Happiness Key: Wanda’s Story, Part Two

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 in Police Car.jpgKenny 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 


  1. Marj on July 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I just finished reading all of the character’s bios and really enjoyed meeting them. I also printed a coupon and plan to buy the book soon.
    But before I read the book I’ll finish learning about the characters. Love your writing, keep up the good work

  2. Emilie Richards on July 8, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Thanks, Marj and thanks to everyone else who’s commented or emailed to tell me they’re enjoying the character excerpts. I like sharing them, but I particularly enjoy choosing the photos to go with them. By the way, the photos for Janya’s Story, 2 & 3 are my son’s. I love them both.

  3. Laney4 on July 8, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I enjoyed reading your excerpt above. Especially liked your description: “He kissed me goodnight, but not one of those tongue in your tonsils kisses.” Laughed and laughed over that. You write like I think. I like that. Thought you might want to touch up one part, though, if it is ever reprinted. Above it says: “I like to thought he’d never ask me out.” Doesn’t make any sense to me, so probably doesn’t make sense to the other readers either…. I’m surprised your editor didn’t catch that! Have a great day and thanks for a wonderful web site!

  4. Emilie Richards on July 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    You have to remember, no editor has or needed to see these, since they are my own character sketches and don’t appear anywhere but here. Had anyone tried to correct this, though, I’d have fought for it. “I like to thought” is southern vernacular, and having grown up in the south, I heard this expression a lot. Can more formally be “I like to have thought,” (I figured) but not when it’s said quickly.
    Wanda says a lot of things she shouldn’t. 🙂 That’s Wanda for you.

  5. Laney4 on July 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I read AFTER I hit Send that these were not published. I had forgotten this important detail, but I remembered it when I went back to read a former blog. Sorry about that!
    I’m in Canada. I haven’t heard the southern vernacular other than on tv. Thanks for the explanation. Makes perfect sense now!
    Guess I’d better go back and read ALL the blogs so I can see what else Wanda has to say that makes me step back and go, “What???” (LOL). Thanks for the lesson! Now I want to read it even more!!!

  6. Emilie Richards on July 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Now you’ll have to educate me in Canadian vernacular. Wanda’s story concludes on Friday, and next week, Alice. This has been fun for me, so glad it’s fun for you, as well.

  7. Linda Klonz on July 9, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Happiness for me is reading a good book that takes me away from my stressful real world. I was very happy to meet you in Houston at the quilt show. You do such an excellent job of portraying your characters. I almost dread finishing your books. I miss the characters once the book ends. I am one that sticks to an author that I really like, and you definately fit that bill. Thank you for all the good books you write. Linda

  8. Claire J. Somerville on July 9, 2009 at 8:52 am

    It’s been fun “meeting” your characters in the manner. It’s like hearing from a friend about an interesting person they just met. It makes me look forward to meeting them myself. I love the concept and look forward to reading the book!

  9. Lisa Elwood on July 9, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    My happiness comes in a long, stiff package. My miniature dachshund, Maggie. When I come home she struggles her eleven year old body stiffly out of bed, but then comes prancing to the door like a puppy, tail wagging. I tell my husband it’s just cupboard love, but true love or just sucking up, she always makes my day better.

  10. Emilie Richards on July 9, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks, Claire, and thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you enjoy Happiness Key. You’ll understand why the friendship among women is an important theme in the book, right?

  11. Emilie Richards on July 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks to everybody who is telling us what makes them happy. You’re brightening all our days.

  12. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Makes me hope they make it. Have known many girls like her who deserve better than they ever got. A nice guy is often a reward for the crummy life they have had. These girls would be good to their men.

  13. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Am backtracking to put in my “happy” comments.
    I’m happy I didn’t get married too young. I finished college, joined the Peace Corps and traveled a little first. We both had a chance to have a life. Makes you appreciate what you can do on your own and what you have together.

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