Welcome to the book blitz for Waking Amy, the first book in the contemporary romantic comedy series, Amy, by Juliann Dove. See below for information on the book, an exclusive look at Chapter 1, and details on her giveaway.
Amy Whitfield is blindsided when she comes home and finds a note on the fridge from her husband, Wesley, stating that after four years of marriage, he’s leaving her. Amy was in the midst of trying to spice things up, to bring life back to their boring marriage. It seems now that she was too late.
As Amy sits with her head between her knees, trying to figure out what to do next, a call comes from Mercer General Hospital. The ER nurse is telling Amy’s answering machine that Wesley has been in a car accident.
When Amy arrives at the hospital, she finds her husband in a coma. The doctors say there is no sign of brain damage, and Wesley will eventually wake up. Relieved, Amy sees this as her second chance: the chance to get it right this time. To channel the girl Wesley won’t leave when he regains consciousness… She just needs some help to pull it off. After all, she was voted girl most likely to die a virgin in high school.
Amy would never figure on getting that help from Mark Reilly…Wesley’s doctor! He’s a non-committer, too-cute-for-his-own-good bachelor, and completely the guy Amy begins falling for. It’s a race against time to see who wakes up first—Amy or her husband..
I’m not a whore, I’m not a whore, I’m not a whore. I repeated the mantra to myself as I white-knuckled the lingerie up to the checkout girl. I tried not to stare at her flamboyant boobs that had somewhat outstretched her garment by three sizes or more. The French inscription that was written on it had fanned out and was barely legible. “She who must be obeyed.” Great. I knew there was a reason I had taken four years of the foreign language—to interpret a shirt such as this. And to think—I learned it because I would one day honeymoon in the city of lights and would need to speak the lingo. Silly me.
In my husband’s defense, although we didn’t make it there after the wedding, he did purchase me a plastic Eiffel tower for our first anniversary and said he’d take me there when we reached our tenth year. As though getting to Paris was somewhat of a marriage marathon, and this plastic statue was a drink of water on the first-mile stretch. I only had six more miles—er, years—to keep brushed up for the fateful event. I hope he hadn’t forgotten his promise. Years two, three, and four landed me nothing resembling the pact he’d made. Year two I got a pair of earrings that make my ears break out when I wear them; year three, a box of candy; year four, a slow cooker.
“Would you like a gift receipt?” the tiny cheerleader with the bleached-white teeth asked me.
A gift receipt? She really thought I was purchasing this for someone else? It wasn’t as though she could see through my blouse and cardigan to my eighteen-hour bra and high-rise Hanes, could she? And did people buy lingerie for other people?
“No, that won’t be necessary. Thank you, anyway.”
I kept my head lowered, pushed my hair behind my ear and then continued to fidget with the top button on my shirt. It was safely keeping my blouse pulled together. No need to advertise my collarbones to the free world.
I smiled and took my bag. I hoped she hadn’t seen my hand shake when I signed the credit card copy. Not only had I never set foot into any sort of establishment such as this, but I usually walked on the other side of the mall to avoid getting too close to the entryway of it. “Devil-wear,” as my mother referred to it, never got you anything but trouble. Strap on that sort of getup and consider yourself a plaything for nothing but evil. Had my mother still been around, God bless her departed soul, she would have loosened up the slack on her judgment. Well, maybe. She came from a very different time, and schooled me in the same manner. My dresses were to fall below my knees, my sleeves to hit over the elbow, and for the love of God, wear only pajama sets at night. That way, the one-eyed monster didn’t get on the scent of anything foul play.
Of course, I have done all of this. I even stopped wearing skirts altogether once I got married. Pants are the way to go when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned workplace five days a week, nine hours a day—in the winter! And this modest method of living is perhaps why Wesley has been working late at the office three nights a week, going on business trips, and forgetting about important dates—like our first date anniversary. It was two weeks ago. I came home with Chinese takeout and cheesecake with cherry topping (his favorite), and he didn’t come home until ten o’clock. When I asked why he didn’t answer his phone, all he said was that the battery must’ve given way and died. I ended up eating alone and watching a stupid reality show before going to bed.
