Wednesday, 22 April 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 10

First, get caught up.
Information about the serialization ("The Wattpad Experiment")  
Links to:  Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8, Chapter 9




Chapter 10

It took Viv almost two hours to drive her father’s car to his house and make her way home again on the streetcar. When she walked into the condo’s blessed air conditioning, she was hot and tired. Sabrina was sitting at the kitchen island eating curried chicken salad and drinking an iced tea. Viv plunked down on the stool beside her and kicked off her pumps from her aching feet.
Sabrina turned to look at her. “Tough day?”
“Yes. I went to see Daddy at the new house, and he got heat stroke. I just finished helping to take him home.”
“Is he okay?”
“I think so. Magda’s there to look after him. I’m making him go to the doctor for a complete physical, though.”
Sabrina nodded and ate her last forkful of food. “Good idea. There’s some more chicken salad in the fridge if you want some.”
“Thanks. Maybe later.”
“Maybe you should eat now. Rick’s coming over in half an hour.” Rick Wilson was the new man in Sabrina’s life; they had been dating for three weeks.
“Okay. I’ll take a shower and make myself scarce. Are the two of you staying in tonight?”
“No.” Sabrina climbed down from her stool and picked up her dirty dishes. “And he’s not coming alone. He’s bringing a friend for you. We’re making it a foursome.”
“What?” Sabrina walked into the kitchen and opened the dishwasher. “I thought we were done with blind dates after Julie tried to fix me up with Josh.”
“No, we agreed that Julie wasn’t going to set you up with any more blind dates. You and I are just getting started.” She placed her dishes in the machine and looked at Viv, who was staring at her in dismay. “Rick got tickets for the opening of the ‘Five Ages of Man’ art show you wanted to see at the Freedom Gallery. So, even if you don’t like the guy Rick’s bringing, you’ll still get to see the show.”
“That’s true,” Viv said, perking up a little. “Gwendolyn Seer is one of my favourite photographers. I’ve really been looking forward to this.”
“And I think you’re going to like Rick’s friend. I haven’t met him yet, but Rick’s told me all about him and shown me pictures. I’ve checked him out on the internet, too. He scores 40 out of 50 on the dating do-over scale. He scored a bit low on attractiveness ‒ he’s short and pudgy ‒ but a 10 for earning potential.”
Viv shrugged. “Short and pudgy sounds cuddly to me. What’s his name?”
“Drew Collins.”
“Good name.”
“Get going, then.” Sabrina checked her watch. “The guys are supposed to be here in twenty-seven minutes.”
Forty minutes later, Viv was just putting on her earrings in front of the bathroom mirror when the telephone rang. She heard Sabrina answer it, and her friend’s heels click across the floor as she went to the door. Their guests arrived a minute later. Viv applied a quick swish of lipstick, took a last look in the mirror, and scurried out of the bathroom, right into the foyer where Sabrina was kissing Rick.
“Hi, Viv. You look gorgeous,” he said. Sabrina turned to see what Viv was wearing, and smiled approvingly. Since they were going to a gallery opening, Viv had dressed up in a sleeveless, cream-and-gold dress with inset shoulders and an above-the-knee hemline. Elegant, but alluring. Rick, who was tall and dark with a shaved head and a gold earring, looked fabulous in anything. Today he had opted for a white shirt and slim, tan dress slacks.
“Viv, Sabrina, this is my friend, Drew Collins.”
“Pleased to meet you, ladies,” Drew said, stepping in from the hallway. The first thing Viv noticed about him was his perfect, gleaming white teeth. The second was his build. Sabrina had been right; his stomach swelled visibly above his belt, and he stood only an inch taller than Viv in her heels. Still, with a full head of curly black hair and dark stubble on his face, he was definitely the teddy-bear type. She liked his firm handshake and noticed that his nails were manicured. Definitely someone who cared about personal hygiene, which was a point in his favour.
“Pleased to meet you, Drew,” she said. “Have you and Rick known each other long?”
“Not long.” Drew glanced at Rick. “About six months, isn’t it?” Rick nodded. “We have season’s tickets side-by-side at the Leafs’ games. Although I hear that you and Sabrina have been friends a long time.”
“About ten years. We were in residence together for our first year of university, and then we shared an apartment for three years until I moved out.”
“And now you’re back together again.”
“Temporarily. Sabrina’s letting me crash here until I find a place of my own. The competition for an affordable, one-bedroom apartment is pretty fierce, and it’s been taking me a while.”
Sabrina embraced Viv with one arm. “I’m not in a hurry to lose you,” she said. “So, would you gentlemen like to come in for a drink, or go to the gallery first?”
“The gallery first,” Drew said. “We can get a drink afterward. I left my car around the corner, if we want to drive.”
“Aren’t we going to walk?” Viv asked. “It’s only three blocks.”
Drew nodded at Sabrina’s shoes with their four-inch heels. “In those shoes?”
“Don’t worry about me.”
Rick smiled. “I have to carry her when it’s more than three blocks.”
“Why do you think I wear them, handsome?” Sabrina wrapped her hand around his muscular forearm and grinned. Turning back to Drew, she added, “If you like, you can leave your car in the underground parking. We have visitor spaces.”
“Perfect. Shall we?” Drew smiled and offered Viv his arm.
They took the elevator down to the lobby, where they stepped out onto Parliament Street and strolled around the corner. Next to the sidewalk was a gleaming, Mediterranean-blue sports car that looked like testosterone on wheels. Drew steered Viv toward it.
“Like it? It’s a Maserati Quattroporte.”
“It’s beautiful,” she said with a smile. Boys and their toys.
“Let’s all go down to the parking garage so that you can see how she rides.”
“She’s a sweet ride,” Rick added.
Drew unlocked the car and held the front passenger door open for Viv while Rick helped Sabrina into the back. Viv felt like royalty sliding onto the butter-soft black leather. After the men had climbed inside, Drew started the engine with a roar and checked over his shoulder before slipping into the traffic.
“I wish I could take you out for a run and really open her up,” Drew said. “It’s a sin to drive her in Toronto traffic.” He paused at a stop sign, revving the engine a couple of times to demonstrate its power.
Sabrina gave Drew the combination to key into the entry pad when they reached the door to the underground parking. Drew parked as far away from the other cars as possible and patted the hood before they left, as if the car were a faithful pet. Once they were back on Parliament again, the couples walked in two pairs with Viv and Drew in front. It was a treat for Viv to walk beside a man whose stride matched her own; she had always been hurrying to keep up with Kyle. She was sure there must be other advantages to dating a shorter man, too.
“Nice evening,” she said.
“Looks like it’s going to be a hot summer.”
“Do you have any special vacation plans this year?”
