Queen Alisha's Guide to Life











{September 13, 2014}   Emily’s New Beginning

I recently had a brainstorm for my novel. These new ideas will completely overhaul my novel. I’m changing some characters, adding some new characters. I’m also taking the story back a few years. Alas, my favorite place, Snapper’s, is not one of the main hot spots. :) It will still be a major part of the story line though. What are some of the changes? Well, read on. This is Emily’s new beginning. :)  Let me know what you think. (And also keep in mind this is the very first draft. LOL.)

Chapter One

When I have my own restaurant, Emily thought for what was probably the millionth time as she finished up the last of the cleaning from the breakfast rush in the popular Lafayette, Louisiana diner.
She pulled the dishtowel from her back pocket and wiped her hands. She leaned against the back counter and took a deep breath. I’m tired of cooking like this for other people and not making any money. She thought.
With her husband, Eddie, unemployed, she didn’t have the extra money to open her own place. They were hanging on by a thread to begin with. She didn’t have the money or the time to even think about starting up her own place.
She exhaled a frustrated sigh. Would Eddie go look for work today? Since he’d lost his job, he’d chosen to drown his sorrows, spending more time drunk than sober.
Emily thought of her packed bags at home. She was leaving after work to return home for a few days. Benjamin Devereaux, a childhood friend of hers, was killed in an oil rig accident, and she was returning to attend the funeral. Emily wasn’t taking Eddie. She needed a break from him, from their constant bickering. His constant drinking was straining her marriage. He could be a mean drunk, insulting, blaming Emily for everything. Emily was getting tired of making excuses for him. She would use this time away to do some thinking.
“Miss Emily?” one of the waitresses said coming into the kitchen.
“Yes?”
“There’s someone here to see you.” she said.
“Really?” Emily asked.
“Yes, it’s a Sheriff and he asked for you.”
Emily’s stomach churned, it was Eddie. What had he done? Had he been in an accident? Had he killed somebody? She took a deep breath and pushed through the metal swinging door. Sure enough, there was a Lafayette Parish Sherriff’s Officer standing by the counter.
He nodded his head as she approached, “Mrs. Emily Breaux?”
“That’s me.”
“Why don’t you step outside with me for a moment?” he said.
Bile rose in her throat as she followed the officer outside. As she walked, she could feel the eyes of her coworkers burning holes in her back.
“Mrs. Breaux, I stopped by your home this morning, but it appeared that no one was home. I hate to have to bother you at work with this, but I have to serve you these papers.”
“Papers?”
“Yes, Mrs. Breaux,” he said as he handed a stack of papers to her, “Eviction papers. You have thirty days to vacate the premises.”
“Eviction? Wait, I don’t understand. There has to be some mistake.”
“I’m not sure, ma’am. You’ll have to talk to your landlord.” he said.
Emily took the papers from his hand, “There has to be some kind of mistake. I’ve been leaving the money at the house like always for Mr. Smith to pick up. I’ve never even been late.”
Emily closed her eyes against the pain, “Eddie.” she said. Eddie had been taking the money. That’s where his drinking money was coming from. Not from money he said he borrowed from his sister. How had he done it? She thought. Why hadn’t the Mr. Smith called her? Eddie could be quite charismatic when he wanted. He had probably lied and promised to pay until Mr. Smith had given up.
Emily tucked the papers under her arm and the officer tipped his hat one more time, “Good luck.” he said.
Emily nodded. She watched the officer get in his patrol car and drive away.
What was she going to do now? She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. She thought of the bags she had packed at home. No, not home. Not anymore. Home was the place Grandma Ruby left her in Bon Chance. Eddie may have lost a home, but Emily hadn’t.
Eddie may be basically homeless now, but Emily damn sure wasn’t.



{August 31, 2014}   Seasoning the Pot

pot

I love to cook. I can spend hours in the kitchen chopping, dicing, and stirring. So, it makes sense that one of my most prized possessions is my old cast iron pot. I’ve made more gumbos in that pot than I can count. Every now and then, though, you have to season your pot to keep clean and free of rust. It doesn’t take much effort, just a little time. 

Emily, one of my characters in Crossroads, had to season her pot in one chapter. While she’s working, she’s thinking about how that pot reflects what’s going on in her life. She realizes that the people in her life are “seasoning” her life. I think it might be one of my favorite chapters. It involves cooking, friends, and another of my favorite characters, Ryder. 

It also reflects my life now as well. I’m “seasoning my pot” now. I’ve made a move recently to a place I love, South Louisiana. I’m surrounded by good friends, good times, and good food. Life doesn’t get much better than that. :) 

Here’s Emily “seasoning” her pot….

 

