Thursday Sampler: Play It Again, Sam by Maryann Miller
March 3, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Play Again, Sam by Maryann Miller. It is the story of woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down, and she struggles to make herself whole again. Is an unexpected love the answer?
As one Reviewer said: Without being melodramatic as so often happens, Miller tells the story that so many women have lived… going through an unexpected divorce and rebuilding thereafter. It’s realistic and believable as Sam works her way through the many conflicts she experiences.
Life as she knows it ceases to exist for Samantha Rutgers when her husband of twenty-plus years decides he no longer loves her. The challenges are myriad. Can she build a life without him? Will her daughter always blame her? Can she ever trust a man again?
And what is she going to do about sex?
Sam never suspected there was anything wrong between her and John. Sure, the sex was scarce, but they weren’t newlyweds anymore. And if communication was suffering, it was only because John was working so much. She never dreamed it would come to this. Which is why their daughter, Melissa, blames Sam for the split. If she’d paid more attention, she would have noticed that Daddy was unhappy.
The estrangement with Melissa devastates Sam almost as much as the divorce. It seems her only allies are her son, Eric, and her long-time friend, Margaret, who encourages Sam to come to Dallas after the divorce is final.
With Margaret’s prodding, Sam returns to college to finish the art degree she put on hold so many years ago. She takes a job as a receptionist at a small ad agency that offers potential for a creative role when she finishes college. And she meets Frank Reynolds, the head of Marketing and Public Relations for J.C. Penny.
Definitely not enjoying the forced celibacy of the past six months, Sam has an immediate physical reaction to this charming man with silver hair, but needs battle with an older value system that took her to her wedding night as a virgin.
Sam’s breath caught in her throat and her voice broke, “John, you can’t be serious.”
“But a divorce! How can you…?”
He shifted his gaze, fingering the pages of a magazine on the counter. Watching the pages flutter with a soft whoosh, she saw life as she knew it slipping away.
“John! Talk to me.”
“Please. Don’t make this any harder-”“What?” She didn’t even try to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “I should make it easy? You walk in here and end our marriage as casually as… as…” Emotion choked her and she took an angry swipe at the tears searing her cheeks.
“I didn’t want it to be this way.”
Sam took a deep breath. “Then why is it happening?”
A long, thin silence followed.
“Is there someone else?” she asked, barely having the courage to hear the answer.
The denial came quickly. Too quickly?
“Don’t lie, John. Whatever you do, don’t lie.”
“I’m not. I swear.” He shifted his weight and looked away.
“Then talk to me,” she implored. “Tell me how we reached this point and I didn’t even have a clue.”
“It just happened.” He glanced at her, then away again. “I don’t know. One day I just knew I wasn’t happy anymore.”
Sam stared in disbelief. He was having a mid-life crisis? They used to laugh at people who let their lives fall apart like this.
“That isn’t a reason. It’s an excuse,” she said. “There has to be something else.”
“I told you there isn’t.” John raised his head in defiance and their eyes locked until Sam felt her composure about to crumble. The deep brown eyes that used to melt her heart now chilled her. Everything about him seemed to be changing. The square jaw she used to find strong and attractive was now hard and unyielding. And when had his hair thinned to mere wisps?
Feeling like she’d entered some strange time-warp, Sam shook her head in an effort to bring back the real John. It didn’t work. A stranger still stood in front of her.
“It’s not your fault.”
His words focused her wandering mind.
“It’s me,” he continued. “I should have told you sooner. It was cruel to keep living a lie.”
Slowly, she sank into a nearby chair as a new wave of pain washed over her. Did he mean their whole life had been a lie? A game?
This didn’t happen to couples like them. It happened to people who had nothing in common. People who cheated. Argued. Screamed at each other. Not to people who’d lived over twenty-five years together in relative harmony.
Sam felt the pain burning inside, rising and swelling like some alien invader. She wondered if it would tear her apart and scatter her in little pieces across the freshly scrubbed floor.