“I believe in Vicki Marie and her story, she is a brave trailblazer…”

           

What, you've never been to a reading in a pole studio? Hah! You haven't met Vicki Marie.

With readers at Fit Poling Studio, Panama City.

Two weeks ago, I began asking people to help with the expense of translating The Bachelor Chapters into Spanish. The KickStarter Campaign shuts down on July 11th, and I’ll send you a book—or other cool things—when you pitch-in on this project.    Seventeen angels have jumpstarted this challenge, and I’m going to need quite a few more.

        Today, I asked some of my backers to explain why they contributed:

            “I believe in Vicki Marie and her story, she is a brave trailblazer: driven, focused and a positive role model for young woman everywhere. Her vision to take her words to other languages, starting with Spanish, is something I believe in and support by putting my hand in my pocket. Money is energy, money is love, and love is the only thing that life is about.” —Jennifer Meranto

       I’m encouraged that readers have responded to The Bachelor Chapters as more than one woman’s story. Everyone who takes this book to heart sees clearly that this memoir speaks for women in general, and for young women in particular:

        “Vicki Marie’s book is sexy and fun. However, there’s an important message here. Yes it’s about sex and about a woman’s comfort with her own sexuality. But it’s also about women taking charge of their destiny. It’s as much about saying “no” to a potential partner as it is about saying “yes.” With sexual abuse rampant here and in other countries, this is a message that needs to be shared.” —Carole Miguel

      I didn’t write The Bachelor Chapters because I thought my sexual life was unique or extraordinary; I wrote it because I knew my sexual life mirrored millions of other women’s experiences. Social stigma has kept our stories private for generations, and what I’ve done is to reignite the conversation about female sexuality, by explaining what some of us are actually doing:

          “You ask—why is this meaningful for me? I 
support you! I support your endeavors. You are an inspiration—your 
adventurous nature, your energy, your openness to new things in life—to 
an unconventional life. You are brave and you are honest. I cheer for you 
from afar. You are one of my little “lights” that I follow, which takes me 
to an unknown, makes me laugh a little occasionally, and think a little 
too. 
When thinking of you, the following words of Wu Hsin come to mind: 
    “Let there be no confusion 
between 
being an instrument of action 
and 
the author of action. 
In so doing, 
the natural state remains unobscured.” —Jelena Jurkovic

         Bringing this story to Spanish language readers is both a dream and a responsibility. I’m asking for you to join in—so we can engage a global conversation—between women and men—about liberation and pleasure. THANKS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND YOUR GENEROUS HEART! 

Follow this link to: Vicki Marie Stolsen’s THE BACHELOR KNOWS NO BORDERS Campaign to translate THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE INTO SPANISH! or paste this address into your browser: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vickimarie44/the-bachelor-knows-no-borders

 

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 9

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 9

In the aftermath, I became one of the walking wounded, mind-fucked, and heartbroken. How does one survive the brutality of a heart shattered twice? I starved myself, finding comfort in Marlboro Lights and frozen gin, fooled by the habit of showing up for life each day, though I was no longer living. I had mirrors, but did not see my body receding. I was blind to the bones forcing hard angles and sharp points to the surface. My body digested muscle tissue, and I shrank. Ninety days after Paris, I had come full circle. I was no longer capable of feeling a thing.

New York City Martini at The Peninsula Rooftop Bar, 2010

New York City Martini at The Peninsula Rooftop Bar, 2010

The symptoms of malnutrition are serious because without fuel, the body fails and the mind deludes. Medical attention became necessary, and I was diagnosed with depression. Through medication, we recalibrated the serotonin in my brain. Under the supervision of a nutritionist, I learned to eat again.

It was a dark episode, and I got through it with the love of my friends. Trish would come over and feed me. She sat at the table with me, a fork in her hand. She put the food I needed into my mouth, and I chewed. Finally, with food, I could think again, and as I got well, I was able to see what lay behind me. I was stunned that I had been so sick, and not known it. How was it possible that human heartbreak could so twist my body and my mind that I failed to eat?

My friend, Kathy, a mental health specialist, told me that the intensity of my grief was not strange. In my case, it had triggered disassociation, and after that, my shame consumed me. My subconscious started the downward spiral, concluding I was not worthy of love, or even worthy of life. Simply put, there was no longer a reason to feed myself. Her explanation startled me because it was clearly true. It was as if an alien had hijacked my will to live, and I had blindly cooperated in a march toward extinction. Having grasped the significance of the illness, Kathy then put forward the question that would mark the next direction of my life.

