Authors: Julie A. Richman
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Julie A. Richman
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. There are several real celebrities and real business establishments and their owners cited in this work of fiction. All interaction with these individuals/businesses is fictitious and is a product of the author’s imagination.
Without limiting the rights under copyright(s) reserved above and below, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability.
The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Brief passages may be quoted for review purposes if credit is given to the copyright holder. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
A Julie A. Richman Book / published by arrangement with the author.
Cover designer: Travis Miles
: There are several celebrities and businesses (and their owners) mentioned in this story. As stated above, all interaction is fictitious and is the product of my imagination. I have chosen businesses and people that I admire and they are reflected positively in this novel and their work, services or products are spotlighted in a positive manner. It is my hope that my readers will become as big a fan of their work, products and services as I am.
~Julie A. Richman
To everyone who has been with me on the journey
“Tramps like us…”
Schooner Moore did not like turning forty-three — not at all. It didn’t sound as old as say fifty, but it wasn’t as cool and sexy sounding as thirty-five or even thirty-seven had been. Forty-three — was that even still hot, he wondered. If he judged by the way women continued to come on to him, clamored to get his attention, overtly tried to pick him up — then yes, it was still hot. It just sounded so damn old and that was what was really pissing him off.
Leaning over the railing of a surprisingly empty deck at Newport Beach hot spot, The Dock, Schooner stood alone breathing in the humid, sea air and listening to the boats clanking in the marina. Behind him, echoes of laughter pealed from inside the packed restaurant — a restaurant that his wife, CJ, had rented out in its entirety on a Saturday night for this little birthday soirée. He shuddered to think of what this had just cost him.
CJ meant well, but Schooner knew this shindig really had very little to do with him and everything to do with her coveted social standing aspirations. And a party for turning forty-three? Seriously, who does that? Forty, he could understand. Forty-five, he could understand. But forty-three? This party wasn’t about him. And he knew it.
He heard the creaking of worn planks rather than footsteps and felt the familiar slap on his shoulder.
“Hiding, eh?” Beau Gordon leaned on the railing beside him. Beau was a dead ringer for Pee Wee Herman, and with a few drinks in him and the right audience, was significantly funnier.
Schooner laughed, “I can’t get far enough away”.
“Ahhh, It’s not that bad.” Beau breathed the dank harbor air in deeply.
“No, I guess it isn’t.” Schooner acquiesced, with an All-American boy smile, a smile that even at forty-three could stop women — from ages eight to eighty — dead in their tracks.
“There are some really hot babes in there.”
Schooner let out a wry chuckle, “Watch out or you’ll be picking up an extra mortgage by morning. Don’t let those sweet, Botoxed looks fool you. That is a shark tank in there, my man and you are shark chum!” He ended, dramatically.
Beau leaned back on the railing and surveyed the crowd on the other side of the glass wall. “Yeah, I had a few “store-bought racks” of the soon-to-be-divorced, rubbed on me tonight. Not that I’m complaining. But those women were definitely not happy about having to be changing zip codes.”
“Still have your wallet?” Schooner chided.
Beau patted his pockets, pulling something out. He sauntered over into the shadows, as Schooner squinted into the darkened corner of the deck to see where his old college roommate was going. Schooner smelled it, before even hearing Beau’s first loud exhale.
“You did NOT just light up a dube, Bro!” Schooner quickly scanned the deck, after a paranoid jolt to both his stomach and sphincter.
Beau sat down on a chair and put his feet up on the railing. He slowly inhaled a long drag of the joint, held it and let out a thin stream of white smoke that curled into the night air in paisley patterns. Schooner took the seat next to Beau, lifting his boat shoe clad feet to the rail and stretching his long, athletic legs. Beau silently handed his buddy the joint and Schooner took it from him in a ritual that seemed nearly as old as they were. Gingerly dragging on the glowing joint, Schooner tried to remember the last time he had gotten high. A decade before, maybe — but he really wasn’t quite sure.
Almost immediately, Schooner felt the relaxation spread through his body, feeling the tension roll away from his too tight neck and shoulders. “And there it goes. It’s moving out with the tide,” he silently thought.
“Man, I need to hang out with you more often.” Schooner coughed slightly.
