My Writing


Stuck

Life in Malibu during Covid 19

a short story by Adelyn Zara
© 2020 On Word & Upward LLC

All rights reserved

You'll meet most of these characters in Finding Peace. It was fun to imagine what they'd go through during the pandemic.  Enjoy!

Heather Grambler’s bright red hair appeared washed out even as the moon cast light on the secluded beach behind Donovan Rue’s Malibu mansion. Alek couldn’t see any colors in  his wife’s hair or eyes, although he knew that her green eyes brightened with the smile that was presently on her face. 
“Random!”  she cried out, pointing to the shoreline.  He’d learned to wait for her to describe what it was she wanted to pretend.  “We’re on our own beach, there’s no security in sight, we’re naked, and soon we’ll be rolling around on the blanket up there.” 
A minor wave pushed both up and out of the water.  Heather laughed her bell-like giggle as her upper torso was exposed by the jump.  Alek caught her coming down, pulled her to his chest, and stated, “Just like we pretended in Malaga.” 
“Exactly, Big Guy. We’re living the dream.” 

As usual, Lynn woke at five o’clock. Shuffling into her robe and slippers, she glanced at her husband, sprawled on his stomach, his mussed curly head face down in a pillow. 
He can use the extra sleep. 
No one else was up either. 
I love it!  No bodyguards!  No cook!  No entertainers!  And, yes, no husba nd! 
This morning there were guests to consider.  Lynn’s son Connor and Donovan’s daughter Dara were spending the night after a small party held the night before.  Having had too much to drink, both eagerly accepted a guest room for the night.  Lynn smiled, knowing that neither would be up this early. She still made extra coffee. 
No children either. 
She filled a mug, smeared a bagel, grabbed a banana, found her medication, and then made her way out to the gazebo off the back of the house that Donovan had remodeled for her as a wedding present.   
Gazebos are so different here , Lynn thought as she settled her food on a table, listening to the morning sounds of the ocean which lapped on the shoreline of their private beach.  The wind was minimal, too. 
Although wh y do I have to worry about wind?  My hair is not that long – yet. 
She was just settling back in a cozy lounger when she noticed their security chief Alek taking the stairs two at a time up from the beach to access the deck. 
So much for my quiet time. 
“I knew you’d be up!” he said, breathless after running up the stairs. “You’ve heard?” 
“Heard what?” Lynn put her coffee down and watched as Alek unapologetically entered her sanctuary and turned on the small television. 
“California’s governor has issued Stay at Home orders.  Only those who need to seek medical help or have a doctor’s appointment, get essential items like groceries, or are in a caregiving role should leave their home.” 
“What?!”  Scooting the edge of her chair, Lynn asked, “How did we miss hearing about this last night?” 
Alek smiled.  “Your party went pretty late, Mrs. Rue.” 
“It’s Lynn!”  she snapped. 
He never will give in and just call me Lynn. 
Remembering that she and Donovan had been the last to crawl into bed, Lynn still wondered why no one checked their phones during the party. 
“So, this means … what?” 
“We’re all sort of stuck here,”  Alek said.  “The CDC is asking everyone to keep six feet distance between anyone else, and to wear a face mask and maybe even gloves when they do go out. They’re hoping this’ll stop the coronavirus from spreading.  And you are most at risk,”  Alek said as he pointed at Lynn. “People who’ve had cancer or take drugs that suppress their immune systems -.” 
“ – that’s me!” 
“ – they definitely need to hole up.” 
Alek’s wife Heather appeared, holding two mugs of hot coffee, one of which she handed to her husband. 
Security and his wife. Guess I’m not going to be alone. 
   “So, do we go in today, Lynn?” she asked, referring to them both working at Brandstone University. 
As if cued, Lynn’s cell chirped, and the house phone rang.  Alek grabbed the phone while Lynn read the text out loud, “Emergency notification.  All non-essential campus employees should not report to campus until further notice.”  She finished reading it as another message came through from her boss, Brad Petrona.  
Your group is not considered essential at this time.  Kindly inform your students to stay away from campus and to contact you with any needs.” 
Heather looked up from her phone.  “I’m being told to stay home. Later I’ll get information about how to access the server to get the things I need to work.” Her bright green eyes twinkled with mischief.  “Gotta set up an office in the new house.” 
Donovan walked in, drying his hair with a large blue bath towel. 
So much for having a few hours alone. 
 “Morning, all.” After leaning down to kiss Lynn, he said, “Let us know if you need a desk or chair in the new house, Heather.  We’ll order it if we can’t get it from the office.” 
Dara bounded into the gazebo, Connor following with his own mug of coffee. 
And now everyone’s up!   
Aloud Lynn asked, “Why are you guys up so early?” 
Connor shoved his hands into his pockets and said, “I got a text telling me to stay at home.  I turned a news channel on, heard about the Stay At Home orders, and woke Dara up so we can get home.”  He grinned at his mother.  “Don’t want to get stuck here with you, Mom.” 
“Stuck? Why would you be ‘stuck’ here?” 
“Well, I’d prefer working at home, in my lazier clothes. Although I’ll need to get used to working off a kitchen table.” 
“Working at home is nothing new for me,”  Dara said.  “I work wherever I want!  My apartment, Lynn’s house, Connor’s apartment.  I could work here, too. And I have everything I need.  Well, except for clothes and make up …” 
  “We need to go back to our apartment,” Connor said. 
“I’m glad you’ll be there, babe,” Dara said to Connor. “I don’t want to be secluded there by myself.”  When all eyes landed on her, she asked, “What?” 
“I just figured you of all people wouldn’t mind being all alone,”  Lynn said. 
“Well, sometimes I enjoy being with others,”  Dara admitted.  “Connor and I will hang out at our new place. We’ve still got wedding gifts to unpack, and dirty clothes from our honeymoon.  Plus our work. We’ll be plenty busy.” 
“Sounds good.  I have more than enough to do,” Connor said.  He was already dressed in his clothes from the evening before.  Pulling out his car keys, he asked, “You ready to go?” 
Dara started skipping back to the house.  “Give me five.” 
Lynn barely looked up from her morning news show to say goodbye to Connor and Dara. 
“Wait!”  she called out.  Connor was the first to turn back to her.  “I think we might not see each other for a while. Give me a hug.” 
Connor wrapped his arms around his mother, whispering, “Mom, if you go 
out, please be careful.  Masks, gloves, and all that.  Right?” 
Lynn kissed Connor gently on his stubbled cheek and whispered back, “I’m probably  the one person here who knows how to protect herself.”  When Connor leaned away, she said, “I’ve been wearing masks in large gatherings or on airplanes ever since I got cancer.  Remember when Dr. Meyers wouldn’t even let me fly?” 
Connor’s eyes widened in memory.  “I do,”  he acknowledged.  “Dad had planned an anniversary trip to Hawaii – a surprise for you – and then he had to cancel the whole damn thing.”  Lynn was nodding when Dara came into the room, dressed in fancy trousers from the previous evening, and one of her father’s old tshirts. 
“We better get going,”  she said. “We gotta find masks.  And toilet paper! Did you hear that people are having trouble finding it?” 
Connor cringed.  “Shit.” 
“Literally,”  Dara said, her tone dry. “We’re about out.” 
Lynn said, “Wait just a second.  I think I can help.”  
Donovan pulled Dara  into a huge hug, saying, “I guess from now on we do the right thing and not hug or kiss anyone who isn’t in this house.  This’ll have to hold me over for a while.” 
Lynn entered again with a large package of toilet paper and a box of masks. 
“Mariel always has extra paper products, so here you go,”  she said as she handed the box to Connor.  “And let me give you a couple of masks.” 
“You have extra of those ?”  Dara was incredulous.  “Who keeps extra face masks?” 
“My mother,”  Connor answered then added, “Let me guess.  Masks for those big conference rooms?”  When Lynn nodded, he added, “And masks for when it’s fire season, right?” 
“Too much stuff in the air,”  Lynn said.  “That’s also a time when they tell we immunocompromised people that it’s dangerous to not be protected.” 
Dara accepted Lynn’s hug and then the young couple were on their way. Donovan turned away from the front door eyeing Lynn with concern. 
“What’s the matter?”  he asked.  “They’ll be fine.” 
“I’m wondering if they should have stayed here,”  Lynn said. “Don’t know why, but I’m worried about Dara and Connor being cooped up in a small apartment.” 
Donovan shrugged his shoulders and then said, “It’s hardly small, Peace.”  He stretched and then said, “I need to speak with Ana to get my day sorted, and talk to HR about telling everyone that they should work from home, that Rue LA LA will not let them down.” 
Alek entered the front hallway, Heather in tow. 
“Well, at least I know you’ll be safe here. Including Heather,”  he said.  “Has anyone told Mariel to stay home?” he asked, referring to the housekeeper. “Or did you want her here?” 

