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Affairs, Fibs, and Felonies


by Laura Kennedy

The Breeding of Lilacs

Barbie Bentley has everything a woman could want: two great kids, a gorgeous Mediterranean home on the West Coast of Florida, loyal friends, and of course, her husband Bud. Yet she’s unhappy, longing for a secret something that has to do with the emptiness in her heart.

Restless, she returns to college where she meets hunky Greek pre-med student, Nick Diamandis. Friendship morphs into an affair when an angry Barbie retaliates after Bud tears down her beloved backyard gazebo.

Life becomes stickier when friend Frances risks losing her waterfront mobile home to developers and asks for Barbie’s help. Discovering the site is the habitat of endangered sea turtles, she masterminds a protest march, giving residents time to obtain mortgage money to buy the property. But good intentions can lead to you-know-where, and Barbie ends a triumphant protest day in jail.

Relatively tranquil spring days are soon followed by more drama when friend Elaine is shot by her lover, and Barbie is suspected by a Coral Cove detective of being on the scene with Nick at the time of the shooting. Can things go any worse for Barbie?

Relatively tranquil spring days are soon followed by more drama when friend Elaine is shot by her lover, and Barbie is suspected by a Coral Cove detective of being on the scene with Nick at the time of the shooting. Can things go any worse for Barbie?


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Release Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary

Pink Satin Romance


Excerpt

Chapter One

I hid in the shadows of the dark gazebo, drinking the last of the Burgundy and thinking sexy thoughts. Surprisingly, they were about my husband. Was I feeling horny because I was woozy, or was it an almost forgotten biological urge?

My head back, I sucked the last drop of red and licked my lips, spilling my black cat to the gazebo floor. “We’ve played hooky long enough, Erskine. It’s time to go back to reality.” He answered with an understanding meow.

Empty bottle, wine glass, and cat in tow, I headed toward the house. Halfway, I paused to gaze at the endless stars in the chilly Coral Cove sky. Then I saw it, a brilliant streak, no more than a flash, ending in a burst like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

“A falling star. A real, honest to God falling star, Erskine.” Then, for no good reason, I was crying.

Make a wish, stupid. Isn’t that what falling stars are for? I wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my sweater. What should I wish for? I had everything—the kids, the house, friends, and of course, Bud. Yet I needed something and couldn’t put it into words. A secret something that had to do with the emptiness that, like a party crasher, had made a home in my heart.

I closed my eyes. Soon it came to me, like a beam from a star a trillion light years away. It was incredibly simple. All I wanted was to be happy. Truly happy. Somehow, when I opened my eyes, everything seemed different. Smiling, I crossed the lawn to the house.

In the kitchen, the blare of the TV could be heard from the den. The built-in-oven clock read nine-forty-five. Soon it would be the end of Bud’s Sunday TV marathon and hopefully the beginning of something akin to romance. I sneaked a look at Bud sprawled out in his black leather recliner like a man recently laid to rest. He looked up at me.

“Your eyes are all red. Have you been holding Erskine?”

“Only a little,” I lied.

“You know you’re allergic to cats. I don’t know why you insist on doing things you shouldn’t do.”

I shrugged. In spite of the criticism, I still felt horny and Bud was my only option. For a moment, I watched him glued to the TV. A commercial for Rooms to Go flashed across the screen. A dazzling blonde danced around singing “Tomorrow, tomorrow. We’ll deliver tomorrow.”

“Think I’ll take a shower,” I said, giving him what I hoped was a seductive look.

Bud looked up from the hypnotic blonde. His expression had morphed into a smile. There would be romance in the Bentley residence tonight.

Benji stirred from where he lay sleeping on the couch. “You go ahead, hon,” Bud whispered. “I’ll watch the end of this show, then steer tough guy to bed and be up.”

“Tomorrow, tomorrow.” My singing followed me up the stairs. A slice of light crept from under my daughter Brooke’s bedroom door.

“Good night, honey,” I called.

“Night, Mom.”

I undressed thinking of Bud. He could be awfully sweet sometimes. Maybe the lustless state of our marriage was my fault too. I shouldn’t be so mean. Instead, I needed to be sweeter, like the blonde in the Rooms to Go commercial.

I stepped into the shower, letting the warm spray of water caress my body. After drying off, I slipped into a cloud of black silk and Chanel No. 5. A glimpse in the mirror told me I looked not movie star perfect, but cute. I slipped under the covers and waited.

