If you read Tuesday’s blog, you know that I’m sharing Tracy’s story this week. Tracy is one of four major women characters in my new novel Happiness Key, which will debut next month. Without delay, here’s part two of Tracy’s tale.
Up to that point I’d had other significant moments in my life. Here are a few of them.
There’s the first time I knew I had pleased my mother, Denise. This was after my braces came off and otoplasty had successfully pinned back my protruding ears. The big moment came after a childhood when I’d realized I was a work in progress and my mother only had time to flit in occasionally to see how long the unveiling would take. This time, though, she had arrived at the country club tennis tournament with selected friends in tow. And when I played like a wannabe Venus, I saw her lift her head in pride as her astonished friends sat forward. Stick a fork and me and declare me ready for consumption.
Then there was the moment that my father, Barney, whose photograph I kept beside my bed so I could recognize him when I passed him in the hall, came home from twelve straight hours at his office and told me to get in his car. We drove to the BMW dealership and he let me pick out any Bimmer on the lot while he reclined in his seat and chatted with Summer, his office manager, on his car phone. Over the years that Summer worked for him my dad, orthodontist to the stars, must have had a lot of chats with her, because about five years ago he got tired of that scene, divorced my mother, and now has chats with Summer every morning over coffee.
I’m thirty-two, but I still have the silver Z3 convertible roadster with black leather seats and spider spoke wheels that I chose that afternoon, and it’s a good thing I let sentiment rule. After we married I refused to let CJ sell my car. When almost everything else we owned was carted away, my roadster wasn’t worth bothering with.
I know now that my father saw his gift as an investment in my future. No matter. At the time it looked like a loving gesture.
That moment in the solarium when CJ told me he was going to jail was not one I look back to with longing. I had known he was under investigation under California’s Freeze and Seize law, as well as various federal charges. I had witnessed the flocks of attorneys coming in for a landing, heard the accelerating squawking of his cell phone conversations. CJ was away more than usual, and even with my father as an example, I didn’t suspect infidelity. Despite every assurance he would easily beat these charges, CJ looked tired when he returned, yes, but never happy. If there was another woman, I had nothing to fear from her. But I had been completely clueless about how bad things really were. I had been so brainwashed by CJ’s opinion of himself that I believed he would thwart the little guy once again and walk away a free man.
Instead in the end CJ accepted a plea bargain and went to jail. As a real estate wheeler dealer, his crimes were technical, tricky and legion, but in the end mail fraud across state lines earned the largest chunk of his sentence. CJ was not young when I married him, but he had aged several decades by the time I divorced him. He will be walking with a cane by the time he gets out of prison. I will not be waiting at the gate to take his arm.
Tracy’s Story–to be continued