Authors: Lynn Schnurnberger,Janice Kaplan
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. References to actual events, locations, or well-known personalities are intended only to give the fiction a sense of authenticity. Any resemblance of the fictional characters to persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Ballantine Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 2004 by Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Ballantine and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be obtained from the publisher upon request.
In memory of our sweet, wonderful fathers
Stanley Kaplan and Jerome P. Edelman,
who led us to choose the sweet, wonderful men we married
Ronald Dennett and Martin Semjen,
to whom we dedicate our hearts and this book
We had so much fun writing this book and are lucky it got laughs from the right people. Our thanks to agent extraordinaire Jane Gelfman and primo editor Maureen O’Neal for supporting us and getting so strongly behind
. Both are incredibly smart and talented—the best in the business. Kim Hovey at Ballantine has endless energy and enthusiasm and we’re grateful that she waved her magic wand on us. Thanks to Johanna Bowman for her hard work and attention to detail.
Writing this book took a tremendous amount of patience and fortitude—on the part of our friends. Thanks to all of them for encouraging and putting up with us. A special note to Susan Fine, Joanne Kaufman, and Emily Listfield, who called almost daily to ask how many pages we’d written. Big hugs to all our great cheerleaders: Margot, Stuart, Robert, Jeanne, Sally, Henry, Allan, Marcia, Linda (both of them), Peter, Susan, Rosanne, Donna, Jimmy, Martha, Anna, Anne, Jean, Nancy, Leslie, Tom, Pamela, Naomi, Maggie, Len and Emily, Ronnie and Lloyd, Marsha and David, Anne and Michael.
We’re lucky to have wonderful mothers and mothers-in-law who have always been our greatest champions, not to mention terrific role models. Kisses to Bob and Chris, and Nancy and Frank.
To Ron and Martin—you’re both handsome, sexy, funny, smart, loving, warm, and wonderful. We love you and we’d do anything for you. Especially since you let us read every single page of this book to you over and over. And you laughed every time.
And to our awesome and amazing children, Zachary, Matthew, and Alliana—you’re the best. You happen to be the sweetest, smartest, most talented kids around, and we love you. We’d mention how gorgeous you are, too, but that might embarrass you. And we’d never do that.
are popping and it’s only five a.m.
“Darling,” Lucy trills as I groggily cradle the phone between my ear and my goose down pillow. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
Of course not. Why would I be asleep at this hour when I could be up repotting the azaleas?
“Where are you?” I ask, fumbling for the Brite-Lite clock on the night table to confirm that, yes, it’s still two hours until my alarm goes off. “Traveling?”
“L.A., darling,” Lucy says. “Working.”
I knew that. When she’s in New York, Lucy lives around the corner in a big Tudor house, but she regularly packs off to Burbank to produce glamorous TV shows. Being on the opposite coast causes her to sink into saying “darling” too much.
“Everything okay?” I ask, awake enough now for my worry genes to have kicked in.
“Absolutely, yes,” Lucy says as I hear what I swear is another champagne cork popping in the background. She bursts into giggles, covers the phone and calls out, “Watch it, darling!”
“What’s going on there?” I ask.
“It’s not what you think. We’re rehearsing for a show and there’s a scene with Dom Perignon. We’re using real French champagne, even for the sound check.”
French champagne. I sit up abruptly realizing that when the phone rang, I had been dreaming about Jacques, my very own Frenchman. We were lying naked, with our arms wrapped around each other at the edge of a warm, sunny beach. He was kissing me passionately as the waves lapped over us. Wait a minute. Didn’t I see that same scene in some old movie? I put the phone down and notice the TV across the room is still flickering. I must have fallen asleep watching
From Here to Eternity
“Yoo-hoo,” Lucy calls impatiently. “Earth to Jess. You still with me?”
I clear my throat. “Jacques,” I say. “We were making love.”
“Jacques? Jacques is
?” Lucy screams so loudly across the country that she doesn’t even need her brand-new cherry red Nokia 120000RICH cell phone.
“No, Jacques isn’t here. Of course not. We were on the beach.” That’s not what I meant to say. “I mean I was dreaming about him on the beach. Nude.” I manage to stop myself before I get to the climax. Of the story. Next topic. I realize it’s two a.m. on her coast so I say, “But anyway, you’re working late.”
