Joe’s Second Chance – Part 2

If you’ve read my novel Picture Perfect Play, you met cocky pitcher, Joe Wesley. Here’s a short story to give you a bit more insight into the handsome young ball player. *If you haven’t read Picture Perfect Play yet…you can still enjoy this short story. No spoilers.

Joe’s Second Chance – Part 2

Sitting in his car outside the Malibu apartment, Joe Wesley takes a deep breath then slowly releases it. He uses that same method on the mound during games. For some reason it works way better in baseball then it does in this scenario. What the hell do I say to the woman I loved but sent away? He shakes his head, reaches across the seat for the bouquet of pink roses, and makes his way to the door. One more deep breath and his knuckles rap on the red wooden door.

When he hears the tumblers turning in the lock he feels like a teenage boy all over again. As the door swings open and he’s met with that familiar beaming smile, he releases the breath he didn’t realize he was holding. 

“Hi, Joe.”

Awkwardly extending his hand, he offers her the flowers. “Hi, Jenny.”

The petite dark-haired woman takes the bouquet, inhaling the intoxicating scent. “Thank you, Joe. You remembered my favorite flowers.”

“Always.”

She steps aside. “Come on in.”

The handsome athlete enters her home, pausing a few steps in. “I wasn’t sure you’d see me.”

Jenny offers him a sweet smile. “We’ve known each other a long time. How could I not at least hear you out?”

The usually cocky, over confident baseball player is uncharacteristically timid. “Thank you.”

“Let’s sit in here.” Jenny motions towards the kitchen table. “I’ll make us some tea.”

Joe takes a seat at the small wooden table, using this opportunity to study Jenny. He is blown away by the beautiful woman before him. Her long dark hair now features some golden highlights. Her body is still perfectly curvy, just the way he’d remembered. For a moment he becomes lost in his memories…how his hand would rest comfortable on her hip as they slept…the feel of her warm breath against his bare chest…her lips on his-

“Joe?”

Literally shaking his head to escape the memories, he replies, “What?”

Jenny grins. “I asked if you still take milk in your tea?”

Nodding, with a shy smile, he says, “Yes, please.” He can feel the flush of heat coloring his cheeks. I’m sure she knew what I was thinking about. Could she possibly be having the same sort of memories?

Jenny returns to the table with their tea. She takes a seat and wastes no time. “So, what’s this about, Joey?”

His heart pounds at her use of the nickname that only she’s ever called him. “Full disclosure here…don’t laugh…I saw a therapist.”

With a supportive smile, she replies, “I would never laugh, I think that’s great.”

He nods. “I need to…I’d like to talk about our time in Texas, if that’s okay with you.”

Jenny doesn’t let it show, but inside she is genuinely surprised by the man sitting beside her. “Sure, let’s talk it out.”

Taking a sip of his tea, Joe collects his thoughts. “I’m sorry, Jen.”

The debilitating pain she felt then comes flooding back. “You hurt me…bad. What exactly are you sorry for, Joe?”

He blows out a big sigh before releasing the floodgate of his thoughts.  “I was so freakin happy when you came to Texas with me, Jen. I felt like it was the beginning of our life together.”

With a nod and a frown, Jenny says, “Until you decided you would prefer the single life. I mean what young ball player wouldn’t. Why be tied down to a boring girl like me when you could have all those groupies?”

Joe has never been stabbed, but he can imagine it feels just like the torturous pain tearing through his heart. “Is that what you thought?”

Unable to meet his eyes, she replies, “Yes.”

Slowly closing his vivid blue eyes and then opening them just as slowly, he whispers under his breath, “What have I done?”

Jenny turns to him, now meeting his eyes. The pain and regret she finds there is undeniable.

“Joey?”

Resting his elbows on the table and leaning toward her, Joe pauses as his cell phone rings. Without even looking at the screen, he shuts it off and slides it across the table. I have to fix this. Clearing his throat, he begins, “Jen, that’s not it at all. I’m afraid I made a huge mistake…and my biggest fear is that I won’t be able to fix it.”

