Just in time to break in the new Kindle Fire or iPad you got for Christmas, here’s my latest holiday-themed erotic romance from eXtasy Books, “Who Gets the Friends?”
“When Tom Harris won back his freedom after a bitter divorce, he looked forward to getting a fresh start in life. What he didn’t realize was that his former wife had taken their mutual friends as part of the settlement. He feared that he’d be alone forever until he met Jessica Mays, who was recovering from the loss of her one true love. Can these two broken souls find some common ground to make a relationship work? Will Tom discover that there really is life after divorce?”
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This story was inspired by events ripped from the life of yours truly. Years ago when I went through a divorce, I was looking forward to a new beginning. After the ink was dry on the decree, I made a startling discovery – most of our mutual friends suddenly evaporated. It was like they all decided to take a Caribbean cruise at the same time. Calls went unreturned, people began avoiding me in social settings and many of them flat out stopped speaking to me.
As I point out in the prologue – “You can divide the assets, you can decide who gets custody of the crystal punch bowl that was a wedding gift, and you can negotiate visits with the family pet – but who gets the friends?”
I finally came to a realization – if they were going to act that way and take sides, they really weren’t friends in the first place. That isn’t to say that everyone acted that way. I did maintain a few friendships, but they were more surface than substance. The new friends I made during that rediscovery period turned out to be genuine, and I forged some relationships that are still strong.
Here’s an excerpt, where boy meets girl for the first time. The setting is a divorce party one of the protagonist’s friends has thrown for him.
Doug waved to him from behind the bar. Tom strolled over to him, smiled and stuck out his hand. Doug clasped it and gave him a hearty handshake.
“Welcome,” he said. “Did you bring it with you?”
“Yeah, I brought it. You sure that’s what we’re supposed to do at a party like this?”
“Absolutely. It’s closure.” He picked up a spoon from the bar and tapped it on his glass to get everyone’s attention. When the crowd quieted down he spoke. “For those of you don’t know him, this is Tom Harris, in whose honor we’re throwing this little gathering. For those of you who do know him, forget all those stories you’ve heard.”
Everyone laughed then Doug continued. “To get things started in the right way, we have a little ceremony to perform. Tom, let’s have it.”
Tom hesitated for a moment then took a folded document from his pocket. Doug held it up.
“What we have here is a rare artifact that was at one time valuable, but has now lost its usefulness. It’s a marriage license and it gives two people named Thomas Harris and Judi Bright permission to be legally married. As of three days ago it became worthless.” Doug took a lighter from his pocket and handed it to Tom. “Do you want to do the honors?”
Tom accepted the lighter. “If you insist.”
He held the flame to the license, setting it on fire. The people in the room applauded and whistled.
“Way to go, Tom!” one of the men called out.
“Now it’s official,” Doug said. “Get yourself a drink and mingle.”
Tom fixed himself a Scotch and soda, took a sip then moved into the crowd. He stopped to greet a few people from work, all of whom offered him congratulations before resuming their own conversations. Tom felt a bit out of place being there alone but he knew he had to tough it out.
A woman he didn’t recognize stood across the room, engaged in a one-sided discussion with a man. She was about five-foot-six, well proportioned , with red hair that flowed past her shoulders. She politely smiled at the man who was talking to her and nodded her head at the appropriate moments. I wonder who she is?
He moved closer to get a better look and stopped when he was facing her from a few feet away. She glanced at him with light blue eyes that seemed to plead please save me!
Moving casually, he approached and lightly touched her forearm. “There you are. I was afraid I missed you.”
The woman smiled. “I was hoping I’d run into you. I wanted to talk to you some more about that thing we discussed the other day.” She looked at the other man. “Would you excuse us?”
She hooked her arm with Tom’s as he led her in the direction of the bar. “Thank you.”
“You looked as though you were in distress.”
She groaned. “You have no idea.”
“Friend of yours?”
“Never saw him before.” She looked Tom over. “So you’re the guest of honor.”
He laughed uneasily. “That’s what they tell me. What’s your name?”
“Pleased to meet you, Jessica Mays. How do you happen to be at my divorce party?”
“I’m a friend of Peggy’s. We work together at the hospital. You work with Doug at the bank, yes?”
“That’s right.” They reached the bar. “Can I fix you something?”
“A rum and Coke would be nice.”
Tom prepared her drink then handed it to her. She took a sip. “That was an interesting little ritual you and Doug performed. Very symbolic.”
“Thanks. I thought it was silly.”
He took a sip. “The whole closure thing. He thought it would help me feel better but I think I was doing fine without it.”
Jessica rested her trim frame against the bar and cradled her drink in her hands. “How long were you married?”
“Nearly ten years.”
“And you don’t think that after that much time it isn’t a major adjustment?”
“No, I agree it’s difficult.”
“It gets easier.”
Tom looked at her. “Is that the voice of experience talking?”
“Mm-hmm. I’ve been on my own for five years but the first few months were tough.”
Tom closed the gap between them. “What was the most difficult thing for you to get used to?”
She sipped her drink. “Not feeling self-conscious going into a restaurant alone.”
Tom chuckled. “Yeah, I’ve noticed that, too. I’ve gotten some strange looks when I request a table for one. Almost like there’s something wrong with me.”
Jessica rested her hand on his arm and gave a pleasant laugh. “There’s nothing wrong with you. I went through the same thing.”
Tom peered into her soft eyes. “At the risk of getting too personal too fast, may I ask you something?”
He hesitated a moment. “Are you currently involved with anyone?”
She looked at him with a sly smile. “Are you really interested or on the rebound?”
“No, I’m really interested.”
“I’m not seeing anyone at the moment.” She took a drink. “Is this where you ask me if I’d like to run away with you to Cancun?”
Tom laughed. “Whoa, that’s a little fast for me.”
She traced her fingertip along his hand. “Then why don’t you come out of your shell and ask what’s on your mind?”
“Okay, I will. I was thinking we could continue this conversation somewhere more private.”
She laughed. “You can’t leave your own party so soon. Where did you think we’d go?”
“No one was using the upstairs living room when I came in. Would you feel safe there if I promise to keep my hands to myself?”
“Okay, I accept your proposition.”
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Did I get my happy ending? Read “Who Gets the Friends?” to find out.
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.