Chapter Twelve
Emily rubbed cooking oil along the inside of Ruby’s cast iron pot. She had cleaned out the rust, and it was time to finish “seasoning” it. The oven was preheated, and the pot wiped down with oil. All she had to do was let it sit in the oven for three hours. She would check on it periodically and put on more oil.
The pot made her think of Ruby, of all the meals she had cooked with her. It was time to cook a gumbo. Joey’s seafood gumbo had been great, but she was craving a chicken and sausage gumbo. She would make it from scratch, roux and all. Cooking was good for the soul, her grandmother had always said. Emily’s soul definitely needed some soothing. Today, it felt battered and broken.
After sliding the pot in the oven, Emily poured a glass of wine. Not one of the best brands, but when living on a tight budget, one could not be choosy. She flinched a little at the taste, added some lemon lime soda, and then tried again. Much better, she thought.
She remembered making her first roux with her grandmother. She had been impatient with all the stirring. She started to complain.
“That stirring is good for you, cher. You ain’t got nothing to do but think and stir. You know how many problems I’ve solved by making a roux? Most problems can be solved in the time it takes a roux if you just put your mind to it. And if you can’t solve it, maybe you need to spend some time prayin’ about it.”
Emily sipped some more wine. Maybe if she’d had taken time to cook a roux, she’d have solved more of her problems. More time? She snorted. When would she have found more time?
Feeling a little cooped up, she decided to enjoy some “porch time”. She grabbed a southern cooking magazine and her wine and headed outside. After corralling Oscar inside, she settled into the comfortable Adirondack styled chair. She propped her feet up on the railing and settled in to relax.
Eddie would’ve complained. “What do you think you’re doing? he would’ve asked. Never would he have actually thought about helping her with the cooking or the cleaning. Even when he had lost his job, he still felt like it was beneath him to help with what he considered “woman’s work”. He was content to lie on the sofa, drink, belch, and not do a damn thing.
She remembered a time when she had spent the whole morning trying to bring some semblance of order to the house. A wasted effort, she knew, but had tried anyway. Eddie had woken up from his stupor, stumbled around a bit, and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Moments later, he had passed back out on the sofa. His beer bottle had overturned, spilling dull brown beer over the sparkling clean floor she had just mopped.
Emily shook her head at her own stupidity. How had she lasted as long as she did?
Too long. But not anymore.
She took a sip of her wine and opened her magazine. She just scanned the pages. She dog-eared a few recipes she would like to look at again later. She needed to figure out what to do for dinner. Maybe she would make a simple tray of cheese and summer sausage. After dinner, she’d take Oscar for a walk down the beach. Maybe she’d take her bottle of wine too. She’d let him run and she’d drink her wine and sink her feet in the sand. She smiled at the thought.
Emily’s phone beeped. Great, it’s Eddie again, she thought. She looked at the phone and was pleasantly surprised to see she had received a text message from Carly.
“What’s up? Wanna drink?” the text read.
“Can‘t tonight, I just started seasoning a pot.”
“K. Cool. How about I come over?” Carly asked.
“C‘mon.” Emily responded.
“Be there in ten. Whatcha drinkin?”
“Wine.”
“I’ll bring a bottle! Girl’s night! C ya in 10.”
Emily smiled and set her phone down on the chair. That was definitely better than the text she expected from Eddie. Emily set the magazine down and stared off at the gulf. How nice it would be to actually have a friend to talk to. To laugh with. To just hang out with.
Soon, Carly was climbing the wooden step she had a bottle of wine tucked under one arm.
“It’s goin’.” Emily said. “You?”
“Been a long day. The regulars were wound up today. They get restless when they can’t go out and play. But they’re a fun group. I love them. ”
“Ahhh. I see.” Emily said as she got up to get a glass of wine for Carly.
She returned later she handed Carly a glass of wine.
Carly took a sip and leaned back in the chair, “Man, it feels good to sit down.”
“I bet. Looks like you work a lot of hours.”
“I do. But I like it. It’s fun and it keeps me out of trouble. Most of the time.”
Emily grinned; she could just about imagine. Carly had a vivacious attitude and personality that made Emily half-envious. Outgoing was not a word she had ever used to describe herself.
“Are you cooking something? Wish I could cook. I just don’t have the patience. I even tried stuff from that Homemade in Half an Hour Show. Hell, I didn’t even know what she was talking about half the time. The first time I tried a recipe from that show it took me two hours! And the mess! Joey glared at me for days. Sammy won‘t even eat my cooking.”
Emily laughed. “It‘s really not that hard. So, where‘s Sammy?”
“She went home with Joey today. I think she’d had enough social time. She was ready to curl up in her quiet bed and take a good nap. She may come back with him when he comes back later. It’s his turn to close up.”
Carly exhaled a deep breath then continued, “I needed a night off. But, I don’t know if I want to go home and sleep or go out.”
“Where do you go here when you go out?” Emily asked. This town had never been a hotbed of nightlife.
“Mostly the bar.” Carly laughed. “Not much of a choice here in town. We go to the Wild Wahoo. And sometimes to Jimmy’s just across the parish line. Occasionally, Joey, Noah, and I will take a night off and go to New Orleans. It’s been a while since we did that though. We are going to a Saints game soon. You should go!” Carly said.
“I might do that.” Emily found herself saying.
“We’ve all been busy getting this bar going. It’s about time, especially since we’ve been able to get into a routine and have good workers. But, it’s about time we took a little R&R.” When Carly drained her glass, Emily got up to get some refills.
When she got back, Carly had kicked off her flip-flops and was leaning back. She had propped her feet on the wooden ledge. The glittery purple polish on her toes contrasted the weathered gray wood.
“Ahh….I gotta do this more often.” Carly said, taking another sip. “Of course, I tell myself that all the time, and never seem to do it. So, Em.” Carly said, shortening her name the way Noah had, “What’s going on with you, with your love life?”
Emily was unsure how to answer that, “It’s complicated.”
“Aren’t they all?”
“And you?” Emily asked, diverting the attention.
“Nothing. I work too much, and I’ve given up on Prince Charming riding his white boat into our marina. Trying the online dating thing. Still not a lot of luck there either.”
“I’ve never done that. Must be interesting.” Emily said.
“You’re telling me. I could entertain you with stories about it all night. In fact, I’m writing a book on it right now. At this rate, I’m going to be that old lady with all the cats. And I don’t like cats.”
Emily laughed, “I’m sure you’ll be allright. It may be me that needs to start collecting cats. Although I’m not quite sure how Oscar would feel about that.”
“It’s so cool that you’re back. “ Carly said. “I know Noah, and Daniel and everyone else is glad to see you too. “
“I like Daniel.” Emily said. “It’s like having another Pops.”
“He is awesome.” Carly said. “He’s always listening to the million problems of my love life. And he‘s editing the book I‘m working on.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, he used to be in journalism. He’s good. And he keeps me writing.”
“Have you always wanted to write?” Emily asked Carly.
“Always. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I stopped for awhile, after…” Carly paused for a minute. Then she said, “Well, then I met Ryder and he inspired me to start again.”
“Ryder?” Emily asked. She had to hear this.
“Yes. I was down in the dumps one night and Ryder wrote a poem for me on a bar napkin. He’s a poet. Inspired, I went home that night and wrote a poem in response. I’ve been writing ever since. It’s one of the reasons I love him so much. I’ve told him many times that my first book will be dedicated to him.”
“I hope you get published, and then I can say I know an author.” Emily said.
“We’ll see. It’s a lot of work and some luck, I think. But the bar gives me a more flexible schedule and my dating life gives me plenty of material.” Carly laughed and finished off her glass. Emily went to go grab the rest of their bottle of wine.
Moments later, Emily was back out on the porch. She had checked on her pot while she was in there. Emily tried to remember the last time she had enjoyed a “girl’s night”. She couldn’t. She’d never made friends easily. Had always been quiet and shy. Eddie had never encouraged friends either. And her recent schedule left her no time for herself, much less friends.
Carly said, “It’s a beautiful night tonight. Be a great night to be out on the water.”
“I agree.” Emily said.
“One of these days we’ll have to get Noah to take us out on the boat. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that. We’ll have Joey cook, Noah can drive the boat, and we’ll drink and lay in the sun like slugs.”
“Sounds good to me.” And it did. She stretched lazily. She could get used to this new life very easily. Never had she been allowed this freedom to do as she pleased and not worry about anyone but herself.
“We’ll do it on a Sunday. Bar’s closed on Sunday. While we lay out like slugs, the guys can watch football. We’ll eat all day and watch the games.”
“Just let me know. It’s not like my schedule is full these days.”
Carly stood up, “Mind if I use the restroom?”
“That’s a beautiful blanket on your sofa.” Carly said when she returned.
“Thanks, it was my mother’s. My grandmother made it.”
“You miss them.” Carly said. “I miss Ben too.” Carly’s usually sunny face clouded for a moment, and then she shook it off, “But, let’s not dwell on the sad stuff. Let’s think about good stuff.”
“Like?” Emily prodded.
“Sitting outside, enjoying some fresh air and good company?” she asked.
“I’ll definitely drink to that.” Emily said as they clinked their glasses together.
The sun was just beginning to set. The sun was a light pink orb against a blue grey sky. Noah and Sadie walked along the beach. He spotted them on the porch and waved as he came over.
“What’s up?” he said when he got to the porch railing. He stood at the base of the stairs, not coming up yet.
“Enjoying a few drinks and some good weather. You?” Carly asked.
“Just getting off work and walking Sadie.”
“I see that. Want a drink?” Carly gestured to her glass.
He wrinkled up his nose. “Wine? Ewww. No thanks.”
“Go grab some beer then and come join us.”
He thought for a moment then nodded, “I think I will. Sounds so much better than just watching some TV by myself.” He walked off down the beach.
“So,” Carly said, “Noah’s single.”
Emily grinned, “Yes. He is.” Her grin disappeared as she turned the ring on her finger, “But, I’m not.”
Carly noticed her turn the ring, “Married, huh?”
“Yeah.”
“I take it not happily, since obviously he’s not here. And you’ve not talked about him once since you’ve been here.”
“No.”
“That sucks.”
“Yes. It does.”
“Noah’s still single though.” Carly said. “And, I know he’s my brother and all, but he’s not bad to look at. And he sure could use a good woman in his life.”
Emily grinned, “No, he definitely is not bad to look at.”
“Just something to think about.” Carly said. “And you guys kinda grew up together. You should have all kinds of stuff in common.”
Like she hadn’t already thought about that, Emily thought.
Noah reappeared with a six-pack in his hand. He put the beer on the railing and grabbed a bottle out.
“Don’t just stand there,” Carly said, “Come on up.”
He took a seat on the steps, not coming up onto the porch all the way.
“So, girls. What’s up?”
Carly answered, “I was just getting off work and heading home when I sent Em a text. She said she was here so I thought I’d come say hey.”
Noah nodded at the wine bottle between them, “And have a few.”
“Of course.” Carly said.
“How was work?” Noah asked Carly.
“Same as usual.”
“I don’t know how you do it.,” he said. “I couldn’t be around people all day like that. And be friendly anyway.”
He turned to Emily, “And you? How was your day?”
“It was good actually,” she said with a smile, remembering that morning. He smiled back, showing his dimples.
“That’s good.”
