Recently divorced, 40-something single-mom, Lucy, is lonely, bored and craving physical connection. So, when her trusted long-time married friend, Nancy, begs Lucy to sleep with her husband to save her marriage, Lucy goes for it. It's such a success, the two friends invent a town-wide underground barter system whereby Nancy's married girlfriends sub-contract Lucy's divorcee friends to sleep with their husbands so they don't have to as often. It's a win, win, win- for a while. Then it all goes to hell in a hand-basket.
Laugh-out-loud funny, emotionally provocative and at times racy, Nookietown is a story of risk-taking, marriage, honesty and desire, and what one woman rationalizes in order to get what she wants.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
V.C. Chickering has written for Comedy Central, MTV, Lifetime, TLC, Discovery, NickMom and Oxygen television networks as well as for BUST, Cosmo, and The Washington Post magazines. She's written screenplays; has a local newspaper column entitled, Pith Monger; and a blog. She lives in New Jersey with her family where she also writes and performs witty, original songs for the alt-bluegrass/indi-jazz band, Tori Erstwhile & The Montys. Nookietown is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
By V. C. Chickering
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 V. C. Chickering
All rights reserved.
"I just. Want. To get. Laid," said Lucy. Her married friends hadn't heard her put it quite that way before.
"There are lots of single men out there," said Nancy.
"No, there are not," Lucy shot back. Her voice squeaked with the effort. She was so tired of hearing that phrase she wanted to put a Nerf bullet in her head. She steadied herself then slipped into her teacher voice — frank and authoritative. "There are not scads of smart, attractive, disease-free men out there. That is a myth, my friends, a myth I'm through subscribing to. There are, in fact, very few. I just want sweaty sex with a killer orgasm and oxytocin coursing through my body. I want to be out of my conscious mind and feel alive and connected to another adult. I want my neurons high-fiving each other. Then, after I get my rocks off, I want to walk away. No laundry, or bitching about the gutters, or would you please turn off the game and help me with whatsis. None of that. No strings attached. I just want a nice roll in the hay — about once a week would probably do it. Twice would be ideal. By someone kind. And hot. And ideally funny and smart. But I'll settle for kind. And smart. No, hot and funny. No, funny and fit. And smart. Just not a slob, please."
"You sound like a hormonal teenage boy," said Nancy.
"Exactly. But without the acne."
"You could have sex with Duncan," said Gina. "It would be nice to get a break once in a while." Nancy looked over at Gina incredulously. Gina was texting, totally blasé. She looked up. "What?" Gina said. "The incessant pawing in the morning gets old."
"You mean at like 6 A.M.?" said Nancy.
"Hate it. Poke, poke," said Gina. She looked over at Lucy. "Can I send Duncan over to you before work?"
"Sure," said Lucy, "how's about Thursdays?"
"Deal," said Gina.
"Sign Ted up, too," said Nancy. "I love the guy but it's nonstop, and by the end of the day I'm wiped. I can't take the guilt."
"Fine. I'll take Ted every other Wednesday night at 8:30, after Gus is in bed asleep."
"I'll pencil that in," said Nancy.
"What should I wear?" asked Lucy.
Gina said, "Something trashy. Duncan loves all that French boudoir bullcrap but won't admit it. Do you own garters?"
Lucy said, "No, but I bet that place in Penn Station has them."
Nancy looked aghast. "Okay, enough kidding around," she said in all earnestness, "this is making me uncomfortable."
"It's fine, Nance, we're just joking," said Lucy.
"I'm not," said Gina matter-of-factly, looking up from her phone. "When do we start?"
"I think it's wrong to be talking so flippantly about infidelity," said Nancy.
"It's not infidelity if the wife's in control," said Lucy.
"I still don't think it's anything to joke about, with 20 percent of husbands cheating —"
"And 20 percent of wives cheating," added Gina.
Nancy continued, "— and everyone prowling around Facebook, looking up old flames, not to mention the 50 percent divorce rate —"
"Actually," Gina said, "they say it's higher but the government doesn't want us to know, because a healthy economy depends on people getting married."
"I read that somewhere, too," said Lucy. "It's all wrapped up in real estate and home goods and services. Something about selling more wall paint and vacuum cleaners and keeping landscapers and furnace-repair guys employed."
