Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway 40 Something by Shannon Peel


40 Something
by Shannon Peel
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction


Five women navigate life while juggling careers, children, family, and the men in their lives.
Charlie is bored with the family tradition of Sunday Dinner so she brings a friend her family won't approve of to spice things up a bit. Will this friend go too far and cause too much damage?
Rose only wants to do what is right and keep her family safe. How can she do that when the world is so dangerous and her teenagers so willful. Will helping a friend invite trouble into her perfect world?
Lindsay loves to have fun and enjoys the company of men. She is a modern playgirl who will stop at nothing to get a man's attention. Will she find what she's looking for or something unexpected?
Sophie wants to keep the peace and keep everyone happy, especially her ex-husband, so her children will live with her full time. Will she lose the children if she can't afford to take care of them?
Justine wants to escape her perfect life, she just doesn't realize it. Will she find the passion that is missing or will she continue to hide behind her computer screen?


Sophie

I have an online dating profile. 
The photos look nothing like me. The woman in the photos is cute and the write up even makes her sound interesting. Lindsay’s makeover had me speechless, when I was finally allowed to look in a mirror. I didn’t look like me. My hair had body, a bit of curl, and softly, framed my face.  I feel weird looking at myself. I couldn’t stop staring at the stranger that was staring back. 
I looked and felt pretty. 
Will a guy think I’m pretty? What am I doing? No one is going to want me. I know that, and yet, I let Lindsay and Charlie push me into this. This is nuts. I’m nuts. Why do I let others push me into things? 
“Do you want more wine?”  
I shake my head. 
“Sophie. You look freaked out, are you OK?”
I shrug.
“What’s on your mind girlfriend?”
“Well.” I’m not sure what to say, they’ve been so nice to me, and I know they mean well. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Discomfort shifts my body and I look down. “I’m just nervous, I mean, what if no one messages me.”
“Sophie. You already have three messages.” Lindsay says.
I look at her, my eyes wide and mouth open. Did she say three messages? Three men have messaged me? What do I do now?
“Check it out. These guys are the hovering ones, waiting to strike at the newbies while they are fresh, not worth an answer. You’ll get some quality ones soon enough though.”
I take a look, there really are three messages. Two of them don’t have photos and the third is a muscle head with a shaved head, looks a lot like Mr. Clean. I click on each message.
Takeuout: Hey sexy, what you doing?
Hotdude69: You want to come over for a good time?
Mr. Clean: Hello. You are very pretty. 
I look to Charlie and Lindsay. I don’t know what to do. 
“Don’t message them, the idiots with no pic are either married, ugly, or trolls, all of which you don’t need to bother with. The third. I don’t know. You’re choice. If you think he’s cute then chat with him. Otherwise just ignore it and wait for something better.”
I am unsure about what to do. I don’t want to do the wrong thing. 
“What are the rules?” I ask.
“Rules? There are none.” Lindsay says.
No rules? How does anyone know what to do? How to act? What is OK and what is wrong? I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I definitely don’t want to get hurt. There must be rules. There must be a code of conduct. 
“It’s whatever you want it to be. You want to have lots of sex, have lots of sex. You want a man to treat you right then you tell him to. You want a relationship, you wait to find a relationship. Don’t do what you don’t want, that’s all.” Lindsay says.
What I don’t want? I don’t know what I want, let alone what I don’t want. 
“Take this new message from Wantmore: Hey sexy lady are you lonely tonight? What do you think he is saying he wants?”
“He’s asking if I’m lonely.” I say.
“He wants sex. He’s asking you if you want to come over to his place for a booty call. Do you?” Charlie says.
“NO.” Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into? “Why doesn’t he just say that?”
