We're are happy to have the lovely Tess Thompson, the author of Duet for Three Hands, with us here today who will share her thoughts on the subject "Am I Dating a Grifter?" and introduce her new book Duet for Three Hands, a standalone historical romance. Enjoy!
Way Too Hot Books Team
Way Too Hot Books Team
* GUEST POST *
Am I Dating a Grifter?
I am a divorced woman in her forties with two girls, ages 8 and 12. I have almost full-time custody of them. This leaves little time for dating, but I’ve managed to do so in the last several years since my divorce. I’ve met most of the men I’ve dated from online sites. The usual suspects, Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid. It would take an entire book to describe the numerous men I’ve met for initial coffee dates, so that will have to wait for my memoirs. Instead, I want to focus on a pattern I’ve observed in many of the men I have met and dated for brief periods of time. I hesitate to write about it, for fear it will make me look bad, but I advise my writing students to delve into the subjects they find hard, so I will take my own advice. Also, when talking this situation over with a friend, she said, quite emphatically, “It’s not you, it’s them.”
I call this pattern of behavior: bad manners, or were you raised by grifters?
It goes like this. I meet said man for a coffee date or a drink. The date goes well. We talk easily. He might make me laugh a time or two. There’s mutual attraction, or enough that I would consider another date. They seem enamored, practically drooling across the table. After I leave the location of the date, I have a text on my phone asking for another date before I even get to my car. He comments on my beauty, my intelligence – sometimes he says things like, you’re the perfect woman, the woman of my dreams, etc. You get the idea. The next day I wake to a text. “Good morning, Beautiful.” He continues sending them throughout the day. “Thinking about you.” Stuff like that. We go on a second date several days later. He hangs on my every word. He tells me he’s taken his profiles down so he can date me exclusively, assuming by the way, that I feel the same. He starts talking about travel he has planned (two months from now) and would I like to go with him?
It continues on like this for several weeks. Constant texts. Nice dinners out. Confessions (by them) that they haven’t felt like this since they first fell in love with their now ex-wife.
And then one day, it might be two weeks in, maybe four weeks, I don’t hear from him again. Just like that, with no warning or explanation, just no further contact. Not another text or phone call. Just nothing but a blank phone screen.
The first time it happened, I was truly hurt. He was the first man I’d dated since my divorce and I thought we really liked one another. I thought he might be rushing it a bit, but I enjoyed his company and thought perhaps it could develop into something meaningful further down the line. So when he disappeared off the face of the earth, I was bewildered. (As a side note, I saw him again on one of the dating sites and, strangely, he’s younger than he was two years ago. If he lies about his age, what else does he lie about?)
Anyway, I licked my wounds and tried again. Since then, it’s happened many more times. The latest was with a man I went on two dates with who texted and called me morning, noon and night for two weeks. Then, one day, when I was away in Florida, I got one last text from him that said he’d touch base later. Well, it’s been two months and I haven’t heard from him, so unless his ‘later’ is quite a bit different than mine, I’m pretty sure I won’t.
Here’s the good news. When I didn’t hear from him again, I could have cared less. I didn’t even blink. I’d kept my distance in a way I never thought I’d be capable of with my soft, vulnerable heart. The red flags were all there and now, after two years of dating, I can see them flapping in the breeze from miles away. I don’t get attached to these idiots. I watch and wait, suspicious right away if they come on strong. As I said to a friend the other day, I think I have post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’m changed. Hardened. I don’t like it, but it’s a matter of survival.
That said, here’s my issue. How hard is it to send a text that just says something like this? “I’m no longer interested in dating you. I wish you luck.”
Or, how about they just tell the truth?
“I’m just not that into you even though yesterday I told you it was love at first sight and I was pretty certain I was going to marry you. I’m a stark, raving lunatic.”
“My ex-girlfriend came over last night. We had some wine and slept together. She wants me back. I wasn’t really over her, which is why I came on so strong.”