Gina said, "Our whole economy is tied up in people thinking it's a good idea to get married and buy a house. The real estate industry subsists on it."
"You're wrong," said Nancy.
Gina said, "We're not saying people shouldn't fall in love and buy a house and a vacuum and have a family. We're just saying that they don't need to get married to do that."
Lucy added, "Yeah, maybe there should be a ten-year lease renewal program instead. Every ten years you get to decide whether to renew each other or move on."
"Are you shitting me?" railed Nancy. She ripped her bread in half, then in half again. "Marriage is not a car-lease agreement! And I don't think it's anything to joke about. It's hard enough!" With that the table fell silent. Forks were adjusted and wine was sipped. Sitting positions shifted. Lucy reached over to touch Nancy's arm, but Nancy moved it away before she could. Gina looked at Nancy and spoke evenly, so as not to come off as patronizing. "Everything okay with you and Ted?" she said.
"Everything's fine," Nancy shot back, then stopped herself. "We're in a rut, but we've had them before. We'll be fine." Lucy took notice of her change in tone.
"Okay, good," said Lucy. "You know you can always tell us if —"
"I know," said Nancy, "I know, thanks. Let's skip it."
* * *
The maitre d' asked if they wanted more white wine. An oblong lighting fixture hung beneath a hand-woven fishing net, and a red polyester napkin, which had been folded like a teepee, still sat untouched at Kit's place setting. This was a two-fork Italian joint, Lucy thought, so Gina must have chosen the restaurant. Gina Martell had married Duncan Cho — a corporate attorney — and she herself was in maritime law, one of many degrees. Lawyers marrying lawyers, Lucy thought, shouldn't work in theory, but their marriage was solid and Lucy considered theirs the gold standard. After fourteen years and two kids, Duncan was still mad about Gina's quick wit, slow smile and chunky glasses frames. She was a little odd, which Lucy valued in any woman, and was rarely fazed by anything, which was comforting in a friend. Duncan was so flabbergasted that he caught such a dish, he would tell anyone outright, "I'm the luckiest bastard," then shake his head in wonderment. Gina agreed and loved him right back. They rarely bickered, occasionally fought, and always made each other laugh.
Nancy's marriage to Ted was something else entirely.
"Well," began Lucy, "Kit is going to be late —"
Gina interrupted, "Again."
"Something about one of her kids finding a pack of bubble gum and a Sharpie."
"Yikes," said Nancy, and made an uh-oh face. She was quick to rebound in social situations.
Lucy said, "Gina, did I hear you got another lawyer promotion?"
"A lawyer promotion," said Nancy. "Is that like a teacher promotion?"
"I get a private plane with my name stenciled on the side," Gina said, texting.
"Yup, just like a teacher promotion," said Lucy.
"I should have gone to business school," said Nancy.
"It's the least they can do for those poor lawyers," said Lucy.
"To lawyers," Lucy and Nancy said, raising their glasses. Gina looked up.
Lucy said, "May God bless their sweet, generous, selfless souls —"
"That's enough, it's just a change in title," said Gina, and she went back to texting.
Nancy said, "When do I get a stay-at-home mom promotion?"
"Never," Lucy and Gina said simultaneously.
Lucy leaned towards Nancy and spoke with a singsong lilt, "Don't worry if your work is small and your rewards are few, remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you."
"Thanks," Nancy said. "Emily Dickinson?"
"Right," said Nancy, then she proceeded with the monthly update. "Kit apparently has bunions. Or hammertoe, maybe. We're still not sure. She'll clarify when she gets here."
Lucy said, "She may need minor surgery, according to Nurse Nancy." Nancy Brisbane had applied and been accepted to business school before switching to nursing to appease her parents' financial scenario. She was an ER nurse before quitting to have her three kids and the most seemingly responsible of the group — not that all nurses weren't a little batty, they were, and Nancy had stories to prove it. She'd met Ted right after nursing school in a summer group share at the Jersey Shore. Both tall and blond, they made a striking couple — Nordic stunners. Ted had skipped college to take over his dad's lucrative car dealership and was a good guy, and that's all anyone ever said about him. Their marriage always seemed status quo and Nancy rarely discussed it.
Nancy asked, "Lucy, how's your electrolysis coming along?"
