In the meantime, please enjoy this fabulous excerpt and small peek into Patricia's life.
Is This All There Is?
Beth Thomas’ seemingly perfect life is about to take a detour. At thirty-five, she’s married to her college sweetheart, has two adorable kids, and finds fulfillment teaching part time at the local university.
But when a friend persuades her to go dancing on a rare night out, a chance meeting with a handsome former student changes the course of her life. Loud music, too much to drink, and the thrill of feeling young again lead to an unforgettable kiss that was never supposed to happen. Beth feels wanted again, listened to, cared for, but she knows it’s wrong.
She tries to put the memory behind her, but he pursues her, drawing Beth back to temptation. As she travels deeper into Dave’s world, Beth struggles to choose between what her mind says is right and what she truly craves.
Introduction to the excerpt:
This excerpt is loosely based on my real life, with a bit of exaggeration thrown in for fun. Many years ago, when my first son was little, I took him to mommy and me classes at Gymboree. With my second son, we switched to the YMCA, which offered a similar but more affordable option.
The description of Beth and Jack at their mommy and me class in chapter four was inspired by my Gymboree experience. Living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, the moms were quite an eclectic mix of characters and I never really felt I fit in. Don’t get me wrong, they were all perfectly nice, but for some reason I wasn’t comfortable with them. Looking back I realize that maybe it was more because I was a young, insecure, new mom more than anything else.
Please don’t judge me for the less than flattering descriptions of the Gymboree moms. Hyperbole makes for good fiction, don’t you think? And Mandy is based on the real teacher, whose actual name was Candy, if you can believe that. Candy was so pretty and thin even though she had four kids, which made me feel like even more of a pathetic, exhausted, chubby schlub than I would have without her. But the real Mandy/Candy was kind and very knowledgeable about all things baby-related so the way she’s portrayed in the Q&A scene here is a complete fabrication. I think because I’m always trying to be so nice to everyone, somehow a little bit of “mean girl” crept out of me for this part of the book. Better in writing than reality, right?
Chapter 4: Distracted Mommy
All I could think about was how many hours were left until my dinner with Shelly as I sang “The Wheels on the Bus.” Jack tried to escape but I reeled him back in to serve out the rest of his circle time sentence. Our teacher Mandy was too alert and too skinny to be the mother of four, as she claimed. Someone once told me that her husband was a Hollywood film producer so I figured she must have a nanny for each child. Her bony hands danced above her head as she sang “The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout,” and I wondered how much she paid for the eye surgery that gave her that permanently astonished look.
“So what questions do you have for me this week?” she asked when we finished singing.
Several hands shot up.
“Well, Tyler had this weird red spot on his left earlobe so of course we rushed him to the ER and they said…” I debated whether two glasses of wine with dinner would be enough or if I’d have to order a third. Yeah, three. Definitely three. I’ll need that much to relax and open up.
Mandy called on the mom with fake boobs who drove the white Lexus SUV and was always replenishing the stack of business cards they allowed her to leave on the front counter. I never bothered to read one of them, needing no confirmation that the word “realtor” would undoubtedly appear beneath her name. Her question had something to do with how long it’s acceptable to leave your baby in a playpen while you work out, shower, and talk to clients on the phone.
I jiggled a big ring of fake yellow and blue keys in front of Jack’s face to keep him from trying to flee again. It seemed unfair, with all that tempting gymnastic equipment just inches away. Like all of us, Jack just wanted more free-play time, time to roam, and explore without restrictions. I tried to tune into the next question. “When I need Hunter to skip his nap so he’ll go to bed early, I put a little of my espresso in his bottle but then…” I wondered how often Shelly and Max were having sex. We could never talk about that with the kids around. I hoped I’d find an appropriate opening in the conversation to ask her, but reminding myself that the wine would be flowing, I figured I’d probably just blurt it out in the middle of some unrelated subject.
Finally, at the very end of question time, with visible reluctance, Mandy called on the mom with black-rimmed glasses, hair the exact same color, and a UCLA sweatshirt. Her hand had been raised the entire time.
“I read on the internet that disposable diapers can cause infertility in boys. I’m really worried about this but I can’t afford a cloth diaper service.”
Mandy rolled her eyes and laughed. “Well that’s just ridiculous. I’ve never heard anything about that.”
“No, really, a number of scientists claim that the plastic in the diapers heats up boys’ testicles to such a high degree that the cells supporting sperm production don’t develop properly.”
Mandy waved a chiseled arm in the air and shook her head back and forth.
“What will they come up with next? I tell you, those scientists should be focusing on something important, like curing cancer.”
I tried to make eye contact with the UCLA mom, wanting her to know that someone did understand her concerns. But she didn’t see me. She was focused on Mandy, who had turned away from her to look at the giant clown clock on the wall.
“Well that’s all the time we have for questions today, is everybody ready for the bye-bye song? Bye bye Harrington, bye bye Serenity, bye bye Precious, we’ll see you again next week. Bye bye Jack, bye bye…”
When the class was over and all the mothers stood in line to sign up for the next month, I quietly slipped out the back door.