlist ends and I start it over. There’s something about her heartbreaking self-destruction that appeals to my mood.

I keep catching myself staring into nothing, my brain lingering on moments with Edgar. There’s no way to change the past couple of days, so I wish I would stop looking for the places I went wrong. I need to stop thinking about what would have been correct.
It’s too much to hope that he’s still watching my videos. But I hope he sees the one that posted this morning. I could kiss Val for making that happen so quickly. I wouldn’t because there’s a pandemic and, even though I want to be friendly with her, I don’t want to be that friendly. But I appreciate her.

I was nervous when I sent the file, but her response was positive.

Libby and my mom both texted me to say they were proud. My dad actually called me to tell me that I had giant balls. “I don’t know how you walk with those big ol’ nuts.”

Deadpan, I answered, “Thanks, Dad. That was very weird.”

When Sofia called, I got to put my giant balls to the test. After a fortifying breath, and ensuring the phone call was being recorded, I answered, “Hello.”

Yeah, Hello.” The disdain in her voice matched mine.

“I don’t want to talk to you—”

Should’ve been a slut with someone else’s husband, then.” She interrupted me as I was saying, “and I’m recording this conversation.”

“Ex-husband.” I corrected.

Why would you do this to me? I trusted you!

“I didn’t do anything to you. You told me a lie and I acted out of ignorance.”

You’re little innocent act isn’t going to work. I see who you really are.”

“Who am I?”

An almost animal-like roar came through the line. “You’re a lying bitch! If you get anywhere near Edgar I’ll beat the shit out of you! Your whore mother won’t recognize you.”

It took a few seconds to process that this was a person I once considered a friend. Not a close friend, but a friend. All of her aggression was kept under a carefully orchestrated veil and now that it had been lifted I could look into the pit. It was dark and filled with dangerous creatures. Am I that terrible a judge of character? I hurt for Edgar all over again. How could he trust his own judgment after this woman?

I shook my head, I would not let her provoke me. This wasn’t a conversation, this was an attack. I considered the best way to show my strength. “Okay, do not call me again.”

That’s all you have to say to me?!

“You know what, no. I never want anything to do with you again. But if being with Edgar means never being rid of you, I’ll take him. He’s worth it. I want him more than I never want to see you. I know you won’t listen, but don’t contact me again—”

I don’t know why you think you can take him from me!” Her voice raised in volume and octave. I ripped the phone away from my ear.

“I’m hanging up.” I didn’t wait for her response before ending the phone call. I double-checked that the phone call recorded correctly and saved it to my computer. She continued calling. One missed call after another. Then she filled my voicemail. I saved all of those to my computer too. The text messages came next.

I turned my phone off.

I started researching restraining orders. It obviously hasn’t been perfectly successful for Edgar, but I need to do something.

Sofia is just one of the reasons I’m avoiding social media.

I’m also not ready to see if everyone is still railing against me or has changed perspectives. I don’t blame them. I’ve been just as guilty of flash outrage and believing lies. But I feel betrayed and I can’t forgive yet.

The opening beat of Back to Black begins tapping out of my speakers and the darkness surrounding my heart grows heavier; more oppressive. I hit the space bar on my keyboard to silence the song. But the weight is still there.

I remind myself that I have people who love me and even though I feel alone, I’m not. But good God, I feel alone.

My eyes and nose sting.

I take a deep breath and pull up the video I filmed last night, hoping it’ll redirect my thoughts. It’s a high-risk move, it will either work or send me spiraling. I stare at my makeup-less face on the screen. The redness of my eyes and my swollen skin. It’s not flattering but seeing it makes me feel strong. I look determined. I look like someone who can handle a dangerously volatile ex-wife. I hit the triangle hovering over my face and it begins playing.

“Hello, I’m Billie Sanchez and I have become the subject of vehement dislike on the Internet. Which under normal circumstances would be difficult but as that is the only form of socialization right now… it feels a little worse.

“I’m a local public figure and this is not my first time being blasted publicly. I’ve had my qualifications for my job called under question. I’ve been called terrible names because I don’t smile as much as people want me to. I’ve had my appearance ripped to shreds. But this is the first time that my personal life has taken the spotlight.

“I am not proud of the way I acted. I betrayed trust and let someone I’d like to remain close to down.”

On screen, I swallow and I remember it was because my throat was tightening but there’s no evidence of that on film.

“It’s not enough but to that person I’d like to make a public apology.”

In the recording, I stand straighter and square my shoulders. “Edgar, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I let someone else tell me who you were before I didn’t get to know you for myself. I repeated lies said about you and I’m embarrassed that I let them shape my opinions. I’m sorry I would have given into a bully instead of standing up for myself and you. You deserve to be treated better than that.

“I want to be the kind of person who isn’t afraid of doing the right thing, even if that means admitting when I’m wrong. I hope you can forgive me.”

My expression hardens. “As for the accusations towards me, that I’m duplicitous and fake. I would like to ask everyone making that assumption to take the time to get to know me. Consider, that sometimes information comes from an unreliable source. To the people who do know me, make up your mind for yourself. I can tell you from first-hand experience, making amends after the fact is not a comfortable position to be in.