Sadie, finished with her business, came to meet Noah. After a quick look at him, she sauntered up on the porch. The huge dog took up the remaining space on the small porch. She greeted each person with a sloppy lick, and then went down to lie at Noah’s feet. Her ears perked up when she heard Oscar paw at the door.
“Won’t you let him out?” Noah said.
“I told you, he is crazy. If I let him out, who knows where he’ll go.” Emily protested.
“He’ll listen.” Noah said.
“Okay, but you get to chase him.” Emily said.
“Em, that’s what Noah used to do.” Carly said.
“Chase dogs?” Emily said skeptically.
“No, he worked with the military dogs in the Marines. Sadie was one of his working dogs.”
“Seriously?” Emily said.
“Yeah. He doesn’t like to talk about it too much.”
“So, Carly talks for me apparently.” Noah said, flashing Carly a look. Chastised, Carly looked away.
Emily, glad for the distraction, opened the door for Oscar and he immediately started to shoot out. Noah was fast though and had his collar grabbed before he could get far. After a few simple and soft commands, Noah had the dog sitting and staying. Having Sadie close by helped, Emily was sure. Oscar didn’t seem to want to go too far from her.
Noah finished off his beer and grabbed another one, “So, what do you ladies have planned for this evening?”
“You’re lookin’ at it.” Carly answered.
Emily simply rolled her shoulders. She had no clue what her plans were. Apparently, she was hanging out with Carly and Noah and living in the moment for a change.
Noah noted the magazine that was still resting on the arm of her chair, “Let me guess, my sister decided to come over here and make herself at home.”
“I texted first.” Carly protested.
Emily smiled, “Actually, I’m enjoying it.”
“See?” Carly said to Noah. She gestured to the empty wine bottle, “We’re out again. I’m going to sneak over and grab another. I’ll be right back. You two don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Noah gave Emily a wink as Carly left. “My sister is the classic social butterfly.”
“And you?”
“Not so much. I enjoy my solitude. A cold beer with good friends.” he used his beer to point to the two of them. “This is my idea of a good time. Not much into the bar scene. Too crowded. ”
“But, aren’t you part owner of a bar?”
“That’s more Carly’s thing. I just supported her. She’s had it pretty rough the last few years. We both have.”
He didn’t offer any more information and Emily didn’t ask. They drank in silence, watching as Carly came back over.
“I cleaned the shrimp and crabs this afternoon. Do you want me to bring you some?”
“Sure. I’ll cook something.”
“Cook?” Carly asked as she walked up with a bottle of wine under one arm.
“Yeah, we have some shrimp and crabs from our trip.” Noah said.
“Why don’t we cook them up tonight?” Carly suggested.
“We?” Noah asked, raising a dark eyebrow at his sister.
“Okay, I’ll just provide moral support. And drinks.” Carly smiled. “I’ll call Joey; we’ll make a night of it. And he can cook too.”
She picked up her phone to call Joey. After a quick conversation, she hung up. “He’s coming. I’m gonna grab some beer from the bar. I’ll meet ya’ll back over here. You want wine or beer?”
“Whatever you bring is fine.” Emily said.
“Cool.” Carly said. She slipped on her flip-flops and was gone.
“Any idea what you want to cook?” Noah asked her.
“Shrimp and crab obviously.” Emily said.
Noah grinned. “Obviously. How about grilling the shrimp? There’s a built in pit right over there. Joey does this thing where he wraps the shrimp in bacon with some pepper jack cheese. It’s really quite good.”
“That sounds awesome.”
“Well, I’ll wait for him, and we’ll run to the store to pick up whatever we need. What about the crab? Any ideas?”
“How about a crab dip? We’ll keep it simple.”
“Perfect.” he said, “Just make me a list and we’ll pick it up.”
“Sounds good.”
Carly walked up, Ryder beside her. “I found a straggler.” Carly said.
Ryder grinned, “Never turn down a meal from a pretty female. It’s a rule.”
Noah said, “You would if you’d eaten Carly’s cooking.”
“Yeah, but Carly’s not cooking. I know better than that.”
Carly grinned devilishly, “So, Emily, tell Ryder what you’re doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I sent you that text earlier. What did you say you were doing?”
“Seasoning my pot?” Emily asked.
“Yes, Ryder. Emily is seasoning her pot today.”
Emily groaned inwardly.
“Is that right?” Ryder asked her. “I bet I can help with that. I have just enough heat to season a pot.”
Emily shook her head, “Ryder, you‘re about to talk yourself out of a free meal.”
Ryder took his black cowboy hat off and put it on Emily’s head, “I think I’m beginning to like you, Miss Emily.”
………..
Soon, they made lists, the guys went to the store, Carly had poured more drinks, and the guys were crowded around the bbq pit, drinking beer and talking football. Emily had fixed the crab dip, and it was bubbling in the oven along with her seasoning pot.
Emily had sent Glinda a text, and she was on her way, with Daniel.
It was becoming a party.
Emily sipped her wine silently, just taking it all in. She kept one eye on Oscar who, unbelievably, was actually behaving himself. Sadie was a good influence on him. She kept him exercised and in check.
Carly got up to go turn the radio on in Joey’s Jeep. “What are we in the mood for tonight, guys?”
“Anything but country.” Noah said.
“How about some 80’s?” Carly asked.
“Fine. Stick to rock though. No Belinda Carlisle for me. No cheese, please.” Noah said, and Joey nodded.
Emily smiled. They had such a comfortable relationship borne from years of togetherness. They were solid, knew each other in and out, and knew that no matter what, they were there for each other. She felt a small pang of envy in her stomach. She had been gone too long to cultivate that kind of friendship with them.
Carly adjusted the radio to an 80’s station and soft music started drifting over to the small circle of chairs they had placed around the fire pit. Later, they would light a fire, Noah had promised as he had placed some firewood down earlier.
Carly and Emily propped their feet up on the rock edged fire pit and sipped their drinks. They watched as Noah and Ryder began setting up chairs and tables they had brought.
“Should we help?” Emily asked.
“Nah. They got that.” Carly said. “It’s our job to sit here and relax.”
“I can handle that.” Emily said.
Carly slid the sunglasses that usually held her blonde hair back down on her nose. “Man, it’s been too long since we did this. I can’t tell you the last time I sat and relaxed. You being here is already a good thing.”
Emily smiled, “Thanks, I guess.”
Glinda and Daniel walked up. Glinda had a bowl in her hands, and Daniel had a bag of French bread.
“Where should we put this, pretty ladies?” Daniel asked.
Carly pointed to the group of guys, “I think they’re putting all the food over there.”
“Have a seat, Glinda, and I’ll take this over there.” Daniel said.
Glinda joined Carly and Emily. “Want a drink?” Carly asked her.
“I’ll take a glass of wine.” she said.
Emily went and grabbed a glass and brought the wine bottle back with her.
“Here you go, Glinda.” Emily said.
Emily leaned back into the chair and sipped her drink.
Ryder walked over to them, a bowl in his hands. He slid into the seat with Emily, sitting on her lap. Emily looked at Carly, who just rolled her eyes.
“Look what I got, Miss Emily. Some potato salad. Wanna get naked?”
Emily shook her head, but laughed when she saw the devilish glint in his eyes.
“No.”
“Sure?” he asked, grinning.
“Positive.”
He sighed dramatically and unfolded his tall body from the seat. He went and set on the chair of Glinda’s seat. “What about you?”
Glinda slapped him on the arm, “If I were about twenty years younger, you’d be in trouble, young man. I’d wear you out! Now, go on and either eat that potato salad or put it up. There will be no wasting food.”
“Yes, ma’am.” he said, and tipped his hat at the women before he rejoined the guys.
Emily checked the time on her phone. She needed to check the crab dip, and put another coat of oil on the pot.
“I’ll be right back,” she told Glinda and Carly.
Emily pulled the hot pot out of the stove and put it safely on a folded dishtowel. She coated a big wad of paper towels with cooking oil.
She looked out the window as she worked. She looked out at Glinda and Carly visiting. Glinda was laughing at something Carly was saying. The guys were still standing around the BBQ pit. Her eyes caught Noah’s and he smiled at her.
She smiled back. Her life was so much better with these people in it. They were her “seasoning.” They added spice, comfort, and love to her life.
She finished up in the kitchen and headed back outside.
“Emily.” Noah called as she walked down the steps. “Come try this shrimp.”
Emily joined the guys at the pit. Noah had a bacon-wrapped shrimp in his hand that he held out to her as she walked up. He held it up to her lips. She hesitated for a moment, and then remembered her promise to herself. She would not turn away.
He popped the shrimp in her mouth. She closed her eyes in rapture. It was heavenly. The bacon, the cheese, the salty shrimp.
“That is incredible.” Emily said to Joey.
“Thanks.” Joey said, smiling.
“Emily!” Carly called and jogged up, Emily‘s phone in her hand. “You’re phone is ringing.”
Emily froze. It was Eddie. She reached out to grab the phone. Carly’s hand slipped, accidentally answering the phone.
“Emily?” She heard Eddie’s voice.
“Who’s that?” Ryder asked, looking at Carly.
“Who is that?” Eddie yelled. “Are you with a man?”
Emily was scrambling to hang up the phone, her hands shaking.
“YOU’RE SUCH A WHORE!” Eddie yelled.
Emily dropped the phone, and was bending down to pick it up, but Ryder beat her to it.
“What did you just say?”
“Oh…Is that right?”
Emily’s stomach was in knots as she listened to the conversation.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. We don’t talk to women like that.”
Emily watched as Ryder’s eyes flashed. “My name is Ryder. R-Y-D-E-R. And I’m right here in Bon Chance, Louisiana. You come right on down. I‘ll be glad to continue this conversation.” He hung up the phone and handed it to Emily.
Emily’s stomach rolled. She was speechless. She felt Noah’s presence beside her. His hand was on her elbow.
“C’mon, Em. Let’s take a walk. Let’s go get some air.”
Emily let Noah lead her away. She heard the group talking as she left.
“Oh my God.” said Carly, “I didn’t mean to answer the phone.”
“What a dick.” said Ryder. “I hope he shows up here.”
“Poor girl.” said Joey.
Their pity and concern made Emily feel worse.
Noah led her a little ways down the beach. Out of sight and hearing from the group.
“Lean over.” he said. “Put your hands on your knees.”
She looked at him questioningly.
“Trust me.,” he said.
She did as he instructed.
“Now. Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out,” he said. “Say it to yourself as you do it. Breathe in. Breathe out.”
He crouched down beside her, and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Breathe in. Breathe out.”
It worked. Slowly, Emily felt the tension leave her body. Her breathing regulated. She opened her eyes.
“Now, sit down.” he said.
Emily was glad to do it. Her legs still felt shaky. Noah sat down beside her. He didn’t touch her though. He let her keep her distance.
Emily put her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands. She stared at the sand. At her feet. At anything but Noah.
“Why?” she asked.
Noah said nothing. Didn’t ask “why what?” He just sat there.
“I was just standing there in my house. I was looking at all of ya’ll. And I was happy. For the first time in months. I was happy. I forgot what happy even felt like.”
She lifted up her face to look at him.
“How sad is that? How sad is that someone forgets what happy is?” Emily felt tears well up. “He ruined it. He ruined my perfectly happy day. He humiliated me. I am so embarrassed.”
“Why, Emily?” he asked.
“Why?” she asked.
“Why are you embarrassed? You did not do anything wrong.”
“But…”
“But, nothing. That’s his bad behavior. That has nothing to do with you.” Noah said. “You can’t control that.”
“But, it’s my fault.”
“No, Emily. It’s not. As far as I can tell, you did absolutely the right thing by coming home. You don’t deserve to be treated like that.”
She gave him a shaky smile. “You are right.”
“Yes. I am.” he smiled back. “You okay?”
“I will be,” she said.
“Yes. You will.” he reached out then and pulled her close. Emily rested her head on his shoulder for a second, and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, and knew that he was right. She would be okay.

