As teenagers, best friends Lola Poole and Joan Proctor concocted a scheme to escape their boredom, pass the time between boyfriends—and bring in some money. It all started when they got in the habit of corresponding with lonely, unsuspecting—and generous—older men. In return for their “love letters,” the teens were rewarded with checks. The fun only ended when their swindle nearly got them killed. Now they’re grown, but they’re still longing for every woman’s dream of love and excitement. And thanks to online dating and a parade of lovers, they’re getting all the sexy fun they missed out on. It’s a downright addictive game. But games can’t last forever—and someone has to lose . . .
“Engaging, provocative, disconcerting and shocking, as the author shrewdly characterizes the hazards when adults play dangerous games with strangers.”—RT Book Reviews
Praise for Mary Monroe
“Mary Monroe is an exceptional writer and phenomenal storyteller!”—Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author of Here and Now
“Impossible to put down.”—Susan Holloway Scott, national bestselling author of The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr
“Engaging, provocative, disconcerting and shocking, as the author shrewdly characterizes the hazards when adults play dangerous games with strangers.” —RT Book Reviews
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Every Woman's Dream
By Mary Monroe
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Mary Monroe
All rights reserved.
Two weeks after Labor Day, somebody rang our doorbell. It was a Saturday, about an hour before noon. When I opened the door without looking through the peephole or asking who it was, I was surprised to see a woman — I had never seen her before — standing on our porch. She was almost as wide as she was tall, and she had to be at least six feet. She was a light-skinned, middle-aged black woman with a scary scowl on her face and one hand on her hip. She wore a dark green pantsuit that looked like it was at least two sizes too small. There were a few strands of gray hair on her two chins and several black moles dotted her thick neck. I could tell she had been crying because her eyes were red and swollen.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. No solicitors," I said, pointing to the NO SOLICITORS sign that my stepmother had made me tack on the wall outside next to the doorbell. It was not my nature to be mean to strangers, so I smiled.
The woman didn't smile back and the scowl on her face was even scarier now. She narrowed her eyes and gave me a skeptical look. Her short, reddish brown wig sat at such a crooked angle on her head, the bangs that should have been above her eyes were on the side of her face. There was bright red lipstick smeared on her teeth and she had on two different earrings. On top of everything else that was off, this creature had dressed in such a hurry, she had buttoned only the three top buttons on her blouse.
"Fuck that damn shit! I didn't come to this goddamn place to sell a motherfucking thing, so you can forget about that 'no solicitors' bullshit!" she screeched with spit flying out both sides of her mouth. I knew a lot of people who cussed, myself included. But this woman had used more profanity in just a few seconds than everybody else I knew used in an hour. Whoever she was, she obviously had a bone to pick with somebody, but I couldn't imagine who.
The smile was no longer on my face and I was ready to do some cussing myself, but I chose not to. This woman was already hot enough. The last thing I needed to do was add fuel to a flame when I didn't even know what had caused it.
I stood up straighter and folded my arms. "Lady, you need to chill," I began, speaking in the most civil tone of voice I could manage under the circumstances. "I don't know what your problem is and why you're here."
What I heard next made my jaw drop. "I'M HERE TO KICK SOME ASS!" she roared, wagging her finger in my face.
I was so taken aback; it was a couple of seconds before I could speak again. "You — you're w-what?" I stuttered. If this woman had shot me with a stun gun, I could not have been more stunned and frightened. My chest tightened and my heart rate felt like it had doubled. I thought hard and tried to recall if my stepmother, Bertha, had mentioned anything about her being involved in a dispute that would explain this angry woman's presence. If that had been the case, Bertha would have been talking about it nonstop every day. "Ma'am, I don't even know who the hell you are! You've come to the wrong address!" I said bluntly.
"No, I did not come to the wrong address, so don't you stand here with your mealy mouth and tell me that shit! I'm looking for Joan Proctor, the whore who has been fooling around with my husband!"
My head felt like it was swimming in a mud puddle and my stomach was churning. "Oh," I said in a small voice. So many thoughts suddenly formed in my head, it was hard to decide which one to deal with first. Only one made any sense to me. And that was for me to slam the door shut and lock it. But if I do that, what will I do next? I asked myself. I gulped when I noticed a pink envelope with a red rose above the return address in the woman's hand. I recognized it immediately. I had purchased a hundred of the same envelopes with matching stationery from Office Depot. Because of that, I couldn't call the cops on this ferocious woman without digging a hole for myself. She waved the envelope at me in a threatening manner.