“Lastly, I would like to address the claims that I broke up a marriage, but that statement is so wildly false I can’t even begin to point out its flaws and I wouldn’t want to air business that isn’t mine. So, unfortunately, I need to accept that I can’t correct this without sharing confidences. You’ll just have to take my word for it or the word of someone else. I’m powerless to your decision.”

“But,” I angled the phone so that it included the screen of my computer which is filled with screen-shots of text messages from Sofia. I had to blackout her name, but most of them are the corresponding texts she had already shared. Only this time without her side of the conversation retracted. On the mild side she says things like, “I can’t believe I married him. Worst. Decision. Ever.” She calls him names and then the texts turn nasty towards me.

I finish the thought I’d started before displaying the conversation, “this is an attack on my character and I won’t take it lying down.”

After a bland sign-off, the video ends.

Watching it, I wish I had put my apology to Edgar at the end. He’s the audience I really want to reach but it’s done now. Once again, I should have thought before I acted.

I’m not sure how long I stare into space, my thoughts untethered balloons floating away from me.

My heart skips a beat or two at the three chimes of my doorbell. My first thought is Sofia. She must have sneaked through the city and is in a deranged fit on my front porch. Then I remember how she enlisted me to pull off her scheme and my imagination conjures up a large angry man.

I’m not answering that door.

But how would Sofia know I’m home? She must think that I’m still at Edgar’s… I never did confirm that.

There are three soft taps on the door and a voice calls through, “Billie, it’s me.”

My jaw is somewhere on the carpeted floor between my feet.

Then he says, “Please open the door.”

My senses have become unreliable sources. “Edgar?”

Billie,” my name is almost a sigh. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah!” I cry. I climb over the back of the sofa instead of walking around it; too eager to see him than be embarrassed. I flip the deadbolt and the lock and swing the door open.
There he is. Right there.

A late Spring sunset casts golden light off of his black hair. He’s wearing jeans and a dark gray jacket unzipped over a white tshirt. His knuckles are white around the handle of a large suitcase. There’s relief in his expression but also uncertainty.

“What are you doing here? How are you here?” My mouth hangs open, loving the sight of him and not believing it.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve left with you yesterday. As soon as you pulled out of the driveway—” he ran his hand through his hair.

I can almost feel it between my fingers.

“I realized I’m an idiot.”

A slow smile grows on my lips and I watch one grow on his as he continues, “I called Sergeant Brown from the number in my phone and left a message with his assistant—is that what you call ‘em? I don’t know the army term for it. And when he called me back I… begged. Just groveled to let me come to you.”

I sigh a breathy laugh, hanging on every single one word. I may still be in shock at the actual sight of him.

“I even convinced him to watch your post from this morning.” He shrugs. “The Sergeant is a self-proclaimed romantic and gave me clearance.”

“I can’t believe this.”

We just stand there staring at each other like giddy fools.

“I can’t go back home, so…” He shrugs one shoulder.

I have a tent you can put up in the backyard.”

“Thanks.”

“Sure thing.”

We go back to smiling at each other, breathing the same air. Existing in the same spot.
After a couple of breaths he says, “I really want to hold you, but I should wash my hands.”

I giggle, “Yeah.” I step back to let him in. He hefts the large suitcase with him. “So, like, three-quarters of that thing is food, isn’t it?”

“Only half, I used some restraint.”

We both laugh like it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever heard. Our joy making everything brighter.

He turns on the kitchen sink and lathers his hands with soap.

“So, how’d you get my address?” I ask trying to engage my mind in more than watching his skin rubbing against his skin.

The look he gives me through his eyelashes is so adorably bashful, it might actually stop my heart. “I got a pencil and shadowed the next post-it in the pad.”

“Like Nancy Drew?”

“I guess so.” He dries his hands on the towel hanging under the sink.

Turning, he faces me. I’m leaning one hip against the adjacent counter. He looks so good in my kitchen.

My face is lit up to its full wattage. I don’t even try to tone it down.

His fingers trail my jaw and his thumbs trace my lips. I grip his wrists and stare up into his large brown eyes. He presses his forehead to mine. My eyes close, I want to capture time.

I would extend this moment and spend the rest of my life in it.

I’m so busy trying to memorize the feel of him—warm and solid and here—that when he whispers, my eyes startle open.

“You said that if you were going to keep fucking up you wanted it to be because you’re brave.” His chest rises with a breath. “I want to be brave like you.”

Somehow, my smile grows. Any bigger and it won’t fit on my face.

“I love you too.” I watch him speak the words, as well as hear them.

That’s it. The last I can take before wrapping my arms around his neck and pressing my mouth to his.

 

From Marty Vee:

Thank you for reading! If you’re enjoying the story, please share it on your social media or with a friend. You can finish the story at:

https://martyvee.com/2020/05/18/you-and-me-in-quarantine-epilogue/

You and Me In Quarantine: Day 3

From Marty Vee:

My site wants to skip Day 2, so you should read that before reading this. https://martyvee.com/2020/04/06/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-2/

Day 1 Link: https://martyvee.com/2020/04/06/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-1/

I definitely suggest reading  from the beginning with Day 1 in if you’re not going to do that I’ll summarize:

Billie pulled a rash move and found herself quarantined at her least favorite person’s house, Edgar, without a charger for her phone or change of clothes or really anything else that would be necessary.

