I’ve put up a few excerpts from THE GOOD LIFE on this website and shared a few on Facebook, but I thought I’d make it easier on you to find them all at once. Are you excited for the novel? I hope so! I just love those wacky Andersons and Valentinis and their “absurd codependency with each other” as Demi Valentini puts it…
~~~(Copyright 2014 Genevieve Dewey, subject to editing, all rights reserved, etc):~~~
Kandace hadn’t gone but a quarter mile past the gas station before she screeched to a halt. She put her arm out in front of Kate as the seatbelt locked in place. Kate looked down at the redundant restraint.
“Sorry. Mom reflex,” Kandace said sheepishly as she took her arm back.
“What the what?” was all Kate could say as Kandace actually backed the car up half on the side of the road, and half in her lane.
“What are you doing?” she squeaked in horror. She waved awkwardly at the furious drivers screeching around them, honking their horns and waving obscene gestures.
“Look over there!” Kandace pointed to the other side of the street.
“I see… a gas station?”
“No,” she pointed emphatically, “over,” she gritted with another furious jab in the air, “there!”
Katelyn’s eyes scanned the parking lot south of the gas station and finally caught the sight of a long legged, stylish looking woman with luxurious honey-colored hair laughing with a dark-haired, middle-aged man next to a silver and black Bugatti Veyron. The woman turned her head enough for Katelyn to get a full view and finally recognize her.
“Huh. Speak of the devil,” Katelyn whispered. She wondered if the high-end sports car was Isabel’s or belonged to the Italian guy she was flirting with.
“What are the odds?” Kandace whispered back.
“Fairly high,” Kate managed to reply drolly. “We’ve established she’s here for a long visit and Omaha and Lincoln are practically attached at the hip these days. It’s not like we ran across her in York or some place.”
“Actually, York would make more sense. I read an article once in one of Steve’s law journals that said it’s a huge crossroads for truckers and drug traffickers,” Kandace argued, nodding her head up and down, eyes bulging.
Kate’s mouth worked a few dumb-struck times, then she shook her head to clear it.
“Holy spurious conclusion, Batman! How did we correlate Isabel with truckers and drug runners?”
“Katelyn,” Kandace sneered, turning Kate’s head back towards the window, “that is a million dollar car. At the frickin’ Kum and Go. Do I have to spell this out to you?”
Kate moved her eyes left and right, then slowly pried Kandy’s fingers from her jaw.
“I guess you do. First of all, it’s a Phillips 66; there aren’t any Kum and Gos in Lincoln anymore.”
“Oh my God, who freakin’ cares what it’s—”
“And so what, she knows a rich guy,” Katelyn continued with shrug. “Or maybe it’s her who’s rich. Don’t you have to be at least a little bit flush in the pockets to get married at the Heinz chapel? That’s where she and Dom got married, remember?”
“It’s not hers,” Kandace nudged her head towards the window again.
Kate watched the man get in the car on the driver’s side and Isabel on the passenger’s. The man pulled out of the parking lot and headed south on 84th.
“Her third full day in Nebraska and she’s meeting a Mafia kingpin,” Kandace clucked, shaking her head in derision as she pulled out after it.
Katelyn’s laughs filled Kandace’s mom-mobile. She laughed so hard that tears escaped and she actually had to gasp for breath.
“Kandy, that’s so stupid I don’t even know where to begin! First, there are no Mafia kingpins in Nebraska, and second, speaking as someone who is about to marry a man of Italian-American descent, it is extremely offensive that you assume he’s some sort of mobster just because he’s Italian.”
“Excuse me, I did no such thing! I assume he’s a criminal because he has a car that costs more than my wealthy husband’s house—”
“By a few thousand dollars…”
“A few hundred thousand dollars. At a gas station people only go to for Pick 5 tickets and drugs—”
“And gasoline and food.”
“And he’s hanging out with a woman half his age from where all the mobsters live in Pennsylvania.”
“She’s from Pittsburg, not Philly.”
“Yes, that’s why they put them right next to each other and named them the same thing,” Kate retorted sarcastically. “Besides, if he was a wealthy drug lord he wouldn’t actually be doing some drug deal at a gas station, you know that, right?”
“Why are you being so difficult?”
“Why are you being so insane?”
Kandace didn’t answer, instead she just kept following the Bugatti when it turned west on Havelock.
“I thought you had to pick up the kids?”
Kandy tapped an icon on the screen on the dash of her car. “Carm? Can you tell Steve I’ll be running late and he’ll have to take the boys to peewee football?”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Cheney.”
Katelyn smacked her forehead for what felt like the twentieth time this afternoon. “You are seriously going to make your lawyer husband take time off to pick up your kids when you’re a stay-at-home mom?”
