Hi everyone! I HAD A FREAKING BLAST doing my chat today!! As promised, here is the first and unedited sneak peek of Mail Order Groom!!!
Mail Order Groom
Feeling as if someone had removed the last shred of optimism she attempted to hold onto for the day, Jessica Brooke turned towards the aging tow truck driver and asked.
“Is there anything else that can go wrong for me today? “
His weathered face focused on the road, the tow truck driver hid any sympathy he had for the young scientist as she continued to whine about her lifetime tolls.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to understand where she was coming from but, at 8:45 in the morning, sleep had not yet removed itself from his sky blue eyes that were concealed rather nicely by a pair of Ray Bans.
She scanned through the morning’s events in her head. She was seemingly in a state of disbelief at the series of events that had all occurred within a span of ninety minutes.
“First, I wake up late thanks in part to my dear, sweet, boyfriend who decided that he wanted to stay overnight. Usually when he does that, I tend to forget to set the alarm clock. Then, after jolting out of bed after 8, I jump into the shower only to find out that my pipes are frozen solid.”
The tow truck driver stared vacantly at her for several seconds before turning his concentration back onto the road. For his own sanity, he realized that saying nothing would be better than saying something. One wrong word from this one would only make her rant and simmering wrath worse than he wanted to get into at such an early hour.
Praying for any kind of acknowledgement from the driver, Jessica continued to spew her venom.
“So with no water at all, I decided to go to work early and work on some of my notes before this big presentation I have this afternoon. I go, grab my banana, laptop and keys. Check the time, it was then 8:30 which to be honest, wasn’t that bad all things considered. Then, I go, put my keys in the ignition and that is when the car wouldn’t start. Not even an engine turnover. I knew I was in trouble the minute that red ass battery light came on! And then that brings me here with you.”
He was relieved when he saw the automatic gates opened slowly at the Edison Energy plant. The seven minute ride was as aggravating as nails on a chalk board. The quicker he dropped her off, the quicker the morning silence would return.
He pulled into the visitor parking lot smiling from ear to ear. Jessica looked at him and smiled weakly.
“We’re here. I’ll pick you up at the end of the day so that you can pick up the car.” He told her.
“Thanks. See you soon." she said as she gathered her totebag.
Opening her passenger door with the electrical side panel on his driver’s side, he opened the door for her, nearly driving off before she could plant her second foot on the icy pavement.
As quick as he pulled into the parking lot, he sped even quicker out of the parking lot.
With minutes to spare and tote in hand, Jessica rushed through the parking lot, praying that she could go over her notes with a fine tooth comb this morning before presenting her proposal to management.
Since the parking lot was a bit icy, the young doctor's eyes did not see that nick in the ice before her toe did, propelling her forward face down in the middle of the parking lot.
The fall was nothing less than spectacular. Papers flew up in the air and scattered around her like New Year's Eve confetti. Her white laptop that was nestled nicely in her tote, slid quietly from its home and across the parking lot, winding up rather gracefully in a muddied snowbank.
Seeing what happened, the other employees that were in a similar situation slid to her rescue.
Her friend and neighbor Kelly was first to be at her side. "Jessie! Jessie! Are you allright?" she screamed.
Jessica was still face down, unresponsive. Concerned, Kelly began shaking her.
The guard that oversees the parking lot sped over to the growing crowd around Jessica. "She's still not moving? My god that was some fall!"
Shaking her again, Kelly began to beg for her friend to wake up. "Jessie! Jessie!"
Kelly’s high-pitched voice rattled Jessica to the core. It was grating, ringing thru her ears in protest. She didn’t know how long she had been out, but knew that if that voice could wake her up, it could probably wake the dead.
She felt something warm and sticky underneath her face. Bringing her head up slowly, the remnants of what would have been her breakfast flattened like a pancake against her olive skin.
A look of relief went through the crowd while Jessica gathered herself.
Peeling the banana away from her face, she let out a very audible groan.
Kelly kneeled next her, putting her hand on her shoulder to help balance Jessica’s shakiness.
“Jessie, are you all right?” Kelly asked.