 

My clothes are clean. I was going to wash them myself, but he already had a load ready to go while I took my shower yesterday. It was just waiting for my meager laundry to add to the mix. Then everything was moved into the dryer before I realized what was happening. I did take care of my bra; handwashing it in the bathroom sink and then hung it over the shower curtain rod to dry. It was only slightly damp when I put it back on today.

Being braless around him had been weird. I didn’t want to ask him for a sweatshirt which would have made it more subtle, so I just tried to not move my upper body too much. I do not have braless boobs. When the girls are free they are wild!

His eye contact was firm when we happened to be in the same room.

I borrowed Edgar’s phone to film a video for work with a very tight frame on my mostly makeup-less face. I sent it to our producer, she didn’t complain but she did say next time I’m going to need to pull the shot back.

A very large silver lining to this whole mess is that cases of the virus are starting to plateau. They’re still growing but not as quickly. My parents are fine so far, as is Libby. She’s playing a lot of some video game, she told me the name and such but… I don’t know what she’s talking about. She’s having fun though. I, of course, get all of these updates via messenger. Edgar has pretty much fully relinquished his laptop to me except when he has to get some work done. I use it for work too.

Our jobs require us to be informed on all current affairs—which is almost exclusively the virus: any medical advances or the politics involved in help arriving to hot spots or how other countries are dealing with the care of their citizens. It’s all so consuming and horrifying that I’m doing my job and then pushing the information to the back of my mind as best as I can. The most he and I have discussed the situation is when I found an article by a BBC reporter that I suggested he read.

Edgar and I, hardly occupied the same room yesterday but today we’re both in the living room.

I’m relieved and annoyed that he’s been a decent host. Based on the stories I’ve heard from Sofia, that is all but miraculous. She was always sharing stories about how he never made considerations for her. That he always had something to say about her choices, even super small ones.

With all this in mind, I know I would not have been a gracious host for him. I would have made him wash the clothes on his back by hand and then wait for them to air-dry or wear them wet. I would not have found it in me to produce alternate clothing for his comfort. I would not have shared my Nutella. It’d be basic provisions only for him.

Over the past forty-eight hours I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Spending time with him is reshaping my impressions. Then I remember the junior reporter promotion I went after, that he got over me and then quit the job a month later.

Quit. The. Job. A. Month. Later.

Like what was his point? His ex-wife—current wife at the time—told me he only went for the position because he was concerned that I’d get it. Which I did, after he vacated it.
The manila folder I gave him has disappeared from its former location on the kitchen table. I’m okay with that. I don’t need him remembering that he should be an asshole to me.

His book is open on his lap. He does this thing where he runs his right thumb down the pages. They make a soft flapping sound as they separate and come back together. I want it to be annoying but it’s kinda cute.

Another thing, he wears reading glasses. They are also cute. They’re a little large and dark-rimmed, totally dorky. I very much have a thing for studious men and he is pulling that look off. That is annoying.

I’m scrolling on his laptop, but my eyes are melting out of my face from all the screen time.

“Do you have any puzzles?” I ask.

“Like a jigsaw puzzle?” His eyebrows raise over the rims of his glasses as if my question surprises him.

“What other kind of puzzle could I mean?”

“There are other kinds of puzzles.”

“Answer the question.”

He takes in a deep breath through his nose and looks out the living room window. I watch his profile, waiting for him to speak. I don’t see how this is a difficult question.
Finally, he releases the air in his lungs. “I have one.”

The way he said it has me concerned it’s explicit or something. “Okay…”

He shakes his head. “I don’t want you to see it.”

Okay, yeah, he has a vagina jigsaw puzzle, I’m sure of it. “I’m not going to make a big deal of it. I just need to do something other than look a screen for a little while.”

“Bullshit. The next eleven days are going to be you giving me shit for this.” He runs his palm on his chin. It makes a rustling sound as his skin brushes the two days’ worth of beard growth. He must not have to record himself today.

“I promise I won’t.”

“You can’t keep that promise.”

“I keep my promises,” I insist. Seriously, I do.

He shakes his head, a man for the gallows. “Not this one.” His glasses go on the coffee table and the bookmark gets slipped between the pages. “Come on,” he jerks his head for me to follow him, “I have a couple of games too.”

I’m kinda nervous about what games he might have if he has a porno puzzle, but okay. I don’t know where I’m expecting him to go, his house isn’t huge. By yesterday, I covered every square foot of it with the exception of his bedroom and that’s where he leads me now. I follow him trying to be discreet about collecting many details as I can. This room feels very different than the rest of the house. For one thing, the bed is unmade and yesterday’s clothes are in a pile on the floor by his bed. The rest of his place is very clean.

Does he sleep nude? The dirty clothes indicate that he does.

