Mudpacks, murder, deceit, betrayal and tattoos--how much can a friendship sustain without cracking?
Try telling your best friends that your husband is leaving you for another man, or that you've slept with one of their husbands and have borne his child. Better yet, let them know you've just committed murder or that you're dying.
Ann, Eazy, Merry and Leta Lou--all four of the Oklahoma City socialites, having spent years merely scratching the surface of their friendship, are thrust into an emotional tornado and left with the devastating ruins of aftermath as the secrets they've kept surface. Ann wants to help them rediscover their dreams, but before she can do that, she must first destroy their illusions.
Money can't buy happiness, forgiveness, or peace, but it can sure make life...and death...a lot more interesting.
Warning, this title contains the following: graphic language and violence.
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January 23, 2007
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Excerpt from La Bella Luna by Bobbie Cole
"Do you love him?" Leta Lou asked, fearing but needing Edward's answer.
"Yes. Not like with you."
"God, I hope not. I hope it's better." Then she recanted. "I'm sorry. That was just plain tacky."
"No, I deserved it. I don't know how to explain it to you. It all started over coffee of a morning, then...one thing led to another." He shrugged, thankfully sparing her the intimate details of what thing led where.
"Edward...Edward...EDWARD!" Leta Lou knocked on his forehead as if it was a solid oak door and she was trying to get to the person on the other side.
"I don't give a damn about how you got started, whose hand went where, or what you were wearing--those aren't the details that concern me. I want to know if you cocksuckers wore rubbers and if you brought back some fatal disease to our bed!"
"Leta Lou!" he shouted, standing up.
Asher cracked the door and hissed to get Edward's attention. "Did she just call us suckers, Edward?"
"She never swears or talks dirty--she's drunk!" Edward shouted back, his arms straining to hold Leta Lou back, to keep her from having a face-to-face meeting with Asher.
"I am not drunk, Edward--I'm high--high as a damn kite!"
"I smoked pot with your kids," she said smugly.
"Leta Lou, you can't--what? I mean, the press would crucify me if they found out!"
She burst into giggles and rocked back onto the sofa. "The press is going to be too busy trying to figure out why you are shacked up in the Marriott with another man than to worry about what I put in my mouth." She snorted. "They're going to be more concerned with what you put in yours! Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
"Would she like some coffee?" Asher offered from the doorway, shrugging when Edward and Leta Lou glared at him. "Coffee always seems to work when people are drunk. I thought perhaps it might help...in...her situation."
Leta Lou's buzz must've started to wear off, because her teeth suddenly felt fuzzy. "Sure," she said. "That would be the cherry on the cake of my day, Asher, to have coffee with you and Edward in the Love Shack here."
Thirty minutes later, she found herself with an icepack on her forehead and her fourth cup of coffee in her hands.
"Not bad, Asher," she told the slight man across from her at the table for two. "Next time around, I'm going for a wife instead of a husband. Every woman should have one as far as I'm concerned."
He placed his elbows on the table and his face in his hands. "I am so sorry about all of this, Leta Lou. May I call you Leta Lou?"
"Call me anything you like," she said, taking another sip of the steaming liquid.
Edward stood behind Asher and stared at her hair. "I like it."
"Thank you. Back to your groveling, though. Just explain to me when you first knew that you weren't attracted to me any more. Asher here doesn't mind--we've bonded over Folgers, after all, and I have the right to know. Okay?"
"When I realized I was attracted to a man. And you don't really want to know the answer to that time frame."
"Ah. I see." And she did. "So was Asher the first?"
"Yes. Well, the first one I did anything about. Before, I just ignored my feelings or wound up confused, but I never acted on them."
"And did you make love to me any time after you slept with him?" She had to know.
"No. Honestly--no, I didn't."
"He didn't," Asher chimed in. "We were very concerned about our wives."
His face was so sincere in a Nathan Lane sort of way that Leta Lou almost believed him.
"You have to believe us, Leta Lou," Edward said. "But there's nothing for you to be worried about...I mean, he's been tested, and I've..."
She held up her hands to stop him. "That's all I needed to know."
"Leta Lou, I would never put your life in danger. Or mine. I put a lot of thought into this before I left you. Before I...started this relationship with Asher."
"That's comforting. Really." She wished she was still dopey.
Asher rose and offered his chair to Edward. Turning back to Leta Lou, he held out his hands for her to clasp--not one, but both of them. "You two need to talk some more without me. I just wanted to meet you and to say I'm sorry."
Leta Lou nodded and squeezed his hands then let them go as he smiled and sighed.
Then Edward leaned forward and grasped her hands almost as soon as Asher released them. "Have I ruined things to the point that you and I can't be friends? I know that sounds corny and trite, but you were my best friend for so many years, Leta Lou. The hardest thing about leaving you was leaving my best friend."
All the thunder she'd felt up to that moment dissolved. She wasn't tearful. She was just thankful that a major bridge had been crossed. One that kept them linked while apart. And she was fighting to keep from howling with laugher. This whole meeting with him was so surreal, so La Cage Aux Follies.
They talked for a few more minutes. She told him to fetch Asher, so that she could say goodbye.
Asher was obviously uncomfortable as hell and looked as if he'd been crying, but Leta Lou did her best to put him at ease, to let him know that while she didn't understand and still resented them both, they all needed to get on with their lives, such as they were. They needed to find some way to keep sane and civil to one another.
And when she left, she felt like she'd just given birth to herself, experiencing the same feelings she'd had when she delivered her children. Tired, confused, relieved, wanting ice-cream and needing a massage. But like any birth, once it was over, there was a quiet glory in it, knowing that new life was emerging. Knowing that new possibilities abounded.
And there was a sadness to it, knowing that the pain would be forgotten too soon.