"Oh, swimmingly, thanks for asking. I'm almost done."
"You're still not done, yet?!" said Gina.
"No," said Lucy, "I've been blessed with tenacious upper-thigh hair, but thanks for your concern."
"But you're so fair. Aren't you, like, Danish or something?" said Gina, looking up from her phone.
Lucy said, "Half Danish, half Italian. The Danes have pubic hair, too, you know."
"Viking pubic hair," said Gina. "I'm full Italian and I haven't had the electrolysis odyssey you've had."
"Some girls are just lucky," said Lucy. "What about you, Gina. What are your unmentionable health issues of late?"
"Same old herpes cold sore b.s.," said Gina. "And the damn dog ate my good underwear. Surgery was beyond expensive."
"You had surgery for your herpes?"
"No, the dog needed surgery to remove the underwear."
"You've got to get rid of that friggin' dog," said Nancy, half serious.
"I can't. Our kids' favorite babysitter died," Gina said, as if that explained everything. Lucy and Nancy looked at her blankly.
"How come you never see these conversations on TV?" Nancy said.
"You have to ask?" said Lucy.
"I'm just sayin' that in the movies women either have cancer or the flu. But nothing in between, nothing embarrassingly lame."
"At least we're not discussing our kids' sports schedules," said Gina.
Lucy said, "Yeah, kill me now. Is our pact still in effect?"
"Now and forever. No one's mentioned their kids yet, have they?"
"No, thank God," Nancy said, and exhaled, visibly relieved, "I couldn't take it."
Lucy said, "Nance, I mean it, are you okay?"
Before Nancy could answer, Kit arrived at the table breathless, and by way of greeting said, "Bunions."
Gina said, "That answers that."
"Still?" Lucy said.
"No, they were gone and now they're back," said Kit as she hung her coat on her chair, put her napkin in her lap, and swigged from the glass of pinot grigio they'd ordered her. Then Kit sighed, looked around the table, and asked, "What'd I miss?"
In unison, the other three said, "Nothing."CHAPTER 2
The waiter arrived to take their order. As the women took turns asking him about various dressings, substitutions and sauces on the side, Lucy couldn't stop herself from fantasizing about him. It was reflexive now, since her divorce. Like a tic she had no control over. Life as a third-grade schoolteacher had its rewards, but adult-male connection was not among them. Nor was adult excitement, adult risk, or anything very adult for that matter. So, she fantasized. Plus she knew that ordering would take a while.
The waiter was not hot by most people's standards. In fact, he wasn't much of anything. But he had a nice ass and strong hands. Lucy didn't actually know if they were strong — they were only holding a pen and a pad of paper — but she liked to think they were. She liked his eyebrows and decided he was probably Slavic. He had piercing blue eyes that had possibly witnessed stuff she'd only watched on the History Chanel. He was probably in his late forties, but looking around at her other options on the waitstaff, she decided he would do. She asked him his name after she ordered. He smiled a lackluster smile and said, "Sergei."
Telling her friends she'd be right back, Lucy slid out of the banquette and edged between a chair and Sergei's butt, slowing down to gently graze up against him as she passed. When she cleared his body, she glanced back over her shoulder with the best Brazilian-model-in-an-aftershave-commercial look she could muster. Lucy caught his eye as he looked over at her. He was game, all right, so Lucy invited her imagination to take over.
While she peed, she looked at the sink and pictured Sergei hoisting her up onto it. She fantasized about him inching up her skirt — like she had done to her long ago in college-dorm bathrooms — and finding Sergei's cock bouncing erect under his white apron like a friendly ghost. She imagined him pulling her underpants to the side, licking his finger, and finding her swollen, wet and ready. She would clasp her hands behind his neck as he slipped inside her, filling her completely, flushing her body with radiant heat. Lucy's lower body tensed just thinking about the possibilities as she washed her hands. She imagined wrapping her legs around Sergei's waist, locking her ankles before pulling him in deeper. She closed her eyes to savor the fantasy, the hand soap sliding between her fingers. Maybe Sergei would grab her ass as they moved against the sink in slow, steady strokes. Maybe Lucy would break the sink and land in a pile of porcelain and broken bits of tile, then have to explain it to her horrified girlfriends, and reimburse management. Oh, Sergei. Oh, brother. "What a great penis," she'd say to herself later, and she'd tip him an extra five. Seems only fair.
