Chapter 1: Thin Mints

This post is graphic in content with torture and non-consensual sex…do not read if you are easily offended.

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The doorbell rang and I opened it. What beautiful children greeted me here. Two little girls, one in her priceless Brownie outfit holding hands with a girl in her green Girl Scout skirt. Their uniforms had been pressed and their little button badges sewn with loving care on their sashes. They were delicious.

I looked at them. “Well hello.” The grin on my face stretched from ear to ear. How I loved little girls. They are full of such promise.

I leaned forward and brushed a curl away from the Brownie’s face. Behind them, waiting protectively on the curb, a mother waited. I raised my hand and waved. She returned my gesture with one of her own. So friendly. I glanced at her beautiful children.

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Just trying out something…what do you think?

Twenty-five years.

Twenty-five exactly, that’s when he gave me the papers.

I gave him three sons, a daughter, my youth, and he gave me what?

Divorce papers.

After twenty-five years of marital bliss I got traded in for a younger model.

I expected wine and roses and instead I became a cliche.

My youngest left home in June to go to college. My marriage ended in July.

Empty nest?

Never in my wildest imagination did I think my empty nest would include losing my husband.

He remarried in August, the day the divorce was finalized. My only consolation in this whole thing is that she would celebrate her wedding anniversary on the same day as her husband’s divorce.

Fuck him.

Sorry about that. I don’t usually swear, but some words just sum it all up so neatly.

I did well out of the divorce. No child custody issues to deal with as they were all grown, three boys in college on scholarships and my girl just starting her first job after getting her MBA. I’m thankful for that.

I got the house, the jaguar, and even his collector cars. I fought for those. I got over half his pension. Did I mention I had a sympathetic judge?

I sold the house and his classic cars. I sold all the mementoes of our married life; ditched the china, the silver, and the crystal. Made a nice sum on my diamond ring. I even sold all our furniture and gave away what I couldn’t sell. I don’t need his pension now with what I have in the bank, but I’m taking it. I earned it.

When I handed over the keys to my home of twenty-five years all I had left was the jag and an overnight bag. At forty-five I found myself alone in life. I was a middle-aged single woman with no idea what I would do with myself.

I didn’t cry at all until I drove out of the driveway that I no longer owned. I started in California and didn’t stop until I found myself in a campground in Florida. That’s crying and driving. I really had no plan on where to go. I checked in with my kids just to let them know I was all right, but that wasn’t the truth.  I was a mess.

I needed something. I wasn’t really sure what that something was at first. Then I found it. Or the beginning of it. I did a 90-day challenge, a complete body and soul make over. I lost thirty pounds and ten percent off my body fat. I listened to music. I danced alone in the campgrounds when no one was looking, and then it didn’t matter if they watched or not. I danced for myself.

One night a man caught me mid-twirl. He wrapped a hand around my waist and pulled me until our hips met. I’ll never forget the first words he said, or the smirk on his face, or the firelight dancing in his eyes. “I’ve been waiting all night to steal this dance and all week to work up the courage to take it.” How could I say no, when he put it like that?

I opened my mouth to say something but he covered my mouth with his lips. He tasted salty, sweet, sexy as hell, and for the first time in my life my breath was literally taken away.

After he kissed me he winked. “Now that I’ve wanted to do from the very first time I saw you.” I tried to speak again but he pressed his finger to my lips. “Be silent, angel, and just dance with me.”

And I did. And we did, dance that is. We danced for over an hour, and then two.

I tried to say something once but he just pressed his finger to my lips. “Dance, feel, live. Talking comes later. Tonight is for dreams. Let yourself go.”

Again, I did.

I let this handsome stranger hold me in his incredibly powerful arms and twirl me around my campsite, dancing in the firelight, as my soft music spun a web of mystery around us. By midnight, mystery turned to desire. When he pulled me close, pressing our bodies together, he didn’t try to hide his arousal. He never said a word, but it was there between us, hanging with an air of anticipation, excitement, desire, need, and want.

I didn’t know his name. I didn’t care. I wanted to be held in a man’s arms, to be comforted, to be desirable again. He made me feel all those things. Then he leaned down and brushed his lips over mine. I lifted my chin and parted my lips. Our second kiss was a thing for the movies, deep, powerful, moving, heart stopping.

When he released me, I said one word. “Please.”

He nodded, took my hand, and led me away. Behind us, the music swelled and soared around the empty campfire lifting me up and sweeping away my painful memories. I found myself falling from that dizzying height only to be caught and held securely in his comforting embrace. Tonight, I would make new memories. Sweet memories. Memories to make me smile again, maybe even laugh.