Today, we see the very first Life Lesson from Emily in BEFORE AND EVER SINCE!
This is the first of five great life lessons you’ll learn from Emily’s experiences in BEFORE AND EVER SINCE, with a great excerpt to back it up… 🙂 You see, Emily Lockwood has alot on her plate. She is successful in her own right, with a solid real estate career, but has a headstrong daughter, a mother who marches to her own drummer, and an ex-husband who needs sex therapy. Enter into this picture a house with an agenda, and the return of her first love, rocking a tool belt and a paintbrush and dark eyes full of secrets, and Emily just flat out has things to get through and get over. I call them the “Emily Lockwood Life Lessons”. 🙂
Emily Life Lesson #1… Never assume it’s safe to drop by Mom’s house looking like Swamp Girl.
Oh no. No, no, no, no. Goosebumps ran the length of my body and back again. Ben Landry. As I stared into that face, I felt the old hurt I thought I’d forgotten seep through my bones right down through my feet, rooting me to the floor.
“You’re back,” I said, hearing the words and how my voice suddenly went all croaky and hating how stupid that was.
But I was painfully aware that I had only thrown on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, and otherwise still looked like I’d just crawled out of bed. Additionally, after twenty-one years, I was looking at probably the only person on the planet that ever really knew me. And could turn my life upside down.
“Yes I am,” he said, his voice quiet.
“Mr. Landry,” my mother said from behind me as she moved me over from where I’d dropped anchor in the doorway. “Come on in.”
“Just Ben, ma’am,” he said, shaking her hand and then gesturing toward where I stood with my heart slamming against my ribs. His dark eyes warmed with memory. My stomach threatened to send me back my four cups of coffee as I recalled the last time I’d seen him.
“Emily and I are old friends.”
Ben was the boy that put snakes in the teacher’s lounge and snuck into the girls’ bathroom. That popped all the girls’ training bras and spent at least two days each week in detention. That wore an old black jacket with chains on it when he rode his bike, so he’d look like a bad ass. He was the boy that lured me under my house when we were seven for my first kiss, and into a closet in the eighth grade for another one. He was the mysterious, dangerous looking dark-eyed guy in high school who could part a room like The Red Sea when he entered it, who always sat with his back to the wall and never let his guard down. Except with me.
“I don’t remember seeing you around here,” Mom said.
Ben grinned, an endearing expression that transformed him back into the twenty-one year old I’d last seen him as. Time may have dulled some of the edges, but it worked for him, God help me.
“Well, I’m sure we met at some point,” he said, smoothly moving the conversation on as his eyes slowly took in the walls and beams and ceiling. It was as if he were already seeing the possibilities. “So, tell me what your ideas are for this place.”
He followed her as she talked about the paneling that needed to go, the ceiling that needed sheetrock, the insulation that was probably rotten, and the gaping cracks around the windows. Just for starters.
Fortunately for me, it gave me the opportunity I needed to release the breath I’d been holding and suck in a few more.
“Jesus Christ, Ben Landry,” I muttered under my breath on a sprint to the bathroom. What I saw when I got there made me want to hurl. My hair was still straight on one side, kinked up and tangled on the other, and a zit waved from one pale cheek. “Shit.”
I dug in Mom’s drawers for a brush and a ponytail band, and managed to find an old cover-up stick for the zit. I couldn’t find any powder or mascara or blush, but at least I’d moved up a notch from scary to just plain unappealing. I couldn’t remember if I’d put on deodorant, but I saw a bottle of cologne and spritzed my neck.
“Oh God!” I groaned.
It smelled like old woman. Not old woman like my mom, because she was fairly young at heart and active. Old like the women with the beehive hairdos and the stripe of blue eye shadow reaching to their eyebrows.
I found a box of wet wipes under the sink, and attacked my neck with one, but I was pretty sure the smell was still there along with the aroma of aloe.
“Damn it, just shoot me now,” I said to my reflection.
Well, come back tomorrow for Lesson #2!
Also, check out my Facebook page later today for the Hot Tool Guy of the Day, courtesy of sexy carpenter Ben. 😉