There’s no magic formula to finding love but there are a crap-load of self-help books out there to suggest there is.
If you follow this rule, you’ll find happiness…If you follow that rule, you’ll find love… If you follow another rule, you can do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around.
Rules. Rules. Rules.
In one of my annual epiphanies since hitting the age of 40, I’ve realized the only way to avoid life’s pitfalls and disappointments is to stop living…or to die. And the two aren’t necessarily the same. Neither are any two relationships. You have to take each one as they come and work them out based on who you are in the moment and you love in the moment.
In 12 Honeymoons, the main character Miki takes extreme measures when one of the many rules she tried to apply to her life doesn’t work. She read in a book that by following the 90-day rule, abstaining from sex for the first three months, you can find out whether a man is really sincere in his intentions. But it hasn’t quite worked that way for her and she’s had it. Now she’s breaking rules and making plans to get out of men what she “thinks” she needs.
The good news is her plan is successful.
The bad news is — her plan is successful.
Hope you enjoy the preview. It’s still a work in progress but the full story is coming out later this year.
Miki glided down the aisle toward her groom, wearing a lovely Vera Wang, as onlookers—mostly their nearest and dearest—beamed with delight (and relief) that she’d finally found someone who wanted to marry her crazy behind. The groom was one hell of a man—he had to be. He’d need to tread a mighty thin line between fearlessness and insanity to handle the day-to-day adventures with the woman of his dreams—and her family’s nightmares. No more panicked late night phone calls from the police, the Coast Guard, or the F.B.I. Miki’s betrothed would assume the role of the new sheriff in town, and the family could now direct all law enforcement officials straight to him. Everyone waited with bated breath for those six little words that would mean the drama queen’s reign over their sleepless nights had ended—“You are now husband and wife.”
Miki had arrived at the altar and stood face-to-face with her groom. The priest proceeded with the standard homily, “Dearly Beloved” yadda yadda yadda, and all went rather smoothly until he reached the “Speak now or forever hold your peace” part.
A man’s voice swooped in from the edge of nowhere and boomed, “Ahem! I, uhhhh, I have something I’d like to say.”
A collective gasp sounded throughout the sanctuary. Miki’s head whipped around and she stared at the man, the expression on her face indiscernible—somewhere between abject horror and elation. No one could be certain given his identity. The nearest and dearest hoped the man would die a most painful death from the lightning bolt each prayed God would send to strike down the thoughtless, bad-timing-having, no-count snake. The groom’s eyes narrowed, zeroing in on the target for the can of whoop ass he’d planned to bust open on the fool. “I’ll take care of this!” Miki’s groom shouted as his chest expanded to Hulk-like proportions.
Miki gripped his arm and whispered, “No, no. Let me handle this, please. It’s okay, really.” She snapped her head toward the spoiler, her lips tightened and nostrils flared. “This is my wedding day. Are you out of your mind?!”
“Yes, I’m out of my mind, Miki, with fear…with the fear that you’re making the biggest mistakes of our lives. And I can’t let you do this,” he said, his eyes pleading her to listen even though he knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on. She didn’t leave him; he let her go. “I’m so deeply in love with you…and…and I believe you’re in love with me too. So, instead of wasting another ninety days, hours, minutes, or seconds of our lives apart…m-m-marry me.”
“Marry…you?” Miki froze for what seemed like the longest few seconds ever to tick by in Roman time. Then she faced the overflowing sanctuary. “Ummmm…can you all excuse me for one little second,” she announced to her stunned guests after pinching her index finger and thumb together. “You! Over here!” she yelled, pointing first to the man and then to a large mahogany door off to the right of the sanctuary.
He hiked toward the altar as leg after leg—including the one attached to the Manolo-clad foot of Miki’s bourgie mother—jutted into the aisle in attempt after attempt to clip him up. They wanted him to fall and bust his face before he could inflict more damage, but he somehow managed to arrive at the altar on his feet. As he brushed past the bridal party, he smiled at the stone-faced bride, and they disappeared behind the door.
The 90-day rule had led to the wedding of Miki’s dreams. But what happened after her discussion with him…well, that was a scene straight out of her worst nightmare.
Chapter 1 — Injustice for All
“Your Honor, I swear to you…I did not unjustly assault Mr. Wiggins,” I said, trying desperately to squeeze some truth from this lie. Standing in the Circuit Court room wearing an overpriced save-me-from-jail suit, I couldn’t help but wonder why I deigned to represent myself at my own misdemeanor assault hearing. I’d grudgingly choked down two semesters of law school at my mother’s command before dropping out and understood just enough legal terminology to be dangerous to myself and others. In a timely flash, the disapproving grimace of my attorney mother, a Georgetown-educated priss, whizzed through my mind like a bolt of lightning. She had an extreme aversion to any actions that sullied our good family name. Standing in that courtroom with me would’ve sent her straight into anaphylaxis shock. And if the shock didn’t kill her, she’d surely slaughter me.