"So ... uh, you're looking for Joan Proctor?" I asked with my lips quivering.
"Tell that bitch to come out here and settle this shit with me right now!"
"Uh ... well ... um ..." For a streetwise girl like me, who always had a lot to say, this was one time when I didn't know what to say next. Here I was spewing gibberish.
"Where is she?" the woman hollered as she looked over my shoulder. "I want that no-good slut to know that I found the letters she sent to my husband! And I found the canceled checks he sent to her gold-digging ass! I am not leaving here until I set that wench straight! The man she's in love with and wants to marry already has a wife! Me! We've been married thirty-five years and we have five children and nine grandchildren! I don't care what he told her. He still loves me and I will never give him a divorce. Shit. We just paid off our mortgage and I'm not about to let another woman replace me after all I've done and been through with that man of mine. Least of all some bitch he met through a magazine ad! A magazine ad! I never in my life heard of black folks getting caught up in foolishness like a lonely hearts club! For goodness' sake! I even found, hidden in his sock drawer, the issue of the magazine with his name, picture, and all them lies about him being a widower! He ain't no widower, but I might end up being a widow if he don't stop this mess! Before I left my house, I beat the tar out of that cheating motherfucker and I'm going to do the same thing again when I get back home! Him and Joan are crazy if they think I'm going to sit back and let them ruin my life so they can live happily ever after, like she said in her last letter. That bitch!"
I sucked in some air and bit my bottom lip. "Ma'am, uh, Joan doesn't live here," I managed, looking around to make sure none of our neighbors were out and about. We lived in a quiet, low-crime area, but we had some of the nosiest, most meddlesome neighbors in South Bay City, California. If they knew that a strange woman had come to our house to attack somebody, they would gossip about it for weeks.
"I ain't playing with you, girl! I can see you ain't nothing but a teenager, but do I look like a fool, fool? I was going to write a letter to that Joan Proctor bitch myself, but I thought it'd be better for me to straighten her out in person. From all that shit she wrote in her letters, she sounds like the type of die-hard skank who needs a hands-on approach!" The woman waved the envelope at me again. Her fat fingers covered the name of the man the letter had been sent to, but I could see Joan's name and my address in the sender's section.
"Honest to God, lady. Joan Proctor does not live here."
"This letter with this house address was postmarked last week! It's full of every sex word in the book and then some! That sex-crazed hoochie-coochie woman mentioned things in her letters that she's going to do to my husband — tongue baths and dick milking and whatnot — that I ain't never even heard of! Now, if you think I don't believe Joan lives here, you just as crazy as she is! I drove a long way and I am not about to get back in my car and turn around and leave until I straighten out her nasty self!"
I had to say something that made sense and it had to be convincing. "Joan Proctor used to live here!" I said quickly, clutching the doorknob. This huge woman could easily overpower me and force her way in and crucify me. "She moved last Saturday. Just me and my stepmother live here now."
My confused thoughts were bouncing from one side of my head to the other. It was hard for me to hide the fact that I was scared. I was shaking like a leaf and sweat had already formed on my forehead. I didn't care how scared I was and what I had to say, I had to get rid of this woman before my stepmother returned. If she blabbed to Bertha, not only would Joan Proctor's goose be cooked, mine would be too.
"I don't want to stand here talking to a young child like you. I want to talk to your stepmother."
"Huh? Oh, s-see — she's not here," I stammered. "She just left to go shopping and then she's going to have lunch with a friend. After that, they're going to the beauty shop, so she'll be gone for several hours. Uh, look, ma'am, I feel bad about this Joan woman chasing after your husband and taking his money and talking about doing nasty stuff with him, but I can't help you. Check with the post office and see if she turned in a change-of-address form." I managed to smile again. "I hope you can track her down and straighten out this mess...."
The irate stranger's scowl disappeared, but she still looked mean. She let out a heavy sigh and blinked. "What's your name?"
"Lola," I said with a sniff. "Lola Poole."
"Well, can I use your telephone, Lola? I left my cell phone in my hotel room."