“Because he knows he’ll get virtually slapped down for it.” Lindsay says.
“Give you a compliment, some innuendo, enough to start a conversation.” Charlie adds.
“Let’s have some fun with this one.”
“Lindsay.” Charlie says.
“He’s hot and we need something to do.” 
Lindsay leans over the computer and types, hey hot stuff, I’m very lonely tonight, what about you? I look at her, she lied, why would she do that? His response comes immediately. 
Wantmore: Want some company?  
Lindsay: What are you thinking?
Wantmore: Some kissing. Cuddling. My tongue tasting your body. I am very good with my tongue. 
Lindsay: Mmmmm. I like a good licking, ;) 
Wantmore: I’ll lick you good baby.
Lindsay starts to laugh and Charlie rolls her eyes, I’m at a loss. 
“This is dating?” I ask.
“A part of it. There are lots of guys on here who want to get off on dirty talk, while jerking off. A large majority of them want casual sex with no strings. Nothing else. Just come over, pleasure me, and go home.” Charlie says.
“Sounds like they should call a prosititute or call girl.” I say.
“They should, they don’t want to pay or take a hit to their egos by paying for sex. Though I’m not sure why that would be a hit to their egos. Those girls need to make a living too.” Charlie says. “And if they did, they would be probably be less rude when dating. The funny thing is they don’t realize that the woman on here looking for quick sex, are sleeping with a lot of them and they are all sharing the same girls, which is how STDs get spread, because these guys don’t want to use a condom.”
“What?” I am horrified.
Charlie continues, “lots of them were married and are used to sex without a condom, so they don’t want to use one. They are dumb enough to believe that they have chosen someone who is clean, and doesn’t sleep around with other guys, at least not without a condom. They believe the woman is telling them the truth, when she wants to get laid as much as he does. They lie to each other to get what they want.”
“Hey. We always make sure we get tested and are clean.” Lindsay says.
“Yeah, up until your next fuck. I keep telling you to be more careful.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Sophie. They aren’t all dumb pigs, just the majority of them. There are decent ones out there who are relationship guys.” Charlie says. 
“They all have their uses and are worth exploring. It’s about having fun and some guys are only fun in the sack.” Lindsay adds.
“One of these days you’re going to find one who is worth so much more than a roll in the hay and then what are you going to do if he asks how many men you’ve been with?” Charlie asks Lindsay.
“Tell him. He won’t care.”
“Right. ‘Cause men are such liberal minded creatures who don’t think in double standards. What about, loves his ex guy. He admitted that he wanted to get back together with his wife, but because she’d been with other men he couldn’t. When I pointed out he slept with other women his comment was, that’s different, you’re not a man, you don’t understand. I understood alright, he held one set of standards for him and another set for his ex-wife.”
“You’re too hard on them. They are flawed, sure, but if you are good in bed they’ll keep you.” 
“No they won’t. They will fuck ya, but that’s it.”
“You are way too jaded.”
“And you are way too forgiving.”
“I thought you two said this was supposed to be fun.” 
The two of them start laughing. 
“Sorry Sophie. It’s just that we have different opinions about what is acceptable and what isn’t, when it comes to how men behave. It’s a running debate between us, it is part of the fun. You’ll find your own opinions about men, what you will accept as acceptable, and what you won’t.”
“Charlie’s just a stick in the mud who hates men.” Lindsay sticks her tongue out at Charlie. 
“You bet I hate men. All the good ones are married and I’m sick of being treated badly.” 
These two are kidding right?  Why in the world do they think that it’s a good idea for me to do this? I’m not sure I can survive being rejected by a man. Craig threw me away and the pain of it still cuts at me daily. Do I want to add to it by having other guys using me for sex or rejecting me because I won’t put out? This is not for me. I am not meant to be with anyone except Craig and he doesn’t want me.  
I can’t do this.