“I’ve run a home before,”  Lynn stated.  “And although I’m not a great cook like Connor or Mariel, I think I can cook for us. I’ll call Mariel.” 
“Tell her we’ll pay her,”  Donovan instructed.  “I don’t want her to worry.” 
Week Two 
“So, how far do you think we can walk down this beach?” Lynn asked while she held Donovan’s arm for support. 
Donovan sighed, then said, “I don’t think there’s a limitation … no such thing as a private beach really.” 
“Oh!”  Lynn glanced up at the house they were nearing.  “Do you think these people will mind?” 
“If they do,”  Donovan said, “I’ll invite them to walk past our home.  But people who buy here want solitude; and they will respect our wish for it, too.”  He glanced in back, saw Alek walking behind them. a respectable distance away.  “Now if I just could convince Alek that we’ll be okay just walking the beach!” 
“He’s protective,”  Lynn said.  “And it’s not like we walk this a lot.  He probably isn’t sure about where we’re going.”  She patted Donovan’s arm.  “Give him a few walks; maybe he’ll relax.” 
“Doubtful.” 
Finally, they were at the next-door neighbor’s house. The two-story home was ultra-modern in appearance, with a flat roof, and glass windows on the two sides that they could see.  A man ran toward them from a backyard patio.  Alek was by the Rues’ side before Donovan could great his neighbor. 
“We’re just taking a walk,”  Alek addressed the stranger.  “I have ID to show you, but since I don’t have gloves, I’m not sure you’ll want to take it.  We’re your neighbor to the south.” 
“Donovan Rue’s home, right?” 
“Yes.” 
“I’m security for Letty Baldwain.” 
Alek shrugged as Donovan said, “Letty lives here? My dad was always disappointed that he couldn’t land her as talent.  I didn’t realize that she lived so close.”  He nodded at the CPO and said, “I’m Donovan Rue.  This is my wife Lynn.  Alek is our security officer.” 
“I’m Tom McCreary, Miss Baldwain’s Chief Protective Officer.” 
“Please tell Ms. Baldwain that we don’t plan on disturbing her during these walks and that she is more than welcome to walk past our home.” 
“As long as there’s no dogs on her beach, she’s cool,” Tom said. 
Donovan laughed before saying, “Well, we have a dog, but he stays home, even on these walks.  But please tell her that should she walk by, that the dog might be out but one of us will be with him.” 
Week Three 
“I’ve got a question for you.”   
Connor’s phone call surprised Alek who’d been getting ready to walk the perimeter of the mansion again. 
“Let’s see if I have an answer,” he said. 
“Um … do you guys … do you and Heather ever …” 
In the background Alek could heard Dara call out, “Just ask him!” 
“Do you ever skinny dip in the ocean?” Connor asked quickly. “Late at night I mean.  When no one can see you.” 
Alek smiled as he remembered a Spanish evening when Heather had wondered about the future together. 
 “No thoughts on what’s ahead?  What you see for us?” 
Alek pushed his torso up and over, covering Heather’s body, capturing her with the length of his body. His strong arms, on either side of hers, along with his toes, balanced his weight on the blanket.  After a long, deep kiss, he arched his neck back to assess green eyes that were slightly glassy with lust a nd affection.  Seeing that, he was overcome with this new emotion – love.   
“Random.  I think I love you. . . more and more,” he whispered before giving her another kiss.  Breaking it, he said, “Here’s my dream for the future: I see us lying on a beach somewhere else, wishing we had complete privacy. It would be ours alone . . .” 
Alek pushed one hand under Heather’s loose t - shirt, noting that she was braless, caressing a nipple as she hissed with pleasure. 
Heather reached up to run her hand through Alek’s lengthening blond hair. Continuing the dream, she said, “We’d chase our CPOs away for the evening . . . maybe have someone stay in the house with our kids . . . use this same blanket to lay on . . .” 
“We’d be completely naked,” Alek went on. “Of course, we wouldn’t need any clothes since it would be our beach on our land . . .  we could make love there all night.” 
Heather could feel Alek’s ardor digging into her center.  She arched her hips up in response to Alek’s erection, longing for their shared, spoken dream.  Reality intruded as a bright flashlight illuminated along the water’ s edge.  Alek moved with quick agility from his spot above Heather, sitting up. She brushed her shirt down 
equally as fast. They both saw another couple walking hand - in - hand, one of the men holding a flashlight. 
  “The moon isn’t enough light for them, I g uess.”  
“Yeah,”  Alek answered, shaking off the memory, coming back to Connor.  “We’ve snuck down there a time or two.  It’s beautiful at night.” 
“Think Dara and I could come some night?”  Connor asked.  “I figure I need to tell you so that you aren’t shining a huge flashlight in our faces and screaming at us about it being private property.” 
“Is that how you see me?”  Alek asked. 
God, I still have a pretty awful rep. 
“Listen,” he went on.  “You guys wanna come for a swim, fine. Just give me the heads up so I’m not seeing something I shouldn’t, or threatening to call the cops,” he said.  “But you’ll have to figure out how to tell Mr. Rue and your mom.” 
“Got it,”  Connor said, a tone of relief in the quick words. 
“You guys okay?” Alek wondered if there was trouble in the new Cerami household already. 
“We’re fine,”  Connor answered.  “Stir crazy.  Not used to being together twenty-four seven.  We can’t go to parks for a walk because they’re closed. The walk around the block in LA is hardly fun.  And I have to admit that even I’m  bored working nonstop at home.” 
“Yeah, even being on an ocean beach can be boring,”  Alek admitted. 
“How’s Heather?” 
“She’s going crazy, too,”  Alek said then grimaced as he realized what he’d said.  “I mean, it’s tough for her, too.  She was just getting used to some freedom and now she’s stuck in Paradise.”  He and Connor chuckled before he said, “And she’s trying to teach herself to cook.  That’s not going well.  And your mother is no help.” 
“My mother hates to cook,”  Connor said. “I can just imagine what she’s feeding everyone.” 
“Well, a couple of times she’s invited us – and Joy and David – to share meals if we want to. And, honestly, she has given Heather a few tips.  But still, they’re not great meals.” 
“You’re spoiled, Marine.” 
“You got that right,”  Alek agreed, then chimed in with, “I meant you got my military status right.” 
“And you’re spoiled!” Connor said again.  “Mariel can cook and she’s not there, so you’re stuck with the bride learning not to burn hot dogs and the woman who cooks without spices.  I get it.” 
“Come swim,”  Alek demanded while changing the topic.  “Just give me a call.” 

