Edited by Barney R. Final spelling and grammar check by Grammarly
Messed with and tweaked by me, all mistakes are mine
I was sitting on the deck sipping my morning coffee thinking over the conversation I overheard at the barbeque we hosted last evening.
I’m thinking over the conversation because the two women I trust in my life are plotting to betray me. They had both gotten drunk, even though I asked that no alcohol be served.
I am John Carmody, I am 33 now, almost 6’ tall, slightly underweight at 145 lbs. I am a very successful author of young adult stories, and ‘bodice rippers’ romance and some other kinds of novels. I use different pseudonyms for different genres of stories. My names besides my own are Gary Croswell for my young adult stories, Elizebeth Jester for my contemporary romance novels, and Becka Ballintine for my old west romances.
I met CC (Carolina Catherine) Dolman when I was 27. We met in an unorthodox way. I was returning on a Friday from a New York City meeting with my publishers. I was out at the cab stand at my home airport hailing a cab when I was run over by a woman who could not see around the mound of luggage on her luggage cart. I wasn’t hurt, just pissed. I turned to give the miscreant a big and angry piece of my mind when I saw a vision. Unfortunately, she was crying.
“I’m sorry, are you hurt?” She asked. Before I could answer, I heard her mutter under her breath; “Great, I get dumped by my fiancé, fired from my job, miss my early flight then get bumped from the next, and now I run over some poor dumb asshole that had nothing to do with my shitty week.”
“Look, miss, I did not move into your way, I was not even in the path to the parking garage; you have no reason to call me an asshole.”
The cab I called arrived and I got in and told him where I was headed. I went home and got a beer from the fridge and just started to decompress when the house phone rang. I recognized the number as my business cell phone.
I answered sharply; “Hello, this is the Carmody residence. What are you doing with my phone?”
I heard a definite giggle and a female voice responds; “I’m the dumb bitch that called you an asshole, and when I restacked my luggage your phone was on the ground. I’m calling to find out how I can get it back to you. I am in Southside. I will bring the phone to you if you give me your address. If you will let me, I will bring dinner. Do you like Chinese? It will be my way to partially apologize.”
“Everyone that is human and doesn’t have some kind of food allergy likes Chinese. I live at 4657 Crestwood Ct. in West End. Do you know how to get here?”
I heard a sparkling laugh; “GPS, you man you. I also have a friend that lives down the street from you in the subdivision, so I’ll find it. Let’s figure on 6:30. OK?
“Yup. That’s fine; I like what is generally called House Fried Rice or Five Meat Fried Rice, and Egg Rolls. I also will try anything but isn’t the man supposed to provide on a date. I don’t want to get too adventurous on our first date. Wait, this is going to be our first date isn’t it?”
“We’ll see.” A giggle and then all I heard was a dial tone. I never did get her name.
As I have a housekeeper and had not been home for four days, there wasn’t much to do to make the house presentable. I put my dirty clothes in the hamper and got my meeting suit ready to take to the cleaners. By the time I was finished, my accumulated jet lag caught up with me.
I took a nap after setting my alarm for 5:30. When the alarm chimed, I was in better shape, and after a long shower, I was near as human as an author can be. We writers are somewhat strange ducks.
Right at 6:30, the side doorbell rang. The vision was standing there with a large bag with the logo of my favorite Chinese Restaurant on it. I took the bag, move to the side and said; “Enter fair maiden, my castle is indeed fortunate that you grace it with your presence.”
That earned me a gigle and an introduction. “First let me introduce myself. I am Carolina Dolman of the Southside Dolmans. We are a vigorous and aggressive breed, but I come bearing peace offerings. Sir Knight, we bear you no ill will, and punishment has been visited on the person who caused you misfortune.”
“I accept your offerings of peace, but I must visit my own punishments on the dastardly cad the caused the upset to my person. Perhaps maybe a thrashing with the open-hand delivered to that sorry individual’s posterior. What say you?”
“No Sir Knight, anything but that; my flesh is too delicate to stand the abuse.” Then we both broke up laughing.
“Carolina, I am John Carmody, I am 27, and other than a housekeeper, unattached, so you need to watch yourself now that you are in my evil clutches. I thank you for delivering my phone, and I am not angry about the airport. I was a little when I heard your muttering, but after I thought about it I realized that everyone can have a day like your mutterings described. I do not require any more apology than you coming here. This house has not had anyone as beautiful as you in it since my mother and sister were here. You are very easy on the eyes.”
With that, we dug in. After dinner, I showed CC (she asked me to call her that) the house and grounds. As I said, I am a very successful author, and own the equivalent of four lots in a square.
