People often ask me the same question:
What is it like to live with Melodee?
That's a pretty big and deep subject, and there isn't an easy answer. Like the old saying goes, it's complicated.
But I'm going to try to tell you a little about what Life With Melodee is like in a series of postings here on Melodee's blog.
How We Met
I met Melodee almost 12 years ago now. I was working for the Secret Service after leaving the US Navy, and hating every minute of it. Melodee's agent, Diana, approached me and said she was looking for someone to provide security for Melodee while she was both on the road and even at her home in Southern California. Frankly, it sounded like fairly easy work and the money Diana offered was pretty good, so I agreed to an interview. I flew from my home in Washington DC to San Diego, and a shuttle van took me up to the mountains where Melodee lives.
I have to say I was unnerved when we reached Melodee's house. There was a high fence and a gate and a guard shack. The guard was a standard security guard type from one of the companies you frequently see, but he was armed and he checked a list as well as my ID before sending us up to the house. I wondered why Melodee needed me if she already had private security in place.
Diana met me at the door, and was very cordial, as she had been in our many telephone conversations. She ushered me in to a sitting room and introduced me to Maria, Melodee's housekeeper. Diana and I chatted for a while and then Maria came in and whispered in Diana's ear. Diana rolled her eyes and told me that we would need to wait just a while longer because Melodee was "tied up" for the next 30 minutes or so. Diana took me outside and we wandered around the property a little. I was impressed with the size of the place, especially for Southern California. I guessed that Melodee had about 200 acres and that included a large lake, tennis court, and much more. Add to that a large house, and I couldn't help but ask how many kids Melodee had. Diana told me, in a very matter-of-fact manner, that Melodee was single and had no children.
Diana stopped walking for a moment and added, "I don't think I told you that she's deaf." At the time, I didn't know a single thing about sign language or deaf people. I asked if Melodee could read lips. Diana just smiled and added, "Yes, better than you can read words."
We went back to the house since we'd been gone about 30 minutes, and Maria told us that Melodee would be out in a few minutes, and she would meet us on the patio. Maria brought out a big pitcher of iced tea, and we sat there watching the birds for a while. About 30 minutes later, Diana excused herself and went in the house to find Melodee. Some 10 or so minutes after that, Diana returned and assured me that Melodee would be out to join us in 5 minutes.
In another 15 minutes, I could tell Diana was getting agitated. She again went inside. Maria came out to check the tea, and I asked her if, maybe, Melodee was writing and couldn't stop in the middle. The old Hispanic woman smiled and said, "No, Melodee just runs on what I call Melodee Time."
Diana returned and again apologized for the delays and said Melodee would join us very soon now. I noticed the lack of a time frame, but I did check my watch. We chatted for a while, and we were even treated to a few squirrels and rabbits running through the yard along with a wide variety of birds at the feeders and in the trees.
Exactly 19 minutes later I heard someone coming toward the patio from inside the house, and I suspected it wasn't Maria. Maria had moved with an easy grace and almost no sound. Yes, I notice those kinds of things. When you do time as a SEAL and in the Secret Service, noises are a big part of the even bigger picture. Whoever was coming was actually thumping, like they hopped on one foot.
I was right, too. The young woman who came through the door from the house to the patio was indeed hopping on one foot. She was tall, maybe 5' 9", and slender with long blond hair past the middle of her back. She wore a pair of white shorts that looked like they had been painted on and a red bandanna print top that was tied around her chest. And she hopped on one foot trying to get her left sandal on.
I need to tell you that I was married at the time. Things weren't all that good, and my wife and I had separated on 2 occasions, but I was still legally married. That doesn't mean I was dead, though. This woman was a knock out. I also knew it was Melodee because a number of hand gestures flashed between her and Diana, things I couldn't read. The last gesture Melodee made to Diana I did understand, though. She extended the middle finger of her right hand toward the older woman.
Finally getting her shoe on, the young woman stopped in front of me and extended her right hand. She smiled and I was nothing less than enchanted. As I stood and took the offered hand, she spoke to me. It sounded something like, "Eye. Eye-mm eloee. Ood ou m ou ack." Honestly, I could only barely understand her speech at all. I assumed that she offered some kind of greeting, so I stayed with something neutral.
At least as neutral as I could be. Her hand was warm and soft as I held it, and it tingled a little. Again, that's the kind of detail that you notice in my line of work. Add to that the fact that a very pretty young woman who I had never met was standing there for a supposed business meeting with far more skin exposed than she had covered, and I was lucky to be able to talk at all.
As the three of us sat and chatted, I could see that Melodee and Diana kept up a running conversation in sign language, just slight motions of their fingers, and facial expressions. Just details that I filed away in my mind for future reference. As we talked, I found it was easier and easier to understand Melodee's speech, but I had to listen carefully. The problem for me came in because to really listen to her, I had to stare at Melodee's face, particularly her lips. I have called her "pretty" up above, but I found that wasn't a strong enough word. Maybe beautiful is closer, or perhaps gorgeous. I had to fight to keep from getting some kind of sappy look like an idiot on my face as I watched her speak.
Finally, I had to ask why they needed me. They already had security. Melodee made a flickering gesture toward Diana, and the older woman spoke. "We mostly need to fill a gap for when Melodee is on tour, but it makes no sense to have two security groups in place." I wondered about that. Surely the places she visited provided, or could provide, private guards if needed, but I really didn't see much need for it. Diana added, "Last year, we had an event at a signing, and Melodee was attacked. She's scared to go out there again, I can't blame her."
I remember frowning and wondering why someone would attack an author, and I guess my puzzlement showed on my face, because Melodee smiled and said, "I was stabbed by a woman who thought my romance novels were being written to steal away her husband." Melodee stood up, turned away from the table, untied her top, and lowered the back to show me a large scar on her back from a knife wound.
I really don't want this to sound bad, but it probably will. I couldn't focus on the scar. Melodee just exposed even more skin than she already had exposed, and I could see the curve of her breast as she stood with her back to me. Like I said, I wasn't dead, just married. I was also really distracted. I wasn't sure if I wanted her to put her top back on or take it the rest of the way off. I had mixed feelings about both options.
It hit me as I watched her putting her shirt back on that I was dealing with a woman who had tremendous drive, a ton of ambition, was very intelligent, and who had no inhibitions at all. If nothing else, the job would be both interesting and challenging. I like both.
We talked for another hour while Diana and Melodee kept up their own side conversation using sign language. I saw Melodee make a slight nod.
Diana smiled and said, "So, if you want the job, it's yours."
I've been here ever since.
Next time I'll talk a little bit about my early days with Melodee. It's been a fun ride.