I am currently working on a full length Dom & Kate novel that I have tentatively called “The Good Life”.
It takes place after the events of The Bird Day Battalion and The V-Day Aversion and while Dom & Kate’s love story is still a major focus, this one will feature a romance for Kyle Anderson. There might even be a cameo or two from his work partner, Detective Tommy Gates from The Downey Trilogy.
I’m making NO promises on the release date so until then, here is the prologue (subject to final editing, etc):
The Good Life
By Genevieve Dewey
Fourteen years ago
“Hey, Motor Mouth!”
Katelyn continued walking, her arms pumping, hands balled and her eyes squinted in a fine line. This was the second week in a row that Dominic had followed her home from school. True, he lived next door, but he always took a separate route home. Except the last two weeks he had followed her and her—hopefully—boyfriend Humphrey the whole way mocking poor Humphrey’s name—he couldn’t help his name could he?—until Humphrey had refused to walk her home anymore. She figured Dom would stop then, but no, here he was.
“Come onnnnn, Skate…”
Katelyn swiveled on her heel and placed her fists on her hips.
“I…Told…You…To…STOP calling me that!”
Dominic ran a hand through his floppy curls—the only almost fifteen year old boy she knew who could have curls and still seem cool—then he grinned. He took a few more lazy strides to catch up and mimicked her stance. She complemented her glare with a pathetic sneer, pathetic because she sort of wanted to laugh at his superman pose. Dom had that effect on her, and it was one of the many things she hated about him. It was not natural or normal for a person to dislike another person the amount she disliked her obnoxious neighbor and yet he always knew how to get a laugh or smile out of her.
“Ok, I’ll stop calling you Motor Mouth. It’s your stupid brother’s nickname anyway.”
“Kyle is not stupid! And I meant Ska—”
“I was just wonderin’ if you wanted to come to my birthday party Friday night?” he interrupted in a lightning fast jumble.
She raised her eyebrows.
“I always come to your birthday parties, remember? And you come to mine. Because our moms are BFFs and we have no choice in the matter,” Katelyn replied, her nose in the air, and an impatient foot tapping. “And I thought it was on Saturday at two?”
He gave a carefree shrug and a lopsided grin but his eyes were on her front. She looked down at herself. Did she have a ketchup stain or something?
“No, I mean, my sister—you know how she just got her license? Well, she said she’d drive me and a few friends to Omaha this Friday night to watch hockey for my birthday. She’s going to just drop us off at the rink and go meet up with her friends, and she promised not to tell Mom because she’s cool like that. So I’m calling that my real party. Kandace is going. She said we can hang out at her friend Grace’s afterward.”
“Oh,” she said awkwardly.
That was possibly the longest thing Dom had said to her since she broke her arm after taking his dare to pop a wheelie on his skateboard. He had written her a horrible poem, horrible even for a nine year old. He called it ‘Ode to Skate’ and recited it to her after she got back from the hospital and his mother made him come over to apologize. It was really bad yet really funny. Which was basically Dom in a nutshell. But ever since he’d hit puberty he had been more prone to witty one-liners and snarky set-downs and avoiding her… until the last few weeks.
She frowned. How come Kandace hadn’t told her anything about this party? What good was it having a sister so close in age if she was going to keep stuff from her? Apparently she was just good for borrowing clothes. Katelyn shifted her feet and narrowed her eyes again. She wouldn’t put it past Dom to be playing some sort of prank on her.
“Won’t Demetria have to check in? I can’t imagine your parents will let her have the car the whole night.”
“Naw, you know how it is. Mom and Dad pretty much let her do whatever she wants.” His voice held resentment. She shook her head. He resented how his sister always got to do whatever, but speaking as the often overlooked kid in the large Anderson clan, she would love to have the amount of attention Ramona and Dino Valentini lavished on Dominic. The newly budding feminist in her also felt bad that Demi was overlooked not because she was one of many like Kate was, but because of the Valentini crime of not having a penis. In fact, new comers to the community were often surprised to learn the Valentinis had a daughter that was how much they forgot to mention her while they extolled Dom’s virtues to all that would stand still.
