Under the name of Spice, she was the biggest thing in X-rated films. Under the name of Liz Carter, she's now kicked her deadbeat boyfriend, her career, and Los Angeles to the curb.
After surviving cancer, Liz is back in her native New York City, launching a new life as a graphic designer and single mother to a young son. Relationship-wise, she's staying solo and loving it. Plus, she has everything she needs in the group known as FATE, whose members offer each other empathy and support when it comes to overcoming an "exploitable" past.
But then someone new joinsa former male stripper with a sexy Irish brogue who has Liz reconsidering her future, and feeling attractive for the first time since her diagnosis. Sean O'Malley now runs an afterschool program for kids. He likes what he's found in FATEand what he sees in its sharp and stimulating leader. But Sean has a bigger secret than he's letting on. There's a part of his past he's not ready to share with anyone. And the harder he falls for Liz, the more he fears that coming clean could break the heart of the woman he loves.
About the Author
Jenna Jameson is a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and devoted mother of two. She has been on Oprah, featured in Forbes and appeared in over a hundred movies, televisions shows, and music videos. Her biography How to Make Love Like a Porn Star was an instant New York Times bestseller, selling more than a quarter of a million copies and published in more than a dozen countries.
Jamie K. Schmidt is a USA Today bestselling author and writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances.
Read an Excerpt
By Jenna Jameson, Jamie K. Schmidt
Skyhorse PublishingCopyright © 2014 Jenna Jameson and Jamie K. Schmidt
All rights reserved.
Liz Carter knew all about feigning enthusiasm. She used to be the double-D diva "Spice," an international porn star and jet-setting party girl, after all. But after an unplanned pregnancy and nine years of raising her sweet little boy, it all seemed like a crazy erotic dream that had happened to someone else.
But faking orgasms was nothing compared to keeping her game face on while listening to this Common Core nonsense. She sat at a round chipped table in Jonathan's elementary school cafeteria during the monthly PTA meeting. The budget cuts were apparent in the shabby room. The setting sun cast a gloomy pall over the dirty, graffiti-stained walls. Shifting to get comfortable in the hard plastic chair, Liz looked around at the other parents. Some were listening intently to the droning voice of the principal, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Others were texting or playing games on their phones. Was she the only one pissed off about this new school curriculum? While she agreed with the basic concept, Liz thought the rollout was a clusterfuck. Typos, directions written at a higher level than where the kids were reading, and incorrect answers were just the beginning of all that was wrong with the program.
When her third grader had said to her, "Mommy, I'm dumb. I don't get this. I hate school," that was the last straw.
Liz indicated to the moderator that she wanted to say something. When her turn came around, she wiped her sweaty palms on her Anne Klein thrift store-find pants. No one was going to make her little boy feel stupid.
"This came home the other day." Liz waved his homework sheet. "The math equation reads: 3 + 10 = 9 + 2 and has two circles under the two for factoring. Thirteen doesn't equal eleven! Can we have a base for accuracy first, before we build on wrong information?"
The other parents murmured their agreement. Liz felt some of the tension ease from her shoulders. Maybe she wasn't going all "Tiger Mom" for nothing. The runner with the microphone brought the paper up to the principal, who squinted at the work. "Yes, your son should have put a one in each of the circles. Then draw a ten frame with nine dots colored in. One dot not colored in and then one dot on the outside of the box." He then beamed out at the crowd.
Liz wasn't the only one slack-jawed. The group of disgruntled parents waited for the principal to realize what he said had made no sense to the adults in the room, never mind the third graders. Closing her eyes, she tried to see it his way. She was reminded of the old joke, "I'm trying to see it from your point of view, but I can't get my head that far up my ass." Wiping the smirk off her face, she concentrated. It took a moment. She finally got the process, but didn't understand how it promoted learning. Opening her eyes, Liz continued. "I don't think you understand the frustration involved. My son knows his arithmetic. Up until this year, he loved school. These worksheets are counterintuitive, and they're making him dread going to class."
There was a splattering of applause that straightened Liz's spine. It was good to be in the spotlight again and even better to be wearing clothes. The principal harrumphed and went on about more parent training and how he stood by the curriculum and yadda, yadda, yadda.
I tried, baby.
Liz knew when to quit. She balled up the math paper when it came back to her and tossed it in the trash on her way out. If her cancer treatment hadn't knocked out most — all — of her savings, Liz would consider sending him to a private school. But she needed to start saving for college, now, if she wanted her nine-year-old to have a chance at higher education.
It was almost enough to consider going back into the business. Adjusting the strap on her plain white bra, Liz inwardly cringed. Even with the reconstructive surgery, her breasts wouldn't even get her a fluffer position in the industry — making sure the actors were-ahem-up for their scenes when needed.
Her best friend, Sarah, smacked her when Liz told her what she thought of them. The scars were badges of honor, Sarah had said. She earned them through puking and persevering through the worst of the chemo.
"Liz, can I ask you something?"
