‘How to Catch a Love Rat’ blends self-help and dating advice within a darkly acerbic fictional narrative, told through the adventures of Dylan.
Dylan Sheriden: private investigator to tortured lovers everywhere. No-nonsense and trying to rewrite the dating rule book, she’s seen and heard it all. Only problem is, how can she believe real love still exists in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
Dylan catches rats of the large ‘love’ variety that plague the lives of good people everywhere – deep down she’s as damaged as the next person but ‘fronting’ it well - so if you think you’re the only one dating disasters have ever happened to, think again! If you’re perpetually unlucky in love, clueless about men, desperate to play amateur detective, or just want a heavy dose of relationship realism, then this is the book for you.
How to Catch a Love Rat will resonate with confused singletons, scorned lovers, and stealth addicts everywhere.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.51(d)|
Read an Excerpt
How to Catch a Love Rat
Tales of Love & Losers, Self-Help & Self-Sabotage
By Dawn Anna Williamson
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Dawn Anna Williamson
All rights reserved.
The phone rings for the tenth time that morning and it's only 10am. I glance over at the three shiny cell phones lined up on my desk: two regular and one burner. The one flashing tells me it's a work call. Instinctively I reach for my Marlboro white tips and light one up before answering. Smoking centres me - at least that's what I tell myself at minimum ten times a day. In any case, it also allows me to be a good listener, providing the speaker with enough pauses in which to bring forth their story. Don't get me wrong: I don't work for the bloody Samaritans. Oh no, my job is altogether un-holier and often more sinister than that.
'Hello, Dylan speaking, how can I help?'
The voice on the phone is female - nine out of ten calls are and she sounds nervous and unsure. Then again, they always are. I imagine it's never easy for anyone to decide to hire a private investigator, let alone make that first call. As always I try to put the caller at ease by sounding breezy and friendly; this isn't always the easiest thing for a self-professed ice queen to achieve.
'Err hello, I was given your number by a contact, she referred me. I want to hire someone to find out what my ex-boyfriend is up to ... do you do that?' A pause. 'You must think I'm crazy I mean he's my 'ex' boyfriend we're not even together anymore, but its driving me crazy and I need to know.' She breaks off.
This is a standard sort of call. I get them all the time. So often people struggle with breakups because they become totally obsessed with what their ex is doing, who they might be with and if they've moved on. In my three years as a fulltime P.I. I find it's generally women who make this kind of enquiry - not always though; there have definitely been exceptions to that rule.
I've found over the years that the way men and women deal with the end of a relationship is very, very different, although I didn't need to be a PI to draw that conclusion - I am a bloody woman after all. Women cry, obsess, stalk, make repeated phone calls and texts to their ex begging and pleading to give it another go, not realising that this behaviour only further cements the decision to split in the male mind. Some men on the other hand can be cold motherfuckers - they internalise, deal with it quickly and move on. Too often they do so straight away or even more commonly they already have someone new in mind by the time they execute the breakup, allowing them to move seamlessly from one relationship to the other. The peculiar coldness that usually accompanies said transition puts a chill in my bones even to this day Oh crap. I seem to have woken up on the male-bashing side of the bed.
For the record I love men, well at least the physical parts. I love their smell, their wide shoulders, those firm quads and the fact they carry no fat on their thighs, I love stubble, large hands, armpits and the obvious part of the male anatomy that makes them well, men. I couldn't live without them, but frankly they drive me round the proverbial bend.
Now I try not to have a bias when it comes to gender, apart from the fact that I am indeed a woman who has been burned on more occasions than I care to mention, because I know that in matters of the heart we are all - regardless of gender, capable of acts of damage to another person. It's not my job to further inflict damage on people, whether it's the guilty or the innocent. I get the facts, present them in a non-exaggerated fashion, collect my money and get the hell out of there. I am also not a confidante, a relationship counsellor or an agony aunt. But if I was to change careers, I know I'd make a bloody fortune.
But really, some of these guys just don't take the time to deal with their emotions and the pain post breakup, but believe me, it remains there somewhere deep inside of them and surfaces months or even years later, by which time the emotionally wrecked woman has finally moved on and is ready to start anew. Arghhh. The amount of times in my life I've wanted to tear my hair out about this effect. These kinds of fools always want another chance long after you've given up all hope of ever hearing from them again. You've already gone through the sleepless nights and the endless days, the not eating, the drinking to blot out the pain and the drunken texts at 3am and then: bang! Just as you start to feel bloody normal again, they 'pop' back up to give you another run for your money. There's a great name my best friend gave to an ex of mine years ago that describes this scenario perfectly: 'The Mushroom'. But more about him later.