I’ve gotten a little distracted by the idea of his naked body. I mean, how good does someone have to look naked for them to not only know that they look good naked but also to tell someone? So, yeah, I’m a little distracted but not obsessed.

Whoa, his closet and master bath situation is ridiculous. Like, a soaking tub separate from the shower with slate-colored tile. You walk through the bathroom to get to a huge walk-in closet. How is all of this here?

“What the hell is going on here?” I ask circling my fingers at the setup.

“The bathroom and all that?”

“Why do you clarify everything, just answer the question.”

His arms cross over his chest. “You’re questions are not clear.”

“They’re obviously clear enough.”

He does one of those sighs before he answers, “The house was a three-bedroom, I converted the smallest room into the master en suite.”

“Won’t that negatively affect your resale?”

“Probably, but I’m happier about living here.”

I can only blink to that. This man is a mystery.

“Excuse me.” He points to the shelving behind me.

I glance over my shoulder and see some games: Monopoly, Risk, Settlers of Catan, a very large Cards Against Humanity and Pandemic—too soon, dude. But my eyes land on a box that is somewhere between purple and pink. It’s the puzzle. I reach up and slide it from its spot between two of the games.

It’s a Golden Girls puzzle. The Golden Girls.

Oh no. I have so much to say. There are so many thoughts. One zinger after another. I’d have less material if it had been a full bush vagina. But nope. We’ve got the timeless wonder that is four women who made up one of the best shows in sitcom history smiling softly up at me.

“I’m waiting,” he says behind me.

My heart is truly aching when I reply, “I promised.”

He laughs. I don’t know why, but he does, he must love my pain.

*****

He’s in the living room and I’m seated at the kitchen table, the border of the puzzle is almost complete. The color transitions of the background are really subtle. It’s going to be a fun puzzle. I’ve moved past wanting to make fun of him to wanting to know how he came to own said puzzle. Like, did he search specifically for this? Was this what he intended to own? If so, why was I the first person to open the box? Was he saving it for a special occasion? Did he intend to binge-watch the show while he pieced it together?

I need to stop this.

He’s back on the sofa, leaning against the armrest and his legs across the seat. I can only see him from the shoulder up over the back support. He’s looking down at his lap, reading glasses back on.

“You should read out loud,” I tell him.

He wasn’t moving but somehow he pauses, like his mind stills or something. Then he looks at me, pulling his glasses off. “You want me to read to you?”

“When you say it like that, I sound like an old lady with vision problems. Which,” I gesture to the table’s contents, “okay, The Golden Girls jigsaw puzzle isn’t helping but it wasn’t my choice.” I decide this is more of a self-deprecating comment so it doesn’t break my promise. “I was reading that book yesterday, it’s good. You should read out loud.”

“I’ll be done with it by tomorrow, you can finish it then.”

“Or you can just read it out loud and I can do two things at once.”

He stands and stretches, his back arching revealing a strip of tan skin low on his belly. There’s a stripe of black hair.

I look back at The Golden Girls on the box, but I can feel Bea Arthur looking unimpressed with me. I know there’s no foolin’ you, Bea.

Taking the seat across from me he asks, “What page are you on?”

Why is he being so nice to me? I would never go back in a book to read for someone else, but I also hate spoilers so I’m not going to stop him.

I hold out my hand. “Let me see it.”

He gives it to me and I flip through careful to keep his bookmark in place.

“Top of page sixty-three.”

He takes the book back and just starts reading. No argument.

I don’t get this guy.

 

From Marty Vee:

Thank you for reading! If you are enjoying the story, please share it with a friend.

Keep reading on to Day 4:

https://martyvee.com/2020/04/13/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-4/

You and Me In Quarantine: Day 1

You and Me In QuarantineI knew it was a gamble; that my last-minute attempt to get a jab in on my enemy could backfire terribly. And it did.

So. Damn. Terribly.

Because now… Well, now I’m trapped in Edgar’s house. Like an animal gone to ground with a predator lurking in wait. That preditor being a vicious virus. I’ve debated taking my chances with the virus and soldiers of the National Guard to get away from the duplicitous bastard I’m currently entombed with. Still the directives were clear: seek shelter, do not move locations until told otherwise.

Yup. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Edgar’s digs are sparse and unwelcoming, like a window into his soul. Empty and alone.

He probably has the lamest, most insufficient provisions. My thoughts are on the freezer of food I purchased for this possibility going uneaten, the coloring books and puzzles I’d stocked up on; something to do while I binge-watched TV.

I bet all he watches are high brow documentaries and dark shows with unsettling endings. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for such things, but this was not the time. Now was a time for easy escapism.

For entertainment, I currently have my phone. That’s it. Box checked. But with the World Wide Web at my disposal, that should be enough.

Christ! What kind of phone does he have?! What if he doesn’t have the same charger as I do? I snatch my purse off of the table and begin rummaging in it, searching for the lightning cord that I usually have in there but I’m positive I took out to use at Libby’s house. Tell me I remembered to put it back! But I know I didn’t. I forget shit like this all the time. I all but dump the contents of my bag on the table.

