The Sophomore

I've been working on my second novel, my 'sophomore' effort. It's a much different experience in some ways...exactly the same in others. The main difference is this little thing called expectation.  When I wrote What if I Fly, I didn't have any expectations (other than to finish the damned thing!) and never once considered the expectations of others. I didn't know if there would ever be others reading it, so I put it out of my mind and wrote it purely for my own enjoyment.

The feedback was trickling in at first, a steady, peaceful stream. Now it's an avalanche of well wishes and praise, with everyone asking me the same question, over and over again...

WHEN IS YOUR NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?

No pressure! I'm working on it, and I'm enjoying the process just as much, trying to ignore that pesky voice in my head asking 'is it good enough?' 'will my readers like it?'. Then I remind myself... I'm doing this for me. If I'm always thinking about what everyone else wants, I'll never write an original word again.

The new book is not a sequel, and is tentatively called "As it Seems". It's about two couples who live next door to one another in Barrington, (an affluent community ten minutes south of Providence, RI), the challenges they face and sacrifices made to keep marriage together once the sparkle fizzles and life gets in the way of their relationships. In five words, this book is about love, betrayal, loss, hope, redemption (not in that order!).

Here's a little taste, pulled from the middle of the first chapter. Remember this is the FIRST DRAFT and forgive the formatting! I can't figure out how to fix it!

Excerpt from Chapter One:

When Libby met Ted, he was a political consultant at a firm in Boston. She was a graphic artist working in the art department at a big advertising agency in the Back Bay. As a rule, Libby avoids networking events like the plague, truly despises them, and still does. The purpose of going is to make new business contacts, but they are really meat markets for people looking to hook up. It would be one thing if the men were single, but in her experience, the majority are married men looking to get a little side action. She feels awkward enough in a room full of strangers, never mind being put on display for a roomful of horny men.

On this particular occasion, Libby caved to the pressure of her co-workers. She was going to be in Cambridge that night anyways, and could stop at The Meat Market (as she not-so-affectionately refers to these events) before heading to The Middle East, a nearby club. She’d been on a couple of dates with one of the musicians in the band playing the club that evening, and had plans to meet him later that night. At the time, she’d been going on a lot of first dates, but until she met Geoff, none of the men she went out with warranted a second one. She was twenty-five years old and not interested in wasting her time with someone who bored her, and figured her youth afforded her the luxury of being selective about the people she dated.

After the long hours she puts in at work, and the complete absence of a ticking maternal clock, she’d rather curl up on her couch with a cup of tea and a good book than make small talk with a stranger. Geoff was interesting and the dichotomy of his life intrigued her; stock broker by day, drummer by night. An unusual combination. She wouldn’t mind getting to know him a little better.

She arrived at the networking event with her colleagues but quickly found herself alone at the bar, sipping her vodka gimlet when she first saw Ted. He was holding court across the room, surrounded by a crowd of men and women who were enthralled by whatever tale he was in the midst of telling. Ted is the kind of man who is hard to miss. At six feet four, two hundred and ten pounds, his size commands attention, but his personality demands it. He is one hundred percent Irish, with thick wavy auburn hair and emerald green eyes. Born and bred in South Boston, he’s a natural storyteller with a voice that penetrates the din of any crowded room. That night he was weaving yarns that captivated his audience and had them peeling with laughter. Libby kept her distance, nursing her drink, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of him.

Halfway through one of his stories he locked eyes with Libby and smiled. She doesn’t know if she smiled back, but she certainly kept looking. When he finished his tale he excused himself from the crowd and walked over to the bar, leaning against the wood railing beside her. Libby felt her cheeks blazing with heat and stared into her drink, swirling the tiny black straw in circles. His voice took on a more natural tone than the one she overheard him use for storytelling as he introduced himself.

“Hi. Ted Sullivan.”

He extended his hand toward her and grinned. She looked into his brilliant green eyes and gave him a tentative smile. He wasn’t the best looking man in the room, but he literally oozed confidence, something Libby had in short supply. She nodded and shook his hand, then took another sip of her gimlet, noticing the leggy blond who had sidled up beside him and the gorgeous brunette behind him, both anxious to make their move on Ted.

He laughed, apparently waiting for her to offer up her name, and realizing it wasn’t forthcoming asked, “And you are…?”

The mob seemed to gravitate toward him, the empty spaces around them quickly filling in until a semi-circle was formed, five people deep. Ted didn’t appear to notice the growing crowd encircling them, which meant he was either oblivious to his magnetism, or so used to the attention it didn’t phase him. Either way, she found it unnerving. He’s one of those rare species of men that appeals to both sexes, men want to be his friend and women want to sleep with him. Libby identified this quality in him immediately.

“Libby Taylor. Nice to meet you.”

“You’re not much of a talker are you, Libby?”

“Conversation seems to be your specialty.” She gave him a sideways glance and raised an eyebrow, “I’m willing to bet you could carry one on right here without my input at all.”

Ted burst out laughing.

“I probably could, but where’s the fun in that?”

“Maybe not for you, but it would be fun for me,” Libby countered.

Ted gazed at her, one corner of his mouth turned up with amusement. She watched his eyes brazenly move up and down her body.

“Are you checking me out?”

Again he chuckled and nodded.

“Yes, I am. Three words pop into my head. Smart. Sassy. Beautiful.”

She took a sip of her drink, observing him over the brim of the glass, then placed it on the little square napkin in front of her.

“Ah, now there’s a line,” she sighed.

“I’ve got tons of them,” he grinned.

Libby nodded, looking him over, “I’m sure you do.”

The eavesdropping blond with the short skirt and the mile long legs must have realized she was about to miss her opportunity, and grasped Ted’s arm, turning him toward her.

“Sully! So great to see you again!” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. Ted smiled and introduced Libby to Siena.

“Pleased to meet you,” Siena smiled, her eyes glued to Ted’s face.

Libby sat on the stool, feeling extremely awkward as Siena draped her arm around his waist and they became engaged in a lively conversation about the upcoming election and the campaign he was working for. Turning away from them, she checked her watch, then gathered her coat and bag, getting ready to leave. She found him incredibly sexy, but wasn’t interested in competing for his attention.

As she rose and pulled on her coat, Ted placed his hand on the small of her back and leaned in close, startling her.

“You’re not leaving yet!” he frowned. 

“I’m afraid I am,” she said, buttoning her coat and shrugging her bag over her shoulder.  

He took her hand and whispered close to her ear, “Not without me.”

Libby stared into his eyes and he leaned down and kissed her, his lips soft against hers. A delicious tingling spread throughout her body. A moment later she opened her eyes and slowly shook her head back and forth, a smile spreading across her face. No, not without you. Ted grabbed his coat and without saying goodbye to Siena or the rest of his admirers, walked into the cool night air, Libby’s hand in his.

The Middle East and the dichotomous drummer all but forgotten.