Authors: TK Carter
The Breakup Mix
The Breakup Mix
Copyright © 2015 by TK Carter
Book Cover by Sprinkles on Top Studios
Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. All of the characters and events were created in my mind and are not representations of true life occurrences. Any resemblance to people, either living or dead, was purely coincidental.
Other Works by TK Carter
“An Afternoon with Aunt Viv”
Collapse: Book One of the Yellow Flag Series
Three Meals to Anarchy: Book Two of the Yellow Flag Series
Alissa, Michelle, Katie, Dani, and I have been friends since before puberty hit us at different ages. Katie was the first one to get boobs; Dani got the first kiss, and I scored the highest daredevil points by letting Bobby LaVet stick his hands down my pants well before either of us knew what the point was. I was on the highest pedestal until Alissa lost her virginity our sophomore year in high school. Show-off.
My name is Chance. Yes, Chance. I got my name because my teenage parents got drunk one night during their senior year in high school, and Dad forgot the condom.
The story goes that their conversation went something like this:
“Well, what do you think?” That was my dad.
“Well we’re probably okay but there’s always a chance,” Mom answered.
And that’s how I got my name.
The joke among my aunts and uncles is that no one could say my mother never had a chance. I’ve heard it all in these thirty-four years on Earth. My name provides hours of entertainment and the source for one-liners pretty much everywhere I go.
But I’m getting sidetracked.
Michelle was the first one to get married. Nineteen and high-as-a-kite in love with Brandon Morehead. (And I thought Chance was a bad name.) Michelle spent her twenty-first birthday breastfeeding a colicky daughter named Del Ray, named after her father’s favorite guitar. Yeah, we all thought it was stupid, too, but the name fits her. At thirty-four years old, Michelle has fourteen-year-old Del Ray, ten-year-old Martin, and eight-year-old Gibson. Brandon’s taste in musical instruments improved with age, obviously. With names like these, one would assume Brandon is a musician by trade; he sells insurance. If it weren’t for that blessed woman he’s married to, none of us would have insurance through that fruitcake. Michelle was a stay-at-home hermit until Gibson started kindergarten. After a short psychotic breakdown, she pulled herself together and now works full-time at a daycare center just north of town. I guess some people never learn.
Next was Katie. Sweet, naïve, the-world-is-my-oyster Katie went to college on a full-ride softball scholarship and dropped out halfway through her junior year when an acting scout wooed our college star and convinced her to run away to New York. Alissa and I flew to New York three months later to collect our homeless, heartbroken starlet who had to call collect from a pay phone because the bastard stole everything she owned while she was at an audition, including her phone and wallet. If I ever find that man . . .
Thankfully, she returned to school and graduated with honors (and student loan debt since the scholarship was no longer an option) at the ripe old age of twenty-three. With a degree in business management and no working experience, she landed a job working full-time at First Nations Bank with hopes of moving up in the company when other folks moved elsewhere or retired. Nine years later she’s still starry-eyed about her opportunity and listens for the knock. She met Landon her senior year in college and married him a year later on Valentine’s Day. If I never see the color red again, it will be too soon.
Her daughter, Marie, was born six years ago. Get it? Katie, Landon, Marie . . . KLM. They thought they were cute naming her with the next initial in line in the alphabet. Nathan is three, and God help them if they have another child. I can only imagine what name “O” will bring. Landon is prematurely bald and teaches history at the high school just so he can coach football. No surprise that all of his star players are acing his class.
Alissa and Dani were playing “beat the other to the altar” by the time we were twenty-four. Michelle had been married for five years, Katie had gotten married that February, and these two were itching for the feel of tulle and satin. Alissa had been in several relationships that lasted two years max. Just about the time she’d start practicing
, he wouldn’t and took off for the hills. Alissa finally got married at twenty-five, divorced at twenty-six, remarried at twenty-eight, divorced at thirty (boy
was a fun year), and is on the prowl, now for lucky number three. Divorcing her second husband left her financially secure, much to the dismay of the young-but-uber-rich oil tycoon’s family. However, no pre-nup, and she was golden.
She has no kids and prefers it that way. Watching Michelle lose her life in formula, Pampers, and Tylenol suppositories pretty much killed any maternal drive Alissa may have had——not that she had much after her childhood. Somehow in the midst of marriage and divorce, Alissa still managed to graduate from law school and works as a prosecuting attorney for the county. (Personally, I think the woman should become a divorce attorney, since she knows the process by heart now, but I’d never have the balls to tell
that.) She is currently dating another attorney in town, Mark, and six months later, she still hasn’t scared him off. This one looks promising.
