by Julieann Dove
Publication date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She had no idea she was sleepwalking through her life ---until she met him.
Amy Whitfield is blindsided when she comes home and finds a note on the fridge from her husband, Wesley, stating that after four years of marriage, he’s leaving her. Amy was in the midst of trying to spice things up, to bring life back to their boring marriage. It seems now that she was too late.
As Amy sits with her head between her knees, trying to figure out what to do next, a call comes from Mercer General Hospital. The ER nurse is telling Amy’s answering machine that Wesley has been in a car accident.
When Amy arrives at the hospital, she finds her husband in a coma. The doctors say there is no sign of brain damage, and Wesley will eventually wake up. Relieved, Amy sees this as her second chance: the chance to get it right this time. To channel the girl Wesley won’t leave when he regains consciousness… She just needs some help to pull it off. After all, she was voted girl most likely to die a virgin in high school.
Amy would never figure on getting that help from Mark Reilly…Wesley’s doctor! He’s a non-committer, too-cute-for-his-own-good bachelor, and completely the guy Amy begins falling for. It’s a race against time to see who wakes up first—Amy or her husband.
I’m not a whore, I’m not a whore, I’m not a whore. I repeated the mantra to myself as I white-knuckled the lingerie up to the checkout girl. I tried not to stare at her flamboyant boobs that had somewhat outstretched her garment by three sizes or more. The French inscription that was written on it had fanned out and was barely legible. “She who must be obeyed.” Great. I knew there was a reason I had taken four years of the foreign language—to interpret a shirt such as this. And to think—I learned it because I would one day honeymoon in the city of lights and would need to speak the lingo. Silly me.
In my husband’s defense, although we didn’t make it there after the wedding, he did purchase me a plastic Eiffel tower for our first anniversary and said he’d take me there when we reached our tenth year. As though getting to Paris was somewhat of a marriage marathon, and this plastic statue was a drink of water on the first-mile stretch. I only had six more miles—er, years—to keep brushed up for the fateful event. I hope he hadn’t forgotten his promise. Years two, three, and four landed me nothing resembling the pact he’d made. Year two I got a pair of earrings that make my ears break out when I wear them; year three, a box of candy; year four, a slow cooker.
“Would you like a gift receipt?” the tiny cheerleader with the bleached-white teeth asked me.
A gift receipt? She really thought I was purchasing this for someone else? It wasn’t as though she could see through my blouse and cardigan to my eighteen-hour bra and high-rise Hanes, could she? And did people buy lingerie for other people?
“No, that won’t be necessary. Thank you, anyway.”
I kept my head lowered, pushed my hair behind my ear and then continued to fidget with the top button on my shirt. It was safely keeping my blouse pulled together. No need to advertise my collarbones to the free world.
I smiled and took my bag. I hoped she hadn’t seen my hand shake when I signed the credit card copy. Not only had I never set foot into any sort of establishment such as this, but I usually walked on the other side of the mall to avoid getting too close to the entryway of it. “Devil-wear,” as my mother referred to it, never got you anything but trouble. Strap on that sort of getup and consider yourself a plaything for nothing but evil. Had my mother still been around, God bless her departed soul, she would have loosened up the slack on her judgment. Well, maybe. She came from a very different time, and schooled me in the same manner. My dresses were to fall below my knees, my sleeves to hit over the elbow, and for the love of God, wear only pajama sets at night. That way, the one-eyed monster didn’t get on the scent of anything foul play.
Of course, I have done all of this. I even stopped wearing skirts altogether once I got married. Pants are the way to go when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned workplace five days a week, nine hours a day—in the winter! And this modest method of living is perhaps why Wesley has been working late at the office three nights a week, going on business trips, and forgetting about important dates—like our first date anniversary. It was two weeks ago. I came home with Chinese takeout and cheesecake with cherry topping (his favorite), and he didn’t come home until ten o’clock. When I asked why he didn’t answer his phone, all he said was that the battery must’ve given way and died. I ended up eating alone and watching a stupid reality show before going to bed.
I was hoping this little Prada-like Satan outfit would fuel some fire back into our relationship. Either that, or he’d pass out from seeing three-fourths of my body’s skin. That is, if I knew how to assemble it. It had so many straps and pinchy things attached, I might have to Google someone wearing it and go from there.
