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FICTION / Contemporary Women
Aug 22, 2013
Books by Tina Louise Brotz
The edgy streets of Chicago provide the backdrop for a riveting tale that seamlessly blends danger and passion with the high-powered corporate world and the seedier side of the city.
Fiercely independent and ultra-sophisticated Michelle Pierson has made a name for herself as a highly successful entrepreneur. Still gorgeous and in her early thirties, she has achieved it all, but at what cost? Realizing that she is now at a crossroads in her life, she tries to cope with lingering feelings she still has for her sexy ex-husband, Michael Dickerson, head of the largest advertising agency in the city. He has never been able to handle her rising star, and Michelle soon discovers that his head is elsewhere as he negotiates the largest deal of his life while trying to bed every available female in his path.
When Travis, the biracial son she once abandoned, experiences an unfortunate turn of events, Michelle is forced to take matters into her own hands to find out who or what is actually responsible. The situation escalates as she weaves through a tangle of betrayal and deceit. The trail leads to someone she knows, someone consumed by revenge. Her quest to uncover the truth takes her to the underbelly of the city, the Symbiotic Section, where she is forced to face a worthy adversary in a final showdown that not only threatens the very foundation of her family but will change her life forever. Will Michelle finally be able to secure a future filled with the promise of love, despite the ever-present danger she has willingly placed herself in for her son’s sake? Find out in The Symbiotic Section, a story of greed, corruption, truth, and sensuality.
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EXCERPT - CHAPTER ONE:
There was nothing else to do except to keep the child, who was playing in the next room, fed and comfortable while she sat and quietly waited.
The ashtray, which now had at least a dozen cigarettes in it, was about to have one more added to the collection.
Elizabeth Dickerson looked up at the ceiling and then down at her hands that were clenching tissues that had been dampened with tears as she sighed.
She thought about this newest affair, which she was certain her husband would swear was just a fling, just one of those things that just happened. After all, wasn't it normal to drive an inebriated woman home and then not only see her to the door but see her directly to her bedroom? Well this time things would be different and the tables would be turned on this egomaniac she had the misfortune of being married to.
How did things ever get so bad? she thought, as she took a drag on the cigarette, inhaling deeply. For the life of her, she just couldn't understand how someone could work such incredibly long hours, play rounds of golf, attend every marketing event in the city and yet, never go out of their way or allocate any time whatsoever for family.
But then, her husband wasn't just anybody. Oh no, to the world he was a great entrepreneur! Michael Dickerson, financial extraordinaire and marketing wizard, a modern-day legend in the banking world, but she knew the real man, had lived his story and had seen the filthy backside of his character; she knew he was filled with a thirst for power and driven to succeed; but at what cost?
Apparently he had what her friends referred to as cum-on-the-brain, because even though he thought with one head, he was driven by the other!
Exhaling, she tilted her head back and watched as the smoke escaped from her mouth, while her hand smashed the lipstick stained butt in the ashtray until it finally stopped smoldering.
Now at a crossroads in her life, she was grateful for the photos that had been mailed to her by her brother, confirming all along what she had suspected these past few months. It had somehow made her decision even that more final, although it was unfortunate that it would not be less painful.
She heard the garage door open and took a deep breath as she sluggishly rose from the chair and grabbed her suitcase, listening as the footsteps came closer to the door that led into the house from the garage.
She was prepared.
“Where’s Travis?” Michael said, walking right past her.
“A hello would be nice,” she snipped then added,“he’s in the playroom with his toys.”
“Why is he in there?”
“Well that would be because he’s playing Michael. That’s why it’s called a playroom,” she said, annoyed with the very sight of him. Who was he to question her? she thought.
He went up the stairs, taking two at a time, as he shouted, “I’ve got to shower and then go back out for a dinner engagement. I just found out that Chris Swanson is in town and he’s agreed to see me tonight. This may be the biggest account I've landed to date. Hey, I've got a great idea, why don’t you, ah, call one of your friends from the Country Club to babysit Travis and join us?” he asked, as he continued upstairs. “You know Mary what’s-her-name with the saggy boobs.”
Undressing quickly, he stripped down to his underwear and walked through the master bathroom until he entered the adjacent closet where his eyes took in the vast array of suits, jeans and leisure slacks, all in different colors, styles and textures, making his selection choice somewhat difficult. He opened several drawers and compartments, slamming each one shut in search of the attire and accessories that would make the best impression for tonight’s meeting. Irritated and unable to make a definite decision, he finally gave up and did what most men do given the exact same situation, he called out to his wife for assistance.
