The Never Series Pt. 01

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Double Penetration

This Part One of a four-part story.

It seemed nearly beyond his comprehension. Five minutes earlier, he would never have guessed that. Truth be told, he wouldn’t have guessed anything, because he hadn’t thought about her for a very long time. But then his mind worked backwards, trying to remember.

Knowing what she actually did, he tried to imagine where he thought her life would have taken her. He was trying to reconcile his memories of her youthful idealism with present day reality, and the disparity was jarring. The truth was he didn’t really know her particularly well all those years ago, so it was hard to predict what prospects her future might have held based on what little he knew of her then.

He remembered her as quite intelligent, and he seemed to recall that she might have studied French or some other language as an undergrad. Maybe something related to… translation? She could have worked for the government, in the Foreign Service — that seemed about right.

Then, he remembered that she’d once told him her father was an educator — a high school principal, if his memory served him. Did she also major in education? That was a vague possibility, so maybe… a high school teacher… or a college professor.

Though he doubted whether he’d known this previously, he had just found out that she was a musician. He’d learned that little tidbit from the online document he’d just opened, though it was not her name that he expected to find there.

That had been a pleasant, but unintended happenstance. It was from that document that he discovered that she played the organ, a revelation that brought a sophomoric pun to mind and a smile to his face. It also made him think that something related to music could certainly have been a possibility.

But romance novelist? Really? That just seemed too bizarre to absorb, at least at first blush, and even more than that, too much of a fluke, all things considered. Maybe, it was even kismet.

The fluke was that when he had come across her name he was writing a story of his own, and the character that he was trying to develop was going to be based, at least partially, on a guy he had known in school: a jazz musician, or more accurately, a guy who wanted to be a jazz musician — that was really the gist of this character, someone who wanted something… wanted to be someone… with an unfathomable, quixotic zeal — and the guy’s unrealistic fanaticism had made an impression on him, and so he wanted to flesh that idea out, bring it to life more fully, even though that character was, at best, a minor one, a supporting player in his story.

He did this kind of crazy thing when he wrote. He gave his characters names that were little riffs on the names of the real people that they were based on. He thought that lent an air of realism to his writing, though the point would undoubtedly be lost on any potential readers, especially considering there were none. No one would ever know who he was writing about for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that no one ever read his stories. How could they? He hadn’t been published, so….

And considering that, what difference did it really make what he called the character based on that silly jazz dude from the college radio station that didn’t really play the saxophone, but still desperately wanted to be Sonny Rollins anyway, and all this, despite the fact that he was supremely untalented and actually a flautist? Maybe he was even more like that silly jazz dude than even he realized.

Anyway, he couldn’t remember the guy’s last name — it started with an “O”, that he remembered — but it was this long, hard to spell Polish name, and because he suffered, at least mildly, he thought, from some sort of obsessive-compulsive thing, instead of just giving the character any old Polish surname, even one that started with an “O” which wouldn’t have been that difficult a thing to figure out… Orlowski or Ostrofski… or anything, he just had to find out that guy’s real last name!

And maybe that was his real problem. He was willing to spend an interminable amount of time finding out the real name of someone he knew vaguely decades earlier so that he could change that name to another similar sounding name for a minor character in a story that would probably never be published and therefore never read by anyone other than himself.

And he did all of this on the ridiculously miniscule off-chance that should his work ever become known, and then accepted, and then highly regarded, should it ever be poured over by readers, and then critics, and then scholars, no one could ever accuse him of lacking authenticity. There was undoubtedly some neuroses caught up in such Walter Mitty daydreams, but that was how he rolled!

Anyway, he remembered that the silly jazz dude was a Music major, and that he had gone to one of the guy’s recitals when they were in school together, and when he searched the Central Michigan University Music Department webpage, canlı bahis he fortuitously stumbled onto a document titled “Department of Music Records”, this bizarrely exhaustive list of every musical program, including student recitals, that CMU had sponsored in its 125 year existence!