“I am a business owner now. We share duties.”
“Translation: Steve is back to overindulging your whims and fancies. And you are not currently giving me whiplash and breaking traffic laws for business purposes,” Kate said, white-knuckling the Jesus-handle over her door.
“Carmela would have said something if he had a conflict. And Steve likes pampering me. You should consider letting your man do the same every once in a while or you’ll end up as puckered as Kel.”
“Uuuugh! How is it possible you can be so talented at baking and finances, yet be such a flighty idjit all at the same time? I’m telling you, Kellie was right, and I was worrying for nothing.”
“And I’m telling you she has a hidden agenda!”
“Please stop following them. Please.”
“If you get us arrested or killed I will seriously hurt you.”
“Exactly how could you hurt me if you’re—”
Katelyn’s phone belted “Ring of Fire” and she gave her sister the ‘talk to the hand’ gesture.
“Hey Dom,” she answered, still gripping the ceiling handle and closing her eyes so she wouldn’t have to watch the traffic.
“Whatsa happenin’ hotstuff,” Dom answered, Sixteen Candles style.
“My sister’s trying to kill me. What’s up with you?” she answered shakily.
Dom’s deep chuckles tickled her ear, “Speaking of Andersons with a death wish, your brother said we could come over to watch the game at his house. That’s three date nights in a row, in case you’re counting. Don’t say I don’t know how to treat my laaaday,” he drawled in a comical deep voice.
Kate laughed at his smug, goofy tone. “Which game?”
“Do you care?”
“No,” she admitted with a little shrug. “It’s not a Monday so it has to be baseball you’re watching and I’m sorry, but baseball is reaaally super boring. You know I only watch it with you for the foot rub you give me.”
“And I only give you the foot rub for the gratitude you display later.”
Kate giggled a little, “Alright. Who all’s coming?”
“Mmn, his partner for starters.”
“Wuuuut? No,” she whined.
Tommy Gates was always so broody and quiet. And if she was going to be forced to watch a sport in which there were no periodic bouts of violence, unlike hockey or football, well, she needed someone to chat with. But getting conversation out of Tommy was like squeezing blood from a turnip. She far preferred the daring, brash extrovert type like Dom. Well, obviously.
“And who else?” she asked, thinking it was odd that Kyle would invite Tommy when he was inviting Dom. The two never hung out together.
“Well, Kyle said Izzy was going to stop by.”
“Yeah, so I said, hey, why don’t you invite Tommy? To even things out,” Dom replied in a rush.
“How is that even? Three guys and two women who don’t know each other?”
“I just mean, you know, one of my exes, one of yours… maybe they’d hit it off…” he trailed off.
“I’m pretty sure Tommy’s involved with someone, and surely you would not be so clueless as to compare one chaste date with Tommy with a marriage to Isabel. In which sex was involved.”
There was pointed silence on the other end.
Kate plowed ahead to cement the point. “And did you consider maybe Kyle wanted Isabel to come over to spend time with him alone? Unlike Tommy, Isabel is not currently involved with someone.”
“I doubt that’s it,” Dom continued, tone still infuriatingly oblivious. “I mean, why would he?”
She wanted to argue the point, but she couldn’t very well admit that Kyle was supposed to be schmoozing Isabel because she asked him to.
“Besides,” Dom continued, “Kyle said Izzy was originally planning on spending the whole day and evening with her great aunt in Papillion baking for some charity thing, but when she heard we’d be there she insisted she could stop by for the game. I guess she has something she wanted to give me.”
“Reaaally,” Kate drawled. She opened her eyes to look over at a smirking Kandace.
“Papillion?” Kandace mouthed.
“I mean we don’t have to go…” he said, his voice finally seeming to catch a clue something was wrong.
“Nope, it’s fine. Sounds like fun,” she chirped.
“Kaaay,” Dom replied doubtfully.
“Loveyoubye,” she said quickly and tapped ‘end’.
She tossed the phone in a drink hole on the console and met her sister’s grim and smug countenance with narrowed eyes.
“She’s going down.”
Kandace laughed and floored the gas pedal.
–Copyright 2014, Genevieve Dewey.
Katelyn’s face remained set in a stony, furious glare. Just when he thought it’d last forever, it relaxed a bit into a tired, defeated expression.
She stared at the floor as she released a long heavy sigh. “Why do you love me?” she asked softly.
Dominic studied the top of her head, her wild curls headed in odd directions.
“I honestly can’t think of one thing that isn’t worth loving about you,” he replied with the utmost sincerity.
Her head slowly lifted and she shook it. She looked annoyed, frustrated, and pleased all at once.