“My ex-wife got wind that I’m dating and started messing with my head. I think, I hope, she wants me back.”
“My wife got into my phone last night and in an angry fit flushed it down the toilet.’
“I’m a scared little boy and have no idea how to have a relationship so I just jump from woman to woman.”
“I was married for twenty years and now I’m going to have sex with as many women as I can. I just pretended to really like you hoping to get you into bed.”
“I actually hate women and want to hurt as many as I possibly can between now and when I die.”
In all seriousness, some of these guys might be players. Some might be crazy. Some might be married. Some might just like to screw with women’s heads. Some may not be over their ex-wife or ex-girlfriend and are trying to fill a hole by jumping into the dating scene. I have no idea. I cannot explain their behavior. This is the gamble you take when you meet someone online. But I know this. I am a decent, honest woman. I deserve better. For that matter, so do all women. So, to all my single sisters out there – beware of the man who charges at you too fast. Watch and listen. Make him prove he’s worthy of your good heart.
Title: Duet for Three Hands
Author: Tess Thompson
Publication Date: February 13, 2015
A story of forbidden love, lost dreams, and family turmoil. The first book in a new historical series from bestselling author Tess Thompson, Duet for Three Hands is equal parts epic love story, sweeping family saga, and portrait of days gone by. Set against the backdrop of the American South between 1928 and 1934, four voices blend to tell a tale of prejudice, fear, and love. The Bellmonts are the epitome of the rich and elite in Atlanta society, but behind the picture-perfect façade are hidden moments of violence and betrayal.
After marrying into the Bellmont family, Nathaniel, a former concert pianist who is nearly ruined by his wife’s unrelenting ambition and unstable mind, finds hope in the promise of his most recent protégé. His brother-in-law, artistic Whitmore Bellmont, and the maid’s daughter, Jeselle, have a secret relationship despite their drastically different circumstances and shades of skin. Unfortunately, most of the world disagrees with their color blindness.
A young woman stood near the entrance of the Winecoff, one foot perched saucily on the wall while balancing on the other, reading a magazine. She wore a cream-colored dress, and her curly, white-blonde hair bobbed under a cloche hat of fine-woven pink straw with a brim just wide enough to cover her face. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the door’s glass window, suddenly conscious of his own appearance. Tall, with a slight slump at his shoulders from years at the piano, dark hair under his hat, high cheekbones and sensitive brown eyes from his father but a delicate nose and stern mouth from his mother. Handsome? He suspected not. Just because you wish something didn’t make it so, he thought. As his hand touched the door to go in, the young woman looked up and stared into his eyes. “Good afternoon. How do you do?”
Porcelain skin, gray eyes, perfect petite features, all combined to make a beautiful, exquisite, but completely foreign creature. A beautiful woman. Right here, in front of him. What to do? His heart flipped inside his chest and started beating hard and fast. Could she tell? Was it visible? He covered his chest with his hand, hot and embarrassed. “Yes.” He lifted his hat. Oh, horrors: his forehead was slick with sweat. Yes? Had he just said yes? What had she asked him? He moved his gaze to a spot on the window. A fly landed on the glass and went still, looking at him with bulging eyes.
Her voice, like a string attached to his ear, drew his gaze back to her. “It’s unbearably hot. I could sure use a Coca-Cola.” With a flirtatious cock of her head, she smiled. She had the same thick Georgian accent as all the women in Atlanta, but there was a reckless, breathless quality in the way she oozed the words.
“Quite. Yes. Well, goodbye, then.” He somehow managed to open the door and slip inside.
The hotel was quiet. Several women lounged in the lobby, talking quietly over glasses of sweet tea. A man in a suit sat at one of the small desks provided for guests, writing into a ledger. A maid scurried through with an armful of towels. He wanted nothing more than to be swallowed by the wall. What was the matter with him? How was it possible to hold the attention of hundreds during a concert, yet be unable to utter a single intelligible thing to one lone woman?