“Vicki Marie, first you lost your husband, then you lost a deep love. You’re going to be healthy again, and you’re definitely going to get involved again, and believe it or not, you’re going to fall in love again. So, what are you going to do about it?”

We were on the phone, and I was standing on my deck in the morning sun. I listened, my eyes closed to the warmth on my face. I felt spring in the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“What can you do after the loss of love—because of a breakup, or a serious illness, or even death—so that you can handle deep loss, and never be so seriously sick again?”

There was sweat between my thighs where the denim held in the heat. I thought about death—its inevitability. Even if I did have another love in my life, impossible to imagine, there was going to be death. I was forty-four years old. Death of friends and family would become more common. There were so many people I loved. Loss would find me; if I didn’t prepare, it could break me again.

“At the end of the day, Vicki Marie, it’s just about you.”

I’d been fighting back against my own self-destruction. I was determined to be healthy, and I knew I was going to be OK. But she had just added real weight to my load. This was huge.

“In the end, my friend, you’re simply alone. You’re all that matters. You’re all you’ve got.”

Her words went to my gut. I knew she was right. I needed to do it differently. I wanted my health back, I wanted my heart back, and I never wanted to fall so far again. I needed a plan.

TOMORROW: Chapter 10

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! 12 DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 8

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 8

“Can you stay after rehearsal? I need to chat with you a minute,” she said. I sat on the floor of the dance studio against the wall, waiting for Risa, my salsa teacher to join me. “What’s going on, Vicki Marie? You’ve got no meat—you’re all bones.” I’d been hearing that a lot. “You’re not eating, are you?”

“No, no it’s just my metabolism. Everything burns right through me. I’m fine, really. I know I’ve lost a little—but I’m OK. A little sad, but I’m OK—I’m eating.”

Salsa caliente in Cartagena while writing The Bachelor Chapters, 2012

Salsa caliente in Cartagena while writing The Bachelor Chapters, 2012

“I know the divorce has been hard on you. But, I’m worried—and selfish. There’s nothing sexy about a salsa dancing skeleton.” She put her arms around me. “Eat, chica. Eat. We need you healthy.”

Everyone assumed my busted marriage was to blame for my shrinking body. And it was true; leaving Jon had been traumatic in ways I could never have imagined. Because I was so independent, I didn’t understood how deeply I had needed him to feel whole. And then there was the guilt. I was ravaged by shame. I could not forgive myself for that final betrayal: the breaking of our vows.

Looking back, I can see that the only consistent source of nutrition in those days was the cream in my coffee. But at the time I was blind to what others saw. After all, people were always telling skinny girls to eat. And besides, I didn’t see how I could have lost any weight since there were so many calories in gin. In reality, the blues that conspired to leach inches off my frame and drive despair through my veins had found a fresh source. The stars had uncrossed and the fairy tale had been relegated to fraud; Toni had left me. Her promise of forever had lasted a whopping one hundred and seventeen days.

I was driving south on the interstate when I called her, and she destroyed what was left of my heart. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just don’t feel the same.” “I don’t understand.” My confusion was absolute. “What are you saying?” “I’m sorry, Vic. I’m really sorry.” Shock swelled my brain. She didn’t sound sorry. She didn’t sound like the woman I knew. “No. No!” You’re not making sense! You can’t do this!” Panic consumed me. We’d been in Paris just that past month. There was no way she didn’t love me. I knew she did. I yelled into the phone, desperate for her to take it back, insisting that she remember what was true.

“You said you were going to love me forever! You always say it. You said it when you were here last weekend!” I pounded the line with questions; I had to know what had happened. Had she met someone else? Was it something I had done? When could we get together, I demanded, when could we get together and figure this out? There was nothing to figure out, she informed me, calm against my hysteria. She just felt different. She said it again andagain, failing to give me anything I would ever understand.

“What about our friendship?” I finally begged, when all hope had drained from my heart, leaving only dread in its place. I could not imagine life without her. She was like family. We’d been friends forever. “I know it’s messed up. I can’t explain it. I can’t be your friend. I can’t see you again.”