Lynn walked around the house, looking for something to do other than watching a movie, reading, or checking on her own emails.  Donovan was on the phone with Rue LA LA’s Creative department, talking about a potential new client. The door to the room of Connor’s former bodyguard David was closed.  Joy, the newest of the security detail, was spread out on her bed, cell phone to her ear as she spoke. 
“Sorry!” she called to Lynn as Lynn walked down the security hallway.  “I can’t stand being cooped up, so I left my bedroom door open!” 
“I know the feeling!”  Lynn called back as she hurried back toward the kitchen. 
She probably feels like I’m spying on her! I have the entire house to rummage through and I’m bored to tears. Why did I walk through the security wing? 
She was reaching for Donovan’s favorite tea, intent on bringing him some, when the kitchen door opened, and Alek walked in. 
“Oops,” he nodded at her.  “Sorry.  Just checking everything out.” 
“Again?”  Lynn put a cup of water into the microwave to warm.  “Didn’t you just check on things less than an hour ago?  Can things have changed that much?” she teased. 
“Just bored, I guess,”  Alek admitted.  “This is the longest I’ve ever stayed in this place. You haven’t even had a doctor’s appointment for three weeks!” 
“No,”  Lynn glanced at a calendar kept by the house phone.  “I just ran through the cycle of endless doc visits before this happened.”   
The microwave beeped that it was finished.  Lynn pulled the cup out, added a tea bag, and said, “Not a good idea to see a doctor, or go to an emergency room during all this.” 
“That’s for sure.” Alek said, then added.  “Please stay safe, Lynn.” 
“Of course.” Lynn placed the mug on the island.  “I’m bored as hell, too, Alek.” 
“Not much we can do except sit here,”  he said, then eyeing Lynn added, “I could not have believed that paradise could be so boring until now.” He straddled a stool near the kitchen’s island, placed his elbows on it.  “Even Heather is bored.” Sighing, he let down his guard for a second to say, “That’s an awful admission for someone who’s a newlywed.” 
“And used to being in one spot all the time!”  Lynn added thinking about Heather’s confinement in her father’s home.  “I wonder how Dara and Connor are holding up.” She was dunking the bag up and down in Donovan’s mug, missed viewing Alek’s telling countenance, when her face lit up with an idea. “Let’s go for a ride.” 
“A ride?” 
“Yeah!”  She placed the tea bag in the trash.  “You can drive me and Heather wherever, just so we get away from the house.  We don’t need to get out for anything, so we won’t need masks or gloves.  And we’re all together most of the time anyway; the car will just be a change.” Lynn watched Alek’s face take on a doubtful mien. “C’mon, Alek! Just a drive for a change of scenery.   Something to do.” 
“But where would I drive you?” 
“I have an idea.”  Donovan’s deep voice came from the kitchen entryway.  “Let’s do a tour of homes … of a sort. I’ll show you where I grew up, where Rue LA was once located before we change the name and built its current location.  Maybe we can drive by Asia Barber’s home!  There are a few old stars’ homes near where she lived.” 
Lynn handed Donovan his tea.  “You’re bored, too?” 
“Yeah,”  he said then took a sip.  “And we’re newlyweds, too. Guess there’s only so much sex you can have without needing another diversion.”  As Lynn gently hit Donovan’s arm in chastisement, she took note of the smile beginning on Alek’s face. 
TMI.  Total TMI. 
Donovan grabbed her hand and said, “Alek, get the limo,  and your lovely wife.  If David and Joy want, they can come along, too.” 
Week Five 
“Mom.” 
“Connor!”  Lynn was delighted to have a son calling her instead of texting. “It’s good to actually hear your voice.” 
There was a pause on the other end, then,  “Yeah?  Well, who knew we’d be sequestered so long, huh?” 
“It does seem to be dragging on,”  Lynn admitted. “How’s Dara?” 
“Okay.”  The answer was not enthusiastic.  “She’s taking a shower.” There was another pause before Connor asked, “All your international students go home?” 
“All that could,”  Lynn stated.  “Some of the Chinese kids can’t fly back – no flights going there, or anywhere now.  But most of them have their own apartments.  And it’s probably good to stay here since their internet system in China doesn’t always talk with ours.” 
“So how are you keeping busy?” 
“Swimming, reading, walking on the beach,”  Lynn replied.  “One day we all got in the limo and Alek took us to places where Donovan grew up.  We even drove by Asia Barber’s home.  It’s so small; not grand at all.” 
“Hmm.” 
“What about you guys?  How’re you doing?” 
When Connor sighed, Lynn knew the answer was not going to be happy. 
Uh oh . 
“We’re bored, I think,” he said. “Dara thinks she’s depressed.  She’s had several Zoom sessions with Dr. Allerbee, but she’s still struggling.  Being home all the time, no outlets, stuck with me –” 
“Stuck with you?” Lynn let out a short laugh. “You’re newlyweds.  The newest of newlyweds!  You can’t possibly be bored already.” 
“Well … I don’t think newlyweds go on a six-week honeymoon inside their new apartments,”  he answered.  “After we put stuff away and spent a week trying to keep banker’s hours, it just got hard for Dara. Her job hours are more flexible than mine.  I have a routine from the office than I can pretty much follow here. But Dara isn’t used to sharing space with someone who’s idea of working is very different from hers. She had some work to complete, but that’s done.  She was building her clientele before this started; now, no one wants to talk about hiring her.”  
“You’re being supportive, I’m sure.” 
“Well, trying.  I even spoke to Dr. Allerbee about how to help,”  Connor admitted. He took another deep breath.  “She said that Dara needs people more than she’ll admit.  So, Mom, I was wondering … since we’ve stayed in our apartment all these weeks and you guys have been alone, too, do you think it’d be okay if we came over?  That house is big enough to do the social distancing thing. We won’t hug, or kiss.  Hell!  I’ll wear a mask if -.” 
“Just come, Connor.” 
“I’m serious,” he said, his voice deepening.  “I don’t want you to just say yes ’because you love us. You’re the one at most risk here.  I’m just trying to find a way to give Dara something to help her out of this funk.” 
“Connor.”  Lynn’s tone was motherly, but firm. “I think we’re all probably okay. You went from here to your apartment, right?  You haven’t been out at all, right?” 
“Not even for groceries.  We order in.” 
“So,”  Lynn felt the beginning of happy anticipation building.  “Pack some clothes and drive over here.  Stay as long as you’d like.  I would love to have you here.  And I’m sure Donovan would, too.” 
“Thanks, Mom,”  Connor released a big breath in his reply. 
“I have only one request.” 
“Oh?”  Now Connor was surprised.  “What’s that?” 
“Help with the cooking.  I hate cooking and it’s driving me crazy.” 
Donovan sensed his daughter’s depression the minute she entered the mansion. 
“Hugs!” Lynn was calling as Dara and Connor walked in.  “I guess that’s the best we can do right now – just pretend that we’re hugging each other.” 
“Mmm.” Connor gave a grim nod, then asked, “Same room as before?”   
“I’ll come with you,”  Lynn offered, grabbing her son’s knapsack from the 
floor. 