“Well… still… I don’t want to break any rules…” Katelyn began to say.
Dominic rolled his eyes and snorted.
“We’re not,” he drawled condescendingly. “We have permission to go into town with Demi. We are actually going to watch hockey. I thought you liked hockey?”
“I do! I just don’t want to get into trouble, that’s all. I’m going to be in high school soon. Stuff like that goes on your permanent record.”
“Stuff like what? What record?” he asked, looking confused. She noticed his eyes had made their way back to her front only lower this time. She was starting to feel self-conscious. She crossed her arms and his gaze rose to hers again.
“You know, your college resume? If you want to get the best scholarships to the best schools you have to have a flawless record.”
His mouth dropped slightly and his brow furrowed.
“I was actually thinking about studying my practice National Merit Exams this Friday,” she continued. “And you probably don’t want someone a year behind you tagging along anyway.”
His confused expression cleared up.
“Naw, that’s alright. Like I said, your sister’s coming and everyone knows you two hang out a lot. And that new kid Andrew is coming. He’s in your grade. Just no inviting Kyle, ok?”
“’Kay…” she replied softly. Her eyes were starting to hurt from keeping them narrowed for so long. She sighed. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“What’d’you mean? I’m always nice to you. We’re friends.”
It was her turn to drop her mouth in confusion. Friends? They hadn’t been friends since grade school. Friendly neighbors, yes. Constantly forced into celebrating holidays and birthdays together by their mothers, yes. But the way she saw it, that made them more like… like… distant family or prisoners in the same jail or something.
“Anyway,” he paused with a huge grin and tapped her shoulder with his fist. “Rumor is we’re gonna play Spin the Bottle at Grace’s after the game, so better practice your pucker, Skate.” He laughed and sauntered off towards their houses. She stared at his back for a full minute. He had to be kidding, right?
All through the Lancers game he kept bending forward from two spaces over and making kissing faces, sending the boys next to him into gales of laughter.
Jerk, she thought. He had obviously just invited her to be entertainment for his friends. She nudged Kandace in front of her. Kandy turned around, looked between them and threw an ice cube from her drink at Dom.
“Quit it, moron!”
The boys started laughing even harder until the people behind them said,
“Shut it, dumbasses!”
Their equally scathing reply was lost in the dun dun dun dun of the hockey rink organ and the surge of the crowd as the Lancers almost scored. The boys completely forgot about her and started dissecting the play and the ice and the wobble in the puck and blah, blah, blah.
Katelyn sighed. She liked hockey, but not that much. She mostly liked it when the players got into a fight and the Zamboni guy shot hotdogs. And to think, she could be home reviewing her P-SAT words with a nice pint of Ben & Jerry’s…
It didn’t get any better once they arrived at Grace’s on the west edge of town. It was practically her bedtime yet everyone was jazzed like it was midafternoon. Katelyn stifled a yawn and jumped a bit in guilt when she felt Dom’s hand on her back pushing her through the door to Grace’s large family playroom. She looked at him, expecting a snide remark but he just flushed a bit and dropped his hand like she had cooties. There were four people sitting in a circle around a Ouija board. Each of them had a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms in front of them.
“Hey! We started without you guys! Come pull up a patch of carpet,” a girl with jet black hair a few years older said. “I’m Grace,” she said to Katelyn then pointed at the others in the circle. “This is Tommy, and Cam, and Mindy.”
Dom waved and pointed to Kate and Kandy.
“This is Katelyn and Kandace, they’re my neighbors. And you guys already met Hayden, Andrew and Jaxson.”
Grace nodded. “You staying, Demi?”
“Sure,” Demi said in a bored mumble then flopped down next to Grace. She was still going through her Emo phase, which was not quite Goth, more like Goth-Lite. All of the black wardrobe and morose demeanor, none of the Morrissey and facial piercings.
