Happy #Bookloversday2018 readers! Check out this excerpt from my first book. As I write my third book I have been using this one as a reference, since book number three is the conclusion to Josh and Alicia's story. Check it out and consider getting a copy or reading it again if you already have it. As always, thank you for your time and enjoy!
Getting to the Hart of It: A Complicated Romance
When Ex-Husband Rick meets Alicia’s new love interest Coach Josh a different kind of spark flies...
As Chris and I pull into the complex chatting and laughing I stop when I notice the brown BMW parked in the visitor parking area. My heart sinks. It’s Rick.
“Isn’t that Dad’s car?” Chris asks. And before I can answer he gets out of the driver’s seat. “Mom, it is dad. I wonder what he’s doing here.” And my baby boy sounds as annoyed as I feel. I guess we both knew unless he said hello and then left, that he was infringing not only on Friday night movie time, but also on Josh and Derek’s time.
I leave the garage door up so he walks in and says “Hello,Alicia.”
“Hey, Rick,” I say, trying my best not to sound too super annoyed.
“Chris, how’s my big man?”
Chris slowly gets out of the car, “Hey dad. I’m fine.”
“You look great, son. How’s everything been going? Isn’t the big game tomorrow?”
Chris looks at me and then back to his dad and says, “It’s next Saturday, Dad.” “Oh, okay. I guess I got my weekends mixed up.”
I tell him to come in so I can close the garage and then I roll my eyes as I use the key to open the back door.
“Well dad, I have to take a shower cause my new best friend is coming over tonight for movies.” Rick looks perplexed. “Oh okay, it does seem like you had something else on your mind.”
I’ve never seen Chris like this. He is so impatient with his dad tonight.
“Mom, may I go upstairs now?”
“Sure Chris, go on ahead and get clean.” He then looks over at Rick, “see you later, Dad.”
“I’ll be here when you come back down, son.” Chris stops in his tracks, “You will?” I am sure Chris thinks his night of fun is ending and he could be right.
“Go on up, Babe,” I say almost urgently. I don’t want his dad to get enraged because Chris is definitely annoyed.
Then Rick turns to me. “Alicia, I really thought the email said the game was tomorrow.” I sigh, “No, I definitely said the weekend of the thirteenth. Besides, Rick, it’s Friday night and the games are on Saturday.”
He shrugs, “Well yeah, I know but I thought he and I could hang out a little before the game and I could catch up with him. But he seems like he doesn’t want to be bothered with me. Have you been saying anything to him?”
Now I know this fool is not asking if I told our 10-year-old anything negative about him. Doesn’t he know I don’t have to?Chris gets disappointed without me doing a thing. So I tell Rick this and he starts to get loud with me.
“Are you kidding me, Alicia! You are talking to him about me, and you’re out of line!”
OOHH! I’m going to blow.
“No, you’re out of line for showing up tonight pretending to be a dad on the wrong weekend of your son’s first soccer game!”
“See, this is why I can’t talk to you. You’re one of the reasons why I don’t see Chris more.”
“Excuse me” I yell, “you’re the reason you don’t see Chris more!” Now we are glaring at each other across the room because we know better than to be up close. I never think it’s smart to talk to a man like he’s crazy, but tonight this man has shown me he’s totally crazy! In addition he is messing up my plans with Mr. Wonderful. This almost makes me as angry as him being a raggedy dad.
“It sounds like you want me to leave?”
I sigh again. “It’s not that I want you to leave, Rick, I just want you to be here for Chris. He needs his dad. I am doing the best I can as a single parent, but you’ve got to meet me halfway. And now that’s he’s becoming a young man he needs you even more. He’s probably frustrated tonight because you got the weekend of the game wrong. That shows him you don’t pay enough attention to care!”
I’m half screaming and Rick looks kind of wounded. He takes a seat and puts his head in his hands. I have no feeling of wanting to console him or rub his back or tell him it will be okay. I just want him to agree to do better and get out. Come back tomorrow and take his son for burgers. But not tonight.
Just then the phone rings. It’s the guard booth. Josh is here.I start to panic internally as I realize in mere seconds my ex would be meeting my future. I know it was far off in the future but I certainly didn't want Rick spoiling anything.
"So I guess that’s Chris' little friend."
"Yes that would be him."
I could hear Chris run across the landing and start making his way downstairs. I had no way to stop whatever was going to happen.
"Mom, I heard the phone so I think Derek and Coach are here." I smile sweetly and nod my head yes.
"So the soccer coach brought him over?" Rick asks, still in his funky tone.
"Yeah, Dad, Coach is Derek’s dad. We had movie night last Friday too." Explosion one just hit the living room couch. I so wish I could run for cover.
"What the…!" Rick exclaims. I glare at him from across the room, but I'm also glad he remembered to watch his mouth in front of Chris. I don't play bad language around my boy.
There's a knock at the door and the inevitable is about to enter the living room.
"I'll get it," Chris yells. Anxiety is looming over me like a huge cloud.
Be calm, Alicia. You can handle this.
