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A Way to Get By

A Way to Get By

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A Way to Get By

272 pages
3 hours
May 15, 2016


What happens after The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie?

This is not a romantic comedy.
This is not a fairytale.
This is not what you're expecting.

Lies, secrets, betrayal.
Marriage, divorce, sex.
Love, heartbreak, money.

Best friends.
Old enemies.

Soul mates.

Happily Ever After comes in many forms.
A WAY TO GET BY is the story of how Brenda and Eddie found theirs.

***For ages 18+ ***READ WHEN YOU'RE IN THE MOOD FOR: Angsty, surprising, heart-breaking, infuriating true love.***

WARNING: This book is told in dual POV with a non-linear timeline.

May 15, 2016

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A Way to Get By - T. Torrest


If you’re interested, there are two SPOTIFY playlists to accompany this story.

A WAY TO GET BY : Over 200 songs spanning three decades.

BRENDA AND EDDIE : All the Billy Joel songs that inspired this novel.

Enjoy the flashback.



© 2016

For Mason, the biggest Billy Joel fan I know. ♥

Cover Design: Hang Le

Cover Photo: CJC Photography

Cover Models: Jessica Reis and Steve Alario




You’re going to think I’m an asshole.

You don’t know anything about me yet, but trust me, once you’ve heard my whole pathetic story, I’m pretty sure asshole is the only conclusion you’ll be able to draw.

And that’s fine; I’m okay with it. Hell, I am one. I figure it’s only fair to let you know that right off the bat.

But Jesus, can I really be blamed for the things I did in the name of love? Wouldn’t any man worth his salt have done the same? Because I swear to Christ, my only motivation, my only goal, my only purpose in this insane, screwed-up life was to make sure Brenda was happy. And I’d have done—will do—anything to make that happen.

Fact was, we’d never been happier than we were right then.

You want another daiquiri, babe?

There was Brenda, in all her bikini-clad glory, stretched out on the lounge chair next to mine, holding her empty hurricane glass out over the sand, silently summoning our beach waiter to our side.

She was gorgeous, that girl. My Bren. My wife. And I couldn’t stop looking at her, even after all those years. I supposed it helped that she’d hardly been wearing any clothes the entire vacation, but then again, Bermuda was pretty hot in August.

We’d been there two weeks already. It was the destination we picked to go for our honeymoon, and it just might’ve been the most romantic place on Earth. Deliberately seductive music floating along every warm, inviting breeze; sultry white beaches as far as the eye could see. I was loving the fact that I could finally spoil the hell out of that woman. She deserved it for putting up with me for so long. We’d been in love with each other since high school, for chrissakes. Because we started out so young, it took us almost six years to finally tie the knot.

Eddie... hellooo... I asked you if you wanted another drink.

Bren giggled as she flicked her finger at my bare leg. I grabbed her hand and kissed her knuckles. Sure, babe. I’ll have another.

The waiter appeared, so I held up two fingers with my free hand. He gathered our empties and plodded away across the white-hot sand in his white-hot suit. I felt bad for the poor bastard, having to wear a jacket and pants in that blazing sun. I guessed it went with the territory. Hell, when I had servants of my own someday, I was going to let them wear whatever the heck they wanted. Cutoff jean shorts and a concert T-shirt? Right on, brother.

What are you smiling about over there? Brenda asked, reclaiming her hand to grab for the suntan oil.

I’m just thinking about what kind of uniforms our servants should wear.

"Our servants?" she asked incredulously, lowering a brow at me.

That had me chuckling. Sure. Why not think about that kind of stuff?

I mean, I really didn’t see the harm in dreaming out loud. Considering the fact that I was currently living out the biggest dream I ever had, lying on that perfect beach with the love of my life... Who says dreams can’t come true?

Bren shook her head and settled back into her chaise. "Our servants," she repeated again, snickering.

Clasping my hands behind my head, I leaned back and tipped my face to the sun. I got why Bren wasn’t playing along. We’d spent so much time being poor together that it was probably hard for her to imagine a life where we weren’t. But hell. We finally had some money in the bank. Things were looking up. Anything could happen. Along with an obscenely humongous house full of servants, I’m going to buy you a new engagement ring. That one’s too damn small. It’s embarrassing.

Bren turned her head toward me, squinting an eye in my direction. "Hon? I like this ring. It’s the one you gave me when you asked me to marry you. Who cares about the size? It’s the thought behind it that I love. And you. I kind of love you, too."

I smiled in spite of myself as she added, I’ll take the obscenely humongous house, though.

That had me sputtering out a laugh.

How did I get so lucky? Just look at that girl. She was incredible, inside and out. Nobody smiled like Bren. Nobody laughed harder. Nobody looked finer. Nobody fucked better. Nobody loved me more. If I could have created the perfect woman in a lab, it would’ve been Brenda Rinetti.