Dara walked out on to the deck with Donovan. Her face was serious, big bags underneath her eyes indicated little sleep. Donovan watched as she went to the edge and settled her arms on the railing.  Sighing, she said, “I do love that sound.” 
“You always have,” he acknowledged, then sprawled on a lounger. 
“Oh!” Dara clasped her hands together. 
Donovan noticed that she’d moved her gaze to a lower patio where plants, pots, soil, and other gardening implements sat waiting. 
“Where’d that come from?” 
“Well, Lynn is getting kinda restless,”  Donovan said.  “So, I ordered some things for her to play with.  We still have most of the front garden to redo since she had the foyer redone.” 
“Oh.” 
Dara’s voice still didn’t contain the excitement he’d gotten used to hearing since they’d become involved with the Cerami family. 
“Yeah,” he continued, pulling his phone out of a back pocket.  “When Lynn told me that you were coming here for maybe a few days, I called Lamberts and got some more.  They’re in the front of the house.” 
“Oh!”  Now Dara turned toward her father, settling in a chair nearby.  “Maybe I can help.  I’ll ask Lynn.” 
“I’m sure you can,”  he said, then paused, placing the phone on the table.  “So how are you doing, Dara?” 
   Donovan waited for her to state, “ I don’t want to talk about it ”, the line she was famous for using whenever a topic came up that she did not want to deal with.  Instead, she rubbed fingers in her eyes, sluicing off the tears that had crowded them. 
“I’m depressed, Dad.” 
Donovan leaned forward, giving Dara his undivided attention. 
“I’m sorry, Magic.  Did you talk with Dr. Allerbee?” 
“Yeah.  A couple of times,”  Dara began playing with the hem of her shirt.  “I really thought I was over these downer times.”  She made a loud noise, reflective of her agitation, before stating, “Stupid me! Like falling in love and marrying Connor could turn off the bad things in my brain.  Doesn’t work that way.” 
“You’ve had a lot going on, Dara –.” 
“Yeah, I know that!”  Suddenly her tone turned harsh.  “I just wish this would all GO AWAY!”  She pushed her shirt back into place and said, “But that isn’t going 
to happen.  Dr. Allerbee changed my meds, said the same thing you just did.  Wedding planning, honeymoon planning, moving, and now this stupid Covid stuff!” 
“What did she suggest you do?” 
“Well, she asked if I could go somewhere each day to get out of the house.”  Donovan knew that Dara was musing, her mind wandering like it always did when she was upset.  “Did you know that nurseries are considered essential?”  Without waiting for Donovan to comment, Dara continued, “Yeah!  Flowers and that kind of shit are all essential, so they are open. I’ve been going to a different one every day.” 
“And wearing masks?”’ 
Dara’s eyes darted to her father’s.  “Duh, Dad. I got enough going on in my head,” she said.  “I don’t need Covid messing with it.”  She stood, went to the side that held better viewing of the flowers and pots Donovan had purchased.  “Did you know that some doc out East got Covid, went to her family’s home, lost her mind, and killed herself?” 
“Dara! You wouldn’t -.” 
Dara shook her hands at Donovan.  “Of course, not.  I’m cool.  I’m going to be fine.  I just need to live through this like everyone else.”  She sighed.  “So, I go to nurseries to visit, I’ve come here to stay a few days, I do my Crazy journal -.” 
“You don’t seem to have the Crazy right now.” Donovan said referring to the term he’d invented to alert Dara of his concern for her. 
“Nah,” Dara eyed her father.  “And tonight, Connor and I are going skinny dipping.”  At the sight of her father’s widened eyes, she asked, “You got a problem with that, Dad?” 
“So, would that be a problem for you?  For Donovan?” 
Lynn was totally accepting of Connor and Dara’s proposed method of feeling better. 
“Doesn’t worry me,”  she said to her son.  “Can’t imagine Donovan objecting either, especially once I suggest it as something for us to do, too!” 
Week Six 
“So, was skinny dipping good therapy?”  Alek asked Connor as he sent a frisbee flying out into the water for Rue, Donovan’s dog, to catch.  Anticipating the throw, Rue had taken off sideways, but adjusted to where the toy was flying. 
Connor smiled, delayed answering until he’d taken the frisbee from Rue’s mouth. As he sent it sailing in the opposite direction of Alek’s throw, he said, “Yes.  Probably shouldn’t admit it, but it felt wonderful to do something other than work, read, walk around LA.”   
Rue dropped the toy again at Alek’s feet. As Alek looked around to throw again, he was surprised by a short, female shape approaching them.  When he saw Tom, the trailing security man, he knew the person was Letty Baldwain.  He placed the frisbee under an arm and sternly ordered, “Rue, sit.” 
Connor came up alongside Alek, maintaining the six feet distance that they’d all agreed to follow at least for a few days.  “Who’s that?”  he asked. 
“That is some musician who Rue LA LA did not represent and her bodyguard,” Alek said.  “We walked by her home and she’s cool with it, but the guy told us she doesn’t like dogs.” 
To his surprise, the frail figure was heading their way. 
“Hello!”  She called out, elongating the word.  “I’m Letty Baldwain.” 
“Good afternoon, ma’am,”  Alek said.  “I’m Alek Grambler, I work for Rue LA LA, and live over there.”  He pointed to the small house behind the Rue mansion. 
“And I’m Connor Cerami.”  Connor gave a small wave. “Dara Rue and I were married a little over a month ago; we came here for a break in our routine.” 
“Oh, don’t we all need that !”  Letty Baldwain said. “There’s only so much a body can do inside their home.  I am so bored!  I told the housekeeper not to come until this is over, so can’t talk to her.  Tim lives on the property just like you do, Mr. Grambler -.”  
“Alek, ma’am.” 
“Okay, Alek it is,” Letty said. “Tim’s probably tired of having this old lady for company.”   
Alek swore her eyes were laughing at him, but her sunglasses prevented him from proving it. 
“Anyway,”  she went on, “I prefer being by myself, hardly ever walk in this sand. But this is too much.  Had to get out, take a walk, and I hoped to see someone 
– anyone!”  She forced back a scarf that was loosening in the wind.  “And here you are!” 
Rue barked, a sound so very seldom heard that even Connor and Alek jumped. 
“Rue!  Sit.  Down.  Stay.”  Alek made a slashing motion as the dog settled on the sand.  “Sorry, ma’am,”  he said as he straightened up.  “Don’t know what’s gotten into him.” 
“Yeah,”  Connor shook his head.  “Usually he’s very quiet. Too well trained to bark at all.” 
“Well, that’s all right,”  Letty said.  She started to walk closer, then apologized.  “Sorry, puppy,”  she called to the black lab, then looked up at the figure jogging toward them.  “Donovan Rue, I presume!” 
Sweaty, breathless, Donovan held his hand out, then brought it back quickly, laughing as he did so.  “Ms. Baldwain!  A pleasure.” 
“For me as well,”  she crooned.  “I’d love to chat with you about your father and the good old days.”  She glanced at the bodyguards and Connor.  “Say!  Come for lunch on my deck tomorrow! Bring these young fellas with and anyone else in your home.  Tim will make sure we’re six feet apart.” 
“Yes, Ma’am,”  Donovan said and slightly bowed.  “I love hearing about my 
dad.” 
Letty was starting to walk away.  “Oh, the stories I have!” Laughing, she almost tripped but was quickly rescued by a cautious Tim even as Alek began to move toward her.   
“Thank you, Tim,”  Letty said.  “Oh!  And I got stories ‘bout Asia and Doc Brandon, too!  Bet you don’t know those tales!  Mmm mm mm.” 

