Vivian, an adrenaline junkie and U.S. Army veteran, goes about her life as a bartender, avid runner, and polyamorous lesbian. Life in Sacramento, California is going well until she is blindsided by unforeseen financial issues which lead her to consider a new career.
In an attempt to recharge and take a break, she visits her best friend, Jared, only to be sidetracked by a motorcycle trip with her other best friend, Bear. The adventure does not turn out to be the carefree break Vivian had hoped for. A mess, she returns to Sacramento where her partner, Ang, tries to push her down, rather than help her pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, Vivian takes big steps with her other partner, Audre, which fills a void in Vivian’s life left behind by her dysfunctional and abusive childhood.
While out on a day trip to her favorite hiking trails, Vivian has an epiphany about what line of work she wants to pursue, and chases after it head first while also beginning to mend fences with her brother, Joey.
As things start to stabilize, one of Vivian’s partners commits an act of grave violence, resulting in life-changing consequences for all concerned.
Surrounded by friends, Vivian turns over a new leaf and finally finds the contentment she has sought for a lifetime.
Warnings: This book contains violence, attempted murder, homophobic slurs, alcohol/drug use, references to suicide, abuse of a child by a parent, abuse of a child by an adult, attempted suicide, racism
Liz is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:
This excerpt is from Chapter One of Concussion and Contentment:
Sweat dripped and bass pulsed as hundreds of women writhed and bumped to the music. Tick, the club DJ, was killing it. The vibe was so good that I was high on it. There was a line at my station ten people deep, customers jostling for position while dancing and shuffling forward each time I finished a drink order. One of my regulars stepped up and waved a twenty-dollar bill at me. She was in her forties, sporting a bowler hat and forearm tats.
“Viv, show me them titties and tats!” she shouted over the thumping and chatter.
I had already stripped down to my sports bra, with my beater hanging from the back pocket of my Dickies. It was hot for April, and the press of sweating, dancing bodies had made the nightclub a sauna.
“Aw, Tig, you know I can’t do that,” I said with a smirk and turned my back to the crowd. Behind the bar was a wall-to-wall mirror. I gyrated my hips to Bubba Sparxxx’s “Ms. New Booty,” which had become a club favorite. I made eye contact with Tig in the mirror as she jumped to the beat, still waving the twenty-dollar bill at me. Shoving down the shyness that crept up, I slapped on the façade of the confident butch barkeep I wore to work. I pulled my sports bra up, just a bit.
She hollered to her friends, “She’s doing it, she’s doing it!”
Amidst the chaos, they leaned to the side to see my reflection in the mirror, their mouths agape, eyes laser focused on me. I kept the tease up for a minute, dancing to the song, pulling my bra up a bit and lowering it again. Each time I lowered it, there was a chorus of “Awwwww’s” behind me. I finally relented and pulled my sports bra completely off. Their hoots and hollers made me grin, and I continued dancing for myself in the mirror.
Just as the song was ending, a bright light flashed in the mirror, reflecting straight into my eyes. I traced the light back along the mirror and saw it was coming from near the front door. Buck, our bouncer, stood on the rungs of her barstool by the door, flashing her Maglite at me. When we made eye contact, she tapped the top of her head three times, which was the sign that the cops were coming. I shimmied back into my sweaty sports bra, which was no easy feat, and turned back to my customers.
Tig pulled me into a hug across the bar. She tucked the bill into my waistband, her rough fingers lingering far too long on my skin. “Thanks, Viv. Looking good. Those tits and tats, you are so fucking hot. If I weren’t married, things’d be different.”
I patted her cheek and ended the hug, doing my best to keep my cool and stay in my role.
“Good to see you, Tig. The usual?”
She nodded and I poured her an Irish Car Bomb. She slapped some more cash on the bar, dropped the shot glass of whiskey and Bailey’s into her pint of Guinness, and chugged the whole frothing mess while her crew cheered her on. She slammed the pint glass down, wiped her mouth on her bare arm, belched, and disappeared into the fray.
Jen, the barback, bounced up to me with her usual level of cheer, and began unloading glasses fresh from the washer. “Tig still trying to get into your pants?” Her voice dripped with disgust as she fingered the American Spirit cigarette tucked behind her ear.
“Always.” I uncapped some beer bottles and rang up my next customer. “You know, I’ve been doing this job a few years now, and know that there’s a certain level of shit we have to put up with if we want those tips. And I need those tips. But it’s getting less amusing when people forget we are human and not a piece of meat.”
Liz transplanted to California from New York over thirty years ago, and now lives in the East Bay. She enjoys exploring nature with her wife and son.