Excerpt continued

Midlife Magic School

I get up from the breakfast table to follow in his wake, opening the back door of the kitchen. “Not a minute past eleven, Ro!”

 

An over the shoulder hand wave lets me know he at least heard me. He’s too old for hugs and kisses—that train left the station about when he stopped obsessing over trains—but I send him some in my mind.

 

He’ll always be my little boy.

 

A warm body leans into me, and an arm clasps around my waist.

 

“They grow up so fast, don’t they?” My eighteen year old daughter is brave and brilliant, but that also makes her a smart Alec.

 

I close the slightly warped door with a bang—I really gotta either find a handy man or become a handy woman—and gaze at my daughter, a confident girl in the full flush of womanhood. “What are you up to tonight?” I know every moment she’s back home is spoken for, as she reconnects with her high school crowd. I get the unguarded moments that bookend her days, the intimate, unkempt moments you share only with your loved ones.

 

I try to not think about my vulnerable and raw mornings, missing a warm body next to mine and someone to share this experience of living with. I fail miserably.

 

Which reminds me: “Don’t forget you’re spending the day with your father tomorrow.”

 

Her eyes roll as she saunters over to the breakfast table. “Elyse’s picking me up for a girl’s night. And yeah.” She holds up a hand without even looking at me, “I won’t be out late. Bright and early tomorrow. Dad’s taking me fishing.”

 

Chris took me fishing on our third date. I was mesmerized by getting to know him through his hobbies, and I was willing to mold myself into something vital to him, just as I wanted him to be something essential to me. I was in love with being in love, scared of never finding “the one” and swayed by symbolism of matching names. Chris and Chloe. I thought it was meant to be.

 

I didn’t understand I could never be enough to complete the other person. They had to be at peace with themselves or be willing to work on it. And I had to be whole too, or at least grow into my completeness. It’s just not a hole for another person to fill.

 

I got that loud and clear three years ago, when Chris was trying to fill his emptiness with his marketing career and I’d become dead weight. We’d never loved with a passion; it was a love that made sense on paper and in our minds. Maybe that’s how we were able to divorce as amicably as we did; a thin silver lining but one I’d take.

 

“Mom!” I jolt as my eyes dart over to Sarah, who is frowning at the phone I left on the table. “Please put a lock on your screen so I do not have to be subject to your porn.”

 

There are so many things wrong with that sentence. I refrain from an eye roll—seeing as I am a mature fifty and all. I’m about to remind her to just not scroll through my cell when she interjects, “Happy birthday,” and reverses course to give me a peck on the cheek.

 

“Let’s do something Saturday for your birthday, before I leave, okay?” My little princess shines her baby blues at me, the dimple in her cheek twinkling. “Go to Cupcake Confections and hang out by the lake or something.”

 

I pull her into a hug and kiss the top of her head. “Sure thing, Sarah.” It’s a birthday surprise that my social butterfly daughter is making extra room in her schedule for me. I had made no plans, telling myself I’d avoid the fanfare. If only my lonely heart got the memo. I shouldn’t wish for something to rock my world. I hold Sarah a second longer than normal before reluctantly letting go.

She pulls out her own phone while I reclaim mine, where another birthday surprise awaits. A sexy hunk from Jess stares back, this one with a garden hoe, threatening to plow my garden.

 

I shake my head, trying to turn down the corners of my mouth that have invariably risen like my escalating age.

 

My thumbs fly as I shoot a reply off to Jess, promising retribution on her fiftieth.

 

The naughty gardener winks at me, like he knows my plans for tonight, my first night alone since their spring break started. He’s too young for me, but speaking of filling holes...

 

Chapter 2

Forty-five minutes later, the house is empty and I just want to take the edge off. The loneliness, the frustration. I’ve got the place to myself for the first time in almost a week and it’s my birthday—which means it’s the worst kind of frustrated loneliness.

 

Mournful half-eaten chocolates mope in the box beside me, decadent delights that want to be sampled. Or maybe I’m projecting, at odds with my own self-rationing.

 

Hmm, I could eat more chocolate or …

 

Rifling through my bottom drawer, I pull out a black lace number. Cool silk slithers over my body, tighter over my breasts and hips. I inch the lace hem up, a daring exposure. I revel in it. The power of accepting me melded with the power of being woman.

When I was a teenager I was too obsessed with how my body would turn out, if my breasts would be large or small, my hips wide or narrow—just one more unknown that comes with being adopted. Then at twenty I had the body but not the self confidence. When I was thirty I had too much ambition, and no time to appreciate what I had. Forty was a hectic rush everywhere but the place I wanted to be, taking care of everyone but me.

 

Fifty is finally all about me, as I am.

 

I’m learning to like myself. And tonight, I’m gonna love myself.

 

I bring a different treat with me over to the bed and relax against the plush head board and pillows.

 

My fingers trail over my modest curves, including my soft and slightly rounded belly. I try to love my body as it is. We’ve been on a long journey together, and it’s halfway over. I’ve spent enough time not appreciating what I have.

 

The clock on CD player by the bedside table—the very one that identifies me as an old-timer—says it’s nine minutes until I was born, fifty years ago.

 

Wavering candlelight highlights my long legs. From this angle, I can appreciate the sleek look of them and ignore my critical inner voice. I rub my foot along my smooth calf, raising my knee. My breathe sighs out between parted lips. Tonight, I feel sexy. There’s a power in the air, and I mean to claim it.