Charlie

Davie is at his dad’s place. 
I enjoy the mornings on my own. I miss him when he’s not here. I do. It’s just that mornings are so much easier when he isn’t here, I can’t feel bad about that, can I? It’s quieter with less rushing around. I get to sit and enjoy my cup of coffee while scanning the news headlines on my tablet, a treat I have to forgo when he’s here. 
The evenings are lonely when he’s not here. When I come home to an empty apartment. That’s when I miss his noise, his running around annoying the hell out of me. To combat the loneliness I work late, hang out with friends, and if I am lucky, like tonight, I go on a date. 
Tonight I’m meeting Sean for drinks. 
I met him online a couple days ago. He is average looking and can’t spell worth a damn. Who needs an educated man though? I’d like to be with an intelligent man, however, smart, interesting, quality men with good jobs and their shit together, like pretty, fit, smaller women. I get the leftovers, the rude boys and the horny idiots.
Sean is a construction worker with a construction worker’s body, not overweight and not body builder cut. He looks strong with a soft layer of fat covering the muscle mass. His profile isn’t my ideal choice in a man, but beggars can’t be choosers. It’s stay home alone again, or meet the guys who want to meet me, even if they aren’t what I want.
At least Sean isn’t a complete pig and asked me a few questions about my experiences online dating and what kind of man I want to find, before he started in on the sexting crap. 
Sean: What do you like?
Me: I like to read and hang out with friends.
Sean: I mean in bed.
Me: Oh. Shouldn’t we at least meet before talking about sex?
Sean: Sorry I can’t help it. Your pics give me notty thoghts.
Me: OK. 
Sean: How big are your tits?
Fuck. I hate this question and I get it a lot. It’s not like I can hide the fact I have bloody watermelons on my chest. These guys are always so crude, I don’t ask them the size of their package. If I thought it would bother them I would, but guys seem to like getting that question and are proud of the answer. I’ll have some fun with this shit and make the idiot work for the answer. Guys like games, right?
Me: Guess
Sean: idk 
Me: Guess or nothing.
Sean: DD
Me: No bigger
Sean: DDD
Me: No bigger
Sean: No shit. Bigger than ddd. Fuck. 
Me: I hate them
Sean: Why? I love em
Me: Because men can’t see past them and only want to date them.
Sean: Come on babe. That’s not true. 
Me: Really. Seems to be all you care about.
Sean: No. I respect you. I want more than just sex.
Me: Riiiiiight. 
Sean: No really. How ‘bout you come over and I’ll show you.
Me: I’m not coming over to your place. I don’t know you.
Sean: Come on. You can trust me. I’m a good guy.
Me: I’m sure Charles Manson says the same thing.
Sean: Ouch that was uncalled for. Just come over and I’ll show you how good I am. 
Me: No. Meet me for a coffee or a drink. 
Sean: I don’t do coffee meets.
Me: I don’t do meets at stranger’s houses. Either meet me in public or not at all.
Sean: OK babe. Tomorrow night. Drinks at 8. 
Me: Great where. 
That probably means we’ll go back to his place in his dictionary of dating. How long has it been since I got fucked? Too long. Damn. I really should get myself an FWB to scratch the itch until I meet the guy who deserves more. Maybe this guy will be that, a good roll in the hay kind of guy. Lindsay swears by them and I haven’t had any luck in five years finding anything real. Might as well try fake. Men want to pretend they have a girlfriend without all the responsibility of love and commitment.
I hate fake. I hate giving guys a sex only arrangement. I don’t get more than a quick, wham-bam-thank-you-mam, out of it. The worst guys are the ones who make me feel like a free prostitute. Those are the ones who want to meet only in private, fuck you, and tell you to go home. These are the guys I regret getting naked with. The ones that have me hating myself so much the next day I swear off men and delete my dating profile. 
I hate those guys. 
Sean is probably one of those guys. 
Still, it’s better than bring home alone.