"Uh, I'm not allowed to let strangers in the house when I'm here by myself." I paused and swallowed the dry lump that had suddenly formed in my throat. "This is a high-crime area and I'll get a whupping if I let somebody I don't know in the house."
"I don't know why my husband did this to me. I'm a good wife," the woman said, choking on a sob. A tear rolled down the side of her face. "He's driving me crazy."
"I know just how you feel, ma'am. Some husbands don't know how to behave. My dead daddy was so buck wild when it came to women, he had the nerve to move his girlfriend into our house to live with him, my mother, and me! But I really am sorry that I can't help you. If you don't mind, I have to go so I can finish my chores before my stepmother gets back. Now, you have a blessed day." The woman looked so hurt and sad, I felt awful when I abruptly closed the door before she could say anything else. I immediately secured the chain lock and the dead bolt. I put my eye up to the peephole and watched as she stumbled off the porch and down the walkway to a shiny black Ford parked in front of our house. She slowly opened the door on the driver's side. Before she got in, she looked at my house and shook her head. Right after the car drove away, I ran to the telephone on the stand by the living-room couch and called up Joan Proctor, my best friend. I prayed she was home and wouldn't freak out too much when I told her about the angry visitor. We were in our last year of high school and I wanted it to be as pleasant as possible for us, especially since she was pregnant.
I tried to reach Joan on her cell phone first, but she didn't answer. I didn't leave a voice mail or send her a text because if she didn't answer her phone, there was no telling when she'd hear my voice mail or see my text message.
I had no choice but to call the landline.
Joan's mother, Pearline, another scary woman, answered the telephone. "Lola, didn't you just talk to Joan last night?" she growled.
"Uh-huh, I did. But I forgot to tell her something about our biology class assignment," I muttered. "May I please speak to her? It'll only take a few minutes."
"Don't y'all tie up this line too long. Joan's got a lot of things to do around this house today and I'm sure you have things to do yourself."
"Yes, ma'am." I started tapping my foot on the floor while I waited for Pearline to call Joan to the telephone. "I'm so glad you're home!" I yelled when she came on the line a few seconds later. "Can you talk?"
"Yeah, I can talk. What's up?"
"Girl, we are so busted!" I hollered.
"Busted how?" she asked, speaking in a casual manner. "Talk fast. I'm drying my nails so I can go to the mall with Mama."
"Listen up. A real mean, fat old woman just left here! She was looking for you!"
"Huh? Why would a 'real mean, fat old woman' be looking for me?" Joan didn't sound so casual now. She sounded frightened. "What did she say?"
"She said she came here to kick your ass for fooling around with her husband!"
"She's one of the wives of the old men we've been writing to in that damn lonely hearts club!"CHAPTER 2
Lola was the only person who knew I was pregnant. But the way I had been running to the bathroom almost every morning for the past two weeks to throw up, I knew I'd have to tell my family and my baby daddy soon. In the meantime, I planned to act as normal as possible.
I had been up since before dawn and I had the living room all to myself that morning. I was standing in front of the opened front window, waving and blowing on my just-polished nails to help them dry faster when Mama yelled from the kitchen for me to pick up the telephone on the end table next to the couch.
As soon as Lola mentioned some old man's wife looking for me and threatening to kick my ass, I forgot about my wet nails and raked my fingers through my hair, smudging all five nails on my right hand. I plopped down onto the couch and everything on my body, except my mouth, froze. "What wife? The men I'm writing to aren't married," I said with a gulp.
"Well, one of them is! Matter of fact, all of mine and all of yours could be married or shacking up with some woman, for all we know. We lie to all of them in our letters, so more than likely they are writing a bunch of lies to us too!" Lola screamed. "I don't understand why so many older people don't want to communicate by e-mail like the rest of the world! If our pen pals did, we wouldn't have to use a street address and nobody could come after us in person like that woman did!"
"Lola, will you stop screaming like a banshee? I'm not deaf." With my parents, my old maid cousin, and three of my six siblings living under the same roof with me, there was not much privacy in our house. I kept my eyes on the door and began to whisper. "Which one's wife was it?"
"How the hell should I know, Joan? The woman didn't tell me her name. She said she drove a long way to kick your ass. From the size of her, you would have looked like a wet noodle by the time she got through with you. She said she found the canceled checks her husband sent to you. She had the letter you sent to him last week. The way she was holding it, I couldn't see who you had addressed it to. And she went on and on about how they have a bunch of kids and grandkids and how she'd never give him a divorce so he could be with you."
