We’re thrilled to share an exclusive excerpt from Renee Conoulty’s Don’t Mean a Thing, but first Renee tells us a little more about how her life and adventures as a military spouse.
When I was a kid, I’d never met anyone in the military. I haven’t dated anyone in the military and I didn’t marry a military man. But one day, after we’d been married a few years and had two beautiful children, my husband and I had the conversation, the one where he said, “I’d like to join the military.”
Luke had been in the Air Force before we’d met and had been yearning to go back for a few years. We wanted to make sure the military life would be a good fit for our family so he joined the reserves to begin with.
A year later, he remustered to a position in the full time Royal Australian Air Force (in Air Movements – gee, I wonder where the inspiration for Macie’s job came from…) and we packed up our life and moved across the country. I’d never planned to even visit Darwin, I don’t like hot, humid weather, but Darwin it was. The adventure began.
I’ve found this military life to be more stable and secure than our civilian life ever was. That might sound crazy since the military will tell us to pack up and move every few years and send Luke away for training, short trips and deployments. I feel financially stable though, because when it rains, Luke still gets paid – he didn’t when he was a carpenter. I know I’ll always have a home – I don’t have to worry about my landlords putting up the rent or giving us notice that they want to move back in. That happened to us a few times but if it happens now, we’ll have help finding a new house and the rent will always be subsidised. When we move, we have all those expenses covered too, and the movers even pack our boxes for us. This last time they went a bit overboard with the wrapping – even my Tupperware got wrapped!
There is a great network of support too. Connecting with other military spouses helped me find a job and lots of friends – hopefully I can do that again in our new location. There are lots of Facebook groups where you can meet people and ask questions. It’s great to connect with other people who understand the military lifestyle – it feels like one big family.
We’d been in Darwin for four and a half years and had an amazing experience up there. We’ve just said goodbye to the Top End and begun the next leg of our adventure in New South Wales.
— EXCERPT —
I awoke to a quiet buzzing noise. The gentle, pulsed vibration was accompanied by the ambient sound of waterfalls and birds twittering. Eyes still closed, it took me a moment to process these sounds and realise that I had the power to stop them. I fumbled for my phone and unplugged it from the charger cord that was wrapped around the bedside lamp. I’d forgotten to do that once and had sent my previous lamp to its grizzly death. Keeping one eye screwed shut, I swiped the screen to turn off the alarm.
I loved the smart alarm feature, brilliantly designed to bring me to consciousness more gently. I’m not a night owl, but I coped better with mornings if I didn’t start them with an adrenaline dump caused by the beep-beep-beep of a digital clock. The radio setting wasn’t much better. Waking up to someone talking or singing at me was just as scary.
I rolled out of bed and gathered all the things I needed for my morning shower. After living on base and using a communal bathroom for the majority of last year, I had it down to a fine art.
Room key, toiletry bag, towel, shower thongs (better safe than toe jammy), phone, shower cap, and Bluetooth headphones.
I slipped out of my pyjamas and wrapped myself in my favourite silk dressing gown. Good to go.
I loved reading, especially audiobooks, but since joining the military and living on base, my commute time was practically non-existent. This had put a huge dent in my audiobook listening, so I found a few ways to squeeze in some extra reading time. My latest was to put my Bluetooth headphones on under my shower cap—instant water resistant headphones at a fraction of the cost. My phone was technically water resistant too, but I didn’t want to play the books through the loudspeaker. Broadcasting raunchy sex scenes to the world wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make. I wandered up to the bathroom and opened the door. Then I slammed it shut again.
“Oh my god, Rachael! Lock the door.” I shouted, attempting to wipe away the vision of her bending over, stark naked, to dry her toes.
“Sorry.” Rachael’s giggle echoed around the bathroom. “Hey, Macie. I forgot to tell you. I have to go to medical this morning, so you’ll have to find your own way to Movements.”
That girl has no boundaries. It was like talking to someone in the toilet cubicle next to you. Gross. I didn’t want to talk to naked Rachael, but I couldn’t be rude either. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I should be getting my shoulder cleared today.”
“That’s great. I’ll see you at work a bit later then.”
I tried the second cubicle. Safe.
With the shower now running, I turned the volume up a notch to fill my mind with new imagery and stood under the stream of lukewarm water. It took me ages to get the water to a comfortable temperature. I had to set it the opposite to what I was used to, a teensy bit of hot and cold on full.
Feeling mentally and physically cleansed, I returned to my room to get dressed. I braided my hair, tucked the end up underneath, and pinned it into a military approved style. It was a relief to get the bulk of my hair off the back of my neck. My freshly ironed blue service dress uniform hung in the wardrobe ready to wear. I checked and double checked that my patches were all in the right place. I hung my uniform back up and dressed in my civvies—my regular civilian clothes. I didn’t want to risk spilling breakfast on my uniform. First impressions do last.
Don’t Mean a Thing
What if you finally took the lead, but life refused to follow?
Thirty-year-old introvert, Macie Harman, has finally found a career she is passionate about, and after months of training, she’s begun her new job in the Royal Australian Air Force. Leaving behind her family, friends, and the life she knew, Macie has travelled to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is Rachael, the extroverted girl she went through basic training with. Everywhere Macie goes, Rachael is there too.
While looking for a way to widen her circle of friends in her new town, Macie discovers a local swing dancing class. The jazz music captures her heart, and Matt, the sexy swing dancer, sweeps her off her feet. Matt has claimed the tropical Northern Territory as home and has no plans to leave. He loves his teaching career with its predictable routine and has a great bunch of friends. All he wants now is the right girl to make his house a home.
Military life is tougher than Macie expected, and not everyone can deal with the inevitable separations and last minute changes. Is this exciting but unpredictable life something Macie wants to fight for, or could she give it up and put down roots with Matt?
About the Author:
Renee Conoulty is an Australian Air Force wife and mother of two. Her debut chick lit novel, Don’t Mean a Thing, is now available through Kindred Ink Press.
When she’s not devouring books, reviewing and blogging on HeySaidRenee, or writing her own stories, Renee can be found swing dancing. Or possibly napping. She tweets about reading and reviewing @HeySaidRenee and about writing, military life and dancing @ReneeConoulty, but hasn’t created a handle for nap talk yet.
Sign up for Renee’s monthly newsletter for her highlights on blogging, reading, writing and life. http://eepurl.com/bPay5r
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