I was hoping this little Prada-like Satan outfit would fuel some fire back into our relationship. Either that, or he’d pass out from seeing three-fourths of my body’s skin. That is, if I knew how to assemble it. It had so many straps and pinchy things attached, I might have to Google someone wearing it and go from there.
I’d actually gotten the idea to ramp things up from the girls at work. I share a table with them at lunch. All they ever seem to talk about is sex. I rarely contribute, as I don’t have an array of things to offer. But today they asked for a donation from me. Tapioca pudding almost choked me as I looked up at the four sets of eyes, waiting for me to hash out what it was like in the “sack” of my bedroom.
Okay, first off, the “sack” was a dark cherry four-poster bed, ensconced with a Laura Ashley canopy. My remote control rested on my nightstand, where my highlighted TV Guide showed all the upcoming Hallmark premieres. My pink slippers sat beside my bed, and the cotton pajama set I wore for two nights consecutively before washing and changing out laid at the foot of it. I wouldn’t exactly consider my bed a “sack.” And I wouldn’t exactly confess to them that we did “sack-like” things every third Saturday night. If I was in the mood, and there was no pay-per-view boxing on that particular night.
“Well…we usually have fun about twice a month. Maybe three if we watch a sexy movie.” Did that sound as pathetic outside of my brain? And it was still a lie!
Heavy gasping swept across the table. I might as well have said that my three-headed neighbor watched while we did it for all the groans I received. Actually, that would have got me off the hot seat. Neighbors watching would have cast my membership into this women’s club. Obviously there was an initiation and sex twice a month wasn’t it. Would I be shunned in the future? Sitting in my car at lunch break, parked in the adjacent lot so that no one could see me? I could always pack tuna sandwiches and lure stray cats to my vehicle.
“Oh, honey. I’m so sorry.” Rosa touched my arm as if I had admitted to having an incurable disease. “And, he’s okay with that?”
I cleared my already clear throat, giving myself a few seconds to retract my statement. The one that carried the weight of a boulder and had landed in the middle of our lunch table.
“He’s fine. We’re fine. It’s always been fine. Why? You don’t think it’s fine?” I raised my pencil-thin eyebrow. It quivered a little as I awaited the judgment of my overly-sexed peers.
Sonja’s lip muscles flexed hard before she blurted what was on everyone’s mind.
“If a man isn’t getting it at home, he’s usually getting it somewhere else.”
They obviously didn’t know Wesley. He wasn’t the type. From day one, he… Hold on. From day one, he did want it all the time. I wasn’t a big fan of it. It took only seconds and I didn’t get anything from it except resentment. After getting a few shoulders in his face instead of breasts, he slowly gave up and did it only when I initiated it. Was it true? Could he be going elsewhere? No. Not Wesley.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. We have a good relationship. We don’t need to have sex all the time, like every day of the week. There are other components of a relationship. We have a good one,” I repeated.
“Honey, don’t you want to have sex? You’ve got no children. You could have it in a different room every night if you wanted. Have you ever tried the kitchen table?” Sonja’s eyes danced with the mere thought of it.
Sonja is probably the most over-sexed one at the table. She is a pretty girl in her mid-thirties, but she keeps herself up, making it seem more like she’s in her late twenties. She does her own highlights, sometimes red and sometimes blonde, depending on the season. Her eye makeup is always painted in bright colors, matching her outfits and meticulously covering the area that stretches from under her eyebrow to the black eyeliner that defines the edge of her eye. She always boasts how many positions she can perform. As if it’s the Olympics, and the more you can do, the more awards you might receive.
“We haven’t yet made it to the kitchen table—germs and all, you know? But, we’ve done it in all the other rooms with beds.” Thank goodness they didn’t know that all we had was one guest room with a bed. The other room had a desk, and I would never imagine doing anything on that and ruining my collection of porcelain butterflies. It took me twelve months of payment plans and installment shipping for those little babies.