He smiled gently. “I mean, even your annoying habits make me want to kiss you or laugh—whether at, or with you—and I’ve seen you at your worst. Even better, you’ve seen me at my worst and we’ve stayed friends through it all. Who cares why I fell in love with you? I just did. Period. Skate, if it were possible to choose who we fall in love with, no one would ever get it done, because we’d all be chasing after this ideal person who doesn’t even exist.”
Katelyn frowned a bit then tilted her head slightly shoulder-to-shoulder as if she was mulling over the idea.
“The fact is, I’ve loved you so long it’s just as ingrained a habit as brushing my teeth,” Dom continued with a shrug. “I have no intention of stopping even if you stopped loving me. Which I would hate. It would totally kill me, but I’d deal… while hating it. Completely. Just putting that out there.”
She released a short, weak laugh. “I’ll just ignore the being compared to teeth brushing and focus on the fact that you’re an amazing man. I’m not trying to be falsely modest here, and I’m not being self-deprecating when I say I honestly don’t understand what a sexy man like you is doing with me. I know I’m not ugly. I’m intelligent, and I’ve a good work ethic. I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I can cook a mean tater-tot casserole—”
“Your tater-tot casserole does bring all the boys to the yard.”
“And I can even see why you would love me,” she continued, laughter in her voice, “but to have fallen in love with me, to be as attracted to me as you obviously are… I’m sorry, it’s just… some days I can’t help but think such an amazing man deserves better, even though I’m pretty awesome myself.”
“You are, yes,” Dom answered, trying not to laugh at her incoherent and contradictory babbling.
“Ugh, honestly, I don’t even know why I’m acting this way. All I know is I’m beginning to annoy myself with it. How stupid is it to feel something when your brain is screaming it’s completely illogical? I wish I could tell you why I’ve been so jealous and insecure lately. It’s like my moods are just all over the damn place. Oh my God!” Kate stopped and clapped a hand over her mouth. Then she cupped her cheeks with her palms, her mouth suspended in a pretty pink ‘oh’.
–Copyright 2014, Genevieve Dewey.
“Shit! I’m sorry, I—gah!” Kyle covered his eyes with his hand and started backing up to the door. He had about gotten the door shut when he heard her riotous giggling.
“Would you like to stay and watch?” Demi asked.
“Oh, don’t be such a stick in the mud. Everyone does it. I’m sure even a tight-ass like you has done it once or twice.”
“Ok, first, that has got to be the first time in my entire life someone has called me a tight-ass, and second, when and if I spank the monkey is none of your business.”
“Spank the monkey. Nice. A little outdated, but always fun to say.”
He opened his eyes. She had closed her legs but she continued to be unapologetically naked. She trailed one of her painted nails along the base of her stomach and smirked at him. He was starting to get irritated at her lack of embarrassment. Here he was trying to apologize and express common decency, and she was mocking him for it.
“Gee, I’m sorry,” he sneered. “It’s the middle of the day and you’re naked and rubbing one out in your mother’s guest bedroom. If expressing surprise makes me a tight ass, so be it. Exactly what would you have done if I had said yes, I want to watch?”
She rolled on the bed to prop her head on her hand. She looked like a Rafael painting, still-damp hair caressing her hour-glass curves, body adorned only with an enigmatic smile. She moved her free hand to push her chestnut hair back, exposing more to his view and sending a few rivulets of water down to her nipples. It was physically painful to move his eyes back to hers.
“I’ve never really done the voyeur thing before,” she eventually said in a ponderous manner, “but I might like it, who knows? There’s a first time for everything and no one’s expected home for a few hours.”
There was a look in her eye somewhere shy of cynicism but definitely containing that special provocateur’s blend of humor at another’s expense he recognized from his years of interrogating suspects.
“And, as usual, you go trolling for the shock factor,” Kyle sneered.
“No, I said it to be funny. It’s called having a sense of humor. You might get yourself one. I think you’ll find your life easier.”
“Again with you implying I’m repressed with no sense of humor. I don’t even know where to begin with how off-the-mark that is…”
“Gee, I’m sorry,” Demetria mimicked him in a taunting manner. “You’re the one walking into my mother’s home and my bedroom without knocking. If joking about it makes me a troll, so be it. Why should I put up with you judging me, but you get a free pass?”
He pinched his nose and took a deep calming breath. He waited until he had turned around to face the door to open his eyes.
“Look, I’m not trying to be a jerk here—”
“And yet, you’re succeeding so admirably,” Demi interrupted.
“I apologize for entering unannounced. I heard—I thought—never mind. If you could turn off the music and get dressed, I need to speak with you about the wedding. I’ll just wait in the kitchen.”
He turned the handle on the door but paused when he heard her voice in his ear and felt her body right behind him.
“Super-secret option B, you get undressed and we have the conversation right here. I have some oils I could use to align your chakras while we chat.”
