The Trouble with Snowmen – Read Chapter 1
The Trouble with Snowmen
By Dorlana Vann
“I had him pegged as a snowman the moment I met him,” Regina said. “It was only a matter of time before he melted.”
“What are you talking about?” Haley Monroe appreciated Regina, the owner of the four-apartment multiplex they lived in, for jumping out of bed at 5 a.m., but now she wondered if she should’ve called Maximilian instead. “You’re not making any sense whatsoever. I’m talking about Travis. You know, my boyfriend.” Her throat threatened to close up as she forced out a high-pitched, “I mean, my ex-boyfriend. Here, look.” Haley gave Regina her phone with the text from Travis that said ‘I want to break up.’
“I know who you’re talking about.” Regina glanced at the phone before she sat down on the loveseat next to Haley. “I’m sorry, but Travis is a snowman, and snowmen never, ever last forever.”
Haley’s eyes burned as she wiped her tears on the shirt she had clutched against her chest. “Really, a snowman? A man made out of snow? I’ve never even seen a real snowman.”
Regina nodded and gave Haley a sad smile. “You have now. You see, snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above, and you can’t believe that y’all have so much in common. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect . . . until a little heat is introduced, and then they melt. They melt, disappear, leaving only their hat, their scarf, or in this case, their shirt. That is Travis’s shirt you’re sobbing into, right?”
“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s forgetful, like me. That’s why we’re so perfect together.” Haley felt the heaviness in her chest as she forced out her reasoning, “We both love the same type of foods, love to do the same things . . . What?”
Regina shook her head and tsked a couple more times before saying, “The snowman’s snow job. They’ll tell you anything to keep you hopping into their beds. Travis most likely pretended to like everything you like in order to please you.”
“How is that a bad thing? I think it’s kind of sweet that he does things that I like just to make me happy.”
“Okay, fine. What about talk of commitment? Did you want to take the relationship to the next level? That would be the heat, because if he’s a snowman, there would’ve been something that caused him to melt.”
Haley thought of herself as a mature, independent, and smart twenty-five-year-old. True, she hadn’t really lived on her own for very long. After college, she had to move back home with her parents for a while. But now she lived in downtown Houston and worked two jobs. She was a legal assistant at the law offices of Skinner and Skinner during the day and a bartender at night. And she thought she’d had a sufficient amount of relationships to know when a man only wanted to play.
But crap! A moment of clarity banged around in her weary head as she thought about the night before. She’d told Travis she loved him. She could have sworn he looked straight at her, but then he started snoring. And who could blame him after their passionate night together? Well, that’s what she’d thought up until a second ago. Had that really set him off? Had that been stupid of her to say? “Nope.” Haley sat up straight, determined to be strong, even though her squeaky voice gave her away. “Can’t think of anything.”
“Right.” Regina sighed in defeat. “Well, I’m sure it’ll come to you.” She patted Haley’s knee. “Next time you hook up with a guy, maybe you should try to stay away from his type.”
The door swung open, and Maximilian walked in. He was fully dressed, eye-lined, and hair-sprayed. He lived down the hall from Haley in Apartment Three and, since living there, he had become one of Haley’s closest friends.
Maximilian took one look at the situation and said, “Aww, your snowman melted.”
Regina stood up. “He texted her. The bastard.” She handed the phone to Maximilian.
“You too?” Haley whined and wanted to curl up in a ball, her pretend strength not even fooling her anymore. “Why didn’t y’all at least warn me if this is what y’all thought?” A little sob and string of snot escaped. She considered wiping her nose on Travis’s shirt but just couldn’t do it, so she used the back of her hand instead.
“Would you’ve listened to us?” Regina said as she headed in the direction of the kitchen.
Maximilian said, “I wouldn’t have listened to us either if I had that tall, blond, muscled cowboy.”
Regina came back with a paper towel and handed it to Haley.
As Haley cleaned up, she thought about the question. Besides being gorgeous, Travis was easy-going and they never fought about anything big. So none of this made sense. She didn’t know if she bought their snowman theory. “Maybe I misunderstood the text. I should call him, and—”
“No!” Regina and Maximilian shouted in unison.
“Let him seep into the ground where he belongs,” Maximilian said.
Regina said, “Since reinforcements are here, I guess I’m going to go pee, brush my teeth, and get my coffee.”
“Wait, Regina,” Maximilian said. “I was actually looking for you. Can I have a séance in Apartment Four tonight?”
Regina crossed her arms. “There are no such things as ghosts, Maximilian.”
Mr. Chase had died before Haley had moved in. She’d heard the story, though, of how they’d found the eccentric old man’s body amongst his hordes of canned goods that he’d stored for the end of the world. Maximilian speculated that his food had fought for freedom and buried him alive. All Haley knew for sure was that Regina couldn’t keep the apartment rented.
Maximilian put his hand on his hip. “Peter Jackson ran out screaming.”
“So did that biker dude,” Haley added and then blew her nose, grateful that the subject had changed.
Regina looked from Haley to Maximilian before saying, “Fine, it’s all yours.”
“Will you be there?”
“That old fart still owes me two month’s rent. You bet I’ll be there.”
After Regina left, Maximilian sat in the seat next to Haley. He handed her the phone back. “Tell Uncle Maximilian all about it.”
“Not much to tell. Seems like you and Regina knew Travis better than I did.”
“We just have more experience in reading people and not letting them manipulate us. The sad truth is, snowmen don’t fall from the sky preassembled. You had to help build him.”
“What? Me? What did I do?”
“You probably let him get by with little things because you didn’t want to lose him. Each time he got by with not calling when he said he would or blowing you off to go hang with his buddies, he grew. But honey, I’m not saying it’s all your fault. He took advantage of you because, let’s face it, you’re still a little green.”
