A scene in my new novel Must Love Fashion takes place on Halloween.
Here’s a sneak peek:
Skye was a genius.
Anyone who planned a garage sale on Halloween really deserved some kind of Mensa prize. And Skye would impress Stephen Hawkins since many of her sale items were things left behind from her ex-boyfriend pop singer Miles Bookman. She fell short of qualifying for a Nobel prize for not advertising that fact.
Skye loved Halloween probably because it gave her the excuse to buy a ridiculous amount of chocolate every year. Gwen, on the other hand treasured the entire fall season for the weather and the wine. “We’re opening that cab-franc after this right?” she whispered after dealing with one of Skye’s neighbors who harassed her to bring a pair of Lucky jeans down from ten dollars to two.
“After? I’m going to get it right now.” Skye jumped out of the metal folding chair and disappeared up the driveway. Her house was a legal two-family. She rented the main floor of the turn-of-the-century colonial to a retired couple who spent months at a time on the road in an RV that was bigger than Gwen’s house. When it was parked in the driveway, it blocked out the sun.
“I don’t think we should be drinking in front of kids,” Gwen said under her breath folding some of Miles’ tee-shirts.
“Trick-or-treat!” shouted two little zombies in store-bought costumes that looked like trash bags colored in with a Sharpie.
“Oooo. Very scary boys,” Gwen said assuming they were boys since every little girl she’d seen today was dressed as Elsa from Frozen.
“Now that’s some costume,” Darling Cove’s most handsome single dad said to her after she tossed several pieces of candy into his sons’ bags. He lived a few houses down from her but since Gwen didn’t have any kids, she never crossed paths with the man.
Gwen handed the dad his own piece of candy. “Well they didn’t have the zombie costumes in my size.” Still, her tall black witches hat, the wildly inappropriate lace mermaid dress and bright green eye-shadow swept across her cheeks turned plenty of heads that afternoon.
“Boys, wait for me at the end of the driveway,” he said to the elementary school kids digging through their bags, anxious to get to their spoils. He looked back with a smile. “Jen, right? Do you want to get a cup of coffee or a drink later?”
“It’s Gwen. And Lisa Connors tried to fix us up over the summer. You told her I wasn’t your type.” She fingered the tattered witch’s hat. “This is your type?”
“Gwen, sorry.” He cleared his throat. “Come on, you’re divorced. You know how hard it is. I wasn’t ready.”
Gwen folded her arms. As her neighbor he must have seen Dan come and go. And therefore he must have also noticed the missing Mercedes as well. What zombie dad perhaps didn’t count on was that Gwen noticed things too. “Oh really. EA week after that, I saw the High School principal leaving your house early in the morning.”
She waved him away, no long feeling guilty that Skye had been giving out candy from last year.
The crowd lingering in front of Andrew’s door drew immediate alarm.
As the scene became clearer he noticed several children in costumes. Halloween. He didn’t have any candy. He hated when that holiday fell on a weekend.
But the way the mothers were looking at him, he didn’t think they wanted fun size chocolate treats.
“There he is!” One of the women said eyeing him like they wanted fun with him.
The kids turned around at the same time and in a creepy harmonized whine, shouted Trick or Treat!
This was going to be bad. To start he was a mess. He ran a few extra miles on the treadmill and even he could smell his own body odor. Next, he had no clue how to handle the situation and suddenly felt really sorry for single dads who probably had to put up with this all the time. Smile, he told himself as he got closer.
Maybe the smell will drive them all away, he thought as he addressed the group. “Hey guys. Nice costumes.”
“I’m Elsa,” one of the little girls said immediately pushing her way to the front. “She’s Anna. But everyone knows Elsa is the best.”
“I see,” Andrew answered clueless who the little girl was talking about. But since they each had on what looked like princess costumes and since he’d seen many little girls walking to school all year long wearing princess dresses, it was quite possible these were their everyday clothes and those were the girls’ first names.
“Now Catelyn, I told you about saying things like that,” a mother clawed her way out of the circle. “Hi, Andrew right?”
Shit, they know my name. “Yes. Hi.”
“We didn’t want you to feel left out.” Another mother knocked Stephanie out of the way and smothered his sweaty hands with hers. “I’m Teresa, nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you.” Not really.
“Oh and I’m Erica.” This mother grabbed his hand out of Teresa’s.
A symphony of other names crashed over him, Stephanie, Marcus, Travis, Sophie, Marianne, Chase and Dylan, a dog dressed like a pumpkin. He would never remember all of these names and now when he saw these women his usual casual glances and chin bobbing would be considered rude. “It’s nice to meet all of you. I’m sorry you’ve caught me unprepared. I’ve been out of the country and—”
“You work for Prada right?” Stephanie asked.
“Uh yeah.” Now Andrew became nervous. No man who watched Fatal Attraction would ever underestimate a woman’s ability to go to extreme lengths to get what she wants.
“Is this Prada?” Teresa glided a finger against his chest.
He stepped back. “No, Prada doesn’t make tee-shirts.”
“Well they should,” Erica said and then discretely licked her lips.
“Yeah, if they did they would cost six hundred dollars,” said the only woman who wasn’t looking at him with lust. “You have a lot of nerve what you charge for those clothes.”
“Marianne, that’s not polite,” Teresa said and then turned to him shaking her head like she had been in on the joke that only the two of them understood.
Andrew drew a deep breath. “Okay ladies and kids . . . and pumpkin dog, I’ve just come back from the gym. I would really like to get inside to clean up.” He jingled his keys in the hope they would move along and stop blocking his door.
“We’re having a small party in my apartment in about an hour,” Erica said touching him again. “Come by and have some fun. I’m in 3F.”
Now he remembered her. He’d seen her in the lobby with her husband. Great, that was all he needed. “Thank you but I have some work I need to do. Perhaps if you come back tomorrow I can have some candy.”
“He doesn’t even have any candy?” a boy dressed like Batman, the dark knight version cried out. “What kind of bullshit is this?”
“Travis!” Teresa cried out, blushing. “That is unacceptable language. We talked about this.”
“Will you have some candy in ten minutes?” Elsa demanded.
Andrew smiled, pleased he now knew how to get rid of the them. “No.”
The kids stomped away complaining while their child-worshipping mothers ran after them.
Andrew unlocked his door praying there wasn’t a rabbit in boiling water on his stove.