Pulling her own phone from her pocket and shutting it off, she focuses on her former lover. “Go ahead.”

“Let me start by saying this was all my fault.” He then recounts to her why he sent her away. What he thought back then was the right thing to do for her, and how he can so clearly see now that it was wrong. “I couldn’t see until now that I took away your voice. I didn’t give you a chance to tell me how you were feeling. And I certainly took away your choice of where you wanted to be. I can’t begin to express to you how sorry I am, Jen.”

A tear slides down her cheek and Joe catches it with his thumb. The spark his touch ignites doesn’t surprise her at all. She’s missed his touch everyday since he sent her away. “Joe, you have no idea how much this means to me. I always believed you sent me away because I wasn’t enough for you anymore. I was so devastated when I got home. I had never imagined a life without you and all of a sudden that was my reality. Long story short, I took the job at the high school and married the first man that paid any attention to me…even though I didn’t love him.”

The pain in his heart grows wider. “Oh, Jen.”

“Look, Joe, I could sit here and tell you all the things we could have done differently, but I don’t want to focus on the past.” She looks down then back up to meet his eyes with a shy smile. “I want to focus on the future.” Her heart races, wondering if he wants the same.

The corners of the young pitcher’s mouth turn up. “Are you saying what I hope you’re saying?”

“I think we should give this a second chance.”

Joe stands, pulling Jenny to her feet. He encompasses her in a hug, his lips resting on her neck. “Are you sure?”

As she touches his face a lifetime of memories flood her…good memories…no longer the painful type that haunted her for so long. “I’m sure, but we have to start off slow. You are going to have to court me all over again Joseph Wesley.” 

A peace overcomes the athlete that he hasn’t experienced in years…until… “Jen, there are some things that I’ve done that I need to tell you about.”

Shaking her head, Jenny insists, “I know. You’ve made mistakes and so have I. Let’s just move forward. I’m only concerned with the man you are today.”

Joe takes her hand and entwines his fingers with hers, a sensation he’s missed for so long. “I can’t tell you how happy you’ve made me, Jen.”

She smirks, looking into his sparkling blue eyes. “You could show me.”

A heat begins in his core, a heat he hasn’t experienced in years. The difference between making love and having sex. “I can?”

She grins. “Slow down there, Stretch, I meant buy me dinner.”

Laughing, he pulls her into his arms again. I really need to thank Carly.

Joe’s Second Chance – Part 1

If you’ve read my novel Picture Perfect Play, you met cocky pitcher, Joe Wesley. Here’s a short story to give you a bit more insight into the handsome young ball player. *If you haven’t read Picture Perfect Play yet…you can still enjoy this short story. No spoilers.

Joe’s Second Chance – Part 1

Joe Wesley wipes sweaty palms across his thighs, the worn denim soaking up his nerves. Sitting in this waiting room has him more nervous than the first time he pitched in the majors. I can’t believe I let Carly talk me into this. Maybe I should just leave?

“Mr. Wesley, you can go on in.”

Joe rises, giving the receptionist one of his charming smiles as he notices her checking him out. He takes a deep breath as he enters the therapist’s office.

An attractive woman in her fifties rises from the modern wood and steel desk, crossing the room to shake his hand. “Hello, Joe. I’m Kim.” She then directs him to take a seat on the couch as she settles into a wingback chair across from it.

After settling into the suede couch, Joe wipes his palms across his denim clad thighs again. 

“You seem nervous, Joe.”

Nodding, the tall blond major league pitcher replies, “I can’t believe I’m even doing this, honestly.”

“Why are you here, Joe?”

The corner of his mouth curves up in a sort of half smile. “Apparently I’m pretty screwed up, Kim.”

“And you came here to work on that?”

The handsome athlete takes a moment before replying. “My friend, Carly, suggested this is something I should do. At first I thought she was crazy…”

“And now?”