“As a matter of fact, I’m flying to Chicago in a week and a half to surprise my parents for Father’s Day.”
“That’s nice. I bet they’ll be excited to see you. Do you visit them often?”
“Two or three times a year. I don’t have any family here in Toronto.”
“You’re originally from Chicago?”
“I grew up there, but I’ve lived here ever since attending York University.”
They made other small talk as they walked down Mill Street and passed through the Distillery gate. Even though it was a Wednesday evening and the stores were closing, there were still lots of people milling about the red brick streets.  Viv and her friends strolled past the rustic, brick-and-stone buildings where whiskey had been produced during the Victorian era. A sign on the sidewalk outside of the Freedom Gallery advertised the art show opening. Drew held the door open as the friends walked inside.
The interior retained its original industrial style with concrete floors, brick and plaster walls, and an open ceiling revealing duct work and wooden beams. The space was L-shaped, divided into a rabbit’s warren of rooms with two open spaces in the middle. Rick handed their tickets to an attendant at the door, and a waiter offered them a glass of white wine from a tray. The couples mingled with the other well-heeled guests, perusing a collection of plastic and paper machĂ© sculptures until they reached a sign announcing the “Five Ages of Man” exhibit.
Viv read aloud from her pamphlet. “Gwendolyn Seer took photographs of her subjects for fifty years to record the transition from youth to old age. Gwendolyn revisited the participants every ten years to capture the changes. The eldest subject is now ninety-eight.” She looked up. “What a broad artistic vision. She must have come up with the idea while she was in her twenties.”
The foursome stopped to study the first collection of sepia-tinted photos. In the first picture, a young woman wore a simple white wedding dress with a circlet of daisies atop her tangled long, blond hair. Her feet were bare, and she was grinning as she waved a peace sign at the photographer. In the second picture, the same woman, wearing a pair of knee-high black boots, hot pants, and an orange turtle neck sweater, was being chased across a lawn by two children and a dog. In the third, the subject was stretched out on a lawn chair under a tree, her hair short and wavy where it peeked out from under the brim of a straw hat. Her head was tipped back and her eyes were closed, as if she were sleeping. The fourth picture was singular. The woman was standing at a podium dressed in a dark suit. She was captured with her mouth open and her eyes blazing, one hand gripping the podium while she gestured with the other. The wrinkles around her eyes and mouth were more evident now. In the fifth and last photo, the woman wore glasses, had silver-coloured hair, and a saggy jawline, but there was the same grin and twinkle in her eyes as she cuddled a baby in her lap.
Viv shook her head as she studied the pictures. “Beautiful.”
“Wait’ll you see the soldier over there,” Sabrina said, touching Viv’s shoulder and pointing at the wall ahead of them. The friends browsed through the portraits together, weaving past the other admirers until they reached the entrance to a small room. Standing inside was a diminutive, white-haired woman dressed in a navy pant suit, a strand of pearls dangling from her neck. Her hands were clasped over her rounded stomach as she chatted with a gaunt, middle-aged woman in a red cocktail dress and a silver-haired man in a black suit.
“That’s her,” Viv whispered. Her friends paused to stare, Viv’s eyes shining with admiration. “That’s Gwendolyn Seer.” 
Drew took her arm. “Would you like to meet her?”
Viv’s eyes widened. “Do you know her?”
“No, but that doesn’t matter. Come on, I’ll introduce you.” He led her forward with Sabrina and Rick trailing behind them. They waited until the elderly woman looked up and smiled.
“Mrs. Seer?” Drew asked. The photographer’s companions turned to stare at him.
“Yes?” she said, tilting her head to one side.
“I’m Drew Collins, and this young woman is your biggest fan, Viv Nowak.”
“Mrs. Seer will be addressing her audience in twenty minutes,” the gentleman said. He stepped forward as if to shoo them away, but the artist offered Viv her hand.
“Are you a photographer, dear?” Viv took the wrinkled hand carefully, but the older woman had a surprisingly strong grip.
“Yes, but I’m just an amateur.” Mrs. Seer nodded, studying Viv with lively, intelligent eyes.
“I thought as much. I noticed how you were looking at my portraits. What kind of pictures do you take?”
“I’m a grade-school teacher. I photograph my students.”
“Children are wonderful subjects. They’re so transparent.”
“Yes,” Viv said. “They want to share their dreams with you, and they still believe in magic.”
“Some people never grow out of that. Perhaps you will share your photographs with the world someday? In an exhibit like this.” Mrs. Seer gestured around the room.
“Oh no, my pictures are just for fun.”
“Sometimes those are the best.” The elderly woman patted Viv’s hand. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my publicist and the gallery owner are about to tell me where to stand and what to say about my photographs. But it was lovely meeting you, dear.”
“Thank you. It was entirely my pleasure,” Viv said. She backed away, bowing. Stopping in the middle of the next room, forcing people to swerve to avoid her, she took Drew’s hand.
“That was awesome! Thank you for introducing me to Mrs. Seer. I would never have had the nerve to do that on my own.”
“It was easy,” Drew said with a smile. “Celebrities like to be fawned over. Did I ever tell you about how I met George Clooney at the Toronto International Film Festival?”
Viv’s eyes widened. “No!”
They stayed at the gallery until Gwendolyn Seer had spoken, and then left in search of a drink. Drew took Viv’s arm, and Rick and Sabrina followed, exchanging a smile. They turned down a side street on their way to an outdoor cafĂ©. There were lemon-yellow tables with white wooden chairs. Circular, black metal lampshades with candelabra bulbs were suspended from a web of wooden beams overhead. The foursome sat down beneath a sky of wispy pink and purple clouds and ordered their drinks. Viv smelled barbecuing meat and suddenly remembered that she hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch.
The young waitress returned with the glasses of Lagavulin Drew had insisted on ordering. “I’m not much of a scotch drinker,” Viv had protested, but Drew had laid his hand over hers and said, “Trust me. There’s nothing like it.”
“Can I bring you menus?” the waitress asked.
“Is anyone hungry?” Drew asked.
Viv nodded. “I’m famished.”
Rick turned to Sabrina. “I could eat. How about you, honey?”
“I wouldn’t mind an appetizer,” she said.
“What is that delicious smell?” Viv asked the waitress.
“That’s our Guinness-smoked ribs. Specialty of the house.”
“We’ll all have that,” Drew said with a dismissive nod at the waitress. Viv saw Sabrina raise her eyebrows at Rick, but she didn’t care. With such a simple order, the food might come faster.
“So, Drew, what do you do?” Viv asked. She took a cautious sip of scotch and averted her face with a wrinkled nose. Sixteen years old or not, she still didn’t like it.