Gradually, she gathered her wits about her. Of all the days for this to have happened to her, it would have been today.
All of her preparation along with her self-confidence was scattered around the parking lot like the handwritten notes she had worked on tirelessly for months.
Known as the wallflower with the beautiful long hair and dark eyes hidden three-quarters of the time by horn-rimmed glasses, Jessica was one that did her job extremely well, yet when people asked just who Jessica Brooke was, no one seemed to know.
Jessica refused to have the events of this day ruin this shot for her. This day was to prove to her managers that the experiment she had been working on had a realistic potential of changing how the world today used energy.
Trying to stand up, Jessica’s eyes worked hard to focus on her friend and co-worker.
“Yes. I’m fine.”
Kelly’s green eyes widened.
“That was a nasty spill honey. You were out for a good two-three minutes. Everyone here has been worried sick!””
Kelly began to help her up off the pavement slowly. “Yes.”
With wobbly legs, Jessica braced herself up against her good friend’s arm much to the delight of the rest of her co-workers who continued to stand by with nothing to say.
This wasn’t the kind of attention Jessica wanted. She needed to lighten the mood.
“Everyone show is over. You can now finish your skate to the building. Glad I was here to infuse a bit moment of both hilarity and humiliation into the day.”
Slight chuckles could be heard as everyone not only finished the careful walk towards the building, but also picked up Jessica’s papers and netbook.
“Thanks everyone.” She said as the last person carefully placed her white computer onto her hands as she and Kelly made it safely in front of the door.
Kelly kept a firm arm around her shoulder, so much so that Jessica felt her arm go numb. She moved a step away from her breaking the hold.
“You sure you’re okay Jess? Do you want me to help you into your office?” Kelly said.
Jessica touched her face as she nodded. She was trying to diffuse any more horror by making sure she had gotten the entire banana off her face.
“No, I’m fine. Did I get it all?” she asked.
Seemingly relieved, Kelly couldn’t help but to laugh at the site where the banana made a perfect red outline of itself on the side of her face.
“Yes. It’s all gone.”
Jessica continued to touch her face. She could feel herself grow warm with embarrassment, as her index finger she touched the buckled outline.
“Oh shit! Are you kidding me? Kelly, why didn’t you tell me?”
Kelly continued to laugh. “Oh honey It’s not so bad. It’s a just a red mark. It’ll go away.”
Jessica moved her long hair towards the front of her face. She hit her friend hard on the arm for laughing so hard.
“Come on silly. It’s not so bad. You’ll see.” Kelly reassured.
Kelly rushed her good friend into the bathroom so that could she inspect herself. Jessica couldn’t help but to sprint pass her through the door and view herself in the waist-length mirror that was over the sink.
Thankfully, Kelly was right. It was just a red mark.
After placing some cold water on the mark along with some makeup to cover it, the mark was gone in a few seconds.
She completed her look with some mascara, and some red lip stain. Kelly had never seen her friend look so beautiful before.
With the last thorough brush through her wavy locks over and done with. Kelly overwhelmingly approved.
“You look beautiful.” Kelly said.
Jessica removed her coat. Unfortunately, the new white satin blouse she purchased was a casualty of her fall. It was a muddy mess.
The two women grimaced. Kelly’s eyes began to widen. She knew how stressed out Jessica could get. She didn’t need add anything else to put her past the brink.
“You’ll have your lab coat on. No one will see that.”
Jessica turned towards her in disbelief. “Do you really believe what you’re saying to me right now?”
Kelly wrapped some stray blonde hairs around her ears, revealing a pair of beautiful rhinestone earrings. Deciding to take a breath, she needed to think carefully about what she was going to say before it was too late.
“Well...okay...no. But, you know what? I got an idea.”
“What is it?”
Kelly took off her coat to reveal with a brown cashmere sweater with a crisp white long-sleeved blouse underneath.
She examined her friend from top to bottom, scanning the details of her outfit to see if anything she had on would match. She took off her sweater and gave it to her.
“Here, wear this. It’ll look great with that skirt and those boots.”
Jessica grabbed the sweater and ran into the stall. Seconds later, all traces of the fall were gone. Both women were satisfied.