Brenda Rinetti Edwards.

My Forever Girl.




Promise from the Heart


Saturday, July 26


The wedding was outta sight. Two hundred friends and family from across the country had gathered together to celebrate. We’d lost touch with a bunch of our friends long ago but used the excuse of our nuptials to get us all in the same room again. It was really nice to see everyone after so much time.

Since Bren’s parents weren’t in our lives, and seeing as I was an only child, my folks generously offered to flip the bill. It was the only time in my life that they approached a financial situation with the attitude of, Money is no object. Trust me when I tell you that my father was tighter with a dollar than Fred Mertz, so it took a few weeks before we could believe they were serious. Once we were sure their offer was genuine, we allowed ourselves to go a little overboard with the planning.

We booked the grand ballroom at The Shermer Heights Country Club. Brenda had worked there ever since we were teenagers, and I knew she never thought she’d ever be able to enjoy the place as a guest. But I went out of my way to ensure she’d be treated as the royal princess she always dreamed she’d be. If I couldn’t give her a fairytale life, I could at least deliver a storybook day.

But because Brenda was so unused to throwing cash around, there were times early on during the planning when she had a hard time believing she could. She’d bite her lip and aim those innocent brown eyes at me, asking, "Are you sure this is okay? and I’d always encourage her with, Yes, baby. You want it? You got it."

After a while, she simply stopped asking and just started going for it.

I was pretty sure I’d created a monster. I think if I had to pinpoint the exact moment when Brenda’s ambitions went from stagnant to obsessed, it would undoubtedly be during the year we were engaged. She’d gotten a taste of the good life, and from that point on, she never stopped pining for it.

Honestly though, it was like she was born to spend money because I gotta say, she sure as hell knew what to do with it once she got her hands on some.

The end result of all her planning was pretty incredible. We’d splurged for the white silk seat covers and more expensive table linens because according to Bren, they provided the appropriate shimmer. She’d insisted on the dozens of white candles on each and every table, and the glow they created really made the place look even more amazing than it already was. They blazed at the base of every humongous floral centerpiece, creating an umbrella of animated shadows across the entire domed ceiling. The arrangements were brightly-colored roses, carnations, and a bunch of other flowers that I didn’t know the names of. We’d brought a few vases back to our hotel room and the scent filled my nostrils as I lounged out on our humongous king-sized bed. We’d just opened all our wedding gifts, marveling at the wads of cash we pulled from each and every envelope; the tens, twenties, fifties strewn all over the covers.

I was lying there amidst those scattered bills feeling like I was on the top of the world. A stunning woman, a pile of cash, a cold beer in my hand... Who could ever want more than that out of life?

I watched Bren as she stood in front of the full-length mirror, removing her veil and dismantling the bobby pins that held her dark hair piled on top of her head. I jabbed a finger into the knot at my neck, loosening my bowtie. I’d originally embarked on a weak campaign on behalf of my Best Man, Anthony, to ditch the accompanying ruffled shirts but Brenda wouldn’t hear of it.

That was okay. I’d do anything for her.

C’mere, babe, I said. You look too gorgeous to be standing so far away from me.

I patted the mattress at my side, offering her an invitation to sit down.

Or, you know, to do other stuff.

Brenda turned from the mirror with a smile. She was the most beautiful woman in the world, but I’d never seen her looking quite that good before.

That’s because she was finally wearing my last name.

Mrs. Brenda Edwards.

The title suited her well. Hell, Bren and me were married in our hearts years ago, but that day... That day it became official.

Life didn’t get any better than this.

Her lacy white gown rustled as she crossed the room toward me. I couldn’t help the grin that broke across my face as she bent over the bed and kissed the tip of my nose. I couldn’t help feeling like the luckiest bastard ever to walk the planet.

Brenda Rinetti is my wife.

When we were teenagers, Brenda was the It Girl. The foxiest chick ever to grace the halls of our high school. Every guy was in love with her. Every guy wanted to make her his own.

Well, I did it. I made her mine. I could never quite wrap my brain around the fact that this woman loved me back.

Holy shit. And now she was my wife.

I love you, Wilson Joel Edwards.

I grabbed Bren around the waist and hurled her onto the bed for that. She was giggling up a storm because she knew damn well I hated my name. I’d simply gone by Eddie for as long as I could remember.

Eddie, stop! She shrieked and flailed as I tickled her, our laughter too joyous to be contained. I planted my knees firmly on either side of her thighs, pinning her body to the bed as I dug my fingertips into her sides. There was no getting away from me. Stop, Eddie! I mean it!

