Now, Share Tuesday. I'm going to share the first chapter of my second book, Spy Sisters: The Truth and the Spy. I'm pretty optimistic about it. It's actually kind of crazy, but I was worried that it was bad, but it's really not what I remembered it to be.
Taking her place in the long aisles, she eyed her enemies with the ferocity of a tiger. They picked the wrong day to mess with Stella Gainsbourg. Glancing at her watch, she ran down the aisle grabbing the last supplies she needed for Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, Riley was right. Shopping the day before Thanksgiving was stupid! But how was Stella supposed to know? She’d eaten Thanksgiving dinner. She’d never cooked it!
Since she’d been trained to be a spy, Stella had moves that other frazzled homemakers couldn’t contemplate. She sped through the store so fast that it was almost like she was a gust of wind sweeping through the aisles. As she rounded a corner to get into the turkey freezer, Stella spotted one lonely turkey left. It was all hers.
Right as she grabbed it, she felt another hand on the plastic netted bag, and as the two pulled, they rammed into each other. Stella dropped her basket, and all the supplies she gathered had scattered everywhere. Crazy shoppers grabbed her groceries before she could even get up.
“Excuse me, honey,” The plump woman in a bright orange turkey-appliqued sweater tried to give a sweet, older lady smile. “I saw that turkey first.”
“Uh, no you didn’t.” Stella protested from where she sat on the floor. She quickly jumped to her feet, realizing not for the first time that she wasn’t quite as agile as she once was. "My hand was on it before you got over here.” She looked around for an employee. “Can we see some security camera footage? This is my turkey!”
“No, you see, dear,” The woman started to sound a little testy, “I had my eye on that turkey. I need it to feed my family tomorrow.”
“I need that turkey. I promised Riley I’d be able to handle Thanksgiving dinner, and I am not going to break that promise!”
“Your first Thanksgiving?” The woman asked, with a knowing, slightly condescending, smile.
Feeling like she might be getting somewhere, Stella tried a smile, but it came out awkward and a little frightening. “Yes, it is.”
Taking her opportunity, the woman pulled on the turkey and threw it in her cart before hurrying away. “Maybe you should just get your husband a Hungryman Dinner!” She cackled.
“Joke's on you, lady!" Stella cried. "I'm not married!" It didn't sound nearly as badass out loud as it did in her head. As Stella watched the woman scurry away, she knelt down and picked up her broken basket. All of the supplies she’d just picked out were gone in the crowd. She threw her basket into the turkey freezer and walked away. She hit a button on the bluetooth device in her ear and waited a moment. “Stan? Dinner has been compromised. Meet me at the Wine and Spirits entrance.”
“Affirmative.” He said in a crackly voice.
Stella made her way through the crowded store, taking a shortcut through the toilet paper and paper plate aisle on the outer perimeter, and as she passed by the health market on her way into the Wine and Spirits department, she saw a special on Tofurky in the cooler. She reached out for it, but at the last minute, she pulled away and hurried into the next room. “I am not buying something that sounds like it’s made from a Muppet!” She spat out. Grabbing a stray cart, she loaded a large case of German beer and several bags of organic snack chips into it, then she headed for the long checkout line before meeting her best friend, Stan Darrow, outside.
Stan and Stella had been friends since college, when they both discovered they could speak Russian and had both been selected for special training within the CIA. He was a doctor, but frequently worked with Stella when he wasn't busy with other duties, such as saving lives and doing good deeds. When Stella had quit the CIA the previous spring, he'd decided to take a regular hospital job and stay in the area. He didn't stay for Stella, though. He stayed for Stella's recently divorced step sister, Riley.
Stan was now behind the wheel of a late model periwinkle blue minivan, but before Stella could climb into the passenger side, he jumped out to let her drive.
“How could you lose a turkey?” Stan asked after Stella regaled him with her story. “You’re an unstable, dangerous spy." She flashed him a dirty look, but he ignored her. "Truth is truth, toots. Couldn’t you take down one little old lady?”
“I guess I’m just in the holiday spirit.” She replied, sarcastically as she pulled up to a stop sign. "And don't call me toots. You're not Al Capone.” She thought back to her life, pre-Stay-at-Home-Aunt as she wistfully looked at the clock. “We have time to shoot a few rounds at the range before we have to pick up the girls! Wanna go?”
Stan started to shake his head and went, “Eh...”
“Oh, come on! Pretty please! Don’t make me act all girly! It’s bad enough living with three chicks in one house.” She whined, referring to Riley, and her two nieces, five-year-old Chloe and three-year-old Madison.
“That’s not fair.” Stan retorted. “I live with you too.”
“You live above the garage.” Stella continued driving. “It hardly counts.”
Stella opened the window and felt the frosty November Iowa air on her cheeks, calming her frazzled nerves. “I’m sorry, Stanny. I’m just getting so bored! I wasn’t cut out to be a housewife. Especially when the sole breadwinner in the house used to be a housewife!”
“You’re going through a period of adjustment. It’s only natural. You haven’t been in one place for this long since college.” Stan gazed out the window at the passing houses as Stella sped through a picturesque Midwestern neighborhood. “What are we going to tell Riley about the turkey?”
Stella pulled into the driveway of their two-story house. It was white with blue trim and had a place for Riley’s flower garden out in front, under the windows. The house, as well as the minivan they were driving, belonged to Riley. She had purchased it after the divorce, had it repainted and set to work planting every imaginable flower. Now, even in November, it looked spectacular. The orange, yellow and rust colored mums looked festive and homey. It was an older house, built in the 1930’s, with a detached two-story garage. Stan lived above the garage in the remodeled apartment that Riley’s father, Elliot, had done as a retirement project.
“She should be thankful I didn’t buy Tofurky.” Stella snapped, getting out of the van. “Look at me, Stan!” She cried, holding her arms out. She wore a pair of light-colored boot-cut jeans and a heavy black and gold University of Iowa sweatshirt under her black pea coat. The entire outfit was ill-fitting and tight, but Stan didn’t want to say anything about Stella's recent weight gain.
Ever since Stella had decided to quit the CIA, she’d been moody and hungry. Before she’d quit the CIA in lieu of being fired for refusing to submit to retraining and Post-Traumatic Stress therapy, she chased down criminals, and her deplorable eating habits could be overlooked. She'd run every day, and also lifted weights. She had been stunningly beautiful, slim and athletic. Most men found her attractive, Stan did too, but they had known each other for years and knew they were not right for each other. In the eight months since she’d almost been sold piece-by-piece to the highest bidder in an online Russian black market scheme, however, she’d taken up eating almost as a sport. She’d put on fifteen to twenty pounds, and while Stan thought it might be in her best interest for him to say something, it was in his best interest that he not say anything.
Stan put his arm around her shoulder and guided her toward the house. “You look fine.” He lied. “I’d rethink the Iowa sweatshirt, but I’m a Husker fan.”
“I’ve been trained to hunt people down and kill them. I can shoot a fly off the leaf of a tree and what am I doing with my life?”
He didn’t want to answer. “What are you doing?”“Picking fights and losing to little old ladies in the grocery store over the last frozen turkey in all of Council Bluffs, Iowa!” She cried, throwing her hands up into the air, before gathering the 12-pack of German beer from the back seat. “I drive a minivan, Stan. A minivan!” She stormed into the garage to put the beer in the outside refrigerator before stomping across the driveway and into the house.
Things aren't great in Stella's world, but isn't that how adventures start? If there's something about your life that you don't like, change it. I'm hoping continuing this writer's journey will change mine.
Have a great Tuesday, everyone!