21 Days to Love: A Journey of Joy

21 Days to Love: A Journey of Joy

by Marcus Tempus

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481727631
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 04/04/2013
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

21 Days to Love

A "Journey of Joy"


By Marcus Tempus

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2013 Marcus Tempus
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4817-2763-1


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

An Idea Is Born


Where else could the journey of joy have started than sitting in the Palais des Congrès in Paris? He was relaxing and waiting for the Swan Lake ballet to start with the recent memory of an excellent French lunch and the anticipation of making love later in the evening to the beautiful woman sitting next to him.

Marcus was reflecting on the last few weeks and why he was sitting next to Anastasia in Paris. This exciting journey of discovery that they planned a few weeks ago was starting to unfold before them. They planned to discover many things. They assumed the places they had selected to visit would be very interesting because they all had special charms. But above all, Anastasia and Marcus were at a time in their lives when they both really wanted a wonderful emotional journey during which they could fall in love a little ... or maybe a lot. They hoped that their experiences in life had led them to this relationship. And they dared to think that it would be the ultimate and most intense bonding experience ever.

The word experiment did come to mind, but it was not really relevant because both Marcus and Anastasia had enough experience in life and with each other to know that the outcome would be exquisite.

Marcus was a writer and had recently written a book about sex and chocolate, which seemed to be two things that women liked to discuss and experience. Surprisingly, most of the women that Marcus interviewed had preferred chocolate over sex. Anastasia, however, had said that eating chocolate was like having a party in her mouth. The comment intrigued him.

Anastasia was a businesswoman and met Marcus at a boring cocktail party. She had been interested in his worldly experience, charm, and unusual occupation. It was not common to meet a writer—especially one who wrote about chocolate. Marcus had asked her what she thought about chocolate (and whether she preferred it to sex). Her answers gave him the impression that she preferred chocolate to sex. After the conversation, she reflected on her answers and decided that she wasn't sure. She hoped that an opportunity to correct his misunderstanding would arise later.

Some weeks after that initial meeting, Anastasia bumped into Marcus again and asked, "How is the book going?"

Marcus replied, "Well, thank you. Nearly finished."

They discussed his findings, which he admitted had been a revelation. He had no idea just how important chocolate was to so many women. At that point, Anastasia offhandedly said, "I would like to write the final paragraph for your book."

"That's a great idea. Send it to me," Marcus replied.

They exchanged e-mail addresses and left. Neither one of them expected that she would send him the writing—or that their meeting would lead to them sitting in Paris watching Swan Lake a few weeks later. They both believed that it was one of those casual conversations filled with promises that would evaporate at dawn (after the alcohol wore off). But not this one.

When Marcus received the e-mail from Anastasia a few weeks later, he was deeply intrigued on two counts. First, that she had actually remembered the conversation and done what she said she would do. And second, that the attached, so-called final paragraph was about five hundred words—a substantial piece of work for a final paragraph.

When he started to read what she had written, he experienced those mixed emotions of appreciation and jealousy that pop up after you read something good that someone else has written. On the one hand, you appreciate the quality of the work, but on the other hand, you almost resent the fact that you had not written it. He thought it was a great piece of emotional, insightful writing. Without hesitation, he immediately copied and pasted the text into the final draft of his book with minimal changes.

Wow! he thought, Where did that come from? He had to find out more about this woman. He realized her name should have been a great clue. The name Anastasia is of Greek origin, and it means a new rising. Maybe she was another creative spirit with whom he could bond. Or maybe she was an old spirit from the past who was revisiting the world?

They had agreed to meet for lunch in a downtown Italian restaurant, and they had quickly and easily become comfortable with each other. Conversation was easy, and interestingly, the silences were good. Marcus always valued a person based on how comfortable they felt with silence (in his view, it was an underrated skill). The restaurant served a mixed plate of Italian and Greek hors d'oeuvres, which Anastasia relished in a very considered and knowledgeable way. Another one of Marcus's pet theories about judging people related to the way they ate. Anastasia was a classy eater; she appreciated good food, and she knew what she wanted. Lunch was going very well, and Marcus was enjoying the conversation with the lively and articulate woman. But it was the eyes that did it. Bright, alive, full of life—with a hint of everything is possible between us. The meeting was developing into communication that did not require much speech or sound.