I see him out of the corner of my eye watching me out of the corner of his eye.

Also, I don’t doubt that he’ll feed me, but I question how enjoyable the food offered to me might be. Like so many people, eating delicious food is one of my favorite hobbies. I don’t want to go without that for the next couple of weeks. Truthfully, if the roles were reversed, he’d be living on bread-heels and unseasoned vegetables.

Considering what I came here to do… that might be my fate.

I’m fucked.

“What’s got you in hysterics?”

Hysterics? What is this ol’ England times?

I roll my eyes. Maybe I should try to be nice to him, butter him up, but it doesn’t feel right. I don’t know how to be nice to him. I don’t want to be nice to him.

He sighs. It’s a full-body exhalation. “Billie, what’s wrong?”

I glare at him, making eye contact for the first time since I entered his front door five minutes ago. “Besides the obvious?”

“Obviously.” He crosses his muscular arms over his thick chest. The way he looks is the only good thing about him. If he was a picture of himself, I wouldn’t hate him so much.
He shifts his gaze pointedly to the manila folder I’d given him. It’s on the counter next to the fridge.

“I was just doing her a favor.”

His snort is full of his unspoken accusations. He doesn’t believe me. He shouldn’t, doing his ex-wife, Sofia, a favor was the last on my list of my motives.

“What kind of phone do you have?” I ask, letting my purse fall back to the tabletop with a thunk.

Dawning lights his brown eyes before they slide to my hoodie pocket. I’m sure he can see the boxy outline of my phone there. “No charger?” His voice is full of entertainment.

I clench my jaw. My vision darkens at the edges. I hate this, and I have no one to blame but myself. It’s not even asshole Edgar’s fault. I’d love to pretend that it is, but it’s not.

He lifts one thick black eyebrow.

“No,” I bite out.

You wanna know what’s a terrible position to be in? What really makes you feel like your on your knees, hands behind your back smooshed between two hard surfaces? Being in need of hospitality from someone you not only hate but who also hates you.

The shittiest part: I was in my car heading home. The deed was done. I was home free. I thought.

I wasn’t a mile away when I hit a checkpoint—that hadn’t been there when I’d driven to his house an hour before. A very polite woman in uniform, holding a rather large gun instructed me to turn around and head back where I’d come from. The order had come down, and we were not able to pass the checkpoint for any reason. I tried to argue that I’d head directly home, but nope.

So after I had dropped my bomb on Asshole Extraordinaire, I had to turn my car around, park it in his driveway, knock on his door and tell him that he had a new roommate for the next two weeks.

He hadn’t even fought me, just shook his head and said, “Makes sense.”
The phone charger debacle was the first conversation we’d had since.

A half-smile pulls on his lips, giving him a menacing look. “Mini USB.”

“Fuck!”

That makes him laugh, bent over, holding his stomach laughing.

*****

Edgar will allow me to use his computer to check my socials and get my work done—he and I are both junior reporters for competing news organizations—when my phone goes dead. It’s set to battery save mode, but it won’t last forever. The offer came after hours of me doing nothing but fretting and sitting on the edge of his sofa—world’s most uncomfortable piece of furniture—chewing at my fingernails.

I’ve texted my mom to tell her that I’m safe, but I don’t have my charger, and I gave her Edgar’s number to reach me in an emergency. I had to confirm with him that the number I had programmed under “Biggest Bastard on Earth Inc.” is still his number. It wasn’t, so I updated it.

Mom asked me where I was and who I was with. I told her I was with an old work colleague, which is true. Then, to end the conversation, I gave her the excuse that I needed to conserve my battery.

I have been texting Libby ever since. She is, of course, safely in her townhouse. She thinks the whole scenario is hilarious. I might never speak to her again. Twisted sense of humor, that one.

Strange. When he got up to prepare himself something to eat he offered to make me something as well. So civil and polite, it felt like a trick. I followed him into the kitchen; it was the least intrusive way to scope out the goods.

As far as food options go, he’s pretty well stocked. I’d love to say that I’m surprised, but I’m not, he’s always been an efficient planner. The food is sufficient. But not fun. There’s some fresh fruit in the fridge and on the counter, frozen fruit in the freezer. But where’s the chocolate? Or ice cream?

My God. Two weeks with fruit as my sweet? No. I’m not going to make it.

Of course, his body is that of a Greek god. There’s no joy in his food.

“Yogurt and granola?” He held up a tub of organic vanilla greek yogurt.

I nodded. “Thank you.” My polite response was out before I knew it was there. But my parents drilled manners. You don’t have to be friendly, but you must be polite. It was a phrase repeated regularly. Some things stick.

It dawned on me that he was likely raised the same way. He grew up just a few towns away from where I had, and Michiganders take their manners as seriously as we take our meat and potatoes; they are regular sustenance. The realization makes his offer to feed me more understandable.

He hands me the prepared bowl, and I follow him back to the torture device he calls a sofa.

His politeness doesn’t extend to choosing something to watch. Nope. He turns on a foreign film that I have to read subtitles to follow the story. He must notice my lips purse when I realize what is happening. I’m not one of those “I don’t want to read my movies” sort of people, but was this the time? I’m in no position to complain. It’s better than eating my yogurt in silence and just letting my mind run wild.