I’d take my chances with jail. Statistics showed pro se litigants (fools who represent themselves) engendered more sympathy from judges than those with representation. And I figured if I mucked things up badly enough, the judge would declare a mistrial and I could hire a lawyer to clean up the mess the second time around.
In my twenty-nine mostly dignified and obedient years, I’d never lost my couth before—at least not to law-breaking proportions. Yet, there I stood, ten minutes from doing time in the big house, my face chili pepper hot from the stress and equally reddened. I flicked my hair back and smoothed my skirt to dry the sweat from my drenched palms. “This is all a big misunderstanding, one I’ll be happy to clear up if you give me the opportunity.”
Judge Baxter peered down at me from the bench, like a justice god from a throne, the harsh fluorescent lights shining a halo around him. Just my luck. I remembered him from my mother’s firm’s Christmas gala and felt a pang in my stomach. My ass was toast. His eyes peeked over the top of his rimless spectacles before he returned his attention to my file. “Hmm. Okay, let’s see what we have here…a bruised leg, acute lacerations to the face and arms…”
“Uhh, Your Honor. For clarification purposes, I did specify ‘unjustly’. And those lacerations are only little cuts,” I said, mumbling through clenched teeth, “not the cold-blooded shanking he deserved.”
The judge leaned his round, robed body against his chair and swiped the back of his hand across his forehead, noticeably exasperated with what Mother might term my shenanigans. “Thank you, Ms. Washington. However, it may behoove you to respect the fact that after serving 20 years on the court, I’m well aware of the definition of laceration. Now, may I finish?” he asked.
I snatched my head back. How dare he. His sarcasm was neither attractive, nor necessary. But his demeanor cooled and eyes seemed to narrow with every frosted word that left his mouth, which rattled my confidence to no end. I’d been duly warned, so I replied, “Yes, sir. Please proceed,” before I tightened my lips shut.
“Thank you for your authorization,” he said, adding more unnecessary sarcasm. He again traced his finger down my rap sheet. “Now where was I…a broken nose, sprained ankle, and bruised tailbone,” he said, pausing to lean forward in his seat, apparently eager for my response. I was eager to hear it too…because I hadn’t a clue about what I’d planned to say. How would I convey this story in a way that wouldn’t suggest I kicked Mitch’s ass…when, in fact, that’s exactly what’d happened? I wished could plead temporary sanity because beating him down in the street was a sign I’d finally come to my senses.
He continued, “Since your vast education has equipped you with sufficient knowledge to provide me with the definition of laceration, I wonder if you’d share with the court how you would define the cause of Mr. Wiggins’ injuries…if not assault and battery?”
I chewed on the words like cud in a cow’s mouth before spitting them out. My statement could be the difference between hitting a bar after court…or sleeping behind bars after court. “Your honor, with all due respect, I believe the word you’re looking for is comeuppance.” My response sparked a wave of laughter among the spectators. “You have to…I mean, please understand, sir. We dated for three months,” I said, thrusting my three fingers in the air like a Hunger Games salute. As I looked at my digits, I realized three months might sound ridiculous to some, but wasting time with a lying dog always felt like too much time, whether three minutes, three months, or three years. “When I met him, he was rolling by me in a wheel chair. Claimed he had muscular dystrophy. He was handsome, seemed pretty smart, and I don’t discriminate against wheelchair people, so I said yes to lunch. Truthfully, I was starving, my Jimmies were squeezing my toes, and I knew wherever we went we’d be sitting down. To my surprise, we hit it off. Shared the intimate details of our lives, including the fact that I’d recently inherited some money. After a few weeks passed, he asked me for hundreds of dollars to obtain advanced physical therapy. As Ray Charles could see, this so-called victim didn’t need physical therapy…although mental therapy might’ve been in order.” The two-faced weasel was dressed in a pity suit and he had a thick white bandage strapped across his nose like a badge of brutality. Poser. “Later, I discovered his deception in the worst way.”
“Mmm hmmm,” Judge Baxter nodded. “Please continue.”
“So, on the day in question, I’m in Bethesda, driving down Wisconsin Avenue in my new Mercedes Benz. Fresh off the lot. I was barely a mile from the dealership when BAM! I’m rear-ended at a red light. At first, I’m in shock. So I check myself in the rear view mirror to make sure I’m okay. From the chest down, I see a man slow jogging toward my car. Imagine my surprise when I turned down the driver side window and Mr. Wiggins’ face was in my face…and he’s trotting around like a prized stallion.” The lying sucker sat face-forward with a shit-eating grin, looking like black light bulb with his bald head sticking out of a neck brace. “He had no idea I’d be the one sitting in the driver’s seat, so when he bent down to give me his insurance card, let’s just say I hope he was wearing a diaper.”