I’d actually gotten the idea to ramp things up from the girls at work. I share a table with them at lunch. All they ever seem to talk about is sex. I rarely contribute, as I don’t have an array of things to offer. But today they asked for a donation from me. Tapioca pudding almost choked me as I looked up at the four sets of eyes, waiting for me to hash out what it was like in the “sack” of my bedroom.
Okay, first off, the “sack” was a dark cherry four-poster bed, ensconced with a Laura Ashley canopy. My remote control rested on my nightstand, where my highlighted TV Guide showed all the upcoming Hallmark premieres. My pink slippers sat beside my bed, and the cotton pajama set I wore for two nights consecutively before washing and changing out laid at the foot of it. I wouldn’t exactly consider my bed a “sack.” And I wouldn’t exactly confess to them that we did “sack-like” things every third Saturday night. If I was in the mood, and there was no pay-per-view boxing on that particular night.
“Well...we usually have fun about twice a month. Maybe three if we watch a sexy movie.” Did that sound as pathetic outside of my brain? And it was still a lie!
Heavy gasping swept across the table. I might as well have said that my three-headed neighbor watched while we did it for all the groans I received. Actually, that would have got me off the hot seat. Neighbors watching would have cast my membership into this women’s club. Obviously there was an initiation and sex twice a month wasn’t it. Would I be shunned in the future? Sitting in my car at lunch break, parked in the adjacent lot so that no one could see me? I could always pack tuna sandwiches and lure stray cats to my vehicle.
“Oh, honey. I’m so sorry.” Rosa touched my arm as if I had admitted to having an incurable disease. “And, he’s okay with that?”
I cleared my already clear throat, giving myself a few seconds to retract my statement. The one that carried the weight of a boulder and had landed in the middle of our lunch table.
“He’s fine. We’re fine. It’s always been fine. Why? You don’t think it’s fine?” I raised my pencil-thin eyebrow. It quivered a little as I awaited the judgment of my overly-sexed peers.
Sonja’s lip muscles flexed hard before she blurted what was on everyone’s mind.
“If a man isn’t getting it at home, he’s usually getting it somewhere else.”
They obviously didn’t know Wesley. He wasn’t the type. From day one, he... Hold on. From day one, he did want it all the time. I wasn’t a big fan of it. It took only seconds and I didn’t get anything from it except resentment. After getting a few shoulders in his face instead of breasts, he slowly gave up and did it only when I initiated it. Was it true? Could he be going elsewhere? No. Not Wesley.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. We have a good relationship. We don’t need to have sex all the time, like every day of the week. There are other components of a relationship. We have a good one,” I repeated.
“Honey, don’t you want to have sex? You’ve got no children. You could have it in a different room every night if you wanted. Have you ever tried the kitchen table?” Sonja’s eyes danced with the mere thought of it.
Sonja is probably the most over-sexed one at the table. She is a pretty girl in her mid-thirties, but she keeps herself up, making it seem more like she’s in her late twenties. She does her own highlights, sometimes red and sometimes blonde, depending on the season. Her eye makeup is always painted in bright colors, matching her outfits and meticulously covering the area that stretches from under her eyebrow to the black eyeliner that defines the edge of her eye. She always boasts how many positions she can perform. As if it’s the Olympics, and the more you can do, the more awards you might receive.
“We haven’t yet made it to the kitchen table—germs and all, you know? But, we’ve done it in all the other rooms with beds.” Thank goodness they didn’t know that all we had was one guest room with a bed. The other room had a desk, and I would never imagine doing anything on that and ruining my collection of porcelain butterflies. It took me twelve months of payment plans and installment shipping for those little babies.
“That’s it? In the beds of your home? That sounds so sad.” Rosa shook her head and grabbed her gaping mouth. Notice of my dear cat’s death would’ve probably elicited less pity. “You don’t role play or meet in clubs and do it in the bathroom or in the dressing rooms of Target?” Her brow raised as her lips pinched tightly shut. She seemed to be hiding a secret I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. I’ve used those dressing rooms.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what Rosa was talking about. She was married, with five children. Obviously, there was no lack of physical contact in her marriage, but was I to believe she pushed a cart with her children loaded inside the front and on the sides, parking it outside of the fitting room and asked the oldest to watch the others while she and Daddy went in to “try on clothes”? With each other? Who was she kidding? At least my lie was believable. Now, I wouldn’t be able to tell whether her wrinkly clothes were from lack of ironing or whether Jose, her husband, scored a quickie in the car before he dropped her off to work. She always boasted they had a wonderful sex life. I suppose five children could back that up. I had nothing…nothing but a collection of butterflies in one room and a neatly made bed in the other.
