Authors: Kalan Chapman Lloyd
The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Home Is Where Your Boots Are
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are th
e products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons, alive or dead, businesses, events or a locale is entirely coincidental.
2015 Lloyd Words
These Boots Are Made For Butt-Kickin’
by Kalan Chapman Lloyd copyright © 2015 Kalan Chapman Lloyd.
All rights reserved.
Edited by Kara Beth Chapman
Published in the United States by Lloyd Words, LLC.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book These Boots Are Made For Butt-Kickin’ by Kalan Chapman Lloyd. This excerpt has been released for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
: Catie Lawrence
: Carrie Ryan
Fonts: Sexsmith and Honey Script
Printed in the United States of America
edition: May 2015
I’m going home. Not by choice. Not necessarily by force either. Rather by a lack of options that have brought me to return to that place I left behind to become the person I knew I could never be if I stayed. If you come from a small town
you can probably appreciate the stifling feeling that accompanies seeing someone you know every time you step out of the house. Try going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday without mascara. “Are you sick, dear?” “Where’s your mother, sweetheart? Does she know you’ve come to town alone?” and so on and so forth.
My mother and my Nonnie instilled in me the values they believed every good Oklahoma girl must live by. Topping the list was never leaving home without mascara and lip gloss, no matter the circumstance. My Nonnie often noted that assertiveness hidden behind a southern simper would win many a
battle. She’s often been right. M
y practiced simper and smile have won many a case in court and legal tangle over the boardroom table.
Unfortunately, my well-informed upbringing wasn’t enough to stop my personal life from crashing down over my head. My well-organized world with my glossy day planner, color-coordinated electronic calendar, manicures, pedicures, and blowouts; my trips to the gym, my designer-decorated apartment and my goal-oriented fiancé no longer existed. In fact, the woman I was two weeks ago wouldn’t recognize the girl I am today.
That girl is driving toward the Oklahoma-Texas line in the Jeep Cherokee I’d bought to replace the leased vintage Jaguar convertible I no longer needed, with my hair snarled in a riotous array of curls, courtesy of the hot July wind I’d let into the Jeep via the open windows. This mascara-less female pulling the U-Haul behind the Jeep had barely managed to smear on some Chapstick from a dusty bathrooms-outside convenience store.
Fortunately, I guess, my hometown had lovingly started a prayer chain when they’d found out what happened. I couldn’t wait to get home and stand up in church for them to publicly recognize my mistake(s) back in Dallas. Insert sarcasm here.
Since it seemed I
couldn’t work up a good sentence to God, it was probably a good thing someone else was doing it for me.
I left. My expensive, tasteful apartment in the hip, young professional, newly renovated
rundown downtown area, decorated with cool shades of mint, khaki, and butternut. I left all my cultivated clients in the midst of high profile, multi-million dollar real estate transactions. The only things I’d held on to were my shoes, clothes, and cosmetic products, a few essential knick-knacks, some photos, and my gr
eat-grandmother’s quilt. I left,
because two weeks ago in a moment of cliché, I discovered that high maintenance was simply an excuse to ignore the realities of life. Because two weeks ago, as I had let myself into my fiancé’s apartment with the intention of fixing him a home cooked meal and taking care of resurrecting the relationship we had neglected for work schedules, I discovered something else about him.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that my good intentions were met with Van’s lack of. While I had been feeling guilty for being distracted, he had decided to pay his secretary overtime to make up for my lack of attention. As I walked into Van’s apartment immersed in thoughts of pan-seared honey-glazed salmon with homemade wheat French bread and chocolate cheesecake, I was mulling over the important decision of what vegetable would complement the fish. Consequently, I didn’t hear the soft sounds right away. In fact
I didn’t become cognizant of something being amiss until I had arranged everything for prep on the butcher-block cooking island in Van’s kitchen. It wasn’t until after I had put the champagne to chill
that I felt
pulled to venture into Van’s bedroom. By the way, Van’s full name is Van Payton Ehlers the Third, which should have tipped me off that he would be the kind of guy to cheat on me.
But that’s judgmental. And I digress.
Like the naïve, small town girl I oft claimed I no longer was, I followed the sounds
of the infidel back to his lair,
not once thinking what might await me. I’m sure the tension is just building. Actually, the one coherent thought I did have, between the eternal debate over green bea
ns and a broccoli carrot medley,
was that Van must have come home early and cut himself shaving. Van tends to have a low tolerance for pain. That and his weak chin, coupled with his terrible name, also should have been indicators of what was coming. In reality
I should not have been all that shocked, surprised, or dismayed when I walked into Van’s tastefully decorated bedroom (courtesy of me) and found him in the throes with the trashy twit he’d hired to answer his phones and fetch his dry-cleaning.