Beau just smiled. They were in different worlds. Beau had never married, traveled extensively for work and spent most of his free time vetting the world’s great scuba spots, while unsuccessfully trying to pick up women. Schooner, on the other hand, had married CJ almost immediately upon graduation, after dating her for almost all four years of college. His photogenic, California-boy good looks, as well as his sharp business acumen, entrepreneurial spirit and a hefty bankroll from a childhood modeling career had made Schooner a very rich man by the time he was twenty-eight. Everyone who was anyone, from Malibu to the OC, worked out in one of Schooner’s clubs. State-of-the-Art equipment coupled with a concierge based staff and entertainment amenities catered to the elite under one roof.
Schooner and CJ. Like Ken and Barbie come to life. They were the epitome of every out-of-stater’s fantasy of what the quintessential California boy and California girl looked like. Schooner and CJ. They were beautiful and they looked like they belonged together. Everyone said so and they knew it the first time they had laid eyes on one another. They were like two sides of the same golden coin.
Beau handed Schooner back the joint and said, “Do you remember the first time we got high together?”
Schooner thought for a second and a slow smile spread across his handsome face, his clear sky blue eyes crinkling at the corners. He felt a warm glow in his chest, but oddly also felt the sting of tears behind his eyes. “Yeah, it was at that freshman retreat in the mountains.”
“What was that chick’s name, that friend of yours, that we got high with?” Beau turned to Schooner, a questioning look on his face, trying hard to grab hold of a memory just out of his reach.
“Mia Silver,” her name tumbled out like a waterfall. Just verbalizing it, after all this time, put a smile in Schooner’s heart.
“That was Mia Silver?” Beau broke Schooner’s pleasant moment.
“The chick with the glasses? Seriously, Dude? That was Mia Silver?”
“Yeah, that was Mia.” Schooner sat up straight in his chair, wondering what his buddy was about to tell him.
“I’ll be damned.” Beau shook his head, “I just got into one hell of a fight with her on Scott Morgan’s Facebook page. She always was a freaking liberal bitch.” He shook his head again, “She grew up nice though. She is smokin’ hot now. I would not have recognized her, not in a million years.” I would have, something deep inside of Schooner screamed.
Schooner felt like his heart was being mashed up in someone’s hands — like dough being kneaded. The humid air was no longer making its way deep into his lungs. WTF? He shook his head. Not after all these years, to have such a visceral reaction. Must be the effects of getting stoned or maybe this turning forty-three bullshit.
He was trying to process what Beau had said… he’d had contact with Mia.
He’d had contact with Mia.
Holy shit. Schooner suddenly felt like he was ready to jump out of his own skin. He wanted to be anywhere, but there. He wanted to be away from Beau. Away from the party. Away from all of their supposed friends — a room filled with Real Housewives of Orange County clones. He knew he needed to take a deep breath and calm himself, because he wasn’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Chef Jonathan walked out onto the deck where Schooner and Beau sat. Beau silently handed him the joint. Jonathan dragged deeply, looking out over the night harbor. “Hey, it’s cake time. You’d better go back in there, Birthday Boy”.
“Lucky me.” Schooner muttered.
He took a deep breath and silently said to himself, “Showtime,” as he headed in to face the gaggle of his wife’s friends, acquaintances and other assorted hangers on.
Schooner politely made small talk, a plate of expensive, fondant-wrapped cake in hand. He could not remember if the woman he was talking to was on “The Real Housewives of Orange County” or wanted to be on it or if she was from Beverly Hills. Maybe she was one of those Housewives. He couldn’t remember her story and didn’t care enough to ask. They all seemed to run together.
As he surveyed the crowd, he made an observation. All of these women wanted to look exactly like CJ and had spent a lot of money to try and achieve her look. He wondered why they didn’t realize that what their doctors were doing to them stopped way short of the natural beauty his wife possessed. What was being done to them didn’t look natural, not the long blonde hair, not the full lips, nor the perfect profiles. They all wanted to look like CJ, but they didn’t. No one wanted to look different. No one wanted to be different. Typical Orange County, he thought.
The Real Housewife was touching him. Gently stroking his arm and standing too close as she spoke. Someone tried to push past in the crowd behind her and she had to step closer to Schooner. Her hand dropped and she let her fingers graze his crotch, her long manicured nails searching out his cock, which thankfully was uncharacteristically non-responsive. Schooner choked on the piece of cake he had just put in his mouth and politely excused himself, in search of a much needed single malt Scotch. If I’m paying for it, he mused, I might as well drink what I like. And he needed a drink. Badly.