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When Life Delivers the Polar Opposite

Of what you're used to...

Do Wah Diddy Die promo

We moved to New Orleans in the 1980s. We couldn’t have found a more opposite place to live than where we grew up. I say it often, New Orleans was the complete polar opposite of Wyoming.

Humid <—> Profoundly dry

Wild and crazy <—> self-contained

Flat and below sea level <—> Way above sea level and mountainous

Hot most of the year <—> Cold most of the year

Well, you get the idea. We lived in New Orleans ofr 18 years, but we were never OF New Orleans. We would always be the newcomers, the outsiders, though I did learn to know what it meant to miss New Orleans. 

So when I decided to try my hand at writing a New Orleans story, it felt natural for my viewpoint character, Luci, to be from Wyoming, too. She needed to be an onlooker to the City that Time Forgot.

Thankfully, I had friends who were from New Orleans to help with the authentic parts. And lots of wonderful memories. Read on for an extended excerpt from Do Wah Diddy Die, my first book set in New Orleans. 

What takes you back into a special place? A sight? A scent? A song?

Perilously yours,

Pauline

It was late by the time Mickey found a car to take them to Luci’s aunts’ house. That it was a Yugo didn’t help his headache. 

“Did you get a chance to call your aunts and let them know—”

“You don’t call my aunts,” Luci said. “They have this aversion to technology.” 

“Uh huh.” Mickey stowed her blasted belongings, then opened the door for her. “I could have sent someone—” 

Her smile cut him off. It was too close, too charm-intensive with only the car door between them.

“They lost track of the last twenty years of my life. I don’t think they’ll notice I’m a few hours late.” 

She slid in, giving him a generous glimpse of her thighs as her skirt rode high. When her hands smoothed the skirt back into place, the memory lingered with him as he crossed to the driver’s side and got in. He hesitated, then had to ask, “Are they always—”

“Always,” she said. 

He reached for the key, then stopped. “Except for Miss Gracie.”

Her straight brows rose for a moment, a look that could have been surprise widening her eyes. “You…met Miss Gracie?”

“Met her?” Mickey didn’t hesitate. “I love her. She tried to save me from the pig and she did save me from the dragon.”

Her smile widened, upping the charm factor by ten. “My cousin and I got them the same day. They were too big to take with us when we left.”

“Too bad,” Mickey said, with heartfelt emphasis. 

Luci chuckled. “That’s what Miss Gracie said when I left it.”

Mickey grinned. “She’s so…so…” He realized what he’d almost said and stopped.

“So…what?” Luci asked, like she wanted to know.

“Well…” Mickey paused, then decided she’d asked for it. “Normal.”

“Really.” It didn’t sound like a question the way she said. Her face was thoughtful when she added, “How interesting.”

He started the engine. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” 

“Do that. Be like them. Your aunts.” He gave a shudder as he pulled away from the diminishing confusion of the shooting. 

“I can’t help it. I am like them. You’ve just been too busy looking at my legs to notice.”

Since he couldn’t admit that even her legs hadn’t kept him from noticing, Mickey said, “Well, they are good.”

Luci’s laugh was rich and warm. “They have to be. I’m a dancer.”

“Dancer?” Mickey didn’t mean to make it a question.

“Would you let them go to waste?”

Mickey didn’t hesitate. “No.”

“Well, there you are then.” She relaxed back in the seat as if the discussion were over.

Mickey steered the car onto the freeway. “You’re right. You are like them.”

“It’s a genetic imperative.”

“You could fight it.”

“I could do a lot of things.”

It was a good thing he had three lanes to himself. Her punctuating smile put a swerve in his heart that the car mimicked. He straightened the car and tried to straighten his heart. It wasn’t easy with the smell of her, lightly overlaid with smoke, filling the air around him. It was as distinctive as the woman from whom it emanated. Mysterious. Unusual. Somewhat annoying. 

She was quiet for several miles before breaking the silence with a soft chuckle.

“What?” Mickey gripped the steering wheel, bracing for another round of the unexpected.

“I was just thinking, I don’t have a thing to wear.” Her voice was husky with sleepy amusement. He heard a rustle of movement as she shifted and looked at him. “Guess I’ll have to go shopping.” She didn’t sound sorry. “Though my neighbor, Helen, would tell me not to be hasty.”

“Why?” Mickey had passed from exhausted into the stupor zone. It gave him a measure of protection from anything weird she might say, so he felt safe asking the question. It was just a dream from which he would soon waken and wonder what he ate that caused it.

“She thinks my stars are out of alignment or something. She’s a great believer in stars and convinced there is purpose behind seemingly random events. Like when she hit her husband with her car.”

“She hit her husband with her car?” This made a small ripple on the surface of his stupor, but he was able to ride it out.

“He wasn’t her husband when she hit him. That’s the purpose part. If she hadn’t hit him, she wouldn’t have met him, wouldn’t have married him—so it must have been meant. Otherwise, why hit him?”

“Because he was in the way?” Mickey said. 

“Well, just between you and me, that’s what I think. I can’t see where it’s helped her all that much to be married to him, because he’s gone to Cleveland every other week. And she has to be Mrs. Maxwell Artesian. Not a name I’d personally like to be saddled with. Especially when she’d almost made it through her life without it.” She shifted in her seat to ask, “Don’t you think it’s kind of a coincidence that we both know people, I mean like Helen and your uncle, who are embarking on late-life marriages?”

This rippled a little deeper, but a yawn cut it off. He hid it behind a hand. “Lots of people get married late in life.” 

“I guess.” She didn’t sound convinced, but it wasn’t in his job description to convince her. “It’s made her obsessed with marriage. Which wouldn’t be a problem if she understood about Seymour women. That’s why I didn’t tell her about the car that almost hit me last week. She’d have had me engaged, even though we don’t.”

Mickey realized he’d missed a crucial key to understanding what she’d just said. “You don’t—what?” 

Luci looked surprised. “Get married.”

“Ever?”

“Never,” Luci reaffirmed.

“Oh.” Mickey took the exit on auto-pilot while his tired brain studied this revelation with an interest that wasn’t nearly disinterested enough. It seemed, he decided with a discreet look at her legs, that even a really dark cloud had a silver lining.

* * * *

If you’d like to find out more about Do Wah Diddy Die, click here.

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