No Curtains Over The Windows: Or, How Coss and Jenn got together

Every story I write ends up leaving out parts that simply don’t fit for the type of story I’m trying to tell — but a lot of times I love these extra parts, and I feel bad that they can’t make it in, so I’m sharing them here. 

This, from “The Remaking of Coss Marte,” is the story of how Coss, the ex-felon, and Jenn Shaw, the responsible businesswoman, met and fell in love. It was in an early draft of the story but ended up getting cut. Felt she deserved a bit more ink, and I thought you’d all like to hear how she and Coss ended up together in the first place.

Not that Jenn needs any help from me — she’s killing it on her own with her company — but she’s been kind of the secret behind the scenes, helping Coss and Coss Athletics rise and rise, and she deserves loads more credit for that than I felt like I was able to give her in the final draft.

Here’s their story.


jennOn paper, Jenn Shaw was maybe the least likely person in the universe to fall for a former drug kingpin. She’s a redhead from Alliance, Nebraska, and she runs Bella Minds, which has been profiled by media outlets the nation over. The company is known for its scalable, profitable model, and for fighting ageism and sexism in the tech world by helping middle-aged women learn the technology they’ll need to remain relevant in the ever-technologically-reliant workplace.

On top of that, she comes from a law enforcement family, her step-dad a police chief, her ex-husband a detective.

They had a Tinder date at Amity Hall on the West Side. Coss swiped right because she was cute and had flaming red hair and he’s always had a thing for redheads, and he liked her Tinder tagline: “If you want to talk about bad luck … redheads.”

She swiped right because she thought it was going to be her last big blowout of a night in New York City before she moved to Kansas City, and she thought he was cute, and because his tagline said, “Serial entrepreneur with an inspiring story.”

She was with some friends. She bought him a shot of tequila. Patron Silver. They sat down. She’s met plenty so-called serial entrepreneurs, and too many of them are bums and/or trust-fund babies with no idea what they’re doing and no drive and no vision and no anything, so Jenn wasted no time. “So. What’s so f—ing inspiring?”

He told her.

She pulled out her iPhone and Googled him. As she spelled out his name — “Oh! You’re an auto-fill!? I’m not an autofill! And I have, like, status!”

She read about Coss. He answered her every question.

She took him from Amity Hall to The Redhead Bar and they drank gin Hemingways, her favorite drink, until all hours of the night, then they went to Joe’s Pizza, and wasted the night away together.

And then it didn’t end. The next month, they watched the fireworks from the roof of Jenn’s building, where they watched the explosions in the sky over the Freedom Tower and the bridges.

Now they’re in love, and she decided to run her company from New York instead of Kansas City, and, thanks to some living arrangement snafus, Jenn lives with Coss.

She’d had something all lined up to sublease an apartment from one of Coss’s friends, but then the building tenants reported her and she was evicted, and so Coss, always just asking, said she should just live with him.

She thought it was the worst idea of all time. But now, she doesn’t worry about it much anymore. Oh, she hears it from her family and friends. How long did you know each other first? How did you get together again? She just says, Long enough to like it! He’s cute! I’ll keep him!

She has a hard time believing Coss’s stories about Before. “I mean, look at him now,” she says. “The way he acts now — he’s so cool, calm, collected.”

Their apartment is small and crammed in a building with a million others, like everyone else’s apartments in New York. You can see the neighbors through their windows perfectly clear. And their bedroom windows don’t even have curtains on them. Jenn talked about putting some up, but Coss said no.

He doesn’t mind people trying to look in. He likes always looking out. It reminds him that there aren’t any fences, there aren’t any gates.


If you liked this, please consider buying my new book, Behind the Drive

As always, thanks for reading.

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