Doing a book signing in Waterstones on Saturday was the best experience so far in this book promoting business. Apart from my first one in Southwick Stores of course. It was great to see so many people coming in actually interested in my writing, and going away clutching a copy in their Waterstones bags. The remaining three copies not sold on the day have been signed by me and are on the shelf in the shop so if you couldn't get there on Saturday and want a copy, they should still have some in stock. The book is now available on catalogue as well so bookstores should be able to order it in. Now I've got to up my game and look further afield for more opportunities to sell more copies. In the meantime, here is chapter 18.
Karen was hurting.
‘I know I’ve been an idiot,’ she told herself. ‘Letting myself get involved with another man but the thought of Peter with someone else...’ It was too much to take in. She still loved Peter and wanted things to be good between them again. As she mulled it over in her head she could see that actually things had never been that good. Well, maybe in the beginning, when life together had been exciting somehow, but not in the past few years. And now there was John. Or was there? She hadn’t seen him since that afternoon. She flushed at the memory of lying naked in his bed.
'I need to talk to you,' Karen told Linda as she busied herself unloading the trolley into the sink in the ward kitchen. Linda had made a fresh pot of tea and was rinsing out some mugs from the staff cupboard.
The kitchen was narrow, lined with cupboards and a large double sink unit. The tall window cast light onto the grey stainless steel food warmer which was situated under the serving hatch, now closed against the curious eyes of the patients who still wandered about in the dining room.
'What's up love?' Linda passed a mug of tea to Karen.
'I've got myself in a bit of a mess.' Karen was reluctant to put into words what she was feeling.
'I think I know,' Linda said. 'It's John, isn't it?'
'How did you know?' Karen was surprised.
'Oh for God's sake, Karen,' Linda laughed. 'You've hardly kept it a secret, going back to his room in the middle of the afternoon.' She paused and lit a cigarette. 'Besides, it's written all over your face.'
'Is it that obvious?' Karen sipped her tea.
'Everyone's talking about it. Are you having sex with him?'
Karen felt herself blushing. She paused.
'You are.' Linda blew smoke into the air and flicked her ash into the sink. 'I hope you know what you're getting into.'
'No. Not really.' Karen felt silly. 'That is, I did have sex with him, and no, I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I feel totally confused. It was great, what we did. Made me feel special and it was just what I needed, but now I feel guilty and dirty.' She paused. 'I mean, I'm married to Peter, and I do love him. It's just that he doesn't seem to understand me any more.'
'Listen to yourself!' Linda spluttered. '“He doesn't understand me”. Isn't that the usual old excuse?'
Karen sighed. ‘He stayed out all night last night.’
‘Oh dear. That’s not good. But...’
‘I know what you’re thinking. Why should I care?’
'I wasn’t thinking that.' Linda paused. 'How do you feel about John?'
'I really like him a lot.' Karen studied the stain on the wall behind the sink. 'I wouldn't have slept with him if I didn't. But I don't know what he feels about me. It was great when were together. I haven't had so much fun in years.'
'Are you seeing him again?' Linda asked.
'It's not like that,' Karen said. 'We haven't had any dates - it just happened on the spur of the moment and we ended up in bed. I don't know where it's going or if I even want it to go anywhere.'
'Very. I don't think I could cope with breaking up with Peter, or even if he would let me go.' She shivered. 'I'm scared.'
'I think that you need to talk to John first. If you want to keep seeing him, that is.'
'I suppose I do.'
'Well, that's where you start from.' Linda took another sip of her tea.
'I'm not sure though,' Karen hesitated.
'You need to do some serious thinking first, I suppose.'
'You're right. Oh, I don't know what to do,' she wailed.
'You'll be starting your training soon, won't you?' Linda asked.
'Yes, but what's that got to do with anything?'
'You don't want to have any problems in your love life once you start training,' she replied. 'You'll need all your energy for the course work.'
'It doesn't start until October. I've got a few months yet.' Karen paused. 'But that's another thing. Peter's not exactly happy about me starting the course. I don't know how it will work out.'
'A lot can change in a few months,' Linda offered. 'Just sort your feelings out around John first.'
'Easier said than done.' Karen smiled. 'Anyway, changing the subject, I have to take Millie and Annie to ECT this morning. Mike thinks it'll be good for me to start seeing some of the treatments.'
'Good luck.' Linda grimaced.
'What's it like?' Karen was slightly scared at the prospect. She'd read a bit about ECT in a book on treatments that she'd found on the shelf in the office. The pictures had done nothing to alleviate her feelings of trepidation. The other staff hadn't helped either with their horror stories of times when the treatment had gone wrong, laughing at the memories of the patient who had bitten her tongue off, and the one who'd thrashed about so much that she'd broken her arm.
'It's not as bad as people make out,' Linda said. 'Just like going to the dentist, only it's over quicker.'
'I'm not looking forward to it.' Karen finished her tea and put the mug in the sink.
'You'll be alright.' Linda stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray on the windowsill. 'If you're doing your training, you'll see a lot worse than ECT.'
'Thanks Linda,' Karen laughed. 'Better get going I suppose.'