Maybe it was a waste of time, but finding the document, he scrolled through the chronological list until he found the general timeframe, and that’s when he saw it — “Caroline Seale, Junior Organ Recital, November 9, 1986.” Scrolling further down the page, he found the silly jazz dude too — “Michael Oleksyszyn, Junior Flute Recital, November 6, 1987.”

Seeing her name breached a kind of dam somewhere deep within his brain, and very soon all of these memories started flooding out: being introduced to her by his buddy Jake; crashing wild parties together or hitting the bars. And then there was one particularly vivid remembrance of the single night they’d spent together at his house. With that night in mind, it should have come as no surprise that his inadvertent discovery would inspire more impassioned research.

He remembered that she’d grown up in Port Huron — they had had this long and involved discussion one night about the Port Huron Statement, so how could he have forgotten that? Anyway, he googled her name, along with her hometown, and the first thing that came up in his search was an obituary with her married name in it. Sadly, it was her father’s obituary.

He knew it was the right Caroline Seale because the obituary stated that the deceased — Joseph James Seale, 74, had been the principal of Port Huron High School, and then toward the end it listed her as one of the survivors — Caroline Cole of Los Angeles, California.

From there, he googled Caroline Cole, and when he clicked on the top selection from that search, it blew his mind — her slick, Facebook page hawking 48 romantic novels from a “New York Times Bestselling author”, hailing her as “the Queen of Erotic Romance!”

And while he was all but pummeled in the face scrolling through images of the bulging pectoral muscles and six-pack abs of these half-naked, swashbuckling lords dressed in riding breeches that, along with others of beautiful, buxom English ladies spilling out of Anjou gowns or Victorian corsets, half of them locked in the passionate embrace of said half-naked, swashbuckling lords… and all of them emblazoned with glossy regularity across the covers of all but a handful of those 48 romantic novels, yet it was the photograph at the bottom of the page that really caught his attention. It had been a long time, but he had no trouble recognizing the slender woman from Port Huron that he had known almost 30 years earlier.

She had filled out, as almost all men and women do once they reach their middle years, and her bust, though not prominently presented in the photo, appeared larger than he remembered it. But she was undeniably pretty, with shoulder-length brunette hair, dark eyes, glossy red lips, a big, dimpled smile, milky, white skin, and despite being dressed as she was in a professional suit with a string of pearls balanced across her chest and matching pearl earrings poking through her lobes, there was no doubt — it was her all right.

Once Caroline’s spirit had washed through him, the memory of Michael Oleksyszyn disappeared as if in a mist from his consciousness. His brain was quickly onto a whole new character. Caroline Seale — she was a whole lot more interesting than Michael Oleksyszyn!

It was ironic, but he had never read a romance novel, so he didn’t really know what to make of the concept, with of course the possible exception of the cover art which suggested something of such an utterly despicable nature that he assumed that whatever pages lay between those glossy covers were so thoroughly tainted that any attributes they might otherwise have claimed could never be restored.

And then he began to think more personal thoughts. Though he didn’t know a solitary thing about writing romantic fiction, he guessed that some of what made its way onto the pages of a romance was likely to have come from personal experience. Didn’t that make sense? If other writers wrote in the way that he wrote, that had to be true. Not that he expected other writers to write the way that he wrote. In fact, if they did write in the way that he wrote, they probably would never have gotten published in the first place. But if, in fact, Caroline Cole did so, what were the chances that he was somewhere in those roughly ten thousand plus pages?

That was both a frightening and titillating thought regardless of whether or not it was anything resembling a real possibility. But if it was a possibility — no matter how small — it made him think that he had better start reading that “New York Times Bestselling author” to find out if “the Queen of Erotic Romance” had, at any point in those 48 novels chosen him as the inspiration for one of her swashbuckling lords!

The problem was — where was he bahis siteleri to start? If he lived a thousand years, he could not have imagined himself reading 48 romance novels. Maybe, he thought, he could just get a little taste of what she did and then, depending upon how thoroughly repulsed he was, he would decide whether he could read a little more, and then, maybe, a little more after that.