Lindsay 

My feet are soaking in a warm tub of water filled with skin softening additives, while my hands are getting the full treatment. My nails are a mess. I’ve needed a manicure for weeks. My hands are getting so old looking, they are covered in age spots. Disgusting. The skin is beginning to wrinkle and thin. I haven’t been giving them enough attention lately. 
Before I leave, I’ll buy a good moisturizer for them. Something expensive.
My whole body has been breaking out in age spots. They look like dull brown freckles with dry skin building up on them constantly. There has to be some product that can get rid of these ugly brown splotches. 
“What colour do you want?” The manicurist asks.
I look through the case of nail polish colours and choose a deep, dark, red colour. Sexy. 
“This one.”
“You want shellac? It $20 more.” 
“Why not.” 
The news channel is on and I read the closed captioning while the girl works her magic. Always the same thing on the news, war, war, and war. War on drugs, gang wars, actual war. If it bleeds it leads they say and the world is bleeding big time. 
I push a button and the chair starts rolling against my back, giving me a machine’s version of massage and it does feel good. Not as good as the real thing but it is putting pressure on those points that ache deep in the muscles. I’m just shutting my eyes when an image of a face comes on the screen that snaps them open again. 
I know that guy. 
I’ve dated that guy.
I’ve had sex with that guy. 
In fact we had an affair for a year before he disappeared. One day he just stopped communicating with me, wouldn’t answer any of my calls, messages, or texts. I assumed his wife found out and he was doing some penance before crawling back to me for a good time. I guess not. 
The headline says, Local Business Exec Arrested for Solicitation of a Minor. 
I read the words moving across the screen trying to keep up. 
Stanton Boremann has been charged with solicitation of a minor in court today. It is alleged that Mr. Boremann offered to pay a 15 year old $300 for sexual services during an online instant message communication. 
An officer comes on the screen and is asked about the charges, her response is, 
“The two met on an online dating site when the young girl messaged him to ask if he’d have sex with a younger woman. At first she claimed to be in her early twenties, but soon admitted that she was still in high school. The online conversation between the two continued for a couple of weeks before the young lady mentioned she needed money and Mr. Boemann made the offer of money for sex. His messages were quite detailed and he expressed certain sexual requests be performed in exchange for the money.” 
The reporter comes on the screen. 
“Mr. Boemann was not available for comment.”
The Anchor came back on the screen and a new story came onto the screen. 
Stanton. A pedophile. I never would have suspected. 
Sure he liked role-play. I’d dress up like the naughty schoolgirl and he pretended to be the principal. That was just fantasy role-play, lots of men like to pretend to be the teacher, the principal, the boss, the daddy, or whomever while the woman pretends to be younger. That doesn’t mean they want sex with a minor, it’s more about the power imbalance than the actual age. This doesn’t make any sense. He wouldn’t have sex with a minor and he definitely wouldn’t pay one. He doesn’t need to pay for sex. 
What is this world coming to? 
I’m sure his wife will divorce him over the scandal. Justine

I feel so bad for Sophie. 
Craig’s abusive behaviour explains her fragile nature. 
There is no excuse for abuse of any kind. Our world is filled with it and it seems like everyone is a victim and everyone is an abuser. Bully’s are everywhere, online and off. In the schools, the workplace, the home, on the roads, in the shopping malls, everywhere. 
Were there always this many abusers, this many different kinds of abuse or is it all psychobabble and victimization? Did history’s lack of reporting and overlooking of the abuser’s behaviour in favour of status quo, hide widespread abuse or are we more abusive?
What is abuse? 
Is someone abused when another person calls them a name? Makes them feel bad? Gets mad at them? Criticises them? The majority of women claim to have experienced abuse. Have they or are they, like some believe, being overly dramatic entitled princesses who didn’t get their way? Abuse is too serious of a topic to be dismissed. 
A person can be abused physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, financially, and sexually. Unless the abusive act is extreme, it’s not always black and white. What is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. Can abuse be quantified? Should it be?
Some people endure years of abuse and don’t display victim behaviour due to a strong inner strength and others, just the hint of abusive behaviour offends and damages their sense of self and wellbeing. When is an action damaging abusive behaviour? And is it the act or the perception of the act that classifies the action as abuse?
Will my brain stop asking these questions and let me sleep?


