18 Dec 2013

Excerpt from The Hunting By Kerry Peresta

Isabelle Lewis, top advertising salesperson at the Chatbrook Springs Sentinel newspaper, has a habit of falling in and out of marriage. After her last divorce, she shoved the emotional pain into a compartment in her brain to deal with later. With three teenagers to raise, bills to pay, and sales quotas to meet, introspection was a luxury she couldn't afford. Her mind needed a happy place.
When Isabelle (Izzy) discovered online dating, it immediately became her favorite stress reliever and best friend. Often, she'd steal into the night after her kids were asleep to meet someone new. One fateful evening, the hunt for the perfect guy took a sinister turn when the mystery man she met turned out to be her worst nightmare! Reluctantly pulled into a web of lies, Izzy is forced to confront her demons.
Snarky, suspense-filled, and real, “The Hunting” is an exquisite entwining of the crippling emotional fallout of divorce with the quest for a healthy, fulfilling relationship. This inspirational story rivets!

My trusty Honda pulls into Starbucks ten minutes later. I glance at my watch and give myself a firm hour and a half with this man. I want to keep my word to my daughter, Mimi, to be home soon. Nervous anticipation zings through me like electricity. When I pick up my purse, my hands are trembling.
I approach the Starbucks' entrance with careless ease. In case he has arrived first, I strike a pose at the door, which I have practiced in the mirror a hundred times. The pose, which I have invented by watching old movies, is based on combined observations of old Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall movies, with a touch of Charlize Theron. It includes a hesitant pause at the door, one hand gracefully placed on the doorframe, the other sliding seductively across a pelvic bone. Thus posed, I then search the room with wide eyes, pursed lips, and a slightly concerned expression, i.e. where art thou, oh possibly perfect and much-needed male counterpart? What breasts I have are jutted out commendably, which is no small task given that I struggle to fill a 34B.
No one rushes up to offer their hand in gallant and complimentary awe, so I drop the pose and walk in. The coffee enthusiasts present are either under thirty or over sixty. I pick a table in the corner, sit, pull out my phone to check for texts. After a few minutes, I feel a shadow – a small one – hovering near my elbow.
An uncertain voice says, “Are you, umm, Izzy?”
My exhilaration dips somewhere around my ankles. I turn to him, smile brightly and say, “Yep. And who are you?” Hope springs eternal.
“I’m Dan!” The man standing – or rather, stooping – before me has sparse, obviously dyed, dark brown hair, weighs about one hundred and thirty pounds soaking wet and fully clothed, sports facial wrinkling that makes Tommy Lee Jones look young for his age, and grips a stuffed lamb in his hand with a bow around its neck. I am at a loss for words (which rarely happens, trust me). He hands me the lamb. I realize he has actually brought a gift that is more suitable for a three-year-old.
Thoughts flash through my brain like lightning, the primary one being: this cannot be happening. The leprechaun pulls up a chair, and I try to control my breathing, which is erupting in nervous, tight pants. His lips move, but I hear nothing. I feel as if I am in a vacuum, sucked into a dark joke. I sneak glances all around to make sure no one knows me.
Finally, I find my voice. “Dan? You don’t look anything like your picture.” I stare at him evenly, my lips clamped together. He should pick up on the fact that I am oh-so-irritated. The leprechaun grins. Even his teeth look old
“Well, Izzy, I pulled a fast one on you.” His grin widens.
“I had a hard time meeting nice ladies such as yourself when I put my own photo on my profile, but when I put the new one up, my message box got full overnight!” He cackles. I look away, because his teeth are beginning to bug me. In fact, everything about him is bugging me.
“Who is in the picture?” I ask innocently, hoping, at the very least, that it might be him at a younger age.
“It’s my brother!” he cackles again and ends up coughing sputum into his hand, a smoker’s hack. His profile had specifically stated non-smoker. “About fifteen years ago!” he adds.
I am so mad, I can almost feel smoke coming from my ears. I left my darling Mimi for this?
“May I ask, umm, Dan, why you would think that women would be okay with this?” He looks a little mystified. Men are so clueless about themselves.
“My brother may be the nicer-looking one of us, but I am definitely the one with the spunky personality! I figured if I could attract a woman for a first date, after she talked to me a bit, she’d know I was somethin’ special and forgive me for puttin’ up that picture.” He resisted cackling, for which I was grateful. I agitate in my chair.
“Did it ever occur to you, that decent women are really, really not into liars, and that it doesn’t matter how great you think your personality is . . . that they would never trust you after something like this? Besides, looks do matter.”
The leprechaun is disgruntled. “I thought women didn’t care so much about looks. I know men do, but somewhere I read women were more interested in intelligence and conversation.” He shrugs, and frowns at me. “No reason for you to be insulting!”
I can’t help it, my lips curl into a grin. Intelligence? Spunky? Who uses the word spunky? Then I laugh outright. The situation strikes me as pathetically absurd. I muster up a bit of indignation and tell him what I think of his stupid ruse, and that his personality can never, in a million years, be classified as spunky. I grab my purse, my self-respect, and escape before I have to listen to more cackling.

Author Bio
Kerry Peresta's publishing credits include a popular newspaper and e-zine humor column, "The Lighter Side," short stories in the published anthology, "That One Left Shoe," and her debut novel, recently released by Pen-L Publishing, "The Hunting," contemporary women's fiction. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter before deciding to devote more of her time to writing. She is currently working on her second novel, participating in writing conferences, and serving on the leadership team of the Maryland Writers' Association. Kerry was a single mother for many years to four great kids, all grown and successfully carving out their own unique paths. She and her husband live in the Baltimore metro area. Learn more about Kerry atwww.kerryperesta.com.
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