“Ouija boards are dumb,” Hayden said. “Thought we were going to play Spin the Bottle?”
Dom nudged him. Grace and Demi looked at each other, eyebrows raised.
“I don’t care if we play Spin the Bottle,” Cam replied, looking amused. He grinned at Grace and she flushed and brushed her long hair behind her ears.
“I think Ouija boards are fun!” Katelyn interjected. “And we all just met each other. It’d be a little weird to play a kissing game.”
“What’s the matter, Skate, you chicken?” Dom asked with a huge grin.
His posse started making chicken sounds. She raised her eyebrows and pressed her lips together. Boys were soooo predictable. She felt Kandy’s hand on her elbow.
“That’s the point, baby sister,” Kandy said. “To get to know each other?”
Dom and his friends started laughing again then argued about who was spinning first. Once everyone sat in a cramped circle, Katelyn started praying under her breath that the bottle wouldn’t rest on her. But fate was not on her side because the instant Dom had a turn the bottle spun right to her. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think he did it on purpose. His friends all started laughing again and Kandace pushed Katelyn towards the door.
“Go on. Two minutes,” Kandace said loud enough for everyone to hear, then leaned closer to whisper in Kate’s ear. “Just remember not to hold your breath.”
“What?” Kate whispered back, but Dom yanked her hand and shut the door.
The closet was dark and cramped, as closets were supposed to be, and Kate thought whoever invented the game of Spin the Bottle had to be a man because no girl would find it even remotely romantic. Dom’s hands fumbled on her until he found her face. When she could feel his breath on her face she leaned forward and to the side to give him a quick peck on the cheek.
“There. We can go back out when the timer goes off and you can say we kissed.”
He was silent but his face never moved away from hers.
“Dom?” she whispered.
She sucked her breath in as she felt his lips brush hers softly. It tickled with a prickly rush that made her want to rub her lips to make the odd sensation go away. But she never got the chance; his lips met hers again only firmer. The tingle went away, replaced with wetness and pressure. It… didn’t feel bad at all, but, it still felt… weird. Especially weird because it was her first kiss and she had never figured she would have her first kiss with the same boy who had potty trained with her.
She felt his tongue prod her mouth and she pushed him back.
“Dom!” she whispered as forcefully as she could.
“What?” he whispered back.
“What was that?”
“It’s called French kissing…”
“I know what it is, Dominic!” she retorted in a stern voice. “We’re not actually making out, were just supposed to pretend to!”
He was silent again. Then…
“We… we are?”
“Well, duh, Dom! We’re friends, like you said. Or were you just saying that and now you’re going to make fun of me with your friends?”
“I… no, I mean… yeah we’re… I mean no, I’m not going to…” he trailed off.
His hands left her arms and they felt cold from where his sweaty palms had been.
“Time!” yelled voices from the other side of the door.
Kate popped up and almost tripped over Dominic in her haste to get to the door. She breathed a huge sigh of relief after she opened the door. He stood up and rubbed his hands on his jeans. He looked pale and distracted.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
He looked up from the floor and flashed a quick grin, though he still seemed preoccupied. He shrugged.
“Sure. Think I just ate one too many hotdogs at the rink.”
He brushed by her and gave two thumbs up to Andrew. The boys guffawed, making Katelyn flush with embarrassment. She shot them all a furious frown and deliberately sat as far from Dominic as she could. Kandace tilted her head and looked between them then shared a quick look with Demi who rolled her eyes.
“I’m not playing anymore,” Katelyn said.
Her comment was greeted with a mixture of laughter and jeers.
“Hey, don’t make fun of her! She just doesn’t want to tarnish the memory of me,” Dom said with a smirk and traded high-fives with his posse.
“Or you were just that bad,” Kandy teased.
“Ooohh, ouch,” Grace laughed.
Dom glared at her but his grin slipped and he shot a quick look at Katelyn. Kate began to feel bad; it was his birthday after all…
“I’m sorry. I’m just not comfortable kissing strangers. Dom’s a friend so he doesn’t count,” Katelyn said with her chin in the air.