“I’m willing to give it a chance.”

“Good. Let’s get started. Tell me a little about yourself.”

Sitting up a little straighter, Joe begins, “I’m the star pitcher for the Padres.”

Kim looks down, making a note on her lined pad.

“Did I say something wrong?” Joe frowns.

“Do you think you said something wrong?” The therapist asks.

“Oh geez. Are we starting already?”

With a subtle grin, Kim offers, “Why don’t you continue. Where are you from?”

Stretching his long legs out and crossing them at the ankles, Joe replies, “I grew up in Malibu. I have a place in La Jolla now.”

Kim makes another note before asking, “If you had to choose a moment in your life when you were the happiest, when would that be?”

Looking out the window at the swaying palm trees, the pitcher recalls the day his childhood dream came true. “I was at home with my parents and my girlfriend, Jenny, when I got the call that I’d been drafted by the Padres.”

“They must have been very proud of you.”

Joe smiles with a sparkle in his eyes. “They were.”

“Are you still with Jenny?”

Joe’s body tenses, his shoulders hunching over as he rests his forearms on his knees. “No.”

“Is that the reason you’re here, Joe?”

“Yeah.”

Kim rises, crossing the room. She retrieves two water bottles from the small fridge behind her desk. After handing one to Joe, she returns to her seat and retrieves her notepad. “Why don’t you tell me all about that?”

After taking a long sip of the cold water, Joe replaces the cap and begins. “Jenny and I have known each other since elementary school, but we didn’t start dating until our sophomore year of high school. Once we were together, we were inseparable.”

“The relationship was good?”

Joe smiles, remembering fondly. “It was perfect. After high school we both went to UCLA. She was getting her teaching degree and I was playing ball. We both lived at home so we didn’t get into any of the college party life. We preferred to spend our time alone together anyway.”

“Was Jenny good for you, a good influence?”

Nodding and smiling, Joe agrees, “She kept me grounded, focused.”

“Where did you see the relationship going?”

“I always assumed we’d get married after Jenny got her degree and I was playing in the majors.”

“Why don’t you tell me what happened to you and Jenny?”

Joe leans back, reaching his hands behind his head and locking his fingers together. “As far back as I can remember Jenny always loved to act. She was in every school play. When we were in high school her drama club got involved with this group that helped at risk kids by introducing them to acting. Within the first week of working with these kids, she told me she’d found her calling. She wanted to be a drama teacher. Jenny could see these lost kids finding themselves through acting.” A genuine smile crosses Joe’s face. “It made Jenny so happy to help those kids, and she was great with them too. Even the toughest kid in the bunch loved her.”

“Did she get her teaching degree?” Kim asks.

As though lost in his thoughts, the therapist’s question brings Joe back. “She sure did, graduated early even. She’d just earned her degree and had a job lined up with our old high school when I got drafted. I asked her to come with me to Texas, that’s where the minor league team is, and she agreed.”

Kim watched as her new patient would often get lost in his memories. She would gently nudge him with questions. “Did Jenny go with you?”

A mix of emotions suddenly and aggressively rise up inside Joe. The feelings of loss, regret, and pain that he buried so long ago, now surfacing. At that moment he wants nothing more than for this session to be over and to never come back. “Look, you don’t have all day and neither do I. The short version is, yes Jenny came with me and I was happy as hell. I was living my dream with the woman I loved beside me, but, I could see the distant look in Jenny’s eyes. I overheard the phone conversations with her sister about how she missed home and the kids she worked with. So I did what I had to do.”

“Did you have a conversation with Jenny and she chose to leave?”

“No. I told her I thought we should break up and that she should go home.”

The therapist makes a note on her pad before looking up at Joe. “What happened next?”

“Well, Kim, what happened is the love of my life went home to Malibu. I held out hope that she would say she was miserable without me and she’d come back to me. So I focused on my game and tried to be patient. That was until a friend sent me Jenny’s wedding announcement. So that night I finally gave in to all the female attention I’d been receiving. That all led to me being the major asshole I am today.”