After what seemed forever, the sound of Bud’s footsteps echoed across the foyer, followed by the heavy thud of feet as he and our son climbed the stairs. There was the sound of Benji’s bedroom door closing.

The mattress rose and fell when Bud plopped down beside me. Through the dark, I watched my husband’s bulky outline. He’s a good father. He’s always been a good father.

Something resembling hope stirred inside me. Maybe it will be different this time. Maybe this time, it will be exciting. I had Bud’s lovemaking memorized. He never varied a kiss or a caress. It was as though he was performing a dance routine on stage. During the times our lovemaking had been interrupted, he’d always been able to pick up where he’d left off as though a choreographer said, “Okay, Bud, let’s pick it up at the shuffle-ball-change.”

I felt ashamed. Here my husband was trying to make love to me, and I was critiquing him. Maybe Bud was thinking the same thing about me. Barbie acts like a mechanical doll. She never varies a moan or an ooh. Maybe Bud was watching my performance in his head. Maybe I was one of those pitiful women who just lay there like a wet noodle. A bad lay. Wasn’t that what they called it?

Well, you could at least try, the little voice inside chided. After all, it was your idea. Right. I could think of another man. Hadn’t I read in Cosmopolitan that eighty-eight percent of women fantasized while having sex? There was no reason I couldn’t too.

Bud tugged at the ribbon tie of my lingerie while I frantically searched my mind for men. The trouble was I didn’t know any man I’d like to fantasize about. I led a very dull existence indeed. There must be someone. Brad Pitt, our old governor, Charlie Crist, Mr. Takamiru the produce manager at Publix. Then I knew.

Gorgeous and desirable, visible but unattainable. A mystery, I’d seen this luscious young Greek on campus. Picturing his face, I imagined running my fingers through the Man-Child’s dark ringlets and kissing his sensuous lips while he pressed his firm, young body against mine.

Soon the quiet of the room filled with my breathing. Starting slowly, it began to swell. I smiled, not daring to open my eyes for fear of losing my fantasy lover. Consumed in make-believe, I rode a wave of desire, my body ebbing and flowing, rolling with the currents that crashed against an imaginary shore.

Just let the surf bring you in. Let your body ride out the wave. Don’t fight it. I was almost there. Then, just when I was so sure of reaching it, Bud stopped.

I was alone, feeling as though I’d been thrown on shore like a beached whale. I still need to be there, I thought deliriously. Why can’t I still be riding the wave?

“Why?”

“What?” Bud’s voice cut through the darkness.

“Hmm?”

“You said ‘why’?”

“I did?”

Bud patted my hip and settled back on his pillow. “Honey, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you all evening.”

“There is?”

My heart lifted. Bud could communicate. Maybe he needed to tell me he felt lonely sometimes too. It didn’t matter I wasn’t satisfied.

“Yeah, do you happen to have a postage stamp?”

“A stamp?” My voice shook. “No, not on me.”

“Damn. I’ve got to get a bid off tomorrow to Miami on a huge waterfront condo project, and they want it mailed. If I get the contract, it will be the biggest deal I’ve ever had.”

I bit my lip to keep back the tears. “Sounds great.” I sat up and reached for my lingerie. “I think I’ll go watch TV.”

Bud didn’t answer. He was too busy building condos in his mind.

A stamp. Did I have a fucking stamp?

A tear ran down my cheek. “I’m through,” I said, my words challenging the darkness. I reached for the wrought iron railing on the stairs. “I don’t care anymore. I just don’t care.”

Three steps from the bottom, my foot landed on something soft. “Rrrrowww,” the something complained and ran through the foyer.

“Erskine, you could have killed me.” I wished I’d fallen, then Bud would have to pay attention to me.

I lay in the recliner in Bud’s den watching the cube of light from the TV through the dark. An old black and white movie, it had come to a romantic scene. The woman was blonde and the man was young and dark like the Man-Child. I thought of how I’d imagined making love to him and smiled. I’d never fantasized about another man before, and it had left me feeling strangely excited.

I closed my eyes and began to caress my body beneath my robe, imagining the gorgeous man I didn’t know. Soon I was riding the wave of desire again. Pleasure mixed with guilt. Why did they always seem to go together? Here I was, practically cheating on my husband one minute, and doing what my mother had taught me I should never do the next. My mother Donnie called it touching yourself ‘south of the border,’ the border apparently being one’s belly button. I gave a little shudder and smiled. I was good at keeping secrets. Bud and Mother would never know I’d practically committed adultery.

 

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