Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak
Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He"d also like to forget her entirely, but that"s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything"every look, every word, every single unrequited second"and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.
Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .
Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She"d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that"s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She"s more than happy to forget he exists.
But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .
Dr. Strange Beard is a full-length romantic comedy novel, can be read as a stand-alone, and is the fifth book in the USA TODAY bestselling Winston Brothers series.Books in Series:Winston Brothers Series by Penny ReidBooks by Author:Penny Reid Books
"The past beats inside me like a second heart."
John Banville, The Sea
Most people have approximately eleven or twelve stories, and that"s it.
When I was a kid, I used to think older people were just forgetful. A ten-year-old me considered folks over thirty-five "older people." But as I grew older myself, I realized people of all ages were forgetful. Well, a lot more forgetful than me.
I also realized nobody wants to be told that they"re repeating themselves, that they"re sharing the same tales and anecdotes for the seventh, eighth, or twentieth time. Folks hate that, even more so if you remembered their story better than they did.
Every time I reminded someone that they"d already told me a particular story, on such and such date and time, or I tried to correct their recollection, they"d get irritable and frustrated. Like it was my fault for having a good memory and not theirs for having a poor one.
I learned to keep my trap shut. I let people tell me their eleven or twelve stories over and over, pretending each time like it was the first time I"d heard it. This was a skill I"d perfected, acting interested, surprised, laughing believably at the good parts or looking sad and troubled at the bad ones.
I was a real good actor. I was excellent at being disingenuous, and I rationalized the insincerity of my outward reactions by reminding myself that the deceit was due to necessity, not design. I sincerely didn"t want to be obnoxious, or to piss people off.
Which, I suppose, is the main reason why I preferred my own company to anyone else"s. Memories of solitude don"t clutter the mind. But if I had to be around people, I preferred the company of strangers to longtime acquaintances, and my family"s company over everyone else"s.
Strangers" stories are always new, so there"s that.
I love my family, and their stories almost never got old. Though, every once in a while, if I wasn"t in the mood for another telling of a familiar tale, I could get away with complaining about the repetition. They might get testy, but they had to love me, no matter what.
It wasn"t until I was seventeen when I realized it was rare for people to tell stories for the benefit of the listener. Usually, but not always, a story is told mostly for the benefit of the teller. The story about "how I got so drunk that one time I climbed the fence of that celebrity"s compound and was invited to breakfast," or "how I rescued those folks from a rattlesnake" demonstrates how the teller has lived a life full of adventure, of meaning; that they"re comical, self-deprecating, and brave; that they"re ultimately a person worth knowing.
It"s as though folks need to remind themselves of their own worth, and they do this through telling and retelling their favorite eleven or twelve stories, the anecdotes that fundamentally define who they are.
And therein lies the burden of having an above-average memory, and why I"m rather finicky about making memories.
I don"t get to decide which stories to remember. The stories never fade. I remember them all. I have a lot of stories, ones I never tell, even though they might fundamentally define who I am, and many I"d prefer to forget.
But I couldn"t.
That"s why, sitting in my car, staring out my windshield and through the large wall of windows into the small roadside diner, I was undecided about what to do. I was also assaulted by a gamut of vivid memories. All my memories were vivid, but these were ones I"d prefer to forget. But I couldn"t.
Simone Payton wasn"t supposed to be at Daisy"s Nut House.
Today was a Thursday, the last Thursday of the month. Simone wasn"t home on Thursdays, and never during the last week of the month.
For five years now (five years, four months, and twelve days), Simone always arrived on the first Friday of the month, her flight landing at 5:16 PM at the Knoxville airport, which meant it was safe for me to grab dinner at Daisy"s until about 6:00 PM. After that, I knew to steer clear of the diner until Simone took her plane back to Washington, DC on Sunday night.
No doughnuts the first weekend of every month was a small price to pay for avoiding making any more memories of Simone Payton.
But here she was. On a Thursday. The last Thursday.
I crossed my arms, I scratched my neck. Somewhere nearby, what sounded like a motorcycle engine roared past, seemed to draw closer, and then abruptly cut off. I hadn"t yet cut my car"s engine because I hadn"t yet decided whether to stay or go. The question was, how badly did I want a doughnut"
I"d just spent four hours on the road with several reoccurring thoughts occupying my mind, the most prevalent one being how nice it would be to treat myself to a fine doughnut from the original Daisy"s Nut House upon arrival in Green Valley. In fact, I"d been feeling generous. The plan was to pick up three dozen for the next morning"s breakfast, share them with the whole house.