Unfortunately, the film is gripping and kinda hot. Like… really hot. I think it’s Portuguese. The male lead has tan skin with dark brown hair and eyes, thick brown eyebrows on a sharp bone structure. His lips are soft pink and full and they move in a hypnotizing way. He reminds me of someone, but I’m having a hard time placing it.

The realization hits me during an explicit sex scene. It hit me at such an alarming rate that I gasped. Which is awkward timing.

Edgar turns his head towards me and blinks before saying, “You okay?”

I roll my lips together, sucking them between my teeth. “Mmm-hmm.”

The sex scene is still happening, heavy breathing and the actor’s back flexing beneath his skin. There was a mole just above his right ass cheek.

“Do I need to turn on something else?”

I shake my head. I wish Edgar would stop looking at me. The flames of a hot blush are filling my cheeks.

“You sure?”

“Eddie, it’s fine,” I snap back.

I know he hates when I call him Eddie, and I receive a glare in response. His attention lands back on the TV. He shifts a little, pulling at his pant leg with his left hand. Then he crosses his right ankle over his left knee.

Is he hard?

I mean, I get it. The movie had me wanting to shift in my seat too.

Maybe it was just proximity, like how hearing two people have sex through a wall will turn you on, but the idea of him feeling aroused at the other end of the sofa made me feel a little more squirrelly.

I could use a distraction, so I ask, “Are you Portuguese?”

“My mom’s parents were.” His focus prickles like thistles on my skin; sharp and itchy.

The characters on screen had found release and are cuddling, the actor’s hand running from the actress’ waist to hip, over and over.

“You look like him,” I nod toward the actor.

“Diogo Morais?”

“Is that the actor?”

“Yeah.”

“Then, yes.” I don’t know if what I’m about to say next makes this more awkward or less, but I’m going to say it anyway, “That’s why I gasped, I was having a hard time figuring out who he reminded me of and then I realized it was you.”

“When he took his clothes off?”

So more awkward. My cheeks burn all over again. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“You thinking about me naked?”

Kinda. “That’s a leap.”

“I’ll satisfy your curiosity.”

“Jesus Christ! If you take your clothes off, I will chop your dick off with your own knife!”

“Violent. I’m not going to take my clothes off.”

“Good.”

“Calm down. That’s why we’re in this mess, you get worked up and do something without thinking.”

“Don’t talk like you know me.” But yeah, Captain Obvious, obviously.

“I wasn’t going to take my clothes off.”

“Good,” I say again.

“But, I look very good naked.”

I roll my eyes. “Arrogant much?”

“No need for false modesty.”

From Marty Vee:

I’ve included the link to Day 2 below. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying the story, please share it with a friend.

https://martyvee.com/2020/04/06/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-2/

You and Me In Quarantine: Heads Up

I will be coming out of hibernation soon. Since taking my pause from blogging, I’ve started a couple different Works In Progress and have had another child.

I’m writing a RomCom Novella that I’d like to share with you lovely folks. It’s about enemies to lovers who are quarantined together. It’s super fun. I’m having such a wonderful time writing it and I hope you have just as much fun reading it.

I’ll be posting the first three days next week (on April 6 which is also my birthday!) Then I’m still trying to decide how I’ll post the following days, like two at a time on a weekly basis or one at a time every five days or so… We’ll see. Feel free to weigh in on how you’d like the installments to come your way.

Heads up, my characters do swear. Also, it’s a RomCom so there will be at least one sex scene, so if you know me personally and that weirds you out… I guess we’ll both just have to be okay with it.

If you enjoy what you read, please comment and share the posts. Thank you for reading!

Blogging Struggles

I want to blog, let’s make that clear. I see the value in using this medium and connecting with other writers. Here’s what’s happening: I’m a stay at home mom, starting my Real Estate Agent business and I’m writing. Those three tasks don’t leave a lot of time for anything else. So as I sit here, I’m surrounded by a messy house and I really need to exercise (aside from the importance of physical activity, we are also going to Hawaii in February for a friend’s wedding.)
 
In that mess of priorities, where do I make time to blog? With my novel, I’m averaging 292 words per day. Meaning that it’ll be around the middle of December before the first draft is complete. I keep reminding myself that at least I will complete the first draft this year. But my goal setting, competitive nature is struggling with the slow pace.
 
Like most creative types, I struggle with organization and time management. I could be better with time productivity. My biggest problem though, is I get excited about one thing and focus much of my time and energy to it. In the midst of that single-minded obsession, I lose track of my other goals. Except writing, at least that has become enough of a pattern in my life that I can expect to average those words.
 
I don’t have a great resolution to this issue of mine, other than trying to distribute my time better. If you have any suggestions of ways to do this, please let me know. I hope that all your efforts are paying off.