“That’s it? In the beds of your home? That sounds so sad.” Rosa shook her head and grabbed her gaping mouth. Notice of my dear cat’s death would’ve probably elicited less pity. “You don’t role play or meet in clubs and do it in the bathroom or in the dressing rooms of Target?” Her brow raised as her lips pinched tightly shut. She seemed to be hiding a secret I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. I’ve used those dressing rooms.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what Rosa was talking about. She was married, with five children. Obviously, there was no lack of physical contact in her marriage, but was I to believe she pushed a cart with her children loaded inside the front and on the sides, parking it outside of the fitting room and asked the oldest to watch the others while she and Daddy went in to “try on clothes”? With each other? Who was she kidding? At least my lie was believable. Now, I wouldn’t be able to tell whether her wrinkly clothes were from lack of ironing or whether Jose, her husband, scored a quickie in the car before he dropped her off to work. She always boasted they had a wonderful sex life. I suppose five children could back that up. I had nothing…nothing but a collection of butterflies in one room and a neatly made bed in the other.
“Come to think of it, I forgot about vehicles.” I touched my finger to my lips, as if to remember. “Just last week we went to that buffalo wing place by the new shopping mall, and we did you-know-what in the backseat of his Jeep in the parking lot. He couldn’t wait. Said he’d die if he had to eat dinner without tasting me first.” I hoped the flush I suddenly felt didn’t show like a bull’s-eye on my face.
If they knew Wesley, they would’ve known that was a bold-faced fallacy. Wesley wouldn’t even let me drink a soda in his precious Jeep. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t allow naked bodies sloshing up on the sides of his all-leather interior. But I had read something similar in a book and remembered the image.
“You better watch out, girl,” Paige said. “If I have sex too much, I have to take the little white pill.”
The little white pill? Obviously I didn’t have too much sex, so I had no idea what she was talking about. But I nodded, as though I did.
“The week after our honeymoon, I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get on American soil and contact my gynecologist. It took me three days to feel normal again.”
Although obviously getting over some type of malady, Paige still had stars in her moony eyes. She was a newlywed. She and Doug were probably still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship—sex once a week. I was invited to her wedding three months ago and went alone. Wesley was out of town that weekend, but I remember the way Doug looked at her: longing eyes, with love filled to the brim of both of them. I didn’t recall Wesley ever looking at me in the same way. After we were married, it seemed like we bypassed the honeymoon period and moved right toward the golden years of “You sleep on your side, and I’ll sleep on mine.”
“Guys, we’re really mature in our relationship. We’re not teenagers anymore.”
“You might want to spice it up before someone else does it for you,” Sonja piped in.
Somehow I didn’t think she completely believed the wild wing story in his Jeep. I felt my eyes shy away when I told it. I was still fanning myself and repeating five Hail Mary’s under my breath.
“A man is a man, Amy. They need constant touch and reinforcement that they’re the king of the hill. In all aspects, especially the libido. Even Edith in accounting learned that lesson. She’s now residing in an apartment down by the mall, and Edward has moved on with a girl ten years younger. They sold their colonial home in Bayberry Estates and split the proceeds down the middle.”
I tried to control my popping eyes. Now that she mentioned it, Edith had looked more pasty these last couple of weeks. As though she’d come to work every day having kept her face in an ice tray the night before. Even her gait was slower and her arms were constantly shrugging. I thought she was just vitamin deprived and needed to make an appointment with a chiropractor.
“I know you think everything is cool, but maybe you need a teacher to show you some sex tricks. My cousin, Mario, has helped some ladies in the past. I could ask for a discount for you.” Sonja finished up her drink and took her bag to the trashcan.
I grabbed my trash and followed my sex-proficient friend. The thought of a tall, dark, and handsome Latino coming over to my house to teach me where to place my hands shortened my breath. Of course, then the thought of him reporting back to Sonja and her bringing that nightmare to the table for discussion sickened me.
“No thanks, Sonja. My marriage is good. What am I saying? It’s great. Maybe we just need to get away from here. He’s working so much. I think we need a break from the rat race.”
I left the table, feeling insecure with my relationship and as though I was the pathetic un-sexed one of the bunch. I loved Wesley and I intended to keep him, no matter what. I would just have to get used to more looks of condolence than sisterhood high fives.
# # #
The streetlights were on when I turned down Fairfield Avenue. I was relieved not to see a car in the driveway, even though with Wesley’s sudden new travel itinerary, he was seldom home.