Okay Dylan, give the guys a break. To be fair, some guys do take breakups hard and some do lock themselves in dark rooms playing Lionel Richie LPs and lamenting what went wrong. But I reckon this is almost never the case, and if it was the case, women never get to hear about it. They close ranks, those frustrating creatures! After a breakup, men and their friends become like the bloody Illuminati: you have to be one of them to know anything about them. The reality is that men move on - quick! Yes, it's utterly cowardly and damn-straight disrespectful to the relationship, but they don't want to feel the feelings so they cover them up. That's why you hear the same story a million times: Guy breaks up with girl, tells her he loves her but isn't ready to settle down yet, a month later he's shacked up with a woman he met over the water cooler at work, and is engaged and married within a year. Boy, does that cut.. .deep. 'Ex-boyfriends' (and I'm not saying ex-girlfriends' aren't a pain in the ass too) are all dicks, they have to be, because it's how they get rid of you in the end. They can't have you around cock-blocking them forever, can they?
I realise mid-thought that I've taken rather a long pause and I wasn't even smoking. 'Please don't feel foolish. You're not alone. I work with women all the time who just want the facts so they can deal with it and move on. You're definitely not crazy. How long were you together?'
'Almost two years. We've broken up a few times, but nothing like this. I haven't heard from him in weeks. He's blocked me from his Facebook and Whatsapp; he won't return my texts or answer my calls.I don't get it. Do you think he's with someone else?' The caller, who identifies herself as Karen, sounds desperate and on the verge of tears. Her words make her face the reality of the situation - verbalising often does that.
'Impossible to say,' I reply, even though I'm nodding my head on the other side of the line, 'but we can certainly do our best to find out for you - if you're sure that's what you want?' I know the answer will be yes. People always think they want the truth, but the truth is ugly and it hurts. The old saying 'ignorance is bliss' is so bloody true but then if everyone took that stance I'd be out of a job.
'Yes, I need to know. It's driving me crazy, my brain won't rest'.
'Okay then', I say absentmindedly doodling on my pad - it's a large heart with a dagger through the middle and a trail of blood drops dotted across the page. 'Let's arrange a meeting. We can have a chat over coffee and I can see what the best way forward is'.
I arrange to meet her at a Starbucks in central London in a few days' time. My schedule is so hectic right now that I can't manage anything earlier, so I outline my fees, say I'm looking forward to meeting her, tell her to try not to think too much, that these things have a habit of working out exactly the way they are supposed to and close the call.
How many errant ex-boyfriend cases am I working on right now? I pull up my client list, silently totting them up: one, two, three ... eight! Eight pain in the ass ex-boyfriends and that's just this month. March is proving quite the month for these bastards. I'm thinking maybe it's something to do with 'snugly winter'. Okay, that's not actually a real thing, I've totally made it up. It's what I do when I can't remember the actual name for something. Anyway, I definitely recall reading a piece in a women's magazine about how men all go crazy and get girlfriends in December so they have someone to spend Christmas with and snuggle up to at home with in dry cold January and February, then Spring comes and everyone's thinking about summer holidays, so the guys break up with the women so they can be free to enjoy the single life again. 'Snugly winter' seems to happen all bloody year round in reality, I think dryly.
I glance over the notes I've written, already forming a picture of the scenario in my mind. My private phone buzzes with a WhatsApp message and I involuntarily roll my eyes before even opening the notification screen; I never open a message without previewing it first. The invention of smart phones is frickin genius, the preview screen will tell me the gist of the message without my having to read it and alert the sender that I've even seen it. How I hate it when someone writes a long message, so I can only see the first line. In this instance, that's not a problem. 'Hi Sexy How r u?' it reads. Urghh. 'Sexy', really? It's not 1982 anymore, my friend.
Sean is one of about five guys currently hitting me up to 'chat'. This whole 'chatting' phenomenon is the bloody domain of the male of the species and no flipping sane woman I know can be bothered with it. Dick pics, cheesy lines trying to open up a bit of late night sexting or sometimes just plain boring as fuck chat seems like it's all in a normal day for your average single woman these days. I really hate 'the chat'. I mean why not dispense with the crap? Let's really set this out straight. The guy who's just messaged a woman and often just put a smile on her naive little face has also sent the same message to at least three other women. Hey, it's all about the averages right? Men are just all about the numbers and I guess probability states that at least one of his targets will want to start a dialogue and, if he's lucky and good at the game, more than one will reply and his little ego will get a giant-sized boost as he flicks between messages thinking he's Don-fucking-Juan.
I'm on a roll now; my absolute least favourite of the Internet chatters is the 'serial sexter': the guy who has no concept of 'small talk' and dives straight in for the kill with a 'send me a sexy pic'. Yeah, sure, I don't know a thing about you beyond your first name, but sure let me send you a snap. Really, guys? I roll my eyes again. Is it too much to ask for a proper introduction and establishment of at least a basic relationship first? A girlfriend of mine sent me a great solution the other day: a text of the 'image loading' clock, so next time some idiot wants snaps send him that and then let him sit and waste his time for an hour waiting for the non-existent image to load.