Don’t get me wrong;
I’m not that judgmental. She was trashy because she was boffing my fiancé, not because of her cheap shoes. Her long ashy blond hair hung snarled from its previous updo, and I considered commenting on her roots. They were both immersed in the boffing at hand and didn’t see me standing in the doorframe eyeing them with bemused detachment. My lack of fury and bloodlust are probably indicative of how superficial my relationship with Van really was.
Van is one of those yuppie types who grew up knowing exactly where he was going and what he had to do to get there. Mainly because his parents informed him at each important increment.
There were a few indiscretions scattered throughout his past. Inappropriate girlfriends in college, beer drinking at frat parties, and a test-selling scandal were things I
thought he’d grown out of.
I had erroneously assumed that these wild oats had been sown.
Van is tall, not really distinguished looking, but with enough of the accessories to give him the appearance of the old money he is. The money and the confident strut he’d been born with never failed to get him what he wanted (or rather what his parents told him he wanted). We met in our second year of law school at SMU in Dallas at a late night poker game. My high school boyfriend had been a killer poker player
and I’d picked up pointers.
I’d cleaned Van out. Van was the kind of guy who didn’t see me beating him as a hit to his masculinity, only a boon for opportunity. I liked that. That, and my weakness for blue eyes, his “class,” and his charm drew me to him. Didn’t George Strait sing about those things at some point? I was the girl his mother told him he needed by his side to help him achieve her dream of him being a Texas state senator. I liked the height, the eyes; and although I’d never been all that attracted to blondes, we seemed a perfect match. If I were truly honest, I would have to admit that the theory of Van and the idea of our life together, so very different from the one I’d grown up with, were great draws as well. However, while honesty might be the best policy, it’s not
necessarily my favorite policy,
and I tend to keep myself firmly ensconced in a bubble whenever I can. Anyway.
Upon graduation (with me at the head of the class, him not)
we got engaged, and I wore the heavy Ehlers platinum setting with pride, although my true tastes would have probably run to the less conventional. We set to wor
k with our respective law firms:
me at Hurst and Edwards working in real estate law and him consulting for the cities of Plano, Frisco and Colleyville. Three years later the parents of Lillian Katherine Atkins and Van Payton Ehlers the Third announced an early June affair at the Highland Park Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. I had figured it somewhat normal for tensions to run high, and I figured that as soon as we were in Fiji on our honeymoon we would resume the pursuit of attention. Apparently, Van decided to pursu
e the attention of someone else…
someone who was very much not the person whose finger he’d put a ring on.
So there I’d been, on the twenty-third of May with a cake ordered, a Vera Wang original in my closet, the crème de la crème of Dallas society informing me of whet
her they preferred duck or lamb,
standing in the doorway of the master bedroom of Van’s Highland Park townhouse watching my fiancé working out his pre-wedding stress with his secretary, who I often suspected had at one time lived with at least one car propped on cinder blocks as a lawn ornament. Bless her heart.
I waffled between taking off my stiletto and ramming the sharp point between his Botoxed (for his migraines!) eyebrows and just walking out and never going back. I took a deep breath and prepared to announce my presence, drawing on my dry wit to disguise the disgust and twisted knot of anxiety currently occupying every ounce of my being. Affecting a boredom I did not feel, I searched for something clever. Something that would upset Van enough to feel some of what I was feeling.
“Those sheets are designer, Van. And that che
ap spray tan is going to leave
I shook my head ove
r the memory of Van. I turned on
some indie rockabilly poured out of the speakers. The tough-sweet voice of the singer urged her cheating lover to go away.
I turned onto a two-lane highway.
My name’s Lilly Atkins.
I love Jesus and I cuss. A little. Or a lot, depending on the situation. Yo
u could call me a contradiction, i
character. My hair is naturally a wild mess of curls that I like to try to tame with a daily attack of straightening balms and irons. I’m attractive, although pretty would never be a word used to describe me. I have big hazel eyes with flecks of gold and hair the same color. I have big full lips and a strong nose. Like I said, “pretty” isn’t the right word. It conjures up images of sweet and soft looks. I’m striking and I stand out. I’m not the beauty my sister is, but I’ve managed to turn a few heads in my twenty-eight years. I’ve been genetically blessed with long legs and an above average height of 5’9
I lean heavily toward bling; understandable since I have several tiaras I picked up on the junior rodeo circuit. I tried hard to hide my natural inclination for sequins when I arrived in Dallas, avoiding glitz and slipping on subdued. My outrageous and expensive shoe choices were the only throwback to my past.
