Days With You


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Sample Chapter

Diana Kenyon-Rios arrives in Chile for the Christmas holidays–her first after losing her husband, Val. As she prepares to celebrate the holidays in Val’s home country, she reminisces on her short but wonderful relationship and marriage to Val, and how she tried to come to terms with his…way. Not exactly a DD lifestyle in the truest sense, but let’s face it–Val liked to spank an ass. Why? And why did Diana allow it? Did she benefit? Did he? Did it define their life, or did it take up a small, but not insignificant part of their relationship?

And as Diana attempts to reconcile his death with the life she must lead now, something keeps her from fully accepting that he is gone. She feels him in her bones so deeply, it is as if he is still alive. Through intimate talks with friends and reminiscences, she finds a way to hold on to the greatest love she will ever know.

But will her dreams be enough?


Sample Chapter




A man who won’t die for something

Is not fit to live.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Mrs. Rios…”

The room was cold, the air stale. The smell of formaldehyde, of alcohol, of antiseptic, the sour stench of death – all of it nested within the putty-green walls of the L.A. County Morgue. As a doctor, a ‘doctor of some renown’, Val would tease her, Diana Kenyon-Rios was used to death. But the term took on new meaning when attached to a husband, a loved one. One loved. Once. The window that separated her from her husband was clean. No streaks. She couldn’t clean a window to save her life – streaks, always. There were no pictures on the walls, no seascapes, no portraits, no homages to the famous dead who once walked the streets of this city, and then died famously indoors, out of the light and the smog and the hustle-bustle. Through the window, streakless, in a room, vacant, a table sat – cold, metal, stainless steel, cold like ice, chilled, not warm – with a drain below to catch the afterlife – what was left. And on that table, cold, steel, stainless, like ice – that kind of cold – was a man, the man, her man. Random. Wrong place, wrong time. A victim. A statistic. His face was covered. It had to be, they said. Not a good idea, she was told. Best if…best if…best if…you-don’t-see.

Trust us.

A man stood to her right, voice pitched in the medium range, nameless, faceless, his white lab coat starched and bleached to a glow, his silvery hair combed back and glued to a large head, his eyes bespectacled but quite clear on such a dull day. His breath was minty-fresh, his cologne of the older generation, when Old Spice won out over Aqua Velva and Brut, but they all smelled the same. A stethoscope hung around his neck. Why? This man did not touch the living, the heart having stopped long before he had the chance to participate. In his outstretched hand, a simple platinum ring, its center inlay in onyx, its size thirteen; the perfect fit on a large ring finger on a large hand on a larger-than-life man.

“Mrs. Rios,” he repeated. “We’re so sorry for your loss.”




Dying is easy;

It’s living that scares me to death.

~Annie Lennox


Diana stared out the window of the plane as it started its descent into Santiago. The snow capped Andes cast a late afternoon shadow over the city, its streets laid out in a perfect grid pattern. She held a glass of ice in her hand, absently chewing on the jagged chunks to stave off the pressure building behind her cheekbones as the plane decreased in altitude. The man sitting next to her cast worried glances as she bent over, the glass of ice pressed against her forehead, her breath coming in hitches and then smoothing out into long waves, as if she possessed the power to stop the eruption in her head by simply breathing in, and out, and in, and out…. 

“More ice?” the flight attendant asked.

Diana raised the glass. “Please.”

“You okay?” the man beside her asked. He had engaged her in too much chitchat on the connector out of Dallas. He was a bland man, one who would get lost in a crowd, and stay lost. He was soft spoken and conservatively dressed. He wore a gold watch and no rings. Diana tried to avoid men who wore no rings. 

“My wife used to get those types of headaches when she flew. Whew,” he blew out, shaking his head. “They could be rough.”

Tall buildings built wide apart clustered in one section of the city. Santiago was brown-gray, like most cities. A colorless haze hung over the structures like a shroud. Gold cufflinks held the man’s shirtsleeve closed. S. The letter S in black surrounded by gold. Cufflinks. His cologne, mixed with the masculine smell accumulated after a day on an airplane was cloying. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, sat open and face down across his lap. A wife and no ring. Yes, she had seen that too — too often.

“Turns out it was brain cancer,” he said. “Yeah. Rough.” He sniffed once and then lifted his book. It shook in his hands.

It’s not a tumor.

Diana accepted the newly filled glass of ice with thanks, then pulled two small cubes into her mouth and sucked hard. She turned to the man as the plane touched down. 

“Did she make it?” she asked. The loss of a loved one was not a badge worn by those left behind. There was no neon sign, no special sigh, no memo to others. Yet, those who had loved and lost carried something in their eyes, like a Vacancy sign. Endure this, the sign blinked on and off. See if you can

It’s not a tumor.

“No,” he said. “No, she didn’t.”

Diana stared out the window at the brown-gray landscape. The loss you know is better than the loss you don’t know. Someone said this to her after those hard, foggy new days of widowhood. She did not know how to take it, how to pull it all inside herself and make it work magic for her. No. She knew little during those dark days, but one thing she did know for certain: bearing the loss was so much more excruciating than the wonder of it. Diana turned to the man and set her hand upon his.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said.