“Ouch,” Grace said again.
Katelyn couldn’t figure out why. Or why Dom was starting to look mad.
“I have to have the car back by midnight, so if we could wrap this up?” Demi half drawled, half whispered. She looked like she could just waste away from ennui. Katelyn had to give her credit, whenever Demi was in a new phase she went whole hog with the part.
The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, but when she got in bed that night she thought about Dom and how, in retrospect, it was a really nice thing to invite her. She vowed to thank him properly the next day at the family birthday party. The only problem with that was, Dom pretty much avoided her the entire time. And come Monday, he didn’t follow her home. She was both disappointed and relieved. When he continued to avoid her for the next few weeks, she began to think he hadn’t meant it about being friends or she had hurt his feelings. On the third week, instead of reviewing SAT words at lunch with her friend Tracy she wandered over to the cubbie holes where the boys hung out.
“Hi, Dominic,” Kate said shyly. All the boys stared at her with dull eyes. Dom smiled a bit but he looked wary.
“Oh, I was just saying hi.”
The boys started snickering. Katelyn flushed.
“Ok,” Dom said, eyebrows raised.
“Ok,” she replied.
Dom nodded, eyebrows rising even farther. Her flush deepened.
“Actually, I was just wondering if you were going to my Track Meet on Thursday?” Kate threw out, hoping to salvage her pride.
Dom shrugged but his face went back to normal and he sat up a bit.
“If football practice is over, I could maybe stop by,” he said. His friends all went back to looking bored, except the new kid Andrew.
“Are you two going together?” Andrew asked.
“Nah,” Hayden answered for Dom without looking up from his sketch pad. “Dom’s dating Mindy Potanski, where you been?”
Dom nodded but he looked at his shoes. Katelyn’s flush began to feel like the worst sunburn she had ever had. She had been worrying about hurting his feelings and the truth was he was just busy with his new girlfriend. She smiled brightly showing as much teeth as she could without looking like a horse.
“Yeah, we’re just neighbors and friends, right, Dom?” Katelyn replied.
“Right,” Dominic concurred without looking up. He looked bored again and started unfastening and fastening the Velcro on his sneakers. She thought he maybe even looked a bit sad but figured she was imagining things, because on Thursday—and every Thursday after—he showed up at practice and cheered the loudest.
Four years ago
“I can’t do this,” Dom choked out.
“What do you mean you can’t do this?” Kyle mumbled around a needle in his mouth.
“Ow!” Dom punched Kyle’s shoulder after he poked him with the other boutonnière needle.
Kyle stopped struggling with the flower, took the needle out of his mouth and let an irritated huff out.
“Can’t do what?” he asked again slowly.
“I got… man, I got… the worst case of cold feet right now,” Dominic confessed.
Kyle stared at him for what felt like an eternity. Then he took the needle and jammed it into the head of the flower.
“What the?” Dom replied.
Kyle walked over to the leather jacket hanging by the door, pulled out a flask and shoved it at Dominic.
Dom opened the flask and saw it was half empty. Well, that explained why Kyle was having trouble with a few simple pins, he thought.
Kyle put his fists on his hips in a very stereotypically law enforcement sort of way.
“I took a train from Omaha to Pittsburg with your mother, my mother, and two of my sisters for this mother-fuckin’ wedding. Do you have any idea how long that train ride is? As your best friend and your best man, I’m saying your ass is making it to the altar if I have to hog tie you and say your vows for you,” Kyle punctuated the end of his sentence with a finger jab.
“No one made you take the train with them,” Dom countered. “I honestly didn’t even know they still had passenger trains. My dad flew.”
“Please, your dad has some strange sort of immunity to your mother’s Catholic guilt trips and my mother’s passive aggressive snark. For the rest of us, when our mothers get together, there is no free will. It is sucked up into the vortex of impossibly long labors and an eternity of hellfire.”
Dom grimaced and took a long swig of whiskey. He blew his burning breath back out and let loose his worries.