The rest of the group had gathered around the fire pit when they returned. Someone had gone ahead and built a fire.
“You just went out two nights ago.” Joey was saying to Carly.
“That was a date, Joey,” she said. “That was not relaxing. I spent the night trying to get rid of a troll. I really have to remember to check height next time. It was not fun having a conversation with a man who was eye level with my boobs. I don’t think he remembers a word I said.”
A shadow flashed on Joey’s face, and then he looked up to see Noah and Emily walking up.
“Hey, ya’ll! We were waiting on you guys to eat. The food’s all ready.”
“The crab dip!” Emily exclaimed. She had forgotten about it.
“I got it, cher.” Glinda said.
“And I took care of your pot.” Ryder grinned. “Looks to me like it needs some more seasoning. It’s not hot enough. It needs some spice.”
Emily smiled. “My pot is fine.”
She looked at the group of them, and looked at Noah. “It’s seasoned perfectly.”

………………………….
After they had finished, Joey asked, “S’mores anyone?”
Glinda yawned, “I think I’ll pass, but thank you. I think I’ll be heading back up the house.” Daniel nodded also.
“I’d love some S‘mores.” Emily said after Daniel and Glinda had said their goodbyes. She hadn’t had S’mores since she was a kid and her grandparents had taken her camping. They had stayed up making wishes on falling stars and stuffing themselves with chocolate and marshmallows. She remembered one particular wish when she was sixteen. She had wished that Noah Devereaux would kiss her. She smiled. She looked up at the stars and again wished that Noah Devereaux would kiss her. Damn the consequences.
Interrupting her thoughts, Joey tossed her the bag of marshmallows. Noah handed her a weathered stick with a point whittled at the end. She scooted her chair closer to the fire so she could reach. Noah reached for the bag and soon all of them were cooking their marshmallows in relative silence.
“Damnit!” Carly said, shaking out the burning mass on the end of her stick.
“Seriously, Carly?” Joey said. “How do you mess up s’mores?” He grabbed her stick, “Here let me do it.”
She snatched it back, “I can do it.”
Emily glanced at Noah, who only shook his head at her and sipped his beer. Oscar and Sadie, done with their beach inspection and finding all satisfactory, came back to the fire and settled in between Noah and Emily. Oscar sniffed at the stick with the marshmallow on it, but finding it lacking, laid his head down.
Carly and Joey finished their argument and settled back into their seats. Carly stubbornly ate her burnt s’more while Joey laughed at her. “I told you to let me do it.”
She gave him an evil look and finished her s’more. She licked the gooey marshmallow off her fingers then looked at the group, “So, how bout we all do a bar crawl? We’re all off. What do you think?”
Noah said, “Why do we have to do anything? Let’s just relax for now.”
“Okay.” Carly said. “But, soon. We need to take Emily out and show her the sights.”
“We will.” promised Noah.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully. Ryder left early. It was ladies night at Jimmy’s. And they had a live band. So, that just left the four of them. Soon, lulled by the fire, the food, and the company, Emily found herself stifling a yawn.
“It is getting late.” Noah said. “I think I’m about ready to turn in myself. Joey? You want to help me get this stuff cleaned up?”
The four of them made quick work of the mess, and soon Carly and Joey were hugging Emily bye. Noah walked Emily up the stairs to her door. Stopping in front of the door, Emily stopped and looked up at the stars. She wished Noah Deveraux would kiss her.
“Noah?” Emily said. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.”
Emily looked up into his eyes. Emily saw his eyes darken in the pale light of the moon. He leaned over.
Whore!
Emily flinched and turned away. Noah took a step back. She could see the confusion in his eyes.
“Noah, Noah. I’m sorry.”
A sad smile flickered across his lips. “It’s okay, Emily. Good night.”
Emily watched as he whistled for Sadie, then climbed in his truck and drove away.