* * *


Tomás Soria stood outside of the customs area, and greeted Diana as she exited through the class doors.

“Good to see you, D,” he said, folding her into his arms. “How was your flight?”

“Fine. Quick,” she said.

“Best kind.” Tomás led her to baggage claim, where they made small talk until her bags arrived. The shouts of gypsy cab drivers trying to snag a fare drowned out any conversation the two tried to have as they watched the conveyor belt covered in look-alike bags travel its route, then disappear inside a tunnel, only to emerge again with the same looking bags, only more of them. A man stood alone across the baggage claim area, a bag already next to him on the ground. Diana had seen him somewhere before. He stared at her.

“Tom-Tom…” she began, the familiar nickname causing Tomás to turn and step in front of her.

“Yeah, D?”

“That…” But as soon as she peered around him, the man was gone.

“What?” he asked again.

“Nothing,” she said. “I thought I saw…someone.”

She thought she saw Val. The man looked like Val.


* * *


“How many are you having for Christmas?” Tomás asked as he pulled his BMW out onto the highway.

“Christmas Eve is turning into a free-for-all. I have twenty-four, I think, firm.”

“Wow. Can you handle that? You need to hire help, you do it, baby, okay?”

“Yes, of course…maybe I will…I don’t know. Then Christmas day…not sure. Whoever is staying around, I guess.” Diana stared out the window. Things did not feel so overwhelming twenty-four hours ago. The upcoming holiday, her first after losing Val, would be a time to remember, to be a little sad, and a little happy, surrounded by family and loving friends. Still, the weight of it all was pressing. Diana and Val met under extraordinary circumstances and, for reasons she still could not comprehend they fell in love with each other – hard. Diana had been half the woman she is now, and Val had been a hard, closed-off, weary man when they met. Neither was looking for love; both had their own agendas. She hated him, in the beginning, or so she believed at the time. And she believed with her whole heart he had no use for her; she was a rescue and a paycheck, nothing more. His passion, his dominance, his confidence, and the claim he staked on her heart and soul convinced her otherwise. They lived a lifetime together in the two years they were privileged to know each other, and he changed her. She liked to think she changed him, too. She did not like who she was now; of this she was certain. And now he was gone. A change of scenery, celebrating Christmas in his home country, would pull her out of her funk. At least this was what she hoped.

Tomás took her hand, as if she had spoken her melancholy aloud. “It’s hard, I know. I know how much you miss him. We all want to be here for you. Let us. Okay?”

Diana turned to the handsome man – a corporate lawyer in Santiago, and one of Val’s attorneys –his face framed in clean lines and angles, his milk chocolate eyes warm and open. She was loved in the generous way most Chileans loved, and it was their love for Val, and their devastation at his loss, which kept them close to her now. For all of it, she was grateful.

“I will,” she said, giving his hand a squeeze. “I promise.” She sat back against the comfortable leather seat. “Are you staying with me tonight so you don’t have to drive back?” Tomás lived in Santiago, and it was a two-hour drive to Zapallar, the coastal town where she and Val kept a home.

“No. Shane’s in town, remember? I’ll stay with him.”

“Right. I forgot.” Shane Ambrose was an American actor with whom Tomás had been in love for years. The feeling so far appeared mutual. Shane would join the crowd for Christmas Eve, and Diana vowed to get to know him better this time around. She adored Tomás, and had witnessed the good and the bad between the two men.

They chatted until Tomás made his way down the hill into Zapallar off Ruta F-30 E. They passed through town, past the small shops that catered to locals and the increase in visitors between Christmas and New Years. Zapallar was considered the Riviera of the Chilean coast, and young, wealthy conservatives descended on the place for the two-week holiday. Free from college studies and their conservative parents, the young people took to the streets at night for a non-stop decadent party. Kids who maintained a certain persona at home came alive here. They became themselves. Like Tomás.

 He pulled into the panadería without being told, where Diana purchased a dozen Pan Amasado, the hard, heavy rolls that tasted like saltines. She loved them in the morning with strong espresso and a touch of sweetened condensed milk. She popped into the market next door, and bought some cheese and some fruit. Christmas Eve was in three days, and unlike America, you took what this small coastal town had to offer in the way of fresh foods. Diana had no plan, but she had an oven, a huge open grill in the back yard, and plenty of imagination. The fantastic selection of Chilean wines didn’t hurt either.

Tomás drove up the hill and pulled into the driveway of the two story green house, set high into the hill overlooking Zapallar beach and the Pacific. Her red convertible Mustang sat in the driveway, sparkling clean and, she knew, full of gas.

“I’ll see you in and I’ll be back tonight. Dinner?”

“Yeah. Great.” She leaned over and kissed him. “And you don’t need to see me in,” she said.

“Okay. Jessica’s here anyway,” he said, throwing the BMW into reverse. “See you tonight, Senorita.” Diana held up a hand. It was noon. A nap, a glass of wine, some lunch. Yes. She was looking forward to some alone time.