Week Nine 
As she surfaced from the water, Lynn marveled at the feel of hair along the top of her shoulders. 
“Donovan!  I have hair!” 
“Yes, Peace.  You always did.” 
“No,”  she gasped after almost swallowing the ocean.  “I mean, I have long hair!  How did this happen?” 
Donovan swam to her, grabbing her small, naked body in his arms. 
“Well, it’s been what?  Eight weeks?  Nine?” 
“Nine, I believe.” 
“No one’s been to a barber or hairdresser all that time.” 
Lynn ran her hands through Donovan’s waterlogged curly locks. 
“No,”  she said.  “Some of us could use the grooming.” 
She felt Donovan extend his arm under her backside, scooping her into his hold. He pressed her tightly to his chest and kissed her with fierce determination. 
“God, I love you,”  he whispered as the kiss ended. 
Lynn twisted her body so that her legs wrapped around his lean hips, her core fitting snuggly against his erection. As she felt it harden, she also felt one of Donovan’s hands sliding around to sneak between their bodies and rub her clitoris. 
“Here?”  Lynn struggled to get the word out as her pleasure climbed. 
“What’s wrong with here?’  Donovan asked. 
“We’re …we’re outside,”  Lynn said, her heart rate rising.  “We’re in the water …We’re … we’re – oh, my God, Donovan!” 
She lost control as the orgasm slammed into her, but still felt one of Donovan’s strong arm holding her in place while the other kept at her throughout the waves of pleasure.  As it ended, Lynn relaxed, felt Donovan releasing her, felt herself become buoyant on the water.  After a few seconds of floating on her back, Lynn turned to her stomach and noted that Donovan was a few feet away.  She swam back to him, grabbing his neck as he pulled her into his body again. 
“Good?”  he asked, kissing her face, her earlobe, her collarbone, and ending with a kiss to her breast. 
“Amazing,”  Lynn admitted.  Waking up a little, she cast an eye toward the small house that had seemed far enough away when they’d wandered down from the mansion.  “You’re sure no one can see?” 
Donovan cast his eyes towards the two buildings as Lynn said, “Our deck lights are on so we can see our way back.  And, I mean, there are no lights on in Alek and Heather’s house, but …” 
Donovan chuckled, then ran a hand through Lynn’s damp hair. 
“Don’t worry.  I gave Alek the night off,”  he said.  “And I was very firm about him taking tonight off from any security duties.” 
“And what about Connor?  Or Dara?”  Lynn asked.  “Connor said that they were planning to skinny dip, expected me to be surprised!” 
“Do did Dara,”  Donovan said.  “I told her that they could only skinny dip every other night … that they had to give others a chance, too.” 
“What?”  Lynn looked at her husband’s eyes, noting the mischief within them. “Too much information – for all of them!”  She wrapped her legs around Donovan again.  “Connor almost died when he asked me.” 
“Dara was flippant,”  Donovan admitted.  “Trying to not think about her old man enjoying himself.” 
“And now even Alek knows!” Lynn launched herself backwards, enjoying the feel of the cool ocean.  “Oh, well.  I guess.” 
“You guess?” 
Lynn forced herself back up, swam back to her new husband and said, “They just don’t know how much better sex gets when you’re older.” 
Donovan laughed.  “They don’t know that, but they did find something new and interesting for us to do during this lockdown.” 
Lynn sighed.  “How much longer will we be confined do you think?  I’m really ready to get back to at least some normal activities.” 
Donovan’s arms came around her again, forcing her body to the spot to accommodate him, slamming in when he was happy with where they were located. 
As Lynn gasped, he said, “As long as it takes.”  He withdrew and entered again quickly.  “At least, I hope, until this activity grows old.”








Excerpt from Finding Peace © 2019
A Tale of Resilience
Adelyn Zara

Following cancer treatment, Lynn is not recovering well. She has low self-esteem and thinks of her body as damaged.  She's dating the handsome Donovan who with his daughter Dara, accompanies Lynn and her son Connor to a Cancer Walk.  This is that part of the story. As the author, I reserve the right to change any of this before publication.