 

 



{August 5, 2014}   Scary Story Entry #2

Gray Line Tours in New Orleans is having a contest. Every week they post a picture and a prompt, which you must write an ending of 100-150 words. The winner of this contest will receive free passes to a ghost camp held at the haunted Bourbon Orleans hotel. Now, I think this is a fun idea! I love New Orleans, and am always looking for a reason to go!  Here’s my second entry for their contest.

nola2

I turned my head slowly to the side.

It was him.

I had seen him at night watching me from the murky shadows of the French Quarter as I walked home from my job as a bartender on Bourbon Street.  I noticed him at first, because his long black coat was so out-of-place on such a warm, humid night.  It was an old-fashioned coat, much like you would see in the old black and white movies. I wondered if he was an actor, or a tour guide for one of the many ghost tours that trekked through the Quarter every night. Any of these were possible. It was New Orleans after all.

His hand moved from mine. He covered his lips with one finger, motioning for me to be quiet.

I froze.

The hunt was over.

 

Here’s to hoping I win!

I’m out!

(Want more information on the ghost camp or Gray Line Tours? Check out their Facebook Page

 

https://www.facebook.com/GrayLineNola/reviews )

 

 

 

 



{July 31, 2014}   Ghost Story Contest Entry

Ran across this story contest this morning. I’m always up for a trip to New Orleans, so I decided to give it a shot. Winning entry receives two free passes to the Ghost Camp at the Haunted Bourbon Orleans hotel. That would definitely be an interesting experience! 

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The grinning face stared at me from the darkness beyond my bedroom window. I live on the 14th floor. Lucy was her name. Her dark hair billowed around her shoulders much like it would have centuries ago. She was a resident here, just like I was. The Gilded Lily, the hotel I owned, was now a popular French Quarter hotel. Years ago, however, it had been a bordello, and Lucy was the owner. When the yellow fever raged through New Orleans, Lucy took in the sick. She soon succumbed to the illness as well. But, Lucy never left the Gilded Lily. And neither did her lover, Tobias. Both were seen frequently around the hotel, Tobias in the bar where he had always sat. Lucy roamed the halls, still checking on her girls, and the sick. I placed my hand on the cold glass. Lucy smiled at me again and slowly faded away.



Emily cracked open the sunroof on her SUV a she hit the highway. It was a beautiful fall afternoon and the sun was welcome warmth on her pale face. She had worked the night shift for so long; she had forgotten what the sun felt like. She tuned a rock station on her radio and turned it up. No sad country songs for her today.

Emily was going home. But, what would she do when she got there? She would figure that out when the time came. One step at a time, she told herself.

“Don’t go borrowing trouble.” Ruby would say.

Emily’s mind drifted as the miles ticked away. She thought of the drive she had taken from Lafayette with her grandparents after her parent’s funeral. She was twelve then. Her feet hurt from the new shiny black shoes, and the lacy material on her dress scratched her back. Her Grandpa had the Cajun music channel on. The lively sounds of the accordion were a contrast to the somber mood in the late model Ford. Twenty-three years later, Emily was making the move again. And again, it was with little more than the clothes on her back and a few prized possessions.

As she drove south through the small towns of south Louisiana, memories flashed like the faded yellow dashes on the highway. She remembered the excitement of summers. The days of playing on the beach, fishing with her dad, campfires at night. When vacation was over, and her parents went back to Lafayette, she had often stayed for the remainder of the summer with her grandparents. After her parents died, she’d moved in with them permanently. It was then in her grandmother’s kitchen, that Emily developed her love for cooking. She’d spent many hours in that old kitchen with Grandma Ruby. Ruby had taught her how to make a roux from scratch.

“No roux in a jar for me no, cher,” Ruby would tell Emily. Emily would stir with that old, stained wooden spoon for so long; sometimes she thought her arm was going to fall off.

Emily smiled at the memory. How long had it been since she’d made a gumbo? Too long, she thought.

She wondered how much Bon Chance had changed since she was last there. Two major hurricanes had trampled the coast since. Emily knew that the town would be different. She wondered if her house was even still standing. She shook her head. She refused to think about what would happen if it weren’t.



