Title Middle Ageish
Author SHIRLEY GOLDBERG
Genre Romantic Women’s Fiction
Publisher Wild Rose Press
Sunny Chanel's marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says "au revoir" Paris and croissants, and "hello" cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles.
Encouraged by her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She's middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can't forget calls with an unexpected request.
Noah unlocked the door and pushed it open. “Come in, make yourself at home. My little place. I’m happy you’re here.”
I stashed my picnic basket on the floor under the television, and crossed my arms, but no matter which way I turned, it was there. The bed. Gigantic…and exactly what I had expected in a motel room anyway.
“Let me show you around.” He took me by the hand, led me around the room stopping outside the bathroom. “Yes, we have our own private facility. There is also, as you can see, a king-size bed so my legs don’t hang off the edge.”
He fiddled with the lights for a few seconds, found the dimmer, and turned off the bright overhead.
“I need to kiss you,” he said. He pulled me close, the kissing teasing, holding back and then not holding back, his mouth insistent, his arms pressing me to him, mine wrapping around his neck. We were like that until my legs got wobbly.
“Can we kiss sitting down?” I asked.
“No.” He kissed my nose. “What’s in that basket you brought?”
“Yes, dear,” he breathed, lowering me to the bed. He kissed my neck, my most vulnerable area—well, one of many—and worked his way up to my mouth. My lips parted, and I groaned. “What’s in that basket?” he said in between kisses.
“You’re getting repetitious and…” I tried holding in a moan, “You think that because I am groaning, you can lure me down a path of no resistance.”
He threw back his head and laughed, his Adam’s apple sticking out. “I think no such thing. What I think is we should read for a while. I brought a couple books. We both could use a cool down.” He saw me glance at his crotch. “What are you looking at?”
“Me?” I smoothed my sweater. “What books have you brought?”
“A few. My self-help books.” He pointed to his bag. “In there. And you?”
“I’ll read you some stuff from Catcher.”
“As in, The Catcher in the Rye.”
“Of course, in the rye.” He stood, turned around to adjust his pants. “I think I read that.” I could see him fiddling. “In high school. Or college.” He walked over to the desk and opened his wallet, closed it.
“Did you like it?”
“I guess so, don’t remember much.”
“Didn’t think it was funny? Funny-sad. But very funny in places. How everything’s moron this and that.” I reached for a tissue. “I’m rereading it with a friend.” Well, we were thinking about reading it. “So you—it wasn’t a book you remember fondly?” I got up, took off my cardigan.
He took the sweater out of my hands and held it for me. “I don’t remember much,” he said. “Sorry.” Then Noah eyed the picnic basket on the floor. “Your basket is for real. The picnic. You weren’t kidding around.”
I nodded, got up and brought the basket over to the bed. I reached in and pulled out the package of figs, tore it open, and gave him one to taste. I’d spent time wandering the aisles of an upscale grocery store on Orange Street, the kind where the owner speaks with a heavy Italian accent and offers hot, home-cooked dishes prepared with love by Mama.
“Ah,” he said. “My first fig.” He took a small bite, held the fig in his fingers. “Thanks for the fig, honey,” he said and pulled me to him. He kissed me. The kissing lasted several minutes. “Maybe now is a good time to dine?” He didn’t let go.
I kissed his cheek and pulled away. “Right,” I said. I opened the basket, began taking out goodies, one by one, and displaying them on the bed.
“We have a nice French Emmental. Some Swiss sliced. And a pungent spread. Fatty but delicious.” I gestured, palm up, and took out a container. “Then there’s a little potato salad, bought not made. A vegetarian pâté. Crudités in the form of cucumbers, carrots, peppers. A few slices of roast beef. Mediumish.”
I pulled a round plastic container out. “Sliced fruits. Fruit. Condiments.” A little horseradish and mustard in tiny jars I’d discovered when unpacking my box of spices. I’d cleaned Laurent out spice-wise, lifted those jars with the nifty French labels, shipped them over in half a crate. Souvenirs. “A nice bottle of white, properly chilled.” I’d slipped the wine into a thermos bag. “A baguette. And fat paper plates so you won’t spill.”
We were living out an old movie scene, Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in Two for the Road. Poor and starving, they’d smuggled food into their hotel room and hidden it under the covers. We ate slowly, sipping the wine, sitting side by side, touching. A kiss here and there, and before we knew what was happening, there we were, making out again.
We moved to the comfort of the bed, where the horizontal, as Noah called it, was wonderful. As I’d imagined.
“I can’t let myself go,” I said.
“Yes, you can. Don’t worry. I’m in full control, and I won’t do anything you don’t want to do,” he said, and kissed me. “But don’t trust me.”
“You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Turning me on so I’ll lose my brain.” He was looking into my face. “What’s all this trust stuff about?”
“It’s for your own protection not to trust me,” he said. “I don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You could get hurt.”
“That’s right. I could.”
“So the horizontal takes care of itself?” His eyes were a blue-black, unblinking. “Flows along. Horizontal making out is so easy.”
“Very easy.” He paused. “I’m still infatuated.” He rolled onto his side and rested on an elbow. “I’m still infatuated, but I want to be with you because of the other, too.” I said nothing. “When I’m with you I’m always thinking about touching you. Well, when I’m not with you, I’m thinking about touching you. That worries me.”
Nook/Barnes and Noble: https://tinyurl.com/yyuwpq6o
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look into dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.
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