He stumbled over to the café counter and ordered a sandwich and a glass of Coca-Cola. He allowed himself one glass whenever he performed in Atlanta during the summer. The heat, as the young woman had said, made a person long for a Coca-Cola. But only one, no more or he might never stop, and next thing he knew he’d have one every day and then twice a day and so forth. Sweet drinks were an indulgence, a dangerous way to live for a man who must have complete discipline to remain a virtuoso. If he allowed himself anything or everything he wanted, where might it lead? He could not be like other people, even if he wanted to be.
Waiting for his drink, he heard, rather than saw, the door open, and then the blonde woman sat beside him, swinging her legs ever so slightly as she perched on the round bar stool. “Hello again.” She placed her hands, which were half the size of his and so white as to appear almost translucent, upon the counter. She interlaced her fingers, rather primly and in a way that seemed to belie the general forwardness of sitting next to a man she didn’t know at an otherwise empty counter. He nodded at her, catching a whiff of gardenia he supposed came from her smooth, white neck.
“Would you like to buy me a Coca-Cola?” She peered up at him from under her lashes. Her eyes were the color of storm clouds.
What was this? She wanted him to buy her a drink? Had she hinted at that outside? What a ninny he was. Of course. Any imbecile could have picked up on that. Walt would have had her in here with a soda in her hand before the door closed behind them. He tried to respond, but his voice caught in the back of his throat. Instead he nodded to the man in the white apron behind the fountain, who, in turn, also in silence, pulled the knob of the fountain spray with a beefy arm.
“I’ve just come from the Crawford picture. It was simply too marvelous for words. I do so love the moving pictures. What’s your name?” She pressed a handkerchief to the nape of her neck where soft curls lay, damp with perspiration. What would it feel like to wrap his finger in one of the curls?
“I’m Frances Bellmont. You from up north?”
“Maine originally. I live in New York City now.”
Her gray eyes flickered, and an eyebrow rose ever so slightly. “I see. A Yankee.” He thought he detected an excitement as she said it, as if to sit by him were an act of rebellion.
“As north as you can get and still be an American,” he said. At last. Words!
“’Round here we’re not sure any of y’all are true Americans.” She took a dainty sip from her soda and peered at him out of the corner of her eyes. “Now wait a minute. Are you Nathaniel Fye, the piano player?”
“Oh my.” She turned her full gaze upon him. “That is interesting.” She had full lips that looked almost swollen. “My mother and I happen to be attending that very concert tonight. I don’t enjoy such serious music, but my mother simply adores it. We’re staying overnight here at the Winecoff. We live all the way across town, and mother thought it would be nice to stay overnight. Together.” She rolled her eyes.
Before he knew what he was saying, a lie stumbled from his mouth. “Party. Later. In my suite. You could come. Your mother, too.”
“A party? I’d love to attend. Do I have to bring my mother?” She sipped her soda while looking up at him through her lashes.
“I, I don’t know.” He stuttered. “Isn’t that how it’s done?”
She slid off her seat, touching the sleeve of his jacket like a caress. “I’m just teasing. We wouldn’t think of missing it. I’ll see you then.” And then she was out the door, leaving only the smell of her perfume behind, as if it had taken up permanent residence in his nostrils.
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. Her first novel, "Riversong", became a bestselling ebook in 2012, reaching #1 on Nook and spending 35 days in Amazon's Top 100. Riverbend and Riversong, also Amazon bestsellers, continue the tale of life in fictional River Valley, Oregon. The Legley Bay Collection, named for the fictional Oregon coast town of Legley Bay, includes "Caramel and Magnolias", followed by "Tea and Primroses," released February 16, 2014.
Like her main characters in the River Valley Collection, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, Emerson and Ella, and two kittens, Midnight and Mittens, that Santa brought for Christmas. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.