Fortunes Told….

5 Feb

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The GSP Romance Promo welcomes Julie Stahl.

Julie Stahl writes fiction, creative nonfiction, children’s books and poetry—just about anything, really. She has held (with varying degrees of fear and loathing) numerous jobs over the years, including, but not limited to, research assistant, waitress, secretary, college instructor, pre-school teacher, tutor and bartender. Somewhere along the way she managed to acquire some formal training in French and Experimental Psychology. She has come to the conclusion that Life is one big experiment, a concoction of perceptions we gather up as we go, shaped by chance and choice; trial and error. She takes refuge in laughter whenever possible. 

Her book that we are highlighting today is Fortunes Told.

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Ava Brooks is wrestling with the realization that her love for Frank Mazzini—the first deep and potentially meaningful relationship she’s had since college some 19 years ago—is quickly turning into a trite monologue. Despondent at first, then bordering on desperate, Ava seeks to ratchet up her desirability quotient in Frank’s eyes, turning to any number of sources, including (but not limited to) a prescription for Viagra; self-help books she peruses on her breaks at the bookstore where she works; her hair dresser who happens to be Frank’s sister incognito; hypnosis; Lasik surgery; and last but not least, her best friend, Trudy, whose own personal life seems to be falling apart even as she attempts to help Ava spice up hers. Chapter by chapter and fortune by fortune, Ava begins to realize that love, like luck, comes in many disguises.

 

Excerpt:

 

  As I approach the table with my cue stick, I ask myself which shot will set me up for another, rather than which shot I can make. This is a new way of thinking for me, a big picture perspective. Since I met Frank Mazzini I seem to have adopted this attitude not only toward my pool game, but my life in general.
    I look over at Frank for reassurance, like I always do when I’m in a tight spot. He’s in a corner and seated, but even in the shadows his presence is gripping, his bold good looks irresistible. Though not a tall man, Frank is sturdy and vibrant, with broad shoulders, a strong Roman nose, and a wide, slightly furrowed forehead. He’s the swarthy, Italian type, and at almost fifty years old, he radiates a kind of confidence that one can only accumulate with age and experience, encompassing everything from sexuality to professional expertise.
    He nods slightly, almost imperceptibly in my direction, as if to say, “You know what to do,” though we both know I don’t. I don’t have an intuitive understanding of the game the way Frank does. I chalk my stick and decide to wing it, my dilemma being the placement of the nine ball, in the way of the five just enough to make a nice, clean shot impossible.
    Frank, a pharmacist by day, is the team coach tonight. As I point to the five ball then the pocket with my stick, I feel his light touch on my arm. Momentarily I’m distracted by a warm tingling sensation deep inside my navel.
    “You’ll want to put some right English on that,” he says softly, and walks away. I do and make the shot, then two more before I scratch, giving my opponent a ball in hand.
    “Bad luck, Ava,” Frank says sympathetically. In a matter of minutes the game is over. My opponent, a wizened, grizzly-looking fellow who managed to mention by way of introduction that he started playing pool on his 63rd birthday, easily sinks the eight ball. I drop onto a bar stool to watch the other members of my team play. I’ve only been playing league pool for about six weeks. A year ago I never would have pictured myself doing this.
    The first time Frank and I played pool together, about a month after we started dating, Frank said, “You’re a natural.” He winked at me as he said it, an endearing trait that has grown on me since then.
    I laughed; sure he was either being facetious or had confused me with the blonde bombshell in tight jeans and low-cut sweater at the table next to ours who had just sunk three balls in a row effortlessly. But Frank had thus far displayed no talent for sarcasm, and a quick glance in the mirror over the bar removed all but the merest likelihood of anyone mistaking Anna Nicole over there for me. He said it again the next time we played and while I didn’t necessarily believe him, I did believe he meant it. That’s one of the things I like best about Frank: he’s probably the most honest person I’ve ever met. This has its pitfalls, as you might expect. For instance, if I wear a dress that I think is the hottest thing on the rack and I’m feeling all sexy and glam when he comes to pick me up, then he casually remarks that the bust line is off-centered, or the fabric too clingy around my ass (thereby accentuating the whole side-of-a-barn impression I’m forever attempting to eliminate), the dress comes off and the next day is hanging back on the rack at the store. He means no harm and actually, he’s doing me a favor. I mean, who wants to be seen in public wearing some dress that doesn’t flatter you, or a pair of shoes that cause your legs to look like Elmer Fudd’s, or worse yet, Bugs Bunny’s?
    Tonight I think how Frank has taught me everything I know about pool; that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. I imagine myself winning a BCA championship, making a speech to a cheering and adoring audience as I accept the trophy. “I don’t deserve this, really. Frank is the one who knows how to play; I just do what I know he would tell me to.” They would applaud my modesty and look admiringly over at Frank, as I do, and think what a good fit we must be.
    By the time we get back to Frank’s place we’re both exhausted. I fall asleep instantly and awaken toward dawn from a bizarre dream where I keep phoning Frank but he doesn’t answer. I want to believe he’s deathly ill, or lying paralyzed in a hospital bed as a result of road rage―someone else’s, naturally―but the nagging thought that he simply doesn’t want to talk to me keeps rearing its ugly head. Meanwhile, I’m being pursued myself; well, stalked would be more accurate, by Donald Trump. The man keeps hounding me, telling me to forget about Frank, that he’s nobody and can never give me the kind of life I deserve. He’s relentless and finally I agree to go out with him. On our first date he proposes, presenting me with an enormous, dazzling diamond that I’m sure I’d be afraid to ever even wear for fear of damaging the tendons in my ring finger. Courageously, I slip it on and hold my hand out in front of me, admiring the grandeur of the thing. Trump, on bended knee, is waiting for my reply, gazing adoringly up at me and holding his breath. I should feel lucky, I tell myself, and I open my mouth to say okay, “Sure, I’ll marry you, Donny,” but no words come out and all I can think about is Frank. Finally, on the brink of passing out, my suitor gasps for air, and when he can manage to speak again, asks me, “Why, Ava? Why do you love this man so much?” 

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JulieStahl.html#FortunesExc

 

http://www.amazon.com/Fortunes-Told-ebook/dp/B00440DP9K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1360079083&sr=1-1&keywords=Fortunes+Told

 

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3 Responses to “Fortunes Told….”

  1. Sheila Deeth February 6, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I like it. Very atmospheric and I love the way I learn the background while meeting the characters.

  2. Dawn Colclasure February 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    The writing definitely held my interest. Sounds like a good story to read and I love the cover! 🙂

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  1. Fortunes Told…. « Chalaedra's Weblog - February 5, 2013

    […] Fortunes Told….. […]

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