401

Twenty-two days ago, I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday. I have to admit, it freaked me out just a little bit. Seems like you spend your twenties trying to find your place in the world. When you finally do that, you realize that you don’t really know who you are. So you spend the thirties trying to figure that out. So, what about the forties? What do you try to find then? Or, are your forties when you realize you don’t really have to look for anything? Is this quest for self-realization finally over? Then, why do some have mid-life crises? 

Not being forty yet, I don’t have any of those answers.

After reading a blog a few days ago by a person also turning forty soon, I’ve decided to adopt her strategy for the upcoming year. She has made a list of thirty things she would like to do before she’s forty. She left ten blank for reader suggestions, for a total of forty things she would like to accomplish in the next year. 

I already have two bucket lists, a musical bucket list and a list of things I want to do when I return to Louisiana. So, forty seems like a lot on top of what I’ve already committed to. I did try to merge the three as much as possible. Multi-tasking is always a good thing. I came up with twelve. I figure one a month for the next twelve months is completely achievable. Each one would make this last year of my thirties, one of the best years ever. Instead of mourning the end of a decade, I’m going to send my thirties out on a bang! :) 

My Twelve? 

1. Go somewhere I’ve never been before. See a town I’ve never seen. I want to see Galveston or Austin. Both are within driving distance. 

2. See my name in print again. I want to publish an article, or maybe even my book will finally be on it’s way to being published. Quite possible, considering that an agent has requested the full manuscript. 

3. I want to finish the novel I’m working on now. I have 45,000 words to go. 

4. See one band on my musical bucket list. Will it be Jimmy Buffett, Alice in Chains, Sarah McLachlan, Kiss, Mumford and Sons, or someone I add in the future?

5. Learn something new. I’ve always wanted to learn to Cajun dance. Sometimes, it just isn’t fun to sit on the sidelines. I feel a little like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. Baby is in the corner. Well, this Baby needs to learn how to dance and get out there and dance with a fine hunk of a man. I’ve also wanted to learn how to make sushi at home. I love to cook and try new recipes, and rolling my own sushi looks like a challenge I’d like to tackle. 

6. I wan to see the ocean again. I have such an affinity for the ocean. I can sit for hours by the water, watching the tide roll in and out again. I love waking up and watching the sun over the water. Maybe it’s the Cancer in me, but this water sign loves to be near the water. 

7. See a symphony or other great live performance. I would love to go to a performing arts center and see a Broadway play like Wicked.

8. Apply for my passport. One day, I will travel to Bali or Europe. But, one must have a passport first. So, a passport will be something I may need for my forties. 

9. Do one thing that requires me to dress up. I’ve always wanted to attended the Apollo Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette. Dress up, have fun, wear my hair up and a gown. Party down like Gatsby. 

10. Stick to an exercise routine. Would be nice to look as good in my forties as I did in my early thirties. 

11. Buy one good original piece of art. I want a piece of art that represents South Louisiana. Maybe a painting of the French Quarter. Or a drawing of a park in Lafayette. 

12. This last one I’m leaving free for an “oh yeah” moment. One of those things when someone mentions something, or you see something on television, or hear a song, and you think, “I’ve always wanted to do that. Maybe it will be one wild and crazy spontaneous road trip. Or a trip to Vegas (maybe I’ll get married by Elvis), maybe it will be trip to New York to meet my agent and editor. Who knows? With me, one never knows. 

All in all, I want to sit here a year from now and think, Thirty-nine! Wow! What a ride! 

Here’s to Hunter S. Thompson, that wild and crazy writer. One of my favorites! 

Cheers!

I’m out!

Like this blog? Check out my inspiration for this blog. 

http://40x40n15.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 



{July 20, 2014}   A Supernatural Soundtrack

 

super

Supernatural is one of my absolute favorite television shows. The writing is witty. It’s filled with one-liners and snarky comments. And I just love snarky humor. The main characters are cute, to say the least. But, what I love the most about this show is the MUSIC! The music in this show is phenomenal. To me, this show has one of the best soundtracks on television.  Check these out. 

1. “Carry on My Wayward Son”, Kansas

2. “Crossroad Blues”, Robert Johnson

3. “Rooster”, Alice in Chains

4. “Renegade”, Styx

5. And my favorite, “Eye of the Tiger”, Survivor

If you haven’t watched an episode yet, you definitely should check this show out. The story line and writing is just as good as the music. 

Peace!

I’m out!

 



I love stories set in New Orleans, so I decided to write my own. This will eventually be a Love Boat style series set in a haunted French Quarter hotel. This is the first chapter. :) 

Chapter One
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” Josephine Jacobs, or J.J., said automatically as she heard a customer approach the front desk.
Holy crawfish! J.J thought as she looked up from the elegant front desk of the New Orleans hotel and fell head over hormones into lust.
“Checking in.” said the object of her affliction, “Name’s Rhett. Rhett Butler.”
This is bad. J.J. thought. I’m about to climb over this desk and molest a customer with a fake name.
“Rhett Butler?” J.J. asked, raising an eyebrow. She blew a lock of hair out of her face and hit some keys on the computer keyboard. J.J. looked up at him. Again, she was hit with a white-hot wave of lust. His head was shaved underneath a black ball cap. Black tribal tattoos wrapped around arms the size of Amazonian anacondas. He wore a simple black t-shirt and fashionably tattered blue jeans. His eyes were deep brown as was his five o’clock shadow. He was just her type, masculine and ragged around the edges.
“What can I say, my dad was a Gone With the Wind fan.” he replied.
“Is that right?” J.J. asked.
“Yes ma’am.” He said leaning in over the desk, closer to J.J. “You look like a woman that should be kissed. And often….” His smoky voice trailed off.
“And by someone who knows how.” J.J. finished for him breathlessly. She took a deep breath and stepped back. “You are in the Red Light Suite, Mr. Butler. Are you here for the Voodoo Music Festival?”
“Yes, I am.”
Her eyes met his and the air between them sizzled. The flame seemed to burn the oxygen out of the air, leaving her feeling light-headed and half giddy. She sucked in a breath, catching a whiff of his woodsy cologne. She closed her eyes as the floor seemed to shift.
She exhaled a breath and choked out, “This key unlocks both your room and the gate to your private courtyard. Enjoy the festival and your stay with us. If you need anything,” J.J. cringed inwardly as her voice broke on the word anything. “Don’t be afraid to call the front desk.”
J.J. held the key out, and Rhett’s fingers brushed hers as he grabbed it. His fingers moved slowly and deliberately over hers as he took it.
Anaconda Arms, aka Rhett Butler, pocketed the key. “If I need any….thing,” he winked at her. “You’ll be the first one I call, Miss?”
“Jacobs,” she replied, “J.J.”
“J.J.” he said, then nodded toward the brass plated sign over her shoulder, “Complimentary Happy Hour?” he asked.
“Yes. At six.”
“Will you be off?”
“Maybe.” she said smiling. Damn right she would be, she thought, she was only covering the front desk while Andrea took a break.
A smile flashed across his face, “Maybe I’ll come down then.”
J.J. watched as he disappeared into the elevator. Something about him seemed familiar. Who was he? He was not Rhett Butler, and he wouldn’t be the first person to
That Voodoo That You Do, Short Long Series Contemporary/3
check in under a fake name.
“J.J.” someone was calling her name.
“J.J.”
“What?” she snapped. She shook her head and looked to see who it was. It was Zoey and J.J. instantly felt bad. The twenty-something bartender, was smiling at her from the adjoining door of the hotel’s lounge.
“I’m sorry, Zoey.” J.J. said “What is it?”
“He was hot, huh?” Zoey teased, flashing a pierced eyebrow in the direction of the elevator.
J.J. frowned at her and started needlessly straightening the top of the Queen Anne desk. “Isn’t it time for your shift? What did you do to your hair?” J.J. asked Zoey, gesturing to the streak of burgundy in her dark hair.
“I dyed it this morning. Do you think Dean will notice?” she asked.
J.J. smiled, “If he doesn’t, he’s blind.”
“I hope so.”
“It looks good.” J.J. said.
“About tonight, you can handle the delivery from Jagneaux’s today. Just leave the invoice by the register. I’ll pick it up after happy hour.”
“No problem. Are you coming down for happy hour tonight?”
J.J. thought of Rhett. She wouldn‘t miss happy hour tonight for the world. “Yes.”
“Good. Tobias has been unusually rowdy lately.”
“He’s probably fussing with Lucy again. You know how they are. I’ll come down
keep any eye on things.”
“Good. He doesn’t listen to me. He almost broke the beer mugs last night.”
“Tobias doesn’t really listen to anyone. But, I’ll come down and check it out.” J.J. said and turned her attention to the couple walking through the door.
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” J.J said.
As the desk clerk returned from her break, J.J. checked the time on the slim gold watch on her wrist. Five o’clock. She had an hour to go to her room, shower, and change for happy hour. J.J. started mentally rifling through her closet. What would she wear?
J.J. gave the lobby a last look. Every detail from the elaborate crystal chandelier, to the tapestry wall hangings, to the tall white and blue flower arrangements had been chosen by a Jacobs. The hotel had been in the family for generations. A former Jacobs had purchased The Gilded Lily, a former bordello, and opened it as a hotel.
J.J. grew up here and now ran this hotel taking over after her mother retired. When other hotels around had been bought out by big companies, her family had held on. And for that J.J. was grateful.
Satisfied that everything was as it should be, J.J. smiled and headed to her suite.