“Come to think of it, I forgot about vehicles.” I touched my finger to my lips, as if to remember. “Just last week we went to that buffalo wing place by the new shopping mall, and we did you-know-what in the backseat of his Jeep in the parking lot. He couldn’t wait. Said he’d die if he had to eat dinner without tasting me first.” I hoped the flush I suddenly felt didn’t show like a bull’s-eye on my face.
If they knew Wesley, they would’ve known that was a bold-faced fallacy. Wesley wouldn’t even let me drink a soda in his precious Jeep. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t allow naked bodies sloshing up on the sides of his all-leather interior. But I had read something similar in a book and remembered the image.
“You better watch out, girl,” Paige said. “If I have sex too much, I have to take the little white pill.”
The little white pill? Obviously I didn’t have too much sex, so I had no idea what she was talking about. But I nodded, as though I did.
“The week after our honeymoon, I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get on American soil and contact my gynecologist. It took me three days to feel normal again.”
Although obviously getting over some type of malady, Paige still had stars in her moony eyes. She was a newlywed. She and Doug were probably still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship—sex once a week. I was invited to her wedding three months ago and went alone. Wesley was out of town that weekend, but I remember the way Doug looked at her: longing eyes, with love filled to the brim of both of them. I didn’t recall Wesley ever looking at me in the same way. After we were married, it seemed like we bypassed the honeymoon period and moved right toward the golden years of “You sleep on your side, and I’ll sleep on mine.”
“Guys, we’re really mature in our relationship. We’re not teenagers anymore.”
“You might want to spice it up before someone else does it for you,” Sonja piped in.
Somehow I didn’t think she completely believed the wild wing story in his Jeep. I felt my eyes shy away when I told it. I was still fanning myself and repeating five Hail Mary’s under my breath.
“A man is a man, Amy. They need constant touch and reinforcement that they’re the king of the hill. In all aspects, especially the libido. Even Edith in accounting learned that lesson. She’s now residing in an apartment down by the mall, and Edward has moved on with a girl ten years younger. They sold their colonial home in Bayberry Estates and split the proceeds down the middle.”
I tried to control my popping eyes. Now that she mentioned it, Edith had looked more pasty these last couple of weeks. As though she’d come to work every day having kept her face in an ice tray the night before. Even her gait was slower and her arms were constantly shrugging. I thought she was just vitamin deprived and needed to make an appointment with a chiropractor.
“I know you think everything is cool, but maybe you need a teacher to show you some sex tricks. My cousin, Mario, has helped some ladies in the past. I could ask for a discount for you.” Sonja finished up her drink and took her bag to the trashcan.
I grabbed my trash and followed my sex-proficient friend. The thought of a tall, dark, and handsome Latino coming over to my house to teach me where to place my hands shortened my breath. Of course, then the thought of him reporting back to Sonja and her bringing that nightmare to the table for discussion sickened me.
“No thanks, Sonja. My marriage is good. What am I saying? It’s great. Maybe we just need to get away from here. He’s working so much. I think we need a break from the rat race.”
I left the table, feeling insecure with my relationship and as though I was the pathetic un-sexed one of the bunch. I loved Wesley and I intended to keep him, no matter what. I would just have to get used to more looks of condolence than sisterhood high fives.
Author InfoJulieann lives in Virginia, yet longs to live everywhere else. It doesn’t come as a surprise that along with her gypsy soul, comes an active imagination. That’s why she loves to write and invent worlds and people, so that she can formulate their happily ever after. Hobbies include cooking new recipes, sewing, and spending time with her cute boyfriend/husband and five fabulous children. Vacations happen in Nantucket or the Carolina beaches—anywhere there is inspiration for her next book. One day she hopes to travel to Italy, drive one of those little cars around the countryside, and speak the language fluently!Author Links: