The house the girls and I moved into was a defining moment for me. It was like I had finally arrived. I used to tell them that one day we would have a house of our own, one day I would make sure they had their own bedrooms and one day we would get a dog. Well it finally happened and I was over the moon. The house reminded me of the one I grew up in. It had chestnut moldings and was open and airy, it flowed and made me feel safe. It had this beautiful brick fireplace that just drew you in and thankfully it not only allowed pets, but it was affordable. I loved that house and for the first time in thirteen years I did it all by myself. I worked for that house, I furnished that house with things that represented me, I painted that house with friends and laughter, I filled that house with joy and a warmth and welcoming that I had so desperately wanted and needed. That house was all me. It is true what they say about hard work and perseverance, the pay off really is so rewarding. The spring was approaching and it was time to get back out there and have some fun. I was now the mother of two teenagers, I had a house, I ran a book club, I had a powerful job moving millions of dollars all over the world and I was still in my thirties. I was on top of the world and I was on my game. I threw a housewarming party, that I think I began planning before we even moved in. I invited the entire town or at least it felt like that. My family, my friends and even the local priest came and did a blessing. There was going to be nothing that stopped me. Nothing. I love to dance. I may look a little like a mix between Elaine from Seinfeld and a striper, but I love to dance and one of my best friends and I used to go to this one place, that was local and known for cougars, and if you don’t know what that is, it’s an older woman looking for younger guys. I had no issues finding guys, it was finding the right guy I had problems with. So one night we head out into the abyss of sparkly clothes and hip hop music when a very tall, very large, dark skinned man caught my eye. He was a bouncer. Now everyone knows you don’t hook up with the bouncer, that’s basically their main job. Keep the peace, get phone numbers and hook up with tipsy women. Well, I approached him anyway as I usually did the approaching. Some people are passive aggressive, but as we’ve seen I lean more on the aggressive aggressive side. I do the picking out, the sizing up and the approach. If I didn’t I’d never talk to a man. I’ve been told I am unapproachable, I look intimidating and I must have resting bitchy face cause I don’t get hit on. Being my man picker is slightly skewed I should have thought twice but before I knew it I was already in his face. Smiling, flirting, laying my hand on his arm as I giggled. All typical things girls do to lure you in. I was good at it too. A little vague with a slight bit of surprise determination. Before we left that night he had my number in his hand and I kissed him goodbye on the cheek. Would he call? Probably not, but chances were 50/50 and at almost forty those were still good odds. A few days passed and then a text came through. I knew it! Ha! I had you hook line and sinker. Seriously, as Diane Lane said in Under the Tuscan Sun, I still got it! I met him somewhere seedy and discreet and I’m not sure exactly what it was about him that I was so enthralled with but he was a definite bad boy, from the wrong side of the tracks. When I say bad boy, I’m sure at some point in his past their are things that if he told me I would be called in for questioning and made to wear that bad brown suit in court and testify against him. I would then have a mark on me as a hit in order to silence me. One day I went to his house and I couldn’t find it so I called and said there was a group of guys on the corner but I didn’t see his house, in a panic he told me to not stop my car, do not get out and to keep driving until I saw him. That where I was was in fact not safe and that bad things could happen. He barely knew me…he had no idea the kind of bad things I had already gone through.