Authors: Josie Brown
Tags: #Humor & Satire, #Romance, #Women's Fiction, #Young Adult Fiction, #Maraya21, #Literature & Fiction
Friday, 2 November
Brady Pierce wasn’t a religious man
but he did believe in a Greater Being. In fact, sixteen years ago, at the very enthusiastic suggestion of his then boss and mentor, Steve Jobs, he reluctantly took his first sabbatical from Apple to study at a Buddhist monastery. There he partook in a simple daily routine of meditation, yoga, and visualizations. By Day Eighteen, the chatter in his brain hadn’t exactly dissipated in between all the mind-numbing
’ing, but at least it had moved beyond
What the hell am I doing here?
What should I be doing with my life…?
By the sixtieth and final day of his sabbatical, he’d come to appreciate Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths (dissatisfaction, the origin of that dissatisfaction, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation). In the years since, as he burnished his rep at Apple and then moved on to create his own successful start-up, AStealAtThisPrice.com, his daily yoga regimen reinforced his commitment to Buddhism’s Four Immeasurables (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity).
On the numerous occasions in which he shared this anecdote with reporters assigned the task of writing a feature profile on him, he seemed reluctant to do so. Truth be told, Brady knew that Western fascination with Eastern mysticism played to his favor in one very important arena—publicity—and at his behest, his assistants scheduled these interviews right after his morning meditation and yoga, when he was in a Zen place but his eyes shone with laser-sharp intent. The reporters forgave the fact he didn’t want to shake hands (he was still sweaty) but appreciated the gentle way in which he’d reach out for their forearm as he divulged to them the secrets of his success.
One thing he never spoke of was his very first and only recurring visualization. Maybe he’d always kept it to himself because it had freaked him out when he realized it had somehow come true—partially, anyway. In it, a happy baby—a tow-headed baby boy, just like his one-year-old son, Oliver—floated in the air, surrounded by three women: a brunette, a blonde, and a redhead. The only woman he felt he could place with certainty was the blonde, Oliver’s mother, Jade. Whereas the visages of the other two women stayed fuzzy whenever the vision appeared, Jade’s face was clearly there, even after the annulment of their marriage when Oliver was six months old.
Having her in Oliver’s life—at least at this stage—was important for one reason alone: it allowed Oliver to attend the meet-ups at San Francisco’s exclusive invitation-only Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club. There, the children and wives of other captains-of-industry met, developed lifelong friendships, and referred each other to the admissions boards of the best schools in the city, and even to the best universities in the country, where they and their spouses were alumnae.
The good news: thus far his naïve, albeit tempestuous, ex hadn’t done anything to screw up Oliver’s chances to stay in the club through the first three-month probationary period, including divulging the fact that she and Brady were no longer married.
The bad news: at this very moment, one of the six probationers for the four slots available was getting bumped.
This was probably why the recurring visualization was taking place now…
Until the damn doorbell rang.
Whoever was leaning on the buzzer wasn’t giving up, either.
Brady sighed. To shift out of his meditative state, he rose off his yoga mat, stretching tall and wide, taking his sweet time reaching the front door. Jade had a key, so he knew it wasn’t her. Besides, she wasn’t expected back home with Oliver until after noon—
Unless she had been cut
, he thought. If so, she might be too upset to find her key…
He paused a moment and took a deep breath before looking out the peephole.
Shit. Worse than Jade. It was Madame Ovary, his fuck buddy and PHM&T club member.
Her marriage and her two young children had made it easy for him to keep their sexcursions discreet and limited, which was fine by him. In fact, he’d love it if she’d break off their relationship, but instead she’d gotten more clingy with each passing week, now that she’d helped Oliver and Jade get accepted into PHM&T.
When he’d suggested they cool their relationship, she made certain he knew that doing so would ensure Jade and Oliver’s exile from the club.
Quickly, he opened the door and pulled her inside before slamming it shut again.
As soon as he could pry her off his lips, he hissed, “Why are you here? Isn’t Bettina dumping one of the probies now?” He was dying to know if it had been Jade.
As if reading his mind, Madame Ovary smiled slyly. “Quit worrying. The others had just as much dirt, if not more, as your darling Jade.”
Ha! If only she knew
Jade had been a pole dancer. Not only that, Jade had auditioned for a porn flick. Thank goodness she hadn’t gotten that gig, but it had been an additional straw on the already breaking back of their relationship.
What would have been the biggest sin (at least, as far as the club was concerned) was that Brady and Jade weren’t married any more. Brady had offered to pay Jade to attend the PHM&T club meetings with Oliver. She’d turned down the money, but had agreed to his little deception in the hope of getting back into his life.
For the past three months, Brady had been able to keep this from Madame Ovary. Oliver’s future depended on getting—and staying—in the club. If she had knowledge of it, she’d make their lives miserable.
Well, his anyway. At first, the sex had been fun, but now it was an obligation that occurred only at her command.