“Why do you think of yourself as that, Joe?”

The tall athlete smirks, rising and crossing the room to gaze out the window. “I’m an asshole because I only think of myself and I’ll sleep with every woman I see if they’ll let me, and most of them let me.” Turning to Kim, he says, “I’d sleep with you, Doc.”

The therapist flashes her wedding band.

Joe laughs, making his way back to the couch. “That wouldn’t stop me.”

Leaning forward, the therapist gives Joe a serious look. “You don’t have to be charming or play games here, Joe. I need you to be honest. You can trust me.”

He shrugs, as though her words don’t matter…but they do.

“Why do you work so hard to lead others to believe you are a bad person?”

“Cause I am.” 

“No, Joe, you’re not. You are doing your best to keep people at a distance to avoid getting hurt again, like you did with Jenny.”

“I’m the one who broke up with her.”

“Yes, because you thought it was best for her. And you hoped she would come running back to you.”

The familiar pain flares through his heart again. “Well, she didn’t.”

“Joe, did you ever think of sitting down with her and having a conversation? To let her choose if she wanted to be on the road with you or not?”

A jolt of understanding travels through him. I never gave Jenny the chance to choose where she’d rather be. I assumed I knew what she wanted without even asking. I took away her choice.

Kim waits patiently as she watches the handsome young man become enlightened. The best part of her job is when she can help someone ‘get it’.

“I am an ass, Doc. I took away Jenny’s choice. How could I do that to someone I love so much?”

“I think it was more misguided selflessness. You sacrificed your own happiness thinking it was what would make her happy. Without asking her though, you can’t know what would make her truly happy.”

Joe takes a moment, letting all the words and emotions soak in. He can’t help but wish he could go back and do it all differently. Finally, releasing an immense sigh, Joe asks, “What do I do now?”

The therapist sets her lined pad aside and folds her hands on her lap. “My suggestion is that you seek out some closure.”

“In english please, Doc.”

She smiles. “I want you to sit down with Jenny and talk this out. Being honest with her and finding out how she was genuinely feeling is the only way for you to move on.”

“I hate to say it, but I think you’re right. What if she won’t see me?”

Kim stands, signifying the end of the session. “You won’t know if you don’t ask.”

Joe joins her, standing a good foot taller than the therapist. He extends his hand. “Thanks.”

She smiles, taking his hand. “Good luck, Joe.”

**********

Joe Wesley sits across from his teammate, Ryan Henderson, at their favorite sports bar.

“I can’t believe I let Carly talk me into going to therapy.”

The corners of Ryan’s mouth lift. He knows all too well how persuasive the beautiful Carly can be. “Did it help?”

Rolling his eyes, Joe replies, “Yes. The therapist helped me understand some things about myself.”

“That’s good. We can all use a bit of that.” Ryan says as he takes a sip of the amber colored ale in his mug.

“The therapy session was fine, my problem is with my homework.”

“Homework?”

“Yeah, I need to have a heart to heart talk with Jenny.”

With a smirk, Ryan says, “I was curious and I did a bit of snooping. Were you aware that Jenny got divorced about 6 months ago?”

“What?” A slew of thoughts crowd Joe’s mind, most of them visions of a future with Jenny. Who am I kidding? She’d never take me back.

Ryan slides his phone across the table, the proof of Jenny’s divorce on the screen.

With a spark of hope, Joe thinks, I hope it’s not too late.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Joe’s Second Chance

Truly Understanding Anxiety

Honestly, the title is misleading. I’m not sure you can truly understand anxiety unless you yourself have experienced it, or if someone you love lives with it everyday. Someone I love suffers from an anxiety disorder. And contrary to what some people think, it is not just a case of being shy or nervous, it is a medical condition. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics and brain chemistry.

Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. Anxiety disorders are different, though. For some, anxiety can be overwhelming and prevent them from doing the things they love.