Anastasia had gone to meet Marcus feeling a little intrigued and somewhat surprised by his enthusiastic response to her writing. In her eyes, she had just plopped down a few thoughts to offset what the misleading impression she believed she had given him. Sex was much more important to her than chocolate. She felt the need to make that point clear by expanding the sex question into a more relationship-based comment; it was not just the physical act of having sex. Regardless, his enthusiasm had thrown her a bit—a professional writer praising what she believed to be a few quick comments. There had to be more to it, and she was (of course) interested in finding out what that was.

She was surprised by how easily they had got on with each other—and even more surprised that he did not seem to be hitting on her. She was aware of her beauty and attractive, worldly dress sense, so she naturally viewed all contact with men a bit suspiciously and apprehensively. Marcus seemed to be different, however, which was refreshing. He was an interesting man of the world who wanted to discuss her creative ideas. She had heard that such men existed, but she had never actually met one. This could be a problem, she thought, A nice problem.

Anastasia and Marcus had bonded instinctively and quickly at every level to the extent that they both wanted to slow down and be careful. They both wanted to enjoy that wonderful time of awareness and awakening that showed up when you got to know someone special. If the relationship did blossom, they both knew that it would be a joy—that was the word that Anastasia had used. Talking and relaxing into each other was the right thing to do ... for now. They both had enough experience to know that the early journey into a new relationship was very important.

A few weeks after their lunch, Marcus had been invited to visit Anastasia at her home to talk about the planned journey over a few drinks. He arrived (after a short drive out of the city) at a lovely home that indicated its occupant not only cared, she also made the extra effort to add some finishing touches to the decor. It was a very nice and welcoming home, somewhere to live. Many American homes are so well organized—with everything perfectly in place—that actually living there seems awkward. As Anastasia explained, it was the difference between a house and a home.

Marcus reflected on the differences between his own country, the United Kingdom, and the United States in regards to housing. American women seemed to strive to create something like a showcase home—no doubt due to the power of the American advertising and media machine. But as with nearly all of the differences between the United Kingdom and the United States, his home country was not that far behind. He recalled an old saying in his former home: "If it's in America, it will be here in a few years' time." Today, the same basic idea applies, but it's probably closer to five minutes' time due to the immediacy of mass media.

Anastasia invited Marcus outside to join her on the deck, which overlooked a tranquil lake. The silence was disturbed only by the odd bird and a couple of ducks waddling about. This was indeed an oasis of calm, and only a few miles from the million-or-so people creating the noisy cauldron of downtown Chicago.

Anastasia looked very relaxed in her own home. She was wearing a pair of dark, casual slacks and a pink sweater that nicely complemented her short, platinum, blond hair. Marcus took in this beautiful woman as she prepared a few snacks and poured the wine. He relaxed in the quiet appreciation of her beauty. She was petite, and she had a figure that was full of promise and expectation. She had full breasts, a petite waist, rounded hips, and a butt that he later learned had been the winner at an impromptu competition at her local bar. This was a confident and radiant woman in every way. He briefly contemplated what it would be like to make love to her, but he returned to the high ground as she came back to the deck and joined him. The welcoming glass of chilled pinot grigio made the whole experience that much nicer.

"Well this is a surprise," she said, "I did not expect to see you sitting here."

"No. A strange and unpredictable world we live in," replied Marcus.

"So what do you do?" he asked. The relationship was still at the stage where they had to ask all those inane questions to try to put the other person in a box. Marcus hated it, but he still did it. This was the almost-inevitable rite of passage to get to know someone. These questions and the accompanying conversation created a complex series of decision trees in their minds. He hoped the result would be an intimate relationship. As the conversation developed branches were being considered in the mind as to which way the relationship would go; acquaintance, friend or I will call you.

They played the getting-to-know-you game, carefully shaping the questions to gain information without seeming too intrusive or too enthusiastic. And they hoped to remain interesting at the same time. At least while the intimate route was still a possibility. For most new relationships, Marcus had reached the diverting branch line away from the intimate route very quickly. He suspected that the same was true for Anastasia. This was not only a meeting of minds, but also (it would appear at this early stage) a meeting of equals.

They learned the basics about each other without taking any early risks with more personal or intimate subjects and opinions.

Anastasia had been born and raised in Chicago within a close Greek community, and she enjoyed the love and care of an extended family that had been in America for three generations. Atypically, she had a burning desire to start her own business when she was very young. She left school at sixteen to do just that. She had been successful over the years, and she described herself as a serial entrepreneur.