“I see,” Judge Baxter said amidst the courtroom chuckles. “What happened next?”
I cleared my throat, you know, to cough up the lie. Then I took in a long Southern-belle dramatic breath. “So, now we’re face-to-face. And I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised because he’d been missing in action for a month, the day after we slept together. But I’m willing to listen to reason and discuss the repairs to my vehicle. So I decide it’s best to step out speak to him, calmly of course. Man-to-woman, eye-to-eye. But I, uhhhh, first stuck my fist out the window to, uhhh…to check the temperature. Imagine my surprise when my knuckles accidentally grazed his nose.” I scanned the room to see if the fish were biting this bait and, from my perspective, they were hooked on every word I said. That’s when I held up my hand to show my jewelry. “I wear a lot of rings, as you can see. I suspect this one might be responsible for the teeny tiny lacerations around his nose. It’s Tiffany’s—a platinum band with cushion-cut tanzanite and a double row of diamonds. Two carats.
“Anyway, I’m concerned about his well-being because he’s bent over, yelling expletives and all. So I open my car door to check and make sure he’s okay. In all of the excitement, I misjudged the distance between Mr. Wiggins and the car door, so it may have slammed into his head, just a smidge. The next thing I knew he was crumpled on the ground in the fetal position. By now, I can’t bear the guilt and I’m feeling awful.”
“Sound as if you weren’t alone,” Judge Baxter said.
After clearing my throat, I bit my bottom lip and continued, treading carefully. “So I bend down, in my new dress and heels…and I grabbed him by the shirt collar to help lift him up. But he’s a big guy, as you can see, and I’m a little unsteady in my shoes. So I’m like ‘oh my God I’m gonna drop him’ because he’s heavy and my knuckles are still sore from when I grazed him earlier. After I get him half way off the ground, I lose my grip, and BAM! He slams flat onto the hard, cold asphalt, right next to shards of glass from a broken bottle, which may have contributed to the lacerations. Maryland really needs to improve its litter law enforcement. Someone could get killed. Anyway, by this time, he’s barely responsive. So, I softly called his name—”
“Your Honor, she didn’t softly say anything. She she called me a lying son of a bitch so loud my mother heard it,” Mitch hollered. “And she’s in Cleveland.”
Of course, that was true. But it wasn’t his turn and he’d interrupted my story. What’s worse was Judge Baxter appeared to give his words some credence. So I panicked.
“I object! Leading the witness!” I responded. It was the only thing I could remember. Unfortunately, the only thing I could’ve said that was more irrelevant is “Pick-up on Aisle 3!”
“You are the witness, Ms. Washington,” Judge Baxter said in a near growl. He turned to my accuser. “No more outbursts, Mr. Wiggins. You will have an opportunity to tell your side of the story soon enough. Now, please finish your account of what happened, Ms. Washington.”
“Well, when he was non-responsive, I softly patted his face.” Translation: Bitch slapped him so hard I left a palm print. “And then I called 9-1-1.”
A stone silence settled over the courtroom as we all watched Judge Baxter’s facial expression for a reaction. When he didn’t budge or speak, I decided to deliver my rousing conclusion. “So I believe I’ve demonstrated there was no intent to assault anyone. This was all an innocent mistake.”
That’s when Mitch coughed bullshit. Honestly, I tried to keep my mouth shut but what fell out of my lips next probably sealed my fate.
“And if you think about it, Your Honor, Mr. Wiggins claimed he suffered from an affliction that required a wheelchair. So, I believe God used me as His vessel to make an honest man out of him. Mr. Wiggins arrived in a Lexus…and left on a gurney.”
The court erupted in laughter, but I didn’t. Neither did Judge Baxter. His scowl stretched his lips downward to the hem of his robe. He pushed his glasses up onto the bridge of his nose and said, “This is the whole of your defense, I presume?”
I nodded, wondering how one should go about learning how to be someone’s bitch. I needed a crash course.
He grunted and grabbed his gavel. “Court will be adjourned until Monday at 9 am to afford Ms. Washington an opportunity to secure proper council, that is, if she doesn’t want to be held in contempt and spend 30 days in the company of the county Sheriff’s department,” he said, giving me a sidelong glance. “Have I made myself sufficiently clear? Or shall I define the word contempt for you?”
“Uh…no, sir. Proper council. Monday at 9am. Got it.”
“No, you don’t have it, but you better get it by Monday.” The bang of the gavel echoed across the stunned courtroom like a fallen guillotine. “Court is adjourned.”by