Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 71

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 71

In Seattle, the thermostat never hits seventy-two degrees at midnight, but that August, for one night in my life, climate records were broken during the Annual Forever Forty- Four—Finally Fifty—Birthday Bash and Western Roundup.

The horseshoe-shaped yard that surrounded my house was decorated with thousands of tiny white lights, and filled with more that eighty cowboys and cowgirls, plus at least two saloon dames. It was my birthday, but it was really a reunion of my lifelong community, most who’d known one another through the legacy of the endless parties I had hosted in my home for more than twenty years.

Turning fifty in 2008 was the beginning of a bold new decade. Looking for adventure in Cartagena, 2012

Turning fifty in 2008 was the beginning of a bold new decade. Looking for adventure in Cartagena, 2012

From the start, the energy of the crowd was high, with many guests rekindling bonds, and everyone making new ones. I was a fan of every person there. These were my witnesses and my influencers: my soul mates and my partners in crime. They had been with me during my different eras, all of them significant to my life, some for a season and others for a lifetime, all of them on site that night to root me on one more time.

My bone-white chaps were a hit, and so was my butt, celebrated by everyone as a symbol of the flamboyant chutzpah of Vicki Marie. Playful ass grabbing and bum bumping infected everyone, and I saw how my boldness simply made people happy. Love was in the air, and hedonism infiltrated the crowd. Before the night was through, I witnessed straight girlfriends making out with lesbian friends, and my lesbian friends stealing kisses from my straight boyfriends. There were friends who never smoke pot, toking away with those who do. And there were friends who never dance, shaking their stuff with abandon.

Many of the men in my life made an appearance, including Shaun, Lamar, Jason, Paul, and of course Dion. When I saw Andre on the back deck I didn’t even flinch.

“Happy Birthday, Vicki Marie! Look at you—fifty! And still the most interesting and beautiful woman in the room!”

“That’s my good fortune, and my lifetime plan. And don’t you ever forget that—loser!

“There you go, telling the truth again—and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m regretful-ever after.”

We couldn’t possibly have smiled any broader as we locked into each other’s eyes and I sat down beside him.

It had been two years since he walked out of my life without a word, when I had retooled my heart to believe I didn’t need to know why.

“Why did you do that? Why did you never call me again?”

His answer was as surprising as my question. “It wasn’t what I wanted. But, I knew it was what you wanted.” I looked into his face, clueless and curious. “You’re going to have to give me more, Andre. That just doesn’t make sense.”

“It was your friend, Trish. When you went to the ladies room, she told me you weren’t interested in just one guy.”

In one sweeping flashback, I remembered how hurt I had felt, how confused and how mind-fucked. I had made up my own reasons in the void, and struggled to accept that strange way men just moved on. But I couldn’t help but laugh. It was too absurd.

“Andre Cassidy—you’re telling me that after six weeks of our enchanted courtship—you disappeared from my life because of something you heard when I left the room to pee?”

There were a million things I could have said next; a flood of reactions, swirled in protest, and threatened to swamp me. I was stunned by the truth, but I didn’t need to rehash the details. Instead, I went to what mattered.

“You don’t do that.” I leaned into his face, my eyes insistent that he understand every word. “You don’t open your heart, and draw another heart in, and then leave without a word.” I looked away, realizing that I felt like a teacher, not a jilted lover. When I turned to face him again, I could see that he’d been touched in some way, because his face was soft, and his eyes were kind. He was patient. Like he was waiting for me. He made it simple for me to say what came next.

“You broke my heart, Andre. I loved you.” It was the truth and I felt stronger for saying it. “I loved you for no reason that made sense, I didn’t even know you, but I felt—I knew—that you wanted to know me and that went right to my core.” He didn’t flinch. He just looked at me silently, and I could feel how much he cared. I put my hand on his thigh. The tenderness between us was urgent, and I went for the next thing that mattered, “So, this is the moment—because you now have my story—this is the moment where you tell me how sorry you are. And that you didn’t mean to hurt me.”

He looked into my eyes as he apologized, and then he put his arms around me. Andre Cassidy was a good man. That had always been true, and that hadn’t changed. He’d had every right to leave me, but he had no right not to tell me. I understood at last, that he really hadn’t meant to hurt me. It had been a misunderstanding: an unspoken assumption, and a heartbreaking mistake.

It was just before dark when I saw Wouter next to the bar, talking to Paul Sever. Wearing a hot pink T-shirt and white jeans, he had forsaken the western theme, but there he was. I was too far away to hear them, but the body language said it all—both men were laughing. Paul Sever’s plan that I invite my complete cast of lovers suddenly seemed precarious. I didn’t want Wouter talking with anyone who still adored me. It was ridiculous, but it crossed my mind that Paul Sever was at risk. Vaporization might be contagious.

I waited until he was alone to approach him. “Wouter Wilson,” I said. “Look at you.” He was still beautiful, that’s for sure. But, it looked like he’d put on a pound or two; I could see just the slightest bulge of a hot pink belly. Of course it was small of me that I found that satisfying, but why deny it? My ass was hanging out. I was still hot.

“Vicki Marie! Happy Birthday, girl!” His smile splashed a huge white banner across his dark face. I was taken aback by his radiance. He was genuinely happy to see me.

I’d had a lot of practice managing the after effects of vapor-behavior. Men were in, until they were out. It’s what happened. I don’t know how many times I’d told Cisco: “Four days. I need four days to get over a man.” Day one was shock; day two was heartache; day three was anger; and day four was depression. On the fifth day I reveled in acceptance and was free of self-doubt and the discomfort of rejection. I’m not kidding. I had this down. It helped that whenever I was dumped, there were always other men enthralled with me; and of course, I’d avoided getting too close. But the key was to force my focus to the present. When a guy was gone, he could only occupy the past. I had trained myself not to look back.

It had taken much more than four days with Wouter, of course, but as we made small talk under the tiny white lights, I learned I was over wanting him. That wound had healed. But I still felt the tug toward rejection, the nagging remnant of my questionable worth. He had left me, without a word, after loving me. Why was that so common?

I didn’t know the answer any more at that moment than I had when Toni split. I only knew that it happened, and no matter what I did, that would never change. The only way to stop it would be to pull out entirely, and for me that would never be an option. But I finally understood, that not understanding was something worth hanging on to. It was a sign of my humanity; it was a sign I had a heart.

I also understood that I was too much—too much to contain inside my own thick skin. I wanted out, because I wanted to find my people. I had left my husband and the worthy comfort of domestic love, to take my chance in the wild. I had invented my grand bachelor plan, I had pushed the experiment into a lifestyle, and I had thrived under its influence. I had planned for all contingencies, drawn on a lifetime of experience, and every variable of emotion in a one-on-one exchange. I had managed to blow the myth of monogamy out of my zone of desire. But, there had still been love, and of course, the heartache. There was loss. Always there was loss. That wasn’t going to change either.

TOMORROW: Chapter 72

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 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.