Authors: Marie Force
On My Mind
By Marie Force
Published by Marie Force
Copyright 2011. Marie Force.
Cover by Kendra Egert, Creations by Kendra
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All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
Writing this book was a labor of love in so many ways. I had the opportunity to feature my hometown of
, and I got to write about a young woman grappling with the aftermath of her mother’s death, something I understood all too well. After my mother died in 2004, I experienced some of the same things Georgie does in this book. Like her, I still have my mother’s robe.
When creating the cast of characters at the senior center, I needed to look no further than my dad and his band of pals to find true characters. Thank you to George, Bob, Good Gordon, Bad Gordon, Harry, Arlene, Diane, Agnes, and Mary for letting me “borrow” your personalities, and to the late Tom Dawson, whose one-liners were unforgettable.
To my husband Dan, who inspired my treehugging, running hero, thank you for all the fodder. Will you ever forget the dental floss? Emily and Jake, you guys are the best kids ever. Thanks for letting me do what I love to do while loving you, too!
Thanks, as always, to my friends Christina Camara, Julie Cupp, Paula DelBonis-Platt, and Lisa Ridder, who read, edited, and critiqued. To my readers, Mary Grzesik, Aly Hackett, Ronlyn Howe and Kara Conrad, you all have become such a great friends! Thanks for the beta reads.
To all my readers and friends who have made my writing journey so extraordinary, thank you for your unwavering support. I hope you enjoy
Georgia on My Mind
For my mom,
Barbara J. Sullivan
“Hurry up, you guys!” Cat called from the front porch. “He’s coming!”
Her heart thumping, Georgie grabbed a cup of coffee and followed her other roommate, Tess, to the spacious front porch, where Cat made an effort to appear nonchalant. Georgie took her usual place on the wicker sofa for an unobstructed view of the show.
The steady cadence of footsteps on pavement announced his arrival, right on schedule.
Georgie would have taken a sip of her coffee if she could’ve gotten it past the lump of anticipation growing in her throat.
How very sad that these thirty seconds will be the highlight of my day
Oh, there he is!
The top of his golden head appeared at the crest of the hill. And . . .
today he was bare-chested, his shirt tucked into the front of tight running shorts. Sweat ran down between spectacular, tanned pectorals and taut abs, making his light dusting of blond chest hair sparkle in the morning sun.
Just the right amount of chest hair
. During the final grueling weeks of her mother’s illness, “jogger stalking” with her sister Ali as well as Cat and Tess had given Georgie something to look forward to each morning.
He brushed a hand over his forehead, pushing the dampness into his close-cropped hair.
Georgie swallowed. Hard.
“Mmm,” Tess said, licking her lips.
“You said it,” Cat whispered, perching on the railing for a better view.
The footsteps grew closer, and he jogged past with a smile and a wave. “Morning, ladies.”
“Morning!” Cat and Tess sang in girlish stereo.
Georgie said nothing, mesmerized by his glistening back and the sweat pooling at his waist. The overwhelming desire to lick him clean both horrified and titillated at the same time.
“Utter perfection,” Tess declared when he was out of sight.
“Better than coffee,” Cat said as she did every day. She hopped down from the railing. Wearing fatigues, black flip-flops, and a tank top that showcased her spectacular breasts, she said, “Off I go.”
“You’re going in early today,” Tess said.
“And staying late. I’ve got a new band starting at the club tonight, so I’ll stay for their first set.” Scowling, she added, “Today, we’re cleaning, and I have a ton of paperwork I’ve been putting off forever.” Cat wore her bright red hair in short spikes that on anyone else would have been harsh. On her, the effect just added to her over-the-top sex appeal. Her pale complexion, big brown eyes, pierced eyebrow, mermaid tattoo and that amazing body combined to make her the most fearless and fabulous female Georgie had ever met.
“I’ll be late, too,” Tess said. “I’m working a double at the hospital.”
“I don’t know how you keep up that pace,” Cat said, shaking her head.
“I need the money. My ex got everything in the divorce, so I’m starting from scratch.”
“How in the world you let that happen, I’ll never understand,” Cat said with her typical bluntness.
Tess shrugged. “I just wanted to be rid of him.”
“I’m available to kick his ass if need be,” Cat said with a smile. “In fact, nothing would please me more.” Cat and Georgie suspected that Tess’s ex had knocked her around, but they hadn’t yet reached the point in their burgeoning friendship where they felt they could ask her, and Tess wasn’t talking.
As she scooped her long, dark hair into a high ponytail, Tess’s delicate laugh lit up gray-blue eyes that were usually far too drawn and somber for such a young woman. “Where were you when I needed you a year ago?”
“Offer’s on the table,” Cat called as she bounded down the stairs to her Jeep. “See you chicks later.”
After Cat left some rubber at the curb, Tess turned to Georgie. “Earth to Georgie.”
Locked in her sweat-licking fantasy about the mysterious jogger, Georgie looked up to find Tess watching her with amusement. “Yeah?”
“Still nursing that thirty-seconds-a-day crush?”
“I have these insane thoughts about what I’d like to do to him,” Georgie confided in her new friend. The women had been roommates for three months—since just after Georgie’s mother got sick and had to stop working—and had bonded over their shared lust for their jogging neighbor. “I’ve never had such fantasies about a complete stranger.”
“Nothing wrong with that. I think it’s safe to say he’s figuring prominently in all our fantasies these days. I thought Cat was a lesbian until I saw her drooling over him. Saved me the trouble of asking her.”
“I would’ve liked to have been around for that conversation,” Georgie said, smiling as she got up from the wicker sofa and took a sip of her coffee.