Dani is perfect. She’s the model American woman who did it all right. She graduated valedictorian of our class, went to college on an academic scholarship, had no major mental breakdowns in college, and got married at twenty-seven years old after living on her own for four years. She works as the vice president over human resources for a large corporation in Boone County and goes to work every morning dressed to the nines with every hair in place. Barry, her husband, is a perfect three-piece match for Dani and is the executive financial officer for First Nations Bank. Even the president of the bank has to have Barry’s approval before writing a check. The one thing missing in Dani’s perfect world is a baby. Pills, tests, shots, specimens, turkey basters (okay, I made that one up) and four years later, no baby.
That leaves me. I am Chance Bradley—a news anchor for KJAT, journalist, and occasionally a freelance writer when the mood strikes me. My co-anchor, Jack Woodrow, is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend—we drink coffee together every morning before the cameras roll. And that’s exactly how I prefer it. Some may say I’m jaded, and maybe I am. However, I’m also smart and a good student to life. When she teaches me a lesson, I learn it and don’t make that mistake again.
I’ve never made that dreadful walk down the aisle with hundreds of people looking at me with teary eyes as I walk toward a man who wants to claim me. Never did it, don’t want to. I’ve never worn a dress that cost more than my monthly rent; I’ve never starved myself for five weeks to make sure the dress will still fit; I’ve never spent hours obsessing over shades of pink, and I certainly haven’t cried over the uncertainty of picking out the wrong cake. I’ve never gushed, gratefully, over the third toaster received in a row and made lame excuses about the insurance of having a backup.
I got close a few times and have the rings to prove it. Three of them, to be exact. I took a few test-drives, lived with them, and discovered domesticity is not for me. I love my third-floor apartment on the east side of town too much to consider suburbia and strollers. I have no interest in participating in the march-of-the-mini-vans in front of every school Monday through Friday. My pug, Chubs, and I are a perfect fit. If he farts in the bed, I can kick his ass off and not try to play it off as a muscle spasm.
Tonight is the night we’ve all been waiting for. Tonight we dine in style to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our friendship. Alissa says she has a surprise for us. God I hope it’s not a diamond.
“Michelle, I swear to God, if you don’t put down that damned phone, I’m going to throw it out the window. They will be
“I forgot to tell Brandon to make sure Gibson pees before bed.” Michelle clicked out the fourth text in five minutes. “Send and done. There. Happy, Chance?” She offered her best go-to-hell grin and slid her phone into her purse.
“If he responds, don’t check it, got it? The man has been their parent as long as you have. Relax, babe. It’s only a few hours. Geez, woman, you need to get out more.”
Michelle took a deep breath and smoothed her skirt. “Are you sure I look all right? With Alissa making the reservations, you never know where we’ll end up.”
“You look great, doll. But, I’m going to slip you a mickey if you don’t calm down and put your BFF hat on.”
Michelle laughed and relaxed into the passenger seat. “I have been looking forward to this for weeks. I was so worried something would come up, and I would have to miss it. But here we are!”
“Here we are, and we are going to have a blast tonight, sister.”
“Do you know where we’re going?”
“Nope. Alissa wouldn’t tell me anything, either. We’re supposed to meet her at the Clairmont Hotel at 6:30. That’s as far as my marching orders went.”
“Have you talked to Katie and Dani?”
“I got a text from Dani around five saying she was going to grab Katie and to remind me to bring my camera for the forty-second time.”
“No, I forgot it. Of course I brought it! How are things at the daycare?”
“Busy, same as usual. I’m in the three-year-old room now. If one more kid bites me, I swear I’m going to smack some mouths. How about you?”
“I finally got Jack to quit biting me last week.” I smiled. “No, things are great. The news has been a bit slow lately. Coming up with interesting story lines has been a bit challenging. Someone needs to create a scandal in this town. Hey speaking of scandal, has Alissa said anymore to you about her and Mark?”
Michelle said, “No, I talked to her Wednesday. She stopped by after work to drop off some stuff, but we really didn’t have time to talk. I was elbow-deep in dinner prep, and she was headed to the gym.”
“The gym? Ha! Really? Is she on that kick again?” Like I don’t know, but Michelle doesn’t know that.
“Her therapist thinks it is good stress management for her, but don’t tell her I told you that.”
I grinned. “So that’s code for ‘I’m on the prowl again.’”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“The gym. You’d think she would have learned that lesson after the Adam fiasco.”
She turned in her chair. “He was a trip, wasn’t he? Adam-the-Poser—always flexing, always pumping, and dumb as a box of rocks.”
“Yeah and he took her for what, almost ten grand?”
“Close to it. Loser.”
