Here’s a sneak peek of Discovering Us, the first book from my new trilogy entitled True Love.
Tentative publication date is October 6, 2013
Have a look-see and let me know what you think!
Discovering Us (True Love #1)
They say nothing improves the memory more than trying to forget.
Well, this “They” can bite me.
As far as I’m concerned, the hippocampus in my brain which stores long-term memory (yeah, I’ve looked that shit up) can go screw itself. And since I’m going there, the prefrontal cortex can take a hike too. If it wasn’t for my stupid cranium, I think my mental health would be just fine, thank you very much. And that’s not a weirdly ironic statement, huh? But as it stands, my awesome retention of past happenings has played just too strong a role in my life leading me to some serious heartache.
I’m twenty-five years old, I’ve had a mostly decent life so far, but when the memories invade my mind… they always lead me back to Jag.
And I become a mess.
See, Jagger Knox Jensen was already set up for stardom with a cooler-than-hell name (his father had played lead guitar in a pretty famous rock band in the 70s and decided that any kids of his needed awesome names to go with the “cool” that came with, well, playing in a pretty famous rock band in the 70s).
Then there was me, set on the path to the humdrums with my very plain, very average name. Um, thanks again, Mom, for naming me after that Ripley chick in those Alien movies. Appreciate it. No, really.
My name is Ellen Love. Bleh. Saying my name aloud sounds like you’re trying to tell someone what letter’s in my last name. Insert look of disgust here.
Anyway, growing up, Jag and I lived on the same block in a suburb just outside of Chicago. I was a certified tomboy (having three older brothers I really had no other choice), and since Jag and I were the only kids around the same age in our neighborhood, we played together almost every day for years.
Summers found us riding our bikes up and down our tree-lined street, swimming in the heated pool in my backyard, or writing our names with silvery sparklers on the Fourth of July; winters we’d plop onto our backs to make snow angels in each other’s powdery-white-blanketed front yards, drink hot chocolate loaded with melty marshmallows in the clubhouse in his backyard, or run to each other’s houses hauling along what wonderful wealth of goodies Santa had brought us.
The entwinement of our lives was fated from the moment the ice cream truck slowly meandered its way through the neighborhood, and as we both eagerly licked on our Spiderman pops, we realized we were the only kids our age in the area.
And thus our story began.
This is the first part of it. Bear with me. There’s been a lot of shit that’s gone down.
I was five when I first kissed Jag.
I’ll never forget it. Ever.
Jag’s older by ten years sister Starr—see? Cool rock star kid name—had taken us to see Beauty and the Beast the weekend before and we’d both been awed that when Beast had kissed Belle at the end, a profusion of sparkles had shot up around them into a display of fireworks and then the ugly gargoyles on his castle turned to radiant angels. How freaking cool was that? So the next school day when we were at recess on the playground (Jag was on the big-kid side of the fence since he was a second grader and I was trapped in kindergarten-land), he came to the chain link fence that separated us and hollered out, “El, come here!” In my little girls’ red, pleated coat and black Mary Janes (Mom was still trying to turn me into a girl) I ran over to see what he wanted. His glacier blue eyes great big in his little boy face danced when he shouted, “Let’s see if it works!” Then he stuck his lips through the links all pursed and ready to be smacked. Without a second thought, I leaned in and landed a big one on him. We pulled back and looked around, a little disappointed that there was no sparkle, no fireworks, no changing of statues from evil to good (there were no statues around but we thought maybe some of the mean teachers could’ve been transformed… it was worth a shot), but then we both giggled and he ran away, swiping at that one hunk of his dark hair that always fell into his eyes, telling me over his shoulder that he’d see me after school.
I didn’t know then that that particular scene, his running from me, would play out again in our lives as I stood laughing after him.
Well, I’m definitely not laughing now.
I was ten when I fell in love with Jag.
