Welcome to the second peek at Wanda, one of the four women of Happiness Key, my latest novel from Mira Books. Wanda was the character I thought I’d have the most trouble writing about. Each woman in the story is very different, and I suspected Wanda might be hardest to get to know. But that was before she just opened up and started to tell me about her life. In the end, silencing Wanda was the biggest challenge I had.
Meantime, don’t forget my publisher, Mira Books is offering a discount coupon. $1.50 off the price of Happiness Key this month. Of course use of coupon is at the discretion of your favorite bookseller.
Now back to Wanda.
Kenny looked awful good to me after I’d been out on my own for most of a year, fending off guys who figured that the mini-skirt was an invitation. I was making good money on tips and living with one of the other girls who worked at Hot Beaches, but I wasn’t having as much fun as I’d expected. My feet hurt-they still do-and I was tired of being grabbed in places a man’s supposed to ask about first. Hot Beaches was thick with smoke and the kitchen was one big roach love fest, plus the bartender Manny, was watering the drinks something awful and I was catching all the flack.
Kenny wasn’t one of those guys who grabbed at me. He watched me, though, from the very first time he came. Not in that creepy way, you know, when a man follows you with his eyes everywhere you go. More like he was watching to make sure I was doing all right. A girl picks up the difference quick. He was a couple of years older than me, muscular with broad shoulders and tall enough to see everything he needed even from a table in the corner. He never came in alone, but the guys he was with changed from day to day. I figured he worked construction until I asked and he told me he was a cop.
Kenny had shiny dark hair, cropped short even though almost every other man in the place had sideburns at the least, or ponytails. He never showed up in uniform, but he wore crisp new blue jeans and pullover shirts without wrinkles or advertisements. Most of our customers were beach bums, so he stood out that way, as well.
I like to thought he’d never ask me out. The strong, silent type didn’t usually spend much time looking my way. But one night after work he was waiting when I went out to the old VW I’d bought from another waitress, and he asked if I’d like something to eat. We drove in his car, an old but clean Mustang, to another place on the beach that stayed open late, and had burgers and beer and undressed each other with our eyes. He told me about his family, which was like something straight out of Father Knows Best, and I told him about mine.
He kissed me goodnight, but not one of those tongue in your tonsils kisses. A gentle kiss, like a promise we’d have time for more in the future. A year later we got married, our folks staring narrow-eyed across the aisle from each other trying to figure out exactly how this had happened. But I could have told them. Kenny was the quiet place in my life I’d never realized I needed. And I was the flash and fireworks in his.
Next: Wanda’s Story, Part Three