Authors: Kate Fargo
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOOK UP
To Love Again - Book 1
Rocky Mountain Hook Up
2015 by Kate Fargo
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons or organizations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner, except as allowable under “fair use”, without the express written permission of the author.
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~ ~ ~
This book is dedicated to all the Issy’s I have known,
Who were courageous enough to take a leap of faith,
And who - against all odds - were willing to love again.
~ ~ ~
Isabel Chapel paced in front of the large windows of her 17
floor office and looked out over the park. Every nerve in her body was wound tight; she felt ready to unravel. She stalked back and forth, until she slapped her hands against the glass in frustration and leaned her forehead against the cool surface. Below her, fall was just starting to work its magic on the foliage, creating a blaze of rust and amber stretching into the foothills and up the mountains. It was her favorite time of the year and normally she loved this view. Today, it only reminded her of how much she had to lose.
First-rate sex therapist indeed. People were bailing out of her practice quicker than hardcore espresso drinkers at a decaf-only coffee bar. She had a six-month waiting list and lately, clients were coming in for their first appointment never to return again. She couldn’t figure it out. She was the one her peers referred problem cases to. The referrals weren’t the problem, they kept coming. It’s just that, for some reason, after only one session, the clients did not.
One strike and you’re out. Isabel grimaced. How was she to finish her book? She had never imagined that she could have it all; a successful psychology practice and a publishing career. But her first book on sexual dysfunction had been a best seller and garnered her a lot of acclaim. When it was released she’d done media interviews, appeared on television talk shows, and her publicist had even hinted at a spot on Oprah when her second book was out. Sadly, she’d lost her motivation months ago, and the half-finished manuscript was gathering dust on her desk at home. The advance was long spent on college tuition for her daughters and she was already ditching her editor’s phone calls. If things kept going the way they were, she wouldn’t even have a practice and
how was she to finish the book?
Crossing the deep-hued Turkish carpet, a gift from her best friend Jenny on her latest trip, she stopped in front of the large oak desk in the corner and jabbed open the intercom button.
“Heidi, what time are the Steiners expected?” she asked, knowing full well she had more than forty-five minutes to kill until her next appointment. She was too restless. If she was sure of one thing, it was that sitting here and dwelling on things wouldn’t help her be focused and sharp for her second appointment with the Steiners and she needed to be on the ball. There was too much at stake.
“Three o’clock, Dr. Chapel,” chirped Heidi. After so many years of working together, Isabel had given up trying to get her loyal, yet timid assistant to call her by her first name.
“I’m going to grab a quick coffee, then. I’ll be back by three.” Isabel released the button, cutting off Heidi’s response, grabbed her purse from the drawer of the desk and headed out the back door.
The cafeteria was a sullen place at the best of times, but something about early afternoon made it seem even more so. In one corner, several members of the cleaning staff were having coffee and waiting for their shift to start. The cafeteria staff was busy washing counters and clock watching. After the three o’clock coffee rush, they could start packing up for the night. Isabel remembered, not fondly, her own nights working in the student cafeteria at the university, mopping floors and waiting on customers to go home. If she didn’t get her act together, she might be mopping floors again.
There was no one in the cafeteria she knew, not a single diversion in sight. Crap. She dug for her cell phone, unlocked the screen and hit speed dial.
“Jenny, can you steal away for a quick coffee?” Isabel asked, still looking around the bleak eating space while she waited for her best friend to respond.
“Great, I’ll be here”, she said, once Jenny agreed. “See you in a few.” She dropped the phone back in her bag and grabbed an orange plastic tray. Throwing two chamomile tea bags on it, she pushed the tray down the counter, picked up a battered metal teapot and filled it with steaming water.
Isabel smiled warmly at Martha, a fixture at the cash for as long as she’d worked in the building.
“How are you this fine afternoon, Dr. Chapel?” Martha asked, pushing her glasses up her nose with the heel of her palm.
“Been better, Martha. You?” Isabel fished through the change in the bottom of her bag and counted the correct amount of change into Martha’s outstretched hand.
“You know what they say, Dr. Chapel. If the lack of a health plan doesn’t kill you, the free meal plan will.” Martha grinned to herself at the joke she told dozens of times each day while she sorted the change into the proper slots in the drawer.
“See you tomorrow, Martha,” Isabel chuckled, picking up her tray and heading for a quiet corner near the windows.
As she placed the tray on the table, she felt a quick tug at her hair.
She turned, a wide smile already teasing the corners of her lips.
“That was quick.” She hugged Jenny and gave her the once over. “You changed your hair again.”
Jenny pirouetted and flipped her hair up. “Do you like?”
it exactly?” Isabel picked at a strand or two. “Or should I say colors?”