We were on the bus riding home from school when Kyle Wade decided he wanted the Giordano’s gift card I’d won in math class that day. Kyle was a huge kid—he was supposed to be in Jag’s class but he’d flunked a couple times—and the class bully. He’d gotten in my face telling me I was a dumbass, which had earned a gasp from me since I wasn’t used to that kind of language from kids our age, then he’d grabbed my backpack, digging through it to pilfer the card. Of course, since I wasn’t a sissy by any means, I’d stood up to him, grabbing my bag back indignantly which was when he hauled off and punched me in the face, breaking my nose. Um, who knew pizza meant that much to the kid? Jeez.
I dropped back down into my bus seat stunned, while my best friend Rebecca Stark who sat with me freaked out as she dug to find a tissue in her bag as the blood from my nose continued to drip onto my Ace of Base (yeah, I know) t-shirt. We watched as Kyle proceeded to dig diligently through my bag, haphazardly tossing everything out into the aisle. That was until he suddenly went flying, landing face first on the bus floor with a loud “Oomph!” I watched in amazement as Jag pinned him there, his knee digging into Kyle’s back, and he whispered in the kid’s ear that if he touched me again, he’d kill him. Wow.
After Jag jerked Kyle up off the floor by his shirt collar—the kid was now snot bawling which almost made me feel sorry for him… almost—Jag made him pick everything up and put it back in my bag, hand it back to me nicely, and apologize. When he was satisfied, Jag reminded Kyle of his previous warning then Jag punched him good and hard in the stomach as he sat him in a bus seat, telling him he’d better stop crying or he and his friends would mess him up but good.
Jag’s blue eyes glittered wildly as he smiled at me while he pushed that shock of dark hair out of his face, asking, “That good enough, El?”
All I could do was nod at him in admiration then he went to the back of the bus to sit with his buddies once again.
Rebecca looked at me, her brown eyes huge. “That was awesome,” she whispered.
“Yeah,” I said all nasally, holding the tissue to my nose.
Great. Mom was going to kill me for getting blood on my shirt. But God knew she loved her Spray ‘N Wash. With my three older brothers practically rolling in dirt all day long, the woman literally had a black belt in cleaning, so her eyes would probably glaze over in lust at the opportunity of scrubbing my shirt into submission, getting it back to looking like new.
But when I got home, lo and behold, my sanguine-stained shirt wasn’t even an issue as my mother whisked me off to the emergency room to have my nose reset. And a great, big YEOWWCH on that one. When I got home, I looked in the mirror and let out a groan when I saw two black eyes glaring back at me like two multicolored beacons of pain behind the bandage that covered my nose. Pretty. But my brothers had thought I was “The Shit,” which garnered them a dirty look from Mom, and their approval through giving me soft arm punches made me happy, so it was all good.
Since Dad was an attorney, he’d contacted Kyle’s parents to let them know what’d happened, and after they told Dad they’d cover all medical costs, he let them off the hook, an apology being all he was after, well, that and a promise that they’d look into their son’s bullying problem.
Dad had also wanted to contact the school about Mr. Abernathy, the bus driver, but I talked him out of it. He’d asked me why he hadn’t stopped the bus when Kyle had started his crap. Well, Mr. A was hard of hearing and when one of the littler kids had told him what’d happened (after he’d dropped off Kyle), Mr. A had felt horrible and had apologized about a kabillion times to me for not stopping and taking care of things. He said his hearing aid batteries had gone out that afternoon and he hadn’t had time to replace them, so he hadn’t heard what was going on. And since his hearing was impaired, he’d had to really pay attention to traffic; therefore, he hadn’t seen what had occurred in the bus mirror. But he was a sweet old man who’d lost his wife two years before and I told Dad that he was a good driver, he was nice to all us kids, and that if he’d heard what was going on, he would’ve stopped. So taking that all into consideration, Dad didn’t call, thank goodness.
The best part of the whole situation? Jag had thought I looked cool and badass with two black eyes and I didn’t think I could love him any more.
© Harper Bentley 2013