Connor drove Lynn to the cancer walk on Saturday morning. As they pulled into the Dodger stadium parking lot, Lynn began to feel tendrils of fear along her spine.
How am I ever going to complete this? 5K? I can barely manage five feet!
“I’m glad you’re feeling up to this,” Connor said as he opened his car door. “It’s good that Donovan and Dara can join us, too.”
“You’re cool with that?” Lynn couldn’t resist teasing Connor. He was so rude to Donovan at the family cookout that she wasn’t sure how it was going to go today.
“Well, please treat him better than you did the other day,” Lynn told her eldest son. “I was embarrassed by your behavior.”
            “Mom. . .”
            “No ‘Momming”, please. You’re old enough to know that you should treat people respectfully. All people, Connor.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“No ma’aming me! You know I hate that,” Lynn said as she swung her legs out of the Civic that Connor drove.
When Lynn mentioned having participated in the walk the year before, Donovan brightened before her. Although his company was one of the corporate sponsors, he had never attended. To walk with Lynn, someone he loved being with, meant that he could go, represent, and enjoy it, too. Even Dara had agreed to come with him, another surprise. Connor had always accompanied his mother, but he seemed especially eager to walk this year.
Connor was peering inside his darkened car windows while his mother watched.
No doubt he’s checking to be sure that there’s nothing to lure criminals to break into his car.
“You covered my purse with my coat, a sweatshirt, your coat, and your hockey bag,” she reminded him. “No one can tell that my bag with its paltry twenty dollars is at the bottom of the pile.”
“Can never be too careful,” he mumbled, then caught sight of the Rues. “There they are!”
Down the hill and across the massive parking lot stood Donovan and Dara. As Connor and Lynn approached them, the check-in area came into view. An aisle made of two rows of pink and white balloons separated two distinct areas of the race, the business side, and the fun side. A balloon archway connected both sides, indicating the corridor for participants to line up prior to the race’s start. People were already standing there.
Off one side of this roped area were little booths – a first aid station, places to check-in and pick up a race t-shirt, food tents, corporate sponsor tents, booths selling all kinds of items, places for children to get their faces painted, plenty of chairs. Bright pink balloons were everywhere, some of them making their escape as children could not hold on.
On the other side of the aisle was a stage where a comedian was warming everyone up, introducing dignitaries and singers between skits, and finally bringing an athletic trainer up to the stage to get everyone stretched out before the event began. During the brief quiet times, live music blasted from a sound system courtesy of Rue LA LA.
As they drew nearer, Dara waved with both arms raised over her head, moving in a frantic rhythm in time to the music. Lynn smiled back and made her way to Donovan who was wearing the bright pink shirt with his company emblem next to the walk organization’s logo. Dara, wearing the same shirt, threw one to Connor.
“Oh! Connor, this is Dara, Donovan’s daughter,” Lynn said as she watched the shirt exchange. “Dara, this is Connor.”
“Um, yeah. Hello. Connor,” Dara seemed a bit stilted as she said hello before asking, “Did you get your shirt yet, Lynn?”
As Lynn started to answer, Donovan said, “Lynn gets a Survivor’s Shirt. You go over there, Peace.” He pointed to a large tent, the word SURVIVORS in bold letters above.
This is what I hate about cancer – maybe more than even getting it. You get seriously ill, then get all this swag and attention that you don’t really want.
“Can’t I just wear a shirt like you guys?”
The three were all shaking their heads no, pushing her toward the tent with the garish sign, exclaiming that she needed the special recognition. Stumbling up to the check-in table, Lynn attempted to smile at the young woman who greeted her.
“Here’s your shirt!”
She handed Lynn a white shirt with the same markings as the pink ones but with the word SURVIVOR scrawled across the back – in pink.
“Just follow this little hallway behind me; there’s room to change your clothes and some special treats just for you. Congratulations on fighting this awful disease!”
Lynn took her shirt, trying to find something gracious to say to the over bright receptionist.
“Um, thanks.”
Beating. fight. Warrior. Courageous. Survivor! As if I had any choice . . .
“My friends. . .” Lynn remembered that Donovan, Dara, and Connor were waiting for her. “Where do they go?” She motioned toward them noting that they all had their cell phones out, Donovan scrolling through emails while Dara and Connor appeared to be taking pictures.
“We’ll show them where to meet you. Your supporters can walk into the Survivor area and wait for you; even eat with you. It’s cool. Oh! And here’s a bag to put your other clothes in.”
The word Survivor screamed out from the cream-colored plastic bag.
Minutes later, her new shirt on, Lynn walked down the rest of the gauntlet toward a breakfast area. Only a few people stood waiting for breakfast. Small booths lined either side, all giving away items that they felt the Survivor needed: a scarf with Survivor blazing throughout the design, a button with the word, packets of food with extra protein, a medal with the cancer organization’s logo. Worst of all was the woman at the end of the runway who greeted each survivor before allowing entrance to the squared-off area. Eyeing Lynn, the woman placed unwelcome hands on Lynn’s arm, saying, “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down for a while? Rest?”
Lynn felt herself shrinking away from the unwanted grasp, yet she tried to be kind.
She means well.
“I’m fine. I just need to find my group,” Lynn answered.
“How about I get you a plate of food? Bring it to you? Would you like a bacon and egg muffin sandwich? Or there’s a veggie option. Would you rather have that?” The woman, dressed in a purple Staff t-shirt, kept her hand in place on Lynn’s arm, turning them toward the buffet table.
Her heart’s in the right place. But . . .
“No, I can get it.”
Lynn tried to sidestep the too-compassionate volunteer.
One more step and I’ll be away from her.
            The woman repositioned her hand on Lynn’s lower arm, then said, “But I’m sure you’d like some help. Just let me –.”
“No!”
Lynn stopped, jerking her arm away.
“What part of the word Survivor don’t you understand? I’m well right now; I can do this.”
As she wandered away from the hurt-looking woman, Lynn felt a moment of shame.
All she was doing was trying to help. I didn’t need to be that cruel.
“Quite a spread, Peace!”
Donovan’s deep, pleasant voice momentarily broke through Lynn’s resentment of the women, the situation, her cancer. Still, she scowled and said, “Yeah, all you have to do is get cancer, endure treatment, wear a shirt that singles you out, and run the gauntlet of over-concerned people in that line.”
Lynn pointed two sharp fingers behind her, noting that the concerned volunteer was holding another Survivor’s plate.
“That’s all you have to do to get to this line to eat.”
Donovan stepped back from her sharp retort, then took her arm to lead her to the buffet. Here volunteers said little, simply handing out breakfast sandwiches, fruits, and juices. Lynn calmed down during their light breakfast, listening to Connor’s tale of the previous year’s walk which included Owen, Maribelle, and, of course, Michael.
Her large sunglasses kept Lynn’s misty eyes hidden from the group, but her set mouth and complete silence during and following Connor’s tale expressed her thoughts.
Why am I even here? Why didn’t I just try to sleep? Let the others do this . . . No! I promised Donovan that I’d be with him.
Before anyone had a chance to remark, a loud announcement asked runners to take their positions.
“Ten minutes until we gather the walkers! Could I have Mr. Donovan Rue to the microphone, please.”
Donovan stood, then leaned down to kiss Lynn who noted that the Survivors’ volunteers were all ogling her date.
“I’ll catch up with you after I finish this gig,” he whispered.
Lynn tried to smile back. “You don’t need to hurry. I don’t think I’ll be bypassing anyone today.”
Minutes later the walkers were ready to go as Donovan was introduced.
“I want to thank everyone who’s come out for such a great cause. This disease needs a cure. Am I right?”
Lynn noted women nodding, calling back their responses.
“Yes, sir!”
“Yeah, ‘bout time!”
“Donovan Rue, you tell it, honey!”
“Just by participating, most of your fee is going towards research at some of the great hospitals right here in Los Angeles. My company – Rue LA LA – is throwing our support behind this great effort.”
Applause and cheers came from the waiting runners. Donovan ran a hand through his curls and pinched his nose before saying, “And I want to let one beautiful woman in this crowd know that I am with her all the way!”
As the crowd’s cheers worked its way into a frenzy, Donovan counted down. His loud “GO!” and the fog horn blast let the walkers know that they could start.
Lynn took one tentative step.
Okay. Let’s do this thing. I need to push myself to show him that I am fighting. I am FIGHTING, damn it. I want to live.
Leaving the stadium’s dusty parking lot behind, the crowd entered Echo Park, one Los Angeles’ larger public parks, closed off for the race. The scenery went from the brown, open space of the parking lot to a lush green park. Old trees shaded the curving roadway that wound through it. Picnic benches sat near swing sets, while fields for softball and soccer, and large restroom areas made it a complete recreation area.
Soon enough, Lynn noticed that Connor and Dara were walking too slowly as if Lynn was tugging a leash to keep them back with her. Connor looked like he was counting the beats between each step. Dara would pause, then take a couple of quick paces.
This has got to stop.
“Look,” Lynn said, “why don’t you guys walk at your own pace? I’ll catch up with you at the end.”
“What? And not stay with you?” Dara asked. “That doesn’t seem right.”
Connor was nodding. “Mom, we’re here for you.”
“That’s great. And I appreciate that.” Lynn paused, already winded and they had not gone even a football field’s length. “But it doesn’t say anywhere in the rules that you have to walk with me. Just go at your own pace. Get to know one another!”