After her shower, J.J. donned a soft, white, robe and stepped out of the bathroom. Her blonde hair was wet and floating around her shoulders. She thought again of Rhett, or
whatever his name was. This man was already taking up too much parking space in her mind. She didn’t have time for this distraction. She was still in men-o-pause after her last dating disaster.
Like the proverbial moth to the flame, and despite men-o-pause, she headed to her closet anyway. Maybe she should take a pause from taking a pause from men.
“What do you think we should wear tonight?” she asked as she stared into her closet.
Silently, a slinky black little number slid off a hanger and onto the floor.
She picked it up, “No, not this, not yet. It’s just happy hour.” She said. “Something else.”
A tight black shirt covered in silvery sequins was next to fall to the floor. J.J. sighed and put it back on the hanger.
“Lucy, seriously.” She said. “Something less dramatic.”
A red sweater was next to fall. It was one of her favorites. It hugged her curves and showed a slight tease of cleavage. “This is perfect. Thanks, Lucy.”
She smiled as she laid the sweater and a pair of slim black slacks on her bed and crossed back into her bathroom. With her sliding glass doors open to the courtyard, she could hear music. Someone was strumming a guitar in the courtyard. The melody hit J.J. in the stomach. It was the song she had listened to repeatedly while going through her divorce.
“No, it can’t be.” she said and inched toward the courtyard balcony.
Someone started to sing softly and J.J.’s knees went weak.
She now knew who Rhett really was.

 

 

 

 

 

 



{July 15, 2014}   Musical Bucket List

As a music lover, I have been extremely lucky. I have been able to see many of the bands I’ve wanted to see. I have sang (and sometimes screamed) along with most of my favorite artists as they’ve played my favorite songs live. I told someone recently that I had a musical bucket list and they asked me who was on it. I was actually stumped. I had to sit and think about what bands I wanted to see that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet. And I came up with five (and one bonus).In true Alisha fashion, they’re all over the musical genre. 

 

1. KISS (In full make-up and costume)

A friend of mine was able to attend their concert just this last week. I am absolutely green with envy. 

 

2. Jimmy Buffett (on a beach or in a boat)

Great music, the beach, and a drink in my hand. Life wouldn’t get much better than that!

 

3. Mumford and Sons

One of my new favorite bands, I haven’t been able to catch them in concert yet. Love their energy!

 

4. Sarah McLachlan

Love her voice and her lyrics. She is an excellent songwriter. 

 

5. Alice in Chains

Wish I could have seen them when Layne Staley was still alive. But, definitely still a band I will see one day. 

6. Staind/Aaron Lewis

Okay, okay, so I have seen Staind and Aaron Lewis multiple times, but it’s always a great show and one of my absolute faves.

 

I think that’s pretty good for a musical bucket list. Will definitely have to see how many of these great shows I can cross off my list. :) 

For now, I’m out!

Peace!



{July 13, 2014}   Crossroads, Chapter One

I’ve had several requests lately to read my novel. Here’s chapter one! :) Enjoy!

Chapter One
            Emily Breaux watched from the window as a Lafayette Parish squad car rolled to a stop in her driveway.
            Oh no, she thought, what had Eddie done now?
            Emily’s heart beat faster as the deputy walked toward the door with papers in his hand.
            “Mr. or Mrs. Edward Breaux?” he asked when she opened the door.
            “I’m Emily Breaux,” she said.
            “These are for you and your husband. You have thirty days from today to vacate the premises.”
            “What?” she asked.
            “Sorry, ma’am.” The officer tipped his hat and turned, leaving her in the driveway.
            She stormed back into the house with the notice shaking in her hands. As usual, Eddie was sleeping off his drunk on the sofa.
            “Eddie?” she asked, shaking his shoulder. She wrinkled up her nose as the scent of stale beer wafted up from his body. “Wake up. We have a problem.”
            “What?” he slurred and rolled back over. His arm swung out and she flinched. She took a step back and shook him harder. “Wake up!”
            “What!” he said, finally waking up.
            She held out the papers. “You were supposed to take care of this.”
            “Take care of what?”
            “The rent, Eddie! I’ve been giving you the money! What were you doing with it?”
            He mumbled something she couldn’t understand.
            “What?” she asked.
            “I needed some extra cash.” he said.
            “So you used the rent?” her voice rising. She was filled with panic and rage.
            “I’ve been having drinks with some HR guys in the oilfield, trying to make some contacts. You told me to get a job.”
            “So you spent our rent. All of our rent?”
            “Jeesh, Emily, I was trying to get a job. You can make it up. You can work extra shifts.”
            “Extra shifts, Eddie? Have you not noticed that I’m already working extra shifts?”
“We’ll talk about this when I get back.” Not wanting to be late for the extra morning shift she had agreed to take, Emily folded the thick papers and shoved them under her arm.
“Why can’t you just borrow the money from your job?” he had said as she was leaving.
            “Why can’t you call your sister?” she responded. “I’m sure she would want to help.”        
 “I’m not calling Amy.” he said. “She doesn’t even know I lost my job.”
            “I’ve got to go to work Eddie. You have to figure out something.”
            “Me? Why me? You’re the one with the job.”
            “Yes, the one I’m about to be late for. I have to go.”
            “Bring home some food, will you? There’s nothing in this house to eat.”
            Emily gritted her teeth and resisted the urge to slam the door as she left. 
 