I’ve personally experienced a panic attack. It was intense and scary. However, it was nothing compared to watching someone I love experience them on an almost daily basis. My heart breaks with her physical and emotional pain. I know what this intelligent, hard working young woman is capable of, but her anxiety tells her differently. The anxiety does its best to try to swallow up her funny, kind personality.

I try to tell her ‘you will be fine’. Her anxiety tells her otherwise. I feel horrible when my words can’t comfort her and helpless when I can’t make it better for her. After a very rough time and a lot of research…finally a diagnosis. Her anxiety disorder is a physical, medical condition.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. If one or both of your parents suffer from an anxiety disorder then there’s an even higher chance that you’ll experience it as well. Women being more likely to be affected than men.

We have all experienced occasional anxiety as a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders have intense and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. From a medical standpoint, anxiety becomes problematic when it becomes so severe, frequent, or longstanding as to prevent someone from fulfilling their occupational or social obligations. This can result in feelings of guilt and only adds to the feelings of loss of control. The sufferer now has feelings of guilt for not only how their anxiety is affecting their own life but their loved ones as well. 

My intent is not to bombard you with medical facts. My hope is that we would all be more open minded and empathetic to others daily struggles. Even if you can’t fully understand what they are going through, just offer your support. You have no idea how much your kind words mean to someone.

What Your Indie Author Friend Needs From You

What is an indie author? Being a self-published/indie author means you keep the rights to your book and publish it yourself using distributors like Amazon. A big part of choosing to be an independent author is wanting to have creative control over your books. It also means that you are you a publishing house, a marketing director, a social media manager, etc. Honestly the list goes on and on.

Amazon, with all its pros and cons, is a necessary vehicle for indie authors. Millions of readers purchase books on the site. The key for an author is being able to reach those readers amongst the vast ocean of offerings available to them on Amazon. An author working independently has the daunting task of getting their books into the hands of the readers who enjoy their particular genre and style. Just typing ‘romance’ in Amazon’s search will give you well over 100,000 books. 

The more sales an author’s book has on Amazon, the higher it moves up on that long list. Positive reviews are equally important. Potential buyers will check out the reviews and not only will positive reviews potentially convince them they should make the purchase, but a larger number of ratings will make the book appear more popular. 

Do you have a friend or family member who has written and self-published a book? Here’s some simple ways you can help them out.

First off, purchase their book/s. Take a moment to think about how many hours they put into writing that book. Next, think about the courage it took for them to put their creation out into the world for people to read…and judge. 

Now that you’ve purchased the book, what did you think? Honestly, as a writer, of course we want everyone to love our creation, but that’s not realistic. Readers have different tastes and that’s okay. What the indie author needs from you is a positive review left on Amazon. Let’s say your friend wrote a steamy romance that left you blushing, or they wrote a fantasy featuring creatures you’ve never heard of…it’s alright if you aren’t into that, but you can still write a positive review in support of your friend. Who knows, maybe that glowing review you write for their book will be the one that inspires many others to purchase it. Guess what…you just became an integral part in helping that author’s dream come true. 

Word of mouth can be extremely helpful as well. Share with your co-workers about the great book you read. Rave about it to the person who asks you what you’re reading. And of course, social media is a wonderful way to gush about how proud you are of your friend, the author. 

Here are some important sites that you can leave reviews on.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BVmACR

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/launch

Just search the title and/or author name of your friend’s book. If you can’t find it, just ask them, they’ll be more than happy to help you.

One final thought, think about how you would want to be supported in your own dream (whatever it may be) and let that lead your way in support of your favorite indie author.