Finally, I did stop, but only long enough to grasp her wrists in my hands, flattening her arms against the pile of money on top of the mattress. Say uncle.

Her warm brown eyes narrowed in mock defiance. Not a chance, she fired back, trying to squirm out of my clutches.

I jacked my hips against her and she lost some of her conviction. Well, if I can’t tickle a surrender out of you, maybe I can torture it out of you.

Dipping my face closer to hers, I kissed her, just a slight brushing across her lips, trying to keep the upper hand. Not an easy thing to do once I heard her contented moans against my mouth. A familiar fire ignited from deep within me as I lowered myself on top of my bride and covered every inch of her body with my own. I couldn’t imagine being any happier than I was in that moment, one of the greatest moments of my life. I was in awe of her, and my mouth worshipped her skin with the reverence it was worthy of.

I moved my lips over her jaw, her cheek, nudging against her ear. I love you so much, Bren. Stay with me forever.

Loosening the hold on her wrists, I let her free. She didn’t waste any time knotting her hands in my hair. Yes, Eddie. She kissed me before adding, You and me. Forever.


Our Old Familiar Place



Saturday, September 20


I watched the golfers in their ridiculous plaids mosey across the ninth green, seemingly oblivious to the beautiful, crisp day. I took a deep breath and let the air enter my lungs—the last of the summer air; an ending type of air—mourning more than the loss of my favorite season. Soon, all this green of the surrounding trees would be gone. Summer would be over.

Amongst other things.

I turned back toward my best friend Virginia, staring expectantly at me across the table, waiting on an answer. I guess forever turned out to be too long.

It was a hard thing to say out loud, there, on the patio of The Village Green. Not only because the news was hard to swallow, but because this was supposed to have been taken care of days ago. When I didn’t hear from Virginia all week, I realized Eddie hadn’t spilled the news to Tony like we’d planned. If he had, my best friend would have gotten in touch with me immediately. Since she hadn’t, I was forced to set up a lunch date to tell her about the separation myself.

The Green was a place we’d frequented numerous times in our twenty-eight years. We’d spent quite a bit of time there as teenagers, and more recently, we could usually be found there with our husbands. Virginia and Tony had been together even longer than Eddie and me. The four of us had been best friends since high school.

But you and Eddie... Gosh. If you two can’t make it work, what hope do the rest of us have?

With everything Eddie and I were going through, somehow I knew this conversation with Virginia was going to be the hardest part. She and Tony had been Our Couple for over ten years. It wasn’t just Eddie and me who were being torn apart; it was our whole, shared, communal thing. No more Friday night card games. No more Dance Fever Sundays. No more Monday Dinners.

No more Fab Foursome, period.

I felt the bizarre urge to apologize to her. I’m so sorry, Ginny. It’s not going to be easy for any of us.

Anthony’s not going to know what to do with himself.

I know, I know.

Virginia aimed a broken-hearted stare at me, trying to make sense of the news. But then suddenly, her eyes widened as her hands flew to her mouth. "Oh, gosh. What am I saying? You and Eddie are separating, and all I can do is worry about how it’s going to affect us?" She dropped her focus to the scrivens of paper on the table, the shreds of napkin that she’d been tearing apart as we talked.

It’s okay. It’s a natural reaction.

"I just can’t believe it. You were our prom king and queen! The most popular couple in school. Heck, in town. She finally looked up to meet my eyes. How could this happen? How did you two wind up here?"

Good question.

The thing was, I loved Eddie more than anyone I’d ever met in my life. And not just because he was gorgeous. My God. When I laid eyes on him that very first day of high school, I was a goner. Sandy brown hair, dangerous blue-green eyes. A wicked smile that gave a girl the impression he was picturing her naked—and knew exactly what to do with her once she was. Complete armageddon wreaked havoc on my nervous system in his presence; my barely-pubescent heart couldn’t take it. I’d always thought Paul McCartney was responsible for my sexual awakening, but I immediately realized that I was wrong. Wilson Edwards put all other guys to shame.

Fourteen years old, and I knew that he was it for me.

We didn’t start dating until senior year, though. I was a shy virgin who hadn’t yet gotten on board with the whole sexual revolution, and he was happily balling any chick with a pulse. He left a trail of broken hearts almost as plentiful as the number of broken hymens.

Eddie was always a heartbreaker. And now it was time to add my broken heart to that long list of devastated girls he left behind.

Too bad it was only the women that came easily to him. Eddie had always led a charmed life; opportunity constantly landed in his lap. Problem was, he never learned to take advantage of those opened doors. I tried to nudge him in the right direction, be supportive, be encouraging, be his biggest cheerleader. Believe you me, I tried. But Eddie never wanted to work harder than he had to for anything, which was part of the trouble with our marriage. It was almost as if he

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