Lucy made her way back to the table, half-disappointed that this little coin -operated joyride of hers was over. She wished she could masturbate but would settle for a hot meal. It ran a close second to a hot quickie.
"You fall in?" Kit said to Lucy.
"Hardy-har," answered Lucy. "What'd I miss?"
Nancy said, "Well, Gina, hasn't stopped texting during our wine course, which leads me to believe she's still —"
"Oh, c'mon, Nance," said Gina.
Lucy caught on. "You are not still texting that guy. I thought that was work-related."
"If you consider the dick-photo guy work," said Kit.
"His name is Carlos," said Gina.
"Oh, okay, excuse me, Carlos the Dick-Photo Guy."
"C'mon," said Gina, but even she knew it was absurd that she was still texting him. Six months ago she got a text of a guy's penis. He thought he was sending it to this girl he met in a bar the night before (he was twenty-two) but it accidentally ended up on Gina's phone. At first she reprimanded him, but he apologized right away and was so contrite and seemingly earnest that she continued texting him. She told him that the kind of girl who would enjoy a photo of a guy-she'd-just-met's dick isn't the right girl for him and that he should have higher standards. Gina's nurturing mother side had been activated, and now she felt it was incumbent upon her to fix this young man and cure him of his poor upbringing before releasing him back into the world at large. She counseled him on where to apply to community colleges and what classes to take. She patiently described what he should look for in a girlfriend and how he should behave. Who knows how many texts and how much time Gina had invested in this kid. Her own kids were younger and their problems were simpler. Carlos needed her mentorship. Gina was embarrassed but couldn't help it. She also thought it was harmless.
"You gonna send the kid to graduate school?" said Kit.
"I might," said Gina. "He wants to become a lawyer."
"Uhhhhh," they all groaned.
"I'm just kidding. Jeez, you guys, whaddaya take me for?"
"A compulsive fixer," said Nancy.
"What about you, Lucy? How's the scintillating singles life of dating?" said Gina.
"Well, as you all well know, there is no one out there to fix me up with, otherwise you would have all done it by now, right?"
"Right," they said.
Lucy had been nagging them to fix her up since she became separated. Apparently any guy never married by this point was damaged goods, or way beyond the acceptable limits of damaged.
"Unless you'd like to date some award-winning basket cases," Gina said. "'Cause I can put you in touch with the dregs."
"No thank you, but thanks for asking," Lucy said. "I just don't have the kind of time you need to devote to online dating. Sifting through all those inappropriate quotes and ellipses used to separate every thought is a friggin' buzzkill. Why does a guy write that he 'likes'" — Lucy used air quotes — "to go canoeing?"
"But, Lucy," said Kit, "you don't give a shit about canoeing."
"Well, I might if the guy didn't use 'inappropriate' quotes." Lucy used air quotes again.
Gina said, "Wait, you just —"
"I know. I did it on purpose. See how annoying it is? And then he spells 'canoeing' wrong. How does a guy misspell his favorite pastime?! Makes me nutty. I can't be bothered. Plus there's still a world of STDs out there. Herpes is on the rise — no offense, Gina."
"None taken. Plus the dangerous sickos," said Gina.
"Yes, let's not forget the dangerous sickos. And to be honest, I just want to get laid."
Gina turned to Kit.
"You missed her speech."
Kit rolled her eyes.
"Oh, I've heard it."
Lunch arrived and Lucy waited for Sergei to leave the table before continuing. "In my fantasies I'm a total sex addict — compulsive and indiscriminate. But in my real life I'm being picky because I don't want just any oaf muscling in on my new life. I'm finally in a good place. I know that sounds a little mixed -messagey."
"Ya think?" said Gina.
"I know you, and you're not a sex addict, my friend," said Nancy, "You have your urges under control, don't you? Unless there's something you're not telling us ..."
"No, there's nothing. It's boring. Just years of fantasizing about consensual vanilla sex and the average amount of masturbating."
Kit looked at Nancy.
"What's the average amount of —"
Nancy said, "Later."
Excerpted from Nookietown by V. C. Chickering. Copyright © 2016 V. C. Chickering. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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