As writers we have stories we have to tell. I had to tell the story of Laurel and Gino, two 50-something Manhattanites, who find love again later in life. It’s a second chances story – one I hope for myself. One many of us hope for!
Gino’s a widower, and Laurel’s divorced. Although they’re way out of dating-game practice – because they’re out of practice – they decide to trade favors: Gino agrees to go to Laurel’s 35th college reunion, in exchange for Laurel going to cancer benefit events with him and running interference on the socialites chasing him.
I love creating characters and then seeing what they have to say to one another, finding that moment when they click. In Love After All I needed to craft believable getting-to-know-you occasions between two people with a lot of life experience. I wanted to let their attraction develop and mature. Their story is so different from those in my Forest Breeze trilogy where the attraction between the sets of characters is instantaneous!
If you’re a fan of Nancy Meyers films – like Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated – give Love After All a try.
For the next four months Love After All is available on Kindle for $0.99.
I hear my phone ping in my purse. I’m dying to read the message, since I can guess who it’s from. I resist the temptation to look, because I make a point of never being on my phone when our doorman is doing his duty.
As the door opens for me I say, “Hello, Randall.”
“Hello, Dean Jennings,” he replies with the hint of a wink.
Randall is adorable. He’s also a tease. He’s been at the Brevoort East about fifteen years now. Over this time he’s taken pleasure in acknowledging me by my ever more impressive titles: Associate Professor, Full Professor, Dean of the Humanities. There was even a year I had to endure him addressing me as President Jennings, given my post at the helm of the American Studies Association.
Because the end of my term is now in sight I can say, “The deanship is only for a few more months. Then it’s back to plain old Professor Jennings.”
With a slight bow he says gravely, “You’ll never be plain.”
I shake my head and counter, “When June thirtieth comes, my carriage turns into a pumpkin. Then some other lucky Cinderella will be dancing at the dean’s ball.”
“The job is that great?” he wonders. His expression is sly.
“I’ve loved every minute,” I lie, “but I can’t hog all the fun.”
He gives me a cheeky thumbs up.
I smile and move along. I’m eager to get to my phone, so I plop myself down at the nearest bench in the lobby and dive into my purse. I read the text. Emotions whirl through me, too swift and complex to sort and so reflexive I’m not aware of my groan.
It must have been a loud groan – too loud, evidently. The next thing I know a man is standing in front of me, looking down at me with concern.
“Do you need help?” he asks.
The first thing I register is his voice. It’s deep and kind. He’s about my age, mid-fifties, give or take. I recognize him by his distinctive silver and black hair, which I’ve glimpsed from afar in the building and in the neighborhood in recent years. My impression of him has always been that he’s nicely tailored. Up close I can see he’s very nicely tailored. Otherwise he’s nothing extraordinary. Average height. Average looking.
Do I need help? Yes, in fact, I do. I didn’t rise through the ranks of university administration without making quick executive decisions. I make one now, although what I need is far from professional, and I really, really know I should not do what I’m about to do.
I stand up and hold out my hand. “Hi, I’m Laurel.”
He takes my hand. His grip is firm. “Gino.”
“I teach English around the corner at NYU.”
He puts his hand to his chest and says, “Restaurateur.”
His occupation surprises me. “Oh! Any restaurants I’d know?”
"Of the ones in the Village the closest is Otto’s.”
“On Eighth, of course. I love Otto’s. I go there all the time – mostly lunch, you know, since it’s so crowded in the evenings.” I’m about to expand on this subject but put a stop to possible chatter. I come to my point. “The help I need is to find a date for my college reunion the third weekend in April. I’d pay the plane fare, separate room, and registration.”
I see from the look of dawning horror on his face I’ve made the horrible mistake I knew, deep down, it was. To correct the worst of it I plunge on, “I don’t mean you, no, no, no! I thought maybe you’d know of someone. In your line of work you must know lots of people – chefs, bartenders, waiters….”
Worse and worse and still he says nothing – or maybe I don’t give him a chance, because a split second later I reach down to grab my purse, sling the strap on my shoulder, and hold up my hands in a backing-off gesture.
“Don’t give it another thought! I don’t know what came over me.”
"I'm mortified. I see myself as he must see me: the sad, lonely, slightly crazy woman I swore I'd never be. I turn to go, adding, "But thanks for showing concern." As if thanking him will mend matters.
Before I’ve fully turned, he says, “Maybe I can help you.”
By now my gut is a jangly mess. I hope my face is not completely red. I pull myself together and turn back toward him. “You can?”
His smile is slight. “I think I understand what you’re asking.”
“I propose we discuss it on Friday evening, if you’re free.”
The poetry reading I’m supposed to attend fades in my mind. I’m stunned into saying, “I’m free.”
“Then meet me at Otto’s between 7:00 and 7:30. I’ll be around there somewhere, so just come to the hostess stand and tell Janie your name and that I’m expecting you. She’ll seat you and let me know you’re there.”
“Okay,” I say. I blink several times. “Thank you.”
At that moment his phone rings. While undoing the top buttons of his overcoat, he nods at me then reaches into his suit coat.
I smile and nod in return. As I walk away I hear him quietly speaking. I move through the lobby, around the adjacent sitting area, and get to the bank of elevators as fast as I can. I punch the Up button several times. I glance nervously down the corridor toward the sitting area, hoping I can get on an elevator before he’s off the phone. I think he was coming into the building rather than going out.
Elevator doors open. I step in and press Fourteen. Doors close. Phew. Now I can collect myself.
* Thank you for being my guest today, Julie! Your books sounds like an amazing read!
** Be sure to check out Julie's blog for her around-the-world adventure updates! You can find it here: Julie's blog!
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Tetel-Andresen/e/B000APUP4G/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1464797959&sr=8-1