Rose

Dinner was a success. 
Gus was beaming with pride with every compliment he got and I am so proud of him. He did an amazing job with that ham. I couldn’t have done it without him. Lindsay was gushing about how wonderful his is and he is. I’m so proud to be his wife. He really is perfect. Handsome, strong, talented, hard working, a provider and protector, he is the whole package and I love him. Maybe tonight I’ll show him how much I love him.
“Coffee is on.” Justine announces. 
 “Thank you. I need some.” I say. 
I’ve had so much wine my mind is swimming in it. 
 “Why don’t us girls go into the living room for coffee and tea?” My mom suggests. 
Good idea. The men are out in the garage, probably watching the football game and drinking beer. That’s their weekly ritual. Beer and football. The kids are either in their rooms or in the family room down in the basement. The house is full and I love it. 
Mom, Barbara, and Betty set out the coffee, tea, and plates of baked goods. Lindsay adds more wine and glasses filled with the red and yellow liquids. Soon all the women have forgotten the coffee and tea in favour of the wine. 
“Getting old sucks. My dry hair has turned oily and my oily skin is so dry. I’ve had to change all my beauty products.” Justine says. “Anyone else find this?”
“My body is one big change. I swear I’m going through early menopause.” Charlie says. “It’s like I don’t know my own body anymore.” 
“Just wait ‘til you hit menopause for real. Crappy time but life is so much better after.” My mom says. “It’s like life began at 60.” 
“I thought life was supposed to begin at 40.” Sophie says. “At least that’s what my mom is always saying.” 
“40 is the new 20.” Charlene says.
 “In my twenties it was all weddings and babies, and not necessarily in that order.” Barbara says.
“Mine too.” Mom says.
 “I was working as a secretary in my twenties.” Justine’s mom says. “It wasn’t until my thirties the babies came along.” 
“In my twenties I was busy with University and then starting my career.” Charlene says.
“I was in University, started my career, met Gary and started a family.” Justine says. “Man, I was busy back then.”
“I worked in retail and partied until I met my second husband. Then I was a trophy wife, my job was to look good and make my husband look better.” Lindsay says. “Rose?”
“I was pregnant the whole time.”
“That was my thirties” Sophie says. 
“In my thirties I was raising four teenaged boys.” Barbara says.
“I was raising the girls and trying to keep them from either getting pregnant, contracting AIDS, or throwing their lives away on drugs.” My mom says. 
“We weren’t that bad.” Charlene and I say at the same time. 
“All three of you were always trying to get away with something and I’m sure you did. Gwen was the wildest one. Never could keep her reigned in.”
“Oh my gawd. AIDS. I don’t even think of that anymore, you don’t even hear about it much.” Justine says. “In high school it was all anyone talked about. Every celebrity was wearing a red ribbon and now there is a ribbon colour for every cause on the planet.” 
“It eclipsed cancer in the media. I remember watching a daytime talk show, Oprah I think, where this little boy got it from a blood transfusion. Poor kid was dying and no one wanted him anywhere near their kids. He couldn’t go to school. It was as if he was unclean.” Mom says.
“Remember when people thought they could catch it if they used a public toilet, or drank from a public fountain. Everyone was so paranoid.” Justine’s mom says.
“I prayed every night my boys would be safe.” Barbara says. “AIDS was a terrible thing and everyone who got it was ostracized. It was the gay disease at the beginning. That along with gay men being beat to death, I remember being so scared that one of the boys would tell me he was gay. I didn’t have to be, thankfully, all four are good, healthy, Christian men.” 
“You know Barbara, there is nothing wrong with being gay.” Justine says. 
“Maybe not now, but back then there was. Gay bashing was an acceptable extra curricular activity, almost a sport. Now. God, now if anyone dare says anything bad about them, they take their lives into their own hands. The world has changed and not always for the better. Political correctness has made being a white, straight male a bad thing. I remember when my boys weren’t able to get the jobs they wanted because of Affirmative action.”
“By the late 90s Affirmative action was basically done away with.” Justine says. 
“Glen wanted to be a cop, but they weren’t taking white men because there were no spots available for them.” Barbara points out. “Women and minorities got those positions.”
“That was because there weren’t many new positions opening up. Baby boomers weren’t retiring yet, that’s why Gary didn’t become a pilot, there was too much competition for so few positions.” Justine says.
“Gary would have been a wonderful pilot. We spent a fortune on his degree in aviation and he didn’t get a job.” Barbara says.
“I know. It wasn’t his fault there were so few jobs in that field.” Justine adds.
“Post Secondary was so expensive. I had to go to work to help put the girls through University.” Mom says.
“And I thank you for that.” Charlene says. “I wouldn’t be a lawyer if it weren’t for you and dad. Gwen wouldn’t be a C-level exec without it. I know we both appreciate it.”