When Connor looked like he couldn’t decide, Lynn said, “Donovan will be here with me soon. I won’t walk alone.”
“Well . . . if you’re okay with that . . .”
Lynn gently pushed him.
“Go!” Then she turned toward a Dara who was watching her with enormous brown eyes filled with indecision. “You, too, Dara. Get to know my son. Watch out that he doesn’t want to create spreadsheets for you.”
Grinning, Dara skipped to catch up with Connor. Lynn watched them both walk away at a quick pace. When she could no longer see Connor’s dark hair or the long braid that cascaded down Dara’s back, she walked to the curb. It seemed like a long drop down to sit, but she knew she already needed rest.
This is my life now. I must accept the fact that I won’t be able to walk quickly with anyone. That I will always feel exhausted. That others will treat me like an invalid.
Tears built up in Lynn’s eyes as she considered the life that lay before her. Once again, she was grateful for large sunglasses.
God, I hate this.
“Hello, Peace.”
Dark, dark eyes zeroed in on hers, the look one of concern, care, and something else that Lynn could not yet name. Exceptionally agile, Donovan plopped down next to her on the tiny curb. He allowed the silence to linger as they both watched the other walkers. Groups in pink tutus sauntered past, one of the women wearing a Survivor shirt, but also sporting fabric wings. Another group wore purple shirts with their family name on the back. The front proclaimed JUANITA’S TEAM for some; others said JESSIE’S TEAM.
“Multiple victims,” Lynn murmured. Donovan just nodded and reached for her hand.
“Shall we walk?”
He pulled Lynn up to a standing position, kissed her lightly, and then let her take the first step up the hill. Lynn moved almost in slow motion, dragging her left foot so that it scraped along the roadway.
No . . . my leg is not dragging. It’s just my imagination.
Her balance, which her sons constantly teased her about, was that of a person coming home after a long night of drinking – ragged, not straight. Occasionally, she shot a hand out as if trying to keep herself from falling. As she stumbled, Donovan shot his arms out as if to catch her.
“You okay?” he asked, concern coloring and quietening his voice.
“Fine, fine,” Lynn answered, then looked up to say, “I sound like Asia Barber, don’t I? And I’m probably young enough to be her daughter.”
They made it up the hill. Lynn was about to sit down again when she noticed a group of protestors on the corner. Handmade signs were lifted high in the air while men and women taunted the passing walkers.
“Big Pharma is controlling your health!”
“Only holistic medicine will work!”
“God decides who lives, who does not! Make your peace with God!”
One defiant woman wearing a Survivor shirt strutted toward the group and began screaming, “What do you know about medication? Chemotherapy? Radiation?”
“You could’ve beat this if you tried something other than pharmaceutical companies’ poisons,” the big pharma protestor answered, lifting her handmade poster – a pill bottle with a slash line through it – higher.
Walking around them, Lynn could not avoid the exchanges.
Another Survivor yelled out, “Do you know what it’s like to hear that if you don’t do something IMMEDIATELY, you could die?”
“Doctors don’t know everything!” came the response from another protestor.
Another Survivor came up behind the first two who had spoken.
“I pray every day. I’m a Catholic sister, a BVM. I still got cancer.”
“You didn’t pray well enough, sister,” answered the man who’d been calling out about God’s choice over cancer victims’ deaths. He was staring at the nun with cold eyes. “You need to ask God for mercy now. You should have prayed harder.”
“And you do?” The older woman was defiant, forcing her way through the gawking walkers to face her accuser head on. “Who are you to judge me? Last time I looked, only God passes down judgement.”
The protestor, a tall, thin man wearing construction boots and jeans, with a bandana wrapped around his neck, was not backing down either.
“Maybe God has judged you. Maybe that’s why you got cancer.”
Lynn’s heart began to beat faster, a knot growing in her throat.
What did I do to get this? Was I not careful enough? Should I have investigated alternative health care? I didn’t have time! It was life or death; I trusted the doctors would know what to do.
As she continued her mental self-harassment, a gentle hand settled at her lower back, Donovan comforting her without knowing it. He urged her away from the crowd.
Another protestor began calling, “Eat only organic foods! No processed foods! No chemically altered substances!”
“Donovan!” Lynn had had enough. “Please. Help me get around this group.”
She struggled to get far away, around the corner, her foot dragging, causing her to stumble.
Donovan took her arm and swung them well out and away from the growing group of angry walkers and loud protestors. When they were decently away, he continued to guide Lynn over to an empty bench.
“What was that shit?” he asked.” He offered Lynn a water bottle. “People come out to do something decent – raise money to help research – and those idiots are making it into a protest gathering. How’d they even get into this event?”
Lynn took a sip of water, eyeing Donovan’s hand grazing his hair roughly.
“Hey, my big savior,” she said, “it takes all kinds.” Then after sighing, she added, “When I was diagnosed, all I wanted was to get well and do whatever I had to DO to get better. You don’t have a lot of time to choose what to do.”
They sat a brief time before Lynn decided to continue. As they started on the course again, she spied a tall, big, African-American man wearing the pink shirt with Rue LA LA’s logo. Desmond Davis, Donovan’s body guard, was surveying everyone walking by.
“Desmond is here!”
“Yep,” Donovan saluted him surreptitiously. “We can’t get away from him. I told him to take the day off, but Len had other ideas. Insisted that Desmond come along. Cassandra and Len are somewhere around here, too. And some other employees. We make it a big volunteer project for the entire company.”
Lynn forced her concentration away from Desmond, trying to make sure that she put one foot firmly down before picking the other up, hoping that she was not dragging either foot. At the very top of the hill, she paused, looking around at the thinning group of participants. A woman with a walker strolled past. Lynn felt herself giving in to a pity party.
I can’t even keep up with a walker. I guess this is my life from now on: Exhaustion, bad balance, no energy. I’ve got to accept this.
Minutes later she stopped again, wondering if she could finish.
“Donovan, why don’t you run ahead? I know I’m holding you back.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Peace,” he answered immediately. “I only came to this because you said you were going. I meant what I told the crowd earlier: I’m here for you all the way.”
“And I appreciate that, I really do. But why? You could have your choice of women! Many of whom are far prettier, have more hair, and can keep up with you. And enjoy your lifestyle, too! And haven’t been sick!” Lynn whipped her glasses off to wipe away the freely falling tears. “Why me?”
Donovan was not deterred.
“Peace . . . I’ve told you before. You make my life calm. I enjoy being with you. I want to be with you! I wouldn’t come to this thing just because the company is sponsoring it. I could go on a walk like this probably every month to represent Rue LA LA.”
He grabbed both her hands, perhaps a bit too roughly.
“I’m here for you. What do I have to do to make you realize that?”
Lynn sighed, then leaned her head on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Donovan,” she said. “I’m feeling sorry for myself today. I see all these energetic people and I’m not one of them. I just feel so tired all the time . . .”
Donovan put his hand under her chin, lifting her face to look into ocean blue eyes.
“I know you’re trying. . . and I know you like your doctor. . . but what if you were to get a second opinion? Maybe there’s something else that the doc you have hasn’t thought of?”
Instead of answering, Lynn stood up, dusted off her bottom, and began the walk down the hill. The decline forced her into a quicker pace, something she was unable to control.
“Slow down, speedy.” Donovan said as his hand tightened on hers. “You really will wear yourself out at that pace.”
Lynn tried, but the momentum of the hill’s angle kept her from slowing down.
It’s like I’m falling instead of walking.
“First I’m too slow and now I’m too fast! Can’t please anyone, can I?”
As the road flattened out, she paused yet again. There was only one other set of walkers, laughing and teasing one another about being one of the last groups to make it past the finish line. Lynn paused again, placing both hands on her thighs, bending over to catch her breath.
“Lynn.” Donovan was now entirely businesslike, “Do you want me to have Desmond bring the car here?”
Lifting her head to look up at Donovan, Lynn saw the worry that covered his face.
How will I even make it a few more feet let alone to the end?
She caught sight of the race officials, their shirts saying Security, eyeing her with concern, talking into their walkie talkies while watching her.
“Lynn?” Donovan’s tone insisted that she answer him. “Tell me what you want to do here.”
“Yes, please,” she answered in a small voice. “I don’t think I can make it any farther.”
“Hang on. I’ll ask these guys if Desmond can drive up here.”
As he walked over to the officials, Lynn took off her hat, running her hand through the sweaty, short blond strands, wondering if she’d be able to sleep once Desmond brought the car. She watched Donovan nod at the officials, then raise his phone to his ear.
Probably calling Desmond. I am such a wimp.
Ending his call, Donovan was all smiles as he walked back to the curb where she’d seated herself.
“Sorry about that,” Lynn said.
I’m just relieved it’s over.
“I suppose I’m the last one, right?’
Before he could answer, Donovan’s phone rang. Lynn noticed Dara’s name on the Caller ID.
“Dara? Oh, Connor; sorry,” Donovan said. “Yeah, she’s fine; just exhausted. Desmond if bringing the car from the lot. Yeah, do you want to talk to her?”
He handed the phone to Lynn.
“Hi, Connor,” Lynn said. After a pause, she continued, “Yeah sure seems like it. Ok. Later. Love you.”
Donovan couldn’t resist asking, “Seems like what?”