“I know. All night. Everyone thinks my life is all poolside meetings with Ben Affleck, but all I do out here is work, work, work.” Lucy sounds awfully cheerful for a poor working girl. But then again, she’s downing champagne while I’m cozying up to a blue plastic tumbler of tepid bathroom water.
“So what’s going on?” I ask, wondering why this call couldn’t have waited for daybreak—on either coast.
“I’m so sorry to bother you,” Lucy says, taking a deep breath, “but it’s about the bake sale.”
Ah, right. The fifth-grade bake sale. Now that’s certainly worth a call at five a.m. In fact, I bet she’s halted shooting on her million-dollar production in order to get this handled.
“I need a favor, darling,” Lucy says. “Dan said he’d pick up something for Lily to bring, but that means it will be store-bought. Uck. I’ll
look like a bad mother. So two questions. What are you making for Jen to take, and would you mind very much making double?”
Double what? I haven’t even given it a thought. I’ve just barely recovered from making nachos to send to school last week for International Lunch Day. The week before it was homemade yogurt for the Dairy-Tasting Project. Did I miss the PTA meeting when they installed Martha Stewart as the new principal? Jen’s homework tonight will no doubt include long division, current events, and …
“Cupcakes!” I say brightly. “Jen and I are going to make cupcakes.”
“I knew it!” Lucy says gleefully. “You make the best cupcakes! And you could make Jen’s with pink frosting and Lily’s with blue frosting, so they’d each feel special.”
I groan. That’s just what I need, cooking instructions from three thousand miles away. “Lucy, stick to producing your show and I’ll produce the cupcakes, okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Lucy says, sounding genuinely contrite. “I don’t mean to be so controlling. It’s hard being out of town and I just want everything to go right. And I’m only calling at this crazy hour because once we start shooting for real, I won’t have a second.”
Now I feel bad for jumping at her. So I try to compensate. Or over-compensate, as usual. “Listen, why doesn’t Lily come over tonight and the girls can make the cupcakes together. Then they can decorate them any way they want.”
And so what that after the girls are asleep I’ll probably gorge on gobs of leftover frosting—both pink and blue? I eat when I’m tired, and without a real-life Jacques around to notice, who really cares if a single mom has a little extra frosting on the hips?
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you,” Lucy says. “Lily will love that. I’ll call Dan and let him know.”
Dan, the husband of the year.
“Tell Dan that Lily should come for dinner, too. It’ll be easier for him.”
I have to stop. In another minute, I’ll be offering to run over and scrub her bathrooms and sleep with her husband so that her being away doesn’t inconvenience anybody too much. Anybody except me.
“Are you sure it’s not too much trouble?” Lucy asks.
“Of course not,” I say. “I love having girls’ night.”
“Well, we need one of those girls’ nights for just you and me as soon as I get back,” Lucy says. Then lowering her voice, she whispers into the cell phone, “You won’t believe what’s happened on this trip. I can’t wait to tell you. You’re the only friend I have who’d understand.”
Another champagne cork pops in the background, and Lucy dissolves into giggles. This time she covers the phone, but I can still hear her say, “Enough already! I’ll be right there.”
When we hang up, I pull the comforter up around my shoulders. I should try to fall asleep, but the minute I close my eyes I see Jacques again on that beach. I open them. This will never do. Jacques is my ex. In fact he happened so long ago that he’s an ex-ex-ex.
Alas, it’s the Triple-X elements of him that I seem to miss the most.
I make myself sit up and flick on the Itty Bitty reading lamp by my bed. As long as I’m awake I might as well get something done since my to-do list is longer than the newly revised tax code. I desperately need to deep-condition my hair, order a new bath mat, reorganize the closets, reupholster the sofa, recaulk the counters and renew Jen’s library books. And while I’m at it I should find a faster printer, a faster Internet provider, and a faster exercise program. I’m still spending thirty minutes twice a week on the treadmill, when everyone else is building Better Abs in Five Minutes a Day. With all the time I’d save, I’m sure I could do something about world peace.