“You think it was expensive then, have you checked the cost of tuition now a days?” Justine says. “I’m not sure how we’re going to afford to put both kids through.”
“Trades are where the money is now a days. If Harper can get an apprenticeship with a good trade he’ll be set for life.” Barbara says.
“And Emma?” Justine asks. “What do you suggest she do?”
“She can get some schooling to be a nurse or a teacher then find a man with a good job. She’ll be fine.” Barbara says and Justine glares at her. 
What’s her problem? That sounds like a great plan for all the girls. I didn’t go to school like my sisters. I got married instead. Mom and Dad wanted to be fair to all their girls and since I wasn’t going to go to school they gave me a big wedding and cash for a down payment on this house. At the time I thought it was only fair, but now, I understand the sacrifice my mom made. 
“Starting work at 40 was life changing.” My mom says. 
“You were lucky to stay home with the girls as long as you had. When Gus was in grade school, Doug lost his job at the mill and had to take a lower paying job, so I had to go to work part time with the school district. Thankfully, it gave me the same holidays as the boys.” 
“Twenty years in the dealerships gave me a sense of purpose after the girls were gone. Life would have been empty if it weren’t for work.” Mom says. 
“I was in my early 50s when the last of them finally moved out. I didn’t think Gary was ever going to leave.”
“You loved having him live there.” Justine says. 
“I wasn’t going to toss him out because he couldn’t find a decent paying job. It was so hard for him to find something. At least he didn’t go off and join the air force.”
“He would have been flying and serving his country if he’d joined.” Justine says.
“We would have supported him if he’d chosen to join and been very proud of him for enlisting. It’s just, I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about him going off to war.” Barbara says as she wrings her hands. “The first Gulf War was quick, but one never knew if there would be another one. The world was unstable after the wall fell, news was filled with wars and unrest.” 
“When the first gulf war started,” Justine said. “I was worried it would be like the wars in the past and we’d all have to go. I was so thankful when it ended right away.” 
“Everything was peaceful until nine eleven.” I say.
“As they say hindsight is twenty-twenty. Thank God the boys were too old to enlist for the army by the time we went to war in Afghanistan.”
“Nine eleven was a day I’ll never forget. We were so worried about Gwen and the phone lines were busy, we couldn’t get through. I was so sick with worry.” 
“I remember. God. What a day.” Charlene says.
“The world changed that day.” Justine says.
The whole room becomes heavy, as we all are silent with memories of that day. I know my mom is reliving the horror of not knowing if Gwen was alive or dead. All of us huddled around the TV watching the news, searching for a glimpse of her, and any word. Too scared we’d miss something. Too horrified we’d see something. Not wanting to watch, unable to tear ourselves away.
Images of the people jumping from the windows to their deaths will forever be burned into my mind. Along with, the towers coming down, the people running, the dirt, the tears, the fear. 
I don’t want to think about it. 
“Gwen was just fine. She got out.” I say.
“Terrorists changed the way we live.” Charlene says.
“Hardly.” Betty, Justine’s mom, says. “I remember living under the terror of the bomb. Always thinking Russia was going to send a nuke our way and that by hiding under our desks we’d survive. There has always been the threat of war and fear that we’d die any minute.” 
“You know I never thought the Berlin wall would fall or the world would be different than it was growing up.” Barbara says. “When it did fall, it gave us so much hope for peace. That didn’t last.”
“Hardly any time passed before the news was talking about the unsecured Russian weapons and speculation about terrorists getting their hands on a nuke. It was as if they expected a nuclear bomb to go off on any street corner.” Mom says.
“There has to be something less heavy to talk about.” I say. “Can we please change the subject?”


Shannon Peel grew up in Enderby, BC where her family's root run deep. Growing up where television was either non existent or very limited she relied on books & imagination to escape into the world beyond. She went to UBC to study and earn a general studies BA with a concentration in Political Science and Economics. Macro analysis of world events, social justice and human motivations became a passion of hers. This passion is a driving force in all her stories, which have political, economic, and social justice undercurrents. After a career in the financial field she decided to stay home and raise her two children until school age. In 2007 she return to the workforce as a sales / marketing / advertising professional. She currently resides in BC's Lower Mainland with her two teenage children.
Shannon Peel is a creative, intelligent professional with a 20 year proven track record in sales, marketing, customer relations, project management, presentations, and communication.




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