I parked my car and snatched the bag from the passenger seat. The slam of my car door echoed in the quiet street. There were no leaves on the trees to help buffer the noise. Summer hadn’t quite arrived, and it was still chilly in the evenings. Looking both ways, I double-stepped up the porch stairs to the front door. I was more cautious these days since the mugging that took place two streets over from mine. The newscaster on Channel Seven interviewed the victim with one of those black dots over her face. She seemed pretty shaken up. Her voice was crackly and she swayed back and forth while she answered the questions. It seemed as though the perpetrator only wanted money, but he didn’t leave her unharmed. She showed the black and reddish bruises on her arms and said he was carrying a knife. When I told Wesley, he said to just be more careful. As if. Did that mean carry less money, park on the yard beside the porch, or bulk up on protein shakes and wear brass knuckles, should the need to defend myself against a knife-wielding lunatic arise?
After my jittery fingers jammed the key into the lock and turned it, I made it inside. I dead-bolted the door behind me and began freaking out. One Mississippi, two Mississippi… You would’ve thought this was my first time making love to my husband. It was, sort of. At least, it was something I was consciously planning. Having bought an outfit for it and all. It seemed like every time we did it, it was because we were nearing our next appointed time. Every so often, he’d venture over to my side of the bed to get a tune-up. Like taking your car in for an oil change every three thousand miles. For Wesley and me, it was around every four weeks that one of us needed some type of heavy petting. I never imagined this was what married life would be. But, then again, Disney had a way of always ending the fairy tale the moment right after the princess found her Prince Charming. Someone should carry the story a little further. That way, unsuspecting girls wouldn’t be so blindsided by the next five mundane years.
As I raced upstairs, I could hear my heartbeat inside my ears. I tried conjuring up my sexy alter ego. Everyone had one, right? I had fifteen or less minutes to locate mine. I dumped the contents of the bag on the bed, and there it was. Less than a quarter yard of red, call-girl material. Did I have enough shaving cream for all the hair that would have to be pruned to wear that eighty-dollar Band-Aid? I started the shower, loaded a new razor, and got down to business. I didn’t even take the extra five minutes it took to fully condition my hair. I figured I’d have to take another shower after we were finished anyway. But not too soon afterwards. I always waited the three minutes it took for Wesley to fall asleep before I got up, showered, and got dressed for bed. I always left him alone to sleep naked all night. He never strayed to my side of the bed anyway. Nothing made him more stone-cold unconscious than sex.
Ten minutes later, I stood in front of my foggy bathroom mirror, wearing ten strips of bloody toilet paper. I only hoped the blood would soon clot. I didn’t want it to get on the new sheets I’d put on the bed. They were my favorite ones—little daisies with red ladybugs. Had I known I was going to have hanky-panky, I would have chosen the gray-striped ones. They had the tiny dryer balls all over them. I felt as if I were being exfoliated every time I put them on the bed. Now, though, they were tucked safely in the back of the linen closet. I could never bring myself to throw them out. I always figured I’d need them for an overnight guest. Six years living together, and Wesley and I have never had an overnight guest.
I waited to hear whether anyone was home before I opened the door. My towel dropped and the operation began. Just in case it wasn’t the right size, I left on the tags. Not that I could return it without a ball cap and Unabomber glasses. Especially if the same girl was at the cash register. She’d remember offering me a gift receipt and me turning it down. Could you return a thong? I certainly hoped not. I’d have to get over that image of wearing a returned article of underwear before pulling off this seductress scene.
As I looked to figure out what went where, I still wondered what was so appealing about these tiny slips of bondage. They had to be concocted by terrorists. And what type of wardrobe did a guy have to shop for when wanting to seduce a girl? A G-string? No thanks. I appreciated Wesley’s boxer shorts. But Sonja said that it wasn’t good enough to be complacent. You had to keep the mojo flowing, she warned. God knows, I had a scarce supply of that. If any.
Sonja certainly oozed with mojo—a different guy each weekend. I sit and daydream about her life sometimes at lunch. Not the images of contracting a viral disease, but I would’ve liked to have dated more in college. Not that for one minute I’d give up my life with Wesley. Lord knows, I could never live alone without the security of someone taking care of me. But how exciting to have guys take you to dinner, wondering whether you were going to get kissed at the end of the evening. Or in Sonja’s case, whose house they were going to sleep at. I’d do anything for her, but I worry she’ll never find her Wesley. Someone she can count on and will take care of her.