I pulled into the parking garage of the Clairmont Hotel at 6:23. “Seven minutes to spare! Damn, I’m good.”
“Not good enough, though. They still beat you here.” Michelle chuckled and pointed to Alissa’s Navigator in the next row. Frantic waves and shiny teeth appeared in the windshield before three car doors flew open and out sprang Katie, Dani, and Alissa.
“See? I told you you were dressed perfectly.” I nudged Michelle.
“Hello, hello, hello!” Greetings all around, hugs, chatter, and laughter, and the night hadn’t even begun yet. We have all seen each other regularly, but getting the five of us in one place at one time has gotten more and more difficult. It’s been at least four months, maybe longer.
We all piled into Alissa’s car; Katie called shotgun first, so Dani, Michelle, and I moaned and called her a cheater. Dani and I made Michelle ride bitch in the middle.
“So what’s this big surprise, Alissa?”
Alissa beamed ear-to-ear. “You’ll see.”
“Where are we going to eat? I hope I’m dressed okay.”
“Michelle, you look great and will light up the town,” Alissa said.
“Alissa, what’s the scoop with beau-hunk? Yes? No? Still has potential?” I couldn’t wait any longer.
“All of the above? Geez, I don’t know. He’s nice and fun to be around, but I don’t know. He’s been weird lately, so whatever.”
Katie joined in. “Weird how? In a good way or bad way?”
“Well I don’t really know. He’s so damned moody. I stayed at his place two nights in a row last week, and he freaked out thinking I was moving in or something.”
Dani spoke up. “How long did you pack for?”
We all laughed and groaned.
“Oh Alissa! What were you thinking?” I said.
“What? I don’t know; I just thought it would be fun to play house. Try it out.” She smiled.
“No, no, no, no! Six months? You don’t play house at six months. Have I taught you nothing?” I shook my head.
“Ease up, ladies; she made a bone-headed decision.” Michelle-the-mom appeared.
“Why was it bone-headed?” Alissa looked at Michelle in the rearview mirror.
“Were you invited?” Katie asked.
Bursts of laughter filled the Navigator causing Alissa to laugh at herself as well. “Okay, okay, so I jumped the gun. Geez. Next victim, please? Dani, what’s new with you?”
“Oh no, girl. You’re not pointing that smoking gun at me. I have no drama.” Dani laughed.
“Well, there are rumors going around the bank that Harry Langstedder is messing around with that new teller over on Brookfield Drive.”
I shrugged. “That’s it? That’s all you have? I don’t care if Harry’s boning a—”
“Jesus, Chance, are you ragging? What’s your deal?” Dani chuckled.
“I was teasing! And this is PMS week, so you should have known better and scheduled this outing more appropriately.”
“So we need to add chocolate and chick flicks to the itinerary, is that what I’m hearing?” Dani asked.
“No time for that,” Alissa said.
“Why are we hitting the highway?” Michelle fidgeted when she realized we were leaving town. “Where are we going, Alissa?”
“Chicago.” Alissa glowed.
In unison we all yelled, “Chicago?” Katie and Michelle ranted and argued while Dani and I chimed in with a few hell yeahs and high fives.
“Before you all start freaking out, I’ve already made arrangements with your households and have a bag for each of you in the back. We’re hopping the eight o’clock flight to Chicago and will get back Saturday evening at five. Chance, I called your brother and told him to check on Chubs for you, by the way.”
“You rock, Lis!”
“How in the . . . how can I . . . when did you . . . ?” Michelle was beside herself.
I leaned in and whispered, “Remember the mickey I threatened you with? I still have that, ya know.”
Michelle slapped my leg and snorted. “This is incredible but insanely over the top!”
Katie asked, “How did you
get Landon to agree to this?”
Alissa grinned. “Simple. I gave him five hundred dollars and told him this trip was on me.”
“You gave Landon five hundred dollars? What the hell, Lis?” Katie’s mouth dropped open.
“Feeling like Julia Roberts yet?” Alissa grinned and winked at Katie.
“I don’t even want to know what you offered Brandon.” Michelle said.
“He got the same deal and a promise I would toss his name around at the court house for people looking for insurance. Oh. And you owe him a blow job.”
“Ah, you know how to dangle a carrot, girlfriend.”
“Indeed I do.”
Dani asked, “So what did you do for Barry?”
“Not a damn thing. I told him I was taking you and that was that. Ha-ha!”
She laughed. “Well at least you didn’t offer him a blow job.”
“Well, I may have dropped a hint that I might consider moving one of my accounts to FNB. Heavy on the
Dani snorted. “You know how to bargain all too well!”