Now let's say for arguments sake that you do want to exchange a few sexy pics - oh, how many times have I had to solve 'dirty photo'-related problems for clients - do you expect your sexy pictures to be leaked all over the Internet? You should. Just to tick off a mental checklist I have ready for those of you who think it might be 'fun' to send a sexy pic: first rule of thumb - and this should be obvious - try to never feature your face or any obvious identifying features like tattoos, piercings, and the such-like; second, include nothing in the photo that gives it a determinate location, like your childhood teddy bear in the background of your bedroom; and three, never send anything remotely porn like to someone you've never met and do not, I repeat, do not use the video function. Now, I'm totally down with sexting. Believe me I think it's a viable relationship keeper-hotter (if there was such a word) for couples and it's one of the best ways for a woman to keep her partner completely engrossed and away from some woman on the internet who's freewheeling open-leggers (don't think that's a word either) to all. But for casual dating, it may be a case of too much too soon. There is such a thing as 'giving away the farm' people. At least give them something to aim for. Now, I'm thinking of some of my best tactics: a classy lingerie shot or a flash of side-boob seems to be most popular these days, and yes the under boob is really getting hearts-a-racing the internet over.
Oh wait, I missed one fun fact, you're most likely not the only woman sending him photos right now - don't you just feel special? So why not be a little different from the rest? I'm not suggesting anyone goes frosty ice queen, but cheeky and teasing will suffice over give-it-all upfront. From my experience, you gotta leave as much mystery as you can until you're in person or you might never get the chance to meet in person. These men are a lazy bunch and will choose to sit at home wanking over yours and whoever else's photos rather than ever take you out on an actual date; it's bloody cheaper, too.
I stand up, stretching extravagantly and walk over to the giant white Rococo mirror, which leans nonchalantly against the wall in the office and examine my face for lines, wrinkles and the ever-elusive answers. The reflection staring back at me is 5.6", a hard-earned size 8, slender but curvy, long, icy blonde hair, green almond shaped eyes with long dark lashes, alabaster skin, cut-glass cheekbones and strong arched brows defined daily with my favourite 'Madison of London' brow kit. My features are delicate but strong and I unfortunately have a classic 'resting bitch face', it's lucky then that I got blessed with dimples, which soften things considerably. My style is pared back and classic and I can usually be found in head-to-toe black: my standard uniform of choice: a pair of black COH Avedon skinny jeans, black cashmere sweater worn off the shoulder, biker jacket thrown on the top and a pair of suede pointy heels with toe cleavage. A few wrist chains, a masculine vintage Rolex and one large statement ring complete the look: the YSL 'Arty' in turquoise and gold is my favourite. Oh that heady combination of blonde and turquoise, blondes look so good in cool blue tones while the brunettes get to carry off the warm reds with aplomb. I wouldn't mind a change of career: telling people what to wear instead of how their boyfriend tried to sleep with me after all of five minutes would be a nice change of pace and a helluva lot more fun, but anyway I've got distracted and so not finding any useful insights nor thankfully wrinkles in the mirror I wander back over to the desk deep in thought.
Honestly, I'm just sick of getting played. When you're a strong woman, attractive and fiery with a mind of your own, you get used to being in control of situations. Sometimes, once in a while, a man comes along that throws you through a loop: they say all the right things and make you feel things you haven't felt in so long. Then when they hook you, reel you in and have you wanting more, they just fuck off. I mean literally fuck off. They stop calling, start playing games, start refusing to read your Whatsapp messages for hours then replying eventually with something blah - and you lose control. You lose your temper; you freak out. You act like what they love to call "a typical woman". You've become the mess they want you to be: a crazy ass person. Even if it was they who drove you mad in the first place, now they can just write you off without taking any blame for their behaviour and walk away thinking they've had a lucky escape.
Some men can't deal with real emotions. If you make them feel remotely out of control, and 'feel the feel' they cut you off - it's better for them that way. They don't want the highly-strung girls they want the girls who keep their feelings nicely to themselves - the ones that won't cause them sleepless nights and unstable thoughts - those other girls are trouble and not the 'keepers' as they are way too much trouble, too much drama. Guys feel it's best to push them as far away as possible; they might just upset the applecart. Worst part is, I totally get it, but you are what you are. Boy have I tried a ton of times not to be quite so tempestuous but when I feel like I'm backed into a corner I revert to type, biting my tongue just makes me passive aggressive and I think men are as in-tune to this one as they are to the openly emotional outbursts. Hmmm this is quite possibly why at the grand old age of thirty-five I'm still single, sure I've been deeply in love a bunch of times but I could never quite get on board with the level of change and supressing of my 'Type A' personality required to make them last the distance. A fact that makes me endlessly sad.
Excerpted from How to Catch a Love Rat by Dawn Anna Williamson. Copyright © 2016 Dawn Anna Williamson. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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