“It’s just… Demi couldn’t make it…” Dom began.
“Half your family couldn’t make the trip, so what? Besides, like I said, Kandy and Kellie made it as honorary sisters. Two for one ain’t bad, right?”
“And Katelyn never RSVP’d…”
“Katelyn hardly knows what day of the week it is these days she’s so obsessed with her Master’s thesis. I’m surprised the library at Omaha Wesleyan hasn’t just set up a cot for her.”
“And hardly any of our friends from back home made it. I just checked and the church is almost entirely filled with Isabel’s family…”
“Dom… Is it about the guest list or about the bride?”
Dominic winced. One could always trust Officer Kyle Anderson to cut to the chase.
“What if she’s… not the one?”
“He asks thirty minutes before the wedding,” Kyle drawled, sarcasm practically dripping in puddles around him.
The door opened and the wedding planner stuck her perky, painted face in.
“We’re going to start lining up soon, so if the groom and best man could join the FOG in the chapel?”
She didn’t wait for an answer, simply closed the door. Dom grunted. Izzy’s wedding planner referred to everyone in the third person and seemed incapable of speaking in anything but questions. Added to that, her voice was almost a carbon copy of the HR lady in Office Space. If he had expressed his doubts to her instead of Kyle, he had no doubt she would have answered with, ‘Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?’
“Effigy?” Kyle asked the door.
“F. O. G. Father of the Groom.”
“Ah,” Kyle said and grabbed the flask for a swig. “Speaking of, how come your dad’s not here giving you the pep talk? Why’s’got to be me? It’s sort of making me remember when we used to hate each other’s guts.”
Dominic grunted then walked to the chair by the window and sat down.
“My dad… Dad’s sort of the reason I’m having doubts.”
Kyle’s eyebrows contracted in confusion.
Dom shuddered as the hooch started making its way through his veins. He rubbed his face and continued.
“My dad took me aside last night after the rehearsal supper on the boat and said, point blank—and I’m not kidding here, Kyle—just point blank said, ‘I’m disappointed in you, son. A Valentini man never settles for his second choice. And he never lets a woman lead him around by a nose ring.’ And that was it. He just levels me and walks off.”
Kyle stared in open mouthed horror.
“You’re shitting me?”
“Naw, man, I’m not,” Dom replied. “I sort of lost my cool, followed him and told him if he objected he didn’t have to come to the wedding, and he interrupts in his Godfather voice—”
“Ah, geeze, I hate the Godfather voice.”
“Yeah, imagine living with it! Anyway, he says, ‘I’m done speaking about it. I’ll be there because I’m your father. This is what fathers do. God willing, you’ll know that one day. And God willing, it won’t be with her.’ And he walks off… again! He waits until the night before my wedding to tell me this.”
Kyle leaned his back against the desk in the room. He crossed his ankles then his arms.
“Well, bright side, I guess you know where you got the last minute thing from,” Kyle attempted a bit of a laugh.
Dominic shook his head.
“The thing is, what if he’s right? What if I’m just settling?”
The corner of Kyle’s mouth tilted up in a skeptical manner.
“Settling for a hot, rich, intelligent woman who can cook?” Kyle asked.
“Who happens to be my second choice,” Dom admitted.
“We should all be so lucky.”
“C’mon, Kyle. Help me out here. Do you think I’m making a mistake?”
“I think…” Kyle stopped and frowned at the dingy orange curtains for a while. Then he turned his gaze back to Dominic and took a deep breath, straightening as he did so. “I think this is the first woman I have ever seen you remotely serious about. You went through more girls than Imelda Marcos went through shoes. And I’ve seen you smile a lot more since you’ve been with Izzy. I think you two can be happy.”
“Yeah?” Dom perked up. He looked down and started straightening his tie.
“Yeah. And, also, I think you deserve better than to waste your life away pining for my obtuse little sister.”
Dom’s head jerked up.
Kyle smiled a bittersweet, wry smile. He pointed at his own chest.