“That’s so much better! “ Kelly said.
Jessica hugged her friend. “You rock! Thank you so much!”
Kelly adored Jessica. Jessica was one of the few people in the plant who didn’t treat her like a second-class citizen for being an administrative assistant. Never mind that other people like Jessica viewed as a member of the team, in fact the most vital member, who would always made sure that regardless of the situation, all was taken care of.
Kelly smiled and kissed her good friend on the forehead. “That’s what friends do. Come on sweetie. Gotta get you ready for your presentation.”
Jessica pulled away. She took a deep breath to sink in all that had happened to her so far.
“You’re going to do just fine. I’ll get some breakfast and coffee for you at the kitchen. You just get your notes in order and calm yourself down. You can do this Jess.”
Jessica closed her eyes. “Yes, I can.”
“Yes you can and will. Now, let’s go.” She told her friend as they both walked out of the bathroom and down the hall towards the lab.
Maybe the day wouldn’t end up being so bad after all.
Several minutes later with a cup of steaming black coffee and a cinnamon bun waiting patiently to be devoured, Jessica put her rumpled notes in order.
A little damp, she was relieved to see that her net book was working so that she could print out the pages for Kelly to make copies for the rest of her team.
The caffeine woke her up with each sip as she skimmed the pages of her notes, making sure one last time every line and equation was correct. There could be no room for error.
Reading the first couple of pages, she beamed from ear to ear, feeling proud of what she had accomplished.
“How does it look? Everything okay?” Kelly asked her as she plopped herself down in the chair across from her.
The young scientist gave her the assistant not only the hard copy but a copy she had on a purple thumb drive.
“It’s fine. I just need the revisions from the hard drive printed out and the original notes put away in the vault if you please.”
Kelly took the small pile of notes from her and begins to leaf through the various computer print out of equations, graphs and the chemical formulas. She couldn’t even pretend to know how someone came up with something like this from scratch, but it impressed her nonetheless.
“I can’t believe this is it. How long did it take you to do all of this?”
Jessica arched an eyebrow, trying to remember around the time she came up with the experiment.
“Over a year. I started it last year. That last gas price crisis hit everyone hard.”
Kelly smirked. “Sure did. The oil to heat my house is insane. Yours has got to be too. Bet as a new home owner, that took you for a loop. ”
Jessica nodded while finally taking a bite out of her bun. “Yes. Among other things. But, I’m managing. Man, you should have told me that owning a house was going to be so damn expensive.”
Kelly giggled. She couldn’t agree more with her friend.
“But it’s worth it. You can do whatever you want, however you want and at anytime. Oh hell, I even walk around the house naked! “
Jessica let out a huge belly laugh. She could see her friend doing just that. She took another bite of her bun, she replied.
“I can you see doing just that.”
“My house why not. Chad been there yet?”
Jessica rolled her eyes at the thought of her boyfriend. She blamed him in part for the early morning craziness that ensued.
“Yeah, he came over last night for dinner and with those baby blues and blonde hair, I couldn’t say no to him staying the night.”
Kelly replied. “It’s the dimples.”
Finishing up the last drops of coffee Jessica asked “The Dimples?”
“And the tight ass. Your eyes get that glint of hunger in them.”
Kelly continued to laugh. “They do. And when he leans over and whispers to you in that honeyed Texas drawl, you give in.”
Jessica looked surprised to hear her friend talk about her this way. “I don’t!”
“Oh Jessie, you do. I can’t say that I blame you. Chad’s a great looking guy. If I were you, I would have broken in that great big poster bed you got a few weeks back.”
Jessica’s face grew hot. She couldn’t help but to be a little uncomfortable at hearing Kelly talk like this. She decided to look down at her desk. Kelly continued.
“I would have. All that space, those huge cathedral ceilings and that bedroom of yours. Man, that bedroom is divine. I would never come out of it. Much less walk after being with someone like Chad.”
Jessica laughed. “Kelly!”
“Well it’s true honey. The way you came whirling in here meant to me that you must have been up for a good portion of the night doing things in that bed that would spin your morning out of control because you didn’t have time to turn on an alarm clock.”