By Dorothea Lynne Author of Hall Pass For LifeA Welcome Guest, and Picture Perfect Play

All available on Amazon https://amzn.to/2NRyTUG

Romance Genre Deserves Respect

Has anyone ever given you a hard time for reading romance novels? Imagine being a writer of romance. For some reason, the romance genre tends to get a bad rap.
Romance novels are a 1.08 billion dollar a year industry. You would think a number like that would warrant some respect…however, that’s not normally the case.
As a romance author I have encountered ‘the look’. You know the one. Someone finds out you are a writer and then asks, “What kind of books do you write?” When I reply “romance” the usual response is “oh” followed by the look of disdain which translates to ‘oh, you aren’t a real writer’.
I choose to write about something that everyone encounters in their life…falling in love. It’s a complex emotion that isn’t necessarily easy to convert to ink on a page. It’s a talent to find the words that can make a reader’s heart skip a beat, much like it does when they see the one they love. 
Don’t get me wrong, with a billion dollars in sales annually, there are clearly many romance fans in the world. I’m afraid that some have been made to feel they have to hide their love of romance novels away, like a ‘guilty pleasure’. If reading a certain genre of book makes a person happy, then why should anyone belittle them for that?
What many people don’t understand is that there are infinite types of romance novels. As with any genre, there will be books of varied quality. There are the romance novels at the grocery store with ‘Fabio like’ men on the covers. Probably the kind your mother used to buy when you were a kid. What’s wrong with that? They probably gave Mom that little escape from reality for a bit that she desperately needed. There are well known romance authors, like Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, and Nora Roberts, to name a few. Although each is a very successful author, we can still receive ‘the look’ if we say we read their books. And there are the self-published authors of romance novels. The writers who have a dream and are trying fiercely to make that dream come true on their own. They try feverishly to connect with the readers whose lives they can impact.
Sure, not every romance novel you encounter on Amazon is necessarily well-written. But the same can be said for every genre. If non-writers had any idea how hard it is to write a novel, I’m sure they’d be less judgmental. However, even writers of other, so-called more respectable genres, can be romance writers worst critics. Writers, rookies or veterans, should be supportive and respectful of fellow wordsmiths of all genres.
Will romance novels and writers ever receive the respect they deserve? I truly hope so. What can you do to help with that change? When someone asks you what you are reading…reply proudly that it’s a romance novel. If someone tells you they are a romance writer…reply genuinely that you admire them for writing a book. And support that friend or family member who is self-publishing their romance novels. Purchase their books and leave reviews. Do your part to not only support them, but to change the stigma that comes with romance novels.
I’d love to hear from writers of other genres. Do you encounter similar prejudices?

A Dream

“Breathing dreams like air.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

     A dream is defined by Merriam-Webster as: a strongly desired goal or purpose.
     I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always loved to write. Many times over the last twenty years, as I was raising my daughters, I would pick up my pen and think, ‘Today is the day I will begin to write.’ However, inevitably, the many tasks required of a mom/wife would intervene. I would tell myself that I just didn’t have the time to write. For years I chose to put the needs of others before my own dream.
    During those years, I would read countless books and think, ‘I could do that. I could write a book.’ I’ve always had a vivid imagination. Ideas for stories would be brewing in my mind constantly. Unfortunately they would remain there, never to be transcribed onto a page. That is, until my oldest daughter encouraged me to write. I guess in my mind I felt like I could finally give myself permission to do something for myself. So with my family’s support, I began to write. I experienced a high that no drug in the world could match. When I wrote, I felt complete. Like I was doing what I was meant to do. Stress would melt away as the ink filled the page.
    Flash-forward a few years to today and I have self published two books with a third in the works. Do I still tend to put others needs before my own? Yep. Do I still feel guilty about the time I spend writing? Sometimes. Does writing still make me happy? Absolutely. Am I a New York Times best selling author? Not yet, but whenever the little voice in my head tells me I should give up…I dismiss it. There is a large part of me that won’t allow me to give up on my dream. Is it because there is a best seller in my future? Is it because it makes me happy? Is it because I want to be an inspiration to my daughters to not give up on their dreams? Hopefully all of the above.
    We all have dreams. They don’t all look the same, but they are all equally important. Whatever your dream may be…Don’t Give Up! Even when it’s not easy…Don’t Give Up!