Now that Haley thought about it, the reason they never fought was because he’d look at her with his baby blues, smile, and then take off his shirt and say, “I’m sorry, babe, let me make it up to you.” And she thought about what pretty babies they would have. Had he never planned on having a future with her? Haley looked down in disgust at Travis’s shirt. “Maybe y’all are right.” She went to throw the crumbled-up shirt to the floor when Maximilian grabbed it.
“Of course we’re right!” He stood up holding the maroon shirt with white shoulder yokes against his chest. “I could make cowboy clothes.” Maximilian slipped the shirt on over his white V-neck T. “What do you think? Is it me? ”
All it did was make Haley think about her and Travis’s night together and how sexy he had looked in that shirt. “What am I supposed to do? Regina told me not to date his type. Am I not supposed to go for guys I’m attracted to? Am I supposed to stay away from hot guys?”
“Of course not. You have to teach yourself to know the difference between a real man and one made of white fluff.” Maximilian arched a thin eyebrow. “You know, there may be a way to speed up the process of IDing the snowmen, but it might seem a bit extreme.”
“Okay,” she mumbled. “I’m curious. What is it?”
“Simple. It’s like the old saying goes, It takes one to know one. You have to become the snowman.”
“Simple? I’m still not positive what a snowman even is.”
Maximilian plopped back down on the couch.
Haley got a strong whiff of Travis’ musky, citrusy scent. She fought back the tears by squinching up her face and holding her breath.
“Oh, peaches, it’ll get better. Looking at you, I think this is a good idea. You just have to make sure you protect yourself by finding someone you’re not attracted to. Cozy up to someone who is totally not your type. Don’t even spit at anyone who you think is hot. Got it?”
She shrugged and puttered out her breath.
“As soon as they indicate that they’re in love, or almost in love, or at least in lust with you, you dump them. Don’t forget to leave something behind. It’s the icing on the cake, the cherry on the ice cream sundae, the cigarette after sex. It’s an ego trip. See, snowmen hope their victims do what you did with this garment.” He sniffed at the shoulder of his new shirt. “You know, I bet he dabbed extra deodorant or cologne on this before he left. I must say, he’s one of the best snowmen I’ve ever met. I’m a little in awe.”
Haley put her hands over her face and let out a muffled, “I don’t think I can do that. It seems really mean. It feels really mean.”
“Sacrifices must be made in order for you to get your education. You have to experience it from the other side. You’ll get over Travis, and whoever you snowman will get over you. And everyone will be the better for it.”
“I don’t know.” Haley dropped her hands to her lap and shook her head.
“Why don’t you come tonight? To the séance. I promise there will be a couple of single, straight men.”
“No offense, Maximilian, but I don’t think anyone going to your séance will be anyone I’m interested in.”
Maximilian sighed with vigor. “You are a slow pupil, aren’t you? That’s who you need, sunshine! Someone you will never ever fall in love with. If you don’t do this now while you hate men, you probably never will. Use your anger and pain. Grrr. Put your cowgirl boots on and do some ass kicking.”
“I’ll have to think about it. Right now, all I feel like doing is nothing. Maybe I’ll go back to bed. Wait, do you have any of that double chocolate espresso ice cream left? Better yet, tequila. Yes, tequila. Oh wait, it’s breakfast time. What was I thinking? I mean a tequila sunrise.”
“Don’t you have to go to work?”
“The last thing I want to do is face Brenda Fishlips this morning.”
“Come on. Get up and get dressed. Moping around won’t do you any good.”
“Fine. I’ll go to work, but I’ll have to let you know about the séance later.”
“Well, you know I’m not one to pressure, but this time I must insist. It’s for your own good.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and then stood up. “Midnight, of course. Be there or be snowman bait forever.” And he was out the door.
Haley thought back to the night she’d met Travis. Did he do as Regina had said he’d done? Had he drifted into her life? What did that even mean? True, she hadn’t known him before.
He had caught her attention that first week she’d tended bar at Kicker’s nightclub. He was built and bulged but moved gracefully with this girl and the next on the dance floor.
When he made it up to the bar to buy a round for his group, they locked eyes. He smiled and slowly tipped his cowboy hat. Haley tried not to look at him while she helped other customers, but every time she sneaked a glance, she caught his stare. When she got to him, her heart pounded, and she couldn’t keep the smile from giving her excitement away.
The first words out of his mouth had been “What time do you get off work?”
She expected to get hit on by customers, kind of part of the job, and she usually brushed them off, but this guy actually made her cheeks heat up. She told him the truth. She had to close and then get up early to go to work the next day.
He leaned on the counter and said, “That’s okay, babe, I can wait all night for you. In the morning, I’ll make you a hot breakfast in bed before you head out to work.”
She remembered the thoughts she had at that moment. What a shame. The hottest cowboy I’ve ever met is a walking cliché of a playboy.
But then he said, “I’m sorry.” He removed his hat, his blond hair bringing out the sparkle in his blue eyes. “I didn’t mean to come on so strong. I panicked. I usually don’t get so nervous, but I’ve never met anyone like you before . . . you’re breathtaking.”
She’d given him her number, and they went out a couple of nights later. On the third date, they slept together, which she thought had shown tremendous restraint.
As she thought this all through, she guessed she had had some type of gut feeling about him being what Regina and Maximilian called a snowman. She totally ignored it because she had been blinded by his dynamic looks and charm combo.
Haley closed her eyes and moaned. If she were to be honest with herself right now, Travis wasn’t the first snowman she’d ever dated. How many times had she felt this sickening feeling that she would miss them to death, but they wouldn’t even glance back? She didn’t like it one bit. Maybe it would be possible to learn how to trust and pay attention to her instincts more. Maybe Maximilian was right. Perhaps it would “Take one to know one.”
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