We’re a Package Deal

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.

I don’t think my daughters saw what happened with the man in the bookstore, and I was glad at the time that they didn’t. I didn’t even  get angry—just a little indignant and mildly amused.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

As much as I love bookstores, I hadn’t planned to be there last  night, but one of the girls needed something and hence I wasn’t at  home finishing up a new creative project as expected. But then, going to a bookstore is never a bad thing.

Dressed in gym pants, T-shirt, and a ponytail, I lingered in the  romantic suspense section to check out where my next New  York-published novel will be shelved in September and cringed when a man walked close by. So often when I’m looking at novels in the romantic suspense section, some idiot man will actually walk up to me and comment with a sneer on the “trash” I’m reading. My friends who write and read romantic suspense report the same happening to them on way too many occasions, too. Why do men feel the need to belittle female strangers this way? I usually feel the idea forming in their minds before they turn on their heels and stalk toward me, spew their witty little comments, and run off in true hit-and-run style.

With this man last night, I didn’t feel the “uh-oh” I’ve gotten with other men, but from the moment he came into the periphery of my  vision, my antennae went up. I knew he was not there by accident. He was moderately attractive and about my age—and hey, he was literate, which is always a turn-on. My daughters were checking out another section  of the store, just out of sight, as he struck up a conversation. Hmmm, he actually knew something about books and could hold a conversation.

It was friendly. It was chatty. It was intelligent. And it stopped dead when my daughters appeared around the corner.

It wasn’t the content of the conversation, which was certainly G-rated, PG at worst. It was the sight of two young teens rushing toward me that caused him to clam up.

Other single moms have warned me to “hide the kids” from men I date or might date. I don’t. I never have. I never will. We’re a package deal, and I won’t pretend otherwise.