There it was. Lying like contraband on my bed. A fugitive hiding out in a foreign land. The satin finish contrasted sharply with the soft rose petals of my delicate bedspread. I looked at the new bondage-like nighty, trying to embrace it for its captivating abilities. Tonight was for the sake of my marriage. Wesley was a good guy: never called in sick to work, provided for our needs, and respected me. And, more importantly, I couldn’t make it on my own without him. I wasn’t built for it. What were a few nights of discomfort and shame to my daisies-and-ladybug sheets? I needed the security of Wesley. Who cared if he didn’t light a fire in me? Maybe I had no fire. I’d seen commercials about women with hormone deficiencies. It could be possible. I needed to check on that when I had more time. But, I’d have to call a 1-800 number to do so. Dr. Poole, my gynecologist, was the same doctor who delivered me when I was a baby. To tell him I had no sex drive would be like having Father Frederick selling me my satin panties.
After looking like a contortionist in the bathroom mirror, it was on. All flaps, straps, and bands accounted for. One wrong move and it could all spring out of action and knock someone’s eye out. I might’ve even pulled a muscle putting it on.
I squeezed my feet into the three-inch heels my sister left behind two years ago and stumbled out of the bedroom to glance at the clock. It was fifteen minutes after six. Maybe traffic held him up. I turned on the closet light and pulled the door almost shut, permitting a sliver of light into the room. Enough to show him my new wild-cat ensemble. Too much lighting would make me self-conscious. Especially if one of my boobs accidentally fell out or something. I set the MP3 to Marvin Gaye and hit repeat. Let’s Get It On!
Now, to select a position to advertise the goods. What would be a good one? Thinking back to sexy movie scenes, I tried out a few. On my back? Too tramp-like. On my side? I might fall asleep. On my stomach in crawl position? He might expect naughty tricks, and I didn’t know any.
I finally decided on a side position with my two legs half bent. Nothing felt right. Surely, he wouldn’t anticipate too much. He knew I wasn’t versed in the “come and get me” language. I’ve known him since elementary school; I was an open book when it came to past relationships. All four of them, if you counted Uncle Sam, Dad’s brother, who I had a crush on since I was five years old. He always looked and dressed so nicely at family gatherings. Short brown hair, neatly parted on the right side, with a clean-shaven face. I could smell his cologne when he’d scoop me up for a hug. He’d wear a suit and tie, with a real handkerchief tucked in his lapel. I’d pretend one day he was going to marry me.
Hopefully I didn’t look as awkward as I felt. My stomach growled to remind me it had been neglected in this “sex evening” project. It would have to wait until it was over. It didn’t matter that the bag of chocolate cookies was calling my name from the kitchen. I couldn’t put anything in my body that needed to eventually come out. I wasn’t quite sure how to get this thing off. I hoped Wesley was male-hardwired and knew what to do with it.
I watched as the clock blinked a few more numbers on its screen. Six thirty and I was less in the mood than an hour ago, which wasn’t very much to begin with. Where was he? A few more growls from my stomach and I knew it would be a buzzkill if I didn’t throw something into it. My belly tended to let out cat-calls if it became too ignored. Long screeches that were embarrassing. Especially in the middle of board meetings in which I was hungry, yet too nervous to eat the pastry on the back table because I wasn’t sure who made it. Obviously my co-workers used their kitchen workspaces for more than baking.
I dashed downstairs and watched for any signs of car lights in the drive, ready to sprint back to the room and resume the sexy, natural pose. The cool air nipped at me, raising the few hairs I’d managed not to cut. I opened the cabinet and pulled out some saltines. Wiser choice over chocolate cookies. I might have to brush my teeth, and who had time for that? Darn it, I forgot the white strips. Oh, well. Maybe next time.
Five dusty crackers down and it was time for a drink. I pulled the fridge open and grabbed the container of sweet tea, chugging it right out of the pitcher. I’d have to remember to tell Wesley to open the other one in order to avoid co-mingling of germs. The bustier seemed to be holding everything in place as I felt my insides expanding from the added liquid and food. My eyes stared aimlessly while I drank the nectar. Then I saw it.