“Liz, I need some help up here!” he yelled, while looking at his watch. He waited for about a minute and then, upset that his needs weren't being met quick enough, he started with his daily barrage of insults.
“For the love of God, can you please get the lead out of your tired, stretched out pussy and hurry up, I’m on a schedule goddamn it!”
“I’m right here,” she said, with coolness and dead certainty in her voice, and then she added, “that’s the problem, I've been right here the entire time but you never even noticed.”
“Christ Almighty!” he exclaimed, stumbling back in surprise. He placed his left hand over his heart. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“No, I suppose I’m not trying to give you a heart attack Michael . . . since that would be too easy.”
Dismissing her comment, he continued, “Are you going to help me or not?” he said, looking at her with obvious irritation as he stood there with his arms crossed.
“What is it that you need now?”
“What is it that I need?” he asked sarcastically.
“Yes, I’m afraid the last time I looked, I didn't read minds,” she said complacently as she held the opened envelope behind her back.
“What I need is a wife who helps me without me having to beg her all the time! What I need is somebody who wants to be with me! You know, like go to fund-raising events, dinners and charity balls. Instead, what do I get? I get some prissy-assed woman whose content to just go to her weekly bridge games, do volunteer work, which pays zilch, I might add, and spend a shit load of money on manicures and spa appointments and then when you come home you don’t even look any better. Let’s face it honey, you’ll never make the cover of Vogue, not even close!” he spat.
“You ungrateful bastard!” she screamed. “What about me? Blah, blah, blah! You sound more like a hell-raising toddler than a grown man. It’s always about you isn't it? Always about being seen, always about the power play, always about another one of your deals!”
She positioned the hand with the opened envelope in front of her, looked down at it and then continued. This time, she was determined to say her piece, it was damn time, she thought.
“First of all, as for the fund-raising events, they’re about as exciting as watching grass grow and the only thing they seem to raise is your hopes of finding some new slut to bed down with for those nights when you have your so-called long business meetings. Second of all, you know that I don’t drink and as for your dinners . . . why on earth won’t you just accept that I can’t eat even half of that unpronounceable shit! And last of all, the charity balls that you seem to go out of your way for are pretentious, just like you. In fact, Michael, instead of going to the balls why don’t you grow a pair and step up to the plate and be a man! Yeah, that’s right, be a man to me and your son! That’s all I ever needed and wanted!”
“Liz?” he said in a dismal tone of voice. “Are you getting your period again?”
“No Michael, no,” she said with her head now bowed looking down at the envelope. Her hands were shaking, but in spite of that she removed the contents and held up one of the photos, this one was of her husband in a compromising position with another woman and then she stood there, solemnly waiting for his reaction.
“So what the hell am I supposed to say? You want an apology? Huh? Is that it?” he asked, with a defiant look on his face. “The truth is that she makes me feel young and alive again. Let’s face it, Liz, when I’m with you I might as well be as old as Methuselah. You never want to go anywhere or do anything. My God, I can’t even remember the last time you sucked me off! I’m a man and I have needs, needs that you don’t even try to fulfill! It’s as plain and as simple as that. I’m sorry you found out,” he said as he broke his stare and turned his attention to his shoe rack. “But I’m not sorry it happened!” he retorted. “You know you’re a real piece of work, a real gem! Instead of accusing me of all this shit why don’t you take a look in the mirror? You’re twenty four and you look forty four! Now how do you think that makes me look? How do you think that makes me feel?”
Elizabeth stood her ground and just looked at him in astonishment and the reality hit her like a punch, full-force to the gut. This man wasn’t her companion, he wasn't a friend, a lover, a husband, or even a father to his own son . . . he wasn't shit as far as she was concerned.
She was done.
Dropping the envelope onto the floor she took a step back. “As for being on my period, yes, I guess I was, in a sense. But now I’m going to be in a new period of my life and I've decided that it will be one that doesn't include you! I want a divorce and if you fight me or stand in my way you’ll be the one who’s sorry because your image . . . yes, your precious, carefully thought out image will be sugar-coated in shit all over this town!” she yelled, as she quickly managed to push by him and swiftly grab his cell phone.
“Give me the phone Liz,” he said. “You know I’m in a hurry and I don’t have time for this shit!” he shouted.
“If you want it,” she said running through the bedroom, “You can go get it out of the toilet and then wipe your ass with it! God, how I hate you, Michael! I hate how you've driven me to this and how you've managed to bring me down to your level!”
Michael ran after her but she was too quick and, as promised, she carried out her threat and threw his cell phone into the toilet and then ran downstairs.
Out of breath, she grabbed her suitcase from the other room to make a hasty exit but as she turned around, she stopped dead in her tracks as she found her husband standing by the front door, blocking her only escape route.