Back In The Saddle

So my daughter will turn 1 on May 9th. It’s been since January 2016 that I was able to focus on my writing. (After that I focused more on the fact that we were having a kid in a few months and then the kid was here and the first 6 months I didn’t sleep and the almost 6 months after that has been devoted to catching up from the first 6 months.) Being a mom is off the chain. I love it. But there are aspects that are difficult. I’d love to list them all for you now, but instead, I’ll tell you the success I’ve had with my writing this past week.
Since somewhere around October I’ve made a goal of writing 500 words per day. For the first month, I did pretty well. But then the piece I was working on wasn’t working for me or what I want to write and it fell apart. I’ve written here or there, but I wasn’t making that 500 words per day goal. A couple issues contributed my failure. And a couple things have contributed its correction.
One of these solutions is that for my 30th birthday my husband and family pitched in to get me a laptop of my own. It’s the coolest and all my writing has somewhere to land. Game changer.
-Holy mother of God, this thing is legit.-
Another factor is I’ve started using Scrivener. And now I’m one of the hordes of writers who is like, “Holy mother of God, this thing is legit.” I’m going to try and not become some sort of advertisement but I do suggest doing their 30-day free trial. Watch a YouTube video on how to use it. I’ll share the link to one that I watched. If you don’t like it, then keep using the word processor you’ve been using and no harm no foul.
A big reason for my recent success is the ability to time manage better. This is possible because my daughter is more independent now. I’ve made adjustments with breastfeeding, which has been a difficult experience for me. And I’ve set personal rules on my own nonwriting related screen time. There is a lot of research showing the addictiveness of screens. It’s creepy stuff. If you are wasting hours of your life staring at a game or social media, then you might benefit from self-regulating as well. If you’d like to know how I’m managing this, let me know I’ll write a post about it.
The moral of the story is I have been averaging 700 words per day. I’m also excited with how my writing is shaping into something I’ll be proud of some day. I hope your writing progress has been in upward motion. Good luck and write on!

The Identity Crisis of a New Mom

I refer to myself in the third person a lot these days: “It’s okay, Mommy’s here.” “Are you smiling at Mommy?” “Do you know how much Mommy loves you?” I do this so often that in my head I think of myself as Mommy. The line between me and mommy has gotten blurred. I’m this new person occupying my mind. This person with a new found sensitivity to everything. This person who wants to talk to strangers about their baby: “How old?” “Oh, that was such a lovely time.” “What’s their name?” “Oh, that is so cute. Well, congratulations, he’s a doll.” I’m this person that not only wants to talk about parenting experiences but I have a hard time thinking of anything else to say. It makes me wonder, where is the me in mommy? I’ve always had a strong sense of self, not to say that I don’t struggle with insecurities, but I like who I am. By nature I am more logical than emotional. Before having my daughter I would close my eyes at the scary parts of movies or skim over dark subject matter in books, but now I just stop watching or reading it. I project every vulnerable character onto Jude. She’ll most likely be napping on my chest and I put my arms around her protectively. And heaven forbid a baby dies or is trapped in the middle of the story’s drama. There are two movies I can think of that I would have loved to see prior to becoming a mom but now there is no way I could watch them. Or I guess I could watch them but I would just cry through the whole thing (and not a good cleansing cry, but a forever broken kind of cry.)

So that’s the weirdness that is my emotions, but then there is the fact that my body isn’t my own anymore. To be honest it hasn’t been my own since last September when I found out I was pregnant. My pregnancy was really easy, I’m incredibly grateful for this. I didn’t have weird cravings or sickness or very much physical pain, but still I had been high jacked. I couldn’t eat a lot of foods or drink certain beverages and then my clothes didn’t fit. It all contributes to the reality that I am physically changed for the rest of my life. I do remind myself that my body is beautiful the way it is because all of these changes have given us our wonderful daughter. And yet… I can’t sleep without waking up covered in breast milk. Then there is the shear fact that my body is her food source. Begging the question, is this MY body?

Mentally, I have trouble engaging with anyone on any topic not related to parenting. This is probably what bothers me the most. I love people, I want to hear about their lives and interests and know them. I want to understand them and give them my attention. But ever since have Jude it’s like I’m having trouble comprehending the words they are saying. I feel like I catch just enough to grasp their meaning but I can’t give the undivided attention I used to. This is by far my greatest struggle as a new mom. It might seem small, but to me it’s not. To me it’s selfish and it doesn’t express the level of love that I want to. And that’s why it’s the hardest. 

I don’t know if any of this will ever go back to normal or if this is my new normal. Everything in my life is getting more known, all of these large and small adjustments even our girl is becoming predictable and manageable. I don’t want everything to back the way it was, but I’d like to feel like I’m immersed in my own reality instead of this skimming feeling. I’m so in love with my life and my child, I would just like to feel like I’m engaged in it; not just surviving it. 

Mother’s Milk in a Cup!

I’ve never met a mother to be that doesn’t say she would like to breastfeed. It is “free”, it “helps” you lose weight, it is “best” for the baby and it creates a “bonding” experience. All of these things are “true” and yet not. Let me elaborate.