It was placed on the freezer side with the aid of my favorite I Love Lucy magnet. It was the one where she was shooting the commercial for Vitameatavegamin. “Amy” was handwritten on the front. I put the bottle of tea on the table and took down the note. Wesley had never left me a note before. No love notes, not even wish lists for the grocery store. What could he want to say on paper and not on the phone? My eyes squinted from the fluorescents that bled white artificial light over the room.
I never wanted to hurt you. Please don’t be upset, but I can’t do it anymore. I have to leave. We’ve been growing apart for a while, and every time I try to talk about it, you change the subject. I’ll always love you, but I don’t love you the way that I should. After the dust settles, I know you will see it was the right thing to do, and you’ll be happy. We deserve to be happy, Amy. I’ll keep in touch.
The saltines sounded like grenades going off in my stomach. My insides wrenched and moaned as I sat down on a wooden chair beside our table. The cold surface stung my legs. Gone? What? The unsettled snack that seconds before was welcomed into my stomach began to climb its way back out. The room spun and I put my head between my legs.
It was too late. He would never get to see “Amy the Sexpot,” and I’d have to move down the street from Edith in accounting. I looked down, feeling the chilly air on my shoulders. Was this what death felt like? Maybe after I got some decent clothes on, I could figure out what the note actually meant. I put my body on autopilot and walked toward the stairway. The phone rang and interrupted my bout of confusion and nausea. I wasn’t in a frame of mind to talk to anyone. I let the answering machine pick up. “Hello, this is Mercer General Hospital calling for Amy Whitfield.”
I ran to the phone and lunged for the receiver.
“Hello, is this Amy Whitfield?” The voice was unfamiliar and official-sounding.
“Yes,” I said. My tone was still suffering from whiplash over the “freezer letter.”
“This is Kelly Bradshaw. I’m an ER nurse at Mercer General. I hate to inform you, but your husband, Wesley Whitfield, was brought in by ambulance. He’s been in a car accident.”
The room moved like the spin cycle on my washing machine. Helium took residence inside my brain cells, and my head felt as if it might pop off my shoulders if I didn’t hold it down. I grabbed for the back of the sofa to catch myself. What did this woman just say? “I’m sorry. I can’t understand you.”
“Ma’am, your husband’s in Mercer General. Are you all right? He has been in a car accident. If you are okay to drive, I think you should come immediately.”
I dropped the phone, figuring she meant he was on life support and two seconds away from dying. My eyes shut, and I fell to the floor. All I wanted was to be able to get into my cotton pajamas and watch television while Wesley brushed his teeth in the bathroom. Then he’d come to bed, turn the table light off, kiss me on the cheek, and turn over and fall to sleep. It generally took five to seven minutes when sex wasn’t involved. Then he would snore intermittently all night.
After a few bursts of uncontrollable tears, I pulled myself together and gathered my purse and keys off the floor by the front door. My rational, more realistic side chimed in as the louder thoughts in my head. The woman did say he was there. Maybe he needed a ride. Was the accident bad? Immediately? Why? Was he all right? I grabbed my raincoat from the closet, wrapped it around me and cinched the belt. I locked the door robotically and sped to the hospital.
About the Book
Title: Leaving Amy
Series: Amy #2
Author: Julieann Dove
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Amy thought she had it figured out—followed her heart and moved forward…but life isn’t always so simple. Things tend to drag you back to familiarity, or in Amy’s case—people. Wesley returns from his stint of love and betrayal, and has a favor to ask of her. When Amy agrees to help, all that was moving forward in her life comes to a halt.
As Amy tries to fix the loved ones around her, she begins to lose all that she’s gained. And when the smoke clears, she’s more confused about what’s meant to be and who it’s meant to be with.
About the Author
Julieann lives in Virginia, yet longs to live everywhere else. It doesn’t come as a surprise that along with her gypsy soul, comes an active imagination. That’s why she loves to write and invent worlds and people, so that she can formulate their happily ever after. Hobbies include cooking new recipes, sewing, and spending time with her cute boyfriend/husband and five fabulous children. Vacations happen in Nantucket or the Carolina beaches—anywhere there is inspiration for her next book. One day she hopes to travel to Italy, drive one of those little cars around the countryside, and speak the language fluently!
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