When her marriage falls apart and she loses her job, Jackie Sullivan decides to start over among the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Is she chasing a dream or Rick, the dreamy tour guide she just met?
Jackie’s efforts to reinvent herself in the tight-knit desert community are complicated. Does Rick want a relationship or just a friend with benefits? In the case of her ex, absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. Is it her imagination or is Rob more amazing than ever? Fueled by an unflagging sense of humor and lots of caffeine, Jackie sets off to discover a whole new life- she’s had her happy, now she wants her ever after.
The Way We Were
I’m not sure we ever really wanted kids … I mean it’s just not something we ever got around to doing. With my parents as role models, can you really blame me? Robbie wasn’t super close with his folks either. They had split up when he was a teenager. Years of being put in the middle of the war that that raged between them, being forced to celebrate two of every holiday, and dealing with step-parents to boot, he was pretty much checked out on the whole family thing. In our seven years of marriage, the subject rarely came up. We were a career couple, you know? Actually, we had both claimed to want kids, but not that much, and never at the same time. We had married shortly before I turned thirty-one. Clock ticking (what, you mean he didn’t hear it?), I half assumed that we would start a family right away. But then Robbie got promoted and was almost never home. I buckled down at work and found myself loving academic life. Sixteen credits shy of a bachelor’s degree made Robbie a tad defensive about attending work functions with me, and with him so often out of town, I started going to most events on my own. There was always something … a colleague was promoted or published and we needed to celebrate. A visiting author or guest speaker was in town. An opening in the department prompted a spate of dinner interviews. I never said “No.” I always said “Where?” or “What time?” When Robbie did join me, it was awkward. He didn’t fit in. I knew it and so did he. So did my colleagues. He came across as too glib, too smooth. He wasn’t, but he seemed superficial around my earnest, rather shabby crew of co-workers. An hour into dinner at my department chair’s home and my very extroverted, very lovely husband would be hissing at me.
“You said we’d just stay for drinks. You promised, Jackie.” Torn between wanting to appease my husband and needing to make a favorable impression, I felt like I was being pulled apart. I would beg him to be patient.
“Just twenty minutes, okay? What’s twenty minutes, huh?”
Sometimes I would make our excuses to the host.
“He has an early flight, you know?” Once, I just ignored Rob, and he proceeded to get drunk. Not rip-roaring or scene-making. Just quietly, morosely hammered. Enough to fall asleep on an overstuffed armchair in the den. When I found him there later that evening, I felt such a range of emotions. Exasperation that he was such a poor sport, relief that I had been able to stay for the entire party, and fear that we really were growing apart. What did it mean that my husband and I had so little in common? I stuffed him into the car and by the time we arrived home, he was sober enough to make it into the house and collapse on the sofa. I slept alone that night and we never spoke about it again. Not once. But, we really started to go our separate ways after that. I stopped asking him to accompany me anywhere. I threw myself into work and told myself we were fine and sometimes I actually believed me.
My first visit to Sedona, AZ prompted me to start writing JEEP TOUR, my first novel. I fell in love with the red rocks and blue skies. My second novel is Guessing at Normal, a rock and roll love story. I am currently working on a sequel to JEEP TOUR, which will be based in Ireland. A hopeless romantic, I am married to the love of my life. I am mom to two young adults and three cats, and I enjoy reading, music and travel.
I am a professor in the School of Business & Information Technology at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA. I was the recipient of the Deliso Endowed Chair Award and was recently recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Department of Higher Education as one of “29 Who Shine”.