Kenosha, Wisconsin, January 2010
My name is Faye Palmer. I was born Faye Cheeks in Waukegan, Illinois, on February 26, 1957. I’m the oldest of three. My brother Scott is three years younger, my sister Robin five years. They both say I have a tendency to be bossy. I say they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s a certain responsibility that comes with being the oldest.
In 1980, when I was 23, I married Godfrey Palmer. This October we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary, and I’m happy to say we’re still in love. I admit that I generally dislike it when women go on and on about how wonderful their marriages are—I call it Kathie Lee Gifford syndrome—because eventually the truth is going to come out and make a fool of her, but I do have to say that my marriage has been remarkably smooth. I was aware of Godfrey back in high school, when he played for the basketball team, but I was a freshman when he was a senior and he didn’t know I was alive. We formally met when I caught his eye at the big football game between our alma mater, Benton Township, and our longtime rival North Chicago High School. By then I was a senior in college. Things kind of took off from there.
In addition to a deep love for one another, Godfrey and I generally work as a team; he has my back and I have his. Even our disagreements are quickly resolved. I think those two paired together are the foundation for why we’re still happy after all this time. Surprisingly, we’re of different religions—I was raised Baptist while he belonged to the AME denomination—but we compromised. We each belong to our own church, but we take turns attending both. To this day Godfrey likes to joke that we’re religiously incompatible.
We have two daughters, Aislinn—that’s Az-lin, not Ayz-lin—and Alyssa, both in their twenties and out on their own. They share an apartment down in Evanston. I’m at the age where I’m dreaming of having grandchildren, like some of my friends have, but unfortunately, neither of my daughters is seeing anyone at the moment. I guess we’ll have to wait awhile before hearing the pitter patter of little feet around the house.
Our lives have been pretty stable. Godfrey and I both grew up in Zion, Illinois. After we got married I formally moved into Godfrey’s apartment in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which although is in a different state, is only about fifteen minutes away. A few years later we bought a house here. I worked for the local hospital after getting my nursing degree, and Godfrey worked in the lab of a household products manufacturer up in Racine. Thirty years later we’re working for the same employers. I went back to school to study wound care and now work in that specialty, treating patients with skin ulcers, burns, and non-healing lesions (daytime hours with holidays off, thank you very much), and Godfrey is now a research chemist. Some might find that boring, but it’s been anything but. We even got to spend three years in Bangkok, Thailand, when Godfrey headed up a research project there. When we came back we bought a smaller, but sleekly modern new house that formerly was the builder’s furnished model. At this point in our lives we’re enjoying being empty nesters, with lots of couple time, travel and dinners out. We’re looking forward to retiring sometime over the next decade.
One unhappy statistic for me is that I’m the only one of my parents’ children whose marriage has endured. Some of my friends’ and co-workers’ marriages have broken up after 20 or 25 years, which I find downright scary. Every time I hear about another pending divorce, I take a good, long look at Godfrey and me…especially me.
When we got married I was a svelte young thing with everything in the right place. I didn’t look bad even after having two babies. Then, when I was in my late 30’s, the weight started sticking to me like barbecue sauce sticks to my fingers. I’m not exactly obese, or maybe I just conceal these 40 extra pounds well. I actually haven’t gained as much weight as Godfrey has. His days of being a fit high school basketball player are long gone. Now he’s got pretty hefty love handles, and I doubt that when he looks straight down he can see his shoes over his belly. But for men it’s different. They’re allowed to grow stout and show the ravages of time, provided they don’t look like Mick Jagger. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to age gracefully, whatever the hell that means.
Since Godfrey and I continue to be close and get along fine, sometimes I do worry that my no longer perky boobs, stomach that looks like I’m about four months along, and rolls of fat in my torso with certain positions might start to turn him off. My brother, Scott, started stepping out on his wife after she packed on the pounds, although it wasn’t just forty pounds like me, but more like 100…and Lynn wasn’t exactly slim to begin with. That’s what led to their divorce.
So whenever I hear about another long-term marriage breaking up—whether I know the people involved personally or whether it’s a celebrity couple—I’ll get a little nervous and will make a half-hearted attempt to lose weight. I’ll watch what I eat and will go to the gym with my sister Robin, who’s a fitness nut and who has a figure that not only I but many younger women are envious of. After about a month I start feeling more secure and go back to my cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and forget all about exercise. I’ll concede that while Robin can wear cropped tops, I can’t even wear my t-shits tucked in my jeans, but instead hanging outside to help hide my lack of a waistline and my bulging belly. Even with that, in my clothes I don’t look bad. My legs are still good, and that helps a lot, especially in the summertime when I can wear shorts. Of course, Godfrey sees me naked. It helps when he says I still look good to him, and even more so when he looks like he really means it. We’re long past the stage where he has to say nice things to get me into bed…but once we hit the sheets we still go at it as good as we did when we were young, just not as often these days. Godfrey’s got a bad hip—eventually it’ll have to be replaced—and I’m peri-menopausal, so I’m bothered by reminders that I’m aging, annoyances like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. When my body temperature is even and I’m feeling frisky, his hip is often bothering him, and vice versa, so our sex life, while good, has gotten a little more difficult to coordinate.
All things considered, I feel about as certain as I can be that my chubby hubby is mine entirely. I can’t imagine anything or anyone breaking us apart, and I certainly can’t imagine life without my man Godfrey.
Read more about Faye and Godfrey in Secrets & Sins, out now! Kindle owners can get it at Amazon or at Bettye’s eStore. Readers needing EPUB formats for Nooks, Sonys, or other eReaders, or who need PDF formats can get theirs from Bettye’s eStore, where no registration is required and where eBooks always cost $1 less than at other eTailers.
Also, the prequel to Secrets & Sins is a free download! Sinner Man:A Short Prequel is available for download at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and the Bunderful Books website.
Bettye Griffin writes novels about romance in the real world. Her first novel, At Long Last Love, was published in 1998. Bettye expanded to women’s fiction with the publication of The People Next Door in 2005. In 2009, while still writing for a traditional publisher, Bettye launched Bunderful Books and eventually became an independent writer and publisher. In this capacity she publishes both new and backlist titles, including Something Real (2012) and Where There’s Smoke (2013). A native of Yonkers, New York, Bettye now lives, writes, and eats cheese from her home in Southeast Wisconsin. Secrets & Sins is her 24th novel and her first independently published women’s fiction.
Author website: www.bettyegriffin.com
Publisher website: www.bunderfulbooks.com
eBook only, published January 3, 2014.
This is contemporary women's fiction and does contain sex.
From the Author: Secrets & Sins contains several plot twists that I hope will come as a surprise to readers. I love getting reviews, but if you choose to write one, PLEASE be considerate of other readers who haven't read the book yet by not divulging these twists in the plot. Thank you so much! -- B.
In this sweeping, 115K-word novel, Bettye Griffin introduces readers to the Cheeks family of Zion, Illinois: Eldest daughter Faye, whose placid, orderly life is about to be disrupted in a way she never could have imagined...middle child and only son Scott, who brings new meaning to the phrase 'midlife crisis'...and youngest daughter Robin, who is divorced from but not exactly rid of her former spouse.
At the center of the story is their mother, Julia Scott Cheeks, who along with her devoted husband Melvin, has tried to keep two scandalous family secrets hidden and has been successful for 55 years...but when Robin mentions the name of the former classmate she has a romantic interest in, Julia fears that the events she has tried so hard and for so long to keep her children from knowing are in danger of being exposed...
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Women's Fiction, Family Saga
Rating – R
More details about the author