"Hey, Derek! Hey, Coach, come on in" I can hear Chris' happy voice saying. "My dad stopped by, come on and meet him." So innocent, I think. Let’s see if Rick can keep from showing out.
"Dad, meet my best friend Derek Hart and his dad Coach Josh."
"Very nice to meet you, Derek," he says ever so charming. He can really turn it on when he wants, I think.
Then Josh extends his hand. "Nice to meet you, man. Joshua Hart." He's so gracious, but I am sure he wishes I would have warned him. Technically he doesn't know enough about Rick to dislike him like I do but still, this cannot be a pleasant surprise I'm sure.
"Rick Parsons." And I see a small bit of the funk still left in his body language. He does a quick once-over of Josh in that guy way they do it. More than likely he is trying to figure out why he's here.
Josh turns to me then. "We brought ice cream…to celebrate the first week of practice," he says searching my eyes. As if to ask, Should I leave because this is a bad time or should I stay because you look so tense.
"Thanks, you guys," I say smiling and looking directly at Josh and then turning my attention to Derek. "We really appreciate it. I guess I better get it in the freezer."
"Well this is really cozy, isn't it? The coach and my wife playing house." Okay, well World War II has officially just erupted in my living room, which tonight seems extra small.
My super sensitive ears hear Derek whisper to Chris, "Are they still married?" Chris whispers back, "not in forever."
"Boys," I say, “why don't you go up and play some video games. We'll call you down later for the movie."
"Okay, Mom, thanks," Chris says, and then they run upstairs to his room.
When I turn around I see that Josh has taken a seat on the couch. He is not leaving and I am loving him for that right now.
I glare at Rick who is standing in front of the kitchen barstools with his hands balled in fists. He beats one of them on the bar.
"First of all, Rick, I am not your wife! Second of all we already had movie plans with Josh and his son, and thirdly, it’s just really none of your business!" I kinda half scream that last part. Mind you, I am mild-mannered and although things can annoy me I rarely raise my voice to a scream and I'm never outright angry. But tonight I am.
"Really, Alicia? I come over here to see my son but get surprised when some man shows up. Then I find out the man is my son’s soccer coach! What did you expect me to be other than upset," he fires back at me.
Leaning against the living room wall, I rub my hand across my forehead and try to find peace within myself, so I don't scream at this sad excuse for a father I see standing across my living room.
"Look, you showed up unannounced on the wrong weekend. We already had plans and I'm sorry if this makes you feel irritated or uncomfortable but a simple text would have saved you driving over here,” I say more calmly.
He breathes in loudly, obviously still annoyed. Josh is looking straight ahead on the couch, almost like he's my bodyguard. In the midst of this mess he is happiness. And that's 6-feet-1 of happiness.
"Well, sorry," Rick sort of mutters like he's 12. "Next time I'll make sure to text first, I guess," he says with an attitude.
Then he walks across the room past Josh and me and calls upstairs, "Chris!"
Chris comes running down the stairs, "Yes, Dad."
"I'm leaving, big man. Give me a hug." He hugs his dad. Not lovingly like he hugs me but just enough to suffice his dad. "See you at the game, okay?"
Okay, Dad," he says in a tone that suggests he will believe his dad when he sees him in the stands. I know Rick picks up on it, but to save face he stays quiet.
"Bye," Chris says while running back up the stairs.
Rick then turns to me. "Make sure you aren't talking down about me when I'm not here, Alicia," he half barks at me. "I'm his dad, not some soccer coach boyfriend of yours!"
My stress level is through the roof! Who does he think he is? I'm so mad I could use profanity. But before I can think of a quick retort, I see Josh rising out of the corner of my eye. I’vegotta get Rick out of here – now.
"I'm not trying to be his dad," Josh says evenly.
Oh man, the crap is about to hit the fan now.
"Excuse me, Coach, I was talking to my wife…." but before he could say another word Josh spoke again.
"She's not your wife, man. I wouldn't be trying to date another man’s woman."
"You know what, I think I've had enough of your smart mouth," Rick says turning as if he's going to head back into my living room. But I step in front of him.
"Let me walk you out," I say, looking up intently into his face. With Rick standing almost 5-feet-11 it appears I'm a tall guy magnet. Funny, since I'm only 5' feet 4 in my bare feet.
Rick is so mad. His breathing is uneven and he is seething. I see Josh move again and am grateful he sits back down. This is when Rick starts calming down and finally looks at me.
"I'll call you this week," he says and then turns and storms out slamming the front door.
I stand there for a few minutes shocked at the exchange that just took place in my normally mellow household. I feel tears stinging the corners of my eyes and I stand there still facing the door trying to compose myself.
And then I feel Josh place his hand softly on my shoulder. "Are you all right?"
I try to swipe at my tears and turn around to face him. I see the concern in his eyes and I know he really cares. I open my mouth, but nothing comes so I shake my head no. And I lean into him and he hugs me. We just stand there in the dimly lit hall as I sob softly.
"I'm here," he says, "let it out." In the midst of all my turmoil I feel peace. Who is this man that has come into my life?Is he for real? I don't know, but for right now I am going to believe he’s meant to be here.