“Cop,” Kyle said.
Dom laughed nervously and looked down at his shiny black shoes.
“You’re uh… technically only four minutes older than her,” he deflected and looked back up.
Kyle’s eyes widened dramatically.
“And yet… it feels like decades most days,” he stage whispered.
Kyle walked forward, yanked the mutilated flower off Dom’s jacket and tossed it and his own into the antique wash basin by the window. He patted Dom on the shoulder.
“Feelings change. You and I hated each other once upon a time, remember? Then we didn’t see each other for years and we saw things differently. Now we’re best friends.”
“True,” Dom replied.
“So any lingering… whatevers and whatifs… you have for Kate have probably changed over time, too, and the next time you see her you’ll wonder what you were thinking. Plus, you do love Isabel, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” Dom answered. He was pretty sure, anyway. He looked back over at the flowers. This was a pretty good pep talk. His Dad had always been full of doom and gloom anyway. Dom pointed at the mutilated flowers, feeling almost cheerful. “You know, Izzy’s wedding planner is going to have your head for that.”
“Excellent!” Kyle said and slapped his hands together. “And here I was worried I wouldn’t have adequate entertainment at the reception.”
Kyle opened the door and made a flourish of waving Dom through.
Dom stuffed the flask back in Kyle’s jacket and grinned. From this moment forward he would just simply stop thinking about Katelyn Jo Anderson. Done. He had a beautiful bride, a football career, and a bright future in Pennsylvania. In fact, after he sent his guests packing, he hoped he wouldn’t set foot in Nebraska again.
Except for holidays.
His grin wobbled a bit.
Then again, Katelyn probably wouldn’t still be living next door anyway after she got her degree.
His grin perked up.
Then he remembered he had promised himself he wouldn’t think of her anymore and his grin wavered a bit again.
Dom shook his head to clear it and clasped his hands in front of him waiting for the bridal music to begin. When the doors opened, he watched light from the gothic stained windows glint off Isabel’s sequined head dress. Kyle was right, she was movie star beautiful and talented and good with kids—probably a necessary skill when one was a pediatrician.
He was being stupid hanging on to a bunch of what ifs. He tried to catch Izzy’s eye but she was busy smiling and nodding at all the guests, pew by pew. His own gaze moved to look at his mother. Ramona Valentini wasn’t looking at either the bride or her son, she was staring dewy eyed at her husband of thirty years and he was staring back at her, love apparent in his expression. Dom looked back at Izzy.
Isabel took the steps up to the altar and turned to clasp his hands as they had rehearsed. Her eyes were calm and confident but there was no adoration like with his parents.
Maybe she was nervous, too, Dom thought. He took a deep breath and smiled. Then he leaned forward and gave her a chaste kiss.
“Ah, we haven’t gotten there yet, young man,” The Priest joked and the congregation laughed.
Izzy’s cheeks flushed and she didn’t return his smile.
“Dom,” she whispered in censure. “We’re already running late.”
He squeezed her hands.
“Late for a very important date,” he whispered and grinned.
She frowned and nodded at the priest in a meaningful manner. The priest winked at Dom then raised his arms wide and said,
“Let us pray.”
As they turned and dropped to their knees, Dom decided he must be right and she was just nervous like he was about taking such a big step. Ever since infancy he had heard the mantra ‘Valentinis only get married once’. Maybe the Alesios were the same and Izzy was under a lot of pressure to get this day perfect. He focused on the fun they would have bungee jumping in Australia as part of their honeymoon package. A wedding was just one day and if she wanted it perfect, he’d make that happen.
The very last thought about Katelyn Anderson he allowed himself to have was no matter how mad Katie had ever gotten at him he had always been able to make her smile, unlike Izzy. But maybe that was the difference between a friend and a wife. It was well past time he stopped thinking he could have both in one woman. He would just find a way to make Izzy smile even when she was mad, too.
After all, if there was one thing all Valentinis had in common, they loved to chase wind mills.
–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.