Alissa glanced in the rearview mirror. “I’m a lawyer; it’s what I do.” She flashed a perfect grin then returned her eyes to the road as she took the exit for the airport.
“We’re really flying?” Katie’s eyes were huge with a matching grin.
Alissa beamed. “We are, indeed. Fasten your seat belts, ladies. This is going to be one helluva night.”
One thing about Alissa, the girl knew how to spend money and spared no expense when making the reservations for our twenty-four-hour hiatus. A black stretch limo awaited us at the Chicago airport complete with chilled champagne, fresh-cut strawberries, and a driver hot enough to boil water with one grin. I hoped he was part of the package and was really a stripper, but Alissa corrected me before I and my three on-flight drinks made a fool of ourselves. It was worth a shot.
The limo ride was spectacular and provided many Kodak moments including a shot of Michelle’s ass and legs as the top part of her disappeared through the sunroof. Chicago got a big kick out of her serenade. Champagne always did a number on that girl.
I leaned over and whispered to Dani while the other three cackled about who was going to be puking before the night was over. “Are you all right?”
She nodded and grinned. “Yes, I’m just taking it all in.” She pointed and laughed at Katie’s impersonation of Landon’s “O” face followed by, “Touchdown!” Nothing is sacred among us. It will be very hard not to laugh the next time we all watch Sunday football together, though.
It was nearly ten before we got to the restaurant, and by the time they served our meal, I think we could have all eaten the ass-end of a goat.
“Here you are, ladies. Complimentary wine to celebrate your twentieth anniversary?” The waiter who poured our wine looked young enough to diaper, but he was charming and devilishly cute. Michelle’s cleavage was of the utmost interest to him, and as much as he tried to steal glances, I busted him every time. I winked at him, causing him to blush and scamper away.
Alissa raised her glass. “A toast!” We raised our glasses too. “To the most remarkable women God ever created, and I’m blessed to be friends with you. Here’s to another twenty years. Cheers!”
“Cheers!” I looked over the raised glasses and met the misty eyes of my life’s blood. Each one of us savored the moment then squished together in our half-circle booth for a picture. The host shouldn’t have asked us to say “friendship” since our mouths puckered in the picture causing us to look like Sunday-morning Methodists. A quick do-over fixed the problem, but we kept the picture to laugh at who looked more like Dana Carvey as the Church Lady.
“So what do you think, ladies? Shall we find somewhere to dance?” Katie shook her shoulders and grinned.
“Oh Lord, I’m not sure I’ve got it in me. It’s way past my bedtime!” Michelle rested her head on her hands. “I can’t remember the last time I saw midnight and wasn’t cleaning up vomit.”
“It was about four months ago, drama queen, at my apartment.” I swirled my wine in my glass.
Katie said, “Yes, but
was cleaning vomit.”
Michelle gasped. “What? I said I was sorry!”
“You want to know what’s weird? I haven’t seen any of you dive-bomb for your cell phones all night. I’m really proud of you.” Dani grinned and took another drink of wine.
“Chance threatened to throw mine out the window when she picked me up.” Michelle told on me.
“Well damn, girl . . .”
“Personally, I don’t care. Landon has the kids, I’m with my girls, and unless a catastrophe hits, I’m on base. I’m safe.” A round of cheers followed Katie’s announcement.
Michelle’s mouth gaped. “You can’t just tap out when you’re a mom.”
“Bullshit. I just did.” She leaned over the table and belly-laughed.
“Atta girl, Katie!” Alissa toasted Katie and called for the check.
We gathered our purses and secretly tried to check our phones without the others realizing.
Dani slid out of the booth. “Come to the bathroom with me,” she whispered.
I nodded and followed her through the restaurant. As soon as we entered the bathroom, she burst into tears and threw her arms around my neck.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” I rubbed her back as she stifled her sobs in my hair.
“For sure? Oh God, when did you find out?”
“Yesterday. I’m barren, and because of that, Barry is leaving me. He says he wants a family more than anything, and if he can’t have it with me, he’s leaving.” Dani’s body shook with sobs.
It all made sense—how quiet she’d been, how disconnected she felt. I knew something was wrong with her the minute I’d seen her.
“Honey, why didn’t you call me?” I pulled away from her and smoothed her hair.
“I didn’t have time. He told me this morning he was leaving, so this weekend getaway provides him with the opportunity he needed, I guess.” She sighed and looked in the mirror. “Shit . . . stupid wine.” She wiped her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “I haven’t told anyone else yet, but I will in the morning. Tonight? We drink.” She offered a weak smile and hugged me again. “I’m sorry I crashed and burned. I was about to lose it out there.”