Of the 48 novels, four seemed to stand out. They were a part of a series titled “The Ever Series.” The first of these four was “Ever Yours,” and it was followed in an absurdly regimented, even comical chronology by “Ever Mine”, “Ever After”, and the especially hilarious, though fitting finale, “Ever.”

Of the four, they all appeared to be pretty much exactly the same thing, at least insofar as that cover art suggested. He discovered that the third book in the series “Ever After” was available through Kindle for a mere 99 cents, which he surmised was about 98 cents more than it was actually worth, but that seemed as good a place as any to start, so he clicked on the back cover and started reading.

CAROLINE COLE continues the engaging storytelling and tantalizing appeal of her EVER series with another saga of desire, spectacle, and tender love ever more…. SHEILA CONRAD grew up the aristocratic, cloistered child of an eccentric, English duke, but when her father dies and an odious aunt purloins her birthright, she tumbles from the graces of the highest echelons of British society to which she rightfully belongs. To survive, she’s forced to labor as a gentlewoman’s maid, and with nothing in the way of riches to attract a man, she’s given up any hope of ever finding a suitor. But when, by happenstance, she meets a handsome, daring scoundrel who is clearly smitten with her, she begins to question her destiny….

PATRICK MARSH is a speculator and profligate who has always connived and cheated the well-heeled in order to maintain the outward trappings of affluence. He’s perfected a life of subterfuge and deceit that allows him to flourish among a cadre of highborn elites and British royals. But when he meets the gorgeous, but forlorn Sheila by accident, he can’t avoid her obvious beauty and charm. He could never marry an impoverished maiden… yet Sheila isn’t like any woman he’s ever encountered before. Can his attraction to her result in anything other than a lustful dalliance? On the other hand, can Sheila mold him into the man he has always yearned to be, but was too dishonest to become?

If the prose in the novel was anything resembling the tripe on the back cover, he didn’t think he could make it through more than two pages. Still, he was intrigued enough that he figured he could spare 99 cents, and considering the fact that the balance of his checking account was a whopping $40 at that very moment, he knew his debit card would actually work!

But then something happened that he hadn’t expected. When he scrolled to the first chapter and began immersing himself in the sad exploits of poor Sheila Conrad, a magical, but very real conversion overcame him. Not only was he soon engrossed in the story despite its clichéd tropes and hackneyed structure, but he also started to hear the voice of Caroline Seale herself unraveling the tale of woe and, ultimately, redemption. He experienced a thrilling, but very real emotional reaction, feeling the writer’s very being, a writer he knew, a writer who herself had felt him inside her, oozing from those pages.

He spent the next three hours at his desk reading, and when finally he reached the conclusion of “Ever After”, he clicked the document closed, and his shoulders slumped in resignation, acknowledging two things that he was absolutely ashamed to admit.

First, Caroline Cole could actually write — there was simply no way to avoid that fact, and despite the very real and legitimate aversion that he still held for romance novels, he could not deny that he had actually been entertained by the story. And the second shameful admission? He was nowhere to be found in “Ever After!”

Still, he sat for another half hour in front of his computer, thinking, wondering. Would Caroline Cole remember him? Would she even know his name if, in fact, she heard it? And if, perhaps, she did remember him, how would she feel if tried to contact her? Considering her fame, would she regard his outreach as shamefully self-serving?

And looking inward, he considered his own motivations. Was it shamefully self-serving to ponder whether an old, old acquaintance from college — one that he fully admitted he didn’t know all that well, but had been lucky enough to have slept with once — could offer him some advice? Could she possibly even call upon her connections in the publishing industry to help him? Was his work even worthy of that help were she to agree to assist him?