Jessica eyes widened.
“I knew it! Been there, done that.” Kelly said with a wink. She got up and began to walk out of the office.
“I’m going to go ahead and make these copies for you. How many of them do you need?”
Jessica snorted. “Ten.”
“I’ll get these to you and get these originals in the vault.”
“Glad to make you laugh.” Kelly said.
Since the worst part was over, she decided to check a few things online before setting things up at the lab.
Her personal e-mail was full of headings that contained. ‘Jess, I’m so sorry to hear the news’...
Surprised, she had no idea what the heck everyone was talking about.
Opening one of the e-mails, she noticed that it was from a mutual friend of both she and Chad’s named Gail. Skimming through it albeit very briefly, she noticed that it was from a link on her FriendSpace account.
She hadn’t been onto the social networking site in weeks only using it to mainly catch up with her friends and family that she hardly had a chance to talk to from all the long hours she worked.
Remembering that she had let Chad use her passcode very recently to add some pictures to her site from a recent weekend getaway, she couldn’t help but to look bewildered at the 100’s of e-mails still pouring into her personal e-mail account.
Going to her Face Space account, the page slowly opened to the familiar but hated tune, Jessie’s Girl that Chad had jokingly put up on the account. The day was worse enough, the last thing she needed for to hear the first few bars looping itself over and over Chad’s latest slideshow extravaganza..
When she pressed the mute button, the opening picture of the slideshow slowly opened to her and Chad sitting on a rock with the beauty of the ocean behind him.
The slideshow began to play without song, each photo that appeared, had a red x on her side while on Chad’s side, he smiled happily throughout.
Thinking that either someone broken into her Face Space account, or this was some bizarre joke of Chad’s, her question was answered after the last picture along with message came up in large white caps.
It read ‘Jessica, I logged into your account informing you that after last night, I can no longer be with you. This charade has gone on long enough. I wish you well, Chad.’
She looked at the note in disbelief. She didn’t seriously think he would break up with her this way after three years together.
She decided to check her login admin account on Face Space. After logging in, she noticed that at 3 a.m. it said her Face Space account was logged in to and updated from her computer’s ip address.
She was both mortified and saddened to know that after all they had gone through that he would do this to her without even telling her how he felt to her face. If he had, maybe, they could have worked things out. But this way? Her sadness quickly turned into anger.
“He fucked me; let me sleep while he broke up with me on my Face Space account. What the fuck!” She screamed as she threw the remainder of her bun across the room.
Kelly sprinted into the room. She had never seen the look of both hurt and fury in her friend’s deepset eyes.
“Jessie! What’s wrong?”
Jessica plopped herself back down at the desk and began to throw anything that wasn’t anchored to her desk against the wall.
Shrieking, she replied.
“He…Chad! He…How could he? That motherfucker!”
Kelly ran around the desk to comfort her friend. As she did, her eyes glimpsed at the screen and caught the large lettered caption from the slideshow, now taunting her from the netbook screen.
She was horrified. She had heard that people doing these types of things to others, but she like everyone else at the plant was under the impression that Chad was in love with Jessica.
Jessica was furious as she continued to look at the screen. She had not seen this coming. Not in the least.
With her friend shaking to her core, Kelly did all she could to hold her friend as tightly as possible.
Jessica was deflated. If the day started to get a tad bit better, it just went to depths that there was no way to get out of.
Frustrated with all the drama that had been occurring throughout the day, the presentation she had been so nervous about was turned into a focused production that she was very proud of. It was unflinchingly pointed and professional. With a renewed approach, she answered all of management’s questions thoroughly.
Her bosses left the room with either little or no expression in their faces. All they did was thank her for the great job that she had done for the company and that they would get back to her in a few weeks to see if there was any room for her alternative energy experiment in their budget for next year.
If she could, she would start the day over. Actually, the night before. To her if she hadn’t let that scum bucket Chad in, this whole bad day would have never happened.
The shame he put her through was turning into a level of anger felt so strongly that she needed to see him despite everyone’s wishes.