"It's Mr. Blake in Reno! He was the only one I wrote to last week. He always sent me three or four letters every week — until last week."
"What if it's not Mr. Blake?"
"Oh, it's him, all right. My other men friends live on the East Coast and in foreign countries or thousands of miles away in other directions. Only somebody close enough would actually get in a car and come here — like his wife did! I should have known better than to get involved with somebody who lives only a few hours away!"
"Why did you write to Mr. Blake in the first place? He looked like a bulldog in his picture."
"Because he sounded so sweet and generous in his profile. When I received that first letter from him, with that three-hundred-dollar check made out to me, he sounded even sweeter."
"Every single one of them sounded sweet and generous in their profiles and letters. You were the one who said we should only write to men who lived so far away that we would never have to worry about them sneaking up on us!"
"None of the men did! It was only that one woman!"
"It's only that one woman, so far. Do you have a telephone number for Mr. Blake? If you do, call him up and see if it's his wife. And if it is, can you come up with a story to tell him so he can call off that pit bull wife of his?"
"I don't have his telephone number, but I do believe he's the one. Some of the stuff he told me in his first letters didn't jibe with some of the stuff he told me later. First he said that he was a retired army captain collecting a fat pension check every month from Uncle Sam. A few weeks later, he told me he was a retired navy man."
"Army, navy, so what? What difference does it make what those old men are really doing to get the money they send to us? We need to be worried about the woman who came to my house! Bertha will have a cow if she ever finds out what we've been up to, using her address and all. And her kids — oh, God, Bertha's kids! They will shit bricks and do God knows what to me!"
For a stepmother, Bertha was a nice enough woman. Lola never said anything bad about her except that she whined a lot and kept her on a real short leash. She liked her stepmother and they got along well. But I could totally understand her being scared of her stepmother's children. Libby and her twin brother, Marshall, were twelve years older than Lola. They were the stepsiblings from hell: "mean," "self- centered," and "greedy" were just a few ways to describe those two. There was just no telling what they would do to Lola if they found out what we'd done.
"You're right," I agreed. "Those two miserable jackasses would make your life even more of a living hell. I feel sorry for you if they ever find out."
"You feel sorry for me? You're the one who dragged me into this lonely hearts club mess! What do you think your mother and your stepfather would say if they found out about our scheme — that you came up with?"
Excerpted from Every Woman's Dream by Mary Monroe. Copyright © 2016 Mary Monroe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Lola,
Chapter 2 - Joan,
Chapter 3 - Joan,
Chapter 4 - Lola,
Chapter 5 - Joan,
Chapter 6 - Lola,
Chapter 7 - Lola,
Chapter 8 - Joan,
Chapter 9 - Joan,
Chapter 10 - Joan,
Chapter 11 - Lola,
Chapter 12 - Joan,
Chapter 13 - Lola,
Chapter 14 - Joan,
Chapter 15 - Joan,
Chapter 16 - Joan,
Chapter 17 - Lola,
Chapter 18 - Lola,
Chapter 19 - Joan,
Chapter 20 - Lola,
Chapter 21 - Joan,
Chapter 22 - Lola,
Chapter 23 - Lola,
Chapter 24 - Joan,
Chapter 25 - Lola,
Chapter 26 - Lola,
Chapter 27 - Lola,
Chapter 28 - Joan,
Chapter 29 - Lola,
Chapter 30 - Lola,
Chapter 31 - Joan,
Chapter 32 - Joan,
Chapter 33 - Joan,
Chapter 34 - Lola,
Chapter 35 - Lola,
Chapter 36 - Lola,
Chapter 37 - Joan,
Chapter 38 - Lola,
Chapter 39 - Joan,
Chapter 40 - Calvin,
Chapter 41 - Calvin,
Chapter 42 - Calvin,
Chapter 43 - Calvin,
Chapter 44 - Lola,
Chapter 45 - Lola,
Chapter 46 - Lola,
Chapter 47 - Joan,
Chapter 48 - Calvin,
Chapter 49 - Calvin,
Chapter 50 - Calvin,
Chapter 51 - Calvin,
Chapter 52 - Calvin,
Chapter 53 - Calvin,
Chapter 54 - Lola,
EVERY WOMAN'S DREAM,