Finally, after a half an hour of wondering, he came to a decision. Wasn’t Caroline Cole, a “New York Times Bestselling author”, as good a judge as anybody about his literary bahis şirketleri ability or lack thereof? And wasn’t trying to get in touch with her a less painful way of finding out whether or not he should continue to waste his time trying, however unrealistically, to be a writer? He crunched the facts and decided there were a number of possibilities and a way to interpret each.

If she didn’t remember him, that was some kind of sign, wasn’t it? And if she did remember him and agreed to speak to him, wasn’t that also a sign? And if she did agree to speak to him, but didn’t want to read any of his work, there would be meaning in that rejection, would there not? And if she did agree to speak to him, and also agreed to take a look at his writing, regardless of her reaction to it, wouldn’t that be better than trying to pitch it to just about anyone else in the world? If she didn’t like it, knowing him as she did, he presumed she would be more gentle than most in explaining that he didn’t have what it takes. And, if she did like it and thought it was worthy of an audience, might she agree to make some calls to assist him?

He finally came to the conclusion that he had nothing to lose, no matter what happened. Now, all he had to do was to figure out the right way to make contact with Caroline Seale, or rather Caroline Cole. That difference was significant.

While Caroline Seale had fucked him one night almost 30 years earlier, Caroline Cole was a married woman just over 50. She might even have children, who now, in all likelihood, were as old as the two of them had been when they knew each other. He decided that any outreach to her required prudent discretion, and prudent discretion required more thorough information.

So, he decided that he needed to do a full investigation of one Caroline Cole. He thought briefly about whether what he was doing was innocent catching up or cyberstalking, or something in between. He decided it was closer to the former than the latter, so he went back to his original search, and scrolling down the list of Google results, he found a treasure trove of fascinating details about events in her life. Most were gleaned from the “About” section of her fan Facebook page.

Her “Biography” and “Personal Information” entries played up her Renaissance woman image. They very nearly gushed with vanity of her experiences holding down jobs in an incredibly wide swath of vocations: from public school teacher, to cook, bartender, lobbyist, and political activist. But the more he read, the more he, too, was impressed.

As near as he could tell the progression of things pretty much went down as follows. After she graduated from Central Michigan University with a triple major in French, Education, and Music Performance, she taught high school French for several years in a public school district in a wealthy suburb of Detroit. Apparently disillusioned by teaching the children of the rich and privileged, and with an ardent need to change the world (her thoughts not his), she moved across the country to enter law school at the University of Arizona. After graduating with her J.D., she went to work as a law clerk for the Attorneys General of Arizona, and later Utah. She ended up becoming a Deputy District Attorney in Salt Lake City, and later an administrative judge.

Sometime after that — it was unclear how long — she apparently soured on law and professional life, and seeking to settle down, she married a man by the name of David Cole and moved to a small town on the coast of Washington State to raise a family. There she began to immerse herself in political causes and lobbying, something she could still do from the cozy confines her remote home, while she gave birth to a daughter and later a son.

With two babies at home, she started writing commercially, hoping to produce suspense novels. That effort apparently failed miserably, but, for reasons that apparently even she did not completely understand, she found instead that she was good at creating romances. The first of several books sold well, and then, through a kind of literary mitosis, a half dozen became a dozen, which then became two dozen, and finally four dozen and counting.

Her Facebook page was a public figures account, devoted, he soon found out, exclusively to her books, and so, try as he might, he couldn’t really find out much of anything else about her personal life. She lived in Los Angeles — that was about all he knew, and that was confirmed by several more photos of her on the page, standing with arms crossed, smiling, the famed Hollywood sign hovering obnoxiously in the background.

He hated Los Angeles, hated it with a passion that belied his proximity to it. He lived only 185 miles to the north, up California’s Central Coast, where he and his wife had relocated to begin their teaching careers. Now, education was behind him, and the only thing he knew of his wife was that she wasn’t his wife, and that she unfailingly cashed every monthly check he wrote her within an hour of receiving it in the mail. She, too, was in Los Angeles, and though he didn’t need any extra motivation to despise the place, her presence there only added to his heartfelt loathing for the City of Fucking Angels.

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