RUNNING ON ALL FOURS
“None of us kids escaped running on all fours while we were growing up. We ran from our dad’s abuse, his cruelty towards our mom, and the snickers from the folks in our rural hometown, especially those who were ignorant.
Only one of us ran on all fours like he was born to it – he was our brother Eddie, who thought he was a dog, and there was no sensitivity in our world for people who were different.”
I was raised with a mentally/physically challenged brother. His name is Eddie. No big deal, right?
Having a handicapped sibling in the 1960’s was far different, as compared to the here and now. Today’s society is much savvier about accepting a mentally challenged individual than it was half a century ago, in every way. There are resources, educated physicians and support groups – the Internet, too. And, I’m certainly not suggesting that raising a handicapped child today is an easier task, far from it.
When I was a kid, my mother didn’t even realize Eddie was physically and mentally challenged until he was nearly ten months old, when he couldn’t roll onto his stomach. He didn’t sit unaided until he was a year and a half old, and wasn’t even diagnosed ‘retarded’ until he was five. (Man, I HATE that word).
My father was an abusive alcoholic, my mother a religious zealot, and I was a scared, bashful kid living in a small town where everyone knew everybody else’s business.
Eddie has what’s now known as Noonan Syndrome and is Schizophrenic. He’s on tons of medications and has terrible ailments, like COPD, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and has to adhere to a chopped diet so he doesn’t aspirate and end up with pneumonia, which has happened more times than I can count.
The point is I’m currently penning a nonfiction tale about what it was like to live in a dysfunctional family, with a handicapped brother fifty years ago. How those childhood experiences shaped me as an adult. What mistakes I’ve made in the past, because I didn’t know any better.
What it’s like to now be the guardian of an elderly, handicapped man. One who loves Lady Gaga, dances like it’s going out of style, and the guy we call Casanova, who’s been known to grope a cute waitress’s butt when he thinks he can get away with it.
Stay tuned, because all of this scares me – although this WIP should be ready to publish sometime next spring, truthfully, I’ve been avoiding it, as it’s damn difficult to bring a cohesive story together when you’ve lived in it. Plus, I’d rather write humor, because who doesn’t need a laugh now and then?
Anyway, regarding all of the above, thinking of this inspired me to write a sequel to my sweet romance FALLING FOR NIAGARA, which was published by AA Publishing, LLC. in 2016. I’d thought to leave Niagara’s tale as a stand-alone and forget about it, but the reminders of my brother’s story, plus a pain in the ass muse wouldn’t leave me be.
The sequel’s called CHRISTMAS WITH NIAGARA and is included in the UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS Boxed set released earlier this month. Here’s the blurb and a little snippet of what Jace and Niagara’s life was before her half brother entered their lives.
When a special needs stranger suddenly appears on their doorstep and inserts himself into their lives, Niagara must decide if his presence will interfere with her and Jace’s relationship, or enrich it.
Stay tuned as these beloved characters embark on their way to happiness, in spite of unordinary odds. Share their triumphs, tribulations, and embrace the power of what loving relationships are destined to be.
CHRISTMAS WITH NIAGARA
A Day in the Life…
Jace DeMatteo whistled as he wrapped prosciutto and sliced provolone around thin asparagus stalks, like he was tucking tiny, fragile infants into receiving blankets. He gently placed each on a tray, drizzled them with a smidgeon of olive oil, and then set his masterpiece aside to bake.
A bottle of vodka chilled in the freezer, ready for their Friday night martini. Niagara liked hers dirty, with three olives, while he preferred four.
He smiled, recalling the first time he even considered drinking a martini, the night they’d met at the Top of the Falls restaurant. What a wussy he’d been at the time, and not just about the topic of cocktails.
The asparagus appetizer was one of Niagara’s favorites and he couldn’t wait for her to arrive. He rinsed his hands and dried them with a dishtowel, while his feet danced side to side to one of his favorite oldies songs playing on the XM radio. Trim hips swayed in time to the beat with a panache he’d been proud to conquer.
Ever since Niagara had taught Jace’s clumsy ass how to groove to music, dancing had become one of his favorite pastimes. He never got enough of it, any more than he could resist Niagara’s kisses.
Jace impatiently checked his watch, noting she wouldn’t be finished with her half of the job for another hour. The graphics she created for his computer software were amazing, and he was positive the company wouldn’t have such enormous sales and the following it currently enjoyed, if not for her special gifts with advertising.