So I’d packed my designer shoes and my uptight suits and headed for Oklahoma, back to my hometown, Brooks. Back to my family a
nd the people I’d left behind, d
ragging a U-Haul behind my newly acquired Jeep, looking like a shadow of my formerly badass attorney self.
They say the first half of your life is spent trying to escape a small town and the other half is spent trying to get back there. I was apparently starting my mid-life crisis early.
I passed under a canopy of trees lining the dirt road of my childhood, smiling for the first time since I’d left Texas as the late afternoon sunshine filtered through the money-green leaves. I pulled into my grandparent’s gravel driveway and had barely slammed the door to the Jeep when my Nonnie came flying out of her overly decorated house, the screen door flapping behind her. She breezed by the potted fake flowers on her porch and marched over to where I stood breathing in the clean country air.
My Nonnie is hell on wh
eels. Raised as a true genteel Southern belle in Louisiana,
she’d grown up in the era of grace and charm. She could sell ice to an Eskimo, and I’d never seen her not get her way. Nonnie had kept her tongue in check for the better part of her life, until, at age fifty-seven, she’d had a pacemaker installed. Since then
we never could quite keep a handle on what came out of her mouth. She’d become shameless, and we often wondered if they’d wound her too tight when they had installed the thing.
“Ooooh, honey! Look at you! You have been drinking too much coffee and forgetting to eat. It’s about time you got your butt here. We’re celebrating this long-overdue homecoming. I made meatballs and gravy, your favorite.” Nonnie’s glasses had slipped off her pert little nose and her tightly curled, short, salt and pepper hair stuck out at odd angles. She kind of resembled the older, female version of the nutty professor. Her skinny chicken legs picked up speed as she descended upon me and proceeded to wrap me in one of her hugs. I had to bend to reach her ferocious 5’2” embrace.
I hadn’t cried when I’d found Van, or when I packed my things, or when I crossed the border, or canceled my gym membership and standing weekly blowout; but when I hugged my grandmother and listened to her chatter about meatballs, the tears started to creep into my eyes. Nonnie, sensing my emotion, pulled back and, taking me by the arms, regarded me sternly.
“Baby, dry those tears up quick. We haven’t got time for you to indulge in a pity party, although I’m sure it’s well deserved. I’ve been going crazy trying to get your room set up over at Tally’s
and I’m still not done. You can work out your frustration and tears by helping me polish some more furniture.”
Miss Minnie Culvert had taught first grade for forty years before she took over Poppa Joe’s financial records for the ranch. She still thinks she’s leading a line of kids, and talks to everyone like she’s in front of the class.
“Come see what I sold this week. Things have been flying off the screen.” Nonnie had recently discovered the Internet and was slowly selling off the crap Poppa Joe had accumulated over the years. After hearing how much money she was making on the so-called “crap
” Tally had called me, worried that Nonnie was selling off our inheritance. I figured anything that kept Nonnie occupied had to be a positive thing.
As we turned to go inside, as if by command, a big black Cadillac pulled into Nonnie’s circular driveway. The driver’s side door opened slowly and a Coach wedge extended itself, followed by a regal leg, followed by my mama. Mama was a genuine lady, from the top of her perfectly coiffed head to the tips of her manicured nails. She behaved as Nonnie had raised her to
and never failed to live up to the standards Nonnie had set sans pacemaker. My mama was one of those women who could first be described as “fluttery” with her soft pretty
looks and immaculate appearance, u
ntil she was driven to show her hand; then she was a formidable force to be reckoned with. As far as I knew, my mama had never lost a battle with anyone, anywhere, ever.
Lizzie Atkins owned and operated an antique shop downtown to keep her busy. Her Master’s degree was in English, and she had taught at the local university while Tally and I had grown up. After she retired and almost drove Daddy crazy redecorating the house, he’d convinced her to start the antique business so she could ruin other men’s lives. Daddy wasn’t too popular with the men in Brooks for a while
, but the women loved the store,
and Tizzie Lizzie’s was a success. Mama got to shop for antiques
give her opinion. It was the perfect job for her.