He shook his head at the door. Why did he even bother to try to reason with this woman? She clearly got her kicks off being outrageous and scandalous, emboldened with an arrogant sense of entitlement that everyone would be too polite to call her bluff.
He turned around abruptly. She smiled in a smug, challenging manner. He returned it with a leer and enjoyed the rapid blink of her eyes and look of confusion that it elicited. He reached up and started unbuttoning his dress shirt.
“Sure. I got a little extra time, and I’ve been told I’m a good multi-tasker. Might as well let you help me loosen up some of this tension from work,” Kyle said.
She started backing up and her face became a marble of emotions: shock, consternation, nervous humor, and trepidation. Her eyes widened to saucer-like proportions as his hands undid his belt. Had no one ever called her on her bullshit before? Maybe it was the swanky music, maybe it was his chubby taking precious blood supply from his brain, but he hadn’t enjoyed calling someone’s bluff this much since the rat squad threatened him with an inquest if he didn’t spy on Tommy’s Mafia connections for them.
“What about Isabel? I thought you two had plans again tonight…” Demetria trailed off, her chin rising in an obvious effort to regain her composure.
“Hey, why don’t I call her and ask her to join us? I mean, you’re all about free love and all that, aren’t you? First time for everything, right?” Kyle mocked.
“I suggested we talk! I never said—” Demi cut off with a flush and a suspicious glare.
She stopped backing up and reached out to pull his belt free of his pants. His gaze never left hers. He tried not to respond any more than he already had when her hand found its way inside his pants.
–Copyright 2014, Genevieve Dewey.
As soon as Demetria heard their car doors slam, she locked the door, poured herself a glass of wine, and tapped Isabel’s icon on her phone contacts.
“Oh, sweet baby Jesus, I just did the most fucked up, stupid thing I have done since I dared Janice Pickering to go down on me.”
“Well, that’s a helluva start to a phone conversation,” Isabel replied. “I like it.”
“Oh my Gooood,” Demi wailed.
“We’ve covered the supplications to a deity you no longer worship. Can I get a clue here? Buy a vowel or something?”
“I just had sex with Kyle.”
Silence. Then, “Like…. Kyle Anderson? The guy who is very unsubtly dating me just to placate his sister? That Kyle Anderson?”
“Ugh. Do you hate me?”
“No. Nooooo. Nope,” Isabel replied. “But I am going to need details.”
“Haha! I love you.”
Isabel sighed, “If only that were true.”
“No, come on, tell me. How’d this happen?”
“I was just… sort of… and then he came in, and we argued, and then…”
“Suddenly your vagina fell on his penis?”
Demi sighed, “Yeah, it was almost that weird and bizarre.”
She could picture Isabel tilting her head shoulder-to-shoulder. “Well, he is pretty good looking,” Izzy continued, “and he’s got that very mid-western, ‘I got this handled, ma’am’ solid, dependable sort of guy thing going on. Not as hot as Dominic, but still, definitely high on the Tingly List for Girls.”
“But… since when have I ever gone after the solid, dependable guy? He’s a cop, for Pete’s sake!”
“Yeahhhh, I knew that already.”
“Omigod, and I had sex with him while he’s dating you and before you have. I mean… before you have, right?”
Demi’s ear filled with Isabel’s loud, exasperated sigh. “Shortcake,” she said, using the nickname she’d given her in college, “sex between Kyle and me was never ever to the ever-never going to happen.”
–Copyright 2014, Genevieve Dewey.
“Mmnn,” was all she could manage. Soporific didn’t seem strong enough to describe the delicious sense of repletion she was feeling.
“So you’ll stay?”
The only answer she could give was a long, slow exhale. She opened her eyes as his words caught up to her. “What?”
His gaze dipped a little to stare at her chest. “You agreed to give us a try…”
“I know. I know I did, but…”
“Demi. Just a few more days so we can start to get to know each other all over again as adults. You can pretend I’m a stranger. If that’s what you need,” Kyle’s silver-grey eyes were soft and earnest.
Her heart clutched a little. “Kyle, I…”
“Hi, I’m Kyle,” he plowed over her. “I have three sisters and a brother. I’m a detective. I like hockey and football and boiling my brats in Guinness before I grill them. You own a tourist shop, you’re an even bigger Star Wars fan than I am, you don’t eat meat or drink dark beer. Which is fine, more bratwurst for me anyway. You can have the sauerkraut.”
She choked a little laugh out, “That’d be a stranger who’s been stalking me.”
“Admit it. Just admit it, please. You want me as much as I want you.”
“Wanting you isn’t the problem, Kyle,” she said. Her stomach felt like it was inside her heart right now. She pushed herself off his lap and straightened her dress.
–Copyright 2014, Genevieve Dewey.