 

They say your fifties are about becoming wise, becoming your own goddess. I close my eyes, fingers trailing along the daring neckline, glancing around the curve of my breast and skimming down to inch the lacy hem up past my hip. Light from the full moon pours through the skylight and adds to the candlelight, draping my room is a mystical blue glow that says anything is possible.

 

Tonight, I am a sex goddess.

 

I hold my BOB loosely and close my eyes. Visions of a muscular man flexing give me pause.

 

Naw, too young.

An older man with short hair just starting to be sprinkled with silver at the temples replaces the image. This upgrade is draped with an aura of mystery and self-assured smiles, eyes crinkling at the corners. He’s a man well-used to grinning.

 

Well, hello there, handsome.

 

Chocolate eyes scan my body with appreciation, and I imagine him wearing a suit. No, a simple tweed blazer. A college professor?

 

Oh, yeah.

 

My heart pounds as I swim in his heated gaze. Flushed skin isn’t the only thing getting hot and bothered in here. As if in answer, a cool breeze sweeps across my bare shoulders and thighs, and I feel like I’m floating, heady power curling through my veins. My lips curl while delicious tension coils in my belly.

 

I imagine I approach the professor like a cat stalking her prey, slinking across his office, red high heels that I’d never wear in real life clicking on the laminate floor. One strap of my black negligee spills down my shoulder. His eyes track the movement. I back him towards his desk, close enough to pick up his fresh ocean scent. I rub my hands down the sides of my body, close enough to step between his legs now. One more bold step and my nipples brush his chest. I ease the blazer off his wide shoulders. His mouth parts, eyes dilated and drinking me in. I grin like the Cheshire cat who got the cream, extra wide and naughty. I lean into him, my breasts straining as they press into his crisp button down shirt, my hand gliding down his biceps. His mouth catches mine, tongue teasing, tempting.

 

My fingers grip tighter around my toy as my teeth catch on my lip.

 

Mmm, yes.

 

We part, and I make quick work of his buttons. Moisture pools between my legs. My heart beats like the tail of a cooped-up puppy who finally gets to go out, whipping the walls in a chaotic frenzy. My breath comes in heavy pants and mingles with his. I’m so primed and ready. Our eyes snag and his heated gaze ignites me, a jolt straight down to Happyville.

 

Hot damn.

 

I reach up a glowing fuschia hand to trail down the bare skin of his chiseled chest.

 

Wait, what? Glowing hand?

 

Blinding white light flares, invading my fantasy. The flash fades and my wide eyes take in sputtering flames just before the candles on my dresser die down to normal levels.

 

What the…?

 

A blue haze of power streaks across my skin, a buzz lancing me until I arch and cry out. Electric shocks dance across my skin and raise my hair, goosebumps erupting everywhere. I feel like a caricature black cat on Halloween, back flexed with hair standing on end. Power* lashes through my skull and out the center of my palms. It’s a show of indigo and pink lightening that sparks across the bedroom to singe the ceiling fan pulls and shatter my dresser mirror.

Holy shut-the-front-door-and-the-sliding-one-too. What. The. Hell!?

“Are you okay?” A deep masculine voice fills the silence with an English accent.

WHAT?

I twist toward my bay window, fingers gripping the measly fabric at my chest closed while wide eyes take in a six-foot plus green-eyed man who’s sexier than my fantasies.

He steps closer and reaches a hand down while shock holds me captive.

Forget the light show, Chloe. Man! Alive. Moving. In my bedroom.

A Man!

“I’ve never seen that much power transfer at once.” The concern in his eyes shifts as he takes in my attire, gaze pausing and then darting up to my face.

A luscious man wearing a blazer straight out of my fantasies. Oh, man! I scramble backwards and pull my hem down.

 

“Right,” the British stranger says uncomfortably. He drops his hand and his eyes skirt away, snagging on the candles. “Were you preforming some ceremony to augment your power?”

He looks at me again but jerks his gaze away, like he can’t help himself.

“Ceremony?” The wheels of my mind spin so fast they become unhinged while outwardly I’m in a paralyzed daze.

Is this real?

Why is there a man in my bedroom?

The mysterious man walks to my dresser, glass crackling under boots despite his care to avoid the larger shards of mirror. He blows out my candles. Swathed in nothing but blue moonlight, my skin glows with a pearlescent fervor. I stare at it, mouth open, while a delicious shiver tracks down my spine. For the first time, I focus on what’s going on with my body.

A body that feels reborn.

Damn me, but this feels right. And good.

“The candles and your wand,” Tall, dark and handsome says while inspecting the broken mirror.

His calm demeanor and no-nonsense tone, like a competent detective investigating a scene, break through my frozen thoughts and hold any freak-out at bay.

Of course, this sense of heady power thrumming through me, like I’m high—elated, invincible, and never coming down—also helps.

I hold my empty hand in front of my face. It catches the moonlight and sparkles, like I put my fancy shimmering makeup on it.

Whoa.

“I’m sorry, what?” I finally eke out. The wheels churn away in my mind spit out the words. I feel like a passenger in a new body, a foreigner in my own bedroom. What the hell is going on?

“Who are you? What just happened?” And why am I freaking glowing?

He turns back to me, eyes still hooded before he waves a hand towards my body.

“Was this an unsanctioned ceremony?” Eyebrows draw together as he stares at my other hand and I quickly shove BOB behind me.

Suddenly, his wide eyes meet mine, face slack in surprise. “Ahem. Apologies,” he stammers.

Omigod! Oh my god! Oh My GOD!