“I’m an executive recruiter.”
“A what?”
“A head hunter,” Sabrina said.
Drew shrugged. “Call it what you like. I help people make the most lucrative use of their talents. You have to be a pretty good judge of character to do my job, and I’m the best. I make a very good living at it, too.” He rested a hand on Viv’s shoulder. “For example, I would say that Viv is brimming with potential. How do you earn your living?”
“I’m an elementary school teacher, so I’m not really the kind of person you’d be interested in. Sabrina’s more up your alley. She’s a real estate banker.”
“Really,” Drew said, eying Sabrina. “Rick didn’t tell me. Interesting.”
“Sorry, Drew. I’m happy where I am.”
He drew a card from his pocket and passed it to Sabrina anyway. “You never know.”
She shrugged and rose to her feet. “Just need to wash up before dinner. Coming, Viv?”
“Sure,” Viv said, standing. She followed Sabrina to the washroom, where they fixed their hair.
“So, what do you think?” Sabrina asked in a low voice.
Viv frowned. “It’s hard to say. There are things I like about him, but other things make him seem a bit conceited.”
“Like what?”
“Oh, trying to impress us with his car and his Lagavulin.”
Sabrina shrugged. “Some guys try a little too hard at first. I think it was really sweet of him to introduce you to Gwendolyn Seer.”
“So did I, but he did force himself into her conversation.”
“It took guts to do that, and he wasn’t rude about it.”
“It didn’t look as though you were happy with the way he ordered food for everyone,” Viv added.
“Well, I have to admit that did rub me the wrong way.”
“I didn’t mind. I like it when a man takes care of me.”
Sabrina snorted. “Where were you during the sexual revolution?”
Viv shrugged. “Just because I like a man to take care of me doesn’t mean that I can’t look after him, too. We all have our different strengths.” Sabrina stared at her without saying a word, and Viv began to feel doubtful. “Do you think I’m too dependent on men?”
“Are you kidding?” Sabrina sighed and squeezed her friend’s shoulder. “Just make sure that a man has your best interests at heart before you let him look after you, okay?”
Viv nodded. “I’ll be careful. I’ve learned my lesson.”
“I know, hon,” Sabrina said with a rueful smile. “C’mon, let’s get back to the boys.”
Drew picked up the dinner tab, and when they arrived back at the condo, Sabrina invited them in for an after-dinner drink. She and Rick sat on one of the couches, Rick with his arm around her, while Drew and Viv sat on the other. They became immersed in a long discussion about the future of public education, but Rick was preoccupied with drawing lazy circles up and down Sabrina’s arm. Sabrina watched him through half-closed eyes, practically purring. At last his hand rested on her shoulder, and he leaned in for a kiss that went on for several seconds. Viv and Drew’s conversation petered to a stop as they watched. When the kiss ended, Sabrina stretched self-indulgently, yawned, and glanced at her watch.
“It’s almost midnight. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow morning at nine. Time for bed, eh, hon?” Rick smiled into her eyes. “No, don’t leave,” Sabrina said as Drew started to his feet. “You and Viv take all the time you want. Viv can let you out later.”
The amorous couple rose, and Sabrina pulled Rick from the living room. “You remember the code for the underground parking pad, don’t you?” she called to Drew.
“1236.”
“What a terrific memory. Night.”
“See you,” was all Rick had time to say before the bedroom door shut.
Viv stared after them. What kind of stunt was that to pull? It might give Drew the wrong idea. She glanced at him as he sat down beside her, so close that their knees touched.
“Well, this is cozy.” His arm glided around her shoulders, and he snuggled Viv against his side. She could smell the brandy on his breath.
“It certainly is.” Viv laughed nervously. She felt Drew’s other hand on her knee.
“You have the most beautiful blue eyes,” he murmured.
“Thanks.”
“And your lips,” he added, “have a pretty little pout” ‒ he touched her bottom lip ‒ “right here.” His mouth hovered near, about to follow. Viv averted her face, and Drew nuzzled her neck instead.
“You smell so good.”
“So do you,” Viv said shakily. “What scent are you wearing?”
“Mmm?” He was distracted because his hand was on her thigh. Viv pushed him away and jumped to her feet.
“Drew, you’re going too fast!” Her sudden movement made him tumble forward, but he caught himself with one hand on the couch. Looking up at her, his bangs fell into his eyes. They were mischievous eyes, like a little boy’s caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“Sorry, Viv. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. Why don’t you sit down again,” ‒ he patted the couch ‒ “and I promise to be good.” Drew grinned, and Viv spotted a dimple she had never seen before.
“Well, if you promise.” She sat down with her hands clasped in her lap, but Drew reached over to take one.
“I could tell you were one of those women the minute I laid eyes on you, but you can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“Oh? What kind of woman is that?”
“The kind with standards. The kind of woman a man could get serious about.”
Viv started. “I beg your pardon?”
Drew crossed his legs and leaned back on the couch. “I told you I’m a good judge of character. I think we’re going to be great together. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a wedding coming up in a few weeks. He’s a business associate, and it’s going to be pretty dull unless I have the right kind of woman with me. How about coming as my date?”
Viv pulled her hand away and began twisting her ring. “We just met, Drew. We hardly know each other.”
Drew laughed. “I always move fast when I’m onto a good thing. That’s why I’m so successful. Look at the two of us. I’m smart, I make good money, and I don’t have any bad habits. You’re beautiful, educated, easy to get along with, and you like children. And I’m sure we won’t have any problems in the bedroom.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Trust me, baby, we’d be nuclear together.”
He leaned in for a kiss. Viv stared at him like a rabbit hypnotized by a cobra. Her eyes closed as he came nearer, and then their lips touched. His mouth was soft at first, but grew firm and demanding. His tongue slipped between her lips as his hands caressed her back. When he finally released her, Viv’s heart was pounding and her eyes were glazed.
“Wow,” she said in a small, breathy voice. He looked smug and tapped her nose lightly.
“Told you so. How about dinner on Saturday night? You can come over to my place and cook. I bet you’re a wonderful cook.”
Viv nodded. That was three days from now. She was sure she could come up with a terrific menu in three days.
“Great.” He rose to his feet and pulled her up with him. “I’ll pick you up at five so that you’ve got lots of preparation time. I’m not fussy, so whatever you make will be fine.” He guided her to the condo door and pressed her against the wall beside it. Viv’s insides melted as he wrapped his arms around her and his mouth took control of her brain again. When they broke apart, she felt light-headed.
“See you in three days, baby,” he said, gazing into her eyes. “Night.”
“Night, Drew.”