Lynn played with the brim of her hat before she answered, “Seems like I’m never going to be like I was.”




Excerpt from Making Magic © 2019
A Tale of Resilience
Adelyn Zara


Sneaking down the stairs, Dara knew that Mommy would be angry that she’d gotten out of bed again.  But the voices were getting louder and louder.  Daddy was finally home; Mommy was mad again. It was like this all the time now.

“Is it true, Mandy?”

“What do you think?”

“Can’t you just answer me for once?”

Dara snuck into the kitchen, hiding from her parents on the other side of the stone-covered island wall.  As she heard her mother begin to shriek, Dara placed her first two fingers inside her mouth and began to suck hard on them. Mommy wouldn’t like that either.

“Ok, here’s my answer.”  Something was placed hard onto the countertop.  “I’m stuck here all the time with that brat!”

“Dara is NOT a brat.”

“You don’t know nothing.  The kid cries at everything. She doesn’t look people in the eye!  She wanders around sucking her fingers – it’s disgusting!  I went out with Alexis to the mall and people will stop and comment on her little girl -  ‘oh, isn’t she so cute?’  But my child shrinks back into her stroller, sucks her fingers, and gives them the worst look.  She’s weird, Donovan!”

Hearing the disparaging words, Dara sucked harder on her fingers. She’d shrunk down next to the hard stone, trying to curl up into a ball and disappear.

“We could take her to a doctor,” Donovan’s soft voice said.   “Maybe she needs some help.”

“Help!  What kind of help can a 3-year-old get?  She’s got all the toys, the clothes, the attention any kid could want!  She’s just weird.”

“Anyway?”

“And you are never home!”  The sound grew in volume again.  “I’m here all the time with the brat, and you are never here.”

“You knew this was going to be my life when you married me.”

“To be stuck inside this house?  With a kid?  No, I did not!”

“What were you expecting?”  A long pause followed that question, the air still fraught with tension.  “You knew that Dad wanted me to come into the business.  You can see how hard he works at it, how he expects me to learn about it while shadowing him.”

“You go to way too many functions without me!” came the accusation.

Donovan shifted to the end of the island, a movement seen by the balled-up child who was still wishing she was anywhere else.

“I heard that you were sleeping with Demetrius Evans.”

Mandy picked up her glass and then set it down on the counter.

“Where’d you hear that?  Who said?”

“I want to know if it’s true.”

Another beat of silence.

“Someone told me that you and he were together a lot at the last event I took you to. That you wandered off to one of the hotel’s rooms while I was speaking.  Is that true?”

Mandy still didn’t answer.  Dara’s heart raced.  She didn’t know why Daddy could be so angry that Mommy was sleeping.  Weren’t they always telling her to go to sleep?
 
“Demetrius is a nice guy.”

“IS THAT A YES?!”  Donovan’s voice exploded with anger.  This time the three-year-old could not contain her fear.  A loud whimper escaped her finger-filled mouth.  Tears began to fall.

Both parents peered around the side of the island, seeing their daughter in her pink frilly nightgown and fluffy slippers, hunched up, two fingers of her right hand tucked into her mouth.  Donovan reached down to scoop her up, quickly rubbing her back, saying, “Shhhh.  Shhh, sweetie.  It’ll be ok.”

“That’s easy for you to say!”  Now Dara noticed her mother’s dark anger-filled eyes.  “You aren’t here when she cries!  You aren’t here when she sneaks downstairs because she won’t go to sleep!  You aren’t here!  You are gone all the time, Donovan.”

“I’m working.”  Donovan realized that his little girl was now shaking.  He tried to lower his voice and continued to rub her small back. “I’m giving you the lifestyle that you wanted and making a future for our daughter.”

“Some future . . .”

Donovan’s soft circles felt nice to Dara.  She placed her head on his shoulder but didn’t release the fingers from her mouth.

“So?  Did you sleep with this asshole?”

Mandy shot him a mean look.  

“’This asshole’ is making your company a ton of money,” she answered and then grinned.  “And, yes, I did.”

If she thought she could wound Donovan by being honest, she was right.  He felt the swift pain in his chest as soon as she admitted it.  The circles gentled, Dara’s eyes shutting with pleasure. 

“Happy now?” taunted Mandy.

Donovan shook his head, barely keeping control.  But he didn’t want to upset the nearly asleep child in his arms, so his voice stayed quiet.

“Hardly,” he replied.



About the Author

I'm a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and very much not perfect. My own multiple health problems led me to write about women who experience life's traumas, but bounce back because they are resilient. I strive to bring happily ever afters to all my characters.

On Word and Upward!