Having done his yoga workout in a loose set of drawstring pants made it easy for Madame Ovary to get to what she came for. She stripped his pants to his ankles, noting he was at half-staff, dropped to her knees, and went to work.
He could play this one of two ways: either let her have her way and get it over with quickly, or hold out and pray that she gave up. Maybe that would have her rethink the time and effort she was putting into their now very much one-way relationship.
At least, that was his hope when he stared down at her bobbing head and muttered, “So who got ousted instead?”
“Guess” was what he could make out, sort of.
“Jillian?” He hoped not. She was a sweet woman with twin girls.
“Lorna?” She was the sister-in-law of Bettina Connaught Cross, PHM&T’s founder and fearless leader, so he doubted it. Despite the fact she also had a son and the Onesies group was now boy-heavy, he liked her. Besides, she was nice to Jade, unlike some of the legacy mothers whose slots were already guaranteed.
“Nonnn…” Either Madame Ovary was working hard at getting him to come, or she was toying with him.
“Um…Ally?” Her one-year-old daughter, Zoe, was one of the most animated kids in the group.
“Nope.” She looked up at him just as he smiled with relief. Her own grin melted with suspicion. “What the hell are you grinning about? Do you have a crush on her or something?”
“A…crush? Of course not!” Quickly he tried to kill his smile.
He had more than a crush. He was in love with Ally Thornton.
It was yet another secret he had to hide from the woman who held his cock between her teeth.
“So that we speed this along, I’ll save you the time of guessing. It was Chakra, that fucking airy-fairy green goddess.” She didn’t even bother to look up, but worked him vigorously with her hand as she added, “I think most of us are relieved, since she was such a smug pain-in-the-ass know-it-all.”
“Hey, I hear ya,” he gasped.
“Good boy,” she cooed. “You’re almost there!” Her lips replaced her hand as she brought him to orgasm.
As he looked down, it suddenly dawned on him that her hair was the same shade of red as the woman in his visualization.
Not a good sign.
Neither was the sound of a fleet of cars stopping in front of the house. Almost like a S.W.A.T. team—
But it was worse than the police. From the window Brady could see that it was Jade, back with Oliver. With her was an entourage of mothers and toddlers. The jubilant smiles on their faces faded when they noticed Madame Ovary’s car out front.
His orgasmic groan was concurrent with his command, “Get up! Jade is home with the rest of the Probationary Onesies.”
For the first time in their relationship, Madame Ovary actually did what she was told.
Jade opened the front door cautiously. Her eyes scanned beyond the foyer toward the sunken living room. She could hear Brady conversing with someone, but she couldn’t tell which room his voice was coming from. The house was so big and its walls were so high that sound echoed off the marble floors in the most disconcerting way.
She motioned for the other mothers—Ally, Lorna, and Jillian—to follow her in. The others nodded silently. They, too, knew it wasn’t a good sign that the car out front was owned by one of the members of the PHM&T’s T☺p M☺ms Applicati☺n C☺mmittee. Had the wrong proby been let go? And if so, was the committee member’s appearance here an indication she was no longer welcome?
The women silently made their way toward Brady’s voice, which they could now tell was coming from the kitchen.
He was standing behind the kitchen island, serving tea to Kimberley Savitch. The lead mom in the Foursies group was sitting on one of the bar stools that surrounded the island. The two of them looked up, as if surprised to see Jade and Oliver, as well as everyone else.
“Ah! Here’s Jade and our little man now,” exclaimed Brady. As Jade rushed over to him, he kissed her on the forehead and took his squealing son into his arms. “Kimberley was just telling me the sad news—that Chakra is no longer among the living.”
“Brady, don’t be so cruel,” Jade said, as she looked shyly at Kimberley. Unable to stand the suspense any longer, she blurted out, “Did I do something wrong?”
? Heavens, no!” Kimberley’s long wavy russet locks swayed as she laughed. “I’m here to drop off some additional pages to your manual, specifically detailing our Thanksgiving cookbook fundraiser. Seeing you here in a group saves me time tracking you down individually to hand off these new pages to you. Bettina wanted me to go over them with you, so there would be no question as to the importance of this event in your formal acceptance to the club, especially now that we’ve got one more Probationary Onesie to winnow from your group.” She scanned the faces around her. “In fact, over the next sixty days, each of you will be given a momentous task to complete which will count heavily toward your final score. Bettina looks forward to going over that with you on Monday.”
Lorna’s grimace seemed to say it all:
That sadist. I’ll just bet she does
Her frown didn’t deter Kimberley, who smiled directly at her. “I’ll run out to the car to get the sheets. Be right back.”
As she sauntered out of the kitchen, the other women glanced at each other. After hearing the front door close behind her, Lorna was the first to speak. “I don’t get it. After what they’re putting us through, now all of a sudden the committee is going out of its way to make sure we understand their crazy rules?”