He shut the door noiselessly behind him, and Viv leaned her forehead against it and sighed. She knew she shouldn’t fall for a man so quickly, but she felt helpless with Drew. He was so persuasive ‒ and manly. Viv tottered shakily to bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check back on Sunday, April 26, for Chapter 11.

Wonder what Viv is going to cook up for Drew? You can purchase the e-book for half-price at $1.99.  But hurry - the price will go up as more chapters are posted!

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Sunday, 19 April 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 9

First, get caught up.
Information about the serialization ("The Wattpad Experiment")  
Links to:  Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7, Chapter 8




Too bad this guy doesn't have long hair, like Tom. You'll be meeting him in just a minute.

Chapter 9

Even though Viv had made a resolution at Easter to visit her father more often, she had only seen him once since then. Deciding to surprise him after school the following week, she dropped by the two-storey he was renovating.
It was the first week of June, hot and sticky. Warm air blew through the streetcar on the ride over. Getting off at her stop, Viv peeled her blouse away from her skin before checking the address Magda had provided. The house was only a block away. It turned out to be a Victorian semi with a pick-up truck parked out front on the lawn. A man was perched on the tailgate, flipping through a pile of papers attached to a clipboard. He was middle-aged and brawny; clean shaven, but with shoulder-length dark hair pulled back into a pony-tail. He tossed the clip board into the truck, stood up, and was about to go into the house when Viv called to him from the sidewalk.
“Hi! I’m looking for Gabe Nowak. Is this the right place?” He turned in the sunlight to squint at her.
“Yeah,” he said in a rich baritone. “You’ve got the right place. Come on in.” He quickly disappeared inside the front door, and Viv scrambled after him. It was dark inside the house after the brilliance of outdoors. A drill whined close by. As she waited for her eyes to adjust, Viv heard the same deep voice drawl, “Gabe, someone’s looking for you.”
The drill ceased and her father said, “Who?”
Viv strode through the house, following the voices to a kitchen at the back. Her father was holding a drill in one hand and a white cabinet door in the other. His face was shiny with sweat and there was sawdust in his hair.
“Viv! Nice surprise. Did you come to check up on your old man?” he hollered, handing the drill and the cupboard door to the other man. Her father was 5’11”, but the dark-haired man had him by a couple of inches. She clattered across the floor and reached out to hug Gabe, but he pulled back.
“Better not. I’m a mess. Did you just come from school?”
“Uh huh. I thought I’d see how the house was doing. Looks like it’s going to be wonderful.”
“Thanks. All three floors are drywalled and the hardwood’s refinished. Tom and I are installing the cupboards today.” He nodded at the other man, who was using a level. “Tom, this is my daughter, Viv.” Tom drew a pencil line on the wall before setting the level on the floor.
“Nice to meet you, Viv,” he said, assessing her with his pale blue eyes. “You’re a lot better-looking than Gabe.”
“Course she is. All she got from me was my blond hair,” her father said, running his hand over his receding hairline. “Come on, Peaches. I’ll give you the tour. He turned to Tom. “Take a break, why don’t you? We’ve been going at it pretty hard since lunch.”
Tom wiped his face with the hem of his t-shirt. “You go ahead. The lower cabinets are almost done. I want to get going on the uppers.”
“Well, don’t kill yourself. I know the guys are coming with the counter top tomorrow, but we’ll get ’er done.”
Viv and Gabe strolled through the first floor, her dad pointing out where they had knocked down the wall separating the dining room and kitchen, and the newly-tiled living room fireplace. When they reached the front hallway, Gabe smacked the staircase bannister leading up to the second floor. The wood was painted a muddy brown, and it looked like someone had put a foot through two of the carved balusters.
“Tom’s going to strip and restore it. It should be a real selling-feature when it’s done.”
Viv ran her hand over the wood. “So, how old is Tom?”
“Eh?” Gabe paused to peer at her. “He’s fifty. But don’t worry.  Tom works harder than a lot of guys half his age.”
Fifty? Too bad. Viv found him very attractive, but Tom was old enough to be her father. She’d never date a guy that mature.
“Can we check out the second floor now?” she asked.
“Sure.” Viv trotted ahead with her father following more slowly. Once upstairs, Gabe explained how they had stripped the house back to its studs to rewire and replumb, as well as to insulate to modern, energy-saving standards.
“There were four bedrooms, but only one bathroom, and the closets were puny. We lost one of the bedrooms to add a walk-in closet and an ensuite to the master. Here it is,” he said, showing her into the bedroom.
It was spacious, large enough to accommodate a king-sized bed with room for a night table on either side. Viv walked to the window and saw that it overlooked the back garden. A handsome horse chestnut tree was in bloom with clusters of white flowers. She turned back, noticing the refinished floor and baseboards.
“I see that you managed to save the original wood trim.”
“Yeah. I think we’re going to leave it as is instead of painting over it. Come on, I can’t wait for you see the ensuite. There’s a nice surprise in there.”
Viv walked through the closet and into the bathroom, where she saw a grand old claw-foot tub resting on the sub-floor.
“Oh, Daddy, it’s beautiful. When can I move in?”
Gabe snorted and sat down on the edge of the tub. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face.
“When you can come up with a million, five.”
“Will you take a cheque?” Her father grunted, and Viv’s smile disappeared as she observed his flushed face. “Are you feeling okay? Your colour doesn’t look good. It’s awfully hot in here. Have you been overdoing it?”
“Nah, I’m fine. I’m just not getting any younger. Listen, I’m glad you stopped by. There’s something I’ve been meaning to call you about.”
“What’s that?” Viv was careful to lean against a patch of wall that wasn’t gritty with drywall dust.
“Your mother’s planning a business trip to Toronto, and she asked me to give her your e-mail. She wants to see you.”
Viv’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. “You’re kidding,” she finally said. “She hasn’t contacted me for six years, and, all of a sudden, she wants my e-mail?”
Gabe shrugged.
“You didn’t tell me that you’ve been in touch with her.”
“She contacted me a year ago to congratulate me on my early retirement. She asked about you, so I told her what was going on in your life. We haven’t been e-mailing regularly ‒ just every few months or so.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were talking with her?”
“I know your mother isn’t your favourite person.”
“I didn’t think she was yours, either.”
Gabe sighed. “That’s a lot of water under the bridge, Peaches. You gain some perspective with age. I’m not angry with your mother anymore.”
“Well, I am.” Viv straightened and left the bathroom, talking to her father over her shoulder. “And I don’t want to see her. I’ve got enough on my plate right now without having to deal with her.” She stomped through the bedroom and into the hallway with her father on her heels.
“You’re a grown woman. You haven’t talked with your mother since that big blow-up at your graduation. You’re going to have to deal with her sooner or later.”
“No, I don’t.” Viv hurried down the staircase and passed through the first floor to the kitchen, where she had left her purse. She stopped; Tom was leaning against the wall with a can of pop in his hand. She had forgotten about him. He eyed her curiously, and she frowned and turned as her father caught up with her.
“What are you going to do, ignore your mother for the rest of your life?” he asked angrily. Viv closed the distance between them in two quick steps.
“Why not? We didn’t leave her ‒ she left us. Why should I see her when she hasn’t bothered to see me more than twice in twenty-one years?”
Gabe put his hand over his face and said nothing. Viv glared at him, waiting for his answer. After a moment, she noticed that he was breathing too quickly.
“Daddy, are you feeling all right?”
The men were using a white plastic pail in the corner of the room for garbage. Gabe staggered over to it and retched. Tom put down his can as Viv rushed over to her father. He straightened up with his hands braced upon his knees.
“I’m really dizzy all of a sudden,” Gabe mumbled before sitting down abruptly on the floor.
Daddy!” Viv knelt beside him. He started to sag, and she caught him by the shoulders and lowered him to the floor. Gabe’s skin felt hot and dry. Tom knelt beside them and placed two fingers at the base of the older man’s throat.
“Your pulse feels fast,” Tom said. “Are you in pain?”
“My stomach hurt before I puked. I’ve got a lousy headache.”
Tom looked at Viv. “Sounds like heatstroke.”
“Should we call an ambulance?”
“Nah, just let me lie here till my head settles,” Gabe said.
Viv glanced at Tom, who shrugged. He fetched a folded drop cloth and slid it under Gabe’s head while Viv dampened a cloth with water from a jug and cleaned his face.
“That feels good.”
“You shouldn’t be working so hard in this heat.”
“Do you think you could drink some pop?” Tom asked. “I’ll get you one from the cooler.”
“In a minute. After the nausea passes.”
Tom fetched a cold can of ginger ale for Viv, and set another one on the floor beside Gabe.
“It’s there when you want it.”
They rested for a quarter of an hour until Gabe had recovered enough to sit up and sip his soft drink.
“Feeling any better, old man?” Tom asked.
“Don’t ‘old man’ me. I’m only eleven years older than you,” Gabe growled.
“Well, young man, are you going to be able to haul your ass up off the floor, or am I going to have to carry you to the truck?”
“What?”
“I’m taking you home. You’re done for the day.”
“Wait a minute. What about the cabinets?”
“I’ll finish them when I get back. Next time it’s so hot, we’ll hire a crew to do it.” He took Gabe’s arm. “Come on, time to get up.”
Viv took her father’s other arm and they pulled him to his feet, where he hovered unsteadily.
“You’re not going to be sick again, are you?” Viv asked.
“I don’t think so.”
Viv glanced at Tom. “I’ll drive Daddy home in his car if you can help me get him into it,” she said.
Tom looked her up and down. “How do you think you’re going to get him out of the car once you get him home? You’re ‒ what ‒ five foot three?”
Viv’s eyes widened in surprise. “That’s exactly right. How did you know?”
“I used to have a wife your size. Sorry, darling, but you’re kind of small to handle a man the size of your father.”
Viv bristled. She had looked after her dad since she was a little girl, and she could look after him now. “Magda can help me with him, if I need her.”
But Gabe put an arm around her shoulders and said, “Better let Tom take me home, Peaches.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key ring. “If you’ll drive my car, Tom can take me in his truck.”
“Just give me a minute to clear out the passenger seat,” Tom said. He hurried out of the kitchen while Viv fumed beside her father.
“Sorry about this,” Gabe said. “I guess I’m a little out of shape.”
Viv’s face softened. “Not a problem, Daddy. But tell me, when was the last time you had a complete physical?”
Gabe thought for a moment. “Not that long ago. A couple of years, I think.”
“I worry about you, you know. Promise me you’ll go see your doctor and get checked out. Blood work, EKG ‒ the works. If you’re going to start doing manual labour at sixty, I want to make sure you’re up for it.”
Gabe snorted. “You’re not even living with me anymore, and you’re still bossing me around.”
“Someone’s got to do it. Magda gives in to you too often.”
“Look, I promise I’ll make an appointment tomorrow. Just get me home for today.”
“Good. Let me know what the doctor says.”
Tom’s work boots echoed through the house.
“Viv, what about your mother?” Gabe asked. “Can I give her your e-mail address?”
She gazed at him with unconcealed exasperation, but with her father looking so exhausted, she caved. She didn’t want to upset him when he wasn’t feeling well.
“All right. Go ahead and give her my e-mail address, if it means so much to you. But tell her that I’m not keen on seeing her again.”
“Good girl,” her father said as Tom returned to the kitchen.
Tom jerked his thumb toward the front door. “Let’s get moving. I’ve got a lot of work to get done today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check back on Wednesday, April 22, for Chapter 10.