My sister Tally had inh
erited her baby blues from Mama,
although Mama’s were big and wide like mine. Mama had sharp cheekbones and perfectly shaped lips, not too big or small, but like I said, perfect. High maintenance oozed from Lizzie Atkins’ tiny pores, and she knew it. It was one of the reasons Daddy had married her. I had resisted the idea of excessive upkeep for a long time, and many a fight had ensued before I conceded that true southern beauty was best displayed when enhanced with the requisite tools and accessories. A little jealous of her perfectly thick, straight, highlighted hair that as far as I could remember had never appeared out of place, I watched Mama walk toward us. I reached up to finger comb my own mop.
I recognized the concern etched across Mama’s face as she reached us. She ignored Nonnie’s chattering and laid her cool, manicured hand on my forearm. She looked into my eyes, and then
apparently satisfied with what
nodded at me and gave my arm a reassuring little squeeze. Never one for big displays of emotion, publicly anyway, the nod and squeeze were Mama’s way of letting me know she understood. I knew that later, behind closed doors, and not in my grandmother’s driveway, she would hold me and let me cry and cuss and throw breakables all I needed. Right now wasn’t the time or the place for me to not hold up my prettily highlighted head. In the face of adversity it is essential to act as though you have the world at your heels. Another code. I smiled back at Mama.
“Don’t you think we should have a dinner party? I mean, we bought all those tablecloths and it seems a shame to waste them,” I mused. We had found all the linen for the wedding reception at a discount store for a steal. It was the first thing we had bought for the wedding and we considered it our best bargain yet. Mama and Nonnie laughed and shared a not so secret smile. They knew I’d be all right. Nonnie chortled, and Mama giggled.
“Oh honey,” Nonnie laughed, slapping her red-tipped hand on her hip, “the groom’s interchangeable, but those Waverly tablecloths are priceless.”
“We could probably rent them to unsuspecting brides and double our money,” Mama mused, never one to let something go to waste.
The three of us stood there laughing as we heard a distant rumble, which subsequently turned into a roar. We all turned to see Daddy and Poppa Joe ride up in the Ranger. Daddy skidded the Ranger to a stop at our feet, grinning like a twelve year old. I shook my head at his antics. My daddy, Rex Atkins, wa
s way handsome in a Magnum P.I./
Rhett Butler sort of way. He was tall and muscled even at fif
ty, with dark eyes and hair;
his wire-framed glasses gave him that “hot nerd” look, according to Mama.
He was a genius when it came to money, and making it was his favorite pastime. He was a “good old boy” third generation oilman, who thanked his lucky stars everyday he had Mama around to make sure he was dressed appropriately and suffered no social faux pas. He always said if it weren’t for Mama, he’d be living somewhere down by the river in a doublewide with one pair of jeans and eating beans out of a can. His second favorite pastime was playing on the farm, and it was no surprise when he married the girl who was hosing down the horse trailer the first time he called her. Daddy preached and practiced the mantra “work hard, play harder
We stepped back as he untangled his long
jean-clad, work-booted legs from the vehicle and grabbed me in a big hug, squeezing me and spinning me around. He set me down and whispered in my ear,
“Glad you’re home, honey. I’d offer to go south and whip the sonuvabitch, but I’ve given you boxing lessons. You would only need me for moral support.” he told me, his southern drawl softening the curse. I laughed and nodded.
“I handled it, Daddy.”
“You go girl,” he chucked me under the chin. Poppa Joe came around and waited for me to give him a kiss on the cheek and a hug; he returned the gestures, which were our standard greeting.
Poppa Joe is tall like Daddy. Soft and solid at the same time. I inherited my honey-colored eyes from him, Mama her straight, thick hair
lthough his was always a day over needing a trim. Poppa Joe had come from nothing; shouldn’t have survived childbirth if the story was to be believed, and built the ranch from nothing. He held several patents on farming techniques, which he never talked about. He was the strong steady to Nonnie’s whirlwind, and not one to comment on much, unless the situation called for a hearty dose of sarcasm.
“Glad you’re home, sugar,” he stated matter-of-factly, as was his way. “We could use an extra hand down at the barn in the morning. You should probably start earning your keep,” he teased, grinning.
“Dang it, Poppa. I did not haul my butt back to Oklahoma for y’all to start working me,” I teased right back.
I turned to survey my family, not realizing until now how much I had missed them. Relief washed over me that I wouldn’t have to clean up the mess that was now my life all alone. With this group I would have plenty of opinions and too many distractions to feel sorry for myself. I was starting to get misty-eyed and sentimental
so I was relieved when Nonnie announced that there was no use standing out in the heat when there was a perfectly good air conditioner inside. I headed in, flanked on all sides by my family.