She was on her way home from work, stopped at a red light. She stared at a billboard. She didn’t want to go home. What was at home? It was not where her heart was anymore. Tears streamed down her face. The tears had nothing to do with the Gulf Coast travel site being advertised. It had everything to with the eviction notice still sitting on the passenger side seat. Lying there were six pages of papers with one simple message. They were homeless.
“Run away to the coast!” the billboard urged. Emily wished she could.
She blinked as the stop light changed from red to green. Two more turns and she’d be home. Ten more minutes at the most. What was she going to do? It wouldn’t matter really. It would all be her fault anyway. Eddie would blame her as he always had. It was her fault business had slowed down at the diner where she worked the night shift. It was her fault the prices on everything had gone up, yet her income hadn’t. Everything was always her fault. She sighed.
            One turn, five more minutes and she’d be home.
            At the last stoplight, she brushed a tear away and absently brushed her hair out of her eyes. She was tired. Bone tired, her grandma Ruby would say. How she missed Ruby! She could use a cup of her special cure-all tea and her wisdom. Emily thought of the hours she had spent in the porch swing on that wrap-around porch simply day-dreaming of the future. Never did she imagine her life would’ve turned out this way.
Emily glanced into the rear view mirror. Her limp brown hair framed brown eyes that were red and bloodshot from double shifts at the diner and from crying. Her face was drawn and pale. All the extra hours in the last few months had one advantage. She’d lost a few pounds and it showed. Her face was more angular, her cheekbones pronounced.
What was she going to do? Eddie was going to be furious. She refused to borrow the money from work. Her pride would not allow it.
            Last turn, then she’d be in the driveway. She’d almost rather be back at work than at home. She’d rather be anywhere but there.
            Emily pulled into the driveway and turned the car off.  Oscar, her black and white mixed-breed dog barked as she pulled up. Emily gave a tired smile as she saw his big eye poking through a knot hole in the wooden privacy fence.  One of Emily’s strays; she had taken the dog in when no one else wanted him. She would need to feed him and walk him later; let him work off some of his exuberance. She’d scratch him behind his big, black ears, until he tapped his feet.
            Unwilling to go in, Emily sat in the car. She thought again of Ruby, of the safety and security of her family’s home. Was it even still standing after that last hurricane? She’d never had the time to find out.
“Run away to the coast!” the billboard flashed again in her mind.
Emily pulled her tips out of her pocket. She counted them, wondering if it would be enough. Just enough to get there. That’s all she needed. Out of habit, she stuffed the cash in her bra. Eddie wouldn’t look there. He’d have to touch her to do that, and only heaven knew how long that had been.
  She slid out of the car, wincing at the pain in her hip; a painful reminder of one of Eddie’s drunken “accidents”. As she got out of the car, she absently hiked up her jeans. They were no longer snug. She would need to buy new ones soon. That was another expense she didn’t need.
            She rubbed her hip with a sigh and decided it was time to go in. One could delay the inevitable for only so long. She opened the door to the house. Eddie was snoring on the couch. She held the notice in her hand. The house was dark, darker than it should be. She flicked the light switch. Nothing happened. She looked around. The appliances were silent. The clock on the microwave was blank.
           The electricity was off. Another bill Eddie had not paid.
            Eddie was passed out on the sofa. Empty beer bottles were scattered around him like bowling pins. Some up, some down. Eddie had never been good at bowling. She snorted. He wasn’t good at anything these days unless it involved drinking, sleeping, or self-pity. Emily thought of her plan to open her own restaurant one day. Cooking was her passion. Eddie’s was drinking. And she was slowly drowning in his passion.
Emily glanced into the kitchen at the dishes piled in the sink. The trash was overflowing and littering the cracked linoleum around it. Empty take-out boxes littered the counters and spilled onto the floor. Emily ate most of her meals at the diner. This mess was all Eddie’s, and Eddie always left others to clean up his messes.
            Her nose twitched. She was disgusted. She liked things clean. Her co-workers teased her at the diner because she was always cleaning, wiping things down, mopping.  This kitchen, the entire house was anything but. It would take more than a day and a gallon of cleaner to make this house clean. When had it gotten so bad?
            Emily glanced at Eddie again. He was snoring peacefully on the sofa, not a care in the world. “A not-so-pretty sleeping beauty” surrounded by twelve brown drunken dwarves. He let out a beer belch, and she thought of Shrek, the big green ogre in his swamp. A jack-ass for a friend. She was living her own twisted fairy tale. Was she the jack-ass or the princess?
            What was she going to do? Rescue them again? Use the tips she’d saved to pay the light bill? If she hurried, she could make it to the utility company before the office closed. But what about the rent? What about thirty days from now?
            Emily walked down the hall to their bedroom. Without even thinking, she grabbed her suitcase. She packed a few changes of clothes along with her toiletries. She pulled her Grandma Ruby’s Bible out of the bookshelf and opened it. Flipping through the pages, she turned to her Grandma’s favorite verse.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
She smiled for the first time. She glanced at the series of numbers at the bottom of the page. It was her Grandma’s savings account number. Emily had never told Eddie of the money that was tucked away in a small bank in Bon Chance, knowing what he would do with it. Her tips would take her home and this money would give her a cushion until she figured out what to do.
            Emily looked around the room for what she knew would be the last time. What would she take? Two pictures mocked her from the night stand. One was her wedding picture, a moment of happiness captured in black and white. She and Eddie were happy then. That was before he’d been passed up for that promotion.  He’d worked for ten years for that company, and they’d given his job to someone younger, a woman, in an attempt to make the company more politically balanced. He’d self-medicated his depression and anger with alcohol. After too many call-ins, and too many drunken mornings, and showing up with liquor on his breath, he lost his job. And it was all her fault.
            Emily crossed the room, stepping over mounds of dirty laundry. She picked up the picture. Her smile, her youth, mocked her. She was 21 then. Now, she looked fifty-one and felt it too.  She was too young to feel that old. Amazing what a difference a few years could make. She looked at the picture, and then looked at her suitcase. Should she take the picture? No, she’d leave that for Eddie. Let him be reminded. She was too exhausted to look back.
            Instead, she grabbed a second picture, the picture of herself at the beach with her grandparents. The sun was to her back, a golden halo surrounding her smiling face. She was laughing at some joke her Pops made. Her grandma Ruby snapped the picture. That was the person she wanted to be again. She wanted that smile. She wanted those clear, bright brown eyes again. Not the tired eyes she had now, with the brown smudges underneath, a testament to her sleepless nights from worry and long hours at work. She wanted, more than anything, to simply rest for a while. She wanted a second chance, a “do over”.
She placed the second picture among the few clothes she tossed in the suitcase. Carefully, she placed Ruby’s Bible on top. She took one last look around, knowing whatever she left, she’d probably never see again. Tears welled up, and she stubbornly pushed them away.
            She carried her suitcase quietly down the hall. She didn’t want to wake the “Sleeping Beast”.
            What was she going to do?
            She threw the notice on his round belly and walked out the door.
            She was no jackass.



et cetera
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