Authors: Sherri Coner
IN A MOON SMILE
In a Moon Smile
By SHERRI CONER
IN A MOON SMILE
Copyright © 201
All rights reserved.
IN A MOON SMILE
We all love to wish for a love story that stays imbedded forever on our hearts.
In a Moon Style is for the dreamer in all of us.
IN A MOON SMILE
This quirky kind of love story is set in Bean Blossom, Indiana, where the community, from all walks of life, knows and accepts one another in a beautiful little berg surrounded by hills and trees and kindness.
IN A MOON SMILE
Damn runny nose. It was a dead giveaway unless she convinced them she suffered from allergies. She parked the cute little candy apple red sports car near the back row of the crowded parking lot and forced the rearview mirror to do a sharp left turn. A slice of her mirrored reflection showed a puffy face and sad eyes. Blood-shot. Red-rimmed, too. She could convince the women that she had hay fever. Yes, she could.
Unless, of course, she started to sob again.
And then no matter how much she insisted that pollen ruined her day, no matter how she tried to keep the secret, her hell might finally be too much to hide. Frustrated, she leaned against the car seat and sighed. She should create another option, another flimsy excuse. Okay, if the allergy story fell flat then plan B would be a tearful saga of some sort. Hmm. Maybe she would dab at her eyes while saying that her favorite aunt has cancer. Maybe she should spin a tale about how a dear friend was going blind. Maybe she would say that her dog was killed just a few moments before she left home for this event.
Not only will those awful stories fail, I will go directly to hell for even attempting to tell such terrible lies.
Still eying her reflection, she spit on one fingertip and scrubbed it across the dark baggy area under each eye. Smudged mascara was a dead giveaway. It would not point at all toward an awful bout of hay fever. Nope. These women were not morons. They might immediately guess that she had bawled and squalled all day because of a stupid man.
Wasn’t a stupid man the culprit for every woman’s emotional breakdown?
For her, that was correct. Jack, her asshole fiancé, was the reason she had sobbed until she had a sinus headache. He was the reason her stomach rolled right now, threatening an embarrassing bout with explosive diarrhea.
What if the women guessed the truth? Then what? Maybe she should wear the big diamond. Three karats surrounded by pretty little sapphires. Earlier this afternoon, she removed the ring from her finger and zipped it into the side pocket of her purse. She closed her eyes, remembering that the nosy ass tabloids had already spewed the news: one of America’s favorite love storytellers was now in love. She chewed on that thought for a moment. Maybe trying so hard to keep the engagement private was actually motivated not by avoiding the gossip pages, but because deep in her heart, she already knew Jack was an ass.
Well I should definitely think about that. But not now. Yes, I should wear the damn ring. Avoid questions from the audience about why my left ring finger is naked. I definitely should wear it. But, oh Lord, I just can’t. I might throw up. I cannot stomach having the ring against my skin. But how will I respond if someone asks about it? Maybe I’ll say the ring is being professionally sized or that I accidentally left it at home. Any woman can see through every single one of those dumb ass excuses. What should I say to avoid suspicious eyes?
“I’ll just cross that bridge when I come to it,” she whispered and stepped out of the car. Sighing at the realization that everyone was inside waiting and she could take one more moment in the empty parking lot to pull some type of self-control out of her aching chest, she pressed her lips together, smoothed the rather snug short skirt and started to walk toward the entrance. Her stomach tightened. She wanted to step through those doors almost as much as she wanted to lay eyes on that damn Jack. She forced herself to keep moving. Many of the women seated inside this building drove a long distance to see her. They loyally read every single book she wrote. They blindly loved her and believed in her. They didn’t deserve her terrible mood. Nor did they deserve to hear the truth about their favorite romance writer. The truth of which was what? That their beloved author was an absolute failure in the love department of her own life? That she had no true knowledge of love or romance? That in fact, she failed to keep any living organisms happy for very long, not just people with penises but also plants and fish?
Within a month after moving onto her kitchen window sill, house plants wilted and begged for a quick passing. Every goldfish bit the dust. Even Sally, her beloved calico, begged so many times to be adopted by the neighbor across the hall that she finally agreed. And men? Well she had nothing but bad moments with men.
She winced, thinking about the headlines. If her readers discovered the truth about her, they might view her as a fraud. She wasn’t a fraud though. She wanted all the love and romance that she wrote about. The problem was she either could not find it or she could not seem to keep it.
“Yes, I do look awful this evening. Yes, I know I look ill. Actually ladies, I suffer from a condition I fondly refer to as Ass Magnet Syndrome,” she whispered under her breath. “Smiling about it? Oh no, please understand there’s nothing funny about my affliction. My defense mechanism is to pretend I am a sarcastic bitch. If I don’t find humor, I’m afraid I will follow my gut instinct; which would involve something self-destructive such as slamming my head in my car door.”