Want to see more of Tom, Gabe's sexy contractor? Wondering why Viv dislikes her mother so much? You can purchase the e-book now for half-price at $1.99.  But hurry - the price will go up as more chapters are posted!

To buy the book, click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of this post and leave your name, e-mail address, and a message saying you'd like to purchase The Dating Do-Over. I will e-mail back information on how to purchase the book with a coupon from Smashwords, where you can easily download it in the format of your choice.

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Arthur Ellis Shortlist Events April 23, 2015



The annual Arthur Ellis Awards annual,created by the Crime Writers of Canada, of which I am a member, celebrates excellence in Canadian crime writing. "Crime writing" encompasses crime, detective, espionage, mystery, suspense, and thriller writing, as well as fictional or factual accounts of criminal doings and crime-themed literary works. I submitted my latest Anna Nolan mystery, Tidings of Murder and Woe, for the Best Crime Novel award. Competition will be fierce in that category, as there are 74 submissions! If you would like more information about the competition, click on this link.




This Thursday, April 23, the shortlist for the award categories will be announced at celebrations in some major Canadian cities. I will be attending the Toronto event at the Indigo bookstore in the Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor St. West, from 7-9 PM. A number of authors will be assembling there to read excerpts from their books, so if you're in the neighbourhood, or near any of the other cities where events are planned, consider coming out to support Canadian crime writing. It promises to be an entertaining evening.

Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlist Events: 

Ottawa A panel featuring local Crime Writers of Canada members will be featured along with book signings and the official announcement of the Arthur Ellis shortlist. Thursday, April 23, 7 -9pm Chapters, 47 Rideau Street, main floor 

Toronto Join MC Nate Hendley and the following CWC authors for a lively unveiling of the Arthur Ellis Award Finalists: Rosemary Aubert, Rick Blechta, Janet Bolin, Gina Buonaguro, Steve Burrows, Rob Brunet, Madeleine Harris Callway, Melodie Campbell, Sharon Crawford, Lisa de Nikolits, Jill Downie, N.J. Lindquist, Angela Misri, Cathy Spencer. Thursday, April 23, 7-9 p.m. Indigo, Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor St. W. 

Calgary Join us for a night of the best in Western Canadian crime, as we announce the official finalists for the 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards. Featuring readings by David A. Poulsen (Serpents Rising) and Garry Ryan (Glycerine) as well as 2014 Finalist for Best First Novel, Axel Howerton (Hot Sinatra), and 2013 Unhanged Arthur finalist Jayne Barnard (When The Bow Breaks). Thursday, April 23, 7pm Owl's Nest Books, 815A - 49 Avenue SW 

Vancouver Join BC crime authors Cathy Ace, Don Hauka, Owen Laukkanen, Kay Stewart and Sam Wiebe for a murderously good panel discussion, and be on the spot when the finalists are revealed. Dead Write Books will be on hand too! Free, but space is limited. Register online at www.bpl.bc.ca/events, in person at the Metrotown First Floor Information Desk, or phone 604-436-5410 Thursday, April 23, 7 -8:30pm Metrotown Branch, Burnaby Public Library, 6100 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby


If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 8

First, get caught up.
Information about the serialization ("The Wattpad Experiment")  
Links to: Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6, Chapter 7





Chapter 8


The next morning, Julie and Viv were on recess patrol. A group of young boys chased a soccer ball past them as the two friends strolled across the yard. It was their first opportunity to chat since the night before.
“So, did you have fun last night?” Julie asked.
“Yes, I really enjoyed the show. It was better than I thought it would be.”
“I meant with Josh. What happened after I left?”
“Miss Nowak,” a little girl said, trotting up to them, “Aidan Brooks stole my doll, and he won’t give it back.” She pointed across the yard at the doll thief. “No!” she screamed, her face contorting with tears. Viv looked to where the child was pointing and saw Aidan smashing the doll into the side of the building.
“Aidan, stop that,” Viv shouted, running across the pavement to him. He looked up and froze, the doll suspended from his hand in mid-whack. Fortunately no damage had been done ‒ yet.
“Why are you trying to break Mia’s doll?” Viv asked in a calmer voice. She knew these two; they had been in her class last year and had bickered all the time. Aiden stared at her with sullen eyes. She could hear Mia’s wails, and looked over her shoulder to see Julie comforting the little girl.
“Mia laughed when Connor got the soccer ball away from me. I fell and hurt my knee, and she laughed at me,” Aiden muttered. Viv squatted to check for injuries. The knees of his jeans were torn, but there were no bloodstains.
“Does your knee still hurt? Do you want to go inside and put some ice on it?” she asked.
“No.”
Viv rose and put her hand on his shoulder. “It wasn’t kind of Mia to laugh at you, but you shouldn’t hurt her doll. It doesn’t make your knee feel any better. Come on, let’s take the doll back.” She held his hand, and they walked side by side to Julie and Mia.
The girl had stopped crying and was wiping her nose with the tissue Julie had provided. Viv prodded Aiden’s shoulder, and he held the doll out to Mia.
“Sorry.”
Mia snatched it back and clutched the doll to her chest.
“I think you owe Aiden an apology, too,” Viv said.
Mia stared at the ground. “Sorry I laughed at you,” she murmured. Aiden shrugged.
“Good,” Viv said. “Now, you two go play until the bell rings.” Aiden nodded and ran to join the soccer game while Mia trotted to the jungle gym.
“Another crisis averted,” Julie said.
“So, what were we talking about?”
“Did you and Josh play nice after I left?” Julie asked with a grin.
“We got along fine. He’s sweet, if a little shy. He did invite me to watch you two play ball on Wednesday, though.”
“What did you say?”
“I said yes.”
“Great. I was going to ask you anyway.”
“Only, I’m taking it slow, Julie. I’m pretty rusty at dating, and I’m not sure if he’s my type. I’m not even sure what my type is anymore.”
“That’s fine.” But as Viv turned away to resume patrolling, Julie chanted, “Josh and Vivvie sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” under her breath.
“Oh, act your age,” Viv said, rolling her eyes.