Her current business—and joy—was a chain of beauty salons that helped her deliver her skills and services to the great and the good ... well at least the wealthy who lived in the myriad expensive condos and houses in the downtown area of Chicago. The business was doing well despite the recession because many of her clients were relatively recession-proof given their considerable wealth.

She had been married and enjoyed a good close relationship until it had ended a few years earlier. Her main joy was now work and having a good and exciting social life. She was also working on her bucket list. She had no special relationships at the moment, but she enjoyed the company of men and casually dated as a requirement of her social life. She was not too sure whether she wanted another permanent relationship or the restrictions of another marriage. Part of her would like that, but another part feared the level of commitment required. As an experienced woman of the world, she was also knowledgeable enough to have no illusions about how hard it might be to find that special man who would create the desire for a permanent relationship.

Marcus had been born in the United Kingdom, and he had only been in America for about fifteen years. He came over when he lost his wife, and he had consequently thrown himself into work, becoming a successful businessman. Over the last few years, he had become disenchanted with the corporate world. He loathed its hypocrisy and wasn't interested in chasing short-term financial goals. He had decided to make a complete change for many reasons, which he told Anastasia he would divulge on another day. And then he became a writer.

Writing was more of a pastime. He was fortunate enough to be financially independent, so there was no pressure to actually sell his writing. This was a bit self-indulgent, but he didn't care—it was what he enjoyed. He liked women, but he was not seriously involved with anyone at the moment for reasons that he wasn't yet willing to explain. Maybe he would discuss his views on women if the relationship got serious enough to go through the things-that-you-should-know checklist. They were still in the early days.

They both passed the first-round test, and the relationship was still on the intimacy route—albeit at a very early stage of the journey. But this is what they both wanted and preferred. Marcus was thinking, This conversation is just like a chess game. And then one of those really spooky things happened that made him wonder what was going on in the universe.

"Do you play chess?" Anastasia said.

The question rendered him speechless for a moment. That in itself was quite an achievement. He had not played or thought about chess for years. The linkage of the question to his private thoughts was amazing. Can she read my mind? he thought, This could be dangerous.

"Yes, a bit, but I have not played for a very long time."

"Would you teach me? I have always wanted to learn how to play."

Within one hour, they had driven to the local store and purchased a cheap chess set. Marcus was explaining how the various pieces were allowed to move. He knew they were going to have a high-energy relationship—they knew how to get things done.

He spent an hour or so going through the fundamentals of the game when Anastasia said that she had had enough and wanted to take some time to absorb what she had learned and maybe practice playing the computer. Marcus had a feeling what that would mean for such a highly motivated lady. He needed to get some practice in of his own.

They sat back, relaxing, and poured another glass of wine. They continued to chat.

"Marcus, I really like your poems. Where did all those emotions come from?"

Marcus thought about the answer to that very key question. The truth was that it had been due to a recent relationship that had changed his life and opened him up emotionally in a way that he did not fully understand. But he was still a bit raw about how he had been treated by that woman. He had fallen in love in a way that he had never experienced, but he had chosen a woman who treated him worse than anyone ever had before. The ultimate irony. So he said the following to Anastasia: "I just hit this creative streak and the words appeared. They have actually surprised me. I sometimes read them back and think, Did I really write that? I have also found that using creative thoughts actually develops even more creative thoughts. It is not like using up money in a bank. Creativity seems endless if you open your mind. I also think that I have spent years finding creative solutions to business problems, but there is only so far you can go with an Excel spreadsheet.

"Business can only partly satisfy the pure creative soul. More typically, it does the exact opposite: it stifles it. Predictable, steady growth with few surprises is the preferred corporate model. I have found that the army of boring directors that sit in most business boardrooms usually attack creative thought; the uncertain outcome of a creative excursion is not usually appreciated. I did try, but my views were often out of line with these boring and predictable directors. I frequently told them what I really thought, which was an even less advisable game plan. I felt the need for a more freewheeling, creative outlet and found it in writing."

"Interesting. And are your books doing well and selling?"

"Oh no," he replied and laughed, "I just write for me. Self-indulgent, I know, but there you go. Who knows? One day, some influential person may find one of my books, say the right thing in the right place, and away I'd go. Who knows?
(Continues...)


Excerpted from 21 Days to Love by Marcus Tempus. Copyright © 2013 by Marcus Tempus. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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