With another deep breath, she opened the entrance door. A life-size, cardboard cut-out of her latest book cover, next to a gigantic photograph of her face, before it was puffy and blotched from an emotional breakdown, reminded her that she really had no choice but to get her damn act together. Her name, ‘Chesney Blake,’ was scrolled in fancy letters above a long glass table near a coffee shop. Her latest books were neatly stacked on the far end of the table, awaiting autographs. For the next ninety minutes, she absolutely had to hide the broken heart. She had to hide the clinical depression and the nervous stomach, too. She reached inside the zipped pocket, placed the ring on her left finger and bargained with herself that it would be alright to wear it if she just made every effort to never look at it on her hand.
“Chesney!” A tall woman in a beautiful silk sheath rushed toward her with an excited squeal. “Hello! I’m so excited to meet you. Oh, by the way, I’m Tamzen Kelley. I’m president of the book club. I’m the one who contacted your agent. We are so happy you accepted our invitation! We can’t wait to hear you speak. All the women in our club adore your books!”
Tamzen looked like she might just grab a set of pom-poms and perform a cheer right there on the shiny lobby floor. Chesney winced, recalling how much she hated people who spoke in breathless exclamation marks. Tamzen Kelly’s enthusiasm seemed to quickly fade as she wrinkled her nose and cocked her head to the side. “Oh, dear, you look like you’ve been crying.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
“I didn’t provide accurate driving directions, did I?” Tamzen whined. “Were you lost? Oh dear, you poor thing. My husband should have helped with directions. I can get lost in a paper sack.”
While the woman rattled on, Chesney smiled and sighed and pretended to be shocked that someone would suspect her of crying.
Your driving directions were fine, Tamzen. Actually, my head was in the toilet until I forced myself to get up and wash my face. Today I learned that I could cry so hard I gagged myself. I ended up puking and crying. At the same time. Who knew that was possible?
“Thank you so much for the invitation,” Chesney patted Tamzen’s hand, trying to steer the leggy older cheerleader away from her initial suspicions that tonight’s guest speaker was a crybaby. “Will you direct me, please, to the conference room?”
“Oh, certainly,” Tamzen nodded. “Dinner was served earlier. If you had arrived on time, you could have joined us.”
So sorry I missed the choice between beef tips and Chicken Cordon Bleu. But my heart was falling out. I didn’t have much appetite. I’m weird in that way. My world gets bombed and for some reason I’m just not in the mood for my choice of sponge cake or lemon bar, coffee or unsweetened tea.
A few steps to the left, Chesney followed the perfectly coifed woman through two doors and found herself the center of attention. “Ladies, I would like to introduce your favorite and mine, Ms. Chesney Blake, author of our top five Read with Heart book club choices.” Tamzen led Chesney to the podium, patted her shoulder and walked away.
As the audience clapped a loud greeting, Chesney scanned nearly one hundred sets of eyes. Praying that her top lip would not suddenly get stuck to her teeth, she plastered a fake smile over the top of her mouth, hoping that all the teeth stole attention from the sad, puffy eyes.
“Thank you for inviting me. I’m so glad to meet all of you,” Chesney said slowly into the microphone. “I am also very happy to know that you enjoy my work.”
She confidently slid into auto-pilot, that ability to do and say and be whatever others expected. Like millions of other females, Chesney learned in early childhood how to trip that switch and become what was expected. Even if that expectation was nowhere close to behaving how she really felt. She jumped right into the beginning of her beginning. Writing fairytales as a little girl. Reading them to her younger sister. Writing love stories for high school friends. Writing about intense love, truth, joy.
“Where do you find inspiration?” One woman stood and smiled nicely as she asked the question.
My stories live in my own broken heart. I write my books for the same reason you like to read them. I love love. Even if I have to create such unrealistic love, I still love it. And the ideas pour out of my mind much like the pain gushes from my heart.
“I find inspiration in the mountains or at the beach,” Chesney said with a careful smile. “Every woman’s story is an inspiration to me. Love seems to travel through our lives in varying degrees. Sometimes it’s just a whisper. Other times, it defines us or maybe overwhelms us. I especially love to write about the kind of love that rocks us gently. A beautiful love that changes how we see the world and that teaches us and shows us an entirely new dimension of what it truly means to love.”
Oh my God, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. I am overcome by my own damn bullshit.
Yet it wasn’t entirely bullshit. Chesney wished as hard for a breathtaking love as many of her readers did. Tears filled the eyes of many women in the audience. When they saw Chesney’s tears, they probably assumed her passion for her work brought on the emotion. But the truth was that tears not only edged softly over her cheeks because she truly loved to write about love. No, Chesney’s tears also fell also because of how Jack wounded her, how deeply she felt like a failure and how empty she felt inside.
“We would love to hear about your wedding plans,” Tamzen Kelly waved from across the room.
Shut the hell up!
Caught up in Tamzen’s damn cheerleader qualities, the audience responded with a loud, unified, “Yes!”
“Oh girls,” Chesney said with a shy smile. “I don’t want to bore you.”
“We would love to hear about it!” A plump woman in the third row stood and grinned. “I have read your books from the beginning of your career. Ms. Blake, I have waited like all your other readers, to hear about your own wedding day. Will it be extravagant? Private? Unusual?”