TOMORROW: Chapter 9

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! 13 DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 7

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 7

She climbed down the ladder, leaving me on the bed in the loft, still blindfolded. Every inch of my skin, and each molecule beneath the surface, vibrated from the sensations of our sex. My mind was suspended somewhere above the scene, having been exiled earlier when sensual greed had consumed all the energy in the room. Her seduction of me was premeditated.

Writing The Bachelor Chapters in Antigua, 2012

Writing The Bachelor Chapters in Antigua, 2012

She had transported the velvet blindfold and special candles from the sex boutique in Portland to our apartment in Paris. The splash of hot wax had teased my skin and inflamed my imagination with a threat of pain that was never delivered. She was pushing new territory—but that was only the beginning. Every day of that trip, every moment of that journey, we banished all limits; we blew boundaries to dust.

Paris was not just the backdrop for the resurrection of the love story of Toni and Vicki Marie; that infectious city inspired a renaissance of sexual creativity incomparable to any previous experience of how transcendent sex could be. Inhibitions lost all relevance. I accepted everything she offered, and raised the stakes with my own scenes. We were a team and we were competitors in collaboration toward rapture. At that moment in my early forties, I started to understand sexual response as not simply pleasure, but as capacity. I could not believe how much I was capable of feeling.

There were no words that could accurately capture our joy; it was simply clear that we were impossibly blessed. The narrative of our destiny, dormant for a generation, had germinated and was finally free to grow. At last it made sense. We were never meant to be together before then. We’d been too young; there were too many other lessons that had to come first. When we danced together on our last night in Paris, she held me close to her heart. We moved as one, once again, and when she whispered French into my ear, the love that burned between us was deeper than passion and older than our lives. “Je n’ai jamais pensé que je pourrais vous avoir, et maintenant je vis pour vows tenir dans mes bras: ce soir et pour toujours, dans l’amour et dans la vie.”

I did not speak French, but I understood every word.

“I never thought I could have you, and now I live to hold you: tonight and forever, in love, and in life.”

 

TOMORROW: Chapter 8

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! FIFTEEN DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 6

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 6

“I want you to open your present,” she said. We were reclining in front of the fire, on the stack of blankets and pillows I had dragged out the night Jon left. Toni went into the other room for her suitcase, while I sipped on the dry red and watched the flames in the hearth dance. I had fallen asleep to this view for almost two months now, since that day in November when I began my life alone. I’d turned the hearth into my refuge, my place to come undone.

I was a veteran in this field, the battle zone where one wrestled with the enemies of self-worth. My duty was to endure my sadness, and experience the unavoidable misery that followed the crushing loss of another love. I knew the drill; years earlier I’d grieved Toni on these grounds, and Beth, too. There was no escape. There was only an unspecified amount of waiting for an unfixed moment in the future when it would no longer matter.

I had ended our marriage. I saw it as my offensive strike against a future that I believed would suffocate me. It was my decision, but that didn’t dull my grief over the death of our life together as a married couple. I remembered how it felt when our hearts had thrived. I remembered the wonder and the certainty and the depth of love that was absolute. I had meant forever—and I knew he had too—nothing I said had ever been as true. I didn’t just leave Jon; I also left the part of me that belonged only with him.

The Naughty or Nice Christmas Card: A Bachelor Tradition since 2004

The Naughty or Nice Christmas Card: A Bachelor Tradition since 2004

Toni came back in the room, and lay down again.

“I’m so glad you’re here.” I said. “It’s great to have life back in this place. I’ve been living with ghosts!” My friends had left an hour earlier. The occasion was a cocktail Christmas party, the night before Christmas Eve, with a handful of my best girls. They all wanted to meet the notorious Toni, and she did not disappoint; she put on a show with her famous flaming cocktail, and added more spice with her contagious wry humor. Everyone had adored the woman they had met. “I get it now, Vic,” Trish said before she left. “She’s the real thing.”

“Your friend, Trish—she cornered me! I got the four-one-one on how I better be treating you!”

“Well, my dear, everyone who was here tonight knows how far back our story goes—and the details of your previous decisions.” Toni rose on her elbow, and faced me, with her back to the fire.

“Listen to me, Vic. I will never do that to you again. I was young the first time, and I was a coward the second time. This is different.” She looked me in the eye. I had no doubt that she meant it. I had always believed in our love.

“I know, baby. That was a million years ago. Trish was being protective. My friends love me.”