Fortunately, the spell of rain enveloping the city cleared, and the day of the baseball game dawned dry and balmy. Viv sat in the bleachers watching the competition along with a few other supporters belonging to the two teams.
It was a close game, and by the bottom of the ninth, the other team was up and trailing by only a run. There was one out, and one man on second base. The batter had two strikes against her when she suddenly bunted. The pitcher lunged for the ball and fired it to first. The first baseman caught it, and the batter was out. Without missing a beat, the first baseman hurled the ball to Julie on third, but it went wild, and she had to charge after it. The player who had been on second careened past third and was headed for home when Julie snapped up the ball, pivoted, and drove it to Josh at home plate. Josh caught it with a flick of his glove, and the runner was trapped, His only hope was that Julie or Josh would drop the ball as he ran between them. He was as agile as a jackrabbit, but it was no use; they squeezed him closer and closer until Julie tagged him out.
Viv jumped to her feet, screaming and cheering with the rest of the supporters. Josh and Julie high-fived, and then the players congregated on the infield to shake hands. Julie and Josh’s team was in a celebratory mood when Viv joined them for beer and pizza afterward.
There were a dozen of them squeezed around the two tables the waitress had pushed together. Julie sat beside Kim, one of her teammates, with Josh on the other side. Viv sat next to him. The waitress brought pitchers of beer while the team rehashed the game inning by inning. Josh poured some beer for Viv while she laughed at the ribbing Julie was getting for being called “Princess” by the other team’s pitcher.
“That’s because she’s special,” Kim said, hugging Julie. Kim was a pretty, fresh-faced blond a few years younger than Julie.
“I’m glad that someone appreciates me,” Julie said, laying her head on the young woman’s shoulder. “Wow, your hair smells good,” she added.
“You’re probably smelling my lemon and sage shampoo,” Kim replied.
“Nice.” Their eyes met, and they smiled.
Josh picked up one of Julie’s short curls and rolled it between his fingers.
“Your hair smells good, too,” he said. “What kind of shampoo did you say you use?”
“Um, whatever’s on sale.”
“Your hair’s so soft and shiny. Is that your real colour?”
“Well, yeah,” Julie said, nodding her head and jerking her hair from his grasp. She rubbed her sore scalp and deliberately turned her back on Josh. Kim whispered something in Julie’s ear, and she laughed and shoved Kim playfully.
The waitress brought two pedestalled trays loaded with pizza, and everyone started grabbing for a slice. Viv was waiting for her turn when Josh handed her a plate with a large wedge.
“Bacon, olive, and mushroom, right?”
“Right. Thanks Josh.”
“No problem.”
Viv was taking a bite when Kim said, “So, you and Julie teach at the same school?”
Viv chewed and swallowed. “That’s right. We met four years ago when I was subbing at Withrow. Julie put in a good word for me when the school board was hiring permanent staff, and I got the job.”
Kim smiled at Julie. “That was nice of you.”
“I’m a terrific person. Haven’t you noticed?”
Kim laughed and turned back to Viv. “But you don’t play baseball?”
It was Julie’s turn to laugh. “Viv isn’t what you’d call ‘athletic.’”
“Not true. I’m just not into team sports.”
“Unlike me,” Julie said. “My parents put me into every sports camp there was: baseball, soccer, and swimming. Not to mention the ballet lessons.”
“Whatever you’re doing, it’s working,” Josh said with a leer. Julie scowled at him while Viv did a double take. What was going on with him?
“I’m going to the bathroom,” Viv said. She sprang to her feet. “Julie, why don’t you come with me?”
“Be right back,” Julie said to Kim.
“Don’t be long,” the pretty young woman said.
Julie rose, and Josh slapped her on the bottom. The rest of the table were laughing so hard that they missed it, but Viv noticed. She watched Julie glare at Josh.
“I’ll miss you, beautiful,” he said with a grin, but the smile dissolved when he saw the expression on her face. Viv was afraid that Julie would slap him, and lunged to take her friend’s arm.
Now, Julie,” Viv said, dragging her off to the bathroom.
There were two women waiting by the stalls, so Viv pulled Julie to the sinks.
“Did you see what that jerk just did to me?” Julie whispered.
“What’s wrong with him?” Viv asked. “One moment he’s polite and attentive, the next he’s acting like a Neanderthal. What’s going on?”
Julie frowned. “Josh has been acting kind of weird over the last few games. I think it’s because of Kim. We’ve been getting to know each other better, and it seems to bother him. I think he may be jealous.”
“Jealous? I thought he was just your sperm donor?”
“He is. He knows that I would never be attracted to him.”
“It doesn’t make sense. Wait a minute,” Viv said, grabbing Julie’s arm, “is that why you introduced him to me? Were you using me as bait to distract Josh so that you could start dating Kim?”
Julie had the good grace to look away. “Look, Viv, Josh is a really sweet guy, when he’s not acting like an idiot.” Viv sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “No, he really is!” Julie protested. “He’s kind, reliable, handsome, he’s got a good job, and he really likes kids. You two are perfect for each other. It’s not like I’m asking you to take one for the team here.”
Viv frowned. “But he’s not interested in me. Obviously, he likes you.”
“Well, nothing’s going to happen between us.”
Viv sighed.
“Please? You don’t know how hard it is for a single mom to find a girlfriend. Just give Josh time. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses once he gets to know you better.”
“But what am I supposed to do with him tonight?”
Julie put an arm around Viv’s shoulder. “Tell him you’ve got a headache and ask him to drive you home. Talk to him about his behaviour, and make sure he understands that I’m off limits. Be sympathetic and flutter those baby blues of yours. Once he realizes I’m never going to fall for him, I’m sure he’ll be all over you just like that.” She snapped her fingers before pushing Viv through the bathroom door.
“What if I’m not interested in him?” Viv grumbled, but Julie ignored her as she led the way to their table.
Josh jumped to his feet when he saw them. “I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong,” he said.
“Viv isn’t feeling well,” Julie said, resuming her seat.
Josh looked at Viv. “What’s the matter?”
“I’ve got a headache. Do you think you could drive me home?”
“Sure. No problem. When do you want to go?”
“Now, if you don’t mind.” Viv retrieved her purse from the floor and reached inside for her wallet.
But Josh waved her money away. “I’ll take care of this.” He slid some bills from his pocket and dropped them onto the table.
Nodding to the rest of the group, Viv said, “Good night, everyone. It’s been fun.”
“Feel better soon,” Julie said as her friends bid Viv goodnight. “Give me a call later and let me know how you’re feeling,” she added pointedly.
“I will.”
Josh escorted Viv from the restaurant. They walked to the car in silence, the daylight ebbing from the sky and a warm breeze ruffling their hair. Viv climbed into the passenger seat and waited for Josh to settle behind the wheel.
“Can we go somewhere private to talk?” she asked. “I’d invite you to my place, but my roommate might be home.”
“Sure.” His expression was wary. “We can go to my place, if you like. What’s it about?”
“Let’s just wait until we get there, okay?”
Josh lived ten blocks from Viv in a neighbourhood of bungalows and duplexes. He shoehorned his car into a spot on the street, and they walked past the well-tended front gardens to his home, a grey bungalow with white trim.
Josh unlocked the door and stood aside to allow Viv to enter first. The front room was a living room/dining room combination with a narrow hallway leading into the kitchen. Josh slipped past Viv to turn on the lamps on either side of the couch.
“Can I get you something to drink?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t mind a soft drink.”
“Cola okay?”
“Yes, please.”