He opened a bottle of chardonnay, poured himself a small glass, and retreated to his office.
Booting up his desktop, Jace looked over the news of the day, while the music continued in the background. His foot unconsciously tapped beneath the desk until he grew bored with the headlines. He carefully typed in the password to his business website – correction – his and Niagara’s business website.
Instead of looking at the end of the week profits, he leaned his chin on one hand and sighed with gratitude. That heaven had shown him had such favor six short months before remained a mystery, but one he didn’t try to solve.
On the day destiny changed his life for the better, he’d been standing on the observation deck at Niagara Falls, grieving, alone, and wondering what the hell possessed him to visit there in the first place. It was then he’d spotted her through his binoculars, as she held onto the rails at the bow of a tour boat.
The stranger’s breathtaking beauty had fascinated him. He’d gazed with longing as her long, raven hair streamed behind her at the whimsies of the wind, until the boat had sailed out of sight.
A rainbow had suddenly flared against the clear blue sky, surprising the bejesus out of him. The sky remained a clear, azure blue, and he’d prayed it was a sign of better days to come.
Their chance meeting later that night at dinner had opened the door to a wondrous future and, since then, the couple had formed a loving bond deeper than either of them had ever imagined.
He shook his head in disbelief, even now, that this wonderful creature had become such an integral part his life. He chuckled out loud, too. Thank the good Lord he’d inherited his dad’s penchant for cooking, and his abilities as well. As his stepmom often said, “There’s something about having your own sexy chef slog away in the kitchen to steam up a marriage and make things broil.”
Not that Jace considered either himself or his father sexy, but if their women thought so, far be it from him to correct them.
He smiled, remembering Niagara’s startling announcement, right after they first began dating. “I hope, for your sake, you plan on eating plenty of take out, if we’re to succeed as a couple,” she’d said archly.
“Why would I plan on that?” he wondered, his brow lined with confusion.
She’d flipped her hair over a shapely shoulder like the content of her statement didn’t matter, but then offered him a weak smile. “I can’t find my way around a kitchen, even if you draw me a map and pave the way with diamonds. I keep my lingerie in the drawers, and the oven’s never been used.”
“That’s not such a deal breaker,” he’d drawled. “One of the only talents I possess, besides being a computer geek extraordinaire, is that I’m a decent cook.”
She’d pointed at him with a hardy laugh. “Sold to the woman with the good luck to have a potential mate, whose talents exceed hers in the kitchen.”
“Cooking for you will be my utmost pleasure,” he replied with his hand over his heart.
“Truthfully, I’m ecstatic to know this about you. I get so sick of Chinese or pizza as a regular diet.”
Then, he’d hugged her to him and kissed her soundly, noting with male satisfaction her delicate purrs of surrender.
“It’ll cost you, though,” he’d whispered against her mouth before he took her any further.
“Anything, my darling,” she’d promised.
“Be my dance instructor. Teach me how to stop making an ass out of myself when we go out.”
FYI: If you’ve made it this far in my post, I just found out tonight that the cable TV, Internet, and phone landline for my brother’s group home was shut off today, due to our state’s refunding of the DDD money, to a fee for service option, which benefits NO ONE. I’m so freaking pissed I can’t stand it. I live in the most corrupt state in the US. Unbelievable. Who does this to special kids like this?
Anyway, here’s the links for Christmas for Niagara and the box set it’s nestled in. Thank you for hopping by, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my stuff.
CHRISTMAS WITH NIAGARA:
UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS – GIFTS OF LOVE:
A USA Today, Award-Winning Author, Susan Jean Ricci is best known for her Cindy’s Crusades Series, starring the hilarious duo Cindy and Jay DeMatteo. These characters were first introduced in the multi-award winning novel Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, and return to entertain you in its sequel The Sugar Ticket. Look for the soon to be published, and final saga Don’t Bruise the Bananas 2020. Cindy and Jay’s mischief making lives on in these shorts: A Sweet Snafu, Christmas With Niagara, His Sacred Vow, Passion’s Secret Ingredient, and Turning up the Heat. Please also consider the other stand alone works of fiction and short stories in Ms. Ricci’s collection, with more to come later this year.
A member of the RWA, The Authors’ Billboard, and the Independent Authors’ Network, several of Ms. Ricci’s titles have been recognized as the Women’s Outstanding Fiction Winner in the IAN 2016 and as IAN finalists in 2017, 2018, 2019.