Looking over her shoulder, she saw Damien's mother — what the hell was her name? Judith, Joy ... crap. Liz plastered on an expectant smile but kept walking through the heavy double doors. Would this be the moment she got outed as a porn star? She had cut her hair and the double mastectomy had drastically reduced the size of her breasts, but she still feared that one day one of these urban Mommies would realize she used to fuck on camera and her son's life would change.
Judith/Joy caught up with her and matched her stride down the wide cement stairs. "I was wondering ..."
Here it comes. Liz wondered how far she'd get on plausible deniability. She hadn't been a bad actress. Should she go for offended? How dare you suggest such a thing? What kind of a pervert are you? Maybe if she laughed it off? Yeah, like I'm a porn star.
"We need someone to do the flyers for the Halloween fundraiser. Chloe said you were the absolute best at this. Do you think you could help us out?"
"Of course." Relief shot through her and her knees wiggled a little. Liz wasn't even sure what she just agreed to, and who the hell was Chloe? Reaching into her bag, she pulled out her business card. LIZ CARTER GRAPHIC ARTIST. "Just email me the details."
"Fabulous," Joy/Judith gushed, and squeezed her arm before darting back into the school.
Liz blew out a deep breath. Her cover was safe. If it cost her a little extra time in Photoshop, it was well worth it. Between films, she had taken a slew of computer courses at UCLA, and it was the best thing she had ever done for herself. Her favorite had been learning the Adobe product line. She had lots of practice creating signs, business cards, and website banners for her fellow porn stars. Learning new skills kept her grounded when it seemed her only worth was how fast she could "make those jugs bounce," as one director said. It gave her the confidence that she could have a career that didn't involve anal sex.
But when she came back to New York, pregnant with Jonathan, Liz realized not only did she need another career, but she also needed a village to help raise her son. Or at the very least, some serious emotional support. Steve, Jonathan's father, didn't want the responsibility. Her brother in Kansas had all but written her off for her lifestyle choices, and even though the Bible said hate the sin, not the sinner, his zealot wife wouldn't allow her in their lives. Liz's mother had said she was too young to be a grandmother and that she'd done her bout as a mother and wasn't interested in another rug rat. Liz was on her own.
So she reached out to other men and women like her who were transitioning from adult entertainment back into the real world. The Internet was a wonderful place for making connections. And for every three mean trolls, one genuine person was looking for some comfort and support. From the early bulletin board forums to Facebook, Liz found her people, her village. Networking and going door-to-door to local businesses, she got her first few jobs as a freelance graphic designer. It took her a while to build a clientele, but she earned a reputation for coming through on last minute projects. It helped that being pregnant with Jonathan had made her so sick, she was up at all hours of the night.
But her little boy was worth it. He was the joy in her life. And she would do anything for him — including fighting pseudo-intellectuals who had their heads up their collective asses about education. After her cancer battle, the school district should be a cakewalk.
"I'll deal with it later," Liz thought, easing into the New York City sidewalk traffic like the native she was.
Her cancer was in remission and Jonathan was so damn smart, they'd get through this. She just hated disappointing him. Liz texted their downstairs neighbor Mrs. Ritter, who assured her that he was busy playing on the iPad Sarah and her husband, Cole, gave him for Christmas. Mrs. Ritter would soon put Jonathan to bed and then watch her shows on Liz's old TV.
"It's good you have a date," the sweet old woman had said as Liz kissed her son goodnight earlier that evening.
"It's not a date," Liz had laughed, squeezing in one last hug as Jonathan squirmed. "I'm going to yell at the school system and then I'm going out for coffee with a potential client."
That wasn't exactly the truth, but Mrs. Ritter would've had kittens if Liz told her she was meeting a former male stripper. But she had made a point to dress up more than she usually did. Money was tight and her clothes these days were more Walmart than Neiman Marcus, which differed greatly compared to how she used to shop when she got a fat check from her producer. Before it was "let's hit the mall instead of doing laundry." Nowadays, she haunted thrift stores and street markets for vintage couture at a bargain price. Usually, she came up empty, but every now and then, she hit pay dirt. The outfit she was wearing today was a Chanel wool skirt that ended a little bit above her knees. Her blouse was a crisp pink Lands End cotton button down she bought at Sears on the clearance rack. Finishing off the outfit were her chocolate-colored knee-high boots, which she bought full price on Rodeo Drive during flusher times. Slipping her phone back in her pocket, Liz darted across the busy street before the walk sign changed.
She was meeting Sean O'Malley at Nosh, one of her favorite neighborhood cafes. Sean, if he could be trusted, was looking for some help staying out of the business.
There wasn't a lot of support for former adult entertainers — even in Manhattan — so Liz made her own: FATE. Faith, Acceptance, Trust, and Enlightenment. In the beginning, she had spent a lot of time weeding out the wannabes and the pricks. Now, she maintained a private Facebook page that, while being members only, showed enough of FATE to attract like-minded people.
There was a genuine need to talk with someone who understood how hard it was to transition back to mainstream society. No one else could understand the temptations of quick and easy money versus holding yourself as worthy of a life that didn't revolve around being on your back. Liz learned the lesson long before she lost what her agent used to call her "money makers." And yet, on certain black days, she wondered if she'd ever be attractive to a man again. She was more than the sum of her bra size. Intellectually, she knew that. Sometimes she needed a reminder, though, and that's where FATE came in.