“Daddy, is anything wrong? Are you and Mommy fighting again?” the boy asked.
“Go back in the playroom Travis!” he bellowed.
Elizabeth looked over at Travis and then to her husband. “Can’t you even comfort a two year-old boy?”
“Why can’t you, bitch?”
“Because he’s not my son!” she screamed to the top of her lungs.“I’m only here to cook and clean and take care of a child that’s not even mine! With the way you treat me it’s no wonder I look so old. You ride me like a fucking bull in the bedroom or haven’t you noticed the doctor bills from all my female problems, problems that you caused because you don’t know how to make love to a woman. Oh yeah, you can fuck up a storm but you can’t make love! I might as well have a jackhammer inside of me! At least that would be more humane. How can I look like I’m on the cover of Vogue when all I am is a goddamn slave! No! Not anymore! Today is the day I get my freedom from you and you can go get fucked, because now I realize that you’re not even good enough for the sewer, yeah that’s right, for the goddamn sewer!”
Michael’s anger, already at a high level, ignited into sheer fury, sending him over the edge as he walked over to his wife and punched her in the face, his eyes remaining fixed and hard as he watched his target fall back.
Staggering, she braced herself halfway up with her hands and then, looking up she saw Travis running towards her.
“Mommy, mommy, are you alright?” the child asked through tears.
Elizabeth, although dazed and in pain, made her move at that exact moment and swiftly pushed the young boy aside, grabbed her suitcase and ran outside, faster than she ever thought she could run. She screamed to the top of her lungs, “Help me! Somebody call the police! help!”
She ran and somehow managed to get to her car that was always parked in front of the house. Once inside, she opened the glove compartment and searched frantically for the keys, praying he wouldn't come out of the house. Her hand was shaking uncontrollably. Finding them, she nervously inserted the key into the ignition and took off, putting some much-needed distance between her and her abuser’s dwelling.
Breathing heavily and feeling herself pumped up on adrenaline, she glanced in the rearview mirror, actually seeing him open the front door to chase her, only to realize he was still in his designer underwear and he shut the door. She knew in her heart of hearts that she had done the right thing at just the right moment. Yes, she was now free and would have the kind of life she always wanted, always dreamed of and always deserved.
Still visibly shaken, she turned on the radio and blasted the volume. Got to go faster, she thought, got to get away, got to survive! She kept the accelerator floored and then . . . it happened; she noticed that the other cars on the road were all stopped. Why are they all stopped? she thought. What’s going on? What’s happening? Oh my God! . . .
But it was too late, Elizabeth’s car was t-boned by an approaching fire truck, a fire truck she hadn’t seen or even heard coming.
Perhaps it was because of the music on the radio that was blasting, or perhaps it was because she was driving in a state of delayed shock but regardless of the cause, she was ejected from her vehicle onto the pavement.
The sound of the car being totaled, her body hitting the street and the horrific scene sprawled out on the asphalt got the attention of many other drivers and made the onlookers who did look, cringe in horror.
Sometime later after what seemed like an eternity, as Elizabeth was strapped onto the gurney and wheeled into the ambulance, she finally regained a few moments of consciousness, just enough to answer the questions that the paramedic had put to her as he attended to dressing her wounds and numerous deep facial lacerations.
Yes, she thought. I will survive. The doctors will certainly see to that.
But there was another wound that manifested itself that day. A wound that couldn't be seen but was there, just beneath the surface.
A hate festering inside of her. The kind of deep-seeded hate that motivates a person and essentially gives them the very will to live. Yes, she had decided she would not only go on with her life, a life which would never be the same again, but she would be driven to seek revenge on the one person who had caused her misfortune and changed her life forever.
Her eyelids were now droopy as the oxygen mask was placed over her face and the warm trickle of blood was wiped away -- the ambulance now in route to the hospital.
Her pain was agonizing as the excruciating feeling of broken bones and burned, torn flesh seeped into every part of her being. But just before she lost total consciousness, her lips slowly moved as she softly spoke two words, the two words that would now give her the necessary strength she needed to survive.
Saying them carefully and without hesitation, she whispered them in succession, “Michael Dickerson.”
About Tina Louise Brotz
A proud Chicago native, Tina Louise Brotz has enjoyed a diverse career running the gamut from an assistant in a bank marketing firm to a homeowner association coordinator. Blessed with a quirky sense of humor, her unpredictable plots are derived from her multifaceted career experiences and worldwide travels, which allow her to do what she does best—storytelling. She has resided in the Phoenix area since 1994 and relishes every day in the Valley of the Sun with her husband and their two adopted children.