Tangled Wires Book Review

Can a machine love?

I disappeared two months ago. The business world and newspapers lost their minds. I’m back now and have two goals: staying healthy and fulfilling a deathbed promise. 

The one standing in my way? 

He stepped in to run my father’s company after his death. He knows my secrets and I know his. I’m ready for the war between us but I’m not ready for him to want to be friends… Or something more. 

Can I trust him? Can I trust myself?

He isn’t a logical choice. He isn’t even a person and I’m the only one who knows.

***Tangled Wires is a romance with dark and sci-fi elements. Content warning for mental illness and suicide.***

Tangled Wires releases October 21st. It’s Lillian Lark’s debut novel. It does not disappoint. The plot is exciting and the characters are interesting. They’re chemistry is very hot on the page. A definite recommend!

I was given an ARC of this book for a free and honest book review.

You and Me In Quarantine: Epilogue

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. But THEN she pulled a brilliant stunt with a new video and had an argument with the ex-wife AND THEN Edgar showed up at her house and they go through the rest of quarantine together. So happy.

I hope you enjoy it!

You and Me In Quarantine

Epilogue

There’s a tear in the vinyl booth Edgar and I are sitting in. We’re holding hands under the table on top of his thigh. I’m having a hard time not digging into my purse for hand sanitizer, but I just put it on after splaying the menu open on the table. It’s our first time eating out of the house since the Quarantine was lifted. The smell of onion and cooking meat wafting from the restaurant kitchen is tantalizing but I might not be able to eat through my anxiety.

The door to the outside opens and I look up to see my mom and dad walking in. She lets out an excited squeal and my dad shakes his head but I can see the humor in his eyes.

“Mom!” I exclaim as I stand to hug her.

Hug her. I get to hug my mom.

Seriously, I regret ever taking any hug from her for granted. I regret every time she hugged me and I only leaned my shoulder into her.

I’m making up for that now. I wrap her in my arms and rest my head on her shoulder. Her hair tickles my skin and I breathe in the smell of her hair spray. I feel her tears dampen the shoulder of my shirt. Her inhales are shaky. Her fingers stroking the hair down my back as she whispers, “My baby girl,” over and over.

I register that Edgar and my dad shook hands and are now standing awkwardly next to us.

I’m the first to pull back. My left-hand grabs Edgar’s arm as I say, “Mom, this is Edgar.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She gushes and wraps him in her arms. I had warned him it was going to happen but he seems pleased by her friendliness anyway.

My dad takes the opportunity to crush me in his hold, his head resting on mine. “I missed you, Billie Goat.”

“I missed you too, Dad.”

When we sit down, I’m relieved to watch Mom pull hand sanitizer out of her purse. The little bottle gets passed around to all of us. The pungent smell of alcohol lingers for a few seconds.

I wonder if we’ll ever get to a point like before the virus.

Edgar drapes his arm across my shoulder and pulls me into his side. A satisfied hum vibrates in my throat and I watch both of my parents blink in amused surprise. It’ll take time for them to get used to me being unguarded with him. I stay there, my body formed to his side. His lips press against the top of my head.

I entwine our fingers, our palms pressed together and squeeze.

The future is unsure, but it always was. Some truths remain the same.

But sitting in a booth at my favorite cheap Mexican restaurant with my parents and the man I love, I feel different. Somehow, without the constant self-protection, I’m freer. I found someone who I can be free with.

Someone to be brave with, in an uncertain world.

 

From Marty Vee:

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you reading my little book. I have been so endeared by the positive feedback I’ve received. Such a joy.

When I started writing this, it felt like an escape from a stressful world. I hope that the reading of it has been just as much of an escape for you.

Shamelessly, I’m going to ask that if you have enjoyed You and Me In Quartantine you’ll share it with a friend or on your social media.

I wish you all the best!

With Love,

Marty Vee

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 10

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.

I hope you enjoy it!

Day 10

The video I filmed in Edgar’s room yesterday posted almost an hour ago. I felt paranoid, so I watched it again for anything that would expose I’m at his house. There’s a slight shadowy divot in the wall over my right shoulder. It’s nothing noticeable if you’re not staring at the background of the shot. Also, the imperfection would still have to be in one of his shots; he’d have to film in almost the same location as me, and he’s taller so the angle would be different.

This is ridiculous. I need to calm down.

My producer didn’t give me any crap for my appearance, that’s maybe a good thing. Either she has come to terms that this is as good as it’s going to get or I’m going to get a talking to when this is all over.