Liz had found a core group of friends in the support group she ran out of her apartment every Monday night. Peter, an ex-prostitute who now worked as a designer for Ralph Lauren, recently married the love of his life, Pol. Brian, a former videographer for a porn site, worked in a garage rebuilding classic cars. Honey, an Audrey Hepburn lookalike, was just starting her photography business and had found happily ever after with her husband, Marc.
At Honey and Marc's wedding, Jonathan had asked her, "When are you going to get married, Mom?" His sweet little boy question stabbed her in the heart.
"Well," Liz had said. "First, I have to get my Fairy Godmother to make me a dress."
"That's Sarah, right?" he had said.
Sarah, her best friend in the world, had also been a world famous porn star. "Sugar" had reinvented herself into a bestselling author and mom. Thanks to her marriage to millionaire Cole A. Canning, Sarah was taking Manhattan by storm.
If anyone fit the bill for Fairy Godmother, it was Sarah. As a matter of fact, Cole's charity sent Liz and Jonathan on an all-expense paid trip to Disney after she got through the cancer treatments and surgery. It had been a magical dream come true. She'd find a way to pay it forward. Someday.
"Then you have to go to the ball and meet Prince Charming," Jonathan had said, unwilling to let the subject drop, even when she had dragged him out on the dance floor.
"I'm not leaving a crystal Louboutin for him to find me," Liz had joked.
Not that she had any more. She sold the last pair on eBay a few months ago when it was time to go school shopping. It wasn't as though she needed a pair of sparkly sandals, but it had hurt all the same.
"No." Jonathan had shook his head with an earnestness that had melted her heart. "Just give him your cell phone number."
If it were only that easy, kid.
Liz got to the coffee house a few minutes early and snagged a booth in the corner. She liked being able to look over the menu. As a vegetarian, she was careful that what she ordered didn't have any animal products in it. She decided on a soy latte and a field green salad and opened her laptop while she waited for the waitress.
About three months ago, Sean O'Malley had sent her a private message wanting to learn more about FATE. They started out just conversing on Facebook and, once he gave her the name of the place he stripped at and his manager confirmed he worked there, Liz gave him her number and they started texting. Sometimes, it was just about silly stuff. Then they graduated to Skype. He was a good-looking guy and fun to talk to. Still, there was something niggling in the back of her mind that something about him was off.
Maybe she was just paranoid, but she kept getting the impression that he had to think too long about his answers. The delay went just a shade beyond being the introvert he claimed to be.
Introverted stripper. Liz snorted.
Scrolling through her emails, she re-read her favorites. Once, when he had been driving through Connecticut, he'd pulled over to take a picture of a highway sign. The sign was a typical "Welcome to name of town." In this case, the name of the town was Mianus.
Sean sent a picture of the sign Welcome to Mianus and a text that said, "Traffic is really bad in Mianus."
For the rest of the day, they had played off that pun. Liz replied back, "I hate it when Mianus is backed up."
And it had devolved from there.
Aside from some bad puns, Sean was always respectful and polite. Any innuendos or crude jokes were harmless and generally self-effacing. During a Skype session, his gaze never wandered from her face. So why hadn't she invited him to the Monday night group yet? Something just didn't jive. Did he do more than strip? It didn't matter to her if he sold his body, but that wasn't the vibe she was getting.
Everybody had secrets to hide and adult entertainers usually had more than most, hence the "a" for acceptance, but she had Jonathan to consider. The main reason she set up a face-to-face meeting was to see if the niggling doubt would go away. If Sean didn't earn her "t" for trust, he wasn't getting anywhere near FATE, her apartment, and her son.
"Thank God, it's Friday!"
Liz blinked up at the whoops and cheers. The businessmen at the next table should have been at a bar instead of a neighborhood joint like this. Liz tried to tune out their loud conversation, but when it turned ugly, she couldn't ignore it.
"Day-um, look at the fun bags on her."
For a moment, Liz bristled. And then she realized they weren't talking about her. While the reconstruction brought her down to a standard B-cup, they were nothing like her money makers had been. Men would walk into lamp posts when she passed them on the street wearing a V-neck sweater. Now, she barely got a double take. In fact, if she had her son with her, men generally avoided making eye contact.
"Do you think they're natural?"
"I think she's going to pop a button."
"I'm popping something."
The poor woman in question was their waitress who, judging by her set jaw, heard every word. "Have you decided?" The waitress asked her, blinking back tears.
Liz placed her order. She had skipped lunch and it was well past dinner. Sean O'Malley was late, and if he was planning on blowing her off, she was going to take advantage of an opportunity for a peaceful meal — one that didn't involve negotiations about eating the final bites of broccoli.
Excerpted from Spice by Jenna Jameson, Jamie K. Schmidt. Copyright © 2014 Jenna Jameson and Jamie K. Schmidt. Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book completely took me by surprise. It was a touching story of survival and learning to live with the past in order to carve out a future. I really felt for Liz and Sean, and their journey through towards healing and understanding was one that I think most people will be able to relate with. An enjoyable read, it's perfect for the beach.