I explained to her what I did, (but not my pseudonym) and said; “Because I was successful and did not want to rent I bought this place and the other lots. I got here when the developer first opened the place up. I was the first buyer, and so the lots I purchased are at the end of a cul-de-sac. The house is custom built and is a 4-bedroom 3-1/2-bath ranch style 4000 sq. foot home. The master bedroom has an attached reading room\office. The other three bedrooms are on the other side of the house and share two baths.”
CC was surprised when I showed her the back yard. The large patio had an outdoor kitchen, and the entire yard had a seven-foot privacy fence.
CC told me she was 24, and up until the day before yesterday, a computer graphics artist for a small children’s software company. She was engaged to the son of the owner, and when he wanted to start married life early, she told him no. He broke the engagement, had Daddy fire her, and canceled the lease on her company car and apartment. She took her clothes and came home.
“What exactly does a computer artist do? I am an author of several different types of books and I need someone to do my book dust covers. I can also use a proofreader as my rewrites are driving me crazy. If you are interested, we can discuss salary, perks, and details with my lawyer Monday.”
“I was a standard artist until I learned computer graphics in college. I draw, paint in oil and acrylic, and occasionally sculpt in clay, then cast in bronze. I only sculpt on commission, and they don’t come by too often. I would be very interested in either or both positions, I am not hurting for money, but I need a job for my sanity. My degree is in fine arts with an English minor. Would you like to see some of my works?”
“I would love to see some of your work. However, I know I am adjusting to the time zone change and am exhausted. Could I pick you up tomorrow and take you to lunch as a second date?”
“I would like that, but if it is a date, why would we discuss business, If it is a business meeting let’s have the date start tomorrow evening. I live with my mother at 743 Alcona Ave., Southside. If you’re tired, how about I leave, and I will see you tomorrow at 11:00 or earlier if you want, but not before 9:00 this ‘fair maiden’ needs her beauty sleep.”
“What could you possibly do to improve perfect beauty? OK, if you are up for it, we can have an early meeting at 9:00 and then make a day of it. Lunch, mall walking, dinner and a play that I have tickets for. Does that sound like a plan?”
“Yes indeed, Sir Knight that sounds like a very good plan.”
As I escorted her to the door, she turned, got on tiptoe and gave me a nice kiss. Then as she was leaving she tossed out; “I might enjoy that thrashing with an open hand on the posterior when we get to know each other better. Goodnight John, you have rescued this damsel in distress. Even if the job doesn’t work out, I am happier than I have been since I was dumped on by Asshole Junior.”
She drove off.
The next morning I was up early, so I threw some of my clothes from my trip into the washer. Then I went to get my phone. CC never gave it to me. As it was very early, and I am not a complete dick, I waited until 7:30 to call my cell.
A sleepy CC answered; “John Carmody’s phone. Can I take a message?”
“Yes you can, this is your favorite asshole. What are you doing with my phone? Now I am going to have to administer two thrashing sessions. Good morning CC; I know it is mean to call you this early, but I couldn’t resist. Would you like to go to breakfast to start the day of our second date? I also wanted to rub it in that we both forgot that you came to my place to deliver that instrument of death that you have in your hand.”
More giggles. How about you come over at 8:30? I will make you breakfast. I’m actually a very good cook. My mother is out of town, so it is not a ‘meet the parent’s’ moment.”
“I will be there with bells on, clothes also; the cops in this town have a thing against public nudity.”
More giggles and then a dial tone.
When I drove up to the split level home, I could see that the neighborhood was probably upper-middle class. I pulled into the circular drive and parked near the front door; I grabbed the cinnamon buns that I purchased for a tasty gift. As I approached the door, CC opened the door and I almost dropped the buns. At the door stood a green-faced, hair curler covered head, buck-toothed, dirty robe-clad woman. She gave me a glare and then couldn’t hold it anymore. She started with a giggle and by the time I reached the door, she was in all-out laughter.
“This is what you get when you rob a woman of her beauty sleep Sir Knight.” Then she started laughing again.
I grabbed her green slimed face, curlers and all, and planted a kiss on her. When I let her go, I said, “Nay my sweet princess; the camouflage cannot hide thy fairness, beauty such as yours would shine through concrete.”
Then after staring at me for a moment, a second laughing session started. “You goof, the kiss was wonderful, but now you have green all over your face. Come on in before the neighbors see me and wonder who the crazy woman is that’s in my house. Then we can both wash up.”
With that, she pulled off the curler wig and the phony teeth and showed me into the house and after taking my gift pointed me to the guest room bathroom.