“It’s a burgundy mix. Black, burgundy…”
“And a little bit of purple?” Isabel suggested. Jenny was wild, but purple didn’t seem quite right, even for her.
Jenny laughed, pulled out a chair and sat down. “Not purple exactly. It depends on the light. It’s fun, is all.” She shrugged. “Rob said it would wash out in a few weeks.”
Shaking her head, Isabel also sat, threw a tea bag in each cup and poured out the hot water. She pushed a cup across the table.
“So what gives?” asked Jenny, smoothing her short red skirt across her thighs. “Why the mid-afternoon tea?”
“Do I need a reason to have tea with my best friend?” Isabel teased back.
“In the middle of the afternoon during office hours? Yes.” Jenny checked her watch. “When is your next appointment?”
“Then let’s get to it. You look like crap, Isabel.”
Isabel fidgeted but knew Jenny was right. She didn’t have much time and she needed to clear her head before her next appointment. One thing they’d always shared was the ability to be a good sounding board for each other. While Isabel had been busy raising two girls and trying to build a practice, Jenny had been traipsing around the world on exotic vacations – mountain-climbing in Nepal, snorkeling in the Sinai Peninsula, exploring the Amazon jungle by dugout canoe. Even though Jenny was younger and they seemed as different as day and night, there was no one whose company – or opinion – Isabel valued more than Jenny’s.
“Did you have another cancellation?” her friend prompted.
Isabel nodded and twirled the spoon in circles on the table. “Yesterday. Now I have a three o’clock coming in for their second appointment. What if I blow it?”
“You won’t blow it.” Jenny put her hand on Isabel’s forearm, to both comfort her and to stop the spinning spoon. “You’re great at what you do.”
“I can’t afford to lose my practice. Oh God, what if I lose my practice?” Isabel drummed the spoon against the tabletop.
“Isabel, you are not going to lose your practice. This is a minor bump. Come on, we talked about this.” Jenny took the spoon from Isabel to stir her tea, fished out the sodden teabag and plopped it on the tray. “I know what will help…”
Isabel ran her hand through her hair, shut her eyes and took a deep breath. “No, Jenny. I
been thinking about what we talked about last week, but I really don’t think things are that bad.”
Jenny tilted her head to the right. “Yet.”
“You don’t think it’s kind of drastic?”
“I think going to school for so many years to learn about sex was drastic,” Jenny smiled.
“It wasn’t that…” protested Isabel.
“Come on, Issy. Your marriage to Chet didn’t prompt you to specialize as a sex therapist?” Jenny asked, her gaze not wavering from Isabel.
“You know it did. I just … I was so inexperienced, and I thought … I don’t know.” Isabel shrugged, the old feelings of helplessness creeping over her. “How was I to know he would use everything I told him with other women. No wonder our sex life was the pits. I was last in line. Two small kids, school full-time. All I wanted was to be a good wife, to save our marriage.”
“I know,” Jenny nodded. “But the guy was a bum. You know that I think you’re better off without him. What kind of a life did you have with him? He was so possessive.”
“Of me, yes. Of my time, yes. Meanwhile he was off having sex with a different secretary every week.” Isabel shook her head, realizing the pain still had a hold somewhere deep inside of her. How could she have been so blind? All the late meetings, the out-of-town conferences, the sidelong glances from female colleagues at the few company functions she’d attended with him?
“He was a slime ball,” Jenny said, pouring more hot water into her cup. “Him sleeping with everything in a skirt that moved was no reflection on you Isabel.”
“It sure didn’t feel like that,” replied Isabel, remembering coming home to an empty closet. He hadn’t even had the courtesy to leave a note. It was over a year before he even called. It had almost killed her, and the girls had been devastated. Bastard.
“Listen, Isabel, I know you hate casual sex, but it’s time for you to get out there. You said yourself the other day that you’re out of touch with your clients. Maybe being celibate for three years isn’t a good thing for a sex therapist?” Jenny winked, grinning.
“I’m not ready, Jenny. I hate to say it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever trust anyone again.”
“You will, but I’m not talking about a relationship. I’m talking about sex. Casual sex. Slam, bam, thanks for the fun, young man.”
“Maybe,” she said, glancing out the window, half hoping the answer was there among the lamp posts and passing traffic. “My life feels like white noise these days. Maybe if I get out there, do a little research -”
“Field study, you mean?” Jenny raised her perfectly shaped eyebrows.
“Field study, research…but this club you told me about - The Shore - it sounds so crass. I mean, I’m happy older woman are back in style, but the notion of going down there to pick up someone much younger than myself, even if it is a sure thing, doesn’t work for me. I don’t think I could do it.”
“It’s not crass. Because everyone is there for the same thing. And the chances of you knowing anyone there are slim. Very slim.”