Viv had a look around while Josh disappeared into the kitchen. He had done a nice job of making the place look homey. The chocolate-brown couch sat on an area carpet on a honey-stained hardwood floor. A worn leather chair with an ottoman was angled next to the couch, and a bookcase stuffed with books and family photographs delineated the dining area.
Josh returned carrying two full glasses tinkling with ice. He set Viv’s on the coffee table and sat down on the other end of the couch.
“I can guess what you want to talk about,” he said.
“Your behaviour was kind of odd tonight. You acted as if you were Julie’s boyfriend ‒ a really insensitive boyfriend ‒ so Julie asked me to talk to you. Did it bother you when Kim and Julie were flirting?”
When Josh didn’t respond, Viv asked, “Are you in love with Julie?”
His face was incredulous. “What? No, that would be ridiculous.”
“You know she’s gay, right?”
“Of course. It’s pretty hard to miss.”
“She isn’t bisexual, Josh. You don’t stand a chance with her.”
“I know.”
Viv shook her head in exasperation. “Then what were you doing? You were lucky she didn’t kill you when you slapped her bottom.”
Josh’s face reddened. “I didn’t mean to offend her. I guess I was feeling a bit desperate.”
“What do you mean?” Viv slid across the couch to sit closer to him.
“It’s hard for me to explain. I knew that Julie was only looking for a sperm donor when she asked for my help. We discussed it a lot, and she made it clear that she didn’t want me to be a father to her baby. I thought it was a good idea at the time, having someone who was part of me to live on after I was gone. I just didn’t realize how hard it would be after Olivia was born.” He paused, and Viv waited for him to continue.
“The first time I saw her was through the glass window at the maternity ward. I snuck in ‒ Julie didn’t want me at the hospital. When I spotted Olivia, she was waving a tiny hand in front of her face. She seemed to be watching it with those big eyes of hers. I ‒ I don’t know. I just . . .” His voice faltered to a stop.
Julie laid her hand on his arm. “You fell in love with her?”
Josh nodded. “She’s part of me. Hell, she looks just look my mom. Julie didn’t invite me to see her until the first Christmas, when Olivia was five months old. Julie let me hold her, and Olivia held onto my finger and blew bubbles. I didn’t know I would feel this way,” he said, tension in his voice.
“How often have you seen Olivia?”
“Just three times. The first Christmas, last Christmas, and at the barbecue.”
“That’s it?”
Josh nodded. “Sometimes I drive by the house before I go to bed at night just to make sure they’re okay.” He sighed. “I don’t blame Julie. She’s just sticking to her side of the bargain. But when I see her with Kim, it’s like one more person’s getting between Olivia and me. If Julie lets someone into her life permanently, she’s never going to need any help from me. Maybe she won’t let me see Olivia anymore. I thought that if I acted like Julie and I were involved, Kim might back off.” He finally looked at Viv. “Please tell Julie I’m sorry. I know I have no right to interfere with her love life.”
“Look Josh, I know how hard it is to love someone who doesn’t love you back. And I know it’s not the same as being Olivia’s father, but you could have a wonderful family of your own. A caring man like you would make a great husband and daddy.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Why not?” Josh stared at the carpet. “Are you gay?”
“No.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I’m not interested in men or women.”
Viv hesitated. “I don’t understand.”
He glanced at her sideways. “I’m asexual.”
“Oh.” She struggled to think of something helpful to say. “Have you ever . . ?”
“Tried? Yes. A couple of times with women. Nothing happened. I tried to have a sexual relationship with a man once, but I couldn’t get into that, either. I don’t know why. I just don’t get aroused.”
“Have you seen a doctor about it?”
“Yeah. He tested my hormone levels. Said that there was nothing wrong with me, that it had to be psychological.”
“What about counselling?”
Josh shook his head. “How’s counselling going to change me, Viv? Has it ever made a gay man straight, or a straight man gay? I’ve been reading about this on the web, and there are people like me who just don’t care about having sex with others. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with us.”
“No, of course not,” Viv hastened to say.
“Look, I haven’t talked to anyone about this besides my doctor. Not to my family, not to Julie. I told you because I wanted to explain why I acted so dumb tonight, and because I wanted you to understand why I’m not going to be your boyfriend.”
Viv nodded.
 “But I’m okay with the way I am. I don’t feel incomplete or anything. I’m even a bit of a romantic.” He smiled weakly. “That’s why the situation with Olivia is so painful. She’s likely to be the only child I’ll ever have who’s a part of me.”
He got up to pace around the room while Viv watched.
“Josh, I don’t know what to say, other than I’m sorry that Julie won’t let you get closer to Olivia.”
He paused to look down at her. “I know there’s nothing you can do. And please don’t say anything about this to Julie. She’ll only think I’m trying to pull a fast one. Just tell her I’ll stop acting like an idiot around her and Kim.”
“I won’t say anything about you being asexual,” Viv said, rising. They stood face-to-face in front of the couch.
“Thanks. You know, it’s been kind of therapeutic talking to you. You’ve been awfully sympathetic. I hope that we can stay friends.”
“Sure. I’d love to see you in your next show, for one thing.”
“I’d like that, too.” He glanced at his watch. “It’s getting late. Let me give you a lift home.”
“That’s kind of you. Thanks.”
On the drive home, Viv considered Josh’s situation. It wasn’t fair that Julie kept him at an arm’s length, but Viv understood why. Julie came from a big, boisterous, Italian/Irish family that was really close. But although her mother and father loved her, they were very conservative, and got upset when Julie broke the news that she was gay. Their relationship deteriorated even more when both parents objected to her plan to give birth by artificial insemination. Angry that her parents didn’t approve of her, Julie cut them out of her life.
Even Viv and Sabrina, who had been supportive throughout the pregnancy and Olivia’s birth, had to be careful not to say anything that could be interpreted as judgmental. Not that they would, because Julie was a great mom, but she was stubborn and sometimes carried a grudge. It was good that Julie was finally ready to share her life with someone; just not for Josh, if it meant that he would be cut out of Olivia’s life.
After Josh dropped her at the lobby door, Viv sighed. What was she going to say to Julie? She couldn’t tell the truth about Josh’s behaviour, or the real reason she wasn’t going to date him. That wasn’t her secret to share.
It was too bad, though. Josh had looked so good on paper. Julie had shared his score, a healthy 44 out of 50 on the dating do-over scale.
Well, Sabrina was going to have to come up with someone better. Viv had given it a lot of thought, and realized that she was either attracted to a man who needed mothering, or to someone who swept her off her feet and dominated her. Which wasn’t a huge problem unless the guy was taking advantage of her, as Kyle had.
Come on, Sabrina, it’s up to you! Viv thought as she reached the condominium door and steeled herself to phone Julie.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check back on Sunday, April 19, to see what happens in Chapter 9.

Are you enjoying the story? Since I will only be posting the first half in this serialization, would you like to purchase the e-book? If you buy it now, you only have to pay $1.99, which is half-price. All you have to do is click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of this post and leave me your name, e-mail address, and a message saying you'd like to purchase The Dating Do-Over. I will e-mail back information on how to purchase the book with a coupon from Smashwords, where you can download it in the format that works with your reading device. But hurry - the price will be going up as more chapters are posted!

If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.