IT’S A SWEET LIFE
Coffeeshop Coven - 0.5
To Hubby, for all the love and patience and support he’s given me throughout the years while helping me through life’s ups and downs.
And to Mr. B, especially the patience part.
To Cooper McKenzie, my bud, and whose name I threw around in vain (in a good way) in this book. And to fellow hooker (no, not THAT kind of hooker, the kind that plays with yarn) Mia Downing.
(No, I won’t put the “bitch” in all caps. Sorry. LOL HUGS) Special thanks to my friend Christine for bakery questions. Any errors are mine, not hers. (And I’ll blame errors on fibro fog. LOL)
As some of you already know, I am a member of the fibromyalgia “club.” With a dual diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome on top of that, and arthritis to boot, it can sometimes make life…interesting. I didn’t have to stretch my imagination far to write the health issues the heroine in this tale goes through. I simply wrote from my own experiences, sometimes at the same time while I was writing this book.
It’s very hard to describe how frustrating it is to go from being someone who could easily pull an all-nighter, a “get shit done” kind of gal, to someone who, on some days, feels like they can barely get out of bed. I don’t “look” sick. And yes, I have plenty of good days, fortunately. But there are the days where simply walking through the grocery store can put me back to bed for the rest of the day.
Or suffering through bouts of “word salad” that sometimes accompany the condition called fibro fog, leaving me grasping for a word I know I should know and unable to think of it. Hubby and I even have a system where if I get stuck, he waits to start tossing words at me until I start pantomiming and gesturing at him that I’m really and truly stuck. Sometimes, a well-meaning person trying to help can make the issue worse as my frustration grows if they try to offer me words too soon when I’m still struggling to put a sentence together.
As you can imagine, that can be a particularly vexing symptom for a writer who makes their living slinging words. Fortunately, it seems to happen most verbally and not when I’m actually sitting at my laptop. Although I do keep my trusty Roget’s Thesaurus close at hand for when I’m at a loss for a word. In the writing of this manuscript, it took me three different searches to finally remember the word I wanted to use in the Walmart scene was “dysfunctional.”
(Yes, there is a certain irony to that which I can appreciate all too well.) I’m not looking for sympathy, and neither are most sufferers of this condition. I know I’m lucky to have an incredible support system combined with a job that allows me to sit at home in my pj’s all day.
And it’s not any more terminal a condition than life already is to start with. But what I, and other fibro patients, are usually looking for is patience and understanding. That it’s not in our heads. That we’re not lazy or trying to get out of doing things. That putting others before ourselves can, literally, be hazardous to our health in some cases. That we might need to beg off plans at the last minute even though we don’t “look sick” because our energy plug got yanked out of the wall on us. And while we might have been in great shape the day before (or even the morning of) an event, that doesn’t mean fibro won’t wave its wand and put us on our ass in the space of a few minutes. That instead of belittling us for what someone might perceive as laziness you offer an understanding ear and not try to guilt us into doing something we will pay for later in terms of our “spoon usage.”
Yes, believe me, it frustrates the crap out of us, too. Most of us would give anything to be able to get to our pre-fibro (or pre-whatever) energy levels.
What are spoons? Please take the time to read “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino. It applies not only to fibromyalgia patients, but anyone with a chronic condition or disability that saps strength and energy.
(http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/) If you feel you might have fibromyalgia, please do your research and talk with your health care provider regarding treatment options.
Pain, fibro fog, and fatigue are just some of the most common symptoms of this complex disorder. There are various regimens, both prescription and homeopathic, that can help relieve some of your symptoms and make life more manageable.
This is the prequel to my new Coffeeshop Coven series, centered around the Many Blessings New Age shop. If you want to know more about the backstory of Many Blessings, including what happened to the former owner, Julie, please read my book Out of the Darkness (available from SirenBookStrand). Related characters also appear in my book Red Tide (SirenBookStrand).
And there really is such a deck as the Celtic Dragon Tarot. It’s published by Llewellyn Publications, and it’s the first deck I cut my teeth on. It’s a beautiful deck that I highly recommend.
The town of Brooksville, Florida, does exist, although I’ve taken a little literary license with some of its geography to suit my own purposes.
Not now. Please, not now.
She slowly rubbed her hands together, wincing over the pain that shot through her knuckles at the motion. Experience told her even soaking them in warm water wouldn’t completely soothe the pain and stiffness away when they felt like this.
It was seven o’clock Thursday evening. With only half of the Palmer wedding order finished, she still had a good six hours of work ahead of her to have everything ready for Friday morning pickup as ordered.
Six hours if I’m lucky.
She burst into tears as she stared at the table full of cupcakes awaiting finishing touches. If she didn’t deliver this job on time, or if she delivered it subpar, the well-connected Palmer family could ruin her reputation and the small bakery, It’s a Sweet Life, that she’d struggled so hard to build.
LacieBelle Addams—Libbie to her friends and family—leaned against the large stainless double fridge and slid down it with her hands cradled in her lap and wrapped in her flour-covered apron. The pain was the worst it had been in months.
That was where she still sat ten minutes later when Grover Johnson, her part-time helper and lifelong friend, came in and found her.
Tsking as he shook his head, the large black man walked over to her and slowly lowered his considerable bulk to the floor next to her.
He wrapped a meaty arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.
“Lord, child. Don’t you think it’s ’bout time you went to see Doc Smith?”
She settled her head into his lap, her tears renewing. “I can’t, Grover. I don’t have the money or the time.”
“But you have the time to sit here crying your poor eyes out?”
Grover had been a close friend of her father’s since before she was born, coworkers during the tumultuous days of the civil rights movement of the 60s before opening a law firm together. It didn’t matter that she’d been a white girl. Grover and his wife, Connie, had always welcomed her into their large family of eight kids despite snide comments the families received from people of both races. The man was like a second father to her.
With her own parents dead, Grover and his kids were the only family she had. Connie had passed almost four years earlier after a stroke, right after Libbie had turned thirty-one.
He carefully clasped her hands in his large ones, enveloping them in a tender grip. “I think it’s time for you to consider selling out to Katie Beasley,” he gently said. “She made you a generous offer last month.”
“No. I won’t do that. I have to make this work. Everything I have is tied up in the building and the bakery.”
“Then at least get you some good help in here besides my tired, sorry ole ass. Jenny’s a sweet kid, but you and I both know she’s a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. Not to mention she can’t bake worth a darn. And Ruth is a good woman, but she’s retired and you need someone who can work more than part time for you.”
That made her chuckle. Ruth Callahan only worked mornings and the occasional special order, and usually left once the bulk of the day’s baking was finished. Jenny Millings helped out several mornings a week. She ran the counter for Libbie in exchange for cash under the table and day-old leftovers. She had a part-time job at a convenience store in the afternoons while her two young sons were still in school. It barely helped her pay rent and expenses for her and her kids. She couldn’t afford child care, so she couldn’t work in the evenings. Besides that, her younger son was autistic.
Her ex-husband had been in jail for over two years for a drug charge and obviously wasn’t paying child support.
If looking at anyone’s life could make Libbie feel remotely better about her own situation, it was Jenny’s.
Libbie sniffled and looked up at Grover. “Your ass isn’t sorry.
You’ve been a lifesaver.”
“Glad you and my Connie think so, honey.” He brushed her brown bangs away from her face. “I had another idea, if you’d like to hear it.”
“You’ve got that smaller apartment upstairs. It’s just sitting there gathering dust. Let me get the boys in here to help you clear out all the furniture and those boxes of your folks’ stuff, and you rent it out.
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