Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. and Robin Personette
CHAPTER ONE – THE MELTDOWN
The story begins with a phone call from Robin. She and I had been working together in therapy for almost ten years. She usually didn’t call between sessions, partly because she was very aware of and careful about boundaries, but also because severe anxiety about making phone calls was one of her symptoms. If she ever called it was only to reschedule an appointment, which was a rare occurrence.
“I’m not doing well. Can I see you sometime today or tomorrow?” Robin asked. I was stunned. This was huge. She had never been this blunt about feeling bad, or this direct about asking to see me.
“What’s going on?” I asked, trying to hide my surprise.
“I don’t want to talk about it right now. I’ll explain when I see you,” she said. Her voice sounded flat, like she was depressed, which was typical for her at that time. She did not sound overly distressed.
“I’m booked today, but have an opening tomorrow at noon,” I said. “Is that soon enough? Are you okay?”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll be okay,” she replied with her voice continuing to sound flat. In retrospect I should have canceled my other clients and squeezed her in that day, knowing how significant it was for her to make this request. But, she said she would be okay. I knew her well and trusted her to be honest with me.
At that time Robin was a 36-year-old, single woman who lived alone and worked as a case manager at a mental health agency in a neighboring county. I was a busy psychologist in the prime of my career, working at a large community mental health center with a full caseload of adult therapy clients. When I walked toward the waiting room at noon the day after her unusual phone call, I knew Robin would be there. She was always on time for her appointments. Always.
When I saw her I immediately knew something was very wrong. Robin was sitting with her head in her hands, looking exhausted. After she got into my office and started talking, I immediately noticed her speech was slurred. She looked very anxious with her leg vigorously bouncing, a sign of her significant anxiety I had seen many times before. I asked what had happened that led to her call the previous day.
“I went to work Monday morning and got a voice mail from my boss,” she said. “She had left it on Friday afternoon. She was saying what a good job I do and how valuable a team member I am, and how important my contributions are. It made me start crying and I couldn’t stop.” Robin said she told a co-worker she wasn’t feeling well and then just went home.
Robin had been depressed for the previous year. I knew she had not been sleeping well, and I knew she had been having suicidal thoughts. Her psychiatrist and I had been trying different medication options to get her significant depression under control, without much success. It had been frustrating for all of us, since medication is usually an effective form of treatment for depression, and Robin had always responded well to antidepressant medications in the past.
You’ve taken the first step to grabbing hold of the reins of your sex life – so good on you! Now it’s time for the fun stuff…
LOVE, it’s the universal language, but so is SEX. And sex can be so much fun!
Throughout the ages, sexuality has been repressed and exploited. This book is about finding the happy medium, and getting your groove back in the bedroom, and on the couch, and on the kitchen bench…you get the picture. Everyone falls in love at some point in their lives. But, like it or not, love isn’t enough to maintain a long-term relationship. Sorry! You
have to have great sex too, and often! And no, ladies, once a month is not often. And men, women need more than the offer
of a full body massage to be turned on – they know just what you’re thinking. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Remember your first kiss where the world faded away and your entire body tingled? When you thought you could never feel so in love, so sexually attracted, so passionately head over heels ever again. If you could bottle that feeling and sell it, you’d be a squillionaire! Because sadly, in 99% of cases, once the “honeymoon” period is over and the reality of life kicks back in, that raging inferno of passion, the one where you wanted to tear each others clothes off with every opportunity you got, the batteries are going flat. Eventually, even that torchlight seems to go out, leaving the relationship in darkness. This
This leaves some partners frustrated and wondering why they’re not “getting it” much anymore (other than their birthdays and at Christmas) and leaves others wondering if they’re ever going to lust for sex again.
Don’t lose faith. Not all is lost. You can have your cake (be in love) and eat it too (have mind-blowing, knock-your-socks-off
sex). All it’s going to take is for you, and your partner, to follow the Sex-Steps, Sextion by Sextion, and give every Sex-Step you choose to act out your full, whole-hearted effort. You ready for the ride of your life? Was that a yes? I thought so…great; it’s the first step!
A Gruesome Discovery
Duncan adjusted his kilt, nervous energy threatening to overtake his calm exterior. He stepped on the rubbery hose just as the thing moved, wrapping itself around his foot. Teetering, he tried to keep his balance as a wave of dread engulfed him. Without thinking, he held his breath as a means to obliterate the strong odor of wet hay and animal that permeated the air and filled his nostrils.
“Step on the tusk, Sahib!” the boy yelled, tempering his strained tone with a forced smile. The lad’s words triggered the expulsion of air from his lungs, and he gasped for breath, trying to quell his alarm and remember the instructions given to him moments before. Instead, he panicked as the beast’s trunk shifted, and he grasped the animal’s long ivory tooth, clinging for dear life. He never should have agreed to this. The creature had finished off one person already. A barrage of encouragement from others had persuaded him that he’d been given a unique opportunity, something no one present would ever forget, a welcome distraction from morbid thoughts that might taint the occasion.
The pleats on the side of his kilt flounced as the elephant boosted him higher, forcing him to bend at the waist while still clutching a tusk. Compelled to release his hold on the ivory or risk falling, he leaned into the monster and grabbed at an enormous ear. The coarse hair on its leathery hide scratched the exposed skin on his leg like steel wool as the behemoth propelled him further into the air.
Oklahoma, January 15
The flabby man had stayed crouched for hours in the same shadowy corner of the library where Isa Telwyn worked, which was odd, because it was obvious that he didn’t know how to read.