Since her car was ready earlier than expected, Jessica decided to give the tow truck driver a break from the torture she inflicted earlier in the day and have Kelly drop her off at the auto body shop to pick up her car.
Once home, Jessica changed into her favorite comfort dress of pair of black yoga pants and a heather gray t-shirt. Her long brown hair was pulled neatly into a high ponytail.
Kelly decided to keep her company. Ordering Chinese for them both, the two ladies sat around eating and drinking some great pinot grigo cursing about the catastrophic day.
“I should have never invited that son of a bitch over last night. All that pawing and begging. I should have known something was up.”
Taking a long swig from her near empty wine goblet, Kelly replied. “How could you have known that he would do something like that?”
“This is my fault. I’ve had this house for over a month and there was a part of me that never wanted him here.”
“Well, honey. Maybe your instincts were right. All things considered.”
Jessica emptied her nearly full wine glass with a couple of deep gulps.
“I can’t help but think of what would have happened if I had talked to him more. Maybe there were signs we were in trouble.”
“Trouble enough for him to come over. Sleep with you and then break into your Face Space account while you are sleeping and break up with you over the internet. Honey, he’s an asshole.”
Jessica nodded her head, speaking softly. “Takes two. I may not have deserved this. But I should have wanted to share anything and everything with him because we were together for so long. But to be honest, I didn’t feel like it anymore. “
“Honey, you’re just upset right now. Do not blame yourself. “ Kelly told her.
Jessica replied. “Oh I’m better now. Actually, think I’m finally getting some clarity on this whole thing.”
Jessica took a bite of sweet and sour chicken and poured herself more wine before she responded.
“Well, I think we were going through the motions because I think in part we were doing everything, everyone expected of us. I had worked hard on getting this house and fixing it up over the last month night and day trying to make it into a home. Before last night, he never wanted to see what I had done. All he wanted to do was go out.”
“And is there anything wrong with going out?” Kelly asked.
The alcohol’s effect on what was normally an introverted, unsuspecting person, was replaced by a bold side that Kelly enjoyed seeing.
After Jessica took another long sip of her wine she continued. “Nothing. Nothing at all. I just realized now. That I didn’t want to go with him.”
Kelly’s eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. She didn’t quite understand what Jessica was talking about. “I’m not following you.”
“I could have cared less. It’s like I didn’t have a feeling over anything one way or the other. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to see him. All of this was before last night. And even then, it was like he was pulling teeth for us to go to bed.”
Kelly sighed at the mouthful. She had always thought Jessica and Chad had a pretty good understanding of one another. Perhaps it was the alcohol or the event or a mixture of both that made Jessica feel this way right now.
“Honey, I understand that you’re feeling this way now. But-. “
“I didn’t love him Kel. I couldn’t stand him. Even the sex was like some habitual routine. The only thing out of our relationship that was unexpected was how he broke up with me.”
“You deserve better Jessica. “
Jessica couldn’t agree more. “Yes I do. Tired of getting walked on and being a wallflower. That presentation was supposed to be a step in that direction.”
Kelly tried to reassure her friend. “You did fine.”
“I’m sure that I was so pissed off at how this whole day went that I probably came across as an arrogant bitch. I won’t have anyone else fuck around with me like that again. ”
“Good for you! Heal your heart and then we take on the world together.”
Jessica giggled. “Sounds good. You know, I’m still furious with him, but I don’t want to hunt him down anymore. He did me a favor! “
“That’s right he did. You are better off without him. Better to find out all of this now, then while you are married.”
“Damn straight!” She said as tears quickly filled her eyes.
Kelly ran over to her. “Oh no. Honey’s its okay. All of this will work out just fine. You were with Chad for a long time. I’m sure you wanted to marry him at one point.”
Jessica sobbed hard. “Not why I’m crying. All I wanted was to get married. I used to have this dream of the great career and the nice house and a guy to share all of this with me.”
“You’ll have it Jessie.”
“I’m 27. Maybe I should just be content with the great job and the great house. It’s obvious that men will no longer fit into my plans.”
“There’s someone out there for everyone.”
“I don’t know anymore. Think when god passed out soul mates, he forgot one.”