“And so do I. You’ll never know how lucky I feel that you let me back in your life. I just want to love you, Vic. I’ll never let you down again.”

Six months and a lifetime had passed since our trip to France. This was our first reunion, and our next beginning. I smiled into those big brown eyes. God, she looked good to me. She had always looked the best.

“Oh, I know you’ll never do it again, Ms. Rey, because, if you did—I’d have to extinguish you from the planet. And that, girlfriend, is a promise.”

“You won’t need to, because I would do it first! But, that’s not happening, that’s never happening—that bitch is dead!”

We raised our glasses, and after the sip, sealed it with a kiss. I couldn’t believe we had finally landed in the same place at the same time. Nothing had ever made so much sense. After twenty-two years, it was finally our turn.

I took the green paper from her hand, folded in thirds, like a letter. “Sorry it’s not wrapped,” she said. “I was in a hurry to get out of the office. I had a date with a sexy blonde in Seattle.” I leaned in and kissed her again. “Now open it!” she said, breaking away, “I can’t wait!”

I unfolded the letter, and tipped the page to the fire so I could read it. There were only four lines. Speechless, I looked up, tears stinging my eyes before falling. Her smile was tender; her whole face had softened.

“Yeah, girlfriend. It’s real.” She reached out, brushing back my hair with her hand. “Merry Christmas, Vic. I’m taking you back. We’re going to Paris—you and me.”

TOMORROW: Chapter 7

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! SEVENTEEN DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 5

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 5

I drained the last of the burgundy from the plastic cup and set it back on the tray table. I was tired, slightly buzzed, and deeply disappointed in myself. In six hours, the man who loved me would meet me at the airport and welcome me back to our married life, the life that I had just shit on. I had crossed a line I had sworn never to trespass again. I was not the woman I thought I’d become. I had failed, and there was no excuse to relieve me of my guilt. Heaven help me, what the fuck was I going to do? What the fuck had I done?

France with Toni had been a game changer. I hadn’t had that much fun with another human being in my entire life. Jon and I were not capable of fun like that. We could have fun moments, but not, twenty-four-hour, laugh-out-loud, nonstop, fuck your brains out kind of fun. I didn’t leave France wanting Toni instead of Jon. I left France wanting fun instead of Jon.

The Bachelor lifestyle inspires friends to bring the perfect wine bottle to dinner.

The Bachelor lifestyle inspires friends to bring the perfect wine bottle to dinner.

My husband was a drag, but what he gave me was priceless. He was my rock, and I drew strength from his presence in my life. I could travel the world. I could work those twelve-hour days. I could risk a belated dance recital—and every other adventure and challenge I could imagine—because Jon had my back. We were in it together, and we’d sealed it with our wedding. In front of our friends and family Jon had promised unconditional love, and he’d delivered, again and again, which made my crime even more unforgivable. Jon didn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve Jon.

A million years ago, I had imagined forever with Toni. I was crushed, but I recovered and went on to find a love much deeper and more realistic with Beth. That failure had ripped me up and shredded my faith in the veracity of love. But I’d been lucky, and moved on to an even richer connection with my husband. Was it just a bloody fact that love did not endure, no matter how much one grew, no matter how much one worked on it, no matter how expectations were managed? Was love always going to fool with that feeling of forever, only to expire far short of that promise?

I couldn’t leave Jon. We had a life, and we had a deal. I needed him, but I couldn’t stay after what I’d done. And there was no way I could tell my husband that I’d become terrified of our future because he was boring! I ordered another drink, and condemned myself to self-loathing. I had soiled my marriage. I’d forsaken ten years of fidelity for two weeks of temptation. Once again, I was a liar and a cheat. I hated myself.

Two days after I returned to Seattle, I called Toni. I was heartsick, and I missed her. I wanted the joy that came so easily between us, but the price was too high. I told her I couldn’t see her and I wouldn’t talk to her. I’d decided to give my marriage the attention it needed. I couldn’t take back the affair, but I did something I had never done with her—I ended it. A little late, I know. But it was significant for me. I wanted my integrity back. She and I were done.

 

TOMORROW: Chapter 6

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! SEVENTEEN DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 4

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 4

“Salsa dancing, for real?” My question was for Toni, the R&B, slow dance connoisseur. What was up with the Latin sound?

“Vic—it’s a gas—you’re gonna love it! I’ve been doing classes; I’ll teach you the basics, and we’ll go out—you find the clubs in Seattle!”

