by Melissa James, from Jennie Bentley’s Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries
You think it’s easy always being the prettiest woman in the room?
Men looking at you like they want you; women looking at you like they wish you’d gain a hundred pounds and lose all your hair?
Grabbing onto their husbands’ arms as if they’re afraid he’ll be gone if they don’t hold onto him?
It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I never even had a boyfriend in high school, did you know that?
Oh, there were plenty of boys who asked me out. Once. And then never again. It didn’t seem to matter whether I said yes or no to what they wanted, either, because they never wanted to see me again after the first time either way.
What do you suppose that means? That I can’t seem to keep a man?
I thought Derek was different. My ex-husband, you know? Derek Ellis. He was in medical school when we met. I was a waitress. I thought he was someone who could finally give me some self-worth apart from being pretty. And he seemed different. He was kind and gentle, and when he flirted with me, it wasn’t full of lewd suggestions, the way I was used to.
And when he finally asked me to go to the movies with him, it wasn’t an excuse for a groping session in the back row. He asked if he could kiss me goodnight. And then he asked me out again!
I thought I loved him. I married him, didn’t I?
I know he’s probably told Avery I cheated on him, but I didn’t. At least not then.
But then he decided he didn’t want to be a doctor after all; he wanted to be a handyman instead. A handyman! Can you believe it?
He expected me to stick around, I guess, but I could tell he didn’t really want me anymore. Just like everyone else, he got tired of me eventually, even if it took seven years. And by then things were so bad between us I think he was relieved when I told him I was leaving. Although he didn’t like it very much that I was moving in with Ray Stenham. Ray and his brother Randy always picked on Derek when they were younger. He’d told me that.
And yes, maybe that’s part of the reason I did it. I mean, I liked Ray just fine. But he wasn’t the love of my life, or anything.
And now there’s Tony. He likes me because I’m pretty, too. I can tell. He shows me off to his colleagues at the TV station like I’m his new car or something. But he’s a nice enough guy, and he treats me well. He came from nothing much, like me, and has turned himself into a celebrity. A local celebrity—Tony ‘the Tiger’ Micelli; reporter for Channel Ten News—but a celebrity nonetheless. People turn to look at us when we go places together. It’s nice. Even if they turn to look because he’s famous and I’m pretty.
He’s getting ready to propose. I can tell. And I guess I could do worse. He’s not Derek—Derek is happy with Avery, and wouldn’t want me back even if he weren’t—but Tony’s a good guy. He’ll take care of me. Even if he likes me just because I’m pretty. There are worse things, right?
Melissa James first made her appearance in Fatal Fixer-Upper, DIY #1, and she's been back to wreak havoc in every book since.