Breastfeeding is free-ish. I am currently exclusively breastfeeding our daughter, so we are saving money on formula. Great. Good deals. What we aren’t saving money on is all of the food I’m eating. I cannot get full. I’m starving right now as I write this, I also just ate. I will eat again soon and within thirty minutes I will be hungry again. This is my life; I think this will always be my life.

Breastfeeding helps you lose weight-See paragraph above. Yes, I do attribute breastfeeding for me being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes so quickly. But of course I lost weight, I AM STARVING. My metabolism is at a breakneck speed and I will never be full again.

Breastfeeding is best. I get the science, but what’s best is your baby will not go hungry. Like so many other mothers I had trouble in the beginning and this point expressed by a friend really helped put everything back into perspective. Continuing to exclusively breastfeed is what’s best for me and my child, but if it wasn’t that would be okay. My baby won’t go hungry and that is best.

Breastfeeding creates a bond. In my experience it does, but that is not to say that it’s not tiresome and hard at times. Jude eats every three hours, my day is set to a schedule of pumping or nursing every three hours. Nothing can be beautiful or magical every three hours. Just a few nights ago at 4am we had a terrible time nursing. We were both tired and hungry-see second paragraph– and she wouldn’t stop flailing because she wanted to eat faster than she could swallow or I could produce and she was furious. And I was as well. But then she calmed and she has the most perfect little round head and I was so happy to be what she needed.

Now I want to share the things that helped me. I’m on the other side of the hardest part; if I can give support through to the other side then I’m going to.

Production:

Water! Never stop drinking water!

Lactation cookies, if you have someone in your life that can keep you in a constant supply of these bad boys then ask them to. They are perfect midnight snacks, after breakfast snacks, because I didn’t have time to eat lunch snacks, after dinner snacks, before bed snacks, because I woke up to use the restroom and I’m always starving snacks. To help with the nutrition factor we have added chia seeds to the recipe, this also means you need to add milk or more oil to help with the moisture. If you have any questions on the exact recipe, please comment and I’ll get the recipe from my aunt.

Fenugreek: I take tablets and drink Nursing Mother’s tea. The tea is an herbal that helps with the water consumption as well.

milksaver-box-v2_0
Milkies Milk Saver: I love this contraption. Something I didn’t know before breastfeeding was that when you nurse on one side, you express from the other. So, this lovely piece of plastic inserts into your bra and collects while you nurse. I collect about an ounce a day, that might not seem like a lot, but its seven ounces in a week and that’s more than one feeding for her currently. Another wonderful feature is that I’m not some swampy mess after nursing. Breastmilk is sticky-ish, if it’s just leaking all over me then I feel humid; like I’ve been sweating down the front of me. It’s not awesome.

Resources:

Kellymom.com: this has been my favorite website for three months now. I honestly haven’t found a question that they haven’t answered.

Other parents: Those people who have gone through this before you, ask them questions, talk to them about their experience. Accept whatever they have to say as coming from a place of love. Being a parent can make you feel inadequate and that can make it difficult to take advice, but try and train your brain to open to suggestions. There is nothing like a comrade in arms.

Advice:

It gets easier. A cousin of mine told me this when I was pregnant and it really does, those first 4-6 weeks are by far the hardest. Lean on any support system you have. Without my husband and mom bringing me food or water I don’t know if I could have made it through.

Study breastfeeding before having your baby. If you’re anything like me, it’s already too late for this advice to be relevant. I was of the mind that as long as my body didn’t have a problem with production then it would all come naturally. That’s really not the case. There are so many variables. Jude just wouldn’t latch… I don’t know why. She had a great coordination of sucking, but she wouldn’t latch, which meant that when she was a day or two old, I was trying desperately not to sob in the hospital room as she screamed for food and I had what she needed but she wouldn’t just take it from me. I remember our night nurse popping in as I was giving up and going to the pump, my husband was trying to calm Jude down and I told the nurse that I thought she was associating my breasts to stress. It was a terrible feeling. I cried a lot those first couple weeks. I don’t know if more research would have helped, but doing my research later certainly did.

When you find something that works, be mindful of any suggestions against it, but if it works stick with it. I have been using a nipple shield for almost every nursing session for the past two and a half months. I try occasionally to feed without it, but Jude is still not interested. “They” suggest against using nipple shields because it lowers your supply. This has not been my experience. My experience is that she is getting all the food she needs. I have a cousin who exclusively pumped; I’ve heard that this can lead to breast milk drying up. This cousin was a mass producer. If it’s working for you, then do it.

Don’t let anyone shame you. Whether you breastfeed or use formula don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the decisions you make. “Breast is best,” chimes the masses. “Do you really think that’s appropriate to do here, maybe you should do that in the bathroom,” heckles a cynic when you breastfeed in public. Screw ’em, don’t let anyone shame you.

Remember your baby will not go hungry. Really, sometimes things do not work out as planned, you may decide that formula is best for your family. Keep in perspective what is important, don’t let anyone shame you. Your baby will not go hungry.

I hope there is information here that helps. If you have any questions, please ask. I would love to share and help in any way possible.

All the love,

Marty Vee

P.S. The title is from The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan series.

P.P.S. Milk-Saver photo from http://www.mymilkies.com/milksaver