I was clueless. I didn’t even know what salsa music sounded like in 2002, but my girl Toni was impressed, and lord knows I trusted her taste in all things music and dance. She’d been my new music DJ forever—first taping cassettes, then later burning discs—always the first to discover the next best artist, always scoring the greatest playlists.

The author performing the "upside-down dip" with Seattle's Social Salsa King, Gene Rivas at The Century Ballroom, 2010

The author performing the “upside-down dip” with Seattle’s Social Salsa King, Gene Rivas, at The Century Ballroom, 2010

She and I had been solid friends, without lies or longing, for close to a decade now. We’d once been comrades and adversaries in a life lesson called love; and somehow we got lucky and were at peace with how things had unfolded.

Maturity had kicked in. By now she had experienced the lesbian equivalent of marriage, and I had done the legally recognized version; and we just got real and got over ourselves. We talked on the phone maybe every other month; it was fun being friends with my former partner in crime. She and her wife had split after half a dozen years, and she had dated casually ever since. I was her favorite audience for describing the comic dramas that played out in her romantic life as a middle-aged lesbian. I heard it all, and teased her relentlessly about her questionable choices and hilarious situations.

She was burning to turn me on to salsa, so we picked a weekend and I asked Jon if he was cool with a houseguest. “Sure, babe. Sounds good. But only if I can come too.” I kissed his face and laughed at the rare joke. We both knew that nothing would make my husband happier that an evening at home, while his wife was getting her social hit with one of her best girlfriends.

Toni showed up a few weeks later, and she was right about this new dance; it was something to get serious about: salsa sizzled. The beat was new to me, and I could barely follow the steps, but I wanted to learn the sexy styling and dramatic spins that I saw on that dance floor. We got home late, and I hung with her in the guest room for more girl talk before I said goodnight, and crawled into bed with Jon.

“You two have fun?” he mumbled, not needing to know. “The best, baby,” I whispered, squeezing into his backside. “Now, back to sleep. I love you. G’night.”

I found a salsa school, and unbelievably after the first week I was drafted—my teacher wanted me to join her performance group! I called Toni with the news.

“You’re going to do it, right?”

“Hell yes, I’m doing it! Rehearsal starts next week, and get this, she picked me because I know nothing. She wants to make a dancer out of me!”

I began dancing four nights a week, with two rehearsals and two classes. There were seven of us in the group, and I was the only one without a dance background. I was also the only one born before 1974—way before. I was definitely over my head with a steep learning curve. The only way for me to get to a performance level was through hours of home practice where I focused on choreography and shines, which are the solo moves without a partner. It was like learning two completely different dances, and my partnering skills—the reason I wanted to learn the dance—floundered in comparison.

Toni came up and joined Jon and my mom and a handful of other friends for the first performance. I was nervous that night, and almost regretted that I’d dragged everyone out. Plus, there were so many hot dancers in the crowd—and I mean salsa hot—and my skill level was ridiculously shallow. But I had a theatre background, so I copped my best showbiz attitude. I was forty-three years old and I decided to make the most of the long overdue event; opening night would be my very first dance recital!

The show was a hit, and where I was weak in execution, I distracted with my enthusiasm. I fumbled one moment and missed a break turn, but my personal audience didn’t notice; it was nothing but big hugs and high fives after the show. Jon opened his arms for a premiere victory hug, but his smile fell to horror when he caught sight of the false eyelashes and heavy stage makeup.

“Babe, my God, what happened to you?” It was so like Jon to kill the moment, but Toni interrupted.

“Damn, Vic! You were great!”

“No! I blew it! Did you see that turn—oh God, tell me—how awful was it?”

“No way, get over it—you made it disappear! You’re a pro! I can’t believe how good you are!” She wrapped her arms around me. “I’m so proud of you, Vicki Marie!”

I picked up the phone on a Saturday morning several months after the first gig. “Come to Paris with me.” It was Toni. I said yes, waiting for the punch line. “I mean it. I’m going to see my family for a few weeks. Meet me in Nice.”

No way! A girl trip to France? Yes, holy yes! I told Jon when he got home. “That’s great, babe—you two will have fun.”

“Can you believe it? Salsa dancing in Paris! I can’t wait!”

TOMORROW: Chapter 5

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Last week, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for translation services, so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, plus there are several other fabulous rewards!