The large encyclopedia looked tiny in his huge, warty hands. He hadn’t turned the page since he’d arrived, but he kept peering over the top of the book at Isa like he was trying to figure out if he knew her. But the really strange part was that he didn’t seem to realize he was holding the encyclopedia upside down.
Closing time was minutes away, and he didn’t look like he was going anywhere soon. His bulbous body sat folded into a creaky oak chair that strained to hold his mass. The cowboy hat he wore was too small for his round head, but it shaded his face, leaving only an impression of sagging skin, wiry whiskers, and oddly-shaped eyes.
Wind howled outside as the winter storm front closed in. Tiny pellets of ice clicked against glass panes that had protected the books for so long they were rippled with age. The smell of old paper and aging wood wafted through the building as the fierce wind worked its way in through drafty cracks in the aging brick and plaster walls.
The buzzing fluorescent bulbs overhead hadn’t been replaced in years. There weren’t as many as there should have been, thanks to cost-cutting measures, leaving the whole space a labyrinth of shadowy mazes with high bookshelf walls. Even the utilitarian carpet on the floor seemed to absorb light as well as it did sound. Footsteps were muffled, but the creak of aging boards underneath was easy to hear all the way from the back wall to the check-out desk.
Mrs. Bird, the library’s oldest employee, shuffled toward the front desk, eyeing the strange man. Her white hair had thinned, but she still twisted the little wispy bits into a bun that was more bobby pins than hair. She settled her crooked hands on the back of a rickety chair too large for her shrinking frame. “It’s seven,” she said to Isa, confusion clear in her tone. “Why is he still here? Everyone knows we close at seven.”
“I don’t think he’s a local,” Isa said. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “In fact, I don’t think he can read. I bet he’s been sitting over there all day, trying to work up the courage to ask about our classes.”
“Classes are on Saturday. It’s Tuesday.”
Isa stifled a grin at the seriousness of Mrs. Bird’s statement. She’d lived in Silver Gulch her entire life, and after eighty-eight years had a hard time remembering there were other places on the planet where people could exist. This town—this library—was the center of her universe, and Isa feared that if she didn’t get out of here soon, she would end up just like Mrs. Bird sixty years down the line.
The distinct popping sound of gunfire can be heard echoing through the armored and reinforced interior of Air Force one. Four Secret Service agents rush up the stairs into the President’s traveling office at the top of the jets cabin.
The President is pushed through the communications room and into a corner of the lounge just outside the cockpit door. The agents take positions around the room hoping to save the President’s life. Two other people in the office follow protocol and crouch to the sides of the aircraft to stay out of the agents line of fire to the stairs. The third man, General McKinnon draws his own weapon and takes position in line next to the agents. They all await the approaching threat to enter or for the all clear to be given.
“What’s happening out there? Is it terrorists? Did someone sneak on board with the press pool?”
A violent shutter reverberates through the 747 followed by the sudden loss of gravity as the plane begins to quickly descend toward the earth. Shouted warnings are given over the intercom as the President and his men are thrown against the ceiling of the craft.
“Massive depressurization detected. We are making emergency descent to eight thousand feet.”
Immediately after the aircraft begins its controlled fall, the noise of gunfire ends and the clamor of screams and shouting echo up the stairwell to the men. The President watches lead agent Barlow holding his hand to his ear, getting filled in on his earpiece even as he works to steady himself on the ceiling and readies for the gravity to return.
A chill runs along the Presidents spine when he sees the fear etched on the face of this man he thought was made of stone.
“It’s still heading to the President. We have to move him into the cockpit!”
“Get ready Mr. President. The pilot is leveling the plane and will open the cockpit door. As soon as you are inside, they will lock that door, strap you in and we’ll continue our descent.”
There was only one witness, and he was not a good one — the busboy at a new restaurant in the nearby arts colony walking back from the bank. He heard a sudden shout and wheeled just in time to see a large black car accelerate around the corner – “kind of a big SUV, but not as big as a Hummer, maybe a Lincoln” was what he told the patrol cop who first responded to his 9-1-1 call. “It hit the old man right in the center of the front end and sent him flying.”
The old man, Roy Castor, had not been thrown far and with luck he might have survived if he’d been thrown the same direction as his hat, which flew left onto the grassy median. But the impact tossed him to the right like a broken stuffed toy and his head hit the curb with a sickening hollow thud.
“Man, I dropped a melon on the kitchen floor last week and it sounded just like that,” Arturo said, adding his view that the old man was dead when he hit the curb. In fact Roy didn’t draw his final breath for another hour, in the cold and remarkably empty emergency room of Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
“The dude went by real slow and looked at me, ” Arturo told the detective who arrived later. “I don’t think he saw me until after he hit the old man, then he just floored it and screamed around the corner to the right and he was gone. That’s when I ran down to the old man and called you guys.”
Thom Anderson, the Sarasota police detective who had drawn the case, thought it a straightforward hit-and-run. An overpaid and overeducated punk kid, Thom figured, with a job selling insurance or houses or stocks, had run over an old man crossing in the middle of the block, panicked, and fled. He would probably turn himself in the next morning, ashamed and completely lawyered up, maybe with his equally overpaid father beside him.
His moment of panic would cost him a fine and a few months of probation and might cost him the fancy job. Thom had seen it more and more often as Sarasota had gentrified, and he didn’t like it any better this time than the last.