After washing my face, I walked out to the kitchen and grabbed a seat.
CC walked in, and the green was gone, and a smile that would light a dark tunnel was on her face. “I wore that get up to a Halloween party last year, knowing you have a sense of humor; I thought I would get you back for the 7:30 call. I was barely awake and thinking about last evening.”
Then she held out her hand with my phone. “Let’s not forget this, this time. Now, do you want to conduct business and call breakfast a business meeting, or have lunch somewhere and use that as the meeting?”
“Business breakfast, then you must face the open-handed thrashing or buy me lunch, your choice.” I laughed at the horror-stricken face so I went on. “The thrashings will only be twenty lashes open-handed on the bare posterior, and you are only required to submit to two; so far, but the day is young.”
“I don’t know if your serious or not, but I think lunch is a good idea.”
When she saw my ‘poopy lip’, she laughed. “You were kidding weren’t you?”
“You’ll never know now; you ruined my fun. I must say, with no crudeness meant, that you have a very spankable posterior. I don’t want you to leave, but I enjoy it when you walk away.”
That earned me a huge smile and swat on the arm.
I looked at her and got a brilliant idea (My ego thought it was brilliant anyway.) “What does your book library look like, you seem to be intelligent, and if you have any similar book to what I write with the dust cover intact, I can get an idea of whether we are looking at the same ideas.”
“Ok, but I need to warn you, I hated most of the dust covers, so I did my own to fit the book. I tried to present the theme of the story from my reading of it.”
“After breakfast, my stomach is empty wench, me man, me hungry.”
That earned me a second swat and a cheek kiss.
After breakfast of a baked scramble with mozzarella and Italian sausage, coffee, and conversation, CC brought out several books with her dust covers and the originals. I was not totally surprised when two of the books were my romances, they are very popular.
When I saw her covers, I knew she had captured the story essence without giving away the story.
“I put these two covers together before I knew you wrote them. I researched Elezebeth Jester last night and surprise; it was a registered pseudonym of one John Carmody. What a coincidence. Huh?”
The covers were better than what the publisher supplied. I told her so. Then I asked if she wanted an opportunity to do all of my covers from that point forward.
“Yes ... Yes!”
“OK, I will give my agent and my publisher a call. You said you had an English Minor, would you be interested in being my test reader, and also my proofreader? That would mean some extra income. It would also be fairly steady work as I complete a book about every month.”
“Yes again, I would love it; and I would finally be using all of my skills.”
My agent and publisher were both on board, and my publisher even had CC do the paperback covers for all of my books and those of some of the other authors. My agent loved having another client, and I got a first-rate proofreader.
CC was surprised that I used three different pen names. I explained that that was my publisher’s idea. She (my publisher) did not think women would buy romance novels written by a man. She also felt that the western-based romances needed different authorship. The third pen name was to protect my privacy.
With her checking my spelling, syntax, and grammar, I was doing fewer rewrites, and writing more books. I went from twelve or thirteen books a year to fifteen or sixteen.
After that first weekend, CC and I dated for several months. We were together almost every day and most evenings. CC commandeered one of the bedrooms opposite mine as an office. She said she needed to be away from all distractions when she was creating.
After a year, I asked her if she wanted to move in. I thought it was unnecessary to drive to her mom’s when she just slept there, then drove back and shared breakfast. She agreed, but said; “I’ll move in, but you need to make closet space in the master because I am not sleeping in any bed but yours.”
I was floored. I shouldn’t have been, we had occasionally had sex, but I did not realize that she had that kind of feeling for me. I mentioned earlier that authors are strange.
“Before you move in then, I have a couple of very important questions to ask you. Do you love me? I am very much in love with you. Then, if you love me will you marry me?
There was no hesitation, “Yes I love you, and yes I will marry you.”
“Well, we need to do two things soon. One, we need to tell your mother. And two, we need you to meet my parents and my sister.”
“Mother already knows. I was going to ask you to marry me if you did not ‘get off the pot’. I would love to meet your family.”
We had the meet and greets. CC’s mother, Laura, was a somewhat subdued somewhat beaten down looking woman. I liked her but wanted to talk to CC about her. My parents and my sister Jane got along with CC like she was a second daughter.
The three ladies went into a long-distance planning festival. CC wanted to have a short engagement. I was all for that.
I asked CC if she objected to a prenuptial agreement. She had a couple of reservations but was not against the idea. I made a suggestion that seemed to make CC very happy. I suggested that we each contribute a fixed amount to a joint account and anything above that was ours to use as desired or not.