Edgar and I are in his bed. We haven’t bothered with the sofa today, because it is where comfort goes to die. I’m doing Suduko in one of those cheap books you can buy at the checkout, while he reads a new novel out loud. Because he’s the most indulgent person or I’m just spoiled.

He’s wearing his reading glasses. I fixated on how delectable and studious he looks. But I can focus almost seventy percent of my attention on other things now.

A fog-horn blaring from his phone makes me jump. “What the hell is that?”

He reads the screen. “A message from the Governor. The quarantine has been extended.”

I knew it was going to happen; the spread of the virus hasn’t diminished enough. I feel… conflicted. There’s disappointment; I miss my friends and family and I really want everyone to be safe. I also want some of my own possessions. I want my clothes and my phone. He’s been very accommodating, but there’s nothing like my over worn sweater. I’d kill to put on a pair of jeans.

But I’m fairly pleased. It means more time with Edgar. I don’t know what to call our relationship or how it’ll change when we aren’t forced to co-habitat.

One thing is certain, I’m not ready to be public.

I’ve spent years talking trash about him. I need to figure out how to backtrack on some of that smack before people know that I not only don’t hate him but I like him. I like him a lot. More than I know how to handle.

The Crow’s feet by his eyes appear as he squints into the middle distance.

I assume I’m reading his mind, when I ask, “What are we gonna do about food?”

His face relaxes and he shrugs. “There’s canned and dry goods in the spare bedroom closet. We’re good for a couple more weeks. It’s not the healthiest living, but we’ll live.”

“My God! How were you ever going to eat through it by yourself?”

“They said to prepare, I prepared.”

“For the Apocalypse?”

He gives me that “you’re so cute” smile. Bastard.

“I was just thinking, that you must be feeling trapped,” he explains.

I stretch to buy myself some time while I think that over. “You’re just as trapped as I am.”

He’s quiet for a few breaths. His eyes on mine. My stomach feels queasy, wondering what he’s going to say next. I can already feel how sweet it’s going to be. And then he says, “Being with you doesn’t feel like a trap at all.”

Okay, I was basically thinking that but I can’t tell him. “Ugh, you’re so mushy.”

“Do you hate it?”

I sigh. “I want to.”

“But you don’t?” There’s the smallest lift of his lips.

It pains me but I admit, “Not particularly.”

He makes a sound like he’s tasted something delicious. He sets the book and his glasses down and crawls over me. With a fist pressed into the mattress on either side of my hips he bends his head down and takes my yoga pants into his teeth, scraping my skin through the fabric. My mind goes fully offline, as I watch him tug them downward, revealing a sliver of skin just under my stomach. Teeth and lips scrape on the newly exposed flesh.

My lungs release a shaky breath.

We both startle at a loud, authoritative, knock on the front door. We look in that direction.

His head swivels back towards me. “What the hell was that?”

I sputter a laugh.

He crawls over me to stand and I follow, much less gracefully.  There’s an amused expression in his eye as I get tangled in the covers and almost fall.

“Don’t,” I demand.

“How did I not know you’re clumsy?”

“Shut up.”

“All this time, I thought I was paying attention.”

“It’s beds and trampolines, I’m really bad at soft flat surfaces.”

“And dancing.”

I hold up a warning finger. “I am a spectacular dancer!”

I am not.

“Well, you’ve got a style,” he concedes.

My humor comes out in a honk.

He hugs me against his chest and kisses my temple. “I loved dancing with you.”

The knock comes again, louder this time.

With my hand in his, he walks to the front door. At the kitchen island, I let go of his hand to lean against the counter with my arms crossed over my chest. I didn’t put my bra on today, so I’d like to disguise that fact from the unexpected intruder.

On the front porch, stands two soldiers in uniform with masks over their mouths. The one closest to us speaks in a clear voice. “Hello, we just want to check-in that you have all the provisions that you need.”

Edgar begins to nod, but I interrupt him. “Actually, I, uh—I could—It was—” Okay, get a grip. I didn’t expect this, I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts together. Full sentences, now. “I wasn’t expecting to be here.” I twirl one finger around to encompass Edgar’s house. “So, I don’t have any of my own clothes and I have a ton of food at my house. Can I go grab that stuff and come back?”

I see the two soldiers share unsure looks over Edgar’s shoulder. His pupils might as well turn into little hearts. I glance at him and quickly away. My stomach does a flip. In my peripheral vision, I can see him fighting against a smile. The smile is winning.

It’s pulling at the loose strands of my heart like it’s a marionette and that smile is the puppet master.

“We’ll have to speak to our commanding officer,” the second soldier states, “Can we get a phone number? And your address?”

“Sure,” Edgar nods, “should I write it down?” When they tell him yes, he grabs the pad of post-it notes and pen from beside the fridge and jots his number on it with my name above. I recite my address for him to add.

“I wouldn’t expect a response until tomorrow at the earliest but more likely a couple of days,” the first soldier takes the post-it with a gloved hand and stuffs it in her chest pocket.

“Thank you,” Edgar and I say in unison.

They give a polite wave.

When the door is closed, Edgar goes to the kitchen sink to wash his hands. His back is to me, as he speaks, “Grab stuff and come back, huh?”

“Would that be okay?”

He snorts. “I already told you, I want you here.” He reaches for a towel.

“I really called your bluff if you didn’t mean it.”

Rounding the island, he’s looking at me like a starving man looks at a snack. “I meant it.”

The distance between us is gone. He bends at the knees and throws me over his shoulder in a fireman hold.

In shock, I squeal. I’m not used to being picked up, because I’m a grown person, but I do not hate it.

His strides are quick and I watch the floor as we approach the bed. He throws me down on to it, before covering me with his body. His mouth swallowing my laughter.

*****

Edgar has been asleep for a while, he’s making a soft almost snoring sound in my ear. The pressure of his chest against my back rising and falling, roots me. And I know I could plant myself here. Not only does it feel like he wants it. But more importantly, I do.

I want to claim him as mine. I want to be his.

Without warning or my permission, I’m falling in love with him. It’s approached me with such speed that I didn’t see it coming. Now that it’s so close, I don’t think I can step out of its way. It’ll either carry me with it or obliterate me.

He heaves a sigh. His arm tightens around my waist.

I close my eyes to the swell of conflicting emotions.

 

From Marty Vee:

Thank you for reading! If you are enjoying the story, please share it with a friend. You can continue on to Day 11 at:

https://martyvee.com/2020/05/04/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-11/

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: Day 2

You and Me In QuarantineFrom Marty Vee:

I suggest reading Day 1 first. The link is:

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

 

Last night I slept on the worst sofa.

What’s strange is I remember when Sofia and Edgar were going through their divorce, she told me how he was making such a big deal about getting their sofa. Was this the piece of furniture he couldn’t live without? It didn’t make sense, no one needed this thing in their life.

Luckily there’s plenty of room for yoga in Edgar’s spare bedroom, minus the bed part. It’s pretty much empty, just some weights and a treadmill.

Yesterday he pulled out an air mattress and tried to fill it up but there was a cleanly sliced hole in its side. Likely a box cutter, maybe when the box had been sealed and someone got too hyper. He had bent down to examine the hole, two fingers inside rubbing the plastic with his thumb. His head shook and released a heavy sigh. Something seemed to be on his mind but I didn’t ask.

With the air mattress out of commission, that left his bed—which I haven’t seen because I’m not going in his bedroom—and dun dun duuuun the sofa.

God help me. I’m not gonna make it.

I’m tired and my back hurts. My phone is dead. My attitude is not at its best.

I still can’t believe that I’m in this situation.

Yesterday, Sofia called me sounding very upset. The currier she had hired to deliver the legal documents suing Edgar for unpaid alimony backed out. Her job was not considered “essential” and she needed that money. I was so enraged. I was riding the white horse of justice and thinking of little else. Also, seriously, his income must be similar to mine—and if the pay gap has anything to say, his is better—he doesn’t live extravagantly, so where is his money going? Why isn’t he paying what he is legally obligated to pay?

Douche bag.

Sofia was one of the first people to befriend me when I started working at the station a few years back. But she changed jobs before I’d been there a full year. We’d stayed in contact via social media, mostly when one of us wanted to complain about Edgar.

Edgar and I are keeping our distance. He’s in the spare room now, working out; I can hear him grunting with strain.

It’s late morning, I’m lying on my stomach on the floor of the living room trying to read the book he left on the coffee table. It’s not bad. I would normally be into it but I really want to message my mom and see how she and Dad are doing. But Edgar’s laptop is in his room and I’m going to have to wait until he gets it for me. Then there’s Libby, how’s she fairing? She’s my best friend, we became close in college, some people were meant to be in your life and she’s one of them for me. I have other friends too, but those are the three main people that have me distracted and worried.

I need to borrow his phone so I can do a quick video, which I’m going to look real unprofessional for. I don’t know what’s better, fessing up to my boss about this situation or making the video and trying to pass it off as me being just like everyone else. I have some concealer, mascara and lipstick in my bag. I can do a braid for my hair or a high pony. It’s just not ideal.

There’s also my clothes situation. I’m wearing the yoga pants and tank top that I arrived in and slept in. My hoodie is balled up under my chin. I also have a bra and socks on; I’m currently regretting my practice of not wearing underwear with yoga pants; they slip around too much. I have nothing else to wear and I’m going to have to wash what little clothing I have and soon. So that’s on my mind.

The door to the room Edgar is in opens and I reflexively look over my shoulder towards the sound. He’s got sweat beading along his hairline and his tshirt clings to his sweat-soaked torso. The gym shorts he’s wearing stop just above his knee and I can see the V of his muscles there. I swallow, wondering what his leg day might look like, it’s obvious that he doesn’t skip it. He’s got some solid definition in those calves.

Not letting my eyes linger, I look back at the book open on the hardwood floor. He’s walking across the living room to his bedroom. When he passes me, I make a subtle evaluation of his back half.

I haven’t been thinking about his brazen assessment that he looks good naked. But I get it. From what I can tell, yes, I’m sure he looks very good naked. But seriously, congratu-freaking-lations, plenty of people look good naked. I’ve even seen a couple of them. I don’t look half bad naked myself. I’m not going to be posing for any nude shots any time soon but I’ve gotten solid responses. He’s more arrogant about it than I am but I try to focus my self-worth on other aspects; for example, my brain, personality and other things. You know, things that actually matter. So no, I haven’t been wondering just how true his statement is. I haven’t given it any thought at all.

He comes back out of his bedroom, his messy wet hair and in clean clothes. I look up again out of reflex but end up with a bundle of clothing hitting my face.

“The hell?” I push myself into a seated position.

“Change so we can wash your clothes for tomorrow.”

I assess the garments he’s chosen for me: gray sweats and a Hufflepuff tshirt.

“Hufflepuff?” I ask my mouth pulled to one side.

“So?”

“Everything is just so clear now.”

“Slytherin.” He doesn’t say it as a question, but as an accusation.

“Yes but I don’t need a shirt to proclaim it.”

“Do you need a different shirt?” He’s crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the door jam.

I stand with the clothing pressed against my chest. Turning my back on him, I head towards the guest bathroom.

“What are you doing?” I ask him when I realize he’s following me.

“Making sure you have everything you need.” He grabs a towel out of the linen closet in the hall and sets it on the counter next to the sink. I wait just outside the door as he checks the few items in the shower. “I’ll get you some conditioner.”

“You use conditioner?” I pull my scrunchy from my hair and run my fingers along my scalp, chestnut-colored strands fall around my shoulders.

“Don’t you?” He’s watching my movements.

“Of course.” Conditioner had fallen on my lists of concerns but it wasn’t something I was going to get overly worked up about. My hair isn’t too temperamental and it’s not like I can actually do my hair. “But not all men do.”

“I do.” He left.

I turn on the water. Sitting on the edge of the tub I let it run over my fingers waiting for it to get hot. He came back with a comb and bottle. The comb goes on the counter next to the towel before he stretches over me to place the conditioner on a shelf next to the shampoo in the shower and then left. He was so close for a fraction of a second that I could feel his body heat from his stomach on my shoulder.

My shower doesn’t wash away the memory of it.

*****

There is Nutella in this house! Like a lot. Like an obscene amount for one person; therefore, an almost appropriate amount for two. I will weather this storm with my sweet tooth sated—not satisfied but sated.

We each have our own bowl of Nutella and fruit.

He turns The Office on.

I’m getting tired. I hope he goes to bed soon. We’re currently sitting on my so-called bed or as I like to refer to it as, Damned Sofa of Death.

 

From Marty Vee:

Thank you for reading! If you are enjoying the story, please share it with a friend. Here’s the link to Day 3 if you’d like to keep going:

https://martyvee.com/2020/04/06/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-3/

Books for the Writer in Me

I want to give you folks a heads up on what is going on with me. There’s a writing conference I’m attending in the end of January. At this conference, I have an appointment with an agent. This is good news and I’m excited for it, but what it means is that I have tasks to accomplish. I’m deep in editing mode and doing research on etiquette for this kind of meeting. If anyone has experience or advice, please pass it on. I’m also working on tags and quick captivating synopsis. But I don’t want to continue neglecting all of you lovely people. So, I thought I would write an entry about books that make me want to write.

I’ve only read two books by Alice Hoffman: The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, but her prose are so lovely it makes me want to write. She has a way of telling a story with heartbreaking honesty that makes me want to improve my own skills. She writes period pieces, her settings come alive. I feel that there isn’t a lot of dialogue in her books and the pacing purposeful. Her characters are complete. They have lives before and after the story. They have faults and abilities. Alice Hoffman intimidates me and pushes me and I love her.

I just finished reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was a sweet book. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but I found myself crying from time to time and smiling at old friends’ antics. Joe in all her ambitious Tomboyish glory made me want to write.She has these great little writing rituals that send a signal to her family if she can be disturbed or not, it’s just all together adorable. The story of her development as a writer felt true. She went from writing what she thought people wanted to read, to writing the stories she needed to share. It’s a lesson I feel I’m still learning; a lesson only experience can teach me.

The way writing is described in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a comforting inspiration. The way she explains those wonderful times when the words come faster than your fingers can get them on paper or the times when they fight against you. She shows how you need to reach out of your comfort zone in order to grow. She shows that success isn’t your readership or writing what you know you can do, it’s allowing yourself to fall on your face if it means progress.

What books or authors make you want to write? And any tips on my meeting coming up?

Thanks for stopping by!

Books That Travel

It’s 3am and I’m sitting in Detroit airport. I’ve never seen it so quiet; not that I have a lot of experience with airports. But I can hear the escalators and the nonlabored breathing of a man ten feet away from me. 

My husband is in search of a vending machine, we didn’t eat before the drive and kept on deciding to wait. “We will just eat at the airport,” we said… The deli doesn’t open until 6, when our flight is. 

POPTARTS! So, that’s better now. 

In the quiet and strange atmosphere I started thinking about books. Of course. Books that have travel in them. 

There’s loads of traveling in all different forms in The Eye of the World Series. On horse back they evade persurers. There are magical ways of travel and they continue to rediscover Those abilities. 

The Night Circus moves around the world; an enchanted train carting lovely exhibits. There are prominent characters in London and Germany and the United States. Their stories tied together by the circus’ meandering. 

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman tells the story of Jewish refugees wondering in the time of Roman prosecution. It is one of the most devastating books I have ever read, using the eloquence of the prose to both enhance the pain and encase it in beauty. 

Mark Watney has fantastic scenes of travel in The Martian. It’s made that much more intense by the fact that he’s traveling all over Mars and then, you know, on a spaceship. I throughly loved this book and strongly suggest it. I’m very excited to see the movie on Monday!

I’d love to hear about any stories you love that travel is important in. 

Reading the Red Wedding 

This blog will contain spoilers, for George R.R. Martin’s Storm of Swords. So if you’re one of those weirdos, like my husband, who has not read or watched this series then stop reading blogs and pick up these books.

I’m down for reading dark subject matter and A Song of Ice and Fire has a strong hold in the darkness. So I start Game of Thrones and I am instantly devouring the series. Martin makes it clear he doesn’t care about the reader’s feelings, but it can’t all be depressing…

It’s 3 am and I’m working through the pages of Storm of Swords. My husband had a meeting out of town, it’s just the cats and me at home. Laying on my bed with the hardcover open on the pillow next to me, I follow Arya and The Hound’s progress to reunite her with her mom and brother. I’m considering closing the book, I’m so tired and I’ve been reading for hours. But they are so close to one another. Martin is changing POV and due to my mental state, I’m a little discombobulated by it. I’m going to power through, there will be this beautiful moment to fall asleep to. Arya will finally be safe with her big brother and her mother will hold her and I’ll submit to sleep on lovely feelings.

I turn too many pages and there is blood everywhere. Woah, that is definitely reading for tomorrow. I get back to the right page and keep reading. Man, Martin is milking this. I turn the page again… And blood is everywhere! God, no! Please, no. They were so close. Everyone’s dead, even the dog. Why always with the dog?

My God, Hound, don’t kill her! Oh, thank God. Arya, stop fighting him, just go with him.

Tears stream down my face. It all hits too hard from the sleep deprivation and I close the book, curl up into a sad ball and wait for terrible dreams.

Everyone’s dead…

I heard this joke:

George R.R. Martin, Joss Whedon and Martin Scorsese walk into a bar. And kill everyone you love.

Are there any moments you remember reading? What stories got the most reaction out of you?