The house looked the same. Val had some windows replaced and the trim painted last year. It looked refreshed, made-over, pampered. A lemon tree grew short and stout in front of the window next to the front door, its branches covered in white blossoms. One lone green lemon, hanging heavy amid the flowers, was this tree’s only offering, despite its glorious promise of future gifts. Things moved slower here in Zapallar during the summer months. 

She walked into the open house. The smell of clean permeated the air. The wall of French doors was open to the back, and a gentle breeze blew in from off the ocean.

Buenos tardes, Señora Rios!”

“Jessica!” Diana embraced the young girl who took care of the house when she wasn’t there.

“I will…almost finish, then I go,” Jessica said in halting English.

Diana placed her hand on the girl’s arm. “No rush.”

“Come…every day?”

“No. Come Christmas Eve and I’ll decide.”


Diana handed the purchases to Jessica and let her get back to work. She set her suitcase down in the master bedroom and closed her eyes. Val’s smell clung to the walls, and to the clothes that still hung in the closet. She was unable to let any of it go. She kicked off her shoes and lay down on top of the white down comforter. The blue walls gave the room a cool, summery feel. Personal photographs and colorful art hung on the walls. The clean smell of Jessica’s homemade lemon and basil cleaner drifted out of the master bathroom, and all of it settled in Diana’s soul like a dull ache. 

She closed her eyes to stem the tears, and remembered.

He was like a vision out of some movie, a man clad in black, several days’ growth on his face, and a fierce determination in his eyes. That is what she remembered of their first meeting. Looking back, as she did many times after that first time, she realized she had been in a fog that night, that strange, almost fictitious night, when Valerio Rios entered her life. Taken from a grocery store parking lot in Miami by thugs, beaten, bound, held captive, moved from place to place… yes. She had been in a fog that night. Even the kindness and generosity of the Gitanos people who took her in and made her well could not lift the havoc dysentery and a concussion wreaked on her. What other reason could there be for her to refuse to go with her rescuer, and instead pull a gun on him? Such stupidity could only be excused by extreme illness, head injury, and exhaustion. Yes, she didn’t see it at the time. Even when he threatened her with a spanking, of all things — and in Spanish — she still held fast to her belief that staying put was better than going with this man. And she punctuated that belief by whizzing a bullet past his ear. 

 Voy a tener los pantalones abajo y nalgadas en frente de mis hombres.

I will take your pants down and spank you in front of my men.

And that is what he did. While she did not appreciate the humiliation she was forced to endure, she appreciated that he kept his word. She pondered the idea often during her short time with Val. He was a man who thought nothing of swatting her bottom when provoked, and she was a woman who tolerated it and loved him anyway. She fought the idea, and she embraced it – accomplishing both sometimes in the same day. 

A deep ache settled in her stomach, and she rolled onto her side to ease the pain. She adored everything about her husband: his old-fashioned ways, his insistence that she behave like a lady, his command of her when she needed commanding, and his hold on her – albeit at arm’s length – when she needed some space. He was a man who wanted the best for her and out of her, and he never asked less of himself than what he asked of her, and others. He loved her with a fierceness she would not have believed existed, had she not known it first-hand. The pain settled deeper knowing she would never be loved like that again.

Señora Rios?” 

Diana turned over and swiped at an errant tear. “Yes, Jessica?”

“I go now.”

“Okay. See you at 10 a.m. Thursday?”


Diana did not turn over again until she heard the front door click closed.


“Lock the door behind me, querida.”

“You worry too much.”

Val’s strong fingers grip her chin, and he lifts her face to meet his eyes. “If harm came to you, love, I wouldn’t survive it.”

“Do you think that if someone wants to harm me, a locked door will prevent it?”

A smile plays on his mouth. “If I had my way, I would keep you hidden from all eyes but mine, so that the desire of another soul to even touch you is removed.”

“That’s kind of romantic, in a sick, twisted way.” 

He kisses the tip of her nose and brushes a light kiss over her lips. “Lock the door behind me.”

Diana grabs his arm as he crosses the threshold to the outside world. His bicep is hard in her hand, and the blue tee shirt soft against his caramel-kissed skin. “Don’t go.” Tears appear out of nowhere and prick her eyes.

Corazónmy heartmía amor.” He shakes his head. Emotion sits in his cerulean eyes. He rests his forehead against hers and closes his eyes. “You are my life. My blood runs in my veins because you give me life. When I am not here I want you to think about how much I love you, and how every thought, every action, is for you, love. You alone.” His eyes meet hers. “Will you do that for me, mi adora?” 

“Don’t go,” she whispers.

He kisses her one more time. “Lock the door.” He swats her bottom, and the sting lingers as she watches his car disappear down the road. Only then does she close the door and turn the deadbolt with a click.

You are my life. My blood runs in my veins because you give me life. She grips the phone tight in her hand. She cannot hear the person on the other end through her screams. When I am not here I want you to think about how much I love you, and how every thought, every action, is for you, love. She drops the phone and falls to her knees.

You alone.




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