“How are you, Georgie? Really.”
“Any word from your dad?” Tess asked.
“Nothing. I’m starting to wonder if he’s dead, too. I mean why else would he suddenly stop paying the alimony to my mother?”
“If something had happened to him, surely you or your sister would’ve heard by now.”
Georgie shrugged. “Who knows? It’s not like we’ve been close to him since he left our mother for another woman.”
Tess rested a hand on Georgie’s arm. “I’m sorry you’re having such a crappy time of it.”
“Thanks. I sure hope I can get things cleaned up here pretty soon. I can’t extend the leave of absence from my job indefinitely. At some point, I have to get back to
and back to work. I’m sure I’ll feel better once I return to some semblance of normalcy.”
“Well, if I’m being selfish,” Tess said, “I hope it’s not
soon. I love living here with you girls. This is just what I needed after the hell of my divorce.”
“I’m glad it’s working out for you. You guys saved me by moving in. There was no way I could swing all the bills for this place
my apartment in
on what I’m making at the senior center.”
“Still no movement on getting a replacement for your mom?”
“Nope,” Georgie said with a sigh. “Ironically, no one seems to want the headaches that come with the place for the pitiful salary the city is offering. We actually had a live one last week, but once the dirty old men got a hold of her, she ran for her life.”
“Yesterday I heard them talking about ‘annual’ sex,” Georgie said with a cringe and a shudder.
Groaning, Tess said, “Please tell me they were talking about once a year and not—”
Georgie held up her hand. “Don’t even say it. The visual is enough to give me nightmares.”
Tess laughed until there were tears in her eyes. “Your mother was a saint.”
“She spoiled those people rotten, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, they’re expecting me to pick right up where she left off. Georgie, can you call Blue Cross for me? Georgie, will you drive me to my doctor’s appointment? Georgie, play Euchre with us. Georgie, what’s for lunch? Georgie, did you book the entertainment for the monthly social? Your mother would have done this, your mother would have done that. It’s no wonder she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. She was so busy taking care of them, she had no time to take care of herself.”
“I so admire that you refuse to let all her hard work and sacrifice be abandoned now that she’s gone.”
“I know it’s the right thing to do, but sometimes I get so scared when I think about how long I’ve been away from my real job.”
“It’ll still be there when you’re ready to go back.”
“I sure hope so. Thanks for the pep talk, Tess. I don’t know what we would’ve done without you and Cat around to help keep us sane the last few months.” The two women answered the ad for temporary roommates Georgie and her mother placed in
The Newport Daily News
after her father’s alimony payments dried up and the bills for her mother’s large Victorian home began to roll in. Thank God she owned the place free and clear, but the taxes and upkeep were substantial.
Tess folded Georgie into a spontaneous hug that took her by surprise. Tess’s loving support was such a gift in the midst of the chaos Georgie’s life had descended into the last few months.
“Thank you,” Georgie said softly.
“You’re going to get through this. I know you are.”
Georgie nodded. “Since you’re working a double, I guess I’ll see you for jogger stalking tomorrow morning.”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Tess said as she went down the stairs to her car.
Georgie plucked the dead blooms off her mother’s geraniums in the boxes attached to the porch railing and watered the four planters that sat on each of the stairs that led to the street. The three-story white house had black shutters and a bright red front door that matched the geraniums.
As she refilled the watering can and imagined her mother tending to these very plants, Georgie’s eyes flooded once again. She had cried more in the last three months than in the previous thirty years combined. Even more than a week later, it was still a shock to wake up each day and realize once again that her mother was really gone.
With the daily watering done, Georgie went upstairs to shower and get dressed for “work.” Not in one of the sharp suits she wore to Davidson’s, the swank
department store where she worked in marketing and fashion merchandising. No, here she wore shorts and a T-shirt that would be dirty by noon. She tugged a brush through her shoulder-length dark blonde hair and applied the three-hundred-dollar-a-jar moisturizer she had bought with her store discount. In another week or two, she would have to call someone in
to send her more. Some things a girl just shouldn’t have to do without.
Georgie studied her face in the mirror. Her hazel eyes were shot through with specs of gold. Her nose was upturned and reportedly cute, a word Georgie hated. Her cheeks were fuller than she preferred, dimpled, and also reportedly cute. She vowed to kill the next person who called her cute. She’d show them cute.
Her cell phone rang, and she dashed across the hall to grab it. “Hello,” she said breathlessly.
, when are you coming home?” asked Doug, her boyfriend of two years, for the hundredth time since she had been in
“Hello to you, too, Doug.”
“Honestly, your mother’s affairs can’t be this complicated, can they? Tell me you’ll be back for the charity ball at the country club on Saturday. I need you with me.”
Sighing, Georgie sat on the bed. “Not looking good, I’m afraid.”
“Can you come for the weekend?”
“I can’t leave the center for that long.”
you. I’m getting an award. You know how important this is to me!”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
He was silent for a long moment, which meant he was brooding. “I hate to say this, especially after all you’ve been through recently.”
“Just say it, Doug.”
“This isn’t working. I think we need to see other people.”
It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen it coming. He had been making noise about breaking up for weeks now. “Whatever you want.”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to come home.” A sports agent who represented three of the PGA’s top stars, Doug was used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it.
“I can’t. I’ve told you that. If you want to see other people, go right ahead. I can’t stop you.”
“You don’t care at all, do you,
“Not enough,” she said truthfully.
“And that’s always been our problem, hasn’t it?” She pictured him blowing the dust off his little black book even as they spoke. “Take care of yourself. Call me if you ever get back to